Friday, September 21, 2012

Feature Friday: Charismatic powers of persuasion

Way back when I was fresh out of college, I got my very first job working in a call center.  It was a horrible, horrible job.  Because the call center was open 24/7/365, I had to work weird hours, got Wednesdays and Thursdays off in lieu of weekends, and had to work pretty much every major holiday.  Seriously, it sucked.  There are not enough words to express how much I hated that job.  Anyone who's ever worked in a call center or who works in one now can tell you what a boring, soul-sucking grind it can be.

So how did I express my disappointment with my job?  Why, I started writing a novel, of course!  While the novel is not biographical in any way, Melinda's experiences in the call center are based on my own experiences in a call center.

And that is the origin story of this novel.  It languished on my hard drive for more than ten years before I unearthed it and saw that it had some potential.  The first chapters will require a lot of rewrites.  Let's just say, back in those days, I had a text pager and it was WAY high tech.  Most people didn't even have Internet access at home.  So, yeah, the technology in the novel is just a *wee* bit out of date.  But, still, what I really liked about it were Melinda's relationships with her friends and family, and her struggles with being in her twenties and trying to figure out what she really wants out of her adult life.  I can relate to that.

Now, without further ado, I bring you a first glimpse at Phoning It In, my forthcoming contemporary women's fiction novel.


“So, what are we doing this weekend?” Blaine asked casually.  There was a lull in the calls and things were pretty quiet so they actually had a few minutes to spare chatting, unfortunately for Melinda.

“Nothing.  I have plans with my family.  My sister and I are taking my mom out for her birthday,” Melinda replied, equally as casually.

“Bull,” he said, cheerily.  “We are doing something.  You’re just hoping that I’ll let you worm your way out of it and that’s not going to happen this time.  When are you taking your mom out for dinner?”

“Sunday,” Melinda mumbled.

“Well, since we’re going out Saturday after work, that will be no problem at all.”

“I’d really rather not.  I don’t exactly want to be hung over when I’m out dining with my family.”

“You can be the designated driver.  You certainly won’t be hung over on Sunday then, will you?”

“Oh great,” Melinda groused.  “Not only are you making me go out against my will, you’re promising me a fun evening of sipping Diet Coke while all the rest of you get buzzed and happy.”

“Yep.  Won’t it be fun?” Blaine asked.

“No, Blaine, just never mind.  I’m not going to do it.”

“Yes you are,” he said, firmly.  “I meant it when I said that I would drag you kicking and screaming.  Melinda, you really do spend too much time moping around your condo.  You’ve been in a funk for a while and it’s time you snapped out of it.  You’re well on your way to being an old maid.  Do you want to be a friendless old maid while you’re at it?”

She knew he was teasing her about the old maid thing and she couldn’t help but laugh in spite of herself.  “Ass,” she said quietly, smacking him playfully.

“Hey, that’s workplace abuse and I’m not going to stand for it,” he told her.

“No, I don’t want to be friendless but is there any way for me to get rid of you?” she countered.

“”Fraid not, m’dear.  Once you’ve made friends with me, you’re stuck with me for life.  Just think, thirty years from now I’ll still be meddling in your life and pestering you into doing things that you’d really rather not do.”

“Wow.  What an appealing picture that is.”

He looked at her levelly and the expression on his face was serious.  “I’ve been kind of worried about you, kiddo.  You just haven’t been yourself for a while.  You just don’t seem satisfied anymore.”

“That’s because I’m not,” Melinda replied, with a sigh.  “And you’re right, I haven’t been myself lately and I’m sorry.  I know I’m not much fun.”

“Yes, you are, and that’s what I’m trying to tell you.  It’s time for you to get that back.  You can either enjoy life or you can sit around and wish that you did.”

“All right, all right.”  She held her hands up.  “I admit defeat.  If I don’t, you’ll never shut up.  I will go out with you after work Saturday and I will be the DD because I was serious about not wanting to be hung over on Sunday.”

“Ah, yes.  My charismatic powers of persuasion have done it once again,” he replied, rubbing his hands together in relish.

“More like your powers of annoying the hell out of people have done it once again,” she grumbled.