Sneak Peek: Crack the Sky

When NanoWrimo began I told myself that at the end of it I’d share a snippet or two from whatever I wrote during the month. Being brave enough to do this is very difficult for me, but I rarely go back on my word (even if it’s only to myself). With that being said, I have two snippets for you from my current work-in-progress, Crack the Sky.
So you’re not completely confused you should know that Crack the Sky is about a guardian angel being stolen from heaven by demons so she can’t protect her angel-demon subject. The story is told from a 17 year old boy’s point of view. The first snippet is the beginning of Chapter 1 and the second snippet is all of Chapter 8.
Questions and comments are welcome. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1

I shoot upright in the bed, heaving for air. Thunder so violent it rattles through the house, through my bones, has awakened me. I jerk the sheets away from my legs and hurry out of the room. As I exit the front door lightning cracks the sky like heaven is being ripped open (if heaven even exists) and I sprint.
Sweat drips from my brow as I plunge through the woods. Crimson leaves crunch under my footfall, black stalking trees just a blur in the corner of my eye as I blow past them. I don’t know where I’m even going, but I can’t stop my feet from moving, from pushing me forward.
Thunder and lightning crack the sky again, more aggressive than a moment ago and I shudder, but I do not stop running. I feel something pulling me, the center of my being driving me towards an unknown purpose. And then, deep into the forest, I skid to a stop, my feet sliding against the damp, slick leaves.
There, at the base of tree, lies a girl wrapped in dirtied white cloth. Her back is to me, her shoulder blades bare. The ground soaks up blood as it seeps from her back. She’s so pale, stark white against the red leaking from her and the decaying forest around us. Her body looks slack, like a dead girl.
Slowly, I tiptoe towards her, nervous as if she might suddenly rise from her dead state. Thick blonde hair drapes across her face. I crouch down and lightly brush it aside to check for a pulse. Despite her dead-like demeanor, she’s beautiful—pure and innocent, looking misplaced in this dark and scary forest. Barely a thud thumps beneath my fingers at her throat and I feel more relieved that she’s alive than I thought I’d feel. I didn’t want this stranger to be dead?

Chapter 8

At the mall Leilani’s eyes sparkle with wonder even more than they did at my house. Everything is new to her. Everything. It’s an awesome thing to witness. The way she touches textures, the way she examines the dumbest things. It’s all so entertaining to me.
Despite the secret pleasure I find in being present for this, I still poke fun at this supposed naïveté from her. She’s fondling a crucifix necklace, looking completely perplexed when I ask, “What? You don’t recognize your own savior?”
Her eyes shoot daggers at me and I can’t help but laugh at her once again. She answers my arrogance with, “Well Jesus did die on the cross in this way, but he looks nothing like the man on this cross.”
“Oh, is that so?” I chuckle. “Tell that to the overzealous Christians. I’m sure they’d love to argue that one with you.”
She releases the cross and watches it swing to a stop. Her obvious disappointment with my flippant attitude is starting to make me feel guilty and I never feel guilty for anything. I change my tactics. I brought her here for the reward of spoiling her. Spoiling doesn’t involve rude rhetoric. Or at least it shouldn’t (though my father would know nothing of that).
I pull her towards a coat rack full of puffy snow coats that make people look like colored marshmallows. She brushes her hand against one, but doesn’t seem to be satisfied with its sleek exterior. She disregards the rest of the coats on the rack entirely and drifts to one offering a variety of peacoats. I assume she’s appalled by anything in darker shades because her fingers always reach for ones in white or ivory automatically.
Her eyes hold a fondness for the one she’s examining now. It’s a hooded wool peacoat in white, with a fur inlay and silver buckles. She touches it slowly, gently, as if it’s something special and deserves respect. It’s just a darn coat. I wonder if maybe she needs to understand that, that it’s just an object to be worn when it’s cold outside. I start to explain it to her when suddenly she yanks off my borrowed coat, letting it fall to the floor, and frees the white peacoat from its hanger.
She slips into the coat in one swift movement, immediately raising its hood to cover her head. Her eyes close and she holds the coat closed around her with a peaceful expression on her face. The one she’s chosen fits her perfectly, hugging her curves the way it’s designed to do.
 “Is that the one you want?” I ask, completely enthralled by the appreciation she holds for such a simple thing.
Without opening her eyes she reaches for my hand and presses my palm inside the coat to feel the fur. Our faces are close and she whispers now, a smile still scrawled across her lips. “This is what my wings feel like.”
For just a moment I close my eyes too and let myself imagine them, imagine her story about being an angel holding truth. I see wings, so large they could fold around her and hide her entire tiny form. I feel feathers soft as velvet, warm and full of this fresh air scent. It intoxicates me, the beauty of it all.
I’m smiling, lost in this vision, when I’m abruptly pulled free by the sound of Mackenzie’s voice. “Tilian?” she sneers.
My hand falls from Leilani’s coat and the happy clarity I just felt dissipates as my eyes come open. I turn towards a clearly pissed off Mackenzie, sucking on a red lollipop in a wholly seductive and inappropriate manner.
She just stares at me for a minute trying to process what she’s witnessing, what this looks like: Me at the mall, after skipping school, with another girl buying her nice things. Mackenzie’s eyes flare like fire, but before she can completely make a scene I try to soften her blow flirtatiously. “Oh, hey, Kenz.”
It doesn’t work.


