Lily 2

NOTE: The discovery draft in the middle of this post has been revised as the comments came in. Therefore some of the comments won’t make sense any more because I’ve changed the part they commented on. All of the comments made sense in the beginning.

A word about discovery drafts:

A discovery draft is just getting words down on paper. In my case, it’s usually to see what the Girls are up to, so my first discovery drafts are dreadful, rambling things. Hey, you want to see how the sausage is made, you’re gonna see some ugly stuff. In this case, I tried to get into this story all weekend, and it just wasn’t there. The stuff that really caught me? The manuscript illustration, the diner, and Cheryl. I needed a best friend, or at least a friend for Lily, and of course, the love interest who could no longer be named later. Finally this morning, I googled for Norse names again and found one that seemed like it might work (might not), and then because I was dying to, I googled for “manuscript illumination dragon.” And I ended up with the stuff below. Missing is any kind of decent description (I suck at description) of people or place, and any sense of change. That’ll come as I know more, although I already know Lily is thin and sharp and redheaded and nervous, and Fin is big (Viking) and blunt and blond and calm. And none of that is on the page. Discovery draft. First step in the process. Oh, and this is boring. That’s okay, too. If I ever get to a rewrite, it’ll perk up.

Note: If you read this early on Monday, there have been changes. Because it’s a discovery draft and I discover things. This is how it works. Also because I went ahead and did a small character collage and that sharpened things up considerably.


Lily 2

Lily walked back to her apartment, changed into her uniform, and went downstairs to the diner, somewhat buoyed by the fact that Nadia seemed open-minded enough to not assume she was a wingnut. Some days, you took what you could get.

Vanessa was in the kitchen, slapping burgers on the grill. “Watch out for Cheryl,” she called. “She went to another seminar last night.”

Lily closed her eyes. “Oh, god, what now?”

“She appears to be vegan.”

Lily stopped to contemplate. “Well, that has disaster written all over it. We’re a vegan diner?”

“No,” Van said. “We’re a regular diner with a vegan proselytizer. So how was therapy?”

“I have a new therapist!” Lily tried to look cheerful as she tied on her apron.

“You told me that already. Fenris something.”

“Ferris. No, I have another one. Ferris was . . . not good.” Lily picked up her order pad. “But I have high hopes for this one. We’re going to meet on Fridays.”

Van looked at her from under raised eyebrows. “All I want for Christmas is sane co-workers.”

“It’s April,” Lily said and went out to the front counter.


Out in the diner, things were relatively peaceful in that time valley between lunch and dinner. Cheryl had been on the job: the stainless counters were polished and the black and white tile floor gleamed and everybody except for the two guys on the end had food, and even they had full coffee cups.

That was upside. The downside was that Cheryl was out at the tables lecturing two college students about the dangers of their burgers, her frizzy blond hair waving as she nodded at them to emphasize her point. The students looked torn between annoyance and confusion, but Lily had been here before. She thought about grabbing Cheryl and telling her they’d get a lot more business if she didn’t drive so much of it away, but if Cheryl eased up, they would get a lot more business and they already had all they could handle, so she left her harassing the students and went down the counter to the two burly guys on the end.

They were big, one sort of blondish with glasses and the other brown-haired with a grin as she approached, and they were youngish, possibly in their late twenties or early thirties, and they were talking quietly so that was a point in their favor.

“Everything okay here?” she said, faking cheerful as she reached them, hoping Cheryl hadn’t done anything rash, like show them pictures of dead animals.

The brown-haired guy widened his grin. “Actually we’d like to order.”

“Oh, Cheryl didn’t . . . . Absolutely.” Lily got her pad out of her apron pocket. “What’ll it be?”

The brown-haired guy got serious. “Two cheeseburger deluxe, medium, double order of fries, some of that coleslaw with the sour cream in it, please. Extra ketchup. Also pie. Lots of pie, but we can do that later. You busy later?”

“I’ll get the burgers on,” Lily said and turned to go.

“Wait,” the sort-of-blond-in-glasses said, and she turned back.

He looked a lot like the other guy, big, blunt-featured and broad-shouldered, but he was calmer, older, sharp-eyed behind the glasses, and he looked like he missed nothing.

“One deluxe, rare,” the blond said, “and one order of fries. And a defibrillator for my brother.”

“That whole order was for you?” Lily said to the brown-haired guy.

“Don’t judge,” the guy said, and held out his hand across the counter. “I’m Bjorn.”

Bjorn. Viking.

“Of course, you are,” Lily said and shook his hand once.

