Lily 7 Notes

So one of the things that the Girls sent up that’s been bugging me is Vikings.

I mean, why the hell Vikings?

I remember starting with the title, Surprise Lily, and then thinking she’d pop up in different centuries like a surprise lily, mainly because I couldn’t think of any other way she’d just pop up out of nowhere. If I was going supernatural, she could time jump or walk through walls or something, but I wanted something simple and fun. This is not a book. Let’s not make playtime difficult, Crusie.

So her problem is reincarnation, but not a bunch of different time periods, and I just started riffing in that first scene. I distinctly remember thinking twelve lives and that put her back into the 800s and made me think of Pangur Ban (the poem) and that’s how Vikings came into the mix, but I don’t know how the hell they became a motif except that Lily announced they were in that first scene (“I always get the early Viking,” a line that will probably be cut).

Normally, at this point, I’d just cut the Vikings altogether, but there’s no way, they’re part of the fabric of the thing now, the Girls keep sending up more Viking stuff, I am stuck on Vikings . . . time to research.

I’ve already figured out that Lily’s memories of the 800s might just be her research knowledge kicking in from remembering information she’s read, the way old photographs trigger memories we’d lost and sometimes create memories we don’t have. I don’t know if Lily was really reincarnated or not. I’m not sure it matters. What I do know is that I don’t know enough about Vikings. I learned they bathed a lot on here from some of you. And they wore cat fur, which is somehow not the worst thing I know about them. Bastards.

The thing about research is that it’s there to support the story. We do not go down the rabbit hole of writing about Vikings, this story is not about Vikings, it’s about Lily, so what we need is what Lily knows about Vikings and how that info is impacting her life in the now of the story. One way, of course, is whatever nefariousness Seb and Uncle Louis are up to at the museum. That has to be tied to Vikings. Except they are not Vikings, they’re Celts. The Celts regularly got their asses kicked by the Vikings, I believe. Enter Fin and Bjorn.

But it’s not about them their book, it’s about Lily‘s


. Fin sees her as a Viking, at least a Viking waitress, so that might be a path to follow. And there’s definitely the Five Man Band which could be a Viking band, possibly matched by Seb, Uncle Louis, Jessica, Dorothy, and a player to be named later. And I need at least three characters who are regulars at the diner so we have more suspects to play with. Arthur is a start there.

The problem is, I am not interested in this. I’d rather just watch my diner Five Man Band goof around. The only reason I need the museum is to focus that group. So the key is to keep it simple and keep the focus on the diner. I can do that. I think.

So what I think I need now (very close to a “should,” damn it) is to get the Museum Gang in motion. There’s that Secret Societies magazine I bought, and I am contemplating a Dorothy PoV. I had such fun with Clea and Xan’s PoVs and I think Dorothy could be a nefarious amount of fun. I think she keeps a stuffed dog on her desk and calls it Toto. Chekhov’s Toto. There’s something in that dog . . .

So what do you want/need/expect now? The thing about having so much text is that it lets out a lot of possibilities. There’s a theory that your first sentence eliminates 90% (99%?) of your plot possibilities, so you can imagine what 20,000 words does to that. We’re narrowing things considerably here. If you want any sharp turns, now is the time to ask for them. No, Lily cannot end up with Bjorn, some things are not negotiable. It’s Lily and Fin, the cat lives, and something fun happens to Cheryl, possibly Arthur. Now, what else?

91 thoughts on “Lily 7 Notes

  1. Well, I’d like to see Seb get his come uppance in some form or fashion. And probably the whole Museum Gang as well (although maybe one of them is just a dupe). In order for the Diner Five to come together, there has to be a strong threat from the Museum gang. So while it is fun to see all the action at the diner, I think the next bit needs to focus on the Museum and whatever nefarious things are happening there.

  2. As much as this is playing, I don’t want to have to read the parts that peoy skip. So the museum five-man-band needs to be of interest in a specific way. It’s David being accosted by Cynthie in his office which is about 720 words+/- in Bet Me. They’re talking, we learn more about them, bit they’re talking about Cal and Min and we learn how David sees Mon “Nobody described Mon as a babe.” Beyond that, I got nuthin’.

