Friday, September 30, 2011

Hooked on Hooks

Believe it or not, I am still alive. I got really busy there for a while, and then by the time I had time to post again, I was so far behind in Bloggy Land that it was overwhelming to even think about getting back into it. So instead, lately I've been using my free time to get through my huge and hopefully final (and pretty treacherous) revisions, for both my books.

I'm finally done with one (hallelujah!), and now I'm into my second. And it's been really grueling actually (rewriting them in third person, among many other things). But it's been worth it. I'm so glad I've stuck with it, because it's made my Work In Progress(s) so much stronger.

So speaking of WIPs, I'm participating in Kimberly Zook's prompt, Hooked on Hooks, where we are to post the hook of our WIP (the first 3-4 sentences of the work itself) in order to get feedback. So here's the hook of my most recent WIP (The Exception). Please comment and leave your thoughts/criticism!

My Hook:
Samuel Tercy froze at the shrill scream, the aged walls of the house doing nothing to mute it.  It didn’t matter how many times he’d heard it; nothing could ever prepare him for the way it ripped him apart inside.  From his place in the oak tree’s underbrush, his muscles tensed and the never-ending battle waged inside him: run inside and save the girl, or listen from the shadows undetected?  Technically, he didn’t exist, so up until now, listening from the shadows had always triumphed over being her hero. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

All Dialogue

*Post inspired by the Lightning-bug's Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "Talk It Out."
"For this week's prompt, we'd like you to tell us a story using only dialogue. That's right. There can be no 'he said/she said,' no modifiers at all in fact. Just conversation, plain and simple, between quotes. Not that you necessarily have to use quotation marks... Tell a tale through conversation and dialogue between your "characters." This can be fiction or non-fiction...and can even be poetry. Take it anywhere you like, just talk it out and come back here next Sunday to share."

This prompt was very difficult. But, I love the way the Lightning-bug always throws us a good writing challenge! It made me realize just how important dialogue is in a piece and how equally important modifiers are to illustrate the simple things, like emotion. So even though zero modifiers or lead-ins went against everything I've learned to do as a writer, and everything I'm used to, here you go. Hopefully it's not too confusing.


This is the fourth installment in the Red Wheelbarrow (for the previous installments, visit the page above). It's a conversation between the main character, Charlene (who opens the dialogue), and a new character I'm now introducing. Because using quotes seemed pointless (and tedious), each double hard return signifies a character switch. Constructive criticism is always welcome!


You go any further and the tip of my blade emerging from your gut will be the last thing you see.

Farther.

What?

You said if I go any further. It’s farther.

You really wanna correct me with a knife to your back?

I just figured you’d want to know. You know, just so you don’t make a fool of yourself the next time you’re threatening someone’s life.

Son of a—

Be careful with that thing, sweetheart! If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you actually wanted to use it.

What makes you think you know better, Mr. English Professor?

Not an English professor. Just got an education is all. You know, from a real school. And I know better because your voice is trembling. You won’t do anything.

My voice is not trembling.

That was a little better.

Shut up. Don’t talk.

What, this isn’t going how you rehearsed?

I said Shut. Up.

Well, you did rehearse it, didn’t you, sweetheart? You sound too young to be a pro. That’s also probably why you think someone who's grammatically correct is some brilliant professor.

Gramma—what?

Exactly.

You laugh one more time and I’ll actually use this knife. And I never said brilliant. You’re pretty stupid if you think sitting here in the bare bushes like this is discreet.

Oh, discreet. Good. Sounds like you know a little.

I know a lot for someone like me, idiot. Back when things were still normal, before she had me, my mother was a school teacher. She’s taught me everything.

Not everything, I’d say.

Who the hell do you think you are?

Oh, look. She’s getting upset…

Why are you spying on us? Who sent you to look for us?

No one sent me. I’m alone. Just trying to find a safe place is all.

Liar. No one’s alone anymore.

I am.

You probably have some squad somewhere, waiting for your command.

I wouldn’t serve a minute for our piece-of-shit government. Not anymore. Do I look like I belong in the military?

I’ve seen them use disguises.

So, how old are you, sweetheart? Twelve, thirteen?

Fifteen.

Shit! I said be careful with that thing. You even know how to use it?

I could have you gutted in a matter of seconds.

So why haven’t you?

Stop talking and let me think…

Well, if you’re all this camp has for protection I’d say I’m coming out on top.

You know nothing. You don’t know what we’ve been through, what I’ve seen. Or what I’m capable of.

Sweetheart, I’m sure it’s the same things any soul still living has seen.

Don’t call me that anymore. Keep your mouth shut, put up your hands, and walk.

If you’re so hardcore, why not just gut me from behind, right here?

Stop tempting me.

I mean it. Why not?

