Thursday, August 17, 2006

A new first chapter . . . for FAIRLAWN.


I had to put FAIRLAWN aside to work on THE NATIVITY STORY, but now that the latter is turned in and edited, I'm back to work on the book.

The following is the first scene. What do you think? Does it draw you in and still raise a few questions in your mind--enough questions to keep you reading?

FAIRLAWN

A grieving woman, I’ve decided, is like a crème brûlée: you begin in a
liquid state, endure a period of searing heat, and eventually develop a
scab-like crust.

By the time we sell the house I am pretty much crusted over, so I’m
honestly surprised when the real estate agent slides a check toward me and tears
blur my vision.

Ms. Nichols doesn’t seem to notice my streaming eyes. “That’s a tidy little
profit, even if it is only half of the proceeds,” she says, eyeing the bank
draft as if she can’t bear to let it slip away. “If you’re in the market for
another property--”

“I’m pretty sure we’ll be renting for a while.” I lower my gaze lest she
read the rest of the story in my tight expression: This money is all we
have.

Apparently oblivious to the rough edges in my voice, the realtor babbles
on. “Our agents also handle rental properties. If you’re interested, I have a
nice listing inside the Beltway--”

“Anything I could afford near the
District wouldn’t be big enough for me and my boys.”

Ms. Nichols frowns, probably wondering how a woman who’s just been handed
forty thousand dollars could be so miserly, then she shrugs. “I’m in the book if
you want to take a look. I’m here to serve.”

She stands and thrusts her hand into the space above the desk. “A pleasure
to work with you, Mrs. Graham.”

I stifle a grimace. Do I still have the right to be called Mrs.? The title
fits about as well as my wedding band, now two sizes too big and consigned to a
box at the bottom of my underwear drawer. Stress has whittled flesh from my
fingers and added years to my face. My boys haven’t noticed, but my mother
certainly has. Before we turn out the lights tonight, I can count on a lecture
ranging from “Why You Shouldn’t Have Married that Louse” to “What Will Become of My Poor Grandsons Without a Father to Play Ball With Them?”

I stand and accept the realtor’s outstretched hand. “If the new owners have
any questions, they can reach me at my mother’s house. We’ll be there until we
can find a place to rent.”

Ms. Nichols laughs. “Oh, we don’t encourage interaction with buyers after
the sale. If one of their pipes bursts next week, you don’t want to be around.
Walk away and don’t look back, that’s the best thing for everyone.

Easier said than done. I give the woman a stiff smile, then turn and leave
the office, trying to follow her advice. I’d love to walk into the future
without looking back, but how can anyone walk away from sixteen years of
marriage without feeling like an emotional amputee?

I reach the car and catch my reflection in the driver’s window. Why am I
feeling this urge to throw myself a pity party? I am far from helpless. I am a
twenty-first century woman and I’m holding a check for forty thousand dollars.
It’s not a fortune, but it’ll tide us over until I find a new job and a new
home.

I meet my mirrored gaze and order up a mini-lecture in the same no-nonsense
vein I’d use with one of the boys: “Look forward, not back. You’ll find
someplace to live; you’ll find a job. Until you do, you can depend on Mom.”

Oh yeah, I’ve come a long way, baby--from chief of staff for a respected
U.S. Senator to a woman who goes around talking to her reflection.

Lifting my chin with a determination I don’t feel, I unlock the car and
slide into my aging minivan.

~~Angie, probably sitting in the dentist's chair while you read this . . .

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its Great! I cant wait to read the rest of it.

Rachelle said...

Oooh, I really want to keep reading!

I can't believe how much information I got in this tiny little snippent -- and none of it felt like information.

I'd be looking for something a bit more out of the ordinary to crop up soon. I already know she used to be chief-of-staff and now she's divorced and has no money, and I want to know the story behind that. I also want to know where she's going from here. But it also seems like a fairly common scenario (sad to say): woman grieving the loss of marriage, broke, and trying to move on. What will I soon learn that makes this story different?

Just my two cents... I LOVE your books.

Suzanne said...

I can't wait to read more!!

Kelli Standish said...

Angie,
It's AWESOME!! You've captured her despair and her determination perfectly. I already love her.

Cheering you on,

Kelli

charlene ruff said...

The loss.. the grief, the expectations of what life would look like, gone. Now what? I feel the loss, the disappointment, the dismay, the dread at living at moms. The feeling that life just isn't what you thought it would be and now with 2 kids to take care of. I have a sister going through a divorce right now and it's so hard not to point blame, focus on the other's faults, not take ownership. So, it'll be interesting to see how she deals with it all. Well done!

Kristy Dykes said...

Wow, talk about emoting? It's great.

One thing. Why'd she get the entire equity (if she did)? My dau. divorced and though he owned a real estate agency and they owned five houses between them, she was granted only $12,000 by the judge, AND the ex refused to pay it! And still hasn't paid it after two years. That's a louse, too, huh?

I love your set-up. Perfect. Makes me want to keep reading.

Connie said...

Your opening sentence definitely has the ability to draw the reader in. I want to read more, I want to get to know her better. I think it's excellent.

margie said...

I definitely want to read more! And this snippet definitely raises questions I want answers to.

Sarah said...

A great opening passage, I want to read the rest of the book now!

Tracy said...

Well that hits close to home, unfortunately. And although I've never compared myself to creme brulee I am now seeing the resemblance. Can't wait to see if she attempts to go back to her high profile job while being a single mom. And can't wait to learn about the louse she thought she knew after 16 years of marriage. In response to Kristy Dykes post... my X wanted "out" so bad and felt so horrible(yeah,right)about all he had done that he gave me all the equity in our home. A Mid life crisis is a NaStY thing, or an excuse, I am still not sure. But I can't wait to read aobut all her ups and downs highs and lows, anger with God, Forgiveness and learning to like herself again. It's all too sad that this story will hit home to so many. Good Luck, Angie... I can't wait.

Ane Mulligan said...

Love it, Angie. A definite hook. I adore stories about women who face the odds and don't quit. I enjoy seeing how each author handles the conflict and what vehicle is used to overcome the adversity. Don't forget me for a review on Novel Reivews! ;o)

Dana said...

I think it's great! It really captures her grief and a weak determination - I love how she realizes that she's gotten to the point that she's talking to her reflection. I got tons of information about her and the surprise of her previous job makes me wonder how she got into this situation where she's living with her mom (I mean outside of simply being divorced - there has to be more to that story). I can't wait to find out!

BTW, I believe it said she got half the proceeds of the house sale - which is realistic.

Love your books!

Carrie K. said...

Yes, it made me want to keep reading. This passage could also be a great teaching example on how to give backstory by showing, not telling.

Sheryl said...

You've got me hooked!

When do we get more?! :-)

Cindy said...

Absolutely draws me in...I'm ready for more!

Angela said...

The fonts are still being tweaked, but you're right, C.J. The title is especially hard to read, so that's why they're still tweaking.


angie

VAIL said...

Love it! I've never had creme brulee though, so hard to get that part. I'm uncultured I suppose! VBG