The Naked Ladies Writing Group part 5

Fia was almost asleep when her phone chirped with a message. It was Ash, thanking her for a great surprise birthday. Fia replied with happy emojis and hearts. She spread out across her queen sized bed and went to sleep.

It was just as well that Fia’s cleaner came on Wednesdays, it made Fia more confident about having everyone over. The cleaner, Stacy, ran a tight ship and once Fia called and told her what was happening, Stacy reassured her that the house would be sparkling.

When Fia got home from work on Wednesday, there was even a tall vase filled with native greenery and flowers on the dining table. Beside it was a note, in Stacys handwriting. It urged Fia to check the fridge and when she did, she found a plate crowded with chocolate cupcakes, frosted and sprinkled. Stacy, you are an angel, Fia whispered to herself.

If you don’t have time for deep cleaning and baking, you should have a Stacy, Fia thought as she took the plate of cakes out of the fridge and placed them onto the bench to come to room temperature.

Wednesdays were usually a light day at work, and today had been typical.

NOTE: I haven’t decided what Sofia does for a living yet, and I need to do that. She lives in a house that she owns, I think I want her to have been that kid who saved every cent from an early age, and got a job as soon as she was old enough, like that, so that by age thirty she lived in a nice house in the city with a large but doable mortgage. So, maybe she works in finance? Oh, maybe she’s a stock market whiz? Or maybe she was, then she hopped on the YouTube trend and set herself up with a few passive income streams. I like that. Yep, she’s a YouTuber, but she’s set up so if YouTube ever dies, she has other income.

Today, maybe because it was quiet at the offices, Angus, Fia’s social media manager, had dragged the design and copy people into Fia’s office for an impromptu meeting on the decor of the place. When they’d moved into the warehouse space, it had been all go, with no time to call a painter, let alone a decorator, but now they’d been in there for six months, they felt it was time that the space reflected the brand.

Fia had agreed completely and stunned her employees by handing the job of sourcing a decorator and controlling the entire process over to them.

“If you’d like to choose everything yourselves,” She had said. “Go ahead. Or if you’d prefer to pick a decorator and hand the reigns to them, do it. I’m happy either way.”

Her people knew her well, they would make the space fantastic and they’d make choices that she would approve of.

She jumped into the shower, then chose an outfit, then changed, and changed again. Apparently she was more nervous about this than she’d realised, which was strange because she’d barely given tonight a thought. She settled on jeans and a Pink tour t-shirt. Bare feet and she simply pulled her hair back into a pony.

“You-hoo,” came a voice from the front of the house. “You forgot to lock the front door again.” Ashleigh said, putting a canvas bag on the floor next to the single seater lounge chair in the living room. “I thought I’d better be here first, I am first, yes?”

“Yes, you’re first.” Fia said.

“Oh those flowers, you shouldn’t have.” Ashleigh touched a flower.

“I didn’t!” Fia said “Stacy did.”

“That woman is wonderful,” Ashleigh said.

“If it wasn’t for Stacy we’d be sitting on dusty boxes.” Fia said.

“Don’t I know it.” Ashleigh said. “Here’s my food offering.” She lifted a cake box out of the canvas bag and lifted the lid so Fia could see rows of tiny quiches. “We can eat them cold.”

“Not really Italian,” Fia said, taking the container into the kitchen.

“Where do you want us?” Ashleigh said. “Table or lounge?”

“You’re in charge, and don’t pretend you’re not. You choose.” Fia said.

“I choose the lounge for tonight, then see if that works.” Ashleigh pulled a stack of notebooks out of her canvas bag. “I bought notebooks for everyone in case people forget to bring something.”

“You’re a control freak, you know that right?” Fia said.

“Haha Ms empire builder,” Ashleigh said. “Not sure I can take the crown for that.”

“I don’t control, I build.”

