I thought it would be fun to do a timeline of all my unfinished WIPs. Some of these, I haven’t looked at it years. I’ve said this a lot in my writing videos that my Red Riding Hood retelling was my first completed novel I finished and edited. Before that, well, I still have a bunch of unfinished manuscripts still sitting in my computer files. Will I ever complete them? I’m not sure. They are obviously missing something that caused me to stop working on them. Most of them sat unfinished because I didn’t build an outline/road map for them and I’ve learned I cannot finish a project if I don’t know where I’m going with it.
Anyway, here is a look into some of my old work. I’m ordering them from oldest to newest. And just because I can laugh at myself, I’m including a horrible unedited passage from each piece. You can also see how I progressed in term of writing. Maybe? I mean, I think I’m significantly better now.
This was my first try at novel writing. Up until here, I wrote short stories and of course, wrote online if you read my post on me as a teen writer. I started this my sophomore year in college, so 2011. That’s not even that long ago, but it truly is because I cringe at the thought of this project. Straight up, heavily troped, young adult paranormal romance. This took place in a small town and the new guy comes in… ya know. I don’t remember too much about the plot other than it had a lot to do with souls and past lives. This MS is actually so old, I don’t even have any files on it anymore, sadly. But just imagine: “I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.” I mean, I don’t know if I wrote that, but it wouldn’t be far off.
This started out as a short story. I used to post a lot of my work on Figment.com, and this was one of them. This was a sci-fi alien invasion book taking place several years after these aliens nicknamed “the sapphires” by the humans took up residence on earth and some of them inside human bodies. I actually outlined a lot of this book but never had the time to write it. While I was in school, I had zero time management skills. I always found time to write online, but never found time to write for myself. I actually still really love this idea for a story. I wrote this in first person. My main character was a daughter of an inventor using modified alien tech to do illegal stuff. Then of course his side-hand was a broody hero who had history with our main character because I LOVE that shit. I started this short story in 2012 and kind of worked on it on and off without really doing anything with it. I was going to work on it for my NaNoWriMo project in 2014, but I ended up doing Through Villains and Wolves instead, my Red Riding Hood retelling.
I keep the television on while I slept every night. It was just for the noise, the commotion at my back that made me believe for a few hours I wasn’t alone. It didn’t matter what was on, it was the voices that soothed me. I know, I must be crazy, but with the aliens roaming around outside, you needed that comfort.
The knock woke me and I already knew it was a heinous hour. 3:00 am. I sighed, knowing of only one person that ever knocked on our back door any hour he pleased.
We, The Gifters
I remember starting this my junior year of college. It was a post-apocalyptic story of teens with gifts I nicknamed “calamities.” Looking at this unfinished MS, it’s at 17k. I do still like this idea. It takes place in Chicago. As I started writing it, one of my sorority sisters was like “Hey Lainey, you should read this really cool book. It’s called Divergent.” And then I start reading that and realize the setting is also Chicago. I don’t know why, because they are two very different genres, but I didn’t want it to seem like I was copying VRoth, so I kind of stopped working on it. I liked my main character, Finley, and she was able to control electricity. It also featured a love triangle, because of course it did.
I approached him quickly, bringing my hands up and pressing them into his back right as the blue currents appeared around my hands. The electrical shock forced him into the bookshelf across from us. I didn’t want to linger at my handiwork so I took off down an aisle.
“Atley!” I shouted.
“Right behind you!” I heard him shout back.
I didn’t stop running when I pushed the doors open and looked around the hall. Rowan appeared and ran to me. Atley came out next. The Enforcers would be on us at any moment. I didn’t let go of my sister’s hand as I reached for Atley’s. I thought momentarily what if he couldn’t teleport all of us, but when our fingers brushed and I clung to his hand already I was looking at the swing set in my backyard.
Rowan fell down beside me, and I thought she might be hurt, but then I started to stumble too and had to grab onto Atley’s arm for balance.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
Rowan nodded, but then I remembered how pissed I was that he showed up. I pushed his arm away from me. It made me angrier to see the smug smile. “We agreed I was going by myself.”
“I don’t remember agreeing to anything. I remember you saying you only wanted to be concerned about yourself, so I let you believe you were by yourself,” Atley said with a shrug. He was twisting my words.
