Friday, November 29, 2013

BOOK 2 First Draft Excerpts

Welp, National Novel Writing Month is over tomorrow and I did make the 50,000 word goal. YAY!  While the first draft of Book 2 still has a LONG way to go before it's ready for public consumption, I will, as promised, give you a couple excerpts from the second book in the series.

THE First is a Prologue:

Book 2, Kindred

The year was 1880.  Her family had been in Quebec, Canada for almost twenty years.  She sat on the edge of her bed, her husband fast asleep in the bed beside her.  She had just finished rocking her newborn daughter, Jaelle, to sleep.  Jaelle now lay sleeping peacefully in her cradle.  As for herself, peace was something she had never known.  She sat up some nights after her husband had gone to sleep as it was the only escape she had from his emotional abuse.  He had only hit her a few times during the time they had been married, but two of those blows had resulted in the two miscarriages she had had.  But the voices had come to reassure her that she would not have to worry about that for much longer.
She couldn’t help envying Stefania.  She felt guilty for doing so, but she couldn’t help it.  Stefania’s husband, Emille Gravel, was a good man.  She even told Stefania so, hoping Stefania realized and appreciated it. 

She stood up, putting her hand on the cradle Jaelle slept in.  A tear escaped her eye and rolled down her cheek.  She couldn’t live like this anymore.  She was a terrible mother and her husband had told her so.  That’s why he found Cosette.  This was one of the few nights he was in early instead of stumbling in drunk the morning after a night with Cosette.  Then he would put her down and do so in front of their children.  She could never do anything right.  He would always remind her of how she had lost her looks.  How old and ugly she had gotten.  She knew she had gotten older and after seven children plus the two that had resulted in miscarriages, her body wasn’t what it used to be.  She still had her slender frame, but she had stretch marks and a little extra padding on her than when she had first gotten married.  Her breasts lost some of their fullness after having breastfed nine children.  He had all but lost interest in making love to her.  He had Cosette for that now.  And he let her know it.  He was able to do better than her and get a pretty, eighteen-year-old girl. 
She reached in, wanting to touch Jaelle one last time, but then held back to not dare wake the sleeping baby up.
“Good night, my sweet little one,” she whispered. 
She then walked over to the bedroom door and after one last look at her sleeping daughter, she picked up the candle by the door, providing the only source of light in the room, and walked out into the hall. 

She walked to each of her children’s rooms:  first to the room where her four daughters slept: thirteen-year-old Tsura, the nine-year-old twins, Nuri and Mirela, and four-year-old Francisca.  Then the room of her three sons: eleven-year-old Andrzej, six-year-old Boldo, and two-year-old Guaril.  Her children were the only joy she had in her life and even that she was a failure at.  Her husband had told her that they would be better off without her, and maybe he was right. 
She made her way down to the front door where she put her candle out.  She left her note on the table under the candle and with another deep, breath she went outside.  The night air felt good as it blew through her long, dark hair.  She was leaving tonight.
She walked following the sound of the ocean, stopping when she reached her destination.  She stood at the edge of the cliff and stood looking out to the sea that stretched out forever.  The wind came in from the ocean, whipping her hair around her face and pulsing through the material of her flannel nightgown. 
She knew Stefania and Emille would take wonderful care of her children.  She had specifically written in her note that she wanted Emille and Stefania to adopt her children.  And she knew her children would love being able to live with their children.  They could hear Stefania sing the drunken sailor song to them whenever they wanted.  Emille and Stefania had done a wonderful job so far with raising their sons Emilian, Luca, Stefan, and their daughter Rosa.  She trusted them with her children.  She did not want them with her husband and that awful tramp, Cosette.
Tears began spilling down her face.  He had disgraced her.  Dishonored her.  Tossed her aside for a younger girl.  All she had ever tried to do was be a good wife and mother.
She stood looking down at the churning current of the ocean slamming against the rocks. 
She looked out to the distance.  She imagined she would be flying over this ocean to another world where she wouldn’t feel the torment and pain she felt anymore.  The night sky was beautiful and the sound of the waves was soothing.  The waves churned and rose higher.  A patch of dark clouds rolled passed the moon.  But the clouds appeared to almost take on a shape.  They seemed to dissipate and come toward her with the wind blowing.  Then she heard them. 
The voices.
They were telling her it was time.  They were as soothing as the ocean breeze.  They were telling her they would help her to fly. 
She could feel them guiding her, pulling her along to the ledge.  The voices would often come to her in the night, telling her what her husband was doing when he wasn’t with her.  It was through them that she had found out about Cosette.  It was then that she had questioned her husband.  Of course, he had slapped her and then told her that she had led him to it.  But never again.  Never again would she have to endure him again.  And her children would be safe.  The voices assured her that they would.
It was time, they told her.  Time to fly.   She felt a small push and tipped forward.  She closed her eyes.  She was flying.  Really flying.  Ever since she was a little girl, she wished she had the power to fly.  The feeling brought tears of joy to her eyes.  But the euphoria would last only a few seconds before she would hit the rocks.  Pain and immediate shock pulsed through her body.  She lay there astonished, gasping for air as she felt a warm fluid gushing out of her mouth and nose.  She began to choke on the gushing fluid.
The voices came again, but this time they were laughing at her and taking pleasure in her pain.  She hardly recognized them.  They were so warm and soothing and now they were menacing.  She lay there, once again broken and beyond humiliated.  But then, she felt light headed and her body began to convulse and go numb. 
She welcomed the numb feeling as it was the best thing she ever felt.  The waves continued to crash against the rocks, soaking her broken body through the flannel material of her nightgown.  She knew she couldn’t undo what she had done.  As she gave into sleep, she took the only comfort she had left.  That Stefania would look after her children.  The hours of the early morning wore on as the final remnants of life drained from her body.  As her heart stopped, a giant wave crashed onto the rock she had fallen on, knocking her light body into the waters of the ocean.

