NaNoWriMo Day 1, Soup’s Off

soup's off cover

Observations: Today’s writing was: Painful, oh, so painful. The last time I did NaNo on my blog was in 2016, and I was fresh from writing a summer serial as well as writing every day. This year my serials have gotten bogged down and been inconsistent. What they say about practice is true. Writing is easier if you practice every day.

Disclaimer: This disclaimer will hold true for everyday that I offer a NaNo writing. The following is part of a draft novel and by no means a finished project. Guffaws are welcome, rotten tomatoes, not so much.

Invitation: If you’d like to make suggestions regarding direction, plot, character, etc, please do. I don’t mind, and even encourage, making this an interactive experience.

Bookkeeping: You can find all entries for NaNoWriMo 2018 here.

Ha. Without further ado, the first day of blood, sweat, and tears. 😉

Current word count: 1690

Soup’s Off

Chapter One


Rosemead, Virginia is not a running town. In fact, the only time you’ll see anyone run here is if there’s a sale on Wranglers at the feed store or Old Lady Bean has come to town with her latest batch of “The Remedy.” So, when I took up running invariably someone would shout out: “What are ya running from?” or “You in trouble again?” or my least favorite, “You’re gonna have to run faster than that to avoid Bobby Lee Clifford.” I didn’t need to run to avoid Bobby Lee Clifford. To avoid him, I have special talents, namely, friends who call me to tell me where he’s hanging out. Easy peasy.

No, I run because of my addiction to tassies. Pecan tassies, walnut tassies, pumpkin tassies, those little almond paste tassies. My mouth salivates just thinking about them. And because my grandmother, Sorcha Reid, would not only read me the riot act but also somehow (don’t ask me, she has powers I can’t even begin to comprehend) make the entire state of Virginia tassie-free if I gained more than the extra ten pounds I always seem to carry around, I run.

This is why I am presently jogging down Main Street Extended listening to P!NK sing “Raise Your Glass” and imagining what soups I will make for “Soup’s On,” the soup restaurant I own with my sisters, Isla and Rose. The soups I prepare are warming comfort foods with an added touch. Some say it’s the fresh herbs and vegetables that Isla grows. Others say its magic. And then there are others who say that we are witches and are doing the devil’s work, although they sometimes come to purchase the soups too. I guess everyone needs a little taste of the devil. Ha. Regardless, my soup consumers go away satisfied and sometimes mentally lighter because the soups help them. Again, don’t ask me why or how, they just do, and I know better than to question magical things.

I’ve just passed the Express-O Motel when I see him. A runner. Taut, muscular forearms and thigh and calf muscles etched like a Greek statue. I’m not usually one to ogle man candy. I like men with brains, but this one is worth ogling and not just because he’s a running compatriot. He notices me watching him and raises his hand in greeting, and I grin and raise my hand and then I am literally flying, my mouth forming an “o” as my brain kicks in with: this is so going to hurt. Seconds before Sophie to ground impact strong arms pull me upward against what feels like a solid brick wall, if brick walls were muscular and warm. I think that somehow the runner has saved me, which would have been pretty incredible considering he was on the other side of the street, but when I look up, it’s into the coldest ice blue eyes I’ve ever seen.

The blond towering man settles me on my feet. “That could have been nasty,” he says in heavily accented English.

“Thank you so much. I should have been watching where I was going—”

“Rather than watching the Englishman. Yes, I agree.”

Well, ouch. But he’s right.

The Englishman. I turn slightly and see that the runner has stopped and  is watching us, hands on his hips. The blond tower notices too and his eyes narrow. He mutters something under his breath in a language I don’t understand—Russian?—before he turns on his heel, pleasantries, as far as they went, evidently done.

“Come by Soup’s On for a free bowl of soup,” I tell him.

He raises a dismissive hand while still stalking away. “I don’t eat soup. It’s a waste of time.”

Okay. “It’s comes with the best home-baked bread you’ll ever taste.”

“Perhaps,” he says, while still walking hastily away without sparing a backward glance.

By this time the runner is next to me, his eyes following the blond tower as he disappears behind the motel.

“Are you okay?” he asks. Yes, indeed, he’s English with that kind of mumbled accent that makes him sound like he has marbles in his mouth.

My heart skips as I look into eyes the color of rich southwestern turquoise. Down, stupid heart, down. “Yes, thanks. If it hadn’t been for that guy—”

“Be careful of him. He’s bad news.”

I open my mouth and then close it, wondering how this guy could be so dismissive of someone who just stopped me from falling. I shake my head. “He just saved me from a bad fall.”

“I’m surprised he didn’t let you fall. He tends to like bloodshed.”

My eyes widen. “You really don’t like him.”

“Not much to like,” he says. “I’m glad you didn’t get hurt though.”

“Me too.”

“I’d have to take blame for being the cause,” he says, smirking.

Ego alert. I sigh. What did I expect? A guy who looks like him with muscles, sweet smile, and that accent, not to mention very, very kissable lips? Of course, he’d have an ego the size of Alaska.

“Can I take you to dinner?” he asks.

“No. I don’t think so.”

“How about coffee then?”

“Probably not. I’m not much of a coffee drinker.”


“Look, I don’t think the three of us would have a good time together.”

“Three? I’m just inviting you.”

“Well, there’s your ego that probably has to come along too.”

