Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Puppies)

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Two weeks ago, Rhombeck, the leader of the Talbot City wolfpack and CEO of the pack’s corporation, said that he wanted to give up his position because Susan, his human administrative assistant, is pregnant.

Rhombeck thinks his cousin (and our wereduck hero Tom’s adopted brother) Bryan would make a good choice to take over.

Susan and Tom still think he’s being hasty about quitting:

Red_wolf_pups_-_captive_breeding

“If I don’t step down, they’ll put me down—it’s possible they won’t wait for an official challenge,” Rhombeck told her,   “and there’s no question that they’ll come after you to get to me; I can’t risk that.”

“Who’re they?” I asked.

Rhombeck held up fingers, one by one. “People who hate my family, or humans, or the corporation, or me.”

“Disgruntled ex-girlfriends,” Susan said.

Opportunists,  specieists, rabble rousers, traditionalists, competitors,” Rhombeck said, ignoring her. “Take your choice.”

“I don’t suppose artificial insemination would be an acceptable solution?” I asked. “I can think of eight or nine ladies who would love to be your purebred puppymama.”

Susan snorted and raised her eyebrow at Rhombeck.

____________________

Maybe I went too far.  Did I go too far?

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Majors)

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I’m back from vacation and already saving for the next cruise, because whoa.

It was nice to unplug for a while—I left my laptop at home and took notebooks and pens, instead—but I’ve had some serious withdrawal pangs the last two Sundays.  I have a lot of reading to do to catch up!

If I remember correctly—and I do, ’cause I checked—the last shared bit of Odd Duck revealed that Lowell Rhombeck, the leader of the Talbot City werewolf pack and CEO of the pack corporation, and his human assistant Susan are pregnant.

Or Susan is, because this isn’t that kind of story.

For various reasons, Rhombeck has reacted by asking Our Wereduck Hero Tom to convince Tom’s werewolf brother Bryan (who is also Rhombeck’s cousin) to take over his position in the pack.

For different reasons, Susan and Tom think this is a dumb idea.

Doctoral-cap

“So you’re abdicating?” I asked.

“No,” Susan said.

“Yes,” he said. “You know what it will be like,” he told her. “I can’t put you and our child through that.”

Throwing Bryan to the wolves didn’t seem fair, either. “You don’t have anyone else to take over?” I asked.

“It’s not that simple,” he said. “I wouldn’t put any of the other possible candidates in charge of both the corporation and the pack.”

“Bryan has a PhD in environmental studies,” I said, “not an MBA.”

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Rhombeck’s motivations are next—if I can shared them in ten sentences next week, I will.

Meanwhile, does anyone know why four suitcases produced eight full loads of laundry, when all we bought were three tee-shirts and I accidentally left half my underwear on the ship?  Travel physics is weird . . .

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Changes)

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Last week, Lowell Rhombeck, the leader of the Talbot City werewolf pack, asked Tom (our fearless wereduck hero) to talk Bryan (Tom’s AWOL werewolf brother) into taking over as packleader.

When Tom asked why, Susan, Lowell’s human PA, told him it was because Rhombeck was being stupid.  Okay, she said, “Because he’s being stupid”, but the next few sentences make it clear that she’s referring to Rhombeck.

Rhombeck thinks he’s being perfectly reasonable.

Susan, who is the voice of reason and therefore isn’t buying it, speaks first this week:

Wolf_cub

 “Lowell, nothing needs to change.”

“Everything has changed,” he said, his eyes intent on her face. He snagged her wrist and pulled her to the couch to sit next to him. “I won’t pretend that it hasn’t; I’m glad it has.” He rubbed the side of his head against the top of hers.

I hadn’t figured Rhombeck for a PDA guy, but it wasn’t much of a stretch to see them as a couple outside of the office—unless you factored in his other job.

“Is this a secret marriage kind of thing?” I asked.

“No,” Susan said, patiently waiting for Rhombeck to finish. “it’s an unplanned pregnancy kind of thing.”

“Congratulations?” I said.

“Yes,” Rhombeck said, “thank you.”

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Just in case it’s not clear from this selection, Rhombeck’s “other job” is being packleader (you could say, he’s moonlighting–hey?  Anyone?  Crickets?).

In this book, there’s still some Old Skool were-human miscegenation bigotry to deal with, stemming from Rhombeck’s position as pack leader.   The fact that any children he has with Susan wouldn’t be able to shift* is also an issue.

