#WIPpet Wednesday #AmWriting 1/10/18 Go Home

So where am I taking you today? Back up to North Chicago where I actually lived when… well, I was in the USN and my eldest, now age 27, wasn’t even a thought yet. The building above is where I lived in with my now ex, and it was just like I describe in Cleaning House, faded Art Deco with crummy apartments and marble hallways (or it was at the time… I have no idea what the interior is like now). Prostitutes did indeed sit in the doorway and the surrounding streets were certainly not safe to navigate alone, especially after dark. The only noticeable change between what I remember and this Google Maps screenshot from 2017 is the restaurant next door. When I lived there, it was a Kentucky Fried Chicken, now it’s a fish and chips kinda joint by their signage.

I thought seeing the actual location I’m detailing in this #WIPpet might interest readers. Today I’m posting again from Cleaning House. The manuscript is in back edits at present. Yep, that means back-to-front reading, which I loathe, but it’s a necessary evil, especially since it helps me see a lot of issues I wouldn’t otherwise. After back edits, the manuscript goes off to my betas *smiles hopefully at fellow author Debbi McGowan* If the offer is still open, I’d love your input.

Here’s my WIPpet math for 1/10/2018    10 + (8-2-1) = 15 paragraphs from Cleaning House… if my math isn’t incorrect, so be it. I was an English major for good reason.

The Setup: We’re still in North Chicago (at the location in the image above) and Cent and Betty are having an, er, intense conversation concerning Betty’s phone chat with Aunt Tess and Aubrey.

Betty speaks first in this WIPpet.

     “Who’s Aubrey?”

     “My cousin, why?”

     “He got on the phone for a moment after your Aunt Tess.” Betty waved her cigarette Cent’s direction. “Now, I could understand him some. Educated like you, but still with the same accent. Cute, I bet. Is he?”

     “Oh, good grief.” Cent slid down to sit on the floor in the kitchen doorway. “What’d he tell you?”

     “Same thing your Aunt Tess did. They need you to come home.” Betty stared at Cent. “They need your help.”

     Cent shook her head and slumped over her water bottle. “If I go home I’ll have to deal with my mama.”

     “Yes, Tess mentioned her, said she was the whole reason you left there to begin with.”

     “Her and a lot of other people in the area.”

     “Haters are everywhere, baby doll.” Betty reached out with her toes to lift Cent’s chin. “But family isn’t.”

     “Yeah, but you’re family too.”

     “That’s nice.” Betty dropped her leg and reached back to flick more ashes out the window. “But it isn’t reality.” She stood so fast her nightgown swirled around her calves. “We’re friends because we’re both queer, and that’s the only reason.”

     “The only reason? I thought we had a connection, a…”

     “If we did it ends right now.” Betty tossed her cigarette out the open window and slammed it closed before spinning around to loom over Cent again. “Go home, country cuttah’. This isn’t the place for you, and I’m not your friend.”

     “But I’ve lived in Chicago for over a decade. You know this.” Cent sat tall when Betty drew her mouth into a snarl. “I’ve been to five continents. I—”

     “And now your sorry ass is trying to scratch together a living outside the Great Lakes naval base.” Betty jerked Cent to a stand and pressed a delicately painted fingernail into her chest. “That stink you always complain about? That’s the pharmaceutical plant across the road and the fish stand next door. It’s the smell of run-down, molding, festering nothing. It’s a pisser of a hell hole. It’s Nowheresville. Go home, little girl.” She pushed Cent back with the heel of her palm. “Go. Home!”

Read more #WIPpet Wednesday posts from Cleaning House HERE.

*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.


  1. I have the feeling Betty’s the type who cares more than she lets on, and she’s minimizing their relationship to make sure Cent does as she’s told. But part of me hopes this isn’t the last we’ll see of Betty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, no. Betty isn’t getting away from this writer so easily. Few of my characters serve a singular purpose in my work. Besides, she’s too interesting for me to let go of so readily.


  2. Cent’s probably going to be too hurt (especially with all the other hurt she’s got roiling under her skin) to appreciate how much Betty is doing for her right now. Sounds like some seriously rocky interaction to come…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My first introduction to Cent and Betty, but both characters immediately come to life for me. Betty is one powerful, unique, scrappy person. If Cent goes home, I’m already curious about what happens next,whether she’ll be accepted by family as she is now, and what will break her heart (or she will remember), if she leaves Betty behind. I also was curious about that backward edit. Do you read chapters from the end of the book forward? I’ve done this by sections but never heard of this editing technique. Why/how do you find it helpful. And, have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Beth! Betty is very to the point with almost everything she says. That’s what I love best about her. And backward edit means just that, every sentence, back to front, reading each sentence for content, flow, and punctuation, editing as needed. It’s a slow tedious method, but I’ve found it works wonders for me, especially toward the end of the story where there are always more technical problems. It gives me relatively clean manuscripts and lets me clear up holes and inconsistencies alike. If you can stand the method, I highly recommend it.


  4. Ooh, this is a powerful scene. I’m really intrigued by Betty. Is that how she really feels? Or is this a cruel-to-be-kind “I’m going to make you think I feel this way so that you’ll leave” kind of deal?

    Liked by 1 person

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