Word Count 52K
Cynthia did another amazing job of capturing my characters for Book 2 of the NOTICE ME SENPAI series. I believe I have resolved a title name but I will continue to call it Handle With Care while it's still a WIP (Work In Progress).
Even though I'm having Cynthia do character sheets on the main characters, her style is much different from Zoe Coughlin who did the book art for SEDUCING SENSEI (the first book of the series).
Honestly, I wasn't thinking when I had Cynthia do the characters sheets for Liam and Kai. I wasn't expecting to love them as I do. Liam's character sheet is amazing and I'm saving it for the next update. Which might be the last update as I've got almost 53K done.
For me, it's amazing I've gotten this far so... ummm... fast. For readers (you), it might be the longest wait ever for a book. But I'm fairly sure I'll have a finished draft In May.
Which brings me to the thought I had about word count.
I've kept a word count chart for most my projects. I have a goal, a timeline and a map of when I'll finish the book. Usually I write 2k daily for clients for a 10K weekly word count. Only, this seems to work strictly when I write for clients.
When I write for me the word count is much less. I'm writing HANDLE WITH CARE about 3 hours daily and am getting 600 - 800 words on average.
I get the words out when under pressure, but I pay for it. My eyes get blurry and I tear up often. I have no urge to write after a client project and need a weeks break. Or two. Sometimes a month.
But when I write my way, (♫♪sing it, Sinatra♪♫) for only the time I want to, I want to write more. But I don't let myself write on the weekends. Often. Much. Unless necessary.
So I said screw word count!
Then I thought, no, that doesn't feel right.
Then I said, screw daily word count!
Yeah. Weekly word count works. Weekly.
So then I tried... Screw weekly word counts! Monthly word counts!
That's not gonna fly. Weekly. I'll go with weekly. Because I like word count. Word count is fun and makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. But instead of daily, I'm going to try weekly. Partially because...
I'm in a group where we encourage each other by announcing our word count.
I see the numbers...
Then it's my turn and I go...
500 words today.
Yeah, tell me it's 500 words more than yesterday─still doesn't make me feel any better. It's like Facebook (which, by the way my spell check says facebook MUST be spelled Facebook with a capital "F" or its wrong. Like Facebook is a person or something).
What was I talking about?
Right... word count.
Everyone looks like they are having a more wonderful time than you are on Facebook.
Okay that's not fair. I have had 2,500 days because... clients.
But it's interesting that when I write for myself, I slow down. Is the writing any better? I have to say no, but the editing is better.
Because I have time to go over it one. more. time. and choose the right words. The stress isn't there. I think that helps prevent burn-out. I think it works better for me in the long run.
Or maybe you can tell me....
Here's another excerpt, from HANDLE WITH CARE. One of my favorites.
Handle With Care
No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted without written prior permission from the publisher. This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, events, incidents and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
If you find any grammar, spelling or punctuation errors, please let know via the comments!! I may not get to them right away, but I will get to them. Thank you!
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I’d been tempted and failed. In my defense, I was only seventeen. Shame ate away at the gratification of my release. I’d cleaned up Kai’s shower, straightened his bed and scolded myself for the ninth time. It was important Kai liked me. That meant not making him uncomfortable. Respecting his property. Not masturbating in his shower. Things like that.
There was no television in his apartment. If you could call this an apartment. It was the closest thing to a penthouse I’d ever seen.
One good thing about letting go and getting rid of certain—pressures, was I could study. Graduating high school and getting into college was right up there on importance level as meeting Kai.
The large kitchen table was the perfect quiet place to spread out, go over homework, review exams, complete my reports and get my mind off my indiscretion. The smell of eucalyptus calmed my nerves. Kai’s home was good for my school work.
“We may talk now.”
I jumped in my chair and looked behind me.
Kai stood at my back. He’d breezed in with no sound.
“Seventeen and a half is too soon for a heart attack.” I pressed a palm against my heart.
“Am I disturbing you?” Kai stood as vigilant as a five star butler.
“No.” I closed my English book. “Welcome home.” Saying that gave me way too much pleasure. “I didn’t know when you’d be back, but I could make you something. Are you hungry?”
Kai stared at me as if he were dreaming. His eyes danced over the scar on my neck. Everyone wanted to know the story behind it, but here was the man who’d witness my near-death experience. I didn’t have to explain.
“I don’t blame you,” I sighed. “For what happened. If you’re wondering.” Head doctors asked me that all the time. If I blamed anyone. I blamed the bitch. She put it there. Not anyone else.
“Does…it…hurt?” His eyes went soft for a moment, then he resumed his bland stare.
“No.” I smiled, trying to reassure him.
“Have you seen the place?” He waved a hand up and down towards the living room like a showroom host. “Do you need a tour?”
