February 24, 2011

Thursday Authorial: New Covers, New Books

Very easy Thursday Authorial today! I'm just going to send you on over to my friend Rob's blog for a look at his gorgeous new cover for his soon-to-be-released, available for pre-order, YA dystopian book, VARIANT.

Okay, I'm posting the cover here BECAUSE I CAN'T HELP IT, but go look at it and read some more about it on his blog, too.

I've had the fortune to read a draft of this book and I can't tell you how perfect this cover is. And the story? Brilliant.
“Variant is a compelling story on so many levels. I loved it! The twist behind it all is my favorite since Ender’s Game." -James Dashner, The Maze Runner


February 22, 2011

Monday Mess Yes I know It's Tuesday: Drawing Events from Real Life

Two weeks ago I posted about drawing characters from real life. This week I'd like to talk about using settings and events from real life.

One of the best pieces of advice I read when I first began writing seriously was this:
Think visually- Write cinematically. You know your scene. Can you direct it as if it were a movie? Bring in the atmosphere, tension, sound, scent, timing, dialogue. Move it.

I know numerous authors who have drawn on personal events (big or small) for their stories, whether they are contemporary, historical, sci-fi, fantasy, or romance writers. Why?
My answer is this: What better way to write something that sounds, feels, tastes, smells, and seems real, than writing something akin to what we have lived ourselves?

For example, in my novel, The Orchard, I had the basic story and characters first. I spent hours pondering the setting. I didn't know where to put them. I fell asleep one night mulling over some possibilities, and woke the next morning knowing exactly where they were, somewhere I hadn't considered, but knew they couldn't possibly be anywhere else. The movie in my head fell into place like watching a film of a puzzle exploding apart on rewind. It. Was. Awesome.

The location? A small lake town in Montana, where we had spent a week vacation the previous summer. We had camped there, experienced several different weather changes, explored the area every day, hiking, touring, shopping, eating, kayaking, swimming, stopping at fruit stands, cramming as much as we could into a week with my family. And it was perfect. In writing events in the novel, I remembered the sense of being there, and included some of the things we actually did and saw. From a simple extra like the Brahma bull sitting lazily in a pasture as a small herd of deer bounded silently behind it, kicking in what looked like mockery over the fence, to a major event, like the hike along Swan River and stopping at a crescent-shaped beach to rest. That small beach is referred to in the next two books! It also helped that I grew up next to an orchard, and my husband spent several summers working in them. Bonus.

In writing Grace & Chocolate, some of the protagonists memories of being a child of an alcoholic were drawn from my mother's. Maybe because of my relationship with my mom, I was able to put myself there and translate that emotion onto the page, but when she read it, though difficult, she was amazed by how I'd captured it. My happy childhood was a far cry from hers. Sympathy is huge. The setting? A town on the Oregon coast where I've spent many weeks in different seasons (for the record, my mom grew up in Buffalo, NY).

In The Lake, the protagonist is a ballet dancer. I am not. But my youngest daughter took dance in a small, intense dance studio for four years. In that time I observed the older girls, knew of their hard work and dedication, and worries, injuries, and frustrations. I asked questions and researched, and knew that every decision my protag made, whether about dance or not, would be affected by her dance world. It's that much of their life.

In my current WIP, the protag has escaped an abusive relationship and is trying to recover by hiding away on an island. It's a story I've wanted to write for years and wasn't sure how to go about it. Not because I don't know the situation, that I'm unfamiliar with that kind of abuse. Unfortunately, I am. It's why I'm compelled to write it. Because there's hope there. But, I hesitated because I didn't want people to think I was writing me, or an old boyfriend. Rather, I am writing the feelings, the confusion, the pain, the fight THAT I KNOW, and applying it to a new story. It's complicated, but it's an amazing feeling, translating something difficult, that makes me who I am, and giving it in story to a group of characters who will do what they can with it.

I guess what I'm trying to show here is that when a writer draws on what is real, forming it to the fantasy in his head, he has an opportunity to expand that created world, to invite the reader to relate through senses and memories. David Farland (Runelords, Ravenspell) refers to it as RESONANCE. When captured, it can do amazing things to a story. That's the hope, anyway.


February 15, 2011

Tuesday Edit Crunch: A Repeat on Repetition

A little bit of a cheat today, but I was thinking about this topic and since I've gained a bazillion new followers (I know it's not that much, but it may as well be! Thank you, followers!), I thought it was worth re-posting. Enjoy!

