Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I watched the truck slow as it approached the mouth of the Cheseboro driveway. Several large butterflies beat their wings against my stomach as the truck slowed. “Don't turn,“ I murmured under my breath, “keep going.“ If there really was a higher power, surely they would take pity on me and have the truck continue down the road.
All of my hopes and prayers died as the truck swung onto the long driveway. Cheer up Grace, I silently told myself. There is no reason to assume that the truck is for you. This is a working farm, they probably get visitors all the time.
“If you keep scrunching your face up like that, you're going to get horribly wrinkled.”
The words made me jump. Maggie had been so engrossed dead heading the large hanging pot of flowers, I hadn't realized she was paying any attention to me at all.
”What are you so worried about?”
I pointed to the truck.
“Is that Caleb?”
Maggie glanced down the driveway at the cloud of dust following in the truck's wake. “It's certainly Caleb's truck.” She looked at her watch. “He's right on time.”
I stared at her while my stomach dropped to the floor. This had to be some cruel cosmic joke.
Maggie arched a well groomed eyebrow. “What's wrong?“
I stared at her. “What's wrong!“ I waved a hand at the approaching truck. “What's wrong!“ With each word my voice rose to a higher pitch. I could feel sweat beading on my upper lip. “There's no way I can go to school in that truck. That's what's wrong.“
Maggie head tilted and her eyebrows knitted together. “I don't understand. It's just a truck.“
Just a truck! That was like saying that the Black Beard was just a pirate, that Goliath was just a giant, or that Michaelangelo was just another artist. By itself the blue and white Ford 250 was an impressive vehicle. But for some insane reason, Caleb had opted to install a huge lift kit to the underside of the truck.
I backed up several steps. “You're going to have to give me a ride, there's no way I can go to school in that thing.“
“Why not? I know that Caleb is an excellent mechanic and a careful driver. You'll be perfectly safe.“
“It has a lift kit.“ The biggest lift kit I'd ever seen outside of a monster truck rally.
“I know it does.“ Maggie's lips curved into a soft smile and her eyes got a weired dreamy expression. ”I've always liked Caleb's truck. They didn't have lift kits when I was growing up, I wish they would have. One of these days I need to talk him into giving me a ride somewhere.”
I felt my jaw drop. Maggie wanted a ride in a truck that could easily crush every other vehicle it encountered! The wish didn't seem appropriate for a woman of nearly eighty years old.
I didn't have time to wonder about my great-aunt's strange, inappropriate fantasies. I had bigger problems to deal with.
Maggie poked her head into the house. “Etna!” she bellowed. I couldn't believe the windows didn't rattle in their frames. “Etna! Get out of the bathroom! Grace is getting ready to go to school!”
I heard Etna bellow a reply but I couldn't make out the words, but Maggie must have. It only took her a second to bellow her reply.“ 'cause she's your niece and this is a big day!”
Turning, Maggie placed a hand on my shoulder. Together we watched Caleb slam on the brakes, halting the truck with less than an inch of space between the front bumper and the porch.
It didn't seem possible, but up close the truck looked even bigger.
Maggie squeezed my shoulder. ”Tires that big aren't practical but they sure do look like they would be lots of fun. Caleb is eighteen years old, he's entitled to some fun.”
”How am I suppose to get into the thing? The tires are taller than me.”
The driver side door opened and Caleb dropped to the ground. He landed softly on the balls of his feet. He looked at me, his hazel eyes were clear and bright. ”You ready?”
My fingers tightened on the straps of my brand new pink and gray backpack. ”Um, I really don't think that this is going to work out. I, I'm very sorry but I really think I'm going to have to come up with an alternative solution.
Caleb's eyebrows rose. ”An alternative solution? You actually talk like that?”
I stared at him. "What's wrong with the way I talk?"
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I wish I could say I loved my June no-fiction choice, but I didn't. This month I read DiMaggio Setting the Record Straight.
The book wasn't badly written, the problem is the content. It's a book about DiMaggio, it seems like it should quite a bit of baseball, but the author took a different approach. The first four chapters covered DiMaggio's baseball career, and that was it. Playing with his brothers all the way through his retirement in a mere four chapters.
Since I'm really not interested in baseball, I might not have noticed the lack of baseball if the book had included more about Marilyn Monroe, which does interest me, but nope, one chapter was dedicated to that portion of DiMaggio's life.
Instead of baseball and romance, the book was full of numbers. The author spent most of the book writing about how much money DiMaggio earned each time he signed a baseball or card.
When I bought this book I thought it I'd be sharing it with my dad, who is a baseball fan. I figured it would be a book we could discuss the next time we travel somewhere together, but now that I've read the book I can safely say that this is one book that will be making a trip to the local GoodWill.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
A Grade A headache hammered against my temples, threatening to split my skull. I couldn't remember ever hurting so badly before. I couldn't ignore the stomach turning pain, couldn't escape it. If someone were to walk up to me right now and tell me they'd just finished work on a brand new guillotine I would happily volunteer my neck to test the sharpness. The idea of being separated from my skull seemed heavenly.
