So, the old blog turns 2 today.
Cake balls for everyone!
So, the old blog turns 2 today.
Cake balls for everyone!
I’m going to try something new.
Something that scares the shit out of me.
I’m going to share with you a bit of the first chapter of my WIP.
Because it’s time to take another step outside my comfort zone.
(Egads! Hope I didn’t miss any typos…)
Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Anna Malkin sat atop a dune of bleached sand on North Carolina’s outer bank, the wind whipping her fiery red hair around her head like a torrent of flames licking the night sky. She stared out across the wide expanse of the Atlantic clad only in a sleeveless gown of gauzy cotton, her feet bare. Goose bumps prickled her skin, but her senses had long since numbed to the bitter bite of the ocean air.
Dawn was breaking, the sun just beginning its slow ascent. It kissed the surface of the glistening water, casting a star burst glow along the horizon. It was a peaceful scene, serene in its simplicity. It was a sight that used to warm her heart and calm her soul. Now, as the blackness of night retreated into the light of day, the beauty and serenity were lost to Anna. All she knew, all she’d known for one hundred and two days , was the sound of the earthly hell brewing within the confines of her own mind.
Louder and louder it grew until it was all she heard, all she saw, all she felt.
One hundred and two days.
At times it seemed like a lifetime had passed, but on days like this when her fear bubbled and festered, and madness enveloped her mind, she felt as raw and desperate as the day she’d stumbled out of the desert, hanging to life by the thinnest of threads.
Anna had come to the North Carolina coast to find silence and solitude, to heal. Her body had, the swelling was gone, the bruises hardly noticeable. She walked without a limp now, and it was only a matter of time before she could grip a glass without it slipping through her fingers. Her mind proved harder to mend, the scars permanent. Images of the hell she endured at the hands of unmitigated evil were etched deep in her brain, they flashed in constant repetition before her eyes. The sound of her own screams echoed in her ears. It had begun as a soft whisper, an icy breath on the back of her neck but with each passing day, it grew. Now it encapsulated her, held her by the throat and threatened to swallow her whole.
Her family had gathered in a show of support, crowding into her mother’s sprawling Ocracoke Island beach house as if it were a joyous reunion. Her director had called with a message from the President. Even her old mentor had shown his war-weary face for a day or two. There was nothing they could do or say to ease Anna’s pain, her suffering going beyond their comprehension. They tried, she would give them that, but all they had to offer was food she refused to eat, and conversations she had no desire to engage. She felt their commiseration. It clouded their eyes and dripped from their tongues. They pitied her failing mind, her broken spirit, her shattered soul. She hated them for that.
Anna knew life as it had once been was over. She understood there was no going back, yet she couldn’t bear the thought of another day trapped inside her mental prison. There was only one way out, and she accepted her fate with open arms.
She rose to her feet and stumbled through the powdery sand propelled by an unseen force toward the rising sun. It beckoned to her, the promise of blessed release and absolution drifting in on the cold sweet wind. It held her transfixed, as alluring as the intoxicating song of a siren.
Anna waded into the frothy surf, the buzz in her head growing with every step. Violent waves broke over her as she fought through the swirling current. At the place where shallow sand dropped into the endless abyss, she paused, staring directly into the blinding light of the sun.
And she surrendered.
The water took her, engulfing her, dragging her down into the dark depths, and for the first time in one hundred and two days she experienced unfettered freedom. Peace. Anna lifted her face up, and watched the reflection of the sun dance across the surface overhead. Overwhelming reverence surged through her, and she felt closer to God than she had even been.
She blew the last of the air from her lung, and water filled her mouth, its weight crushing her chest. Within seconds her vision blurred and the infernal noise that had plagued her for weeks and weeks receded into the background and slowly faded into silence. She closed her eyes and welcomed the blackness.
It was over.
She was finally free.
Her neck jerked back then, shattering her new-found peace. Something had her by the hair, hauling her up with a speed and agility she was powerless to resist. Her head broke the surface. She gasped as water and air fought a battle within her lungs. Anna tried to twist around, tried to see who or what had taken hold of her. The grip on her hair loosened, but just enough for a strong arm to encircle her neck and drag her back to shore. It wasn’t until she lay in a heap on the sand shivering and coughing the last of the water from her lungs did she look into the clear green eyes of the man who had ruined her only chance for freedom.
A man she knew she could never forgive.
© 2013 Peggy Isaacs. All rights reserved.
At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in the Embarrassment of Riches reading challenge hosted by author Patricia Burroughs. The goal of the challenge is to make a dent in that stack of books I have been intending to read, but never got around to picking up.
Given the size of the pile I have amassed, I am aiming to get through 24 of them before the end of the year – a silver level accomplishment.
That’s not entirely true. I did read. I just didn’t finish anything on my TBR list.
As I have said before, a multitasking overachiever, I am not. Reading and writing – at the same time – during NaNo – well, that’s just beyond my capabilities. I make no apologizes or excuses. It is what it is.
So what’s on the agenda for May?
Progress toward goal: 7/24
What’s lying around on your nightstand waiting to be read?