“And this is my brother, Fin,” Bjorn went on. “And you are?” He looked at the name tag pinned to her apron. “Lily. Pretty name.”

Lily looked at the blondish brother, who nodded at her, perfectly polite, and then went back to doodling something on the xeroxed menu.

Lily looked closer. He had one of those thin black markers that art majors used, “snotty markers” Cheryl called them, and he was drawing a vine in the margin of the menu. He’d already drawn a dragon in there, a very small, writhing reptile, breathing fire on the BLT listimg.

“Wow,” she said, impressed by the intricate dragon, even more impressed as the vine grew before her eyes, beautiful as it twisted up the side of the daily specials. Talented Viking. Competent Viking. Viking Who Doodles. He reminded her of someone. Probably not in this lifetime, though.

“So, Lily,” Bjorn said, trying again. “What’s the story with Cheryl?”

“Huh? Oh.” Lily looked back to see Cheryl heading their way with the coffee pot.

What could she possibly say about Cheryl?

“So I”ll put this order in,” she said and went back to the order window. “Three deluxe,” she called to Van and put the order slip on clip.

“Meat is murder,” Cheryl said loudly as she came toward them, so Lily took the pot from her and went to fill the brothers’ cups in apology.

“Why is Cheryl still employed?” Bjorn said.

“Cheryl owns the diner,” Lily said. “Your burgers are coming right up. It’ll be fine, the cook is great, and most of the rest of us are sane.”

The blondish one—-Fin-—looked up from his doodle and met her eyes, And she stepped back. “Is there something wrong?”

“Wrong?” Lily said brightly. “Noooo.”

“You seem tense.”

“Uh.” And then, because she couldn’t resist, she said, “So is Fin your real name?” Were there Vikings named Fin?

“It’s short for Thorfin,” Bjorn said, smiling at her again. “So, Lily–”

Thor. Of course. “Vikings,” Lily said before she could stop herself. “You’re Vikings.”

“No,” Fin said. “We’re from Cincinnati. Ohioans.”

“There were no Vikings in Ohio,” Bjorn said reassuringly.

“There probably were,” Fin said. “Great Lakes. But that was centuries ago, so no, we’re not Vikings. What have you got against Vikings?”

“They murdered me several times,” Lily said.

“I see,” Fin said, and went back to his drawing.

Cheryl walked behind Lily and said, “An animal screams every time you guys walk in here.”

“I understand if you want to leave,” Lily told them. “No charge for the coffee.”

“Are you kidding?” Bjorn said. “This is like performance art. There should be a cover charge. Plus there are cute waitresses.”

Lily looked around. “Who?”

Fin sighed. “He’s trying to pick you up. He’s doing it badly, but he’s trying.”

“Oh. I’ll get your order,” Lily said, and Fin nodded and went back to doodling.

Later, when they were gone, Lily looked to see if he’d left the dragon menu. He had, but now beside the dragon, there was a tiny waitress with a sign that said, “No Vikings.” He’d done her hair in red marker.

“Funny,” she said, but she kept the menu because the dragon was beautiful.


Fun research for today: Dragon Illuminations

131 thoughts on “Lily 2

  1. Why bother with description. Just sling (diner joke here) these scenes together and I’ll want to read it.

    1. I didn’t know this could be a profession in (relatively) recent times. He was really talented and must have loved his work!

      1. His work was from about 1920 – 1960s or so. Relatively recent for varying definitions of recent. I never met him. He divorced my grandmother in the 1930s, leaving her to care for two young kids. I never wondered where my mom came up with her depression-era frugalness.

    2. That’s awesome and wonderful. And not just the dragon – the fact your grandfather did this for a living (don’t tell me he was only trained for it but couldn’t pay the bills doing it so had to sling lumber. I don’t want to know.) Love, love, love.

      1. Nope – he was an artist. As far as I know he didn’t do anything else. His father was also an artist – lots of covers of the Saturday Evening Post from 1899 – 1925.

  2. Commentary about this scene:

    I like the dynamic with Fin and Bjorn. I especially like that Fin seems deeper – or more circumspect. I want to know why they are in town. Is is a part time gig? Have they been here for years but only just now getting to the diner?

    I’d like to think that the doodling is is way to relieve stress/ tension. Maybe he’s been flipping houses with his brother, and they found some particularly nasty/ costly problem. His brother dragged him away to eat before it got ugly. And, since they were in this new neighborhood, they checked out the local diner.

    1. He’s definitely the older brother. I think they both work at the university. I have no idea why I think that.

    2. Really good artists seem to doodle all the time. Sort of like Jenny writing scenes. Picasso did some incredible number of “doodles” every day. Whatever caught his eye he would make a few lines. And he did this while conversing, listening, just having a glass of wine and watching the world go by.