She had awoken from the dream at least once a week for the passed fifty-four years.  The images would dance through her head, haunting her, taunting her nights.  She sat up in bed as the morning sun’s rays filtered in through the red curtains draped over the window.  The changes in the air, the shift between worlds, they were coming…

The Second Excerpt is the first exchange between Everett Blake and Joanna Livingston. They are seven-years-old in this excerpt. Enjoy!

PS- At the end of the scene, Everett's brother Ronnie is grounded which is why he can't attend the He Man Woman Hater's club meeting.

She was real and not just a dream.  He was seeing her, with his own eyes, wide awake and not asleep.  She stood there, looking back at him with her dark eyes.  She was wearing blue jeans, which was rather rare for a girl, and had on black boots that were nothing like anything he had seen the girls in town wearing.  She had also worn an oversized light grey sweatshirt with a group of older boys and letters that spelled New Kids on the Block (Everett had no idea what that was and had never heard of such a thing).  The boys on her shirt had a rather odd look to them that Everett hadn’t seen before.  A black knit hat topped her dark, wavy hair that reached just below her shoulders.  She had looked back at him, looking almost frightened and confused.  Everett didn’t want her to be frightened. 
“Hello!”  he called to her brightly.
He stepped toward her and she flinched, taking a couple steps back.  She looked like she wanted to run away, but didn’t know where to run to.
“My name is Everett,” Everett offered, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
The girl had looked back at him and finally spoke.  “Where am I?”
“Pinewoods,” Everett answered.
The girl looked around, unsure of the answer.  “This doesn’t look like Pinewoods.  I’ve been to Pinewoods a few times with my dad.  And this doesn’t look like it.”
“Of course it’s Pinewoods,” Everett answered.
The girl looked around, still suspicious, but seemed to decide not to argue with Everett.
“If you say so,” she said, not seeming at all convinced.
“Where are you from?” Everett asked.
“Stone Creek,” she answered.
“Oh, are you here with your parents?”
“No that’s just it,” the girl answered getting upset again, “I was playing hide n seek with my friends.  We were in the woods and I went to hide.  Somehow I ended up here and I don’t know how.  And you look like somebody out of my grandparents pictures from when they were kids!  And this doesn’t look like Pinewoods!  I know what Pinewoods looks like!  I’m not stupid!”
Everett stood puzzled as the girl began to cry.  He took a step forward as the girl brought a hand up to dry the tears from her eyes.  Everett noticed that she also had on purple nail polish. Another rare thing to see on a girl.  She almost seemed more grown-up than the girls he knew from town.
“I didn’t say you were stupid,” Everett said, trying to be a comfort to her, “I just want to help you.  Really.”
The girl looked at him, wiping away another tear with a purple fingernailed hand. 
“So you’re from Stone Creek?” Everett asked.
The girl nodded.
“What’s your name?” Everett asked.
“Joanna,” the girl answered slowly, “and your name is Everett?”
Everett smiled.  “Yeah.”
Joanna smiled back.  “That’s a funny name.”
Everett felt his face turning red.  “Blame my parents for that one.”
Joanna relaxed and laughed at Everett’s little joke.
“I think you have a pretty name,” Everett said, looking down at the ground.
“Thanks,” Joanna said, “but I hate it.  It’s so old-fashioned.  It sounds like something from my grandparents’ time.  I wish my parents named me something cool like Jerricha from Jem and the Holograms.  Well, you’re a boy so you probably don’t watch that show anyway.”
Everett gave her a small smile.  “So, what does your shirt mean?  I’ve never seen that before.”
Joanna frowned.  “You don’t know New Kids on the Block?!  Geez!  What planet are you from?”
Well, you sound like Ronnie, Everett thought.
“No,” Everett stammered, “what are they?”
“A singing group,” Joanna said, “they’re very famous.  Don’t you watch MTV?”
“No…” Everett said slowly.  He didn’t even know what that was either.  Joanna raised her eyebrows.
“So what do you do if you don’t watch MTV?”
“I like to read,” Everett said, “and my dad and cousin Jerome are teaching my brother Ronnie and I guitar.”
“You play guitar?”  Joanna seemed to have forgotten about the whole MTV thing.  For this, Everett was relieved.
“Yes,” Everett said, “well, sort of.  I’m not as good as Jerome or Hank Williams.”
“Hank Williams?” Joanna asked.
“Yes.  He’s my favorite.”
“You mean Hank Williams Jr.” Joanna said.
“No,” Everett said, confused.  “I mean Hank Williams from the Drifting Cowboys Band.  He doesn’t have kids so how can there be a Hank Williams Jr.?”