NanoWrimo Wrap-Up

So it’s the last day of November, which doubles as the last day of National Novel Writing Month as well. You may recall me mentioning at the beginning of the month that I was going to give this crazy ‘write a 50K word novel in a 30 days’ contest a whirl. Well, I did, but I came nowhere near the word count goal. See:

7030 / 50000

I’m not completely disappointed with my mediocre achievement though. It probably sounds ridiculous to say that, but it’s the truth. I rarely have time to entertain my novel at all Monday through Friday because of work, so for having only Saturday and Sunday to work on my book (all of which weren’t even completely dedicated to writing because of other obligations), I’d say I did okay.

The most I’ve ever written in a month before this was just under 30K words and that was when I was rewriting my first novel (which is a lot easier than writing something from scratch in my opinion since you already have a general sense of what will happen, who the characters are, etc…). No matter how hard I tried, I don’t think that writing a 50K novel in a month will ever be a feasible goal for me and it’s not just because of my day job.

I can’t just write words for the sake of a word count. I have to feel the words, listen to the direction my characters are moving, and apply it to the story – even if that means straying away from the direction I thought the story would go. Also, it should be noted that I self-edit constantly. Almost every time I sit down to write, I re-read what I’ve written and mark it up. Some might think this is foolish and maybe it is, but it’s how I write and so far it’s worked for me. I could never just plow through a book without looking back, without it being perfect before moving on. I could never just kill a character to cause drama unless they’re meant to die. I just can’t write words for the sake of words. (Redundant Sarah is redundant, I know)

Despite its low word count to date, I’m personally in-love with my novel. I can’t imagine even changing what I’ve written so far because I’ve already given it a million onceover’s and touchups (Heck, even my Crit Partner’s already critiqued it). I’m really looking forward to continuing this novel and hopefully completing it in the beginning of the New Year.

So how do I feel about NanoWrimo after finally giving it chance? Well, I am grateful that it gave me a reason to start writing again this year, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll participate in again. I don’t need a competition to help me remember my dreams of becoming published one day. I wake up every day with these thoughts all on my own. I understand the benefits some people find with NanoWrimo, but they just feel unnecessary to me.

Writer friends, how did you do with Nano? Has your perspective of the contest changed since participating in it?

Peace – Sarah



4 on the 4th

Wow, two months in a row I’ve actually posted this on time. I’m on a roll! I suppose things do get better with practice and time because I’ve got a better grade for the month as well. Let’s see how it all went down!

As usual, a review of last month’s goals are shown in italic, while my comments on their success are shown below each in bold.

