A little taste

After I finish the edits of Yet It Will Come, I have the start of the next book I’ll be working on called Collections. It’s several thousand words in already, but I put it aside to write Yet It Will Come.  Some stories have a touch of urgency to them when they sink  into your brain.  Collections has been simmering for a long time, while the other was a “hot iron” so Collections had to wait. was put aside.

Anyway, since writing seems to be taking up most of my free time, and books have been so much on my mind lately what with querying Ernest, I’ve not had many other fun things to post about lately, (no new cooking fiascos, no new art projects, no baitcaster nightmares to disclose).

So, I thought I’d show you the first pages of my books. The first page is where a writer makes the first impression on the reader. I have never been good at beginnings and these beginnings have all changed several times.

The Lake Effect

[LOL – sorry, it’s so not worth reading. Trunk novel and all. I said good-bye to it a long time ago. I couldn’t even make myself open it.] 😉

Taking Lessons from Ernest (Page 1)

Ernest likes chronology. He didn’t like my Chapter One. He said this was the wrong place to start the story; he said, “It started much earlier.”

That is true. It did.

I told him I’d go back and tell those other pieces later, because if this was truly chronological, I’d have needed to start it in the 1920’s, hop to the 1960’s, make a couple of brief stops in the 1980’s, and arrive at myself entering the picture, present day, quite near the end.

“True,” he said. “That could pose a problem.”

“So for now,” I told him, “We’ll set the scene, early morning, eastern United States, in a car going across country.”

“How cliché. A car?” he said.

“Okay. Okay. A week before that, then?”

Finally, we agreed. So here we are, a week before that.

~*~

I was summoned to the house. As I walked up the path, I had a sense of déjà vu. My chest felt hollow, though. I was an empty shell just then, recognizing everything around me but not belonging there with any of it anymore.

I made my way up the sidewalk and noticed the pattern of bricks. I’d lined my Matchbox cars up on those bricks. Tim and I raced them there too many times to count. The predawn light blurred and softened the bricks now, and while I knew the pattern well, I barely recognized it.

Then I looked at the front stoop as one might look at an old photo of something beautiful but long since lost. I wanted it to be exactly the same – not like it was the last time I’d left when my father told me not to return, but of the time before when I was part of the family.

Yet It Will Come (Page 1)

Each day I face Megan, with her coffee house coffee, always the same flavor. Hazelnut. Her bobbed hair swings against the collar of her jacket. She approaches me on the platform with the click click click of four-inch heels.

“You look like hell, Charlie” she says, and sighs under her breath, “again.”

Of course I do.  I can’t sleep. I close my eyes and am assaulted in my sleep.

This is what drove my grandfather insane. Lack of sleep. I would visit him at the hospital, though really it was a mental institution. Other elderly patients wandered the halls muttering to themselves. Old women, who would have terrified me as a child, approached me in the hall, calling me the names of their own sons or grandsons, hoping someone had come to see them. Patting my face and telling me I was getting handsomer and should visit more frequently.  I should please look after the cat left behind and could I tell so-and-so that their letters arrived by post and were most appreciated.

My grandfather though. He did not imagine he was in the past or mistake me for his long-dead brother. He didn’t talk about a cat that has been dead for thirty years as though it was still living. No. He had his senses in those regards. He just happened to never sleep, and obsessively searched train stations, studied schedules, wrote notes with times and dates, scribbling frantically all night long, as though needing to find the right combination of dates and trains to get to the lady.

“I know she’s out there, Charlie.” He would continue writing, pacing, tapping his chest, counting on his fingers, muttering under his breath. “No one believes me.”

Collections (page 1)

I’ve known Edison St. James since I was eight years old. That was the year he was collected up by his grandfather. The same year, he wet his first line. Not missing his mother felt worse than missing her would, he told me. But something about a lake, a gentle breeze and waves lapping up the side of an aluminum john boat made the not missing not hurt so much.

I grew up in Celina, Illinois, on the banks of the Illinois River. Nothing interesting or even peculiar happened in Celina until the day the old man who lived in the brown house next to mine left one day. He never left, so this was something I noticed. Also, no one in Celina ever had a reason to lock their doors, but this day, Old Mr. St. James locked his front door. I watched the house each day to see if his car had returned. Each day that passed I got more curious.

“Come away from the window, Ty.” my mom said. “People’ll wonder what’s afflicting you.”

My dad told her that being curious is good. “Curiosity is a sign of intelligence, Constance,” he said. “If the boy wants to collect river critters and rocks from the banks, climb trees and stare up at clouds, or look out the window, I’m not going to stop him. It’s good for a boy’s brain to be engaged.”

Dad made this sound more important than it really was. I was mostly just nosy. Mom didn’t want people to think there was something wrong with my head, wanted me to keep clean, wear shoes, and make friends; staring at the neighbor’s empty house while I hauled mason jars full of river junk to the shed didn’t accomplish any of these.

Three days later though, after nearly constant watching, Mr. St. James came back with a boy.

I moved the sheer white curtain to the side and stared out as this scrawny kid, smaller than me, got out of the car and lugged two suitcases by him self up to the front steps of the cracker-box house. His red Keds mustered up little dust tornadoes as he shuffled his feet up the drive way.

Old Man carried a small, green duffle bag and another suitcase. He set the suitcase at his feet and unlocked the front door. The boy looked around from the porch, eyeing the neighboring houses, and stopped particularly to look at Gus, my hound back in his kennel. Any boy who liked Gus was okay with me. Edison smiled at the sight of Gus, so I made the promise then that I’d smile at that boy when I got the chance of it.

Mr. St. James had lived alone for my whole life until then. He had a stern face with deep frowny cracks around his mouth that kept me and most of the other neighbors from paying much attention to him. I worried about the boy staying there with the old grump, and how he wasn’t even looking at the boy. The kid looked darn near invisible to Mr. St. James.

And finally, just for fun. The first page of the blog novel I share with Kevin Craig at Yours Mine Ours… (page 1)

Mickey scrambled around the garage, lifting one tool after another and setting each one aside as he ruled it out in his search for the perfect cutting implement. I fell onto the couch in the corner and raised the bottle of wine to my mouth. The strawberry soda of wines had a tinny aftertaste from the screw-off cap. I’d grown to regard it as flavor you can only get from a $2 bottle.

A look of EUREKA streaked across his face then faded with my disapproval. “It’s two in the morning. We’re not using a chainsaw.”

I closed my eyes against the onset of dizziness and waited.

“We have to cut it down by hand?” He pushed some boxes aside and raised an orange handle. “Ax?” He swiped his shirt sleeve across his brow.

My non-reply answered his question.

The same scene, in different variations had taken place for the last six years. Each year Mickey searched for the perfect tool, only to arrive half an hour later at the same conclusion; we just needed a handsaw. I had always let him look though. In previous years it humored me that he hadn’t yet seen the handsaw and pieced together that it was what we used the previous year, and the year before that.

What do your first pages look like?? 🙂

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One response to “A little taste

  1. Actually, I think you do very strong openings. There’s no real action in ’em, and that’s fine by me. I’m always more impressed by the slow draw-in than the “FLASH BANG LOOKIT ME!” beginnings I see sometimes.

    Of all the openings you posted, my favorite is from “Yet it Will Come” actually. I love that first paragraph, about Megan and her coffee house coffee. It’s a sharp paragraph. And the whole opening has a film noir grit to it, to the tone of the voice, which I like. I can hear George Guidall reading it, in my head. 🙂

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