  3. Cruise words on a page – comfort food for the soul! Thanks for “doodling with words”. and sharing with us. 🙂

    1. I feel the same way. 🙂

      Love the waitress in the doodle and the name Thorfin. So the god Thor will figure in the story in some way?

      1. Just as a thorn (ha) in Fin’s side since he vaguely resembles the movie Thor in a less beefed up way.

  4. Are we going with Vanessa or Cheryl as the best friend? Loving both of them already.
    I’ve been watching 2008 show The Middleman, and the protagonist has one of those Activist Protest Performance Art Roommates, who Cheryl reminded me of. Of course, Cheryl is still successfully running this diner, so clearly she’s got layers beneath that vegan whim. Meanwhile, I love me some cooks. Good to know that Vanessa can go with the flow, both to do her job (handling the lunch rush), and navigating Cheryl’s swings.

    “We’re from Cincinnati” made me laugh.

    Illuminations are delightful. They were just as full of memes as the internet. Snails! Snails everywhere! Those dastardly snails! Violent rabbits! Dick trees!

    1. I LOVE THE MIDDLEMAN. Especially the one with the fish. Such a great series.

      I see Cheryl as older than that, but still a good egg, if slightly cracked. I think Van’s the best friend but we’ll see.

    2. I was wondering if in the first scene, after therapist one is dismissed if Nadia “fired” Lily as a client because they had been best friends in grade school or high school but had lost touch and Nadia could be the friend and not the therapist. Looking for a therapist could just be how they reconnected because I still am having trouble seeing why having been reincarnated made it necessary to have a therapist (this is coming from someone who has never been to a therapist so I may have a blind spot for needing a therapist. This is what going to confession or a best friend is for).

      1. I’m not sure why, either. But then in the beginning, I didn’t know why somebody shot at Nick. Sometimes you just keep going and don’t look down.

    3. Those illuminations are wonderful. (And I feel like that knight when I am attacking snails in the garden)

  5. This is delightful! I like Fin already and love the doodling stuff – that starts the idea for me that he is calm and stable. And talented never hurts either.

  6. Brainstorming:

    If Lily’s problem is that people think she’s crazy, then that’s sort of hinted at here but maybe one way it could develop is that Cheryl seems bad for business and Lily seems like she’s at least trying to be more of the sane one, so if she starts acting in some way that’s also bad for business the diner might not be able to support two, and given Cheryl is the owner…

    Has anyone already brought up that pillage + modern Vikings (not Thorfin and Bjorn Vikings, just bringing Vikings in as a motif in another way) might suggest a threat to the diner? Like someone wants to buy it (wants to lower its price and then forcibly buy it) and make it into a high rise (…umm, to make lots of money appealing to rich students, I dunno)?

    And pillaging also brings to mind dragons and hoards of gold… I don’t suppose there could be a very long lived (and totally natural) dragon? Or I suppose it could have reincarnated human once dragons went extinct? Human with a dragon heart? Or as the exotic pet komodo dragon of someone rich, who it influences (subtly just by existing and being a dragon with a dragon’s soul, or otherwise). There was a previously mentioned idea about the Viking in the past running away from something and causing accidents, what about running away from a dragon? And Lily has never seen the dragon (she always dies first).

    (I really like the dragon in the second picture.)

    1. No, on a real dragon because we’re trying to keep fantasy out of this, but yes on the dragon being some kind of symbol or motif. No idea how or when or if other dragons are going to pop up. The Girls know, I don’t.

        1. Yeah, we talked about that last week. I think the extra limitation of no fantasy (we’re considering reincarnation real, but no time travel) makes for a sharper story in this case.

    2. “Like someone wants to buy it (wants to lower its price and then forcibly buy it) and make it into a high rise (…umm, to make lots of money appealing to rich students, I dunno)?’ Painfully plausible. Been There, Seen That. See Sadlack’s Heroes, Raleigh, NC. The bar at the end of the universe for roughly fifty years is now a high-rise hotel across the street from NC State.

    3. The boys could be research assistants, or tech support at the university. Probably not TAs because they wouldn’t have time to be in the plot then. (Yes, I work at a university.)

      1. I was a TA for four? years and I wrote several novels during that time. There’s time. My social life was pretty much leaving bars early, but the rest of my grad class had a good time.

  7. Could there be a scene at a zoo, aquarium with a sea dragon. Much cuter then Komodo dragons a slightly niftier the frilled dragons.

