Saturday, August 13, 2016

Excerpt From My Work-In-Progress

I thought it might be fun for you to get an early glimpse at my work-in-progress. It's about a young woman named EJ. I don't want to reveal too much about the plot, but I can tell you the book starts in the middle with our heroine as a teenager, goes back to the beginning, when EJ is just 5 years old and living on a shoestring with her loving single mother Charlene,  and works its way to and past the starting point, ending with EJ as an woman.

This scene is the very opening of the book. EJ is preparing to go to a funeral:

woman, girl, lady, people, side, view, profile, silhouette, shadow, nature, tree, leaves, still, bokehShe stood in front of her dresser, staring into the top drawer. She had looked in all the others and her black tights were just nowhere to be found. She started to yell for Mama, like she’d done she didn’t know how many times in the past two weeks. At least this time she stopped herself. And at least this time she didn’t cry. She wondered if she had any tears left in her.
It was almost time to leave for the service, so she was about to give up and just go barelegged. Her dress was almost long enough to cover her legs anyway. But something prompted her to look one last time through the dresser. There they were, right on top of the jumbled mess of socks and hosiery in the second-to-bottom drawer.
She looked up toward the ceiling, surprising herself by laughing. “You’d have made fun of me for that one.”
No one replied because she was alone. It occurred to her for the first time, really, that she truly was alone. There were neighbors they’d known since she could remember. And the customers at The Hive. But with Mama gone—she still hadn’t been able to bring herself to use the D word—she was now completely without family. At least family close enough to mean anything. The bitter anger and self-loathing was slowly being replaced by a dull hollow ache deep inside. Where my soul used to be, she thought.
cemetery, graves, tombstones, death, black and whiteShe slid into her tights, put on her black ballet flats—they were kind of tight and didn’t really look good with the dress, but they were the last pair of shoes Mama had ever bought her—got up, straightened herself in the mirror, and started to go. But something made her look again. Her eyes. She had Mama’s eyes. Everyone had told her that, but she’d seen it. Until just that moment. It was like Mama was staring at her through those eyes. Before she lost it, she hurried out of her room and down the steps to the living room, where Aunt Bill, her ride to the funeral, was waiting.

As time goes on, I'll share other scenes from time to time. I'll also be discussing the experience of telling EJ's story. It's relatively early on in the process, but I'm really starting to like this smart, plucky young woman. I'm also finding it fascinating to depart, albeit temporarily from my normal voice, that of my alter ego, Harry Shalan, and genre. This book does have some elements of mystery, but it's by no means a detective story.