Archive for January, 2015

One strategy during revision is to write the scenes that take place outside of the narrator’s experience. What happened before he entered the room?

Those scenes can help me imagine everything from the posture to the motivation of the various characters when our narrator does arrive.

So here’s a scene that drives action in the vampire novel but cannot be in the novel, because the first person narrator, Blue, is not there.

Byron tells Asta that Blue is a vampire

She hadn’t decided to go to bed with Blue yet but she was having a hard time resisting him. When Byron came into her room she expected to surrender to him, use him as a diversion to avoid thinking of Blue, but instead she felt repulsed.

“Leave me be,” she said. He had her pressed against the wardrobe, his body the length of hers, the evidence of his desire pressing against her.

“Darling, sister,” Byron cooed, his cheek against hers, his breath hot on her ear. “Why don’t you want me anymore?”

“You stink of Polidori. You’ve already been satisfied tonight. Why are you after me?”

His forehead fell into the slope of her neck and he sighed heavily. The heat of his breath moistened her collarbone and the cut of cleavage exposed by her nightgown. He raised his hand and traced the laced edge of the gown running his fingertip over the curve of her breast.

Asta raised her hands, pressed them to his chest, and shoved him away. He staggered a bit and grinned at her.

“You’re drunk,” she accused.

“Very,” he agreed. “And enamored of you as always, dear sister.”

“Enough,” Asta said coldly. “We’ve had enough. I’m no longer yours to command.”

Byron sneered. “No, you’ll be whore to the demon instead.”

Asta raised an eyebrow. “You’ll know a whore when you see one,” she said, “in your mirror.”

Byron laughed then, a harsh sound that filled the room and raised goosebumps on Asta’s arm.

“You’ll not see him in yours,” he said in a kind of singsong voice. “Or any mirror for that matter. It’s a thing about them.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Asta said, pushing past him and circling the large bed in the center of the room. She lifted her discarded dress and carried it further away from him to the chair near the window.

“He’s a vampire,” Byron said. “A blood sucking demon who can’t be seen in mirrors, who will never age and never die. Who would as soon tear into your throat as shove his cock in you.”

“Stop this instant!” Asta said, whirling to face him and glaring at him. “Why are you trying to hurt me?”

“I’m not trying to hurt you,” Byron muttered bitterly. “You want him and you should know he wants you, too. But not how you think.” He flopped onto the bed, laying supine, his head sinking into her pillow.

Asta turned back to the window, laid her dress across the chair, positioning it to avoid wrinkling.

“You’re jealous,” she said. “And so you demonize him.”

Byron laughed, “Figuratively, of course.”

“Of course. You’re drunk. You’re mad. You’re hateful. You should leave me be.”

Byron propped himself up on his elbows and looked across the bed at her. “I’m telling the truth, Augusta,” he said. “He is not a man. He is a vampire.”

She turned to face him then. Her glance showed the slightest doubt but it was quickly replaced with what looked like irritation.

“You’re fanciful,” she said. “You always have been.”

“It’s true!” he insisted, climbing up to his knees and crawling across the bed.

“Really, Georgie, a vampire? You could say he’s a rogue, that he’s already married, that he’s seeking a fortune and will blackmail me for it.” She named these accusations like tabloid headlines, flipping her wrist with each one as if showing them to Byron.

“That he’s my lover?” Byron asked.

She shook her head. “That I wouldn’t believe. He’s already told me it isn’t so.”

Byron laughed again. “You’ll believe him; but I’m lying.”

“You’re telling fantasy. A demon? A vampire? They are not real. He cannot be.”

Byron climbed down from the bed then and tugged his sleeve up, baring his elbow. A long pale scar stretched across it and the remains of a bite mark. It was swollen as if it had only just healed.

“Evidence,” he said, baring his wound for her.

Asta stepped nearer, laid her fingers on the broken skin.

“What did this?”

“He did this.”

“Blue?”

“Raven. But they are the same.” He stared at her as she examined the wound. Her fingers traced the length of the scar and pressed into the scab of the bite. Byron winced.

“What is this?” Asta asked.

“He fed on me. He always does. I let him.” He paused then tugged his sleeve down. “I let him,” he said again, quietly.

“But why?” Asta asked, searching his face.

Byron stared directly into her eye then, his amber eyes full of hurt and sadness. “For the same reason you will,” he said. “Because I am broken and when he touches me, I feel whole again.”

Asta reached out and laid her hand on his cheek, first her left and then her right. She pulled his face in her hands toward her and kissed him. She could taste tears on his lips.

Lila-Asta“Oh, my Georgie, so tortured.” She kissed him again. “So very alone.”