In other news:  My family and I are leaving on a Disney cruise in a few days, and while I love you guys, I don’t know if I can swing the WiFi and/or roaming rates—or operate my phone with sufficient competency while battling sunburn and carsickness on the way home—to participate over the next two Sundays.

If I can, I will. If I can’t, I’ll see you next month!

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* If Susan had any werewolf ancestors—she doesn’t because I say so—there’s a fifty percent chance the child couldn’t shift.  Depending on how recent those ancestors were, there’s also a chance the child could be a full werewolf . . . or a genetic mess. Luckily, this is set in our time, and were-geneticists are totally a thing (Yes, they can shift into scientists whenever they want . . . though most of ’em don’t bother turning back).

This kind of thing happens when you’re describing your idea for a wereduck character and someone says, “Cool.  But how does he make more of himself?”  And you say, “Oh, $#!%, he doesn’t have any teeth, does he . . .”  And then you stare at that picture of Mendel’s peapods for way too long.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Picture Perfect)

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The house that Tom entered last week belongs to Susan, the human assistant of Lowell Rhombeck, who is not only the CEO of the Nubilus Corporation but the leader of the Talbot City werewolf pack.

Tom isn’t surprised that Rhombeck would use Susan’s living room as a safe place to talk—but he does look awfully at home there . . .

Gray_Wolf

I noticed a framed photo on the mantel of Susan, in winter gear, with her arms around a familiar-looking wolf. Both were smiling.

I’ll bet some of her human guests thought he was a husky.

Rhombeck cleared his throat and leaned forward. “I need you to do something for me,” he said.

“Tell me,” I said.

“I need you to convince Bryan to step in as my replacement.”

Not what I was expecting.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because he’s being stupid,” Susan said from the doorway.

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Yes, Susan is telling her boss the powerful werewolf that he’s making a mistake.  It’s possible Susan is the scariest person in this story, with the possible exception of Merrock, who may have a tad too much cultural respect for Rhombeck’s position in the pack to be quite that blunt.

 I like Susan.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Susan’s)

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I’m going to share a bit from chapter fifteen because that’s the chapter I’m currently bashing into shape.  I recently added the description below to the scene that originally started with the last three lines.

Symbol

My GPS directed me to Plainview Heights, one of the bedroom communities that had sprung up to accommodate Talbot’s upper middle management.  It was a nice little neighborhood, maybe a little less lived in than the one I’d grown up in, a mix of single houses and townhomes, with green lawns and clean sidewalks.

It looked cozy and friendly in a Your Friendly Neighborhood Association Is Watching You way.

The house was brick with an arched, solid-looking wooden door banded with dull iron that I was betting wasn’t entirely decorative.  One of the small glass windows at the top displayed three vinyl cling badges. One was for the Talbot City Police Association and another stated that the premises had a security system.  The other was the symbol of the Regional Council.

I rang the doorbell and waited.

A short, round, brunette woman wearing comfortable jeans and an oversized State College sweatshirt opened the door.  “Hello, Tom,” she said.

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I always had Regional Werecouncil symbols on doors and menus and things from the first draft of this, but the image up there is a direct result of having a bit too much free time a few weeks ago, plus handy access to a book on symbolism and MS Paint.

The general shape is based on the alchemy symbol for transformation, while the yin yang is a symbol that continually shifts in balance between two states, while each still keeps aspects of the other—those would be the “tadpole eyes”, which were a stone pain to get lined up, believe me.

An hour with Google and a Latin phrase book—a LOT of free time—netted the motto, which means, “Nature Does Nothing in Vain.”  There were several other possibilities for an organization that functions like a shapeshifter U.N.*  and it’s possible I’ll change it in a later draft, once they get their act together I figure out exactly how they operate.

It has crossed my mind that I could have used all that free time to, you know, work on the book, instead of cursing that little paint bucket icon thingie and giggling over bastardized Latin (Te audire no possum; musa sapientum fixa est in aure!).

Meh.

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*Defendit numerus (Safety in Numbers), Ex Aequo (According to what is equal), and Pacta sunt servanda (Agreements must be kept) were the top contenders.  I also liked  Commutabo Ergo Sum (I change, therefore I am)  and Auribus teneo lupum (Holding a wolf by the ears), but by then I was getting a little slap happy.