    1. Yes! Even though there’s no overt fantasy in the story, that doesn’t mean that the story can’t have fantasy narrative structures adapted to the modern day in it, like our Cincinnati Vikings.
      Does Florida have college towns? Because then you can have crocodiles show up to disrupt things, no big deal. And a Viking Florida Man also allows a lot of absurdity to happen.

      1. Does Florida have college towns?!? Tallahassee (Florida State University), Gainesville (University of Florida), Jacksonville (Jacksonville University), Coral Gables (University of Miami), Tampa (University of South Florida), Orlando (University of Central Florida), and dozens and dozens of others.

        No crocodiles. Florida is full of alligators and Burmese pythons.

        1. Ah yes, that most epic of unending battles, the alligator vs. python Florida War. That could definitely be rejiggered in mythological terms! Or at least why Lily is definitely on the alligator’s side of the conflict. If there’s one thing she hates more than a Viking, it’s a serpent.

  8. I felt like I was a customer in the diner enjoying some random people watching. Could go for that about now.

  9. I enjoyed the dragon doodling. Though I wonder about Lily’s sanity blabbing “they murdered me” to complete stranger Vikings in this life.

    1. I have a feeling that while Lily is wound tighter than Cheryl, she is probably wound looser than Van or Fin.

  10. I loved her hatred of Vikings, her reason why, the doodles and Cheryl haha I love the little waitress added at the end.

    What are you looking for next Jenny? Anything in particular?

    Is the diner going to be the hub of this book?

    I like the idea of someone trying to buy out the diner, pillage and takeover. We could introduce that villain here as well…. but not sure how it ties to needing to know her past lives?

    1. I’m not really looking for anything. This is just a play project. We’re gonna need scenes with Fin and Bjorn and scenes with Lily and Vanessa and scenes with Lily and Nadia, but this is just screwing around. Well, all discovery drafts are just screwing around at this point, even the serious ones.

  11. The one sentence that stands out for me is when Lily says Vikings murdered her several times. There is no reaction from Bjorn or Fin to that statement.

    Next for me would be to want to see Fin and Bjorn discussing the waitress who thinks she’s been killed several times by Vikings. Especially if Bjorn wants to meet Lily again and Fin feels there’s a connection but he can’t step on his little brother’s toes.

    Also, could Lily’s statement somehow tie in with whatever one of them teaches/studies at the university?

    I know we don’t know where this diner is, but given Bjorn says they are from Cincinnati, I am going to assume NOT Cincinnati – which then begs the question how did they both end up working for the same university in what is not their hometown?

    1. What I think, what came up as I reread this so I assume it’s a message from the girls, is that Bjorn is fresh out of rehab, and since Fin freelances, he’s his little brother’s sober companion for a couple of months. I think. I’ll have to research “sober companion” to see how that works. Bjorn got the job at the college, and Fin is with him until he’s ready to be on his own again. The last thing you want to do with an alcoholic and/or addict is send him into a college town. If that’s what it ends up being, Bjorn really is in recovery and there won’t be any relapses because I don’t see that fitting in anywhere.

      But that’s getting way into the weeds way too early. So just put a pin into it for now.

      1. Could Fin be at the college for research in the archives? If he winds up being an artist, it’s plausible that he could be there working on a commission while keeping an eye on his little brother.

    2. I agree Brenda about the nonreaction after Lily tells them Vikings murdered her several times, especially since they just told her 3 times they were not Vikings. Makes me wonder what their story is and how it ties into them being Vikings…or non-Vikings

      1. Last post, we talked about SCA. If a waitress at a college town griped to me about getting eaten by zombies a lot, I’d assume they were talking about the popular Humans vs. Zombies game. For Vikings, I’d think they were part of a D&D group, or into LARP, or a theater major, or played a lot of video games last night. There are a lot of possibilities.

        1. As I remember from living in a college town, you pretty much rolled with whatever anybody said, especially in a bar or restaurant near campus. So many departments, so many fields of study, so many obsessions.

  12. “Viking Who Doodles” – wonderful!
    And I love their banter too.
    On the other hand, Cheryl being a vegetarian this week – not sure how it is relevant. Maybe it’ll come clear later in the story.

    1. Bjorn may not relapse, but I foresee Cheryl with a double cheeseburger in hand telling Lily “Don’t judge me!”

      Next doodle is a man in t shirt, “Born to Vike” (Or maybe “Bjorn to Vike?”)

      1. And now I’m imagining somebody shrugging and saying “Well, Vikings gonna vike.”

  13. I adore the line about performance art, and there’s a lot of character revelation packed into that whole bit with Bjorn trying to chat up Lily and Fin responding. I’m already sold on Fin.