    Also, the fact that I pulled that off the shelf, and quickly found the right section to check it tells me that I’m still living my Best Reading Life.

  3. people not peoy, but not bit, Min not Mon. I swear to Goddess that I corrected but and Min.

  4. I keep wishing I knew more about what Lily wants. She just feels so floaty and reactive to me.
    Maybe that’s on purpose. Maybe she’s playing against the fiery opinionated type we redheads always get.

    Or maybe it’s just my own type A reaction to always wanting to have some bigger goal to accomplish which is coloring how I’m reading it. And I have to admit, I’m feeling particularly twitchy in this crazy time where it’s hard for me to DO anything IRL… so right now I’m probably more inclined to read her seemingly floating along and just think “Lady, you’re out in the world and able to do whatever you want – no one needs you to take care of them, your time is completely your own, you are free. Nothing substantial is tying you down or worrying you – and you can do and go whatever you want. So is this it? If not – why don’t you DO something?!”

    I mostly keep coming back to wondering what her idea of HEA is. It seems like she’s already living her best life as a diner waitress with her gang and Fin’s her only missing ingredient and as soon as she & Fin make Sebastian stop bothering her, she’s happy. Seb is annoying, but in a low stakes way so far…unless she’s super upset about her career or something, but I’m not getting that.

    Ok, she has reincarnation flashbacks – but they don’t really seem to be causing her serious complications other than it made her initially suspicious of Fin which he pretty much instantly overcame by being Fin. And that seems to solve the biggest problem the reincarnations cause her – that she doesn’t like Vikings. In which case – it seems as easy as get a restraining order for Seb, complete the two step pass with Fin and HEA. That’s what I’m getting so far…but I just sense that isn’t supposed to be it.

    Either there’s something looming for her in the great beyond that’s about to whack her that they’re going to have to deal with, or she needs to want something more than Fin/waitressing with her friends and she should be at least thinking about if not acting on that.

    Or it’s just a super short story about a meet cute between a waitress and a nice guy who reminds her of a Viking, and how they fall for each other and ditch her ex. Because this is just doodling, and there doesn’t need to be a huge goal for Lily.

    1. I think what Lily wants is a direction in her life. She had one that she believed in and was good at but now it’s gone and she isn’t sure that she wants it back. So yes, she can fix all of the incidental things and she will, but first she has to decide what she wants out of life. That will dictate how she is handling each problem.

      Or maybe I am just projecting. That’s how I feel. I had a plan, a reason, etc and then Corona virus changed everything and I am waiting for life to settle before I make a new one. All of my art shows and events have been cancelled and I can’t realistically expect them to just bounce back. I mean, will there be Christmas shows to prep for? Who is going to want to sit in a crowded theater or gym or whatever for the next few years? Also, I am questioning what I should be making. What matters? What makes people’s lives better? and so on.

      So maybe I am reading these feelings into Lily, but I completely understand her putting decisions on hold until she finds some solid ground and sees a way forward. It’s hard to be assertive without a purpose. She will find her way, and when she does I fully expect her to be an axe wielding valkyrie. She just needs a target.

      1. I think we’re saying a similar thing.

        But I think where it’s different is that she’s not in a time of ongoing global uncertainty, but personal uncertainty. Her life has shifted, but for her, major instability has pretty much stopped other than her relationship with Fin, which is not a threat. She has friendship and support, she has food, shelter, a job that she seems to like, and she’s not seeming to project a strong sense of mourning over the loss of her previous job/relationship or any sense that she’s in financial or other physical hardship – so other than the fact that she has some concerns about a literal past life without any defined specific ongoing threat to her present life, she’s generally in an ok place…and in my view a happier one because – friends, fun job, cute boy on her horizon…so who really cares about vague Vikings in a past life that is not messing up her current life because Fin is awesome enough to move her past her Viking issues?

        So to my view she has regained her footing, and if the story continues now needs to decide what she wants. (unlike in our world, where we’re still having to stand still because the entire world is literally on pause)

        Is she happy and fulfilled working in the diner – maybe she just needed a bad thing to happen to get rid of a life she didn’t actually want, and now she can stay where she is, plus Fin. Short, happy story.