1. Write – I’m going to reduce the word count this month. I’m starting to think my ability to produce 20,000 words in one month was a one time thing/fluke and maybe if I drop the number I won’t be as intimidated. So for October, I want to write at least 10,000 words.

SUCCESS! It wasn’t easy. I found myself racing to get that word count up in the past couple of days, but I did it finishing the month with 10,013 (cutting it close, I know). I wrote countless pages by hand this month (which I haven’t done in a while) and I didn’t count those into the tally so technically it’s higher than the number quoted, but I wasn’t about to sit there and count my chicken scratch. I also managed to fit a short story into my writing this month. For those of you that missed it, you can find it HERE, entitled, “The Girl on the Swings.”

2. Read – No problem here (obviously as I’m officially a book-a-holic). But since I blew my goal away so much last month and I already know I’ll be reading at minimum 3 more Dark-Hunter books alone as well as THE REPLACEMENT and BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS closer to Halloween (for their scary factor) that will be 5 books total this month. So as long as I can at least do that, I’m good (which I have no doubt I can accomplish).

SUCCESS! I read all 5 books with no problem and also re-read FANTASY LOVER (Dark-Hunter, Book 1) because just the mention of it from a friend suddenly made me need it again.

3. Buying Books – It’s forbidden. I will receive BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS this month, but it was pre-ordered two months ago and is already paid for. I told myself I will not buy anymore books until after Christmas and I’m sticking to it. I have plenty to read.

SUCCESS! I did receive BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS (but as stated before it was already paid for), and I actually received a second copy of THE REPLACEMENT because of that whole missing pages fiasco. I also won a book this month which helped curb my desire to buy. Still, I was VERY tempted by NIGHTSHADE in Walmart, but I was a good girl (finally). I’m impressed because I definitely stared at my Amazon wish list salivating sadly for far too many hours this month, but at least nothing ever made it to the shopping cart! There are however over 40 books in my Christmas list. Books completely dominate the list.

4. Weight – Really work for those 5 lbs. and keep them off. Rachel and I are already going dress shopping (for her wedding) the last weekend in October and I’d like to be a little less heavy for the first round of dress testing. My goal is to lose at minimum 50 lbs by next September (her wedding). If I really dedicate myself to it, there’s really no reason why that’s not feasible.

SUCCESS! Finally, I achieved the 5 lbs. weight loss goal. Actually, I did even better than that. I lost of a total of 6.3 lbs. this month (and truthfully only in the last three weeks because I didn’t start dieting right away)! It certainly wasn’t easy, but I already feel less dense and my stomach is no longer screaming at me for food like it was so I’m really hoping I can keep it up and add exercise to it so it vanishes at a quicker rate than it currently is.

So overall, I finished the month with an ‘A’ which just happens to make it my most successful month since I started this monthly goal review. It’s about damn time!

Goals for November:

1. Write: 10,000 words. They don’t necessarily have to be for my current WIP, but I need to be writing more again. Plus, it’s NaNo month. Everyone else is busy busting their butts trying to write, I might as well too even if I’m not participating in the event.

2. Read: This month’s books to-be-read are CLOCKWORK ANGEL (The Infernal Devices Book 1) and THE MORTAL INSTRUMENT Series (all 3). They’re fairly large books and since I really want to write more this month I’m only shooting to finish 4 books this month. However, I did receive FALLEN (to borrow) and TORMENT (I won) and so by the end of the month I may be digging into them just because I can’t help myself. We’ll see.

3. Book Buying: Still on lockdown. I do have one book on pre-order (George Bush’s DECISION POINTS), but Heath intends to read that first so I’ll likely add it to my December reads. Christmas is right around the corner now so buying any other books for myself would just be wrong.

4. Weight: Lose at least another 5 lbs. Do something physically active at least twice a week.

So that’s it! I’d say October was fairly kind to me. Let’s hope November will work out just as good. For all of you out there working towards goals, how’s it going? And for those of you participating, is NaNo driving you crazy yet? Much luck in November!

Peace – Sarah