“Shows how much you know,” Joanna snorted, “Hank Williams is dead too.”
“He is not!” Everett cried, “take that back!”
“Why?” Joanna said, “it’s true.  I know because my grandparents listen to him!”
“Maybe Ronnie and Jay are right.  Girls are stupid,” Everett said.
“And you’re weird,” Joanna retorted.
“I am not! You’re weird!  Weird and stupid!”
“You’re the one who’s stupid.  You don’t even know that Hank Williams is dead.  You’re either stupid or delusional.  Or probably both.”
“Shut up!” Everett said.
“You shut up!”  Joanna said.
The two children stood glaring at one another.  Suddenly, something dawned on Everett.  Joanna was dressed completely different than other girls from town he knew.  In fact, even her personality was different.  And despite Joanna’s insisting on this New Kids on the Block being a famous singing group, Everett paid enough attention to music to where he would have surely heard about them.  And then there was this MTV thing…Everett’s stare at Joanna, his gaze turning from anger to curiosity.
“What?! Why are you looking at me like that?” Joanna demanded.
Everett tried to think of how to approach this.  Perhaps he had read one too many science fiction stories, but…
“Do you know who the president is?” Everett asked.
Joanna rolled her eyes and turned back toward the woods where she came from.  “I’ll find my own way back.”
“No! Wait, just answer my question,” Everett said.
Joanna stopped and turned around, rather irritated.  “Fine!  Bush is president.  Reagan was just president and now Bush became president.  What kind of a dumb question is that?”
Everett’s voice caught in his throat.  He drew in a breath. 
“What?!”  Joanna exclaimed.
“What year is it,” Everett asked slowly.
Joanna’s eyes narrowed.  “1989.  Now can I please go?  I don’t know how I ended up in Pinewoods-if that’s what this is-but I’m sure I’ll find my way back.”
Everett stood frozen as he took in her answer.
“Wait,” Everett said, “you’re not going to find your way back.  Not by yourself, at least.”
“What are you talking about?!  You’re nuts!”
Everett scrambled for how to tell her she was in the year 1944 and not 1989.  If he told her straight out, he was afraid she would just run from him into the woods and probably get lost.  He didn’t want that to happen.  Then, he thought of something.
“Come with me,” Everett said.
“Where,” Joanna asked with a skeptical tone.
“Just over there to my house,” Everett said pointing.
“Why should I?”
“Because, there’s something really important I want you to see,” Everett said.
“You’re not going to pull down your pants or anything gross like that, are you?”
Everett flinched at Joanna’s question.  “No!  Why would I do that?”
Joanna looked at him, still skeptical, but relented.  “Ok, fine.  But only for five minutes, ok?  My friends are all going to be wondering where I’m at.”
Joanna followed Everett through the back door and into the kitchen.  Joanna looked around, in awe of the setup of the kitchen.
“Does your mom like old-fashioned stuff?” Joanna asked.
Everett didn’t answer and instead went and stood next to the wall calendar. 
“So what is it you wanted to show me?” Joanna asked as she continued looking around.  Her eyes fell on Everett and then traveled to the wall calendar.  She stared at the calendar above Everett’s head in confusion at the year the calendar stated.  1944.  Joanna looked from the calendar, then to Everett.
“That calendar is just a decoration, right?” Joanna asked.
Everett shook his head.  “Come on.”
Everett began walking to the foyer followed by a confused Joanna.  He pulled the curtain back from the side window by the door.  He then stepped aside for Joanna to look out.  Joanna stepped forward, pressing her forehead against the glass as she peered out.  It was Pinewoods, alright, but not as she knew it.  And all the old-fashioned cars in the driveways of the houses.  Joanna also noticed some people walking down the sidewalk, dressed like people from the old movies.  She pulled back from the window, looking from the window to Everett and then back again.  Her eyes widened as she backed away, a terrified look on her face.
“Please don’t be afraid,” Everett said, “I want to help you.”
“No,” Joanna cried, “you’re lying.  You’re playing a trick.  A very mean trick!”
She turned and ran toward the back door.
“Joanna! Wait!” Everett called after her.  Joanna pushed the door open, bursting out onto the porch and bounding down the steps.  “Joanna!” Everett called running after her.  Joanna ran across the field toward the woods.
“Joanna!  Please!  You’ll get lost!” Everett called again. 
Joanna stopped running, looking defeated.  Everett caught up to her and he could see that she had tears streaming down her face.