        But until she wants something other than what she has, she’s staying in the diner, which is ok, but doesn’t move the story forward…Unless she starts getting more external “axes” which make staying in the diner impossible/no longer her safe happy place.

        I think that’s why I’m getting impatient with her. “Lily, your world IS stable…so is your story over or is there something else you want…or is there more instability coming your way that will make you do something?”

        1. Yep. This is the thing I do with all my heroines. I like them. Why would I make them unhappy?

        2. Agree to disagree. We are saying similar things, but I feel like there is a different point of view that I am not expressing well or briefly as I try to find it…

          I don’t think that she is stable, rather projecting it because that is who she is and she doesn’t want her support system to worry. Her relationship and career ended, and even if both of those are positive changes it still hurts and is disorienting. And new relationships, even good ones are really scary because we can see that it is going to work, but she can’t. Even relationships with good guys end and it still hurts.

          We can tie a lot of our identity into our jobs and relationships. Add in the reincarnation and Lily has lost a lot of sense of self, or at least place markers that she used to denote self in her subconcious.

          So I guess I think that you want to see a more structured goal, like a new career, solve the mystery, save the diner (not that it is in peril) and I think I want to see her resolve something inside herself. I don’t think that she will move forward until she makes peace the past, all of her pasts. The museum is gone. Seb is gone and conseqently the Lily who worked in a museum and had a steady, career driven really hansome boyfriend is gone. Who does she want to be? That is the deciding factor. Once she figures that out she can deal with all the rest.

          I don’t know if I made that any clearer. I feel like I am rambling.

          Ok, how about this. There is a moment where Min decides that she wants Cal, or Andi decides that she is not leaving Carter and Alice and that is when the story changes. Tilda accepts that she wants to paint like Scarlett and their worlds shift out of chaos to the new normal. They are resolved and ready.

          Also, I just realized that Lily is the only one I can think of at the moment who is not a care -giver/fixer. She feels like she is in free fall to me. Everyone else is bulstered by the fact that other people are relying on them. It’s really just Lily and Panguar at the moment.

          1. Those moments are turning points, things/events happen in the plot that turn the plot, but they also arc the character.
            The problem is, we don’t have a plot.

          2. I still don’t think we’re necessarily disagreeing, but maybe making different points. The point I was trying to make is that we don’t know what’s happening with her – what does SHE want?

            Maybe it better suits my particular feelings at the moment if she pursues a more external goal centered around career or something – because I would love to see someone grab the bull by the horns when I can’t! – and maybe better suits yours if it’s a more internal goal about her identity – because it is a good time for us all to check in and get our minds around what’s next – and I think it could be either/both for Lily.

            But the larger point I was trying to make is that for there to be more to this story, Lily needs to want something, or something else needs to happen to her to further dislodge her.

            So I was trying to say I want to know her better because there’s not enough information for me on the page yet about exactly where Lily is in her thinking. She hasn’t had a chance to show/tell us yet. She hasn’t gone back to therapy, she’s not appearing overly concerned about anything through physical cues, she’s not having a ton of thoughts about – “Ok… now, what?”

            Is she just projecting stability for the sake of her friends? Maybe.

            But she’s not gnawing her finger nails or twisting her curls some other physical tell to us as the reader that that might be the case and we’re not getting her thinking through about something that’s bothering her behind her bustling waitress efficiency….so as a reader, I feel like I don’t actually know that she’s not ok – there’s no sign of it on the page. From what I know of her life – she’s found footing that she seems to be ok with for now.

            I know she was somewhat bothered about remembering a past life and that she thinks about Vikings in a negative way as a result of that memory…but now she’s met Fin, and she’s realizing not all Vikings are that bad. She seems mildly annoyed by Sebastien constantly trying to talk to her, but not super scared or so bothered that she feels the need to do anything more about it.

            And to me, her past lives are just prologue unless they are actually posing any kind of real issue to her now. It could be that she needs to deal with her past…but, there’s nothing that she’s showing/telling me right now that indicates WHY that’s important for her or why it would be important NOW.