February 8, 2010

Welcome to Tuesday Edit Crunch, an informative, fresh, concise, and important part of this nutritious... blog...
Today's Crunch is all about repetition. Repitan, clase, por favor... REPETICION. We will address three forms.

Simple redundancies. They can sneak up on us, as we write, slip right in, hard to detect, nigh invisible. Difficult to spot.
Not only can redundancies add to word count, they scream, "Hey! This is just a story being told with a lot of words!"
Let's start with the stealthier ones, shall we?

climbed up the stairs
crept slowly
dropped down
exact same
fell down
nodded his head
rose up
sat down
shrugged her shoulders
stood up
tip-toed quietly

Seemingly innocent? Hmmm. Let's look again.

He climbed the stairs. Obviously going up. Doesn't need to be said.
She crept. Is there a fast way to do it?
Dropped. Gravity plays a big part in this one.
Same. If it's not exactly the same, it is similar.
Fell. Again, see Mr. Newton.
Nodded. Most of us use our heads.
Rose. To rise, the opposite of fall.
Sat. She sat. This one is debatable, I know. If you use it when your character is standing, though, it's obvious. If she is already sitting, she can sit up. She sat up.
Shrugged. We know the move, one shoulder, two shoulders, we can see it.
Stood. Again, up is implied.
Tip-toed. Tippy tippy-toed. Even when Fred Flintstone was bowling, this was quiet.

Get the point? Because this was huge to me. HUGE. I'm repeating myself.

Pronoun repetition is the second part of redundancy I would like to crunch. I am a visual writer. I see what is happening and my fingers fly to keep up. When I (or my readers) go back and read my story, I (or they) often find this:

He scanned again and sluggishly moved forward, stepping over bodies and weapons and waste.  He gathered arrows as he went, keeping his eyes up and his nostrils closed.  He was not queasy.  He was not a coward. 
He hated this.
He suppressed the urge to examine, to listen for breathing.  He knew by now there would be time to help those that would make it, and it would be a waste of time to help those that would not.
He made his way towards a narrow neck out of the clearing.  He could hear the battle continuing there, and instinctively crouched lower to the ground, his muscles straining, his back already stiff.  He moved to the brush on the right.  To enter in the open would be to announce his late arrival.

Yikes! All but one of those sentences began with He. Change it up!

The third type of redundancy is pretty cut and dry. If you've used the same adjective, verb, phrase, or the hated adverb in the same paragraph, or even within 4 or more paragraphs, find yourself another word. Unless there is a point for the repetition (and I know there can be), avoid it. It's like, when someone, like, uses the same phrase like, over and over again. It can be like, so annoying. Or a bit distracting anyway, as in,"Oh, wait, didn't I just read that same word?" Reader stops reading, scans back, "Oh, yep, mendacious. Hm, the author must like that word. Now, where was I?"
And how do we feel about pulling our readers out of the story?
That's right. Keep your reader in the story.

Do you have any redundancy stories you'd like to share?

Hope you enjoyed Tuesday Edit Crunch! Watch out for the the K's, they're especially crunchy.

February 14, 2011

Romance Blogfest: First Sight

In celebration of Valentine's Day, I signed on for a Valentine's Day blogfest! The theme is Love at First Sight . . . Or Not. I give you a scene from my work in progress, lamely titled, The Sound. Georgiana has just escaped an abusive relationship (Ian) and is living on an island in the Puget Sound of Washington state. She is trying to cope with the devastating effects of abuse and leaving it behind her. It's going to take time. The story is actually Sam's, and he's going to learn the hard way that first impressions count, especially when a girl's trust has been destroyed.

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Check out more entries here!