On Saturday, I surpassed my Camp NaNoWriMo goal by 4K+ words.
That means I won.
Time for a celebration.
Tequila and Ren Faire, it is.
Don’t judge me.
So, now it’s over. The euphoria that comes with accomplishment is waning, and I am left with the aftermath of writing willy-nilly for a month straight without rereading or editing a single word – just a lot of marking and moving on. A difficult concept for me, and frankly, the thought of facing what I’ve committed to paper scares me.
I did, though – at five in the morning, over my morning coffee. My walk through was brisk. It was all I could muster after four hours of sleep and the realization that I had forgotten to pick up french vanilla coconut milk coffee creamer on my way home. Black coffee sweetened with refined sugar does not make for ideal shitty writing reading conditions.
I hear war stories from the NaNo veterans. They assure me that cringe worthy writing is the norm. After all, NaNo is not about producing a finished product, it’s about a commitment and dedication to the act of writing. I suppose in this context, what I found was on par. It is a bit overgrown in places, a little sparse in others. There are rare bursts of brilliance encapsulated within thick sticky sludge. Anna is still missing her retribution. The fragility of her state of mind is not quite right, and her brother is without a completed introduction scene – again. And the typos – sweet baby Jesus, don’t get me started on the typos.
It is a work in progress, ever evolving. I am not displeased with what I’ve done – it could be worse. I’m far from finished, but I am closer to the end. In the last few days, I have been struck by an idea for a new opening scene. It is something I’ve struggled with for a long time – where does Anna’s story begin? This new scene captures Anna’s inability to cope, her helplessness and hopelessness, her quest for absolution. In other words, Anna hitting rock bottom. I think it works. I hope it works. I’m sure my writing group will tell me if it doesn’t.
On a side note, its inspiration comes from an album that I’ve listened to countless times and never before made the correlation.
It’s all in the timing, I suppose.
So, now what?
More writing, of course.
Anna needs to get her retribution back!
“A murderer is less loathsome to us than a spy. The murderer may have acted on a sudden mad impulse; he may be penitent and amend; but a spy is always a spy, night and day, in bed, at [the] table, as he walks abroad; his vileness pervades every moment of his life.”
- Honore de Balzac
A multitasking overachiever, I am not. If I am writing, I’m not blogging. If I’m blogging, I’m not writing. And if I have an exam coming up – well then, all bets are off.
Lately, I’ve been writing – a lot. Well, a lot for me. I am a slow, methodical writer who sometimes gets caught up in mechanics. I’ve been known to spend an afternoon contemplating a word, a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph only to delete it completely for lack of relevancy. Such is my process, for better or worse.
Right now, I am participating in this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo challenge. The thing that attracted me to it was the adjustable word count. The traditional 50K word requirement is a bit more than I can reasonably handle given my “life load” and meandering writing style. So, I picked a number I felt comfortable with, and away I went.
Now, as we approach the finish line, I am feeling confident, almost accomplished. If projections are correct, and I don’t fall into some hidden sinkhole between now and Tuesday, I will reach my goal with time to spare.
Of course, as with everything in my life, I look at this endeavor as a learning experience – and I’ve certainly learned plenty over the last month.
…that somewhere in the midst of three incomplete drafts and six outline revisions, Retribution lost its…well…retribution. Let me explain. All characters need motivation. Anna’s driving force has always been the primordial need to avenge, to repay in kind the wrongs leveled upon her by men of unmitigated evil. It is that encompassing compulsion that keeps her from walking naked into the ocean and setting her shattered soul adrift.
At first, I didn’t notice the omission. I ticked off word after word, paragraph after paragraph, scene after scene without giving it a second thought. Just a happy little writing clam – not a care in the world. Then, at the 15K word mark, it hit me square in the forehead. Do you know that feeling? It was like someone gave me a good knock on the noggin and said, “Hey, stupid. Where did Anna’s retribution go?”
…that I have an appointment with outline number 7 – on May 1st.
…that utilizing the “comments” feature in MS Word helps stem my crippling need to edit as I write. I am learning to mark it and move on. I’ve also learned that if I print the scene along with the comments, my writing group will critique my notes, too. Very helpful. Unless the notes are filled with nonsensical ramblings and make me seem slightly schizophrenic. Then they are just embarrassing.
…that no one in my house is interested in me until I sit down to write. The moment my laptop opens, I become the most needed person on the planet. And the grumpiest. My family thinks writing makes me crabby. Sigh.
…that changing the name of Anna’s brother makes him so much more likable to me. This go around, I don’t seem to have the overwhelming urge to kill him off sooner rather than later. I might not even kill him at all now. Can someone explain that to me?
…that if Ben doesn’t die, then someone else must. Who shall it be? Leo, Cooper, Elliot, Kyla?
I know who, but I’m not telling.
…that wine and writing do not mix. Seriously.
“Friends don’t let friends write drunk.”
Write on fellow campers. Write on.
I’m as busy as a bee in a bluebonnet field, working to win Camp NaNoWriMo.
I can see the finish line dancing on the horizon.
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