“I just want to go home!” Joanna sobbed, “I don’t want to be here!”
Everett felt a small stab of hurt at Joanna saying she didn’t want to be there.  He didn’t know why or where it came from.  He tried to push it aside so he could help Joanna.  Part of him wanted her to stay, but he knew that couldn’t happen.  Everett slowly put a hand on her shoulder and was relieved when she didn’t flinch or back away.  She turned and looked at him.  Her eyes were dark, pools of tears, rimmed red.  Everett reached into his pocket, pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to Joanna.  Joanna muttered a thanks and began drying her eyes with it.  Everett stood with Joanna as her sobs calmed into small hiccups. 
“Are you going to be ok?” Everett asked.
“I guess,” Joanna said.
“Well, where were you when you realized you weren’t in Stone Creek?  I know these woods pretty well.  My friends and I play here a lot.”
“Ok,” Joanna said, “I went by the creek to hide behind a bunch of trees.  Then I couldn’t hear anyone anymore and it seemed like a long time and no one found me.  Then, I stepped out from the trees and…the creek was gone and I was by the river or stream back there.”
Everett brightened.  “I know exactly where that is.  Come on!”
Everett headed toward the woods and Joanna followed.  They entered the woods.  It was spring, so the brush was becoming thick again.
“Here, hold my hand,” Everett said, “it gets thick back here and I don’t want you getting lost.”
Joanna hesitated before taking Everett’s hand.  Their small hands joined together and both felt their hearts skip a beat, though neither understood the feeling.  They walked through the woods without saying anything at first.  Then, Joanna broke the silence.
“So who’s president here?” 
“Roosevelt,” Everett answered, “FDR.  We’re fighting in Germany now, too.  Germany, and pretty much everywhere else.”
Joanna nodded.  “World War II?”
“Yeah,” Everett answered.
“Woah,” Joanna said, “I just read two books about that.  Number the Stars and The Diary of Anne Frank.”
“You like to read too?” Everett asked.  He hadn’t heard of the books Joanna mentioned, but it excited him to hear her talk about one of his favorite things to do.
“Yeah,” Joanna said slightly embarrassed, “the library is one of my favorite places.”
“Hey me too,” Everett said. 
They continued walking through the woods, they could hear birds chirping through the trees.  Everett turned his eyes downward, looking at his hand in Joanna’s.  He knew he was being a traitor to everything the He-Man Woman Haters Club stood for.  But at that moment, he didn’t care.  He liked Joanna.  She was interesting…and pretty.  And she liked to read and seemed very smart.  Besides, he couldn’t abandon her and let her get lost.
“What books do you like to read?”  Joanna asked, breaking the silence between them.
“I just finished The Black Stallion,” Everett answered, “but I really like Jack London.”
“I’m actually reading White Fang now,” Joanna said.