This was the last YA I wrote until late 2013. I wrote this… late 2012/early 2013? This also started out as a short story that I tried to turn into a full-length novel. I first wrote the short story in a class I took called “Reading and Writing Young Adult Fiction.” It was an amazing class and I learned so much and I wish the University of Iowa writing programs stopped acting so pretentious when it comes to writing for younger readers. (I could write for days on how I always felt out-of-place with my writing with the college I attended.) Anyway, Roam took place hundreds of years into the future where Earth stopped spinning. So there was always the side of the globe that was always in the sunshine and the other half, where my story took place, was always in darkness. If I ever unearthed this project I think I would change it to another planet entirely. I had too many problems using Earth, etc. My main characters were two boys who happened to stumble upon a conspiracy with a hostage from the side of Earth with the constant Sun. I never had an endgame in mind with this one so that was probably why it died out quick.
The only advantage of living in darkness was that there were infinite places to hide. The light provided by the moon only did so much. I concentrated on getting behind a house, but a few steps outside of the tent and Romaine was struggling against me.
“Get your hands off me,” she said, her voice a few octaves higher than anyone in the village.
“I’m saving you,” I stated, continuing to pull her along.
She laughed at me and I looked back at her. “I don’t need saving.”
I stopped and pushed her behind the nearest house, not as far as I would have liked to of gone. I blew out a candle that was placed on a post a few feet from us, darkening the shadows behind the house. “Yeah, it looked like you had everything under control back there.”
She glared at me, leaning against the structure of the house behind her. “I could use your help.”
I was assuming she meant the rope that was bound around her wrists behind her back, but as I reached to help, she pulled the rope out, holding it in one hand. I raised my eyebrows. Romaine dropped it to the ground and brushed her hands against her pants.
“I’m looking for Marius Lockton,” she stated, “and I understand he comes from this village.”
I crossed my arms defensively across my chest. That was my father’s name. “What did you want from him?”
“I believe his…theories, and I think I can help him.”
She knew about the journals? Or at least, she knew that my father was on a mission to expose the truths on why the earth stopped. I was confused. Why would she want to help? She lived in the Golden Lands, she didn’t know the meaning of hardship.
I sighed. “He’s dead. I’m his son, Dax.”
Ah, this is the story of my heart and it still is. My main character of this story, a self-medicated psychiatrist, was one I had been writing for a couple years on my writing forum site before I decided to use her in a story of her own. Per usual, this started out as a short story in 2013 in my Crime Fiction class, but the character herself was created back in 2011, maybe. So this is an adult thriller/suspense novel. Looking back, it’s definitely in the same vein as Gone Girl/The Girl on the Train. My main girl and her cop brother are the children of a serial killer. Now, there is a copy cat killer going through the victims exactly as her father had. They gotta figure it out soon though, because my main girl and her brother were also intended victims before their father was caught. She was supposed to be victim 31 (see what I did there?) So yeah, I still love this one because my writing is super different than everything I had written up to this point. Prescription abuse, copy cats, ex husbands, spiraling main character, it had it all… but an ending.
I was coming off my three day Valium high when they found victim five beside the dumpster behind the 7 Eleven.
Staring through my front windshield from behind the wheel of my car, I surveyed the scene. The yellow police tape separated the rest of the world from the recreated nightmare of my childhood. I sighed and ashed out my half-finished cigarette.
Quickly, I pushed my way through the crowd, or the gawkers. Every crime scene had them. They were the type that lingered around the police tape trying to catch a glimpse of the dead body, hoping it was as gruesome as the movies. In this case, I knew it was going to be worse.
And because I love the relaysh between the main mc and her ex husband, here’s some more:
“Well, you gonna arrest me?” I asked, my voice sounded low, slow to my own ears.
I heard his heavy footsteps as he followed me.
“I should,” he started like he wasn’t finished. I knew what he wanted to say. I can’t.
I started digging through my purse again. My hand swam, falling through the case file. Credit cards, lipsticks, pills, floating picture of victim seven, (must have shook loose from the file,) receipts, keys. Ah, keys. I fumbled with the lock, trying to jab my office key into the lock for my home.
“Are you just going to ignore me?” he asked.
I turned back around to look at him, the shadows on his face made me squint. I knew I was holding my keys, but I couldn’t feel them weighed in my hands.
