Here’s a question I haven’t seen many answers to yet. How do aspiring writers keep from just dropping the pen, and give up on their dream? Even after hearing all of the bad experiences other authors had with publishers, or hearing a bad critique on your writing, how does one push that stuff aside and keep going?
Some nights I go to bed whistling a happy tune, knowing in my heart of hearts that my manuscript is going to be a New York Times bestseller. I’ll go to sleep planning what I would say to my fans walking into my first book signing. I picture film producers beating down my door begging me for the rights to their next blockbuster.
The next morning I’ll wake up, still feeling good, but then I’ll open my laptop. Checking my emails, blogs, and posts suddenly my confidence is gone. Reality sets in and my face flushes with embarrassment. I discover that, in fact, I have mountains to climb before I go to that book signing. I become convinced that I couldn’t write two paragraphs of a grade five theme on Marmots.
Faith in my skill as a writer is the only way I can keep going, even if I’m lying to myself, I must have faith. I’m constantly trying to improve myself, reading writer’s blogs, joining writers groups on-line, asking questions, getting advice. I’ve recently taken advantage of several writer’s resources like Romance Writers of America (RWA), and other groups on LinkedIn. These groups have in some cases hundreds of writers, editors, publishers, and university profs who are more than willing to help. I had a professor from Berkeley giving me pointers not long ago, that kind of advice is priceless.
But my novice, unpublished head plays tricks on me. When I read other authors like Nora Roberts and Katy Evans I get intimidated by the ease of their skill, not to mention the joy they must get from making the words flow so perfectly. Only time and hard work will sharpen my craft.
Due to overwhelming advice from my esteemed network of writers, my manuscript is now being enlarged to 90k words. So I am hard at work improving my book once again. In my last blog, I was yelled at for posting my first chapter, some of my friends were worried my work might be stolen. Well here’s the first few pages. Let me know what you think.
Chapter 1 Kitsilano
Clenching his teeth, he swung it hard like a tennis racket. Deep hatred colored his glare. Over and over again, every blood-curdling snap of the belt stiffened Rachael’s body. Like a piece of meat, she hung there praying to god she’d escape this living hell. Then finally she fell limp. Her prayers, it would seem, had been answered.
Rachael Ann Stewart knew grief like an old friend, like the white paint crackling on her closet door. Like the pitter padder song of her soggy pillow on a sad day. This daughter of a Police Chief was well guarded most of her life. Carefree happiness was a foreign thing, she wouldn’t know serenity if it stood right in front of her. Yet her life started out happy.
Upon moving to Kitsilano BC, Rachael’s parents enjoyed a fairytale romance. The high school sweethearts, Rachael and Estelle, fell for each other in grade ten. The pretty girl with blue eyes and auburn locks had many boys chasing her.However, the blonde, blue-eyed jock had his sights on Stella from the start, before long he’d caught her eye and won her heart. After graduation, they got married and purchased a modest, old bungalow two blocks from the beach. Old world character creaked with a song from the wooden floors, tickling one’s senses when walking the halls. The smell of decaying wood and moth balls littered the air, if only the old walls could speak they’d tell many a tale.
Bringing in the last box, mom and dad shared a kiss amongst the disarray of moving. Three-year-old Rachael stood in between, gazing up as they smiled down. Right then, life was perfect. They planned for another child. Every night after dinner they pulled Rachael along in her wagon, chatting with neighbors along the way. Walking to the beach hand in hand, they shared dreams of siblings for Rachael and their retirement. That loving glint in Stella’s eyes always ignited Richie’s fire, her auburn hair was alight against the red sky. They were high school sweethearts.
The crimson sun fell behind the North Shore Mountains as the family returned home, putting little Rachael to bed. Richard bore a ravenous gaze, chasing a giggling Stella down the creaky hall. Swirling the wine in her goblet, Stella studied the fire flickering upon her glass. Joining Richie’s sultry gaze, the lovers shared so many unspoken words, theirs was that one love in a thousand. Laying her down before the flames, he stroked her forehead and a deep sigh left her lungs. At the corners of her mouth Richie’s kisses gently started, his affection was never wasted as if they were his first and absolute last. So cherished were these moments as they never took for granted a touch, or an embrace.