Dishes clattered along with called-out orders and sizzling food. The hum of chatting dinner patrons and low background music rose and fell as the kitchen door opened and closed with the coming and going of waitresses and waiters. Georgiana hurried to arrange the salads and garnishes, squirting balsamic vinaigrette in a swirl and dots over each plate. “Three.” A ruddy-skinned boy with a shock of red hair and a determined look hurried to collect the plates on a tray.
“I need a tuna on three. And I need the bleu cheese crumbles on the side.”
She grabbed the small ceramic cup and placed it on the salad plate. “Added or changed?”
“Added.” The boy left with the salads.
Georgiana turned. “Tuna with the sword and prawns on three.”
The chef nodded. She detected his sigh and hoped she wasn’t the cause of frustration.
Peter & Andrew’s Fishery had been her place of employment for just under a week and she was treading water to keep up with the pace of the popular restaurant. She’d never worked in the food service business, but she needed this job. It was on the island, minutes from the aunts’ house, and that meant she didn’t have to venture out into the sea of people on the mainland.
She pulled the next ticket off the cable strung between two pulleys attached to either side of the broad pick-up window and began another set of salads. As expediter, she provided a buffer between the dining room and the kitchen. The position allowed her distance from both customers and staff. She worked mostly with the head chef, Reuben, who had hired her to keep traffic organized and pleasant, and to relieve the sous-chef of the smaller tasks of carrot rosettes, shaved chocolate, and aioli. Reuben Blanchard was an older man and had been owner and chef at Peter & Andrew’s for a little over a decade. He was professional and commanding in a quiet sort of way. His control of the kitchen eased Georgie’s nerves, and his outward respect for the staff earned what trust she could offer him. He was a large man with thick arms, and she sensed a sort of comfort around him she liked. She did not read too much into it, only knew that her tension in the kitchen eased a little when Reuben arrived and took over.
She couldn’t say the same about the sous-chef.
“Sam, grab these rangoons when they’re done, will you? And get on that tuna for three, the sword is almost done. I’ve got to see to the prime.” Reuben wiped his hands on a bleach-water towel, called out, “Seven,” and moved to the ovens. “Georgie, the bread.”
Georgie glanced behind her as Sam, the sous-chef, stepped past her. She stiffened as his arm grazed her elbow and in her haste to back away her other elbow knocked one of the salad plates off-kilter. Her hand shot out to grab it and she blew out a breath of relief, shaking a bit as the plate was returned to safety.
“Careful.” The sous-chef continued at the fryer.
Without looking up she nodded. Then she turned, grabbing a tray, and hurried to the walk-in refrigerator where they kept the flat, rectangular loaves of bread. As she reached for the loaves the door shut, blocking all noise but the hum of the fridge. Georgie closed her eyes and took a deep, cool breath, letting her fingers rest on the shelf in front of her.
Pull yourself together girl, you’re letting Ian win.
The door handle turned, and the sudden sound of the kitchen made her jump as the door opened. She shook off her nerves and pulled down six loaves for the bread oven.
“Here you are. Sam says two key limes and a torte, quick.”
“But—” Georgie looked between Mai, a waitress just coming on shift, and the loaves of bread piled on her tray.
“Here, let me.” Mai finished tying her apron, took the loaves and turned, holding the heavy door with her foot, and Georgie pulled the desserts from their shelf. She followed Mai out, watching her spiky black hair with blue highlights. The small tattoo on the back of her neck read, “alis volat propiis”, each word underlined by stacks of small square Chinese characters. The tips of a pair of miniature wings peeked out just above the neckline of Mai’s black t-shirt. Time and again, Georgie’s eyes had been drawn to the tattoo. It perplexed her, as she wasn’t one to stare at things like tattoos, and fascinated her, because the simple latin phrase was a beacon to her.
She flies with her own wings.
Her brother had rehearsed latin with her throughout his college exams and she’d developed such an interest she’d taken a class of her own. But she’d never come across this phrase before.
“Watch it.”
Georgie lifted the desserts up high as Caleb, a station cook, rushed past with a sizzling sauce on a black iron pan. Some sort of reduction. Was that the right word? Yes.
She caught up to Mai, who was shoving loaves of bread dough in the oven.
“You need to keep this going or Reuben’ll blow a gasket. These in here are about done.”
