So, this is a brand new themed post I'm doing on a non-regular basis. It requires bravery, humility, and thick skin. Basically, I'm going to post the first chapter of a random old manuscript...some are completed books, others are works in progress (ones that will probably stay that way FOREVER). I'm not going to allow myself to change or adjust ANYTHING. Not even basic typos.
Now, I know what you're thinking, why in the freak would I want to do something like this when I have plenty of Tempest fans who think my writing is clean and was born that way on the very first try with little effort or help from anyone? I've compiled a list of reasons to support this decision (and yes, I needed this in order to keep myself from chickening out).
LIST OF REASONS FOR TAKING HUMILIATION 101
by Julie Cross
1) I haven't posted about writing or writing advice in a LONG time and I know this blog is reader focused, but I also know some of you are trying to write a book and looking for any help you can get.
2) Sometimes it's hard to listen to an author tell you how to write a book when you are under the assumption that they've never written anything bad in their life and there's no way they struggle like you do.
3) It gives me an opportunity to show my own versatility...time-travel and 19 year old boy point of views are not the only stories I've ever written.
The other important aspect to this theme is that I'm not going to give you a summary or book jacket type description. You get nothing. Just the opening pages. Not even a title. It's one of those things that you just have to dive in and read it without worrying to much about the details and missing info.
On to the contest! So...to enter the contest this week all you have to do is read the chapter, then in the comment section write your own first line of chapter 2 for this story.
The winners will be chosen by random draw, if you tweet the contest or post on facebook, let me know in the comment section as well and I'll give you extra entries. I will select 3 winners this week and will include a signed copy of Tempest, plus 5 autographed Tempest bookmarks.
Yes, you heard that right! 3 winners!
Contest Deadline is Saturday, April 28 at 11:59pm (CDT). Winners will be announced here on the blog, Sunday, April 29.
Also...the next hiding under the mattress post will happen as soon as I receive 50 comments on this blog post. Duplicates count, and so do my replies to comments. So, chat away!
And here's my old, unpublished, learning experience....*hides in shame*
Before Grandma went back to New York today, she gave me a book called, On Grief and Grieving. She said it was written by a woman who became famous in the late 60’s for creating the five stages of grieving. So, far I’ve read the first stage: Denial. Which basically means numbness, lack of acceptance. And I’m wondering if it’s okay with you and Dad if I just stay in this stage. I can keep going if I don’t have to accept what’s happened. But now I’m wondering if asking this means I’ve already accepted it? Will you be disappointed with me if I have?
This week, I’m going to do it. Go home. Or at least check on our house, get some things. I know I said this last week and the week before, but it was just too hard. For now, can I pretend I’m away at camp…a really long camp?
Coach Bentley turned the last knob on the right and I sucked in a breath as the door swung open. I knew what I’d see, but still…it hurt so much.
Coach cleared his throat as if anticipating a tearful moment and wanting to worm his way out of it. “There’s still a few boxes in the garage and the book shelves…they wouldn’t fit…your room at home must have been…”
I lifted my eyes to meet his—brown and unreadable, just like his shaved head—before striding into the room. “Bigger…my room at home was much bigger.”
“Right.” He swung his arms back and forth, the bulk of his biceps from years of ring and high bar routines preventing a normal human range of motion, making this moment even more awkward.
Me shedding tears in Coach Bentley’s presence was not an option. Even though we were living under the same roof now.
My bedroom furniture was only about a year old. When I turned fifteen, my mom decided I needed something more mature than the white wicker set I’d had since before preschool. This one was black and modern, supplied by an amazing European designer called IKEA. Yes, we were fancy like that.
I tossed my gym bag onto the bare mattress of my full sized platform bed and tried not to inhale the scent of home that still leaked from it’s pores. “So…I should probably get ready for practice…”
Coach Bentley’s face snapped back into place, the familiar, serious, down-to-business expression returning. “I’ve got a booster club meeting at The Mckay’s house in a few minutes. Jordan can drive you to the gym when he gets home from school.”
Six months of two-a-day practices with Coach Bentley and I still couldn’t picture him as a father. Let alone a father of a teenager. He never raised his voice. Not even when we really pissed him off. How can you parent a teenager without ever yelling?