            So yeah, she got hit on the head and now she has Viking aversion which is what got her to therapy initially…plus maybe her ex-bosses are making her go? (I’m a little confused about that point) But after one session, she met Fin, and he’s a Viking she’s ok with once she got to know him…so, unless there’s something else she’s not paralyzed by her past Viking problems.

            If she’s not really feeling stable and is just projecting stability – then what exactly IS bothering her underneath the surface and how is it effecting her in the now? What does she actually want and how do we the reader/her friends understand that? Or what will it take for her to stop faking fine and start acknowledging she’s not?

            Or is it that this a new stability – a job that pays the bills with people she likes and a new love interest, and she realizes that’s what she wants…this new stable life with Fin. Which is cool, but as a reader, to me it means she’s already found her HEA, and now I don’t have to worry about her anymore.

            But that’s why I want to spend more time with her – potentially as her therapist Nadia pointing all of this out. To see if she shows/tells me anything that means there’s more to her story.

      2. I think this is key: First, what did she lose when she lost the museum job and second what does she want now?

        This is the stuff I’d need to know if this was a book. Thank god, it’s not.

        But it might be fun to just do some Lily stuff for Monday. Although I’m still intrigued by Dorothy who should be Lily’s doppelgänger or opposite. Hmmmm.m

    2. I think my protagonists often start with vague goals. It took Nita awhile to get up to speed, and Andie didn’t really have much directions until she got invested in the kids. Mab got swept up in events without a goal, too, and Agnes was just trying to hold onto an old normal when her troubles hit. I agree that Lily needs to be more, but again, discovery draft. The museum and the reincarnation stuff is the big blank in her character right now.

  5. Oh my god, I can ask for what I want, really? That’s the best offer I’ve had all day. Brace yourself…what happens when you take an extrovert and put her in lockdown for 45 days is WORDS. Lots and lots of WORDS. (But none that make books, I’m pleased I’m not the one writing this not-a-book!)

    I want to read about someone who is achieving stuff dammit (her dammit, not mine), despite the situation she’s in. There’s all these things out of control, so she takes control of the things she can. With her team. By being awesome. That’s who I want to read right now. I know she’s figuring stuff out, how to live, what’s real, whether she’s going round the bend (even if she’s not even homeschooling her kids in a lockdown while all her clients are like HELP ME and all her students are like HELP ME and she has spent the last 44 days NOT learning a language, mastering handstands, nurturing a sourdough starter, doing sepia toned things with her kids etc etc). Can I see her get to a point and go, ffs, that is enough, I’m going to sort this shit out. And do it, with a team. And get the guy. So this Lily might be pissed at Seb, never ever want to see him again, but if there’s crap going on at the museum (this means though that she cares about the museum, which currently she doesn’t, or is pretending she doesn’t, because other priorities, limited energy), and it’s starting to impact people she cares about, and he tried to kill her, well really, I’d be furious (and scared, I’m chickenshit, but I want her to be furious) – so she keeps telling him to go away, but maybe at some point she could actually want to talk to him (with Fin at her back, or Cheryl, because, you know, the axe and asking for help is better than it being thrust unasked for you on and shows trust) so she can get some answers?

    But I’m also aware that many many other people want to retreat to the diner, where it’s safe and cosy and the people she loves are there with good food and she can keep it together while the craziness roils on outside. That’ll probably be me tomorrow, I can see the appeal.

    1. Are you my spirit animal? We just posted basically the same thing at the same time. I’m with you – grab your axe, use your freedom and FIX things for all of us, Lily!!!

    2. The more I think about it, having just thought about it in the last answer, the more I think this is the way I start my books, with the heroine kind of a blank. I have NO idea why. I remember, decades ago, looking at Lucy in Getting Rid of Bradley and realizing that while everybody around her had problems, she was just fine because I was protecting her, I liked Lucy, I didn’t want her in trouble. (Her name was Lucy, right?). So then I went back and made her life hell and that’s when it was a story.

      You know, Nita’s not in the much trouble to begin with. She’s not happy, but she’s not in conflict with anybody yet. Then she announces she’s going to get Jimmy’s killer, but that’s the third scene. Hmmmm.