Georgie nodded and turned to prep the desserts. “Thanks.”
“Your welcome. Looks like I’ve got the upper room. See ya.”
Mai left the kitchen, her wings following her. Plates of seared tuna, grilled swordfish, and battered prawns arranged next to steamed asparagus, red potatoes and basmati were slid in Georgie’s direction. The reduction spilled over the edge of a plate and she grabbed a bleach towel. “Three,” she called, and wiped the spill just as the redhead swept the order onto a tray and disappeared again. Before she could move, the desserts were pushed toward her, the whipped cream held in front of her in a piping bag.
“Keep up.”
She turned her head quickly toward Sam, taking the cream. “Sorry.” She avoided him in general, but he wasn’t usually this impatient.
He shook his head, scowling. “You’re fine.”
Georgie pressed her lips together and garnished the desserts, then reached for the next order. Sam was about her age, she guessed. Maybe his dark curly hair made him look younger than he actually was. His intense gray eyes and full mouth would have made him a target for any aiming young woman, but he was sullen, his eyes shadowed, and everyone around him gave him space.
As he turned from the fryers to make his way back to the gas stoves, Sam nearly growled. “The bread.”
She jerked at his tone, drawing her shoulder up in defense.
“Take it easy, Sam. I remember your first week.” Reuben had returned to the front. Georgie breathed. “Georgie, after you take out that bread get that order to the back and start the salads.”
She hadn’t looked up, knowing the heat she felt in her face would register as bright splotches from her cheeks down. But Reuben’s firm, gentle voice had worked. The timer on the bread buzzed. She swallowed and stood up straight, lifted her head, grabbed the plate-size spatula and moved to the bread oven. By the time she had sliced several loaves, arranged them in baskets, and returned to the salads, thankfully, Sam had gone to the back.
“Hey, seventeen up yet?” Mai smiled, her narrow black-framed glasses accentuating her exotic features.
Georgie took a deep breath, placing a cup of butter next to a baked potato. “Nearly.”
“Hey, you okay? You’re all splotchy.”
Reuben added a plate between them. “Good to go.” He knocked on the counter and took the next order back. “A bowl of the bisque, Georgie, for fourteen.”
“It happens,” Georgie lowered her voice and fingered the ladle in the soup, “when I get flustered.” Ian had referred to them as her hot spots. She hated that term. It had been funny at first. A flirtation that had made her flush even more. After a while, though, it was laced with a hint of his disapproval.
“Hey,” Mai leaned over the counter and touched Georgie’s arm. “You’re doing great. Reuben wouldn’t have hired you if he didn’t think you could handle it.”
“Ribeye and king for two, table ten,” Sam said, appearing suddenly.
Georgie held her breath as he turned away.
“Cheer up, Sam,” called Mai after him, “you’re bringin’ the place down.” She shook her head, gathering up her order. “Poor guy got dumped a couple weeks ago.” She picked up her tray and turned to go, but stepped back again. “I’ll take that soup to fourteen.”
“Thanks.” Georgie placed the soup on the tray.
“And don’t be flustered. You’ll get the hang of it.” She smiled again and left.
Georgie sighed and reached for the next order, then quickly readied six salad plates as she called it out. “Pepper oysters, two prime, medium, one fettuccini with scallops, one tuna, one mahi mahi, and one fish-n-chips.” She held the ticket out to Reuben, who caught her eye and gave her the slightest of smiles.
“And get that bread out.” He put his hand up to stop her puzzled protest and pointed at the bread ovens just as the timer buzzed.
She attempted to hide her smile. “Bread’s done.”
“So I hear.” He grinned and went to work.
Georgie turned from the salads with the spatula and couldn’t help stealing a look at Sam. A slight scowl turned the corners of his mouth down and he seemed to be turning the steaks with excessive force. She quickly turned away, not a doubt in her mind as to why someone would break up with him.
Ian’s devastating smile flashed in her mind, confident and alluring even when his words cut her down, causing self-doubt in their very means of delivery. Maior risus, acrior ensis. Her brother had taught her that. A warning she had shrugged off as ridiculous. The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife. James had never liked Ian. She should have paid more attention to his sensibilities. James liked everyone.
Georgie glanced again at Sam’s scowl. He paused and ran a heavy hand over his face, revealing fatigue and, for a brief moment, pain. He drew in a breath, wiping his hands clean, and continued working. Georgie turned back to the salad, trying to recall if she had ever seen the sous-chef smile.

