Sunday, March 2, 2014

Woman: the Most Dangerous Plaything

A couple of posts ago, I declared the importance of Finding Your Funny. Since that post was already lengthy, I resisted adding some excepts from the vault (i.e. laptop nether-reaches).  

You see, it wasn't that long ago that I began injecting my writing with snark and sarcasm. I'm a funny person, but I'm on-the-spot funny, and writing requires rehearsal in the jokes department, which goes against my canned-humor-is-evil frame of mind.  

However, after reading some particularly funny YA books, I abandoned the princesses, sparkling tiaras, and gowns dripping with froufrou and tackled the modern tale of a closet fashionista--cleverly disguised as a frumpy secretary--who finally has her day.  Today, I'm leaking a chunk from my second attempt at humorous writing: Sylvi Lockhart.  

Character Sketch through Clothing:
Originally, I created the main characters of Sylvi Lockhart by conceptualizing their clothing (this is when you realize that the aforementioned Sam James is based quite firmly on Sarah E. Boucher and her burgeoning closet).
Our heroine, Sylvi Lockhart:
Sylvi's a professional writer whose figurative chickens are all in a row: fantastic/successful boyfriend, second novel in the works, and a generous inheritance from her grandfather to support her writing career.

Then there's this hooligan.
Jesse James:

He's a private investigator.  Not exactly what you'd call run-of-the-mill, he survives mainly on fast food (fishy patties are preferred), lives in the camper shell attached to his rust mobile of a truck, and has a collection of rather snarky tee-shirts.

The quote from Nietzsche featured at the beginning of this post sums up the relationship between sassy Sylvi and donkey-on-the-edge Jesse.

Excerpt from Sylvi Lockhart

            I plucked my nails from the dashboard, noting the half-moon indentations left behind.  Sometime in my girlhood, my teenage brother had vowed, “This ride will put hair on your chest!” And as we had barreled over a bridge, the truck defying gravity and sailing into the air, I thought, Do I want hair on my chest?
Nervously, I glanced down my blouse to be sure this ride wasn't having similar results.  Catching a glimpse of hair-free chest encased in lacy push-up bra, I let out a breath of relief.
The feeling was far too short-lived.
                “Hold on!” the man beside me warned, yanking the wheel to the left and sending the truck skidding around the corner.  My fingernails once again dug into the dash as I tried to avoid slamming into the door. 
                How did I get myself into this mess?  I glanced at the 30-something man beside me, burly and somewhat craggy-faced, his biceps flexing as he gripped the steering wheel tightly with a wicked glint in his green eyes.  He wasn’t unpleasant looking.  In fact, if I hadn’t already been in a committed relationship, I would have appreciated the way his jeans hugged his thighs, or how his t-shirt—bearing the phrase Without ME it’s just AWESO—clung to his rather well-muscled torso. 
Okay, maybe I appreciated it anyway, but that was beside the point. 
Here’s the point: I’d known this man less than an hour, and I was already riding shotgun on a high speed chase with him.  I tried to put the details in order that had led to this strange turn of events.
It had begun with the idea for my latest book.  Kevin (my publicist/extremely good-looking boyfriend) had insisted the mystery genre was all the rage and pressured me to pen a spy novel.  Not one to be bullied into anything, I decided to take the gumshoe route instead.  The only real hang-up was that I knew next to nothing about real detective work.  Being a stickler for first-hand research, I decided to interview an working P.I. to get the inside scoop. 
After making a few calls, I decided to contact Jesse James.  Regardless of his vigilante namesake, a number of acquaintances had identified him as an extremely professional and efficient investigator.  Assuming I’d hear back from him within the week, I left him the requisite message and hoped for the best. 
Exactly three minutes later, a text buzzed through:  Meet me on 9th & Claybourne.  Bring sandwiches.  It was Jesse’s number all right, but I was puzzled by the cryptic message.  Having never dealt with an actual detective, I wasn’t sure if this was the norm, but figured I’d give it a shot anyway.  After all, what could happen?
After parking as close to the corner of Claybourne and 9th as possible, I added a fresh layer of lip gloss--it couldn’t hurt--and grabbing my handbag and the still warm sack containing two extra meaty subs, I locked the car and walked to the intersection.  
I wondered what a real P.I. might look like.  Would he sport a full mustache, short shorts, and a clear predilection for Hawaiian shirts? Or would he have a full head of hair stiff with too much product, a snarky sense of humor, and spend all his time trying to convince everyone of his supernatural abilities?  When I didn't see anyone who fit my preconceived notions, feeling somewhat disappointed, I turned back to my car.  A sharp whistle drew my attention.  Across the street sat an orange truck with a dilapidated camper shell and a hand beaconing out the window.  Glancing both ways to avoid getting run over, I hurried toward it.
The truck was not something any type of professional should be driving. It was obviously some type of classic something or other, with the boxy shape of a Ford from the late 60’s.  At the very least, based on the prominent rust spots scattered over the sides and hood and the tell-tale chugging of the engine, it had seen better days.  The driver, concealed in the shadowy cab, leaned into the light and asked, “Are you Silvia?”  I looked him over, taking in his rumpled blondish hair, short but on the shaggy side, his bright green eyes, and his square stubble-covered jaw.  He wasn’t technically handsome, but he had that quality that makes girls say, “I wouldn’t throw him out of bed for eating crackers.” Girls who didn’t have respectable, well-groomed boyfriends, that is.
“It’s Sylvi,” I corrected him.  “Sylvi Lockhart.”
“You bring the sandwiches?” he asked, eying the bag in my hand.
“Yes…” I said slowly, holding them up.  “I meant to ask about that—“
“Great,” he interrupted, snatching the bag from me.  “Get in.”
* * * * *
Note: clothing selections for Sylvi and Jesse can be found on 
my Fashion board on Pinterest and

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