“Zinger. That really hurts,” he says with a mocking smile. “You know it’s not ego if it’s the truth.”


“Are you going to suggest that you weren’t staring at me when you decided to take that flying leap?”

He’s got me there. “Okay. We’ll have tea and tassies.”

He grins. There’s something about that smile that seems so very familiar, but I would know if I’d met him before.

“I’m Sophie MacGregor,” I say, extending my hand and then wondering why I’m doing that. I almost take it back, but he grabs it.

“I know,” he says, his eyes twinkling.

Stalker alert? “How?”

“I was your first kiss.”

I shake my head. “No, that was Bobby Thornton, misguided as it was.”

“No. I was your first kiss.”

Frowning, I consider him and then remember a gawky boy, Mrs. Anderson’s grandson, who had spent spring and summer with her about twenty years ago. He’d been English and very pale and skinny. The boys picked on him and I had taken him under my wing, which meant that I threatened to turn the boys into toads if they didn’t leave Heath Lawrence alone. My cheeks colored as I remembered the conversation that had accompanied that first kiss. Being seven, I was sure that kisses and babies went together.

He’s grinning at me. “You remember.”

“Heath Lawrence?”

“One and the same. Had any babies yet?” There’s laughter in his voice.

“I’ve learned that other things are required to make babies, not just kisses,” I say tartly.

“Good to know.” He’s now chuckling. “You would have missed out on quite a bit of fun.”

My phone’s alarm sounds reminding me that I need to return to Soup’s On and start preparing the evening’s soups.

“Saved by the bell?” he asks.

I smile apologetically. “I’ve got soup to make.”

“You’re Soup’s On?”

I nod, surprised that he’d know about the restaurant.

He pulls out his phone. We exchange numbers, and he tells me he’ll text me. It’s been a long time since I’ve been interested in a man as Rosemead doesn’t exactly offer much in the way of new opportunities and going to bars in nearby Riverbridge lost its appeal a few years back. Heath Lawrence has piqued my interest, and my libido, can’t forget that.


The moment I walk into Soup’s On, I feel strange vibrations. It’s like knowing something bad is about to happen but you don’t know what it is and have no way to stop it because you don’t know what it is.

Isla’s voice sounds whiny and petulant, which strikes me as odd because she’s usually the best tempered one of us, considering that we’re all red heads. “I’m just sick and tired of being the one without a talent.”

“I don’t know what you’re carrying on about. You grow the vegetables. Without you, there’d be no Soup’s On,” Rose says, placating.

When I enter the kitchen, they exchange a glance before Rose slides a pan with several loaves of bread on it into the oven.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

Rose sets the timer and then brushes her hands on her apron. “Isla thinks that you and I have magic and she has nothing.”


Isla’s bright green eyes flash. “Don’t deny it. You have your magical soup and Rose has her magical bread and Amy has her magical perfumes—”

“What’s magical about Michael?” I ask, curious to see if our older brother falls into the magic zone too.

Isla rolls her eyes. “Men aren’t part of the magic. It’s just handed down through women.”

“Are you saying we’re witches?” Rose asks as she sips sparkling water.

“I don’t know what you are. I just know I’m not. It’s disheartening. I want to be special like you all are.”

“But your vegetables and herbs—”

“Are not special. Look, I’ll be back in an hour with the leeks and herbs. If you need anything else, let me know.” Isla practically stomp from the room, her red Chucks slapping the floor. The backdoor slams behind her.

I switch on the radio, looking for some musical inspiration, something to change the anxious vibe in the kitchen.

“What started all of that?” I ask Rose.

I gather together onions for chopping, knowing that whatever soup I plan on cooking will need sautéed onions.

“I’m not sure, but I saw Isla talking to Tiffany Burnside.”

“Okay. You can stop right there. Knowing Tiffany, she was trying to make Isla feel bad.” That had always been Tiffany’s behavior. If she saw someone smiling or having a good time, she would do her best to make that stop in a hurry.

end of Day 1.

10 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Day 1, Soup’s Off

  1. Start with this:
    “You’re gonna have to run faster than that to avoid Bobby Lee Clifford.” I didn’t need to run to avoid Bobby Lee Clifford.
    it makes it more intriguing for the reader to wonder why – it’s a few words that drag us into the story much more effectively. The other stuff can follow, but open strong, with something that makes the reader wonder why, to question, to Need to Find Out …
    Just an opinion.

    1. Thank you. That’s a great idea for the revision. I had a heckuva time trying to find the beginning for this. I wanted something grabby but just couldn’t find it. I appreciate the idea! 🙂

  2. “Off” to a good start! Play with a different start, but I do like the intro part of Rosemead not being a running town, except for a sale on Wranglers, etc. Maybe leave some of the talk about magic out and keep the reader guessing–is she or isn’t she (a witch). The best advice I received from an editor was “don’t tell the reader too much (too fast/soon)”. Maybe keep some of that secret so when the soup starts doing weird things, the reader has to figure it out. Right now, I think I know what this story is about (unless these are all red herrings) so the “magic” is diluted. But I do like it.

      1. they seem to be developing so smoothly, just read your second day. yes I have started actually restarting the novel I had left for 2 years, it is good to be focused on a bigger project

      2. yes the short stories don’t allow for a full development of character which I see coming with this one you have on now

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