I pressed my fingers against my temple, rubbing the skin in a futile attempt to alleviate some of the pain. The rubbing didn't do much to alleviate the pain, but at least it made me feel pro-active about my situation.
Without opening my eyes I turned my face towards the sound of my aunt Maggie's voice. ''Yeah.''
Maggie Heyward, one of the two older women in the room, and my great-Aunt leaned forward. Her pale blue eyes were sharp with concern.”Are you okay?”
Normally obvious questions like Meggie's resulted in me rolling my eyes, but, since my brain felt like it was going to leak out my ears I refrained. “I'm fine.” I said, each word sent a fresh, brutal stab of pain into my brain.
“Are you sure? You're awfully pale.”
Maggie's sister, Etna Cheseboro snorted. The sound sent vibrations of pain rippling through my brain and down the back of my neck. Swallowing, I closed my eyes and waited for the nausea to abate.
'' 'Course she looks pale.” Etna didn't bother lowering her voice. ”She's got red hair. She'll probably burn up the second she steps outside. Fool girl, bloody nuisance.” Etna crossed her arms across her chest. “She's probably sickly to, it figures Allison would leave us with a sickly girl who needs all sort of special care.”
Clenching my teeth, I ignored Etna's remarks and answered Maggie. “I'm fine. I just have a headache.“
A chair creaked and I sensed a presence moving towards me. Cracking one eye open I watched Maggie hurry across the dusty living room towards me. “Oh sweetie, I'm sorry.” Her fingers were cool against my skin as she gently placed her hand over my forehead. I leaned into her touch. ”You should have said something sooner. Let me get you something, some water and a aspirin.”
''Stop coddling her'' I couldn't believe the window's didn't shake from the volume of Etna's voice.
Crossing her arm across her stomach, Maggie spun on her heel and glared at her older sister. ”Etna,” Maggie snapped, her own voice growing louder with each word. ”She's a child and she's our responsibility”
Etna levered her bulk out of the chair and took a step towards Maggie. ”She's not my responsibility, I never wanted her here.'' Etna's single watery blue eye swept over me. ''This is no place for a girl like her.”
Spinning on her heel, Etna stormed out of the living room, slamming the bathroom door closed behind her.
Maggie blew out a sigh and placed a hand on my shoulder. ”I'm sorry Grace. Etna, um, well my sister has a difficult time adjusting to change. I'm sure she'll come around, you just have to give her some time.” A small smile bowed her mouth. She moved away from my side just long enough to fetch her enormous mauve purse. Rummaging through it she extracted a small water bottle from its depths. She handed both items to me. ”Drink all of this. Most of the time people get headaches because they are dehydrated. If your headache doesn't go away I'll give you an aspirin. In the meantime, why don't you go upstairs and have a little nap, its been a really long day, you must be tired.”
I don't know which was worse, the headache or the thought of spending more time in the same house as Etna. I looked up at Maggie. ”Um, if it's all the same to you, I think I should probably go check on Adelaide first. She isn't used to spending much time by himself, I wouldn't want him to think I'd abandoned him.”
Maggie pressed her lips together and for a moment I thought she was going to refuse and insist I go lay down.
After a second Maggie's face relaxed. ”I'd forgotten about Adelaide.” Her eyes cut to the closed bathroom door. ”Maybe checking on Adelaide is a good idea.” She pressed the back of her hand against my forehead. ”How's your headache?”
My head still hurt, but the pain seemed a little less intense. ”It's a little better.”
Maggie worried her lower lip with her teeth. She didn't look totally convinced. ”Are you sure you'll be okay. I could go with you, keep you company.”
I shook my head. ”I'll be fine.” I crept towards the kitchen door. If I could just get through the door I would be free. ”If I need anything I'll come get you, I promise.” I loved Maggie, but right now I needed to get out of the house and I needed a few minutes all to myself. Maggie still looked like she was thinking about protesting so I thrust my hand into the pocket of my long cargo skirt and pulled out my cell phone. I held it up for Maggie to see. ”If I get lost I can always call you.”
Without waiting for Maggie to answer I opened the kitchen door and charged through. By the time the door slammed shut I was off the porch, speed walking across the front lawn.
It felt so good to be out of the farmhouse. I hadn't been in there long, about three and a half hours, but during that time I'd actually forgotten what it felt like to be free and alive. Walking across the lawn, with the sun warming the top of my skull and the long grass tickling my bare legs under my skirt, I suddenly understood what it must feel like to be set free after a long prison term.
Walking across the long, unkempt grass I felt like a heavy weight was being lifted from my shoulders. Each step felt lighter than the last. Every time I filled my lungs with fresh air, my headache faded a little bit more. Out here, away from Etna, it was easier to forget that everything I'd ever known had been taken form me and that I was stuck here in Michigan, living in the same house as Etna, for the immediate future.
Out here it was easy to create the illusion that everything was going to be okay.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
It seems like every time I turn on the radio or boot up my computer I am hearing about someone's death, but today is the first time that I have read about the death of someone who strongly influenced my life, someone whom I one day hoped to have the opportunity to meet. Someone whom I would have loved to have sipped tea with while we discussed books and horses.
