Thursday, March 17, 2011

"True Colors"

(A rough ball-point pen sketch of Abigail. I wish I'd done it in pencil...>_>)


Yikes. Three posts in one week. I'm setting myself up pretty badly here...possibly raising some expectations or something! *roll eyes* Oh, well.

Anyway, here is a short one-scene excerpt from A Name Worth Carrying.

I'm really not sure what to call it...I've got it labelled "True Colors" in my text document, because it's giving Abby pretty much her first glimpse of the next year or so of her life. I will give a little background for it, though. This scene is from chapter three, taking place the first night Abby is in her first foster home. Isabel is the foster mother (she's about 60 years old) who runs a kind of small group home for foster teens. Katey and Thomas are the first kids Abby met when she arrived. This is pretty much an introduction to her coming foster life and the people she is with for the next couple chapters (I think I already said that...). 

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts you might have to share on this. Basically, I'm wondering, what emotion does it create? Does it flow well? Can you sympathize with/feel  the characters?

* * *

I sink into my seat at the table, feeling like I'm shutting down. Several new faces stare at me and none of them, aside from Katey and Thomas's, look very welcoming. I swallow and push my tongue around and against my teeth, not quite chewing on it but almost. Isabel glides in from the kitchen again and sets a steaming, lumpy casserole-thing on the table.
"Okay, guys, dig in," she says. She slides into her own chair at the head of the table, dropping the oven mitts down by her plate. I pull in the corner of my lip and start to work on it, instead of my tongue. The other boy, who I assume to be Tyler, lurches forward and grabs the serving spoon stuck in the corner of the food. I watch as he pushes his plate a little closer and dumps two huge spoonfuls onto it, as if it's his last meal. He snatches two rolls and a scoop of cooked carrots in a fluid, lightning movement.
I stare for a moment. Maybe he does think it's his last meal. Huh...I wonder how long he's been here. Have to ask Katey later.
A low buzz of the starting conversation reaches my ear and brings me back to the table. Thomas, after he's poked through the casserole and picked out all the tomato chunks, shovels it in just about as savagely as Tyler does. But he's not really desperate, he's mimicing. The other girls, Haylie and Janelle, start giggling and Katey glares at Thomas. I glance at Tyler. 
In a moment, he's noticed Tommy and drops his fork, glaring at him. "What are you doing?" he growls. "Makin' fun of me?"
I turn my eyes to Isabel now, watching to see how she'll react. She cocks an eyebrow but says nothing and reaches for her glass.
"Yeah? So what if am?" Thomas smirks, but his eyes are dancing. Tyler clenches his jaw, still glaring. A muscule in his face twitches. His eyes are smoldering. Then, though it seems to take as much effort as if he was lifting a car, he forces his head back around and hunches, staring at his plate.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see one of the girls nod toward Tyler. Thomas seems to find some meaning in this and breaks into another wide grin. In a quick movement, he latches onto Tyler's remaining roll. Tyler releases like a spring and slaps Thomas's hand against the table, pinning it like a vice. With a sharp jab, he latches around the small of Tommy's wrist and twists it back and around until he's got him on the ground, nearly under the table. I faintly hear Janelle or Haylie shouting and know I show be reacting in some way as well, but all I can do is stare like a petrified idiot.
"Never again!" Tyler screeches. The outburst is followed by a sickening pop. Thomas gasps. "Never, never! Never touch my food!"
"Get off me you creep!" Thomas shouts. Katey pushes away, sending her chair clattering back, and launches herself around the table. She latches around Tyler's waist and tries to drag him off Thomas, but the kid is stuck to his tormenter like a cockleburr. He's screaming now. Loud and unitelligibly. That is, except for the cussing. That is made out easily and very, very much accentuated.
I bite my tongue and look to Isabel. She just sits in her chair, chewing thoughtfully while staring at the boys and Katey. Doing nothing. Nothing!
Now my own eyes are smoldering, I'm sure of it. This kid will not stop until Thomas relents, I have a feeling that won't be soon. In a sudden surge, I fling back my chair and slam my hands down on the table, making things jump and shake. "What do you think you're doing?!" I screech. "This is insane! You're gonna kill each other! Isabel, they're gonna kill each other!"
Tyler jerks his head toward me, suprised, but not quenched by my outburst. "Shut up, you--"
I don't wait for him to finish. I jump over and grab him, flinging him free of Thomas with the extra force of Katey's firm grip. She drops to Thomas's side and I turn away, glaring at Tyler. I need to say something. Something to make him think I'm to be respected. But what is there to respect? He wipes his mouth and his lips curl into a snarl. He lifts himself to his hands and knees and I just know he's about to launch. I have less than a second to--
The air is knocked out of me as Tyler barrels into my stomach, sending me flying to the ground. I barely see the outline of a fist, rising up, about to smash my face in. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to lift my arms, but they're pinned by Tyler's knees. His fist cocks back and springs forward.
"Tyler!" Katey shrieks. She tackles Tyler's arm and pulls him back, away from me. I roll over, panting and coughing.
"Ty, Ty. Tyler, please!" Katey begs. She is sitting on top of him, legs stradling each side of his torso, then hooked back across his legs to keep him from kicking. In one hand she holds both of his, in an iron grip that makes her forearm bulge. With the other hand she strokes his face and hair, still pleading with him to settle down. He gives one last cry of rage then sags, whimpering. Tears slick his flaming face.
Katey slowly releases his hands, then slips off of him, down to his side. Tyler sits up, now coughing, and Katey grabs him around the shoulders, pulling him close to her. He collapses, now shuddering with quiet sobs. I sit, still panting, as Katey helps him stand up.
"Do you want to finish eating, or go downstairs?" she asks him.
He doesn't say anything, but pulls away from her and stalks from the dining room.
With a tired sigh, Katey picks up her chair and sits back down. I do the same, noticing that Thomas isn't at the table anymore. I hope, for both of their sakes, that he isn't downstairs as well.
Thanks for reading! :)


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To Shine a Light...

