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Old 05-05-2012, 02:30 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by corianderstem View Post
Wow, Pearl! Congratulations, that's great.
Thanks Cori!

The only reason why I was able to pull off completing this book was because I'm unemployed. So, I had the time and energy for this project (Don't worry, I'm still job hunting).

My family and some of my friends are not happy that I'll be E-publishing because they don't have E-readers. I guess for my family I'll just e-mail them the chapters or print up the book on my printer.

On second thought, no. My book is quite R-rated and I would be mortified if my family read it, especially my parents.
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Old 05-12-2012, 05:33 AM   #62
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Just finished a new chapter from my novel. It's out of context, obviously, but as far as a sample is concerned, it's definitely functional, as it touches on a lot of the themes that the book covers. Please read it and let me know what you think. As always, my goal with this is to communicate images, levity and maybe even throw in a few poignant ideas here and there.

 
Chapter 8

As Franco rolled over the dusty, haphazard driveway that led an unwelcoming path to his one-story home, he saw all the familiar weeds and smelled the mothballs that sent away the snakes that crawled through them. He shed a small tear and wondered why he had considered hijacking Jack’s car and heading west earlier that evening. There was no one here to beat him like that trucker did.

OK, he feared being beaten here as well, but at least not in front of a young child.

Except for his younger brothers.

But he never feared that he would lose his life, and what could be more valuable than safety?

The lonesome tear dried rapidly and he burst through the door. It was 1 AM. Typically, he would sneak in at this hour for fear of waking up his unruly father, but he had gone through such a traumatic ordeal that he felt as if he hadn’t seen his family in years. Surely they would feel the same way.

The moonlight of a waxing gibbous struck a bottle of Corona. Several bottles, in fact. The TV was on; there was an alien glow on the opposite side of the room and it let off a subtle, high-pitched tone. One of his older sisters was splayed out on the floor. He stepped over her and checked on his little brothers in their Pixar-themed bedroom to make sure they were alright. His other siblings kept their doors locked tight, and they interacted this way at all hours.

Franco sighed and collapsed on the couch. He heard a rustle coming from his father’s bedroom, but ignored it and flipped to an infomercial for a plastic bowl that allows you to cook an entire box of pasta in the microwave. Ordinarily, he was intimidated by fine cuisine, but pasta was well within his range.

Franco was inspired. Struggling to get up off the couch, he got up to his feet and searched the kitchen for something to cook. Another rustle from his father’s bedroom. The cupboards, such as they were, lay bare. There was no one around to purchase groceries. The refrigerator was stocked with beer and frozen pizzas. He shrugged and took out an Icehouse. There was a bag of barbecue chips on the counter. This would have to do.

When he returned to his spot on the lumpy couch, PBS was hawking a collection of generic ‘70s hard rock. Its creators assumed that its authenticity would be confirmed by the use of outdated slang and garish tie-dye packaging. Franco choked when the square in the sweater extolled Cream.

“Golly, this takes me back. I remember when Eric Clapton was really the man. Oh yeah, my wife and I are really taken back to the good old days by this Time Life collection.”

Franco started throwing chips at the TV. “What’s this fetus talking about? Eric Clapton isn’t a man.”

Then he started turning his potato chip projectiles toward his incapacitated sister. He was on his second beer now, and feeling good.

“I should buy this for Jack to set things right. Maybe he’ll pull his head out of his ass and join me in doing something cool next time. This would be decent getaway music.”

Franco was getting a bit too rambunctious, however. The rustles from the bedroom turned to groans. And then it turned to hellfire. “What…the fuck…time is it? DAMMIT! FUCK! 2 FUCKING 30 IN THE FUCKING MORNING SHUT THE FUCK UP OUT THERE DAMMIT YOU DON’T DO SHIT AROUND HERE! NONE OF YOU! YOU’RE ALL UNGRATEFUL! IF ONLY THAT WHORE MOTHER OF YOURS COULD SEE THIS SHIT SHE WOULD PUT A CIGARETTE OUT ON YOUR FACE AND FUCK SOME GUY AT THE SAME FUCKING TIME…”

Franco’s eyes grew wide. He propped his sister up against the couch, put the six-pack of beer and the chips beside her, turned the TV up even further and went to bed. Several minutes passed while Franco stared into the dark. His sister was woken up and questioned, and a chair could be heard crashing against the wall shortly thereafter.

