Milestones and stepping stones. Oh, and kidney stones, probably.


Yes, I know what you’re thinking. And no, this is not the first time I finished a first chapter. Actually, it’s about the seventh time. BUT. This time it’s different, and I’ll tell you why.

Before we start, another big step: I started a Facebook page! For more Regina ramblings, tongue-in-cheek writing advice and live chats with me, join me at
Writing advice for the strong at heart

And now, on with the post.

The owl of imperfection
Down at the bottom of my last post, I put these gratuitous boobies as a perk for those of you who managed to read all the way through. Now, I don’t know why, but the longer I stared at that post, the more this:

slowly started to turn into THIS:

Apparently, I needed some accusing eyes…and the funny thing is, I kind of agree with them.

Yes, after the four drafts of round one of my manuscript, it was very courageous to jump back in for round two. And sure, two drafts into that round, it was a sensible thing to work my impressions of California into a third draft. But there comes a time when you have to stop and decide that you’re done. At a certain point you have to put down your proverbial pen and say ‘this is as good as I can do right now…AND THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH.’

For me, as a writer, one of the most important things I had to overcome is my perfectionism. I know it will creep up on me in the dark and start whispering in my ear again…and before you know it, I’m writing an eighth draft, and then a ninth, and thinking maybe I should start all over and give Nora a whole new motivation…So: no. This time, I said STOP before I got sucked in again. Because, you know, my homie had my back.
The owl of imperfection.

So that makes it official: I am done with the first chapter. Hurray!
And I’m going to give you guys a taste. Hurray!

First of all, a little visual: this is what I imagine Nora to look like.


First paragraphs: Nora Starke has been invited by Stannis Caldwell, a retired movie producer, to be his date for a fighting gala he sponsors.


L.A. was stark sunlight pounding on concrete, carving man-made shapes out of the hills. The ever-present drum of traffic, lifeblood sloshing through the city’s veins, picked up as evening rush-hour approached. But something was different today. A stillness held L.A., stopping dogwalkers in Beverly Hills in their clouds of thoroughbreds, halting cashiers’ fingers on a roll of change. Even in this most brutal hour of sunlight, a respite was palpable, a small mercy. And the whole city felt it, even if they didn’t know what it was: the seasons changing. Summer was turning into fall.
Nora Starke stared at the ring with the two fighters in front of her, and sensed it was a risky day for what she had in mind. From her place in the front row she couldn’t feel the outside air, but a stillness was threading itself through her chest, an annoying almost-tenderness, when what she needed there was a blazing fire. Next to her sat the man who had invited her, Stannis Caldwell, expecting to be entertained.

Conflict: Nora’s mission is to get Stannis to invest in her new modelling agency, but she keeps getting distracted by memories of the night before. Her boyfriend Johnny, whom she is dating strategically, appears to have been cheating, and Nora is much more upset than she feels she should be. She smokes a secret cigarette in the bathrooms and has a flashback.

Hungrily she sucked on the cigarette, trying to stem the flood of thoughts in her head. She was one of those people who fared well on personal mantras, even though she thought they were for the childish and stupid. ‘You WILL succeed’, she said to herself a couple of times. ‘There is NOTHING standing in your way’. But there was. Getting Stannis Caldwell to invest in a modelling agency she’d have to start from scratch, could only happen on a perfect day. And the possibility she had dreaded from the beginning was now turning into reality: she couldn’t make this day perfect. Because of fucking Johnny.

Two girls. Two strange girls, sitting in the hot tub. One of them, a blonde of about thirty, had put her bikini top on the floor and was lathering botched silicone breasts. When she looked up at Nora and Johnny, startled, her tits jumped out from under her hands. “Oh!” She giggled, and looked down at them like they were wayward pets. The soap thudded to the floor.
The other girl looked more threatening; younger and prettier, an ex-model maybe. She had a toned body and pinned-up, vivid red hair, and she was holding a bottle of Jack. A trail of hickeys ran all the way down her neck, stark against the grace of her body.
“What the fuck are you doing in here?” Nora felt Johnny’s comforting presence behind her, his weight, but even though she knew there was no real danger, an odd feeling of nausea settled on her.
The woman with the hickeys took a sip from the bottle. She swallowed slowly, licking her lips. “Ooooh, sorry,” she cood. “I thought this was Johnny’s apartment.”

Catalyst: Back with Stannis, Nora receives the evidence that Johnny is indeed cheating.

Her phone beeped.
Stannis tsked when she got it out of her bag, his arm slinking from her shoulder. But it could be Johnny. An unregistered number. Someone sent her a picture. Without thinking she opened it –maybe a client. But it wasn’t.
She dropped the phone, but the image attached itself to her brain in those few seconds. The trail of hickeys. The same one as last night. But in the picture the woman with the hickeys laughed up at the camera, bent over a naked man’s body. Johnny’s body.

Climax: she blows it with Stannis Caldwell, effectively destroying her entire career.

Stannis ignored her.
In slow-motion she extended her arm and turned the glass over in his lap. He jumped up in shock, gasping. Champagne dripped from his lap onto the floor.
Movement behind her. People turning in their seats. A security guard’s hard hands forced her arms onto her back. She relaxed into his body for a second, reeling in the pain of her straining muscles. Voices rippled up around her, some concerned, some amused, some bored. The guard pulled her back and Stannis looked at her; he was out of focus, dripping, eerily calm. Slowly, he shook his head from one side to the other. It was a gesture of regret, but not for himself – for what she had done, and what he would have to do to her now.
Suddenly, the spell was broken. Panic hit her like a wave and she tried to apologize, but the words refused to come out. In the ring, one of the fighters kicked the other one in the chest, the crowd cheered inadvertently, two assistants with napkins fussed over Stannis – and the guard dragged Nora away from it all, down the hallway and through the front door, and out into the streets that smelled of autumn and things coming to an end.




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