Skin on skin in the firelight they held each other tight. His lips made a path to her tender flesh, and Stella cried out. To the heavens above Richie’s warm touch ascended her, the stars shone so brite against her rosy skin. Her hips begged for him, wanting more, reaching as he rose. Sliding deep inside, Richie filled her like he never had, her passionate cries fed his hungry soul, leaving him needing more, she was his addiction, her heart, her soul, every inch of her.
One night after work her dad brought home a little Italian boy, the five-year-old barely spoke a word of English. He needed a warm bed for the night, just one as the frightened boy laid on a floor mattress in Rachael’s room. The boy with dark curls whimpered softly, and Rachael laid down beside him, cuddling with him under the covers. Introducing him to her favorite stuffed kitty, she managed to put a smile on his swarthy face despite the language barrier. She learned his name was Jamie, they chatted and played the night away.
Up with the sun, the new friends enjoyed cereal and Saturday morning cartoons together. After breakfast they played outside for hours, ending up in Rachael’s treehouse, a sturdy one that her father had built it in an old oak tree. The new friends played house, making believe they were married.
“Jamie?” Rachael’s dad called from the yard up to the treehouse.
“Si?” Jamie called down. The boy was brave to face such daunting language as English, but he managed well for a five-year-old.
“Uncle Gio is coming in one hour, okay?” Richard said slowly, pointing to his watch.
“Uncle Gio coming here?” Jamie confirmed, gazing down from the treehouse.
“Si” Richard said with a smile.
“Aww” the boy said sadly. “Umm, I stay with Rachael?”
“I’m sorry buddy. Time to go home” Richard said.
“Okay” Jamie said sadly.
The Detective knew there was no chance of them meeting again anytime soon. Sitting down at Rachael’s play table, Jamie gazed at her fondly, his beloved new friend. Going back and forth from Italy to Vancouver a lot made making friends hard for a five-year-old. Friends meant so much to Jamie, especially this one. There was something about her, a light that shone from her warm smile, like the Madonna herself, Jamie thought. That day he’d learned her nickname was Kitty. Her father had named her after Rachael’s favorite stuffed cat, and it stuck to her like glue. It was a name she’d grow to cherish for the span of her life.
“Kitty?” Jamie said, beside her at the table.
“Hmm?” she said. She was busy setting her teacups on the play table.
“I want …umm, to marry you” Jamie smiled, waiting for her reaction.
“You do?” she smiled as she lit up.
“Okay Jamie,” she said, taking his hand. “I’d like that”
After that day Rachael never saw Jamie again. She would often ask her father about him, her parents would join in a poignant gaze, sharing silent words. Richard would simply redirect Rachael’s focus, and change the subject.
As their carefree days went on soon the family realized life is not always so simple. The bleeding started gradually, in between her periods, yet Stella didn’t think much of it. The pain came later on, only when they made love, but in time the bleeding grew worse. The many visits to the doctors were torture for Richard, so many hours waiting to hear the love of his life would be just fine, but those words never came.
At her side, Richard watched as she suffered for three long years, the disease dragged them through the mud and back. So slow and merciless, this demon squeezed her one breath at a time while her family could only sit by and watch her inch closer to death. The Police Department, where he worked was forgiving, the Gang Unit Detective had all the time he needed to be with his wife. On her last trip to the hospital, Estelle laid in bed, struggling to breathe when she held her ten-year old’s hand. So unaware of the realities of life, children like Rachael should never be expected to take on such pain.
“Lay with me, Kitty,” Estelle forced a smile. Her face was sallow with illness. Out the window, Estelle saw that it was a sunny day, yet a few clouds floated in the blue sky.
