Monday, March 7, 2011

Catch Me If You Can Blogfest!

I enjoyed participating in the last blogfest so much that I decided to do another one!

This is KayKay's Catch Me If You Can blogfest, where a writer posts 550 words of their WIP (to see more in-depth requirements, go to KayKay's blog here.)

Here's the first 592 (I know, I'm cheating a bit) words of my NaNo '10. Though the novel itself is contemporary, I decided to open it with a history twist.

A very long time ago, a time before most people can fathom, there stood two lanterns. They were hand- wrought out of iron and burned only kerosene. They stood in the window of a large colonial- style house, burning brightly for all to see. Though no one in the small New England town knew what the lanterns were for, or even who occupied the house, all the townspeople soon grew to like the two points burning warmly at the front of the house.

“Have you ever noticed,” an old woman remarked to her companion as they strolled past the house in those early days. “That the lanterns never go out?”

“That can’t be true,” the other woman disagreed. “Just think how costly kerosene is. They must turn them down sometimes.”

“I don’t know,” the first woman countered. “There’s never been a time, day or night, that I’ve passed this house that they weren’t burning away.” At her friend’s long- suffering look, the first woman turned her gaze to the twin lights. “In any case, I find them comforting. Something constant in these changing times.”

“Just you wait,” the second woman wagered. “As soon as those new-fangled electrical lights become available, those lamps will be gone.”

But this did not happen. Electricity did arrive and soon all the other windows on the street sparkled with a power-driven glow. But number 42 continued to emit flickering lamplight. The other townspeople, who were frightfully proud of their new electric lamps, things that could be turned on with just the press of a switch, and so much safer, too, couldn’t imagine why those at 42 did not embrace the invention as they had.

“Perhaps the old lady who lives there wants to live life as she’s always know it,” a young gentleman commented as his carriage lurched past. He did not, in fact, know who lived there, let alone if they were old, but at this point in time, the town had begun to rather romanticize the old house and those within it.

But in truth, there was nothing romantic about the lanterns or the people that tended to them- or rather, person. For just one woman resided at number 42. She was, as the man in the carriage had conjectured, old, but she had not always been. It had been her job and her job alone to watch over the lanterns for the past sixty years. All day, every day, the old woman tended to the lanterns, refilling their kerosene, trimming their wicks, adjusting their flames lower or higher. When not tending to the lamps themselves, she would braid new wicks, tidy the house, and read. They were days spend in tedium, but better that, she knew, than what might happen if she neglected her duties.

She had been told as a girl, when her aunt had assumed care of the lights, that should even one lamp burn down, the world would experience instant devastation. Eventually, the old woman knew her time was running out. She contacted her brother and requested the company of his oldest daughter. The girl would make for fine live- in assistance, as she was single, had just turned twenty- five, and therefore had no marriage prospects. The woman wrote that the girl would assist with housework and the woman’s affairs, but she never revealed to her brother her true plans- to train her niece in lantern keeping so the girl could take her aunt’s place when she died.

Speaking of TOSOL, I got my first edits back, and I'll be talking about those on WIP Wednesday this week, so come visit me then, too!


  1. The historical twist is fascinating but I wonder how it fits into the contemporary novel?

  2. I liked the mystery of the two lanterns. That part hooked me,b ut when it abruptly jumped to electric lights, I lost some of my earlier appeal.

    It is intriguing to me why this woman still keeps the lanterns glowing. I would keep reading!

    Come by and check out mine. I'm #51!

  3. Very creepy. The grandma pinning the (positively elderly) twenty-five year old to tend scary lanterns for the rest of her days. Wow.

    I would definitely change the first line, though. My brain jumped to 'in a galaxy far, far away.'

    Interesting, yes, but does it hook the reader? Not sure. I'd read a bit more to see where you take it. Keep writing!


  4. I really enjoyed this. I was intrigued by the two lanterns and wanted to continue reading.

    I was distracted by the dialogue. The dialogue is structurally all the same, with a few words to dialogue, a tag, and then the remaining dialogue. I was also distracted by the variety of dialogue tags (I know--I know--this is a matter of debate).

    Overall I really enjoyed it and would certainly keep reading.

  5. It's an interesting set up, though the way it's done feels perhaps a little heavily narrated.

  6. I agree with Marie about the first line. I thought of Star Wars right off the bat. Lol.

    I'm really curious about these lanterns and the mystery behind them. And about this poor girl (who I'm assuming will become our MC) who is being dragged into tending them for the rest of her life.

    This concept is really refreshing and new! I'd keep reading!

    Thanks for sharing :)