So far, so good.  I’m trucking along and on target as far as word count goes.  I’m not in love with writing this way, not editing as I go along, but I can’t argue that it makes for results as far as progression goes.  Here’s the second excerpt.  Sorry it’s not edited.

The novel is about Juniper Soot, a character born from a birthday gift for my wife.  If you’re interested in reading her origin tale, it’s here.

Otherwise, here’s this week’s excerpt from Monsters In the Park – A Timber Haven Novel

*     *     *     *     *

The mailman hadn’t, in fact, delivered the mail yet.  Juniper sat on the steps of the front porch with her face in her hands, holding up her head by her cheeks.  It was a rough day to be an eight-year-old, bound to the authority and timetable of adults as she was.  Juniper continuously popped her head up over her grandmother’s shrubs to try and catch the mailman coming, figuring on running to meet him if he had her package, only to return to her mopey perch when he wasn’t there.

It had taken three months of penny-collecting and a birthday to save for it, and then begging Molly to use her credit card online and mail off for it after that, but it would all be worth it once Juniper got her package.  It was a kit to make her very own miniature Tesla coil, one that would tie her Nikola Tesla costume completely together for the upcoming yearly Halloween costume party at her school.  She had the wig and fake mustache already, and Molly had a bunch of old clothes upstairs in the attic where Juniper found the perfect suit to wear.

All she needed was to build the coil, and she’d be set.

If the mailman would only arrive.

“Maybe he is stuck in a ditch,” Juniper pondered, “with a great big log rolled over on his leg that a bear pushed over accidentally while it was trying to get honeycombs from an old beehive.  And he doesn’t dare shout out for help, on account of the bear being right there lapping up honey, and the bees are buzzing about, sensing his fear of the bear, and of them, and looking to sting him.”  She hopped back up and worriedly looked down the road.

“Poor guy.  He’s probably trying his hardest to get here with my package, hardly any concern about his own self.”  She squinted as hard as she could, but she still didn’t see him coming.

It could be said that, while Juniper maybe didn’t play pretend very often, she could certainly follow a line of thought to its inevitable conclusion.  Even when that conclusion involved hungry bears and angry bees.

Juniper heard a rustling behind her.  Spinning, she caught Jake Steadherd peeking through the bushes at her, his great big googly eyes too large for his six-year-old head.

“Jake, what are you doing here?  Can’t you see I’m busy waiting for the mailman?”

Jake came out from behind the bushes, looking at his feet.

“I wasn’t doin’ nothin’ wrong,” he told her, albeit guiltily, “just seein’ what you was doin’.”

Jake had a rough time on the playground at school, earlier that year.  A bigger boy was teasing him about his eyes, and teasing had turned to pitching rocks at Jake.  Not at all unfamiliar with being bullied, Juniper had seen fit to help Jake out by running up and telling him that his teacher was looking for him, which wasn’t true, of course, since Juniper didn’t even know who Jake’s teacher was, but it made everyone scatter just the same.  (Juniper wasn’t one to stand up to bullies so much as outmaneuver them.)

Jake, who had never had anyone really look out for him before then, would now occasionally show up at her house to see what she was up to.

“Well, like I said, Jake,” she said, talking more slowly to him and not meaning to, “I’m waiting for the mailman.  He’s bringing me a package that I ordered special for the Halloween party at school.  He should be here already, but I think we can forgive him being late, what with the bear and bees and everything.”

Jake’s eyes went wide and he hid behind Juniper.  He looked down the street and wondered if that dark patch behind the tree line in Mrs. Willis’ backyard was a giant bear, stalking him and Juniper after having eaten the mailman in a gulp.

“Jake,” Juniper asked behind her shoulder, “what are you doing?”

“Shh! I’m hiding from the bear.” Jake whispered.

“Jake!” a voice yelled from the street.

Juniper and Jake jumped.  Three boys rode their bikes and skidded sideways into Juniper’s yard.  The biggest of them, Tod, was Jake’s older brother and if there was a wickeder boy in all of Timber Haven, Juniper didn’t know who he was.  At fifteen, he had already been in more trouble than any three adults Juniper knew.  His friends were each a year younger than him.  Curtis was a huge kid, husky.  He snickered at anything Tod said like it was humor of the highest quality.  Bobby was the third, quiet, with sad eyes.

These three boys were the entirety of the reason why Juniper distrusted teenagers across the board.

“I wasn’t doin’ nothin’–” Jake began his standby line.

“Shut it.” His brother interrupted, “Get home, now, before I bounce a rock off your melon, Owl Eyes.”  This made Curtis snicker.

Jake, having forgotten the all about Juniper’s bear at the sight of something he feared more, ran toward home without so much as a goodbye glance at Juniper.  He pulled his too-big pants up high as he ran away.

Tod turned his attention to Juniper.  He smiled a mean, toothy smile.

“What’s up, Junkyard?” he asked her, causing Curtis to snicker again. “Where’s your grandma?”

Juniper took a step back up toward her front door. “Sh-she’s inside.” She said, looking around, silently pleading anyone to come along.

“You haven’t ever told nobody nothin’ about us, right, Junkyard?”  Tod asked, setting his bike down, “Remember what we said would happen.”  He stepped over his bike toward Juniper, moving like a big cat hunting prey.  “Do you need another lesson?”

“A reminder, I think.” Curtis said, snickering at what he saw as wit and dropping his own bike to the ground, too.

“Let’s be quick, guys.” Was all Bobby said.

Juniper ran up onto the porch and around the side, hopping over the rail as fast as she could.

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