Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hearts Restless Winds in editing phase

My third installment of the Cross Passage book series, Hearts Restless Winds, has remained glued on my hard drive for awhile. I've edited and edited, trying to cut out unneccessary words. I tend to be a dialogue type of writer and in some ways, it doesn't detract from the speedy reading of the chapters. However sometimes it can leave the story feeling a bit cold and unconnecting to the reader, so I'm attempting to fix this. Also with this being the 3rd book of a series, how much back history should be told at the beginning to not weigh it down and not be enough for new readers?
So I thought I would go ahead and post the first chapter, to see if it heightens interest; and to hear if readers aren't bogged down by too many details. I desire feedback. My goal is to get this ready for publication by November, 2009.

I did get one email about it being too lengthy; about not sharing all of the work online. I'm not worried about people lifting the story. The first book is copywrited with the characters and a copy is housed in the Library of Congress. If ever I had to seek legal action, the same characters in book one are in book three. And I know the history of it and it's future, where I'm taking these characters and beyond. The material is housed on about three or four floppy drives, so its proof how long back the manuscripts go. They are already written. they just need revisions.
But feedback is a a valuable thing. It helps you be aware of things lacking; grammar; whether the story gels; does it get readers involved; etc, etc. There's much I'm learning here and plenty more to come. So yes, if you came across this blog before, it's been edited and the very long copy of the chapter is gone. In it's place will be a concise shorter version. I think it will suffice to give everyone a taste of its beginning.
Again, I thank everyone for helping me along. Comments are always welcomed here.

Chapter One- New expectancies

At Tranquility City Medical Center, renowned for its multispecialty group practice, Dr. Carina Davenport sat with the medical chart propped upon her lap; expressive brown eyes conveyed warmth, but looked stern. She pressed several buttons upon the ultrasound digital scanner, noting the expectant mother readjust a thin gown and single sheet before sighing, “Please, Dr. Davenport. Jimmy promised not to miss this. Couldn’t we wait five more minutes?”
As if on cue, muffled voices came from the outside corridor. Urgent footsteps made way towards the examining room door. A nurse ushered Jimmy McFadden in.
"Sorry for being late. I got caught up in traffic,” Jimmy explained as he scrambled to get to Tara's side. He took her hand and looked at them both, “Have I missed anything?"
"Not yet, darling,” Tara smiled, relieved to see him, “Dr. Davenport had just set up.”
Jimmy nodded at Tara's obstetrician and shook her hand.
"Great. I wanted to see this."
"Of course you did,” Dr. Davenport released his hand and then reset the screen, “Now, let's get this show underway.”
The doctor set the record button and uncovered a portion of Tara's belly. Producing a warm lubricant, she squeezed it on the skin surface and then took a probe onto the abdomen. With one ebony hand, she turned a switch to dim the lights overhead. The probe moved in short, circular moments, showing 3-D shadows on the screen. Dr. Davenport stopped on a pulsating object.
“There’s the baby's heart,” she told them.
"Wow!" Jimmy stared with wide eyes. Tara strained to see it and Dr. Davenport readjusted the screen towards her direction.
“Is this better?”
"Yes. Much,” Tara replied, squinting at the enlarged features.
Was this normal at the end of her first trimester? She realized how her pants felt too tight. She also recalled how her second and third pregnancies had been classified normal. The first had produced her miracle septuplets which made her family famous in England. It seemed like a lifetime ago: the children; Danny’s death; finding Jimmy again; and now a second pregnancy with her first love. While memories spun in Tara’s head, Dr. Davenport moved the probe to show them the rest of the anatomy.
"As you can see, here is an arm ... the head…and aha!” Dr. Davenport pointed out a particular shape. Jimmy reacted.
“Is that what I think it is?” he cried out.
"Yes. This is a boy,” she replied.
"One more for our troop,” Tara muttered, as their family already contained several, “I had hoped for another girl.”
“Ah, Jamie will remain our only one,” Jimmy reached for her hand to kiss it. Dr. Davenport moved the probe to another region. Jimmy focused on the screen again, noting the peculiar look on Dr. Davenport’s face.
"Something wrong?” Jimmy asked.
"There’s another baby. You’re expecting twins,” she announced and pressed the probe down harder, “It appears one of each sex.”
“Holy Moses!” Jimmy gasped, amazed.
"Are you sure it’s just two? Dr. Davenport, I must be sure!” Tara clutched the sheet into a knot.
"Yes. Only two.” Dr. Davenport patted the patient’s hand to calm her down. Tara reached up to grab Jimmy’s collar.
"Ok. That's it, Jimmy McFadden! You seemed blessed in producing multiple babies! The first experience was quite tough. Either I'm getting my tubes tied or you’re getting a vasectomy!”
Jimmy nodded, but grinned like a lunatic. Twins! Truly God had blessed them abundantly.