This is what Franco’s life had become. He didn’t feel bad for what happened because this is the part he always played; the satirist, the witness to a horrible crime. He only came home because he had nowhere else to go, and when he did, he merely exacerbated issues. He knew he was an awful human being, but he could pin it on his bad home life. Just the same, he wanted to have kids some day, and he didn’t want them to feel that home was merely a place to sleep restlessly. He didn’t want them to turn misanthropic before they even had interest in the opposite sex.

He supposed that’s where his rebirth earlier that evening came into play. He knew he could be something very alive and vital, but not under this roof. He could make a difference out on the street, outside of these patterns that caused him to be so cruel and inhumane. There was good somewhere in this world. He saw it in his little brothers, and he wanted to preserve that. He would take them out for some fresh air in the morning, or perhaps the afternoon. It doesn’t matter; it’s really all the same air. A steady diet of Nickelodeon and Capri-Sun turned Franco into the young man he was, and he wanted none of that for them.

It was deep into the afternoon when Franco awoke. He had hoped that his brothers would have already left to go to a friend’s house or something in order to soothe his guilty conscience, but this was not the case. They were sitting on the couch, watching not Nickelodeon, but an offshoot, Nick Toons. Franco watched with them briefly and wondered when they got digital cable. At first he was pleased about this. Then he looked over at the desolate kitchen and frowned. There was nothing here for them.

“Luke, Danny…we’re going out.”

Danny, the youngest brother, 8, chimed in excitedly. “Where are we going?”

Luke, a significantly older 9, answered for Franco. “Probably somewhere lame. And we’ll probably have to walk there.”

Franco was indignant. “What’s your problem with walking? Are you fat or something?”

“You’re DEFINITELY fat,” Luke responded. He kicked him weakly in the shin. It still hurt a bit.

“I was going to take you out for ice cream in my shiny new Toyota…but you definitely don’t need it.”

Luke had a stunned expression. “When did you get a car?”

“Why wouldn’t I have a car?”

“Because dad says you’re a deadbeat,” Danny helpfully chimed in.

Franco raised an eyebrow. “We can’t all be like dad. Some of us need to sleep.”

“I don’t need to sleep till 2…” Danny had not yet mastered the fine art of conversation.

Franco did not need to answer the boy, so he didn’t, although his point was a good one. “Let’s go.”

“You’re lucky it’s a repeat,” Luke said. But he would have left already if he had anywhere to go, if any friends had called. The windows were blocked off by comforters, mattresses were set against the walls…the house was a bunker to quarantine a dying family, and none of them wanted to be a part of it. Just the same, Luke’s years as an amiable child were running on fumes, and his stint as a willfully difficult adolescent was beginning prematurely. Franco didn’t yell at him; he understood completely.

Their drive was not silent to start with; Luke and Danny loaded Franco down with the requisite torrent of questions all children ask before they learn that there are many topics not worth learning about. “Where did the car come from?” “Where are we going?” “Do you have a job?” “Why did you yell at that driver?” “Can I drive?”

Once Franco answered them all, his little brothers started to drift off. He had to confess that he wasn’t sure where he was taking them, but at this point he was the only one awake in the car. Luke and Danny wouldn’t have said so, as the topic didn’t come up all that often, but they missed having someone in their lives that didn’t care whether or not they were unpopular for slathering sunblock on their faces. They wanted someone to buy them ice cream and let them know everything was alright. Their mother passed away after bearing Danny – even on her seventh child, nothing is certain – and this caused a great deal of contempt between Luke and Danny. It wasn’t explicit, but the relationship was not nurturing; it reminded Franco a lot of Daniel’s relationship with Jeff, which is one of many reasons why he loathed Daniel so. He took advantage of weak individuals in the same way that Luke did.

But Franco was not often around to intervene. He had spent the better part of three years completely cut off from his family, dreaming of a way to get rich, drop out of school and move out. He had tried starting a rock band, he had tried online pyramid schemes and he had even tried odd jobs. The one thing he didn’t try was college, which seemed a great deal more far-fetched than his other plans. But now that Jack was heading off to college and leaving him with a privileged douchebag and a basket case as his only friends, he had incentive to accelerate his efforts. He wanted to leave and take along those who still had some life left in them, but he had nowhere to go.

That was the main problem with taking his brothers out. He had no money, having spent it all on gas, and he was wasting much of it driving around in circles. He thought of the places he used to go as a kid, and from that he drew a couple of ideas.

When Luke and Danny woke up, they were in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Down the road was Jack’s home, and they were parked in Jeff’s driveway. Through their hazy vision, they saw the sun being blocked by the steeple of a very old home (there were still some architectural marvels to be found in his McNeighborhood). Franco led them down the one-lane street that was meant to pass for two to a clearing inside a circle of pine trees.

