And just like that, it was out of my hands…..

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I saw the corners of his mouth turn into a smile as I handed it over.   One hundred and eighty-two pages of eight and a half by eleven paper covered by eighty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty words of a story I crafted were turned over to my fourteen year old nephew so he could be the first person, besides myself, to read the book in its entirety.

My nephew, like me, loves to read and even though his calendar age may prove that he is only fourteen, he reads far beyond his age.   I could think of nobody more suited for the role of first reader than him and I was happy to hand the pages over to him.

My dad was a voracious reader as well.  Although the premise of my story may not have been something my dad would have eagerly pulled from the book shelf, he would have been my biggest fan.  It is bitter-sweet knowing how proud he would have been of my accomplishment but knowing that I can never hear those words come from him.  I know he is up there somewhere giving me a thumbs up and doing his best to encourage a literary agent to take a chance on me.

As much as I sit here, nervously awaiting the outcome of the first read-through, I anxiously anticipate feedback on the story.  I’m sure Dean Koontz or Stephen King never batted a thousand on their first at-bats so I’m expecting to take many more swings before I knock it out of the park.  I just want to make sure I stay in the game!

Words for the wordies

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I have been working on a novel for a few years. Time that should have been spent writing to get it finished during those years seems to have been interrupted by reality, but I will never give up the dream of seeing it through to its completion, hopefully by the end of this year.

As writers tend to do, I always second guess the salability of the story…..and this, dear friends and readers, is where you come in. The following is the beginning of the book and I would love to get some feedback….positive and negative. From perspective comes growth.

The Waking Hours

Jack Brandon looked at himself in the mirror for the third time. The deep circles under his eyes and the numerous laugh lines did much to convince him that he had earned each of his 38 years. Laugh lines he thought, was the definition of irony. He couldn’t remember the last time he had laughed. Hell, he couldn’t remember the last time he had smiled. Pulling his gaze from the mirror, Jack glanced around his modest condominium. The collection of antique and clay figurines certainly looked familiar, but somehow seemed vaguely out-of-place. He could not put a finger on it but his trepidation increased.

Shaking off his uneasiness and the frustration of the day, he moved over to the dry sink and poured himself an aromatic glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. He padded barefoot through the plush carpet and sank into his favorite recliner. Although the condo was tastefully decorated, the recliner stuck out like a sore thumb. The remainder of the chocolate-brown corduroy on the arms hung in tatters and foam spouted from the gaping holes, but Jack refused to part with it. The chair had become as comforting as a warm handshake from an old friend – unfortunately, a subject he could not relate to with great authority. Jack had always been a loner. His parents had been extreme over achievers but had never pushed Jack to open up. Before he could rub any more salt in that open wound, he changed his thought pattern to complete nothingness.

The sun gradually lowered itself and began pulling up the blanket of the horizon. As dusk inched its way to darkness, Jack remained listless in his chair. Blackness swept through the apartment and he found himself awash in a cascade of shadows and jagged streaks of moonlight. Although the solitude did have a serene quality, he could not shake the sense that the darkness held some sort of malice for him. After a few more glasses of wine, Jack was feeling the effects and sleep crept methodically into the corners of his eyes and gently pulled down his eyelids. As his breathing became heavy and rhythmic, the black canvas of his dreamscape was brushed clean and anxiously awaited a new splash of color.

~

He emerged from his sleep to a tirade of rasping coughs and shallow breaths. In the seconds it took for him to discern the sounds, he realized they were coming from him and he felt beads of sweat rolling from his brow. His large hands were flailing through the air, reaching out for an invisible assailant. Immediately he tried to relax and gulped large quantities of air. Jack’s dreams had become far more vivid recently and mornings were a constant source of recollection, collaboration and interpretation. The lingering image of a woman was in his mind but he could not keep hold of the dream and she vanished. Pausing only for a moment, he rose unsteadily from the chair and tried to shake the fragments of sleep from his head. Shadows danced in the corners of the apartment and teased his eyes. Still dusting the cobwebs from his mind, he stumbled to the bathroom and seemed to have lost his inner compass. He tripped over furniture and momentarily lost his equilibrium. He cranked on the hot water, stripped out of his clothes and tried to rid himself of his feeling of wariness as he stepped into the shower.

The heated beads of water stung his skin but he welcomed the pressure of the jet streams. Perhaps the pounding shower could help cleanse his sense of growing failure. Real estate sales were down and reflectively brought Jack’s mood down with them. For every day that passed with no prospects, his depression and loss of enthusiasm increased. Something had to change, and it had to change soon.

Feeling somewhat more awake and refreshed, Jack reached down to shut off the flow of water. He halted briefly and stared, completely puzzled. The shower head and faucet were different from what he remembered. He tried to recall if the landlord had mentioned any changes but he had no memory of that conversation. He turned off the new faucets and threw open the shower curtain. The steam from the shower shrouded his vision as he toweled himself dry. As the mist began to clear Jack stepped from the shower and felt a plush bathmat under his feet. He didn’t own a bathmat. He reached to his left to wipe the mirror and his hand rubbed against nothing but tile and wallpaper. As the last of the shower steam finally dissipated Jack’s mouth fell open. He gaped in horror at the bathroom. It wasn’t his bathroom at all.