An hour later, they arrived home to their two story mansion in Chestnut Heights. Home to their exuberant teens: the fraternal septuplets, along with two other siblings, Tom and Aaron. The parents gathered the septuplets first for an urgent family meeting. The news hit like a grenade and they all had to make a comment about it.
Twins!” Matthew replied first in a high tenor voice. He ran a hand through thick brown hair, “Blimy! What news!”
"I can't believe it. Are you sure?” Tristan reacted next, wiping off his gold frame glasses. His dark eyes blinked as he tried to focus.
"Yes, son. Two babies. As clear as mud.”
"So are you excited?” Jamie tossed long brown hair over slim shoulders and plopped down next to her mother. Her long lanky legs tucked in behind her. She grasped her mother’s hand. Eric, her complete look-a-like, joined them too.
Tara studied them over. She patted the small protuberance beneath her shirt.
"It’s extraordinary news,” Tara replied, “I never thought I would ever have another child after Aaron was born. It’s been over fifteen years since I even took care of baby. At least this time around, your father is here to help.”
Broad shouldered Tyler patted his father on the back.
"Way to go Dad!” he said and Jimmy chuckled.
Vincent had sat on the recliner and relinquished it to Jimmy. He stared into his father’s eyes while toying with the long earring in his ear, “Now, we know fertility drugs made mom have us, but what about this? It must be a natural occurrence.”
“Well, when my father was alive, he had told me and my brothers about our family history,” Jimmy responded, “Supposedly there were twins down the line a ways.”
"So, it’s our turn? Jesus!” Tara yelped but smiled.
“Well, I think it’s a miracle,” Edward offered, cool and composed. He sauntered into the room munching down upon a submarine sandwich, “They came by chance and gave us hope at a pivotal moment of your relationship. I think they are a gift from God and I will not argue with the Almighty about circumstances, and neither should any one of you.”
Everyone stared at Edward as he turned towards the billiard room, never realizing he choked down the substance in his mouth in a huge gulp.
“Wow! What enlightenment! So on target!” Jamie acknowledged and jumped up to join him. They could hear her exclaim, “How did you come up with such a marvelous notion?”
The others followed along too, except for Eric.
"Something on your mind son?” Jimmy asked, almost visualizing the wheels spinning in his head. Eric’s emotions brightened up his eighteen-year-old boyish face, so much like his mother.
"This does seem miraculous. If Mum hadn’t been expecting, who knows where you two might be today, as you were both stubborn about making up. Yes, these babies reunited you for a common purpose: us! They came by chance and gave us hope. Yes, Edward is quite right.”
With this, Eric jumped up, gave his mom a firm kiss upon her cheek, and dashed off to join his siblings.
Tara looked at Jimmy then.
"Well, seven down and two more to tell,” she declared, knowing Tom and Aaron would be home soon. They might react the same way, bewildered, but accepting, "When Ross brings them from their uncle’s house, we can tell them then.”
"And that's not even half who must know. Wouldn't it be easier to plaster a sign in front of the house?" Jimmy exhaled.
"Aren't you happy, honey?" Tara asked, seeing the exasperation on Jimmy’s handsome face appear.
"Of course I am. It’s just sharing important news becomes a drawn out process. I tire of repeating myself, to our family and friends. There are so many,” Jimmy explained, thinking of everyone involved with his life: the office staff, his cousin, his best friend. Tara still had the Cross Family in the midst of hers who stayed involved because of Aaron Cross and the rest of the teens.
Seeing eyebrows rise, Tara found her niche upon his lap, a favorite spot. She stared deep into his brown eyes and tousled his hair in disarray, being playful.
"Look. Why not let the kids become our messengers? Things will spread like wildfire,” she suggested.
"O.K. Why not,” Jimmy wrapped arms around her tight. Feelings of happiness overflowed, especially ever since this catalyst reunited them into the same household, without the benefit of marriage yet. They had put the cart before the horse…again.
“Say, I have a thought,” he announced.
"If choosing names isn’t too soon, Edward’s suggestion is a wonderful idea."
Tara crinkled her nose as she recalled Edward’s words.
"I agree darling,” she replied, happy they were almost telepathic, “Chance and Hope McFadden. It just says volumes, doesn't it?"