  14. Kind of want a stained glass window of a dragon, no idea why, maybe the brothers can make one. Cheryl might drive away extra business, with her latest thing, but her regulars will just accept it as one of her quirks and if they have good coffee and generous servings of good food at reasonable prices, students will put up with her, they get lectured all the time anyway.

    In London there was a cheapish restaurant, where customer service was non existent, it became fashionable to go and be insulted by a waiter. I think some customers were almost disappointed if the waiter didn’t throw the meal at them or something

    1. I LOVE the idea of a stained glass dragon window. Could Fin be a leaded glass artist? He could be working on something for the university chapel maybe?

      And yes, sometimes the complete lack of service is part of the charm, as long as the food is good. There’s a laneway dumpling house in Melbourne that I used to go to with Uni friends because it was cheap and reliably tasty, but you had to practically tackle a waitress to get served and the second your last dish was on the table your bill was slapped down next to it. God help you if you wanted your tea refilled.

      1. Fin could be doing art and just always adds a dragon to everything, even if it doesn’t really go or he doesn’t really think about. Sometimes it just surprises him that one made it in there. 🙂

        He could be a visiting Artist-in-Residence too. That’s another university tie.

  15. Jenny I love this. Cheryl the vegan cafe owner is annoying, but so are some of the vegans I know. Can’t wait to read more.

  16. Just FYI:
    If you read this early on Monday, there have been changes. Because it’s a discovery draft and I discover things. This is how it works. Also because I went ahead and did a small character collage and that sharpened things up considerably.

    This will probably happen all week, based also on the things you say in the comments, which means some of the comments won’t make any sense now because I changed things in the draft.

    Just so you know.

  17. I love that the scene literally ends with a sign that Fin “gets” Lily.

    Thank you for this!

  18. Doesn’t Fenris mean wolf? Maybe the antagonist is some sort of wolf-themed evil person. Not werewolf. Bad viking, and the meh therapist is one of his/her minions…

    Love this scene. I have avoided the wip posts before because I love the experience of reading a book blind, but this was absolutely delightful. Thank you. I love having an artistic main character in the mix <3

    1. Wow, should have proof read that. A lot of ‘loves’ going on in there. Time for me to go to bed. Ha

    2. I wondered if anybody was going to catch that. It was an impulse and probably shouldn’t be in there, but the Fenris wolf is part of Norse mythology. NO idea why that cropped up with the Girls.

      1. The thing with the Fenris / Ferris thing for me was that it was illogical. Most people know somebody with the name Ferris, but who knows “Fenris”…? If you’re uncertain about a name it’s more likely you’ll have tagged something familiar (“normal”) as a placeholder/guess for something unfamiliar.

        So, I think it should be the other way around. The guess would be “Ferris” but Nadia’s name is actually “Fenris”. So, Latina or not, there’s a Viking story in there somewhere. Which just added another level of “hmmmmmmmmm”…

    3. Yeah, I noticed Fenris as well. Made me think of Chronicles of Narnia, and wonder if she’s a villain after all. Which would certainly give Vanessa a keen sense of intuition.

    4. This is one you’ll probably be safe on since we’re just playing around. Nita’s the book of the moment.

      1. The Fenris Wolf is a giant wolf, son of Loki, who is bound by the gods because he and his brother and sister will be part of Ragnarok. He breaks free and generally unleashes hell. His brother, a giant snake, is thrown into the sea, and grows so large he encircles the world and bites his own tail. His sister Hel is thrown into the underworld and becomes ruler of those who did not die in battle. A lot of characters in literature, film, and gaming are named for him. He’s also called Fenrir.

        No idea what that has to do with anything in the story. It’s a name I’ve used before, most recently in Paradise Park.

  19. I’m still imagining the diner playing Postmodern Jukebox, probably because I’ve been playing it for the past week. I can almost hear the motown style cover of I Knew You Were Trouble playing behind this scene. Again, that’s possibly because I’ve watched the video one too many times lately and one of the backup singers looks like Lily as you’ve described her.

    Thoughts: I like the contrasts between Lily and Fin, and also between Fin and Bjorn. The very calm reaction to Lily’s viking outburst is great. I’d like to see more interaction with Vanessa but maybe that will get filled in over time. Emphasizing some of the physical cues that would prompt Fin to comment that Lily seems nervous might be good – at that point we know that she’s nervous around vikings, but he doesn’t. And him picking up on physical cues that his brother misses would emphasize the him being observant part. But that probably falls under description.

