Excerpt from My Current WIP: Jenna with the Red Pen

We’re halfway through Camp NaNoWriMo, and it’s been going pretty much how my Camps usually go—slow with plenty of stops and starts. I set a goal for 20,000 words for the month, and considering all the stuff I have coming up in the next couple weeks, I probably won’t hit it. What I will do though, for sure, is finish the first draft of my third Rockin’ Austen book, based on Persuasion.

While I was looking for a line to use to participate in the #SunWIP Twitter hashtag, I stumbled upon this scene, squeed, and found it too cute not to share. To set up the scene a little, assistant director Jenna runs into the lead actor, Weston, her former high school boyfriend, in the hotel lobby where they’re staying.

I left in my editing notes in brackets, so you can get a peek at my drafting process too.

She wasn’t stupid. Jenna was nothing if not well prepared. An hour later, when she was sure everyone had evacuated the lobby and was either room-bound or pool-bound, Jenna tiptoed back to see what kind of food they had in their overpriced shop. She needed ginger ale and all the crackers she could find if she was going to rally by tomorrow morning.

The fates were in the business of making it impossible to get away from Weston though, so of course she would find him back in the lobby. This time, his hair was wet, but thankfully he had a shirt on. He was sitting in one of the cushy chairs, facing the fireplace, on his phone.

“Tomorrow we have the day off, then we have an early day the next day again. Like always. No, we’re in California now. Sure, sure, yeah, I get it. I will, I will. Love you too. Stop, I will. Bye. Love you.”

Was he talking to his ex-girlfriend? Maybe they had worked it out. Oh gosh, maybe he was inviting her to set. Jenna wanted to run, but the ding of the elevator made him turn.

She froze like a deer in headlights [cliche] “Sorry, I wasn’t eavesdropping on your conversation with your…” Jenna wasn’t sure whether to refer to her as his girlfriend or his ex-girlfriend.

“My mom?”

“Oh.” Relief washed over her. [you use this too much] She pointed to the small walled-off inlet next to the front desk where they kept limited provisions. “I was just going to grab a snack.”

“Wait. Here.” Weston turned around and rustled around in what sounded like a whole grocery bag worth of snacks. He held up a couple options—trail mix in one hand and hot Cheetos in the other hand. “Want one?”

Jenna wrinkled her nose. “You still eat those? I remember you loved those in high school.” She immediately shut her mouth, hoping she didn’t bring up painful memories by mentioning their past life together.

“So the trail mix then?” He dropped the Cheetos bag into his lap.

“If you don’t mind. If you’re not going to eat them.”

“I would’ve eventually, but I got more than I needed for tonight. I was starving after swimming. Might still go order a pizza after this. Line my stomach with something greasy for all the wine drinking tomorrow.”

Jenna took a few steps closer, just close enough so that she could reach her arm all the way out and pinch the edge of the trail mix bag between two fingers.

He held fast to the bag and smirked as she tugged.

Her face burned, and there was no way to hide it in the brighter-than-daylight overhead lighting of the lobby. Bag in hand, she said, “Thanks,” and took two steps backward. “See you tomorrow for that wine drinking.”

“Do you know much about wine?”

His question startled her, and she may have even physically flinched as she was turning to go. She was only expecting to hear the words, “goodnight” or “bye” or maybe a uninterested grunt in her general direction. The last thing she was expecting was further conversation.

Weston ripped his Cheetos bag open, kicked back in the chair he was on, and propped one ankle on the opposite knee as he dug into his snack.

Unsure of how long she was supposed to stay, Jenna walked over to the chair across from him, waited a moment, and finally lowered herself into it, the trail mix bag pinned between her knees. She was too nervous to eat in front of him now. She could take care of appeasing [wrong word] her stomach in her hotel room later if she survived this conversation without throwing up.

“Kinda, yeah. Henri is French, right? So wine has been part of pretty much every lunch or dinner meeting we’ve had together. He’s even made some wines of his own. Considered opening a vineyard, I guess, but he’s too busy. You?”

“Wow. Me? Nope. Let’s see, there’s red. That’s the dry stuff. White is the sweet stuff.”

Jenna smiled. “Not always.”

“Hey, can I ask you a weird question?” He took his hand out of the bag, and his fingers were covered in reddish-orange dust.

“Sure.” She hoped it wasn’t about their past relationship. Although she longed to get his thoughts on the matter, she couldn’t do it on an already queasy stomach. She eased the bag of trail mix open and popped a couple peanuts in her mouth just in case.

“What’s the deal with Henri? Do you like working with him?”

“Oh!” Was that all? She giggled in relief. “Henri can be a handful, and he can be completely unreasonable sometimes, and frustrating, and spacey, but he really is good at what he does, believe it or not. I’ve never seen a project he’s worked on not look amazing in the end. Plus, I’m so used to his antics that it would be hard to get used to another director, you know? After him, I think I’d like to go off on my own and direct something. Maybe produce. Most ADs go on to be producers, but I’d like to try my hand at both.”

“My band does need a director for their music video, but that’s probably beneath you.” He said it so casually that Jenna wasn’t sure what to make of it. His eyes weren’t even on her. They were watching the TV with national news playing behind her head.

She decided not to make anything of it and instead shrugged. “Yeah, we’ll see. You never know what I might end up directing first.” She smiled to herself and debated whether to say her next thought out loud or not. “At least I know now you can act. Directing you—your band—wouldn’t be too bad.”

He let out a surprised chuckle. “I can. Not sure about the rest of those jokers. But hey, if you’re OK with working with a bunch of trained monkeys, then you can handle my bandmates. Anyway.” He licked the powder off his thumb and then his index finger, and Jenna had to look away before any of her body parts betrayed her. “I’m gonna head up. See you in the morning?”

“I’ll be here,” she squeaked.

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