Saturday, April 19, 2014

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quiet Life

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

Q is for Quiet Life

Sometimes we first meet the people we love in casual, simple settings - dinner with friends, a blind date, the grocery store - and sometimes they come barreling into our lives like a runaway freight train.

For Taylor, who lives what you might call an absurdly quiet life on a sheep farm in Australia, Nat's arrival on her motorcycle is like that train: just as wild, just as unexpected, and it leaves just as much chaos in its wake.

These two characters, as I've mentioned (too many times, probably), live in Australia in the 1950s or 60s, and it's their story that will carry us through the rest of the novel. The book will begin and end with them, and their story will weave throughout the other lifetimes. At least, that's the way I've planned it for now.

Taylor's life is so quiet that Nat can't help but wonder why, the more she learns about it. Here's a little excerpt about it from one of my brainstorming scenes (and as always, standard disclaimers apply, including the fact that I totally made up the sheep farming bits). And as a side note, on 'N' day, some of you mentioned wanting to see Nat's take on Taylor. Well, that's not really possible (and come back on 'T' day to see why), but today's snippet gives you a small insight into how Nat sees Taylor. :

“There’s not much to tell.” We were in the fields a week or so later; the dogs were running the flock back and forth, so I could watch for any lame ewes.  
Nat smiled. “Come on, I tell you stories all the time. I want to hear one of yours.” 
I shrugged. “It’s a quiet life, living on a farm. Nothing like traveling the country on a motorcycle.” 
“Well, tell me about the quiet life, then.” 
One of the ewes separated from the rest and made a move toward the open gate. I watched as Rafe, dense and black against the white flock, darted forward and nipped her back into line. Good boy. “You’ve seen it. This is it,” I said. 
“I’ve seen a tiny bit of it. That doesn’t count. What about all the rest?” 
“What do you want to know?” 
“I don’t know. Tell me about your family. Tell me about the other girls you bring over when I’m not around.” 
I shook my head. “There aren't any.” 
She laughed. “I don’t believe that for a second. Come on now, spill. I won’t be jealous.” 
“It’s the truth. There aren't any.”
Her eyes were hot on my face, but I kept watching the flock. “Really?” she asked. I didn't respond, just whistled at Rafe, who turned quickly to move the flock to the right. “Come on,” she said. “Not even one? What about that cute waitress at the diner – what’s her name? Susie?” 
I frowned and tried to think of what the waitresses looked like, but came up blank. “What about her?” 
“She was flirting with you, even with me right there.” 
“She was?” I thought back, but I couldn’t even remember what the girl looked like. I’d taken Nat to Brenda’s diner for lunch a few days before, because Nat said she liked diners. We ate eggs and bacon; I watched Nat’s face as she talked. Her hands moving through the air, helping her tell her story. The curve of her breasts under her shirt. Had there been a waitress? 
“Don’t tell me you didn’t notice?” Nat asked. 
I could feel my cheeks starting to burn. “I guess I didn’t.” 
“Lord, Taylor, she was practically drooling on you.” 
“You were paying a lot of attention. Why don’t you go after her, then?” I pushed myself off the fence and waved at the dogs, signaling them to bring the sheep back to pasture. There were a few I wanted to get a closer look at.  
“It wasn't me she wanted.” 
“Well, I don’t remember her.” 
Nat followed me around to the gate and helped me close it. “You really don’t, do you?” Her smile was light but her eyes were serious. 
“No, I don’t.” 
She was quiet for a minute as we walked across the field. “Men, then?”  
“I won’t be upset if the answer is yes. Either one is fine by me. Both, too.” 
I shook my head. “I don’t bring anyone here.” 
“No one? Ever?” 
“I told you it’s a quiet life.” I whistled the dogs off the flock, and patted their heads as they swarmed around us, tails feathered and waving.  
“That’s not quiet. It’s saintly.” 
“It’s just the way I live.” I watched the sheep settle in and start to graze. They were still a bit flighty, after the exercise, and I wanted to wait on walking through them until they were calmer. 
“Taylor…” Her tone was so serious that I looked up. She was frowning, the tiny lines around her eyes more pronounced. “Am I – I’m not your first?” 
I looked back at the sheep. “No.” 
“There’s no shame in it. Some people wait a really long time before – ” 
“You’re not my first.”


  1. She'll be a big challenge all right. Think she would drive me bonkers. But yeah, when we are focused on one target, we often miss others.

  2. I love that you're using the frame structure for your story to keep us tied to the characters and to grant continuity. Awesome!

    True Heroes from A to Z

  3. Hmmm what happens next and she is a little insecure:) Free loving but boy is she attracted to her opposite. Now must wait for more and the book:)

  4. "Not his first." I wonder how she feels about that?

  5. Definitely sounds like Nat is about to shake up Taylor's world!

  6. Ah, the quiet life. I'm not sure I knew you were using first person.

  7. I love sheep! Probably b/c I read so much James Herriot growing up. =)

  8. In the 50s and 60s, that was probably a much bigger deal. Now, it's assumed you aren't someone's first...

  9. What a moment! I'll bet they won't be going back to the diner any time soon.

  10. I like that Taylor wasn't aware of the waitress. I wonder what it says about Nat, that she wasn't aware of Taylor studying her?

  11. Sounds great! What undertones. Loved it!

  12. I want to find out more after that last line.

  13. Lovely! Can't wait to read further.

  14. “That’s not quiet. It’s saintly.” True 'dat!!

    Great excerpt, Liz--this proves you have a gift!

  15. Enjoyed this excerpt. I never tire of hearing stories from the male's perspective:)

  16. Masterful dialogue there. With your comment about Nat's POV... my guess is you're only doing one POV, the conservative spirit.

  17. Well-wrought banter, Liz, moving the story along through their interplay. Not easy to do, but you do it well.

  18. Runaway freight trains can be dangerous. Such a personally is sure to wreck havoc on someone who enjoys the quiet life. :)