      The problem with Lily is the problem with all my heroines, I’m realizing. They don’t want anything. Then the roof falls in on them and they try to get back to normal, and that’s gone, so they fight to establish a new normal. So yes to everything you said about Lily, but clearly what I have to do is a lot more discovery about her. Because I don’t know her yet.

      Discovery draft . . .

      1. It’s been a bit since I read Nita, but the body is in chapter one, so wouldn’t her conflict start there? The implication is she’s going to go after the killer from page one since she’s a cop. At least for a traditional murder mystery, which I know this isn’t.

        1. Finding out that Jimmy’s dead a big deal, but the thing that gets her there (in the last rewrite) is that somebody is afraid in the bar. Her deal is protecting her island. In the first draft I had none of that.

      2. I honestly think it speaks to your underlying compassion as a person that you’re too benevolent a goddess to your heroines. I agree with you, who wants to deliberately make people they like to go through shit? No one.

        But…it is usually through dealing with and overcoming adversity that people/characters grow to a higher level of happiness… and you’d never throw problems at someone without also equipping them with the means to get through it….

      3. Should have read this before I replyed above. Opps. Apologies. This is my first discovery draft with you 🙂

  6. The Vikings were very savvy business-people, by and large. The raids were a business model that worked very well for them – they would return to favourite places every season on the understanding that they would be paid to go away and not raid. And the Viking raids in Normandy that spread as far as Paris ended up with Normandy being signed over to Rollo, the Viking leader, in return for his pledge of vassalage and protection from further incursion. So the Vikings did pretty well out of that deal. (This is very rough and missing a whole lot of nuance). Their reach was quite staggering, and they were traders and merchants as much as they were raiders.

    1. Well like the Captain said in Stardust

      “you know reputations, lifetimes to build, seconds to destroy”

    2. Also, I think they’re only Vikings when they’re raiding? Like Viking is the term for raider/pirate/seafarer, but when they’re at gone, they’re farmers. (I was going to say just farmers, but farmers feed us, that’s no ‘just’ there)

      1. That is not my type of music, but boy did I like that Scandinavian font the titles were in!

  7. Second more impact from the museum; doesn’t necessarily have to go there, but build the impact of job loss, her career wants, and the antags.

    Also reviewing more of her past lives, since they are a story driver. Maybe writing out the flashbacks, even if they aren’t to be included, would help solidify things? It would also get us talking to Nadia, a
    Who I feel like helps move the story along somehow.

  8. Vikings are a catalyst, the Diner is her comfort zone, it’s home, she could stay there and not have to face all the mess from a failed relationship and the loss of her dream job. After all Cheryl turns up with a cleaver when she needs it. The Vikings are what make her go to therapy. She thinks she’s fine, except for the Vikings, she’s in therapy hoping to change things so she won’t die young because of Vikings maybe, but therapy helps her pay attention to all the stuff she missing cause she is too busy dealing with today to notice. So what’s her next dream?

  9. Is Chekhov’s Toto literally hiding something? Like a computer password or the key to a safe deposit box?

    1. I have no idea. I haven’t even found a picture of him yet.

      The only reason I thought of it was because of the Venus in Agnes. SO many people were disappointed there wasn’t anything hidden in there, Bob and I even decided that if we ever did a sequel, there WOULD be something in there.

  10. I like the idea that some of Lily’s ‘memories’ are artifacts. I have so many of those. Mostly based on pictures in old photo albums, someone told me a story about the picture, and my brain records it as a memory even though I was two or whatever and no way did I actually remember that.

    I still want a scene where Lily talks through her shit. If she’s not talking to Nadia or Pangur, then she should be talking to Fin. Because they bonded fast (in the sense of ‘this one’), and when that happens there is generally more going on than simple sexual attraction. So maybe this is one of those talking-in-the-dark-after-sex things, or talking-in-the-park-after-ice-cream things, preferably not interrupted by Seb whose story doesn’t interest me because I’m all about the romance here.

    Anyway, I would like that scene to be Lily talking about these past lives (if that’s what they are) and Fin seeing a parallel to the way he kept going back to Protect People mode, because that’s a way of revisiting/controlling a situation and trying to achieve a different outcome. Not trusting in the good outcome unless he’s managing it. Feeling responsible for bad outcomes. Eh. Have to log in for work now.