© by Christine Hill, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reflection: The fall season of my life

With these dog days of summer, I'm looking forward to fall coming, whenever that may hit. I'm so weary of these constant over-100-degree temperatures that we've encountered this year. I think we've broken some record. Usually in my neck of the woods, here in Central Texas, a cold front might pass through sometime around or after Halloween. The way this month of August is zipping, it won't be long till we see Halloween decorations around the block. I would say in stores, but I was at the Dollar General the other day and they have already begun putting out Halloween stuff on the shelves. My eyeballs wanted to spring out, much like a buffoon cartoon character might while ogling some cute female. I went, "Wow!" but then I realized that the roll of holidays has begun. You know what I mean: Labor Day (Sept), Halloween (Oct), Thanksgiving (Nov.) and then the big one, Christmas (Dec.) And the older I get, the more faster these months tumble, like dice.

I am never ready for any of them. And I always seem to wind up broke before them or afterwards: buying decorations, candy, food, etc. Perhaps this year might be easier on my household. My youngest will be turning 18 in October and she's a senior this year. Kayla also is working part time and she can easily buy her own items instead of asking mama for some cash. Perhaps this year, I can stay home and pass out candy for Halloween. It might be a bit slow because the regular kids on the block are disappearing and older citizens are moving into those particular vacant homes.
It seems a bit sad somewhat, but then I realized I have lived through my own Halloweens as a child and then lived them through my children. Now my grand babies will stop by to show off their costumes. I will take pictures and hand them a bag full of candy each, but then they take off again and I'm left with the silence. Perhaps I've have entered the "fall season" of my life too. So odd to even think about it.

This past Friday night, my hubby and I decided to escape everything: ringing phones, any kids or their friends calling or stopping by, and just spend time by ourselves. We booked a hotel room at a local stop, which wasn't the Hilton nor a rattrap. Something in between and pleasant. We met up after work. I got to go there first as I'm usually off by 3:00 p.m. I got my hotel slide card, went to the room, and changed into a bathing suit. The pool was out back and I had the entire thing to myself. It was awesome and a bit lonely too. No splashing kids, yelling, jumping or flinging water at each other. No adults telling them to get out of the deep end. Perfectly isolated. The sky was blue, the water clear and cool. The sun was bright over ahead and I jumped into clear, sparkling water that felt great. I floated. I swam some laps back and forth. I sat in the sun for a bit and then dove back in. I think I was out there for about 90 minutes. Then I went back to my hotel room, as nature called.

My hubby arrived to the room. He drank a couple of beers and I drank a Smirnoff and we watched the evening news. We ordered pizza and then about 7:00 o'clock, we went back to the pool to swim together. Again, we were alone. I guess it could have been really romantic, but we weren't young folks trying to impress each other to get to bed. We were actually enjoying the buoyancy of the water and how it de-stressed our bodies. We appreciated the evening setting down upon us, with the radiant colors off a distant sunset. We talked about ourselves for a change and future plans to make more escapes. We went back to the hotel room to relax some more and fell asleep in each other's arms. Ok, maybe that part was a bit romantic, but I'll keep those details to myself. :)

Then the next morning, I made one last dip at the poolside. Again, perfectly isolated and refreshing! We left the hotel room and went out for breakfast and returned home. The surprise of the day was that my daughter had made plans to spend the night elsewhere and was nowhere in sight. The phone didn't ring but twice and we were left alone in the house, doing our own things, but together. We grilled chicken for supper and ate by candlelight. Just the two of us.