We might need you. If you know where this meadow is, others might, too. We’ll need to know who.

I already told you, I’m alone.

Then I guess I can kill you…

Whoa, whoa. No need for that. My guts happen to be very precious to me, so why don’t you just lower that knife and we can talk?

Oh, now you think I’m serious?

Your voice isn’t so shaky anymore.

Turn around.

Why, so you can gut me the right way?

So I can look into your eyes.

Romantic. But you’re nearly ten years younger than me, sweet—

So I can read you. I happen to be good at that. If you’re telling the truth, I might let you live. But no funny business.

Well, I’ll be. You’re kinda pretty for a little murderer.

What makes you think you can lower your hands? I said—

No funny business, I know. But really, sweetheart—you think you could take me?

Stop. Don’t come any closer.

Look at you. You’re just a little thing. What are you, maybe a buck-five? And you gotta be crazy, being out here by yourself like this.

I’m warning you…

John. Name’s John. And I’m the last person you need to worry about out here. Now give me the knife, sweetheart, and maybe we can make some arrangement.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Everything's In Working Order

Thanks, everyone, for the warm wishes and thoughts on Luke's surgery. I was away from the blogging world yesterday, as nearly every second was spent with Luke in my arms, so I'll have to spill my "confession" next Friday. :)

The surgery went great (as well as getting your genitals sliced can get, I suppose) and he is home healing. He's tender and has some major redness (more like purpleness), puffiness, and bruising in the area of the two stitched up incisions (I'm not posting pictures, don't worry), but he seems to be himself again, for the most part, as of this morning.

I have to be careful what positions I put him into, and I have to double-diaper him for a week. Also, no straddling anything for a while (whether it's the walker, saucer, or my hip), and hopefully, after a week or two's time, he'll be better than new.

Getting up at 2:45 a.m. and driving to Phoenix was difficult, but I really couldn't have asked for it to go smoother than it did. The surgeon also found a hernia while in the process, and fixed it up. Apparently, that's pretty common for an undescended testicle.

I'm just so grateful for the convenience and blessing of modern medicine. And I owe the smoothness of the whole process to the many prayers that were offered. I am one blessed mama.

This is the most precious picture to me. This was before they took him back, oblivious to it all.
Back view. So cute in that tiny hospital gown.
Me and the babe, right after meeting with the anesthesiologist, and right before they took him from me. 
Recovering, and slowly coming out of the anesthesia.
Later that night, laying in bed with me. I was surprised to get such a big, beautiful smile.
In closing, and in honor of Sam--who is sick in bed with the flu right now--here are his most recent Samisms:

  • Watching me dump three scoops of formula in Luke's bottle last week, he asked, "Mom, is that baby seasoning?"
  • While at a stop light in Prescott, my eyes were wistfully glued to a vintage Karmann Ghia across the way (which I love, by the way, for reasons I might delve into another time), and Sam says, "Mom, why is that car so cheap?"
  • He calls space ships "space shits." And I don't correct him. I even bring his toy one to church with us because there's something hilarious about him yelling, "Josh, give me my space shit!" in the middle of sacrament meeting.
  • While wearing an old, favorite t-shirt of mine I hadn't worn in years the other day (actually, the same one I'm wearing in the above pictures), Sam said, "Whoa, Mom! Your shirt is stylish!" Yeah...Savers-chic.
  • I couldn't find Zeus a couple days ago and Sam matter-of-factly said, "He's probably out taking a dump." Thanks, Dave.
  • When asking him what snack he wanted, he replied, "I want crackers, the moldy ones."
  • This morning I caught him and Josh hugging (they do this frequently and it makes my heart skip a beat EVERY time), and when Josh reached up to give Sam a kiss, Sam scolded, "Josh! We don't kiss on the lips! We are boys, and boys can only kiss on the cheeks."
  • Yesterday morning, while wearing just a t-shirt and his underwear, he got off the couch--where he'd been playing with his doggy (his favorite stuffed animal who frequently gets the blame for naughty things and loud, annoying noises)--and told me, "I need to get some pants on so Doggy doesn't see me in my underwear."
  • This isn't really a Samism as much as it's just an example of his personality. I was changing Josh the other night (no, he is not potty-trained yet) at the end of a very long, stressful day, and I wasn't just on the edge; I was hanging off, by my pinkie. And because kids feed off the stress of their parents, Josh was tormenting me, making it as difficult as he could. And Sam stood by watching. Josh threw his disgusting, bursting-at-the-seams-with-urine diaper on my head and I thought Sam was going to bust a gut from laughing so hard. I barked, "It's not funny, Sam!" The tone in my voice would have scared me as a kid, but instead Sam sobered and said, "Actually, Mom. It is funny. Really funny." And he was right. It was kinda funny. I ended up laughing.