    1. The problem with Postmodern Jukebox is that it’s such an in thing. They are great–HUGE Morgan James fan here–but first of all Cheryl would have to know them and appreciate them and second the music would have to have a meaning in the story. And the music is so eclectic, they cover all kinds of songs in all kinds of genres, that aside from “really good music done by really good musicians” there’s no theme there.

      Music is important in my stories, but it always comes later when I know the story better and I know what’ll have meaning. Dixie Chicks were great for Agnes because of all that down-home anger (good-bye, Earl), and Dusty because of nostalgia for their mother in Temptation, but I don’t see PMJ as a good theme. Great music, not a great soundtrack choice overall.

      That said, their cover of “All About That Bass” is so amazing, I can listen to it forever. And it’s not a great song, they’re just that good.

      1. I figured out why my brain keeps going to PMJ. It’s because they’re all about reimagining something to bring it into a different focus, which is what I’m having to do now. From the sound of the story, so will Lily (particularly in light of Fin the Viking).

        This isn’t to say it should be in there, you’re right about no theme, but with all the glasses in the collage, I thought the idea of refocusing was interesting. Seeing things differently, reimagining your life and how you thought it was/ would be. Realising not all vikings will kill you…

        The subconscious is a strange place. Or the quarantine is driving me mad. Either/ or.

        1. That’s an interesting parallel, in particular doing to romance what they do to music. It really does make you look at the songs in an entirely new light. That Spice Girls song they do was jarring because you have a certain mindset of what romance was like for the Andrews sisters and then those in-your-face lyrics. Change the context, change the meaning or at least the subtext. Their version All About that Bass is interesting for a lot of reasons, but the one that gets Meis that they’re doing a sexpot/Marilyn Monroe approach to a pseudo-feminist song without really undercutting the meaning but at the same time satirizing it.

          For some reason, the song that keeps going through my head for this one is Bareilles “Love Song.” Which is just odd. No idea how that fits, but it’s been my ear worm for a couple of weeks now.

  20. This was great fun to read. I’ll have to cogitate on what I’d like to see next.

    But, Jenny, please say you haven’t abandoned Nita for this. I want to buy Nita, and the sooner the better.

  21. I crowed with laughter. This scene delights me. I know that’s not helpful for story development, but I can’t help it. And, btw, not boring.

    1. I love what’s happening so far. And I just thought of something, have you ever seen the Viking kitten video? (Done to the Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin)

  22. I’m glad you added the “It’s April” bit. I was wondering if it was winter because of the Christmas line.

    And changed them from both being “blonde-ish” and then describing Bjorn as brown-haired. 🙂 I didn’t comment on that before because I figured it was likely that would change (like Cheryl’s helmet hair going to frizzy).

  23. What sort of nervous is Lilly? Super efficient? Stepping in to finish correctly what others leave partially done? Always carrying multiple lines of thought in her head? Prone to quick judgments and fast responses? Sensing complications? Generally anticipating others’ needs? Is a sign that too many things are messing her up the moment when she is slow to click between one train of thought and another? Does she usually keep things straight because she separates each train of thought separate? Now that she is aware of the Viking element, is Lilly losing her confidence?

    I agree with the comment asking how Fen knows that Lilly, whom he has not met previously, knows that she is different from usual. Because that’s really cool.

    1. How long has Lilly been doing this waitress job? Is this a temporary job that she’ll eventually move on from? Other than Cheryl’s eccentricities, which one is the better waitress? We saw that Cheryl failed to take Bjorn and Fin’s orders, but she was on the ball about cleaning the tables. Maybe Lilly is the more customer-friendly one, but that still brings up why she thinks she needs therapy, instead of just venting to her friends and/or strangers.

      1. Unless Lily has a private source of income, she can’t afford to go to a therapist. Unless she is making a lot more in tips than most waitresses in diners make. This goes double for waitresses in college towns since most students and TA’s have no extra money for tips.

        Most waitressing jobs in the US pay minimum wage or slightly higher, no health insurance except for Workmen’s Comp, no pension and unemployment insurance. Vacation is time off without pay. If it was a larger restaurant, she could belong to a union and get health insurance through the union. I was never unionized so I do not know how extensive of a health insurance package you can get. Most employers fight being unionized with their last breath and really small places have been known to close down rather than deal with the unions. One thing that impressed me about Starbuck’s and one of the reasons their competitors hate them is they give their employees benefits, even part-time employees.

        1. I did not have a private income and I’ve had eleven therapists. Depending on who you work for or your county social services, there are ways to get therapy, especially if somebody is mandating it. I get that I have to clear that up, or actually, I don’t since this is just playing around, but fixing that is a blip.