“Ah, sure.” Ashleigh looked around the loungeroom like she was seeing it for the first time. “I think I’ll sit on the floor there. That way there are enough seats for everyone else, assuming they show up.”

The sound of car doors closing sent Fia to the front door. She opened it to find Ruby giving Mia a whispered talking-to, pretended she hadn’t noticed and ushered them in. Headlights appeared at the end of the drive just as she was about to shut the door and so she waited for Alice to park her black VW beetle.

“Fia, I hope Ashleigh won’t mind but I’ve brought a friend from work.” Alice said. “This is Betty, she’s one of the editors and she’s writing her own book at the moment, isn’t that a coincidence?” She wrapped Fia in a hug and pulled her workmate into the house.

“Everyone, this is a friend from work,” Alice said.

“Oh, I didn’t know we were inviting anyone we wanted,” Ruby said.

“Chill, Ruby.” Ashleigh said.

“Hi all, I’m Betty,” Alice’s friend said. “I hope there’s a corkscrew in the house because this needs opening.” She held up a bottle of wine, waggling it, looking out from under her thick, black fringe, from person to person.

“Charming,” Ruby said. “We’ll want to keep a clear head for writing, am I right?”

“Haha,” Betty said, throwing her head back and laughing. “Good one. Our best work happens when we’re relaxed. A little wine won’t hurt at all, I promise.”

“Is that your professional opinion then?” Ruby took Mia by the arm and pulled her over to the two seater couch. “This looks like us, buddy.”

“Pretty much,” Betty said, and she held out the bottle to Fia. “This does not need to breathe.”

Fia laughed with her and went to the kitchen to get a corkscrew.

“This house is the best,” Betty said. “Retro and shabby, oh look, birds!” She had noticed Fia’s little collection of bird ornaments.

“Yes, kind of old-fashioned if you ask me.” Ruby said.

“This one is Art Deco, so pretty.” Betty said. I have a similar bird on the tattoo on my back.”

“Oh really?” Mia said. “I’d love to see that.”

“Sure,” Betty said.

“We’re here for writing,” Ruby said. “Not tattoos or ornaments.”

“Okay people, put your food in the kitchen, then back to the loungeroom.” Ashleigh said and Fia was relieved that Ash had taken charge. It seemed like Ruby was winding up for one of her tantrums.

Once everyone was settled, Ashleigh laid out her plan for Wednesday nights. Arrive at seven, eat and catch up for twenty minutes, then settle in for writing talk, reading work out loud, critique and end with plans for the following week.

Betty was the only stranger to the group, so Fia asked her to introduce herself.

“I’m Betty, well Elizabeth originally, I’m from Perth, I’m an editor at Howden House, I like a kind of rockabilly grunge aesthetic, tattoos, and I’m writing my own novel. It’s a fantasy story about two very different women and their journey of self discovery.”

“Thanks Betty, that sounds really interesting.” Ashleigh said.

Fia looked around the group, watching reactions to the newcomer.

“We should all introduce ourselves,” Fia said, looking to Ashleigh. “For Betty, really.”

“Okay,” Ashleigh said. “Your home, you start.”

NOTE: it’s time for me to research the look of each character and write facts about each one in my story bible. I will start by rereading everything I’ve already written and taking notes. I love this part of writing a book.

I just ate lunch and spent an hour on character development, and I’ll write what I’ve decided in my next post. When I write fiction, I choose a celebrity I know from tv or movies for the personality and voice, and this makes life so easy when I think of my character and go to put words in their mouths. The way I choose to write each person never ever comes out exactly like the person I chose to base them around. It’s more like a hook, a quick way into the mind and heart of my characters. I then choose an image from the internet to represent the physicality of each character, although this time one of my characters will be set after a certain celebrity in manner as well as looks.

I’ve been unhappy with the way I’ve written my main character so far and it’s because I hadn’t done this characterisation process. She will pop now, well not pop, but she will come to the fore as the main character. I hope.

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