I thought I threw them. Turns out I did. I didn’t even feel them leave my fingertips until I saw them hitting him in the chest.
“Can you just… just help me inside?” I asked. My shoulders sagged, my eyes filled with tears I would not shed, and my voice defeated the argument building deep in my throat.
He started at me for a long moment, trying to gauge what he should do. Of course the cop in him wanted to take me in, force me to get help, but that would push me away and I knew he didn’t want that. Then there was the Noah part. The part of him that knew everything about me, every inch of my soul. I watched as his fingers twitched at his sides, wanting to reach out and hold onto me to anchor myself to him like I used to be.
Noah bent over and retrieved the fallen keys. Having done this before, he put the correct key into the lock. Before he turned the knob, he paused and looked at me. Staring. Like he was willing me to say something – anything.
“I don’t know why I keep doing this,” he said, but it felt like he was saying it to himself. He shook his head, strands of caramel brown hair falling in his face before opening the door.
I stepped forward, stumbling a little. I grabbed onto his arm to steady myself. His palm closed around my side to guide me through the door. I knew why he kept doing it. He loved me. He couldn’t be with me when I loved my pills more than him.
He told me that once. Towards the end.
They Wore Black
Another Crime Fiction class short story. Well, technically this started out as a “Choose Your Own Adventure Story” of my group of bank robbers. After the class, I had expanded on it into a novel. I liked this one because the narrator of this novel-version was an unseen character always observing the main characters. These main characters were also some of the ones I created over on my writing forum, so I knew them well and felt comfortable writing them. I didn’t get very far in the novel but the “Choose Your Own Adventure Story” was my favorite piece I wrote ever while in school. It was bomb, guys. Here’s an example of the choosing the adventure part:
To have Jack suggest going to the hospital, turn to page 18
To have Jack agree with going to the safe house, turn to page 14
And some of the novel:
The guard’s smoke break usually lasted between five and seven minutes. If there were no gun shots, the guard wouldn’t suspect a damn thing. Jack specifically looked at Will.
“When he comes back in, get his gun tell him to lie down like the rest of them. Just… follow the plan this time.”
“Would you quit, Jackson? I got it,” he said, his voice muffled behind the mask.
“Are you sure, Will? This can’t be like the South End job,” Kane called from the front.
“I said I fucking got it.”
Jack looked down at his watch. “Ten seconds.”
Jack’s eyes never left the door. “I did.”
The van fell silent and they concentrated on the bank’s entrance fifty feet ahead of them. When seconds eleven and twelve passed, Riley spoke up with, “Thought you said you had this thing timed out, Jack.”
“Then where is he?”
“Fucking chill. He’s coming.”
Another few seconds passed and Will sighed heavily, shifting his M4A1 Carbine in his lap.
“What are we gonna do? We have to make a move,” Kane said, his hand hovering on the key in the ignition.
Jack’s stare was concentrated so intently on the bank’s door, his vision started to blur. He spent the last three weeks planning this job out. Every detail was in his head, every tile on the bank’s floor was memorized, and the vault? He knew that in exactly fifty seven seconds it was about to reset for the day. They were just waiting on this part time employment security guard. One that was too weak or fucked up to pass the academy, but still given a gun to guard a bank.
*Through Villains and Wolves – Red Riding Hood Retelling
I’m including this for the visual timeline, but this was the first novel I ever completed. I started it for NaNoWriMo 2014 and polished the manuscript by March 2016. This is the project I talked about all the time on my channel last year. And whoa, you can read the first chapter here. In short, it’s a continuing tale of what happened to Red Riding Hood after her encounter with the wolf.
The Space Between My Lungs
Ah, another story of my heart. Organized crime, assassins, prostitutes, and lovers with history. I guess you could say this is an adult. I hesitate to say adult romance because that’s not how I would categorize it, but that’s probably where it would end up on the shelves. This book also spurred from characters I created years ago on my writing forum site. I’ve also written quite a lot of short stories featuring them and they’re all quite disturbing. I have a whole folder on my laptop called “My Russian Babies” that is just an abyss of info on them. I love them. Three of the main characters are all members in the Russian Bratva (the Russian equivalent to mafias.) Anyway, I started writing a novel of them for NaNoWriMo 2015. I didn’t really plot it out so it kind of fizzled at 12k or so. Still won’t give up on them. It’s a story told in four perspectives.
