Sunday, September 16, 2012

CAGI Finalist #8

Genre: Women's fiction
Word Count: 83,000 words


40-year old Terrin Finley has six months to sort out her yoga pose of a love life; she has one foot stuck in a relationship with her ex, one toe in a new flirtation, and--surprise!--a baby growing in between. A women’s fiction manuscript complete at 83,000 words--and in a similar vein with Mary Guterson’s We Are All Fine Here and Anna Maxted's A Tale of Two Sisters--Finding Finley follows Terrin’s quest to create a family of her own.

On the way to the grocery store, Terrin’s plans include an evening of lasagna and The Sound of Music Sing-A-Long with her “almost-family”--her boyfriend Steve, and his five-year-old daughter Molly. However, instead of a future as wife to Steve and step-mom to Molly, minutes later Steve’s last words “I just couldn’t sign the divorce papers” leave Terrin broken-hearted and empty-handed in the parking lot.

With one errant auto-select, Terrin sends an email intended for her ex (Steve) to an old summer camp crush instead—one that holds potential. Just as Terrin embarks on this new romance, she learns of another area in her life that holds potential--her uterus. With mere months until her due date, Terrin desperately wants to create a stable family. She struggles over whether to stay embroiled in Steve's marital mess for the baby's sake, how to tell the new man in her life about her pregnancy (by another man..ahem) and wrestles with her fears over mothering alone and unprepared. Despite the constant company and support of her friends and her couch-squatting brother, Terrin feels farther away from finding her own family than ever before. And one very small, very needy person is about to find her.

A stay-at-home-humorist, my writing has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency, College Humor, and the website Women On Writing, which named my flash fiction “Date Night” as a Top 10 finalist in 2009. Babble recently named me their funniest Top 50 Twitter Mom, and I write a humor fitness column for Madison, Wisconsin’s premier women’s print publication, Brava Magazine. My growing platform also includes my award-winning blog and Listen to Your Mother, the acclaimed national live reading series I founded and direct.

First 250

Friday morning April 2nd smelled like dryer sheets to Terrin Finley, and felt like the first sip of a perfect cappuccino after an entire year spooning in bed. Before leaving Terrin's bungalow, Steve kissed her on the forehead saying “See you tonight.” His breath sounded shallow, his voice not warmed up for the day. Maybe he felt nervous. Terrin could only imagine that signing divorce papers made a person anxious, even if two years passed since filing them. She fell back to sleep until the sound of street cleaners awoke her--with their buffing away of parking ticket fragments, past-season cedar mulch, and errant dollar store gloves. All sorts of flotsam emerged from Chicago's gutters after a winter buried beneath feet of snow and parked cars.

Steve had his five-year-old daughter Molly with him for the weekend—whose wild curls snagged Terrin's heart as surely as Steve's charm had a year ago. They all planned to go to The Sound of Music Sing-A-Long to celebrate as, well, a family. A campy raucous affair, everyone dressed as characters from the movie. Molly planned to wear her “fancy lady” pink nightgown as Liesel (purple cowboy boots notwithstanding). “Uncle Jeff,” Terrin's 30-year-old couch-squatter brother, deigned to dress as Liesel's younger sister Gretl. Terrin and Steve's nun’s habits hung on the back of her bedroom door encased in vinyl garment bags, like tuxes awaiting groomsmen. At 40 years old, Terrin's future with Steve and Molly could officially begin, and she could finally allow herself to imagine a family of her own.

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