February 8, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial: On Being Brave

"Whether or not you write well, write bravely."  -Bill Stout

Because I write, I've become a better writer. Because I have so much more to learn, I'll keep writing.

And I'm partial to capes.

February 7, 2011

Monday Mess: Drawing Characters from Real Life

My friend Don inspired this post today, so you might want to go read about his plight over at Donald J.Carey. It's brief and a little funny, but it is something I've wondered about in imagining the upcoming release of my first novel, The Orchard. How many friends or relatives will think I've written them into a book?

I'm sure many writers will agree that characters sort of come to life on their own. Sure, we can give them a career, tell them what school they went to and how many brothers and sisters they have, but while writing them, or sometimes, scribing for them, their unique personalities develop as the hero, the love interest, the villain, the best friend, the counselor.

It usually isn't until after I've written characters interacting a good deal, that I go back and write character journals of each one. Then it's fun to enhance those interactions with some of the things I've discovered about each one. It's like getting to know somebody. You can be acquainted, know a little background, and listen to what they have to say. But then after spending some time with that person, you can attach more meaning to their words, and understand their actions and views better. Or in an author's case, you can write them better, deeper.

However, having said this, of course writers draw from influences around them. I'll share a few easy examples where my characters have been influenced by real people in my life:

In The Orchard, the hero, Derick, has an older sister. A lot of my mom went into her character, her energy, her desire to make sure everyone is comfortable. Even some of her coloring is influenced by my mom. My mom is thrilled. Especially since the character is younger.

In the same book, Ben's character is a combination of my dad (sweet and quiet) and my sister's old boyfriend (mannerisms). I didn't choose it that way, I just recognized the influences of those people in my life as I pictured Ben stepping out onto the front porch the first time and meeting the visitors to his ranch. Often, when I recognize attributes in my characters as those of people I know, it's a relief to be able to picture them as I write. I'm a visual writer and picture the story unfolding as a movie, and I'm just writing down what I see and hear. So it's wonderful to have a clear image of my characters.

In The Inn, the hero's son, Sam, is a combination of my two sons (but not in looks), and his youngest daughter, Lily, is my youngest, all the way. His oldest daughter, Chloe, talks as my oldest daughter would. Probably because my kids are such a presence in my hour-to-hour life that I couldn't escape their influence if I tried. In The Lake, Chloe's best friend was very much influenced by what I thought my 10 year old niece might be like in college.

But, and this is a big BUT (go ahead, giggle), though these characters have been influenced in some way by real people, their stories, their choices, their parts in the plot ARE NOT REAL. They play roles in bringing a story to life. So although Derick's sister resembles my mom, my mom is not married to a farmer-turned college professor, nor was she unable to have children. Ben is quiet and shy like my dad, but runs a ranch. My dad is a computer engineer, and doesn't care for horseback riding.

The protagonist in Grace & Chocolate is called Jill, after my cousin. But Jill my cousin is nothing like Jill in the book. At all. Actually, I've used a lot of my cousins' names in my books. But only because I love the names, and they were great for the characters. Assuming that I must be writing about my cousins would be like assuming I'm naming a baby after someone because I expect the baby to be just like that person.

So while poor Don is fielding questions about his characters, I will continue to write my new novel, which is set on Camano Island in the Puget Sound of Washington state, where the main character goes to stay with her 2 aunts, and I will continue to wonder what people will think, who know that I actually have 2 aunts who live together . . . on Camano Island.

And just for fun, I'll post some pictures I've found of some of my characters. It's so great to happen upon a face that makes you cry out, 'It's _____!" It's also a little insane. Oh well. Such is the life of a novelist.

Young Derick Whitney- THE ORCHARD
Young Alisen Embry-THE ORCHARD
Jillian Parish-GRACE & CHOCOLATE
Justin Michaels-THE LAKE
Chloe Brennan-THE INN, THE LAKE
*Just a note: I usually find a picture well after a character is established. It's not always spot on to what I see in my head, but it can come surprisingly close!

Next Monday Mess: Drawing Events from Real Life

February 3, 2011

Thursday Authorial: The Whitney Awards

The Whitney Awards is a program founded for the purpose of promoting stronger writing in the LDS literary community. Like other awards programs, titles are nominated (in this case fiction titles written by LDS authors and released that year), placed in genres, and are put through a voting process by readers and the numerous members of LDStorymakers. Hundreds of titles are submitted every year and though the program is only a few years old, writers are seeing the bar raised, and it is easier to see the quality that is now expected in LDS literature. Whether it is easier to obtain that quality in our own writing is up to us and our willingness to learn, try, write write write, and submit*.

Side note: *Submission is a great word for what you do when you present a ms to an agent or publisher. You not only hand in your attempt, but you have to be ready to submit to feedback, criticism, compromise, or rejection. And when I say submit to rejection, I only mean take another look at the ms and who you're submitting to, and try again.

The 2010 Whitney Award Finalists have been announced. It's an exciting list for me for several reasons. First, this is the first year I have authors I consider friends on the list! It changes the experience a bit to feel a thrill for people you care about. Second, I have actually read 7 of the finalist books! That may not sound like much when it is 7/35, but last year I had only read 2 (G.G. Vandagriff's THE LAST WALTZ and David J. West's HEROES OF THE FALLEN). I did, however, read more titles after the winners were announced, which is one of the great things to come out of the awards program. For more on the Whitney Awards and how they work, see here, and here.
This year's list has already inspired me to add to my to-read list. The competition is tight and varying, and not limited to LDS published titles. It blows me away how many nationally published best-sellers are written by LDS authors. A cousin asked me for a YA reading list for her daughter. It was packed with LDS authors. James Dashner (MAZE RUNNER), Shannon Hale (GOOSE GIRL), Kiersten White (PARANORMALCY), AprilynnePike (WINGS), Ally Condie (MATCHED), and more.

