Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor – ASCH

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I often get asked how long does it take me to write a book. That’s a tough question. Do they mean how long does it take to write the first draft? How long it takes to edit the book? I wrote the first draft of A Second Chance House in maybe four to six months. Honestly, I forget. It spent eleven months in edits. That part I will not forget. I wrote the first draft of the second book in the series The Bridge Home in six months because I started it twice, wrote half and then trashed it to start over. Bridge is in edits now. I wrote the third book in the series The Essence of Whiskey and Tea in eight weeks. No one has seen Whiskey yet except me. Very different process for each. But here’s one thing that is the same in all my books. Some scenes just don’t make it into the finished product – like in the movies.

When a movie is filmed, many scenes are cut from the final version for a variety of reasons. I doubt film makers actually cut the film like they did in the old days, but the process is still the same. Get rid of what doesn’t work to tell the story.

Every word on the page has to count. If a scene isn’t doing it’s job, then it has to go no matter how much I like it. Many times I’ve had to delete cute dialogue, heartfelt confessions, or fight scenes. But I don’t actually delete them. I cut and paste them into another document. I’ve sweated over many of the scenes that don’t get used. I don’t have the heart to rid my world of them completely.

I thought my blog readers might enjoy seeing a scene that didn’t make into A Second Chance House. Think of it as a special treat for being my constant readers. Thank you for taking the journey with me.

 

Nothing good happened when the phone rang at four a.m. Grace pawed for the rattling phone on the pillow next to her. Blaise’s pillow, but he wasn’t there.  She had three weeks before she closed up the house and met him on the west coast. “Hello?”

“Babe? I think I’m dying.” Blaise’s voice was a breathless mumble.

She sat straight up, sleep forgotten. He wasn’t playing a practical joke. Not this time. “What’s the matter?” She switched the bedside lamp on and blinked against the glare.

“I’m sick. I’ve been puking for two hours and my side hurts. I mean fucking hurts. I can’t take it.”

“Do you think its food poisoning?” What was she going to do for him while she was in New Jersey and he was in California? Panic squeezed her throat and filled her lungs like water.

“I don’t know. Colton and I, hang on.” The phone sounded as if it slammed into the floor.

He hurled. She cringed.

“Sorry.” His voice croaked. “Colton and I had dinner around six. By eleven, my insides hurt so badly I threw up right in the kitchen sink. Is that food poisoning?”

“I never had food poisoning. Did you call Colton?” If they had eaten the same thing, then he’d be sick as a dog too.

“No, I wanted to talk to you. I thought I’d feel better if I heard your voice. Babe, this sucks. Hang on.” More hurling. “Sorry.”

“Where are you?”

“Curled up on the bathroom floor.”

She imagined him in a ball on the floor with his cheek pressed against the cold tile floor. “I’m calling Colton and telling him to go over. You need to go to the hospital.” She had to try to help.

“No, don’t hang up.”

“Blaise, I’ll be two minutes. Just keep the phone nearby. I love you.” It broke her heart to do it, but she pressed the end button and dialed Colton’s number. He was a mile away from Blaise and could help him.

She pounded out the numbers on the screen and waited for the ringing. Why did they continue to live on opposite coasts? She’d put her house on the market as soon as this was over. Please, let him be all right.

“Damn it, answer, Colton.”

“Yeah?” Colton’s brusque voice echoed in her ear.

“It’s Grace. Did you eat the same thing as Blaise for dinner?”

“What are you talking about?”

Fear pushed its way up from her stomach and shook her vocal chords. She lost what little patience she could muster. “Did you eat the same thing for dinner as your brother?” She stilted her words so the dumb ass would follow her.

“No, why?” His voice took on a softer tone or had she imagined it?

             Dear Lord, it was his appendix. “I need you to go to Blaise’s. He’s on the bathroom floor throwing up and says his stomach hurts.”

“Are you shitting me?”

“Yes, Colton. I am. I’ve decided to call you at one a.m., tell you Blaise is sick to see if you’re stupid enough to go over and find out. Please go to your brother’s house and call him an ambulance.” She hung up and dialed Blaise.

“Babe?” He wheezed.

“Colton is on his way. Just stay put. I’ll stay on the phone with you until he gets there and then he’s going to get you to the hospital.” Hopefully, in enough time.

 

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Adventures in Motherhood: At The Movies

I took Noodge 2 to see the Disney Pixar film Inside Out the other day. She asked if I’d go with her and when your thirteen year-old daughter wants to do something with you, you drop everything and go.

When I asked Noodge 2 if she liked the movie, she replied with a shrug of her shoulder and a wrinkle of her nose. “I guess. It was a one and done for me.” I think she was trying to be nice for my sake.

You see, I loved it.