          I also don’t know if Lily’s waitress job is her permanent job, or if she’s helping Vanessa or Cheryl, or if she’s on leave from another job . . . no idea.

          ETA: And now I know. She’s on leave from her job, but she still has her benefits.

      2. I think it’s cute how you all think I know these things, like there’s a plan here and I have a back story. Aside from what’s been published on this blog and what’s in the scenes I wrote today, I don’t know any more than you all do. That’s why it’s called Discovery Draft.

        Still these are good questions. I have no idea what the answers are, but they’re good questions so now I’ll think about them.

  24. Something that threw me, though it could be a regional thing, is the cheeseburger deluxe. Here, in the wilds of northern Alberta (so YMMV) a cheeseburger deluxe is a burger/fries combo, especially in small diners/Mom and Pop places. So, to me, Bjorn is ordering a lot of fries. Like an entire restaurant-sized bag of fries. I worked in a diner-type place in my teens, I know fries.

    Loved the Fenris comment. That really needs to stay.

    I love the little waitress with the sign. I can see it, especially next to an illuminated-manuscript style dragon. There are very few things in books that I can see with the clarity I can see that little doodle. Thanks for that.

    1. As a Canadian, when I first traveled to the US, it surprised me how many restaurants (especially the smaller, independent ones) did not serve meals. If you ordered a burger, you got a burger. If you ordered fries, you got fries. 🙂

      1. She’s right, if you order deluxe you get fries. But you’re right, too, unless you say deluxe or indicate that you want the fries, all you get is the burger. It’s usually the size of your head, but still just the burger.

  25. Did the previous draft mention that the menus were xeroxed? (Should you say “photo-copied” to avoid Xerox’s lawyers? Or even mimeographed?) Given most menus are plasticized or in see-through inserts, I’d wondered about the doodling being a bit permanent, but didn’t re-read for that. Now it caught my eye.

    I wonder if the sign the doodled waitress is holding is curled up on either side, like an ax blade, sort of.

    1. Xerox has passed into common usage, like Kleenex. Also, this will never be published besides here and Xerox has better things to do. Nobody mimeographs anymore, thank god.

      The menu is copied on paper because Vanessa changes it around. She gets bored easily.

      1. Oooooh I’d love that the diner has a diverse menu! Cheryl as the eccentric owner, but Vanessa with her own cooking quirks is also great. Obviously the deluxe burger is going to be a mainstay, but there are so many comfort foods from other cuisines that would fit with the “cozy college food” vibe. Pasteli, pho, unagi don, tacos (the authentic kind), quiche, jollof rice, butter chicken, oh now I’m hungry.

        1. I can see her taking a lot of the stuff and turning it into diner fare. Butter chicken on a bun, box Choy slaw on hamburgers made with Tamara, swapping out the ketchup for sriracha, doing a chili with chili-garlic sauce instead of chili powder, all of translated into something that looks at home on a diner plate. Familiar enough to be comfort food, different enough to be interesting. all of it really good. sriracha in chili would be good, too. Well, sriracha is just good.

          I did write I a throwaway line in one of the scenes I just did where Van did a new burger that broke Cheryl’s vegan streak, but it was easy stuff like sricha and chopped shallots and mushrooms with Tamara. Needless to say, I have not tried it, but it should be really good.

          1. Yeah, fusion stuff like that is getting pretty popular, especially in the food truck scene (bulgogi fries, tater tot nachos, masala pizza cones, sushirittos), so maybe Vanessa is plugged into that cooking social network, and that’s not going to stop her from doing it the diner. Cheryl allows it because every time she picks up her mood of the week, Vanessa makes one dish that humors it. Like, this time it’s vegan, so while burgers aren’t going away Vanessa will make one vegan dish that blows Cheryl’s socks off, until Cheryl picks up her next hyperinterest. In turn, Vanessa doesn’t have to look very far for inspiration, because she never knows what Cheryl will be looking for next.

            Currently it looks like neither Bjorn or Thorfin are foodies, but it would be nice to have a Viking who is one. A Viking for every craft!

      2. These days, someone has an electronic master copy which is reprinted as Vanessa tweaks, and slid as an insert into a plastic ‘menu holder.’ Sounds as if it would be too much trouble, or too expensive, to laminate a menu if it’s changed often.

        1. Yeah, it’s not laminated. My diner has its regular, permanent menu laminated, and then paper-clips a xeroxed copy of the specials to that.