So as I reflect this Sunday morning, I'm thinking two things. How we must all progress past that ritual of raising kids, the hoopla that they bring into the household and prepare ourselves for the next stage of life, an empty nest. One day, my youngest will be out of the house for good and silence will again come. What a transition for me, as I've been with kids the better part of about thirty years. But if I can have again real intimacy with my husband and we can gladly share time together, doing the things we enjoy, isn't this something I've earned? I am beginning to think so and I don't think this is being selfish. Personally, I can't wait to escape again somewhere, which I know will happen at the end of September as we are planning a week vacation by ourselves.

I think this fall season I'm entering, this cycle of life, will be refreshing. A time to reflect and savor, the good and the bad of my past. It's like feeling the cool breeze hit our face, lift our hair and perk our internal senses. We look to the future knowing our time is limited, but we appreciate what we do have now. And I do appreciate it. It's just that it might take me a time or two to get past feeling odd about it. It will happen soon enough. Like with everything, this too will pass, albiet a bit too quickly.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

People and Websites needing your support

Every so often, I come across fowards or information that touches my heart. They are so deserving of a response. I hope you will consider these:

From a friend on Cafemom:

"I am trying to help a Mommy with stage III cancer. Please read!"

And then click here to Vote. Thanks.

From Author Yolanda Renee (Murder, Madness, and Love) who hosts BookTalk on the BlogTalkRadio Network, mentioned these charities needing your support.

Books for Soldiers

The Process:
1. Join the Forum – Meet the troops; get a user ID – which is needed to use the message boards. To become a guest all you have to do is register – create a username, give an e-mail address for contact, and a password; then complete the form. Look for an activation email that the system will send you. You will need to reply to it to complete the registration.

2. Become an Official Volunteer – To provide more security for the troops they require volunteers to fill out a notarized application and mail it in. It’s a simple process but does require notarization. Remember folks nothing is more important than the security of our troops.

3. Get to Shipping – Once your application is approved, you will be able to send troops books, DVDs, games and relief supplies. You will also have access to the Pen Pal area and Post Card Jamboree. On average volunteers, fill over 1000 requests a month. Get started today and get your company, civic group, or place of worship involved with supporting the troops!

Click here

The second is: BOOKS FOR BOOTSB4B:

BOOKS FOR BOOTS partners with authors and publishers. Authors donate their royalties and authors donate books. The money goes to the VA hospitals where it is used for special needs and emergencies. This can, in some cases, include helping families with travel costs to make that bedside visit.
The books go to the vets in the hospitals.
This program, launched in June 2007, is part of a nonprofit 501 (C)(3) corporation founded in 1984 and the founder is Rick Gelinas, author of THE VENGEANCE TRAP. Click here

The third option is: SHADOW FOREST AUTHORS:

The mission at Shadow Forest Authors – SFA – is to encourage every author worldwide and from every genre to donate just one copy of their title to fill a void in reading material and get both paperback books and e-books where they are urgently needed. Author and supporters standing together to make a difference, our humble shadows speaking volumes.

What do SFA Authors and Supporters contribute?
SFA authors donate a copy of their title to SFA beneficiary, who places books in much needed hands. Authors do not have to list with SFA to donate books. SFA would appreciate you adding a note to a beneficiary, acknowledging that you support SFA.
Everyone can help not only authors but also readers – check out the site and find out how! They also have a newsletter but more importantly, they have a list of beneficiaries all over the world:
The Australian Literacy and Numeracy foundation – Australia
Got Books – USA
Book Aid International – UK
Adult Reading Assistance Scheme – New Zealand
World Public Library – USA
Read Between the Bars – USA
The Women’s Prison Book Project – USA
Mission Australia – Australia
And many more!
Click here


Friday, August 7, 2009

Goodbye Mr. John Hughes and thank you

Yesterday,sometime in the late afternoon, I read that John Hughes had died. John Hughes- a name so familiar to me, a guy who made movies that were so on target about young people. Boy, did I have MIXED feelings on this. Yes, the guy stayed seclude, so I wasn't even sure what he looked like. He wasn't a guy out there in the media, say like Steven Spielburg. I know that guy's face.