A lackey answered the door and a few short words in Russian, she was let it. The inside of the security room was filled with people – probably honest Americans trying to make a living – watching computer screens that monitored every angle of the hotel. The brief observation Faina had of the hotel before she was shuffled to Avel’s room, was impressive. Hotel Vory sat on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and ran itself like a Las Vegas casino hotel.
Faina quieted her steps immediately. She spotted Ivan near a railing looking over to the people watching computer screens. Even in heels, she could move like a ghost. She crept on his left side – his blind spot, something she frequently did after his accident. While it might have been awhile since she saw Avel – her closest friend in the bratva – she had more encounters with Ivan than either of them would like to admit, at least now. And Avel didn’t know of these encounters.
When she was within touching distance of Ivan he spoke. “Go into my blind spot all you want, Faina, I will always see you.”
She stopped and relaxed. No need to continue if he knew she was there. He was getting better. Faina still stayed on his left side, but joined him at the railing.
“You did not tell me you were coming here,” Ivan said.
He could mean “here” as in the security room, but Faina knew better. He meant New York.
“I wasn’t aware that I had to,” she said.
Ivan turned to her, giving her his full attention and she couldn’t help but give him hers. His face was beautiful. Even with the jagged scar running down the left side of his face and his eye white and discolored from the accident. His eye color was the same as Avel’s was – ice blue. When she got close to him she could almost make out the once ice color in his left eye, but the white deadness overpowered it.
They didn’t speak for several seconds. Instead, they just stared because they were unsure of what to say to each other.
“You’ve been sleeping in my brother’s bed,” he said finally.
Faina’s eyes narrowed into slits and she crossed her arms under her chest. “Jealous?”
Ivan smirked just a bit, one corner lifting up before settling back into a straight line. “Maybe.”
She controlled her emotions to stay neutral and to fight the rising blush that threatened snaking up from the underneath her clothes. “It has never been like that and you know this,” she said, “besides, Avel has not been sleeping in his room the past few nights. He stays out all and sleeps when he gets back.”
Her tone implied she wanted to know more because if anyone knew Avel’s odd behavior, it would be Ivan. She focused on his good eye, but he just turned away.
“Your tricks do not work on me anymore, Faina,” he said.
She doubted this.
Jumper Is Secure
I started this manuscript during Summer of 2016, so this is my most recent unfinished project. I do mention it during my summer writing vlogs, but this project was pushed aside for Sharp Hollows. I don’t want to reveal much about JIS, other than the fact I can say it’s like Chasing Liberty meets Olympus Has Fallen. This is a project I would definitely revisit. I’m a huge huge fan of action movies, so I put a lot of what I love about those movies in this. I got to 26k in this project before I quit to start planning SH, and since that is taking up all of my time, I haven’t been able to revisit JIS since. I’d like to though.
“Balcony?” Mason asked.
“Balcony,” Sawyer confirmed. He reached over, grabbed the scissors and cut the excess thread from her arm. Mason frowned down at the completely stitched up mangled skin of her bicep.
She didn’t even realize he was sewing it up. The black stitches were pretty straight, but her skin puckered in places that would scar. Not her first. Second in the past two weeks.
“So then, I just waited for you,” he finished and stood up. He offered the warm bowl of water for her to clean her hands and arm with.
What he said seemed logical.
Mason stood as well and dipped a clean cloth into the water and started mopping up the dried blood. Sawyer pulled her backpack off the floor and dug around for another spare shirt and laid it across the chair for her to change into. When she felt marginally cleaner from her own spilled blood. She picked up her clean shirt with her free arm and looked over to Sawyer.
He pushed himself off the counter he was leaning on with a start. “Yeah, of course.”
Sawyer, thankfully, didn’t make it awkward that she was standing in her bra and jeans until his eyes zeroed in on the red, healing scar at the top of her right breast. He looked at it much like she looked at the scabs on his knuckles. Sawyer’s concentration didn’t break until Mason moved to put the shirt on.
And that’s a wrap on all my unfinished novels! The next one in line was Sharp Hollows which is currently in the hands of critique partners! I am one step closer in finishing book!