    Thank you for doing this, Jenny et al. 🙂

    1. I’ve been thinking about some of the motifs that have been emerging, and art is in there somewhere, not just in Fin’s illustrations, but Lily is an art education major and her job at the museum was the designing educational activities part. I’m wondering what Lily’s art is. I was never much of a painter, and I have that whole family of painters in the Giordanos/Goodnights, so I don’t think it’s that. Fin has illustration. I don’t see Lily dragging a loom or a potter’s wheel around with her. Finding that out might be a key.

      1. Stage design? Setting the scene like for the Viking display? Telling a story through a setting, kinda like a collage. 😀

        1. I had a wonderful time as tech advisor to high school theater. Exhibit design could be a lot of fun.

          1. After theater tech, museum exhibit design is just DELIGHTFUL except your student actors never ate all the set dressing because you (I) underestimated their appetite for anything green.

      2. How about stained glass art? (I have no idea where this though came from. It just popped in my head so thought I’d throw it out there. lol)

        1. I actually know how to do that. In fact, I have boxes of glass and came in the garage.
          Not sure how it work with everything else though.

      3. What if Lily writes? For some reason I don’t see her doing something messy or with special equipment. To my mind it is something small that she can carry with her in her apron. And writing dovetails nicely with Fin’s art if that matters. Also, I think that she has been ignoring her art, or telling herself that it is not important, not serious, etc…

      4. I worked in a little college museum in grad school. We had a couple of art students working there. They did everything from picking font labels to painting backdrops to sculpting replicas for an ancient Egyptian board game to dressing Halloween mannequins.

        1. This is good stuff to know. Thank you.
          I’d love to watch Lily try to keep Jessica from using Papyrus.

  11. It occurs to me that if the diner is actually the museum restaurant (they have a discount if shown student IDs), that increases everyone’s salary, allows for all sorts of pretentious food experimentation, and allows for power dynamics that threaten the restaurant’s existence, or at least the way the restaurant is managed. Plus, the location allows for antagonists to drop in with justified reason on the regular.

    1. There’s a thought. I think it’s just a college town diner. I don’t see Cheryl letting Louis get his mitts on it in any way.

      1. Could there be a tie-in there with the mention of Cheryl having a relationship at one time with a Louis? I don’t know – maybe they met when he invested or was otherwise involved in the diner?

      2. But it could be, say, a diner in close location proximity to the museum, such that there’s a lot of overlap in customers. That way there can be incentives for the antagonists to visit a lot, as well as interference (antagonists want to gentrify, for example).

  12. I would love to see Lily demonstrating her non-waitressing skills. Maybe she recognizes something in Fin’s doodles?

    Also: secret society!

    1. I know, the secret society is so dumb, but this is not a book and how much fun would Uncle Louis and a bunch of his friends be in helmets with horns doing faux Viking rituals.

      1. Oh, please put horns on the helmets so someone can make a crack about them not being historically accurate.

  13. I thought Lily is expecting to be killed by a Viking very shortly based on what she remembers from previous lives and that’s the driver for her goal: survival.

    1. That was in the first scene. Then we wandered off. Discovery Draft. Sigh.

      Short answer: I have no idea what the hell is going on.

      My theory is that the Girls know the entire story, they just don’t have it organized. So they send up pieces of it and expect me to do the clerical work. They’re creative, I’m the office drone.

  14. Wow. Compared to other Arghers, I have no contribution. So I’ll just noodle/doodle. I love Pentatonix, the acapella group. A five man band. The diner has a five man band. They should sing Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song some crowded evening in the diner, no accompaniment. Like Pentatonix.

  15. Vikings. That caught my attention. I was very interested in Queen Emma at one time (great granddaughter of Rollo) who was married to Aethelred the Unready to stave off Viking raids then to Cnut after Aethelred died, and was one of the reasons that William the Conquerer felt he had a claim on England. William could be considered the last Viking raid, I suppose. The Vikings were not conquered but they disappeared from history about this time. So in Lily’s reincarnations she is not going to encounter Vikings after 1066 AD. But she could have encountered their descendants.

