Monday Musing – Book Excerpt

Today I thought I would share the current opening passage from the book I’ll be working on for Camp NaNoWriMo next month. For camp, I’ll be rewriting an older book I wrote years ago, currently titled Faithfully. The title is definitely a work in progress.

My synopsis: Katherine Rawlings has always tried to be who her mother wants her to be, down to living the dream her mother chose for her. When Shane, resident bad boy, takes an interest in her and dubs her Kat, she wants to know who Kat is and if it’s not too late to become her. As she searches for herself, she’s also curious about the missing piece in her life, her absent father.

It all started with a yearbook. Well, officially it started about eighteen years ago, when my dad walked out on my mom. She doesn’t like to talk about it. In fact, in seventeen years, that’s as much as I’ve gotten out of her. “When I told your father I was pregnant with you, he walked out on me and I haven’t heard from him since.”
On my sixteenth birthday, she gave me a small round locket that when opened, E.R. was engraved on one side and R.J. on the other. “That was the only thing he ever gave me, as his daughter I suppose it should be yours.” E.R. was obvious. Elizabeth Rawlings, my mother, lawyer extraordinaire. She was tall, thin, with light blonde hair and hazel eyes. Her eyes are the only thing I inherited.
I look like my father, I can tell. The mysterious R.J. I’m almost as tall as my mother, but with more curves where she’s willowy. I have dark, curly auburn hair that I know didn’t come from her side. I see the bitterness in her eyes whenever she looks straight at me.
It’s not that I was unhappy, just the two of us. Mom is good at what she does and made sure I wanted for nothing when it came to material things. She also had super expectations for the behavior of her only daughter. She expected me to go to law school like she did. She expected me to get an A in every single class, on every test, assignment and paper. If I didn’t, she took my car away. Considering that’s what started everything, well, that comes along a little later.

This rewritten version is going to have a lot more character conflict, and I’m going to let bad things happen to my characters and let them make bad decisions. It’s something I’ve been trying to work on.

Monday Musing – The Book That Changed My Life

Can you point to one book, one moment, one particular anything that set your life on a completely different path? I can.

I was always a shy kid. And by shy, I mean the ‘won’t even talk to family or friends if there’s a chance of anyone not in my trusted group overhearing’ type. The ‘I can stare into my lap for two hours just to avoid eye contact with anyone’ type. Any time I had to talk in class was torture and I avoided it whenever I could, even to the point of just not talking until someone else took over or I was dismissed.

Between 4th and 5th grade, my family moved to a completely different state and I went to a new school for the first time in my entire life. My old school was great, all of the teachers knew me and understood my shyness. 5th grade wasn’t particularly terrible for that reason, luckily. I didn’t make it into the private school my parents wanted me in that year, so I went to a different one temporarily for 5th grade.

The private school had an opening for 6th grade, and that was a year of pure hell. The teachers and principal hated me, they didn’t understand that shyness was a thing. In their eyes, I just chose not to speak as an attitude problem, or maybe I just had problems that needed to be fixed.

They insisted I see a psychologist, which was okay I guess. But it didn’t help as much as that little bookshelf in my classroom. One day I picked up Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, and my life hasn’t been the same since.

I devoured the first book and all of the books in the series, and something changed. I was still shy, that wouldn’t change overnight. Somehow, reading those books completely opened new doors to me. I was 11 years old and here was another 11-year-old who was the opposite of me, living in this weird other world of Victorian Prince Edward Island, Canada.

By the end of the year, I went from not being able to give reports in class to standing up there, pretending I was Anne, and being able to read it from a paper, out loud, in front of other people. It would still take me years until I could just talk to strangers, working retail helped with that, but Anne changed my life.

L.M. Montgomery is the reason I’m a writer. I had always written little stories but somehow her influence made stories just come into my head. I want to write something so influential for someone else. But even if I don’t, the stories are just for me as well.

Most of my hobby interests come from Anne as well. I fell in love with the simpler time period and how self-sufficient everyone was back then. They sewed, they knitted, they made stuff from scratch, they grew their own food. I have always wanted to have red hair too, despite how much Anne hated hers. I finally did it at 21 or so and am so glad I did.

I would not be the same person if it wasn’t for that book and that’s why L.M. Montgomery will always be my favorite author.

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My well-read Anne and Emily books, plus my favorite book, The Blue Castle. I have more Montgomery books on the shelf below.

Monday Blues… But Isn’t Blue A Pretty Color?

Like most people, I hate Mondays. But at the same time, they signify something. The first day of a new week, the first day you go back to work or school, the first day of the rest of your life. Everyone knows that person who has dieted, gotten off track and said, “I’ll start again on Monday.” Maybe you have been that person.

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to form new, better habits. I’d spend a week or more doing something I should be doing until it becomes a habit, like writing every day, emptying the dishwasher in the morning, or even taking a shower before getting on the computer in the morning. Then once that became a habit, I’d start a new one.

Like most resolutions, I failed. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. We’re constantly changing, constantly bettering ourselves. I haven’t written much on my stories this year, but two days ago I opened one I haven’t looked at in a while and so far I’ve added 891 words to it. It’s not 500 words a day or anything, but if I write today, that will be three days in a row.

Life is full of Mondays. Every Monday is a fresh start. Every day is a fresh start. You decide what’s a fresh start. For many people, being productive and achieving your goals is hard. Maybe it’s depression, or lifelong bad habits, or just life getting in the way. Just take it a step at a time, any progress is better than no progress.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember your goals or why you wanted them. Growing up, I wanted to be a million different things. I wanted to be an artist (what kid didn’t want to be an artist?), a librarian, I wanted to work with animals and eventually narrowed it down to horse trainer. Writer was never even in my thoughts, even when I started my first novel at thirteen.

When I was finally looking at colleges, I had written tens of thousands of words on several novels and novel-length stories. One day it just clicked. But somehow that’s when I lost it. I was living through my writing and then I got a life in college. I had my first relationship at nineteen and realized love wasn’t anything like how I was writing it.

I’ve been writing since, but it’s never felt like the magic of writing in a notebook in my room, page after page, my thoughts going faster than my pen. My first novel was 400 handwritten pages over half a dozen notebooks and so ridiculously terrible and plot-less.

I don’t know if getting into the habit of writing every day will get that back, but I guess it’s worth a try.