Year 4: John looked into the shadows like he felt he were becoming one of them. Any noise he made was drowned out in the consistent channel changing of his father. He sat at his father’s feet, waiting to be useful. If that meant he could throw away a bit of trash or fetch something from the kitchen then that is what he did. There was a bit of chalk in his hands that he found in the front yard after the neighbor kid discarded it. He imagined brightly colored drawings even though he only held a white stump.
“What are you doing?” his tired mother said upon entering the house. She plopped a brown paper bag on the crumb-infested counter. She took a small carton of milk, bread, and cheese from it and let them sit. The bag was opened wide and in it she threw the miscellaneous clutter into it. “Did you even look at the paper?” The newspaper was as she had left it in the morning–beside Dan and rolled up with a rubber band. He hadn’t glanced at it once. If it wasn’t on the television, it didn’t gain his attention.
His dad’s gaze slid over her once, up and then down again. “Where you been all day?”
She let out a tired sigh. “Work. Has John eaten?”
“John?” he said as if the name somehow confused him. “Uh…”
“Never mind.” She scooped John into her arms and gave him a soft smile. She smelled of fresh laundry. “Are you hungry, my little angel?”
Year 3: The air was heavy with the scent of jasmine and fried foods. There were brightly colored blocks in front of John, but he wasn’t playing with them. It was too quiet in the house. The man that was his father returned earlier in the week. He was a lump of a person with empty eyes and stained clothes. John didn’t like it when he touched his cheek with his callused hands and had flinched away from him the first time. That was the last time the man looked at him. There were things on the table where before there was nothing. Dishes that cluttered the sink. Trash that littered the floor. The only spark that remained in the man was found in the brilliance of his green eyes, a feature John had acquired before his first birthday. John was good at staying out of his way, watching from a safe distance. When his father cut himself on a rusty tool, it was three-year-old John that had brought the bandages. He held the towel with a pudgy, but determined hand as his father smiled at him.
Year 2: John is a toddler. He sucks his thumb, which his mother finds endearing as opposed to cumbersome. They live quietly, though the country is in unrest about the ongoing war overseas. His mother has decided to find a job, and John spends time with his grandparents now too. There hasn’t been any word from his father for several months and his mother is often quiet when the subject of him comes up.
What is October without a little writing challenge to spice it up a bit? This month I am participating in the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge hosted by Jane Ann McLachlan. So, every day during the month of October for 25 days–that’s 25 posts, writing about years 1-25 of life. It can be my life, my MC’s life (backstory is always good to see where a character is headed and the reasons for it), or maybe even one of my kids. My kids are still little and I wouldn’t get very far with them…
Here is my YEAR 1 from the perspective of John Warren (one of my MCs)
John Warren was born on April 25, 1973 to Carole and Dan Warren. Carole was a stay at home mom and Dan was a soldier in the Vietnam War. Dan wasn’t around that first year of John’s life, but John was spoiled as an only child. He walked early and was moving around well before his first birthday. His mom often gave him treats like ice cream, pie, or cookies, and he developed a fondness for sweets.
Inspiration comes from the strangest places. A dream, a song, poetry…
My last bit of inspiration came from the song, “She talks to Angels,” by the Black Crowes. Since editing that manuscript to death, I haven’t thought much beyond what music I listen to while working at that project.
But today, inspiration struck and ideas are churning for the next one. Maybe NaNoWriMo will be just the thing to get me going on something new. And I haven’t given up on the “90 Day Novel” just yet either. Between GUTGAA and another RWA contest, my energies have been spent. But all of that is almost over…
What inspires you?
I waited a week to post this because, well to be honest: my feelings were just a little bruised. Anyway, I didn’t make it past Round 1. There were so many amazing entries, each of them unique and with such a well-crafted voice that I fell in love with many of them. I don’t know how the judges narrowed it down and most of them say that it was incredibly subjective, which as a reader, I know is true often enough. Still, it stung. I wanted my book to be read. I wanted some praise. I wanted some verification that I CAN DO THIS.
It was a learning experience and I got some feedback that I will take and hopefully make improvements. This blogging/writing community is much grander than I thought and I am a newbie. Anyway, I’d like to publicly thank Deana Barnhart and all of the other bloggers that helped her. They truly stepped up the game! Good job everyone!
I’m combining the two posts– (as heroine)
1. One thing you still need to know about me is…If I saw my sister right now, I would offer her my life.
2. I am beginning to question why I…am fighting so hard when everything I do seems to do more harm than good.
3. My parents think that I am…better than I have been. In reality, I’ve gotten better at hiding things from them.
4. The thing that people most admire in me is…they think I am strong. If only they knew that the opposite were true.
5. The characteristic I am least proud of in myself is…how easy it has gotten to lie to those I care about.
6. I pretend to have forgotten about the time that…my sister actively tried to kill me.
1. The answer to my problem I’ve been avoiding is…I have to get my sister out of my head.
2. If I could do one thing differently from my past, it would be…to listen to my sister without making fun of her.
3. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I…disappeared from myself.
4. I tend to present the illusion that I…am normal.
5. The most defiant moment of my life was when I…threw everything away to save someone else.
6. The thing that I try to keep hidden from people is…my dual personalities.
Gearing up to Get an Agent (GUTGAA) is being hosted by Deana Barnhart and will take place during the month of September. It includes an agent pitch contest and every Friday there will be random drawings for prizes. The 8-10 judges will accept MG, YA, and ADULT entries.
Get your manuscripts polished!
Go to Deana Barnhart’s website for more information.
For now, the activities are mostly stream of consciousness exercises. Some of those, like today, will happen here. Some will happen in a spiral bound notebook. The computer will force me to be a bit more linear and sometimes I will want/need to break away from that.
1. “My story is about…” a girl who meets a boy, a girl who doesn’t relate to her family, a girl who can’t seem to run away from her past, a girl with a sister, a location that is often overlooked, a place that has its own character, a boy that thinks life is black and white until he meets the girl, a boy who will question his existence, a paranormal element (because I can’t resist paranormal. Normal is too normal for me).
2. “What I want to express through my story is…” learning to let go of fear, the struggle in relationships, internal struggles, growing up, emotional distress
As my hero–
3. “If I were to describe myself, I would say that I am…” difficult to be around, weird, athletic, weak, tormented, struggling, tired.
4. “The most incredible thing I ever did was…” learning to shield myself against the strains of being an empath.
5. “The turning point in my life was when…” my sister killed herself after I told my mom that she was crazy. I’ll never get over what I did to her.
6. “Everything will make sense when…” I can control what is in my head. Until then, I have to deal with whatever everyone is feeling too.
I know I say this about a lot of books. But this book was amazing. I loved Graceling and Fire, and didn’t really think she could do it again, but she did.
Bitterblue picks up eight years after Graceling, and hence the title, Bitterblue is queen of Bitterblue city. On the surface, everything looks perfect, but Bitterblue soon sees that the influence left by her psychopath father, Leck, is still strong in the city. In disguise, she goes into the city to hear the old stories of the time of her father in hopes that she will learn some valuable information. The story twists and turns as she learns more and more about the people that lived under her father and his reign. There is also the inclusion of Po, Katsa, and even a few characters from Fire. Read it and let me know your thoughts!