The bar is rising.

Here is a list of the nominees in their categories (the titles I've read are highlighted):

2010 Whitney Award Finalists

Band of Sisters Blink of an Eye The Cross Gardener Finding Mercie Lucky Change
Annette Lyon Gregg Luke Jason Wright Blaine Yorgason Susan Law Corpany
Alma The Younger Oh Say Can You See? The Sheen on the Silk The Silence of God Trespass
H.B. Moore L.C. Lewis Anne Perry Gale Sears Sandra Grey
Courting Miss Lancaster Cross My Heart The Legend of Shannonderry Luck of the Draw Meg’s Melody
Sarah Eden Julie Wright Carol Warburton Rachael Renee Anderson Kaylee Baldwin
Cold as Ice Crossfire Murder by Design A Time to Die Wrong Number
Stephanie Black Traci Hunter Abramson Betsy Brannon Green Jeffrey Savage Rachelle J. Christensen
Imprints Mr. Monster Pathfinder The Scorch Trials The Way of Kings
Rachel Ann Nunes Dan Wells Orson Scott Card James Dashner Brandon Sanderson
Youth Fiction—Speculative
Fablehaven 5 Matched Paranormalcy The Forbidden Sea The Fourth Nephite
Brandon Mull Ally Condie Kiersten White Sheila Nielson Jeffrey Savage
Youth Fiction—General
Glimpse Missing In Action My Double Life The Healing Spell Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me
Carol Lynch Williams Dean Hughes Janette Rallison Kimberly Griffiths Little Kristen Chandler

 Good luck to all the nominees, and thank you for setting a higher standard!

Oh, and LDStorymakers is having a contest.  
Win a ticket to the Whitney Awards Gala! It's the crowning event of the LDStorymakers Writers Conference!

February 1, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial: Light On Broken Glass

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.  ~Anton Chekhov

As often as I've read this quote, as used as it is in the writing world, it works.
I found myself telling the other day. Describing, narrating. And after I read through it, it occurred to me that it wasn't enough. The emotion, meaning, the whole purpose of the scene would be made so much clearer and deeper through dialog. I love dialog. Is it dialog or dialogue? Either way, it provides an opportunity to show personality, emotion, conflict, deception, humor, etc., not to mention background and setting info, from a very intimate perspective: the characters themselves. That's a lot of broken glass. I went back and invited a character into the scene, and the two characters bounced meaning off each other like so much glinting moonlight.

When I first wrote this scene, I described Sam taking his break from work outside the restaurant where he is sous-chef. He ponders on how the previous week he let things going wrong in his personal life interfere with his work and the staff. He resolves to do better, and knows he needs to apologize to one staff member in particular who is new to her job. It was entirely narrative. I get uncomfortable going too long without dialogue. I'm spelling it that way.
Anyway, this is the scene after I brought in another character, a waitress named Mai:
“You doing better?”
He peered at her as he took another swallow. “Than what?”
“Than whatever that was last week.”
He looked down, slowly twisting the cap back on the bottle. He shrugged and looked up at the color slowly spreading across the sky, bouncing off scattered clouds. Three days had passed since Reuben had given him the ultimatum.
“Look, it’s none of my business, but it’s nice to have you back. At least some of you.”
He glanced at her again. “Thanks.”
“You were pretty unbearable. I wondered if you’d started drinking.”
He lifted his water bottle in a salute and she laughed. She grew quiet and they both watched the sky turning from orange to purple.
“You know, you were pretty hard on Georgie.”
“I know.”
“Well, you need to know.”
He set his jaw. “I do.”
Mai folded her arms. “Good.” She raised her eyebrows, looking at him over her glasses.
“Great.” Was she done yet?
“That’s not like you.”
“I know.”
She doesn’t.” She turned. “See ya back inside.”
“Yup.” He heard the door close and growled, knowing what he had to do.

That was much more fun to write. Sometimes I forget, but if there is an opportunity to show through dialogue, that's what I'd rather do.

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