  26. Love this, the diner setting in a college town is going to be great! I would LOVE to have Fin doodle Pangur likeness on the other side of the dragon! Being a cat, he would be booping the dragon on the nose from a “safe” spot high in the vines, LOL I would love the cat to be their connection. Fin remembers the cat reincarnated not Lily type thing. I agree, I would have expected at least a comment back from the brothers about Lily’s reincarnation comment. The Cheryl vegan thing didn’t quite work for me – so much that doesn’t make sense about that – is she independently wealthy that she can drive away customers and it not matter? Is she really a nutcase that doesn’t care if the business goes under? Is she not smart enough to connect barraging the customers with a loss in business? That’s what immediately bothered me. I could see her on an anti-caffeine kick, because she can sell decaf or anti-sugar kick trying to sell sugar free pies and donuts, but the animal screams when you walk in comment when she owns the place didn’t work for me because then lock the door they can’t walk in or refuse to sell meat and try to convince them to eat tofu burgers or she’s a co-owner and is fighting with the cook / other owner about the meat.

    1. As I remember from being a grad student (let alone an undergrad), I’d put up with a lot for a good burger at a reasonable price, including a fist fight behind me (I ate a lot of bar burgers).

      Lily didn’t mention reincarnation as I recall, but I suppose the several murders implies that.

      Fin now responds although not with much.

  27. I had a problem with the menu thing too. Diner menus where I live are laminated, although the specials are often xeroxed paper halfsheets clipped on, so that might be a better thing to draw on, as well as a more legit thing for Lily to steal and keep. She could amass a collection of them if Fin happens to come back to the diner. Um… a lot…

    1. Okay, that’s what I meant, based on my own diner. They have an ugly laminated menu which I am deeply suspicious of for some reason, and then the xeroxed specials menu. I will clarify that.

      1. Ya know, it could just be a paper placemat that he doodlles on, instead of the menu?

        1. Paper placemats don’t usually have wide margins because they cram in all the advertising they can, plus it’s not a manuscript which is kind of what I was going for. But that’s definitely an option. Maybe he branches out into placemats.

  28. The one thing I kind of tripped over was Cheryl saying ‘an animal screams every time you guys walk in here’ but otherwise it seemed as though this was Bjorn & Fin’s first time at the diner.

    The next scene I would want to see would either be Lily/Lilly discussing Vikings with Pangur, or Bjorn & Fin discussing the customer-rejecting diner owner, in a way that gives us a little of their story and also maybe another doodle. Which could maybe feature a sharp redhead who is not in a waitress uniform this time, which would show us Lily is on Fin’s mind and also how he sees her based on that brief encounter.

    I see Bjorn as an equal-opportunity flirt of the type that no sane woman would take seriously. If Fin is as sane as he appears, he would also not take it seriously i.e. would not think Bjorn’s flirtiness meant they were possibly competing for a woman’s attentions. Bjorn, to me, is a red herring. 🙂 But brother banter is good banter.

  29. What a treat to read Crusie dialogue again! LOVED the little doodled waitress!

    Now, you’ve undoubtedly explained previously, Jenny, but I missed it: who or what are The Girls? Is this a reference to your Id working furiously, and occasionally sharing info with your awake brain? (Confused me, because my Girls are a shelf on my chest…)

    1. I stole that from Barbara O’Neal, who stole it from Stephen King, who has Boys in his Basement. It’s basically your subconscious, the source of all that stuff that just pops up as you write.

      1. Now I see. I really thought that in your case you’d have Girls in the Attic. Because of all the attics. The basements in Welcome to Temptation and Agnes and the Hitman aren’t so nice.

        1. I think attic is conscious thought and basement is the stuff that filters up. My attic is full of junk (g).

    1. I grew up in Ohio. I have had enough football to last me a lifetime. Especially since several years of that were spent in Columbus which is an absolutely lovely town, except for football weekends. I social distanced on football weekends.

  30. I think I’d like some action next. Something tries to kill Lily but she escapes. And it involves Fin in a way where he could’ve been trying to help … or harm.

    And maybe not yet, but I’m looking forward to finding out what Pangur thinks of Fin. Will he treat Fin like a long lost friend, or will he hiss and back away?

    1. I actually have the end of that scene. No idea what the danger is.

      Weirdly, Pangur is not showing up. Everybody else is, but the cat is under the bed sulking.

  31. My dog woke me up in the middle of the night last night and then I couldn’t get back to sleep, and somewhere in the wee hours my brain said – Wait! I love the name (Thor)Fin for the hero, but is it too close to Phin(eas) from Temptation????

    1. It probably would be if this were ever going to be an actual book, which it isn’t.

      On the other hand, I think I’m on my third Nick, so maybe not.

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