“I’ve read that!” Everett said, “it’s very good.  But I still liked Call of the Wild better.”
“I haven’t read that yet,” Joanna said, “I’ll have to check that out.  You said you play the guitar?”
“Yeah,” Everett answered, “do you play instruments?”
“Piano,” Joanna answered. 
Everett turned his head, smiling to himself.  But then it bothered him as to why she was so sad in the dream he had of her.
It was then that they had come to the stream.  They stood on the bank, still hand in hand, listening to the stream running and the sounds of spring in the air.  Everett looked at Joanna for a brief moment.  He didn’t want her to leave.  There was so much more he wanted to know about her.  But he knew she had to.  She had family and friends who would be worried about her if she didn’t go back.
“So, where did you come out from when you ended up here?” Everett asked reluctantly.
“Over there,” Joanna pointed to a cluster of pine trees. 
“Okay,” Everett said, still holding her hand and leading her to the pine trees.  They reached the cluster of pine trees and Joanna turned to Everett.
“Thank you,” she said, “and I’m sorry I called you weird.”
Everett looked down.  “It’s alright.  I’m sorry I called you stupid.”
“It’s okay,” Joanna said, “well, I better go. Oh, do you want your handkerchief?”
Everett looked at her.  “No thank you.  I have two others.”
“Okay,” Joanna giggled, “you’re the first boy I know my age who carries a handkerchief.  The only other person I know who does that is my Grandpa Livingston.”
Everett felt his face flushing, but he regained his composure.  “Um, maybe you can come back.”
Joanna stared at him.  “Really?”
“Well yeah,” Everett said, “I mean, maybe you can come back the same way.  I’d like to know more about 1989.  Maybe you can even meet my cousin, Jerome.  He’s a lot of fun.”
“Okay,” Joanna said slowly, “maybe…”
“Maybe I can play my guitar for you,” Everett said, his face growing hotter at the thought.  He looked at the ground.  When he looked back up, he saw Joanna giving him and almost knowing look.
“I have to go,” she said.
“Okay,” Everett said.  The silence between them was rather awkward.  Then, with a final wave, Joanna walked toward the pine tree cluster.  She turned around once more to look back at EverettEverett started to wave to her, but she was walking quickly back toward him.  Everett started to speak, but before he could, Joanna had thrown her arms around him.  Everett gasped and stood staring at her, stunned.  Joanna looked back at him, her cheeks beginning to flush red.  She turned to run back to the trees. 
Everett wanted so much to call to her.  Please stay, he wanted to say, I’m sure my parents will let you live with us!  He didn’t care if Ronnie and the rest of the He-Man Woman Haters Club thought he was a sissy.  He liked Joanna…and she held his hand and hugged him…and he didn’t think it was gross!  But she had disappeared into the brush. 
Everett stood waiting to make sure she wouldn’t come back out.  He stood alone in the woods for a few seconds.  He then walked toward the pine tree cluster.  Everett walked around it, but no sign of Joanna.  He parted the brush, peering into it.  She was gone.  Everett stepped back, sighing.  He was a little surprised at how disappointed and empty he felt.  He said a silent prayer that she would have returned to her time okay and not ended up in a scary time, like with the dinosaurs.  Everett pushed that thought from his mind. 
“No, she made it back.  I know she did,” he said aloud.  The imagination could go to some very dark places if one wasn’t careful.
Everett closed his eyes and concentrated.  Sometimes, if he did that he could see things.  He focused on Joanna and he saw her.  He saw her at the creek in Stone Creek.  He saw a small group of kids come running to her.  They were dressed in a similar fashion to how she was.
“Joanna!” a little red-haired girl cried, “damn that was a good hiding place!  We’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
The picture began to fade, but it was enough for Everett to feel relieved that she had made it back.  He opened his eyes back up, breathing a sigh of relief.  But he felt a little melancholy.  He stood looking at the pine brush. 
Please come back…someday…
He looked over toward the stream.  He had been standing there watching it with Joanna only a moment ago.  He was confused about the feelings he was having. 
Everett was then shaken from his thoughts when he heard a branch snap.  Everett looked around as he heard another.  He stood trying to place where the sound was coming from.  It sounded like it was coming from somewhere in the trees.  Everett got the urgent feeling to leave.  He turned and began running.  It sounded as though something was chasing him through the trees.  He turned his head to look back, but couldn’t see what was after him.  He pushed forward, until he saw the edge and the field in back of his house up ahead.  Everett burst through the edge of the woods and kept running across the field.  He was at the toolshed when he turned around to see if he could catch a glimpse of what may have been chasing him.  He saw nothing, but heard the distant cry of a crow.  It sent a shiver down his body and he was glad he had gotten Joanna back to where she came from.