Here is the synopsis from Fandango.com: Emotions run wild in the mind of a little girl who is uprooted from her peaceful life in the Midwest and forced to move to San Francisco in this Pixar adventure from director Pete Docter (Up, Monsters Inc.). Young Riley was perfectly content with her life when her father landed a new job in San Francisco, and the family moved across the country. Now, as Riley prepares to navigate a new city and attend a new school, her emotional headquarters becomes a hot bed of activity. As Joy (voice of Amy Poehler) attempts to keep Riley feeling happy and positive about the move, other emotions like Fear (voice of Bill Hader), Anger (voice of Lewis Black), Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) make the transition a bit more complicated. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Lately, my emotions have been running wild too. I have teenagers and having teenagers sends your emotions on a roller coaster ride. We all know I don’t like rides. Don’t get me wrong, having teenagers is a wonderful thing. They can dress and feed themselves, most of the time, you can have real conversations with them, as long as you don’t give advice or embarrass them in any way, you can leave them home alone and not worry about the house burning down, well, you can leave them for short periods of time, anyway.

Sometimes, though, it’s frustrating having teenagers. They want to sleep late. They think you were born yesterday and at the same time you’re old. They’re messy. We all know how I handle that.

But other times having a teenager is bitter sweet. You’re baby is growing up at the speed of light and you can’t slow it down and yet, you know you aren’t supposed to. The things that once made them laugh only get eye rolls and grunts now. You are no longer their hero, but their nemesis. They don’t want to bake with you, make crafts with you, play trains with you. In fact, their favorite thing to do is either sit in their room with the door closed or sit on the computer with headphones in so they can’t hear you calling them.

And yet, it wasn’t so long ago I was holding them in my arms reading them stories and tickling their bellies. They have forgotten the memories I still hold dear. Many times Noodge 2 clucks at pictures when she was a toddler embarrassed by her hair or her pose. I tell her to be quiet. Those pictures are for me. They are the reminders of my little girl who used to climb into my lap with stories and adventure of her Little People. Sometimes, I miss that.

Let’s get back to, Joy. In the movie, Joy tries to keep Riley happy by using her memories. Every one of Riley’s pleasant memories made me think of a time with my Noodges. Those memories no longer worked for Riley and it occurred to me sitting in the movie theater next to my teenager, those memories no longer work for her or her brother either.

That’s when I began to cry. Yup, I’m a crier. It’s awful. I cry at commercials, movies, stupid cards, songs, and the memories of my children when they were little. (I also cried the other day when Noodge 2 performed at her voice recital. So, their ages really have nothing to do with it. I’m pitiful.)

The writers at Disney Pixar hit it on the head. The character Joy wasn’t only Riley’s emotion, she represented the emotion of every mother on the planet. (Okay, not every mother.) Joy held Riley’s memories with love. Joy longed for the time when Riley was little and giggling with her parents, playing with her friend, or winning a hockey game. I can’t hold a memory in my hand, but I have photos and videos of a time when life was simpler and the time when my children would leave me was way out in front of us. Untouchable. Like a cloud. Yeah, well, now we’re smack in the middle of that cloud and it’s turbulence all around.

So, what’s the point of all this besides the fact I’m a crier? Live in the moment, maybe. Hug your kids every chance you get. And hug them tightly. Inhale their smell. Tell them you love them. Cherish the memories because they make you who you are even if those memories have faded for your kids. Maybe those memories make your kids who they are too.

So, my faithful reader, I challenge you. Go see Inside Out. Bring your kids or bring the friend you aren’t afraid to shed a tear in front of. I promise it will be a joyful memory.

 

Another 5 Lessons from Willy Wonka

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Recently, I wrote about the 5 lessons I’ve learned from Willy Wonka. You can read about that here if you missed it. As you know, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite movies. Has been since the fourth grade. They don’t make movies like that anymore. A shame really, but you can’t stop Mr. Wonka’s message. It continues to be heard. You’ll find a few examples below. Sweet reading.

1. Avoid temptation.  Unless you have great willpower which none of the children in the movie seem to display. Augustus with food, Violet with the gum chewing contest, Veruca and her need to own everything, and Mike TeeVee and the TV. Even Charlie couldn’t stay away from the Fizzy Lifting Drink. And what about Mr. Wonka? What was his greatest temptation? Yours? Can you stay away from it?

2. Grandparents rock. Only a grandparent is going to hop out of bed after 20 years of lying down and take you to the Chocolate Factory. And it’s only a grandparent who will use their last quarter to buy you a bar of chocolate in hopes to make your dreams come true. Your parent will use their last quarter to buy you something practical. Like broccoli.

3. Chewing gum is a bad habit.  Unless you have bad breath, but don’t crack it and chomp like a cow. No one likes that.

4. Never give up. Even when times are bad, and they are for Charlie’s family. Heck, you’ve got six people living in one room and four in one bed, (a quick aside; you’ll notice in the 1971 Gene Wilder version Charlie doesn’t have a dad. That script implies their poverty is directly related to the missing male figure in the house. Not the case in the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roahl Dahl.)

5. Beware of orange men with green hair who sing and dance. Especially if they show up just at the moment you’ve given into your biggest temptation. No chocolate for you.