If I were to list the authors who have had the greatest influence on my life, one of the first names I'd provide is Dick Francis. I first discovered Francis' books about twenty years ago when I started raiding my mom's bookcase. When I read my first Francis novel I was right in the middle of my “when I grow up I'm going to be a jockey” phase. I don't know what fascinated me more, the fact that the setting for Francis' novels was the world of steeplechasing or the fact that Mr. Francis had once been a steeplechase jockey. And he wasn't just some jockey who rode a few races that no one ever heard of, during the height of his career, Dick Francis was the than Queen of England's favorite jockeys. He never won the Grand National, but he had a career that any racer would be proud of.
After he retired from racing, Francis wrote several mystery novels, some of which the BBC made into movies. My personal favorite characters were always Kit Fielding and Sid Halley, and my favorite Dick Francis novels are Whip Hand, Break In, Field of 13, and Bolt. If you've never read a Dick Francis novel you have no idea what you are missing.
The past couple Dick Francis novels have been co-authored with Felix Francis (Dick Francis's son) I've only read one, but enjoyed it enough that I sincerely hope Felix continues to write.
R.I.P. Mr. Francis,
I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to read yet.
The Non-Fiction Five Challenge of 2010 is being Hosted by Trish's Reading Nook
Here are the rules.
The Rules (unchanged from previous years)
1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2010 (please link your reviews on Mister Linky each month; Mister Linky can be found at the beginning of each month on this blog)
2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help)
If you would like to sign up, you can do here. trishsbooks.blogspot.com/2010/03/non-fiction-five-challenge-sign-ups.html
Yikes, I just sent the first three chapters of BOUGH to a beta reader. Up until today only a few select people have been allowed to read it. This is the first time that someone who doesn't know me really well will have seen it and commented on it (I didn't think it was ready to be submitted to the breakout novel contest). There is something about the idea of someone reading my novel that literally makes me sick. The only thing I can compare it to is coming up to a drop fence on the cross country course.
Anyway, now that I have gotten over that hurdle if anyone is interested in being a beta reader please let me know and I'll send the same three chapters your way. I have a really thick skin (the result of years of riding lessons) and handle criticism really well. I know that BOUGH needs a lot of punctuation help, and I am looking for advice about the storyline and character development.
Leave a comment if you are interested.
Oh yeah, BOUGH is a YA horse story that I guess falls into the category of literary fiction. I've tried to gear it for an older teen audience. There is a really graphic foaling scene. Although the characters are a figment of my imagination, many of the (horse related) events have been taken directly from my own life story.
In addition to writing website content, I am also trying to work on two fictional projects. The first is BOUGH. I'm making some final adjustments to it and than I think I want to start submitting it to a few agents.
The other project is one that has been ruminating in the back of my mind for the past few weeks. I don't really want to say to much about it until I've actually started to write the first draft but I do know that one of my characters is going to be loosely based on a fictitious woman named Etna that two of my sisters created in an attempt to torture my youngest sister. I'm not sure that my version of the character is going to be as outrageous as the ones my sisters created but I'm going to give it my best shot.
Until now, I've kept a Livejournal account. I really like Livejournal but lately I've started to suspect that it simply isn't quite the great thing it use to be. The thing I most like about live journal is the friends page, and I'll probably continue to use it to maintain my personal riding journals and such. What I dislike about live journal is that there is no way for me to easily link the posts to Twitter. And since I'm obsessed with Twitter it makes more sense to start an account on BlogSpot.
I'm going to steadily post some of my old live journal entries to this blog.
There are a few thing people should know about me.
I'm and equestrian. My horses are my first and last priority. I own two, Nagg and her daughter Dilemma (frequently called the DemonSpawn). In addition to my girls, I'm also the sole rider of Spooner, who is my very own soul mate. I'm a working student at a dressage stable where my duties include cleaning stall, general barn chores, occasionally teaching lessons, and starting the young horses. The stable is owned my two people who are not only my mentors but whom I also consider my surrogate parents. Oh yeah, and I live in a barn. Literally. My apartment is tucked into the back of the stable.
I am a farm girl. I grew up on a part time farm where my family raised beef cattle, hogs, sheep, and had horses. As a child I was an active member of 4-H, and my fondest high school memories all include the antics I participated in as an FFA member. I am passionate about farmers rights. I feel that everyone should spend six months living and working on a farm.
I love to read. I have never lived in a home that doesn't have piles of books in every corner. When I was little my Dad taught me how to read. The book he chose for my education was none other than Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. My favorite books include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Misty Trilogy, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and The Hero and the Crown.
I AM a professional writer. It says so on my tax forms. Currently I am a webcontent writer, which means I write lots of SEO articles and some product descriptions. While content writing isn't as glamorous as some other types of writing and I seldom get a byline, at least it is a paying gig. Plus, it has taught me to keep my butt in the chair and keep writing, even if I am working on a topic that is so tedious I'm afraid my brain is going to leak out my ears.
In addition to the webcontent writing, I am also working on two YA novels, that I hope to someday see published.