“I saw.” I nodded. “I assumed I could stay in the guest bedroom?”
Shock. That was easy. I expected a fight, a fuming war of egos battling it out so that I could stay with him. Maybe he felt guilty. Or maybe he wanted to make good on his long ago promise. Either way, I was not going to push my luck and ask why.
His fingers twitched and his hands kept jerking. It was odd. Like he was fighting against himself. This man was so repressed, he couldn’t make his way to reach out to another person. I made it easy for him. I stepped forward, slipped my hands under his arms and embraced him. He stiffened but at least he didn’t push me away. Kai stood there with his arms out as if he was never taught the custom of hugging.
Crap. Way to go Liam. I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. With my luck, he’d be a homophobe. I pulled away before he could ask me to step off or shove me away.
“I wanted to thank you. You saved me.”
“I did no such thing.”
I scowled. “I knew it. That’s why you didn’t come see me.”
“What do you perceive you know?”
“You feel guilty. That’s why I had to come find you. To tell you.” I love you. Thank god I had the wherewithal to refrain from saying that last part.
“I knew you had survived.”
“Yet you didn’t come see me.” I looked at him from under my brows.
Kai looked away. Guilty as charged.
He stared off and I admired his profile, his features locked in perpetual sadness.
“There were things happening in my life that prevented the right circumstances to keep a child.”
“You thought of taking me in?”
“If things were different…”
“No, I don’t want to hear this.” I shook my head. “I don’t want to talk about the past. I only wanted you to know that I don’t blame you and to thank you.”
Kai stared at me with his blank expression. “I do not deserve your gratitude.”
I crossed my arms. “Thank you for saving me. Thank you for pulling me out of hell. Thank you for not giving up on me when I was bleeding out. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
His lips pursed together as if he were hiding a grim smile. I could relate. Finding the funny in such a morose subject could be misunderstood. People didn’t know what to say after they knew about the scar. Making light of it would seem inappropriate to many, but poking fun at my life was my own pastime.
Kai turned and walked towards the kitchen.
Gotcha. He was too uncomfortable to talk about it.
“Are you hungry?” He still wore his suit coat as he riffled through the refrigerator. Was he going to take his jacket off?
“I had cup o’ noodles.”
Kai lifted an eyebrow. “That does not answer my question.”
My stomach took the time to answer him with a low growl. I held my middle trying to muffle the noise. The tiniest lift in the corner of his mouth tipped me off that he’d heard my rumbling stomach.
“Do you have dietary restrictions?” He turned to look my way. His amusement vanished into his mask of nothing.
“Steak then.” Kai turned with a packet and dropped the prime rib I’d drooled over as I perused around the ice box.
Oh god. Real food. Box macaroni and cheese was the staple of my life. No way would I argue about having a substantial dinner.
He pulled out pots, pans and utensils.
“I can help.” Free loader was not going to be my middle name.
Kai nodded a chin towards my school work. “Do you need to finish?”
“I’m almost done.” Books sprawled out over the dining room table. I assumed we’d eat there and picked up books and stashed my papers in my bag.
“You need not move if you would like more time.”
“No, it’s fine.” My heart fluttered. We were having a normal conversation. Nothing about takes or stealing. No barbs back and forth. No demands I get down on my knees and service anyone. This was what I assumed real families did. The type I saw in television shows. Not that I’d be watching t.v. while I was here. I still hadn’t found anything remotely like a television screen.
He ground spices over the mouthwatering cuts of beef. “How do you like your meat prepared?”
Plump, hard and long enough to reach my prostate. Mind in the gutter, it took me a moment to respond. “Knock the horns off and show it a picture of flame.”
He paused mid-pour as he coated the steaks with olive oil. “So rare or Sashimi?”
“Who is Sasha Mimi?”
Kai set the olive oil container down and stared at me. I think I broke him. It was not the dead glare of an empty soul. I’d seen that look with kids that grew up too fast, done too much and seen the worst life had to offer. No, this gaping stare was a man woken alive and asked to have his way with a town of beautiful women.
“Sa-she-me,” he said. “Sashimi. It is thinly sliced uncooked meat or fish. A delicacy where I come from.”
“Hmmm…” I cocked my head. “I’ll try it.”
Kai regained his bland composure and stared down at the steaks. “Perhaps another time. This cut is not the right quality.”
I shrugged. He let his mask down in spurts, moments, nothing that told me he was comfortable with me. Time might help him get used to me. Heck, I was in the same predicament.