“Alright, we’re here,” Franco whispered.

Their vision had adapted fully to their surroundings and the two started to look around. Franco had been here for a half hour sweeping, hiding (re: collecting) the pornography and generally making it look appealing to the youngsters. He left the comic books out, which Luke was immediately drawn to. Danny liked the tire swing, which was in reality horribly dangerous due to its close proximity to the surrounding trees. Franco explained the history of the tree fort to them as they pretended to listen. Occasionally, Franco would glance wistfully across the street to Jack’s house and remind himself that he needed to confront Jack later this evening, or at least return the car.

The peace was short-lived, however. Soon, Mr. Simmons caught wind of the trio utilizing his property for merriment and walked outside to put a stop to it.

“Hey, HEY! Does this look like a playground to you? Is this a school yard? Well, I’ll teach you not to walk on other people’s property!”

“Oh, hello, Mr. Simmons!” Franco responded magnanimously. He enjoyed toying with the old man, and he wanted to show his brothers how to properly handle situations like these. “How do you like the renovations I made?” Edgar Simmons’ property truly had never looked so beloved in decades.

“It looks like trespassing. This isn’t how I want it. When I want work done properly, I’ll give my quarter to someone with respect.”

“If you say so, sir. Give my regards to Glenn Beck.” Franco gave a motion and his brothers began kicking over the neatly stacked piles of pine needles. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Mr. Simmons shook his head and went back inside.

Franco felt a shiver of pride shoot through him as he scanned over the scene before him. There was still hope that his family tree could bear beautiful fruit. The streetlights turned on above them and an instinct within Luke and Danny told them that they needed to head home. With a confident look, Franco convinced them otherwise.

He drove them to one more location, a walking path several miles from their home that stretched long and perilously into the mountains. It was the very definition of “wild and wonderful” West Virginia. Franco used to walk miles into pseudo-uncharted Appalachia to contemplate, throw rocks at wild life, and so on. He knew better than to take his brothers as far as he would often go, but far enough to allow them to experience the serenity of evening fog saturating the valleys below.

Franco hadn’t expected their father to be home, and he certainly hadn’t expected him to hit the bottle early. But it had been a hard day, and if there’s any maxim he followed in the years following his wife’s passing, it’s “work hard and carry a big switch.”

The cliché regarding abusive confrontations with parents is that they can only be experienced and remembered in impressionistic, fractured pieces that can be assembled by psychiatrists for $40 an hour. Tonight, this likely happened for his brothers, but the opposite was true for Franco. He saw the bottle fly towards his head and subsequently duck under it as if Wachowski had directed him to do so. He combated his father’s drunken ravings with silence. Franco had been down this road many times over the past several years and he knew how to best limit the damage. His father did not lay a hand on Franco or his brothers. He knew his second eldest son’s time under his roof was coming to a close, and for all of his bluster, he did not want to lose his relationship with his son, but they both knew this was a pipe dream.
There was a pause. His father sat down and tears welled up in his eyes. “Frank, you’re grounded for a month.”

Franco kept a straight face, though he wanted to laugh. No one could chain him. Not anymore. “Oh, alright, dad.”

“I’m dead serious. I know your first instinct is to do whatever I tell you not to do, but you’re 18 now. If you don’t want to listen, you’re out on your ass. Disobey me on this and you can trust that you won’t be coming back. You won’t be seeing your brothers, the ones you endangered, anymore.”

Franco felt a gravity to this situation that he wasn’t used to in conversations with his father. Perhaps he was starting to sober up. “I told you ‘alright.’”

“Who’s car is that, the one you were driving?”

Franco had nothing to hide. “It’s Jack’s. I need to take it back to him later on.”

“The hell you do. I’ll take it over there myself.”

“Dad, you’re drunk.”

“You’re damn right I am. Put up with your kid’s bullshit for 18 years and get back to me. 18 years of paychecks floating down a sewer to nowhere…drinking in private, drinking in public…building shitty tree houses that aren’t half as good as you remember them being… Fucking hell, maybe you know all of this. Maybe you’ve got a family somewhere that I don’t know about. Go on, go to your room. You know that’s where you want to be.”

Franco plastered on a frown and went upstairs. His brothers – who had scattered immediately after the bottle collided with the wall – sat on the stairwell and marveled at him as he passed by them, silent. When he arrived at his room and began to turn the doorknob, he considered leaving right then and there; just turning back around and walking out the front door. He didn’t want his brothers to panic, however, so he went in his room, closed the door and sat on the bed in order to bide his time. He had no need to plan the right course of action; it was sitting in his lap.