    I have virtually no knowledge of Scandinavian history other than a few snippets from the Napolianic Wars and Admiral Nelson holding the telescope up to his blind eye when he was signaled not to fire on Copenhagen (The English still had bad history with the Danes) and saying “I really do not see the signal.” and fired on Copenhagen.

  16. “Chekov” has come up a couple times now. Is this old engineer missing another literary reference? I know the playwright, but are you referring to something specific in one of his plays?

    Otherwise, I got nuthing for the snippets, except that I am enjoying the hell out of them!

    1. Chekhov said that if there’s a gun on the wall in the first act, it must be fired by the last act.

      “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

      So “Chekhov’s gun” refers to anything that obviously going to pay off later. Sometimes it’s set up with repetition. Nick stabs himself in the arm three times to show Rab he’s dead. The fourth time, he screams and bleeds and Rab says, “Like everybody didn’t see that coming.”

      What Rab says is known as “lampshading.”

      It’s all writers’ jargon. There’s another one called “the macguffin” which is the thing everybody in the story is chasing, even though it may be worthless. So in “Hot Toy,” I lampshaded the fact that the stupid toy everybody was chasing was a macguffin by making it a soldier doll named Major Macguffin, which also made it Chekhov’s Macguffin.

      Chekhov’s Lampshaded Macguffin.

      Writers. We like words.

  17. Chekhov’s gun: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”

  18. I would like to see Lily in conflict at the museum – a reason that she feels she must go back there that ends up involving her five man band. She loved her job, she must have had some co-workers or student interns that she liked, Seb and Louis threaten them to get her back to ??? whatever Seb wants from her. I love the idea of Lily as a museum exhibit designer. It could be a smaller museum where she had to put together the children’s interactive /educational exhibits too. For an artist like that, eventually the safety of working at the diner could pale next to the desire to practice her designing again creating more impetus for her to solve the problem at the museum.

  19. ” I’d rather just watch my diner Five Man Band goof around.” pretty much sums me up.

    Many a fine batch of snark has been hijacked by plot, so for once we can say “Damn the plot, full speed ahead!” Which is not helpful input, but is what I want.

  20. I know nothing about crafting fiction, so this may have no validity at all, but I’m with the “get on with life, Lily” crowd. Once she recovers from the blow to the head and is less wobbly in general, WHY isn’t she sending out resumes? There are other museums in NJ; needing a reference letter from someone not in the diner could be another point of tension with Seb (as if we need another). Does it matter that Fin sees her as a Viking? If so, could she somehow get a DNA test result (maybe a family member has one and tells her results?) and she finds out she some % Viking? [Not farfetched; I’m still trying to figure out as an adopted child with birth parents White and Johnson where 25% Ashkenazi Jew came from.] Then her memories are ancestral memories knocked loose over the exhibit/ax incident. Or it’s getting late and I’m rambling, which is most likely the case. Also, if there are six meetings with the therapist, I would think some more of them should be on the page by 20K words.

    1. You never heard of anybody changing their name at Elllis Island? If I was starting a new life in the American heartland and it was after WWI or WWII when Germans were none too popular, I would probably change my name, too. And the English translation of Weiss (a common and often Jewish name) is White.

      1. Yes, I knew about Ellis Island. My non-biological grandfather came from Austria to US before WWI. His brother went to Canada. The Canadians were Kleiners (the original spelling) and the US branch is Klainer. But I didn’t know about Weiss/White, so thanks for that.

    2. I’m not writing in chronological order. This is not a book. This is me noodling around. At some point, if I decide to write the Nadia scenes, I’ll write all six of them at once.

  21. I want to see more of Lily’s therapy sessions – that seems to be where stuff comes out about the stuff she really needs to deal with. And I like Nadia.I definitely want to see more of Nadia.

  22. I don’t know if this has been referenced yet, but a fun movie for Viking research would be The 13th Warrior. 1999. Antonio Banderas. Based on a book by Michael Crichton called Eaters of the Dead. One of those rare times when the movie is (at least for me) better than the book.

