Work in Progress--Carnegie in winterI don’t know about you, but I love it when an artist stands up to deliver a work-in-progress that’s raw, unpolished, and unfinished. It goes against the grain of everything we’re told: Put your best foot forward, don’t show weakness or vulnerability, and don’t put anything out there until it’s fully formed.

I tell you, in addition to writing today, I’ve spent hours reading web instructions, lines of code, watching YouTube instructional videos, following guidelines, and frankly, forget the rules. Here’s some unpolished stuff I worked on today, when I finally got to do what I do.

Jump right in, or read the prologue first. (Note: Since the prologue, I’ve moved the whole story to Pittsburgh.)

Excerpt from John Baker

It was already warm when he left the bank. Pittsburgh expected muggy weather the entire week. But John didn’t expect to see the whole week. The Clef had a sordid past, but definitely a past of destruction. In fact, John thought he’d be surprised to see midnight this day. He thought he might make it to lunch, though. He liked lunch.

He knew he should be serious, but unseen danger and lack of sleep have that effect. John headed down the block toward the museum and stopped outside a flower shop.

“It’s time I do something nice for Sarah,” he thought out loud, eyeing up a curious flower in the window as a stranger abruptly ran into him.

“Sorry mate,” the stranger with the briefcase said. “I wasn’t watching my way.”

“No problem,” John said.

The man with the briefcase kept going. On instinct, John checked his pockets for his wallet and cell phone. Both were there, along with the safe deposit box key. He entered the flower shop.

He took a moment to glance at the roses, daisies, and carnations, but he didn’t find anything suitable. He went to the potted flowers in the window.

“Those are orchids,” the shopkeeper said.

“Yes,” said John, picking up the blue one. “I’ll take this one.”

“A very nice choice. This orchid is Japanese. The blue color won’t fade.”

She took the orchid to the register counter where she carefully placed its pot into a fitted box and wrapped crumpled paper around it to keep it steady. John paid her, thanked her, and took the flower with him. As she watched him leave her shop, her assistant emerged from the back room with potting supplies.

“That was him,” the shopkeeper told her assistant.

“Ah,” her assistant said. They exchanged a look.

Outside, John and the orchid headed south in the direction of the museum.

Jody Brown
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at