“Mommy’s been pretty sick lately, huh?” Estelle said with a soft voice. Rachael gazed down in avoidance, nodding with her mother’s words. “Do you see those pretty clouds in the sky?” her mother asked.
“Yes,” Rachael cried. The girl’s tearful eyes looked outside.
“Pretty soon I’m gonna be sitting on a fluffy cloud just like that one” Estelle said. Rachael puzzled with her words. “And the nice thing is, I won’t be sick anymore” “The bad thing is …you won’t be able to see me, at least not like you can now” Rachael was aware that her mother was going to die, she was smarter than your average kid.
However, Rachael would have preferred being that oblivious, self-absorbed ten-year-old that was more wrapped up in playing outside, then being fully aware of her mother’s last breath. Most kids have a built-in coping mechanism for dealing with trauma, Rachael didn’t.
“It’s not fair, Momma” Rachael cried. “I need you, and Daddy needs you”
“I’m so sorry, baby” Estelle cried, holding her hand. “Listen to me now” “When I go I’m not gonna be far away” “I’ll be sitting on that cloud …right above you” “I’ll always be there for you and your dad”
“No, you won’t!” Rachael cried. Estelle shut her eyes tight, the guilt was too much. “That’s a lie Momma, you’ll be in the ground, gone forever, and I’ll never see you again!” Running out of the hospital room, she ran down the hall into the arms of a stranger.
“Rachael, Va bene, l’amore” the man blathered in tears (It’s okay, love). “Shhh, lì c’è” (there, there) “You can call me Olly, okay Rachael?”
“Okay” she said, yet hesitance still colored her gaze.
With his long hair tied back in a low ponytail, the Italian man named Olly was tall and thin. Rachael assumed he was a family friend. The stranger’s gentle words calmed Rachael as he sat her down, patting her cheek. Speaking some sort of English/Italian mix the man spoke fondly of her mother as though he knew her well, saying that where she was going there would be no more pain, only happiness. Her mother would forever keep watch on her, and be there to listen to her prayers at night. Her father charged out of the room looking for her. Spotting her with Olly, Richard gave him a thankful smile only a dear friend would give.
“Nessun problema, Richie, stay with Stella” Olly urged.
“She doesn’t have long, do you want to come in?” Richard asked.
“I stay with Kitty,” the man said. “Go, man, go”
Gratitude colored Richard’s wiry eyes, his good friend had always been there in times of need. Theirs was a friendship that would last a lifetime, yet this one was forbidden. Estelle’s eyes said so much as Richard returned to her side. She was so tired, so embattled, so guilty as she saw salvation in her deep sleep. Tears filled Richard’s eyes, knowing he had to let her go, his one true love, his precious Stella. Running into the room, Rachael dragged Olly along.
“No, please let me see my Momma” she cried.
“It’s okay, Oliver, just hold her,” Richard asked at the opposite side of the bed. Tears welled up in Oliver’s eyes, sharing a sad gaze with Richard. Oliver leaned over Estelle.
“Dio misericordioso, si prega di concedere il mio amico pace cara dal suo dolore. Dormire Estelle, il sonno” Olly cried, kissing Estelle’s forehead, tears fell from his eyes. (Merciful god, please grant my dear friend peace from her pain. Sleep Estelle, sleep) The Italian made the sign of the cross, kissing the gold cross on his necklace as he held Rachael’s hand once again.
“Stella, it’s okay” Richard cries. Rubbing her forehead, Richard knew she was so very tired. “I love you so much, just let go, just let go, Stella”
“I love you, Momma, I love you so much” Rachael cried on her mother’s shoulder. So confused watching her mother leave forever, Rachael had never felt such pain, it would remain the saddest moment of her life. The minutes after her mother’s death was a blur to Rachael, whatever happened to Oliver was a mystery, she never saw him again.
Kirsten Hendrickson momsfirstbook.blog
The Seventh Moon
More to come in my next blog.