Everett lay in bed later that night, tired but wide awake.  He looked toward the window above Ronnie’s bed.  He was confused about the range of emotions he was having.  He had Joanna on his mind.  He wanted to see her again and he could never let Ronnie or anyone else from the He-Man Woman Haters Club know about it.  But he hoped somehow, she would come back.  He wanted to know more about her:  her favorite food, her favorite movie, her favorite song (was it a New Kids on the Block song?), her last name.
“Joanna Blake,” Everett whispered into the darkness and then realized what he had just said.  He turned his head to Ronnie’s side of the room, hoping that Ronnie hadn’t somehow woken up and heard him.  Everett felt his breath quicken.  Was this what grown ups felt when they fell in love?  Is that what was going on?  Everett turned over on his side, facing the wall.  He wondered what Joanna was doing.  If she was in bed sleeping or if she was unable to sleep just like he was. 
Everett finally fell into an uneasy sleep and into a restless dream.  He saw Joanna standing in the field as he stood on the back porch, gazing out at her.  He felt he had to get out to her, but was unable to move.  A dozen crows circled in a dark, overcast sky screeching and almost unearthly sound.  The woods where a dark, gnarled outline in the distance.  The urgency to get to Joanna grew.  Terror filled him as he saw two large black dogs emerge from the woods, hungry with their teeth bared.  He could hear their growls and snarls and they were heading toward Joanna.
“Joanna!” He tried desperately to call out to her, but his voice was lost in the midst of the crows screeching.  He tried to run out to her, but his feet remained rooted to the ground.  He watched in horror as the dogs weighed in on Joanna, as they hungrily salivated. 
“JOANNA!!”  Everett’s last desperate cry was drowned out as the dogs pounced on Joanna. 

He was jolted awake, drenched in sweat and tangled in his sheets and blankets.  It was also morning.  Breathing hard, he glanced up and jumped when he saw Ronnie standing there staring at him, giving him an odd look.  Ronnie raised an eyebrow.
“Are you okay?” Ronnie asked.
“Yeah,” Everett said catching his breath, “yeah, I’m fine.”
“You sure?”
“Yeah.  Bad dream, that’s all,” Everett said, trying to sound more cheery.
“Okay, well momma said breakfast is ready and I’m going with dad again to Mr. Aurelio’s store.”
“Alright,” Everett said, “tell momma I’ll be down soon.”
“I will,” Ronnie said, “and remember the He-Man Woman Haters Club this afternoon.  I want a full report.”
“Sure,” Everett said as Ronnie left the room.  

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