No, John Hughes's private life was private. However, the movies that came out in the 1980's were awesome! Every time television shows reruns of Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Uncle Buck, Ferris Buehler's Day Off, or even Home Alone I have to stop what I'm doing to watch them. And although I can't recall every single line from them (although snippets like "Buehler....Buehler...Buehler" rings in my ear...)... out of The Breakfast club came a terrific 80's anthem song. Come on. I know you have it in your head, so sing it, "Don't you forget about me!".... by Simple Minds.

What a DAMN GOOD song! Awesome! Every time I hear it, I think of The Breakfast Club and what it meant to me at the time.

And Molly Ringwald, James Spader, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCartney, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, and that skinny dude that wound up being an absolute hunk when he grew up.. Anthony Michael Hall. ..were all incredible young actors from our day. And they are still incredible actors!

So his talent shined so bright for awhile and will always remain with us. Unforgettable. So rest in peace, John Hughes and thank you for writing so damn well.. your scripts were dead on about the incredible peer pressure / teen angst of the 1980's and there will certainly be no other writer/director like you again.

Tune in by clicking here:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I felt insulted at the Senior Student Orientation

Today I had to take my daughter for her school orientation. You know.. where they buy t-shirts, pay for lunches ahead or get the forms for the free/reduced lunches, pick up their schedules, get information as needed for the upcoming year. Sounds like something geared up for an upper elementary student or for a new high school freshman. Nope. It was for my high school SENIOR.

I was coerced to sit down and listen to a speech about not bringing electronics to school (cell phones, ipods), the current dress code, the recent school scores in the state, how the normal booklet of school policy would now be on line instead of handing them out, (saves paper you know... and they should have thought of this about five years ago actually) ... Oh! and what to expect for the school year and how to prod your darling child to make that next big step: COLLEGE!

The counselor dribbled on about this for about twenty minutes. Nothing new that I didn't know. I liked how she threw in personal stuff, as if it was to gloat about herself: Oh, my daughter had considered TX A&M, but she was a MUSIC minor.. and they don't offer it there.. giggle, giggle.. and without prompting from me.. she did pick out a very good school!" Well, mama.. you make good money as a counselor. I would expect her to go to some IVY league school. Then she goes into this spiel about financial aid.. and if there were average students (like my child) that they should, at the very least, apply for help because there is such a thing as the college work program, where they'd be making money to go to college. No duh!

I found her speech a bit insulting. All scholarships it sounded was just for those elite upper students, whose parents already make gobs of money and can already AFFORD to send their kid to college without a scholarship.. but yet my bright kid, who didn't choose her family or the fact that her mom gets by paycheck to paycheck, only might qualify for a work program. Why? Because if she does end up applying for such a thing as a PELL GRANT.. they will say that mama makes TOO much money. How do I know? Because my son just applied for such help and that's what the financial people told him. He would have to get a LOAN to go to school. The type you pay back when you get out. Or however that works.

I'm sorry. I think there is something fundamentally screwed up with this system somehow. Ok, yes, bright students work hard for the opportunity to go to college, but her insinuation was that scholarships are usually awarded to those special good looking, already rich, pat-ya-on-the back students born with spoons in their mouths. Maybe not. Maybe I got this whole thing wrong. I just know I was fuming when I left the room. I was already steamed up having to be there in the first place. I had to leave work and go with my daughter just to listen to this high paid school counselor because it was mandatory! Ok fine. I had listened just to be insulted. Not a good feeling and my finances are one that can't be helped. It was just the way my life evolved.

"That's ok baby," I say as I pat my daughter on the back and urge her along to get the textbooks, and the schedule change form, " we will get you there one way or another. "

Damn right!