  23. If Seb and his rotten uncle are Celts why not make them druids who want to use the ax to sacrifice Lily. Of course I have no idea why but in this lifetime she saves herself with the help of a cute Viking and stops the killed by a Viking history.

  24. So, the museum five band band, which could be a Viking band…who’s the Viking: Jessica, Dorothy, or the player to be named later? I’d like to see a female Viking.
    And if Seb hasn’t been able to get through to talk to Lily, who do they send next? Or who is able to get Lily to come into the museum? Or do they not want her to go back to the museum, as it might remind her of what she doesn’t think she knows but actually does?

    1. Until I know what’s going on at the museum, I don’t know. Everything Set says right now is placeholder until I figure out what’s going on. Then all his dialogue gets rewritten.

  25. There are two things I wish I could see, other than just diner fun and frolic. One is Van, who you’ve established as the smart one of the 5, and who was playing a go-between role in sending Fin out to disrupt Seb by bringing ice cream, but whom we have basically never really seen in the story (not book) so far. I would like to see a bunch more of Van.

    Second thing is how the university, which is sort of the invisible ground behind the diner, the counseling/health center, the museum and its programs, and most if not all of the young people who flood the diner, fits into the whole story.

    I wonder things like did Van and Lily meet at university? Is that where Cheryl is getting all her wacko ideas — from classes or blogs or listservs or Interest Groups or some of the other mini-communities that blossom around universities? Is Van planning some big businessy thing with her culinary miracles in the back kitchen of an obscure diner? Was Lily doing installations (a little like set design) or art restoration (a little slow and boring, but with detective aspects) at the museum, or only teaching clueless undergraduates or children of Uni staff (which can be a boring thing to read about)?

    I guess I really want Lily to be fully prepared to be surprised, so I can be too.

    1. Lily and Van met in kindergarten.

      Cheryl is a college addict. She has three degrees and she takes classes and goes to lectures all the time. She’s basically an information sponge, but she has the attention span of a gnat, which she knows and doesn’t care. Cheryl lives in the moment.

      Van is a little like Cheryl, just about food. In her freshman year, she took a history class, and she liked the prof so much she signed up for an upper level class with her that turned out to be about food. She started making the dishes, and then interpreting the dishes, and then switched her major to business and began studying the economics of food, and since she was already working in a diner, she used the diner kitchen for the experiments, and Cheryl got interested and then made her the night cook, and one thing led to another. She does consulting work and she’s working on a recipe book and she’s written papers on cooking in history and she’s having a wonderful time. I think she’ll probably end up teaching, but right now she doesn’t have the time, especially since Bjorn showed up and she’s giving herself some time off to laugh.

      Lily was designing exhibits that both showcased the history they were trying to teach–she made very clear lesson plans with objectives–and that would be interactive with the activities she was designing, which were always fun. She greatly increased the museum’s popularity because the kids wanted to come back. And one of the kids had a parent who was a journalist, so the museum started to get a lot more press. Then six months ago, Uncle Louis took over when the former head retired and brought Seb in to work beside Lily (not her boss any more) and things got weird.

      That’s all I got.

  26. Seb is so desperate to talk to Lily that maybe Seb lures Lily back to the museum by withholding last check with unused vacation time payout and telling her she can’t have it until she completes her exit interview. And he hides the true purpose of the conversation from the rest of the museum gang by saying it’s the exit interview.

  27. Several folks mentioned Viking art. Here are some examples.

    Oseberg ship and finds — incredibly detailed wood carving

    Viking history video and intricate gold and silver work

    Also has examples of Viking women’s clothing. (For fun, check out for a quick view of 500 years of medieval fashion beginning with Viking Rus.)

  28. Maybe the back story on the ax could be a/the thing driving Lily? Maybe it’s got a history that is more twisty/important than originally thought or its owner is someone Lily knows and respects but who is now strangely conflicted about the ax getting airtime? After Seb nearly killed her she’s taking a closer look at it (in roundabout ways obviously since she can’t access it physically). And why does she care? Because she’s a dedicated teacher/researcher and will NOT put anything out there that she hasn’t fully vetted or she’s sees it as the source of her potential next death (not an actual Viking anymore but a Maltese Falcon in the form of a Viking ax) or both.

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