Critique Partner Magic – THE CLOCKS INSIDE

Welcome to the last of my three days of Writer In Motion blog posts. For the image blend this week I added two new images and a layer of color. While Constance is still the central focus—both of the image and Emmaline’s thoughts—I felt it needed a more desolate feel to mirror the world inside the snow globe. But as I poked around some photo possibilities, I also found a gorgeous texture that unfortunately had a model in it. While I didn’t love the model, flipping her upside down and giving her a watery reflection shifted this piece a little to mirror back what Constance might think of Emmaline. There’s a rivalry between these two women, and someday I hope to explore this more in-depth with a full novel. But for today, let’s get back to story and how it’s shaping up.

THE CLOCKS INSIDE

Setting her suitcase on the doorstep, Emmaline swallowed back the pain in her heart. The reward of acceptance into the Time Archers outweighed the risk of stumbling into Henry, one of the young investors in her grandfather’s work—and her fiancé. The words ‘final task’ in her grandfather’s letter had her running toward the first train before she’d finished packing.

Emmaline knew Henry hadn’t cheated on her, but that didn’t erase the memory of Constance pressing her lips against his. Sniffing back the moisture in her eyes, she raised her hand to knock on grandfather’s door.

The small tower atop the house chimed. Its mechanical steel dragon curled his tail around a central glass globe, gears and springs whirring inside. As soon as her knuckles hovered against the weathered wood, grandfather opened.

He never called unless something went terribly wrong, and the tired wrinkles lining his face showed the stress he carried. Never one for formal greetings, Grandfather adjusted his gold wire frame glasses and retreated down the hall without a hello. “Another snow globe broke and must be fixed.”

Emmaline picked up her suitcase and stepped inside, kicking the door closed. Surely fixing one of her grandfather’s collectables couldn’t be her task. Stepping onto the hallway rugs, she hastened toward the study.

Gears clicked overhead as she entered the vaulted room below the dragon tower. Bookshelves lined every wall, filled with hand-crafted snow globes and their companion books, thick leather tomes written in unknown languages. She couldn’t read any of the texts, but she loved the bizarre symbols—histories for each globe’s interior world.

“You said one is broken?” Breathing in the dusty age of her favorite room, Emmaline set her case on the floor. She followed grandfather toward a pile of shattered glass. “What happened?”

“Henry came to visit.”

Her heart lurched. Emmaline wasn’t ready to forgive Henry for that kiss yet. Thirty days, thirty showers until he could see her—she had to make sure there was no trace of that bitch Constance on his mouth before she ever kissed him again.

Emmaline picked up a shard of glass to inspect the edges. “Was he angry?”

“He’s still grieving.” Her grandfather peered at her over his spectacles, a silent cue her demands toward Henry were ridiculous. “I went to fetch us a scotch. When I returned, the orb lay shattered and Henry gone.”

It wasn’t like Henry at all. He’d never leave a mess for grandfather to clean up, nor would he just run off without a farewell. Emmaline furrowed her brow, wondering what might have caused Henry to rush off.

Fatigue crossed her grandfather’s features as he rubbed his head. “You must fix it, Emmaline. You’re the only one who can.”

One of the Time Archers surely could, but maybe they needed another measurement of her skill. For years she’d been desperate to know what grandfather’s secret society was up to, why they were always in a hurry everywhere they went. “If I fix this, does that mean I’m a full member?”
He nodded. “You’re in, once you take the oath.”

“Bring my kit.” Excitement spiraled in her gut as she pointed to her case. An engineer by trade, Emmaline could fix almost anything with a little solder or glue. Her grandfather’s prized globes had always been a challenge as glue would ruin glass, so she’d created a handheld glass blower to weld the pieces.

Once grandfather set down her suitcase, she opened the lid and pulled on a pair of thick gloves designed by the great D. Ragon and a pair of welding goggles. She arranged each piece in a circle around the central base and tucked her legs beneath her.

“Did Henry say anything before he left?” She wanted to keep her grandfather busy while she worked—otherwise he’d hover over her shoulder.

Emmaline grabbed the handheld glass blower and clicked it on. Setting the base upright, she held the first shard to the edge and squeezed the flame’s trigger. White-hot fire melted the glass seams together. “Water please.”

As if he’d read her mind, grandfather set the bucket down almost immediately. With the two pieces fused together, she dunked the orange-hot glass in the water.

The conversation seemed to relax him as he settled into a chair with the globe’s companion book. “Only that he’d bought a train ticket to come after you.”

Her grip tightened. Henry knew she was firm in her thirty-day rule. Heat—cool—repeat. Emmaline chatted as she worked, avoiding the pain in her heart and any topic about Henry.

As the last piece cooled, steam rose off the surface. Emmaline pulled off her gloves and held the base. “Do you know the history of this one?”

A clock chimed and a faint smile touched her grandfather’s lips. He opened the book and adjusted his spectacles. “My dear Emmaline, why don’t you ask Henry?”

She whipped around, expecting to see her fiancé against the door frame, but a stone platform stretched to a giant clock, more than thirty unknown symbols circling the hands.

“Grandfather?” A stiff wind blew across her empty hands, the globe gone from her fingers. A line of black flags whipped across a rocky cliff face. “Grandfather!”

Her heart raced in panic. “Grandfa…”

Drum beats filled the air and a strong hand gripped her shoulder.

Emmaline jumped, meeting a pair of deep-set brown eyes, shoulder-length hair framing a familiar, bearded face. “Henry?”

It couldn’t be. She’d seen him less than three weeks ago, his hair cropped short. It would have taken him a year to grow it long, and her Henry never let it past his ears.

Dried blood caked his shoulder across a line of freckles Emmaline knew like the back of her hand. Her heart ached and she clutched Henry tight, a thousand questions whirling in her mind. “Where are we?”

Her gaze roved across the sparsely dressed inhabitants wielding spears. Their chant halted. One figure raised her head, long dark hair so familiar, Emmaline dug her nails into Henry’s skin. “Constance.”

Strong arms pulled her close as Henry’s husky voice whispered in her ear. “Take me home, please.”

Some Thoughts

As I read over this morning, I felt like it lost something in the edits. Voice, depth, I’m not sure . . . it could even be that I’ve lost my connection to it. I would love to say this is something new, but the reality is I go through this with every single thing I write. There comes a point where my inner voice and connection on the tale disappear and things begin to feel stale.

This is in no way a reflection of my CP notes— those were brilliant! I suspect that this is the point where I’m too close to the story. I’ve been picking at details to give them polish, so instead of a story I see grammar, words, items, movements, and editorial logic. Which means it’s probably a good time to send it off to another round of readers, and the lovely Carly Hayward. We’ve been working together a lot lately, and because Carly was part of my journey for the previous Writer In Motion, I’ve commissioned her again to red pen the hell out of it. I can even hear someone’s voice whispering “traitor” in my head, but since I’m the devil on her shoulder . . . I have ways to fix this. ^_^

Stay tuned next week for my next leg of the process and a final draft of THE CLOCKS INSIDE.


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