My old coach, Jim Cordez, yelled non-stop. Luckily, I’m the type of gymnast that needs a kick in the ass once in a while so we made a good team. At least we did until he left St. Louis to coach for UCLA. It’s a little harder with Bentley because I never know if he’s happy with what I’m doing or brooding in anger over how much I suck. I hate when I can’t read people.
It didn’t really matter, though. In a year and a half, I’d be at UCLA training with Coach Cordez again. All I had to do was keep myself from forgetting everything he had taught me in the last ten years.
That and survive a car ride with a teenage boy.
Coach Bentley left me alone in my new room that smelled too much like my old one and I changed into my practice clothes and sweats as quickly as possible, practically throwing myself out the bedroom door and into the safety of the hallway.
At twenty minutes to three, I was searching the kitchen cabinets of the three bedroom townhouse, digging for something on the list of approved foods for elite athletes when I heard the front door swing open and then slam shut. Before I could even get a glimpse of Coach Bentley’s unfamiliar offspring, he was thudding up the steps, slamming a second door and blaring music that would probably vibrate through the shared walls causing the neighbors to pay us a visit.
At quarter to four, I paced the upstairs hallway, knowing I was already going to be late for practice and yet I didn’t have the nerve to knock on my negligent driver’s door. It turned out I wouldn’t need to. Just as I was about to break down and call Coach Bentley, the door flew open and I came face-to-face with a blonde-haired, brown-eyed boy—white uniform shirt half tucked in, red tie loosened, top button already unfastened, shoes off. Not exactly the look of someone about to go out again…like to give me a ride.
“Oh,” he said, diverting his eyes from mine. “You’re…uh…Cassie--”
“Karen,” I said, yanking my voice back to the surface. My experience with teenage boys was very minimal due to homeschooling the past three years and a girls’ only gymnastics team taking up practically my entire life.
“Right, sorry,” he mumbled as he slid past me toward the stairs.
I spun around with my mouth hanging open knowing the words would stay lodged in my throat. Jordan froze with his foot on the first step.
“Shit.” The heal of his hand made contact with his forehead. “You need a ride, right? To the gym?”
“Yeah,” I said to the back of his head.
He nodded toward the front door below us and we both thundered down the steps and headed outside. I hadn’t seen Jordan’s car earlier since he was at school, but I knew which was his right away despite the nearly full parking lot. It was old, rusty and a combination of puke green and purple. Something only a teenager desperate for freedom beyond a ten speed bike would own.
I immediately opened the door to the backseat and started to get in but stopped when I saw Jordan still outside shaking his head.
“Seriously? I’d rather not look like a chauffeur if that’s alright with you,” he said, rolling his eyes.
Even though my boy experience was minimal to non-existent, I knew better than to tell him that I wasn’t really tall enough or heavy enough for the front seat…besides, I doubted this hunk of rusty metal had airbags, anyway.
I tugged on my seat belt five times before accepting its correct positioning. When Jordan backed out of the parking lot and took off toward the main road, I felt my fingers searching for the sides of the well-worn seat, gripping them until my knuckles turned white.
The traffic light in front of us switched to red and Jordan hit the brakes, jolting us to a hard stop. I squeezed my eyes shut, holding my breath and willing away the sound of glass shattering, metal crunching against pavement, screams—high pitched like sirens.
The car jolted into motion again, the driver silent to my ears. All I could hear were the ten beats my heart pumped out for every single rotation of the tires. Air continued to move in sharp, jagged motions through my lungs letting me know I wouldn’t pass out.
The worst part was, none of this was real—the sounds, the images, the video playing through my mind of a black Ford Fusion tumbling off the interstate, the semi truck slamming into it, the woman inside with a half-crushed skull and the decapitated man beside her with seventy percent of his body still determined to remain with his wife. All of it was contrived by my own imagination and sometimes, like right now, I couldn’t help but wish I’d seen the real accident because nothing could be worse than this. Nothing.
Okay, so even though this is an old manuscript and judging me based on this would be like judging a 6th graders handwriting by looking at his kindergarten work, however, feel free to ask me any questions you might have writing related or maybe about what I've learned since creating this story.