“You don’t want me,” he said against her mouth.

She shook her head and then pressed her cheek to his.

“Give yourself to him, then,” Byron said, and pulled away. “Just know you must give all of yourself; he only knows how to take it all.”

“Like you,” she said.

He hardened and backed away. “You’ve been warned,” he said as he turned, dragging his bad foot, and headed for the door. “Good night, sister.”

****

How does Asta feel about the confession Byron makes? She is intrigued. She does not feel afraid. She hardly believes it and even if she did, Byron has survived what she imagines her own encounter will be like. She considers herself stronger than Byron.

When Asta comes to Blue, she knows what he is. She decides to give herself to him anyway. She trusts Blue not to hurt her. Trust that, as it turns out, is misplaced.

Title change, it had to be done

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

I had to rename the book.

The primary reason is that I came up with the title of the book when I was in seventh grade. While that might make a great story to tell on Oprah when she has me as her guest on the Book Club episode, it doesn’t warrant keeping the title.

It even sounds like a seventh grader wrote it: A Moment When the World is Silent.

The second reason is that the title was related to a comment made by Kacie, the narrator’s ex-girlfriend. She said he should write their story and call it A Moment When the World is Silent.

This is not their story.

I’ve played with a follow-up novel that tells their story. But this novel is not it.

The third reason is that I haven’t called this novel by its title in a long time. Since I really got back to it in 2012, 2013, and then revised it to its current state in 2014, I haven’t called it by even an acronym of its title.

The document file name is Silent. But I don’t think the book is silent. I think it has the same volume as a 90’s bar blasting Closing Time, as a group of drunks wailing American Pie, as a live band doing Dave Matthews Band covers.

As much as Brian might like to think of himself as someone who suffers silently, he’s anything but. He’s the guy that wraps his injury in an Ace bandage so that people will ask him what happened to his ankle.

So I needed a new title.

What is the book really about? What’s the real story here?

How is the story told?

What are the key elements of the story and the structure?

The book is told in days, beginning with Tuesday and ending on Sunday with an afterword taking place on 02/02/02. Could a day be the right way to title it?

Since Monday.

After Monday.

Until Sunday.

Another Sunday.

But then I thought the story doesn’t support a cyclical approach like a weekday calendar title might suggest. The Monday Tony kills himself sets the events in motion, but having another Monday erodes his memory in some way.

I like the calendar, though, and Brian spends a lot of time comparing his circumstances in February with what things were like in December. While the calendar does provide a kind of cyclical feel, as in “just wait until next year, things will be different,” a year is a much longer elapse of time.

Also, the Counting Crows song A Long December figures prominently. So I went with December.

Since December.

Because of December.

After December.

What happened After December?

It suggests the novel is some kind of aftermath, and it is. Brian left Virginia on January first and tried to forget everything that had happened before. In February, though, he’s forced to return and reconcile with the people he’d hurt.

The beginning of the novel, now a single page describing what happened on Tuesday in real time, says, “My confinement was over.” So we know on the first page that After December, Brian’s been in hiding. And now, he must come out of hiding and return to the scene of the crime.

I love everything about After December.

I like that it makes Brian’s perspective seem so immediate. He’s not concerned with what happened before December, all those months and years of all those transgressions. It’s only that single month, and really just that one week during which he’d been home.

Brian is exactly the kind of guy who ignores all the other plays in the game and focuses on the missed field goal. He is exactly the kind of guy who reduces all minor clues to insignificant in the shadow of one single reason.

His search for a reason for Tony’s suicide mirrors this tendency to want to simplify things, to want to locate a single motive for all occurrences. That life is complex and messy and that multiple factors affect singular outcomes is the supreme lesson of early adulthood.

Once I decided on After December, I went to the web to search for it. What other things are out there called After December. There’s a Christmas song called “After December Slips Away” which laments our inability to maintain the feeling of Christmas all year long.

There’s a Facebook page for a band called After December, but they haven’t posted since 2012. Irrelevant.

All the other hits were for news articles referring to events that have occurred in chronological sequence. So, the web search test worked out.

Then I went to Amazon and did a book search. No books. A couple of albums from bands I’ve never heard of, but no books. So, the book search test worked out.

Sold.

I love everything about After December and the more I say it, the more I feel it was the right change to make to the novel. Thanks to Jodie and Preston, my loyal beta readers, for voting and for helping me see the wisdom of the choice.

I’m ready to query now. Ready to find the agent who will believe in After December and the merit of the writing, the structure, the characters, and the journey.

Wish me luck, loyal readers and random stoppers-by.