He stepped outside to a patio off the kitchen to a grill. Kai’s every movement was calculated, precise. How could I get him to relax? This strange in-between time, getting to know him, itched under my skin. He seemed used to the uncomfortable silence. Or maybe that was part of his mask. Our connection proved he had another side. A side he didn’t show. Even to me. But what did I mean to him? It was surreal, my skin buzzing alive, with Kai acting as if this happened to him every day. Was I unique? Or did he not notice at all? Maybe I was feeling this all by myself.
While he grilled, an unusual site to watch a man in a three-piece suit and tie cook, I moved my books to the living room couch. Napkins and silverware were easy to find and I set out the dinnerware on the kitchen table.
It felt like Thanksgiving. The only time I remembered ever having semblance of family scene. The orphanage I’d briefly stayed at had a gathering every year and everyone had a job. Some cooked the turkey, others cooked the sides, some poured water in pitchers, I had the job of setting the table. Spoon, fork, knife from right to left on a paper towel.
Kai came back inside, his eyes cast about almost in panic. Then he glanced at the place settings. Our eyes met. There was no way he didn’t feel this. The pull was strong. His eyes remained on me. My heart and stomach flipped in time.
He broke his eyes away first. “Let me finish the sides.”
I waited, watching his straight back. His posture was perfect. Much like everything else about him. Especially that ass. No, be a good boy. Don’t rush in. He might not be like that. He might find me disgusting. He’d never say it. That wasn’t the type of person he was. But while I felt I knew him, I’d only just meet him. Take it slow. Did he really not mind me staying here? I wanted to ask, but didn’t want to jinx myself.
Kai brought over two plates. Green beans and mashed potatoes accompanied the steaks. A real meal. I rubbed my hands and sat across from him. Giving him the lead, I copied what he did. This was his dinner table. Everyone had different customs. I was under his roof so I’d follow his protocol. He laid his napkin across his lap and so did I. He cut into his steak and I did the same. He remained silent, but that was the one thing I couldn’t do.
“How have you been for the past five years?” Damn it. I didn’t want to start with an inquisition. I was just trying to break the silence.
“Fine.” His face remained neutral.
“Do you want to know how I found you?”
“What matters is that you did. If I can be of assistance, I will do everything I can to help.” He cut into his steak and popped a small piece in his mouth.
My jaw dropped. He sounded like a recording. This was not how I imagined our meeting to be like at all.
“You don’t have to be cold about it,” I mumbled, picking at my food. “If you really don’t want me here I can leave.”
His fork clanked on the plate, rattling my teeth. “I assure you, if I did not want you here, you would not be.”
I grinned. That’s right. Kai can’t be forced. “I saw your trophies.”
“I would not need to hurt you. Since you are, as you say, your own person, you are legally responsible for yourself. If necessary, I could call the authorities and have you removed.”
“But it would be so much more fun if you wrestled me to the ground.” I covered my mouth with a hand. That was not what I was going to say. My checks burned.
Kai picked up his fork and went back to eating as if my sexual innuendo didn’t mean anything. I promptly went back to my food and shut up.
“Do you attend school? Or have employment?”
“Both.” Thank god he changed the subject. “I’m starting my last year at Cerilia High. I work at a place called the Muffin Cap.”
“Do you need transport?”
Transport? Beam me up, Scotty. “Naw, I can walk.”
“Cerilia High is nine miles from here.”
Crap. I hadn’t thought about the distance from here to school. I could Uber if I had to, but there were reasons why I didn’t want to do that. One of them being I was not technically of age to use it. Maybe I should get a bike. “Then I can run.”
“Books and all?” Behind his non-expression, I thought I saw concern disguised as mirth.
“It’s not your problem.” I stabbed at my mashed potatoes.
The tiny curl on his lips flattened. “Very well. I would supply you with transportation any time you wish. As it stands, you should leave at least ninety minutes before your first class.”
Which was five-thirty a.m. I’d have to get up before the sun to make it. Shit. I wanted to be strong in front of Kai. But spending time with him, any time, no matter how short, was the goal.
I sighed in resignation. Not like I had a scrape of pride left. “I would appreciate a ride.”
“What time do you need to be in the classroom?”
"We will leave at six-thirty."
I groaned. It was better than five-thirty. “Thank you.”
“You are welcome.”
For the rest of the meal I kept my mouth shut. Pissing off a wrestling champion probably wasn’t smart. What I’d gained today was a major victory. I was here, in his house, able to sleep under the same roof.
Kai was kind. Thoughtful. Unreservedly generous. I searched him for pity. I’d been subject to compassion occasionally. It was probably my holy jeans and old shirts making me look homeless. That may be the reason he agreed to me staying here. But his exterior didn’t have an ounce of tenderness. He was straight lines, hard corners with a black and white theme. Contemporary. Kai seemed like the type that thought in resolute definitives. There was no color in his world. At least that what it seemed. But that was the very thing I was here to find out.
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