A part of him wanted to laugh; his father was so supremely out of touch with his own son’s motivations that it was humorous. And yet, there were consequences at play here. When Franco considered what he would be losing in climbing out of that window, he felt a deluge of uncertainty flood his mind. This could very well be a turning point in his life that would seal him off in a whole new dimension, the Cold Hard World that he secretly knew he wasn’t ready for, in spite of his bluster.

Perhaps jacking his best friend's car was a milestone in and of itself. Not something to engrave on a plaque, and certainly not a Kodak moment, but potentially life-changing all the same. He needed to know. He needed to speak with Jack and find out if he would have to spend this summer entirely alienated from his best friend instead of being offered the scraps of his life. Determining this was of utmost importance to Franco; as much as he loved his brothers, there would be no opportunity to raise them in his father’s absence as long as he made hungover guest appearances, and he loved Jack dearly. He was the brother he never had yet would have substituted for any of his others.

Staring off at the wall for a few seconds, he gathered his nerves and felt a gentle pulse in his neck. His shadow was stretched thinly over the cadet blue wall, magnified by the moonlight. It loomed large, seeming to dominate the whole room. There was a clatter in the kitchen that crept under his door. He never wanted to feel this small again, and the first step to that is to enter into something greater. The concept makes no intuitive sense, but that’s why he assumed there weren’t more leaders in the world; why he lived in a town that lived to write its own epitaph, planning its funeral every day. He knew his was a long distance off. He had time to gamble away. If he proved a failure, it would be on his own terms. No fear of the inevitable day in which he would stumble into the living room drunk at 8 PM in his underwear, ranting about the years he wasted on those he appeared to love.

Franco’s window creaked loudly as it struggled to open. Perhaps this was a sign? No, it was an excuse to be lazy and inconsequential. His brothers inevitably heard it. He thought he saw the shadows cast from their eavesdropping selves as they stood at his door. There were no tears, only exhilaration as he made his escape. This day was a far better finale than he could have hoped for, and besides, even if he were excommunicated, he could probably spend most of his time at the house and his father would never know.

And so Franco greeted the evening, which had grown increasingly humid. His kindergarten teacher would have told him that God was merely crying over what had happened to him and his brothers, and in this vulnerable moment of giddy naivety, he could accept it as fact.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:12 AM   #63
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I will read it tomorrow if you read the post about Rubies on my blog
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:15 AM   #64
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Believe it or not I actually had it open but started writing instead and never got around to reading it.

That's the thing that I struggle with; I spend way more time writing things than reading them. I feel like I have a very narrow frame of reference for what a "good" novel looks like, honestly.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:16 AM   #65
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Better than me... I actually can't be fucked reading novels
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:21 AM   #66
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I used to be just like that. And by "used to be," I mean like a couple of years ago, probably less. Didn't really value the genre at all. I guess I can still be super analytical in my writing, but I'm just big on conjuring up images in people's heads lately.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:54 PM   #67
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I do believe I read your post and commented, friggin.
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:05 PM   #68
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Just woke up. It could stand on its own as a short story, probably, a form of writing I've always liked. There's some really nice descriptions in there, like the gibbous and the house being a quarantine centre. Not sure how long it's all going to be, but it seems like you achieve a hell of a lot in plot in just one chapter... this is just one guy's opinion, who doesn't write extended prose, so feel free to ignore it, but you could probably slow it down a bit. Kudos to you though, I have no idea how anyone could write a novel.

"Franco was inspired. Struggling to get up off the couch, he got up to his feet" was a weird line though.
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:29 PM   #69
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Yeah, that overuse of the "get" verb is pretty ugly. I must have been spacing out when I wrote that.

The book will be about 500 pages, and the plot is very extensive, but I wanted to keep the pace up. I will say that the chapter I posted is very pivotal; there are a number of chapters with a slower pace.

Thanks for reading, Danny, I appreciate it.
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Old 09-14-2012, 10:23 PM   #70
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This morning, my book was published on Kindle. If you like paranormal/urban fantasy here you go.

Enjoy!
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Old 09-14-2012, 10:43 PM   #71
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Quote:
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This morning, my book was published on Kindle. If you like paranormal/urban fantasy here you go.

Enjoy!
Wow, that's great news- congrats!
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:06 PM   #72
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Thank you!
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:02 AM   #73
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Nice job, Pearl!
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Old 09-15-2012, 12:00 PM   #74
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Thanks beegee!
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:46 PM   #75
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Maybe I'll post some stuff in here. Maybe. Now that I'm writing in my novel again.
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