...there must be a dark place for it to glow.

Is it a good thing to hate your character's life? To be so depressed and distressed about their problems, their the point where writing about them makes you wish the story had never come about in the first place? Where you cringe and avoid writing that certain scene because...just because?

That's just about where I am sometimes with Abigail in A Name Worth Carrying. I'm pretty sure that there are people out there with a lot more (and worse) problems than she has....100% sure. But even with what she's going through, because I'm having to bring it to life...I realize that this might be the first time I've truly felt for those people who don't have it as well off as I do. Sure, I've known there are problems in the world, but there's something about experiencing it, even if it is just through the written word, that really cuts deep. For a time, I am Abigail. I am the one abandoned, confused, terrified, broken and scarred. And I don't like it.

Yet, I know there is hope. Abby may not see it yet, but I do. I know what's coming, I am arranging the circumstances to bring her to the place she needs to be for all those crucial changes to be made. She can't change what's happened to her, but she can change the way she reacts, the way she deals with it.

(This is a reason I love writing. I didn't realize it until I started typing the paragraph above, but maybe you did? As I write, I am repeating the recurring story of life, whether I know it or not. In a sense, I really am Abigail. I don't know what's coming, but God does. He is guiding me, ordering things for the final outcome. The things that must take place to get me to the end will not always be good. In fact, most of them I probably won't like. Anyway, I would go on with this subject, but it's not the point of this post...and I would most likely ramble.)

How necessary is it for writers to deal with dark, painful subjects in order to show the light (e.g. depression, immorality, broken families, murder, etc.)? This is something I've struggled with, both in reading and writing. There are certain subjects I just don't want to think about or deal with. So I avoid them. I can live with vague implications. Some things are necessary to get the point across, to make it real. But is it right to delve into it, even if these things are clearly shown in a negative light?

What if this is a story that needs to be told? If there is something you feel so strongly convicted about, that you must write about it, otherwise feel as though you have ignored a nudge from the Giver of the words you use?

Then, I say, write it. But, use discretion. You will not only be speaking to or reaching those directly involved with such issues, but the casual readers who randomly pick up the book from the library shelf. Or, your friends and family who want to support your work. (Don't scare them away, making them wonder what in the world is wrong with you... Sure, some things may need a disclaimer... For example, I'm planning on dedicating ANWC to my family, so no one thinks I'm writing a disguised autobiography... =P)

One of the main things that worries me is writing something with redemption in mind, yet not working it throughout the fabric of the story and having it hit awkwardly at the end. Then, it feels as if the "redemptive" quality was just tacked on. I've read books like this, and they are not satisfying.

Fellow readers and writers, what are your opinions on this subject? How much "darkness" are you willing to grope through to find the light in the midst of it? At what point does it stop being beneficial? And, for that matter, is it ever beneficial? Philippians 4:8 comes to mind -- "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (KJV)" -- but what about spreading the Light to those who need it?

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light."
(Eph 5:8-13 KJV - emphasis added)

Hm, hm. Many things to consider. I hope that wasn't too muddled. If so, I apologize.


[photo from ""...? result of a google search]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Name Worth Carrying

"Operation Novel", take 2.

"Novel" seems like such an odd word. To me, anyhow. Like a word you should only use to describe a book that says "Butterfly Kisses - a novel" on the cover, or Jane Austen books. I don't write "novels"! Not like that, anyway. I write stories. Adventures. Books. Tales.

However, "novel" is, by definition,

a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes.

Length and complexity, characters, action,, I do like that. Maybe I can live with the word.


So, novels. Books, stories, whatever. And, I have a new one I'd like to talk about for a while. If you like reading things like that, please continue.

A Name Worth Carrying

This story is about Abigail Nicole Garrett, a fifteen year old sophomore. She's motherless and her estranged father is trying to locate her in order to make sure she doesn’t tell his secret to the police. The problem? She doesn’t know what that secret is.

When she's thrust into the foster system Abigail realizes that there are a lot of things she doesn’t know. What really happened the night of the car wreck? And why does she have a terrible suspicion that her dad had something to do with it? Has she ever known what a true family is? And why, of all things, did her parents name her Abigail?

At least one of these things she can change. Her name is Nicole, now. Not Abigail. And it doesn’t really matter...does it? Is there really all that much in a name?


From this synopsis alone, would you be interested enough to read any of the story? Does is pique your interest? Would you pick it up from the bookstore or library shelf long enough to at least read the first pages?

Soon (maybe) I will be posting excerpts from this book. It's almost 20,000 words, and five chapters in. It's a lot more character driven than Escape into Darkness, and could probably be better classified as a "man who learned better" story type (according to OYAN). So I'm having to think a lot more about compelling conflict. Who wants to read 200+ pages of a mopey teenage girl sorting through her emotional baggage? Bleh.

But it's really not that bad. At least, it's coming.

It's a work-in-progress.

(as a side note, the Escape into Darkness page has been updated...)