Friday, July 30, 2010

First Chapter Hokey Pokey

'You put your one sentence in.  You take your one sentence out.  You put another sentence in and you shake it all about.'

K, enough singing.  After lots of thought, daydreaming, scheming and planning-  I finally got down to business and began work on my third writing project.  The outline is finished and I sat down at my computer yesterday, cracked my knuckles, and started typing.

Getting through the first chapter of my manuscript takes me a LONG time. 

 I don’t know these people (my characters) very well yet.  For the moment, they’re functional.  They are there to move my story where it needs to go. 

It’s not until I’m about a third of the way through the book that I find my ‘groove’- I get to know my characters in and out and their words and actions flow freely. 

I’ve got a long way to go, though, before I arrive at that point.  Right now I write a paragraph or two.  I stop and think.  I write a little more.  Stop.  Go back and reread.  Write a little more. 
I struggle to push it forward, through the doubt and lack of ideas until the point where things seem to take on a life of their own.

I’m five pages in and there’s already an important character who just popped up out of nowhere.  No idea who she is.  I look at my outline.  Is she in there? Nope.

This is my first time writing first person AND present tense.  And the story is from a boy’s point of view.  I hadn’t planned on him having a girlfriend right at the beginning.  But here she is just the same, helping me to move my story along and now that I take the time to think about it- she will also add so much more tension and drama to the situations to come.

 I wish I could take credit, but when I’m writing, things come as a complete surprise to me.  Most of the time it doesn’t even feel like they’re my words or ideas.   I know all you other fellow writer skitzos will understand what I’m talking about.

So tell me, how you do get through your first chapter?  Do you stop and analyze every little thing until you've got the perfect platform?  or do you just write whatever comes to mind and figure you’ll straighten it out at editing time?  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


As some might have noticed, the first page of my manuscript is up on Miss Snark’s First Victim today.  

You know how when a baby is born, their skull bones are separated and malleable in order to ease their way out of the birth canal? 

It’s a really sensitive area and it takes a long time for the bones to finally connect and harden into a rounded skull. 

They, ofcourse, go through quite a few stages before this can happen. 

First, there’s the initial:  ‘cone head’

 followed by : ‘the back of my head is flat because I’m not allowed to sleep on my stomach’

Then there’s the  ‘my head is too big for my body and I can’t lift it.’ 

And finally ‘my head is bumped and bruised because I finally started crawling and I keep smacking it on things.’
If none of that has permanently deformed your kids’ heads, then within two to three years, they should have a pretty normal looking solid skull.

My manuscript beginning is like a crowning head.  It’s what makes its debut into the world- the first thing a reader sees.  And it has gone through SO many different transformations in the last year and a half that I barely recognize it.  But I still don’t think it’s solid.

So I’m asking you, my blogging friends, to have a look at my baby’s misshapen head and let me know how you think I can flatten it out.  It sounds grosser than it really is.  You can see it here.

But be gentle.  The area is still sensitive to the touch:)

P.S.-  A huge thank you to everyone who commented on my Grandmother’s passing.  It was a hard week and I’m still a little shell shocked but I’m so proud of her and the life she lived and I do believe she’s happy now with those she loved.

And for those who were brave enough to read my blogfest of death entry?  I’m sorry I scared you.  Lol.  And thanks SO much for reading and your comments!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Capturing a Character

Stories were always a big thing in my family.  It’s no wonder I write them, read them, live them as much as possible.  And there’s no great story without a character at its center.

Marie-Jeanne Beausoleil was from a Canadian French family who had immigrated to New England two generations prior.  She spoke French until she left her French elementary school at age nine and was finally forced to learn English in grammar school.  She came from a long line of notoriously strong women.  Her ancestors had left France and migrated to Canada, survived the voyage and worked at the stubborn soil for their livelihood before coming to the U.S. in the late 1800's.

 Her mother, Lucina Brida Champagne was rumored to have been the first trapeze artist to perfect a triple back flip in the air-  But it was during a practice with her brothers, so no one can be sure.  The young Lucina was married to Hormidas Adelard Beausoleil and they had four children.

Marie-Jeanne, or ‘Jeanne’ as her friends called her, was their youngest daughter and had inherited all the hot headed stubbornness that seemed to be passed down through the French bloodline.

It was to everyone’s surprise when she set her sights on a soft spoken young man named Richard Mills.  A man of English-Irish descent.  Up until then, most Canadian French liked to stick to their own kind.  The Irish, French, and Italians were in constant competition over which language the Roman Catholic mass should be read in and each of them clung to the cultures and languages of their forefathers- which meant they preferred not to mingle with other dominate immigrant groups.

But Jeanne was taken with the young man.  Maybe it was the way he played the banjo.  Or maybe it was because they were so different.  In either case, when she’d decided they would be married, he didn’t stand a chance.  She reluctantly agreed, however, to wait until after the war to wed.

When Richard was sent away to serve in the Navy during WWII, the time grew too long for Jeanne. Patience was not one of her strong suits.  She started to doubt he’d come back to her at all.  More and more time spanned between his letters. 

So, like any rational young lady in waiting, she decided to start seeing another beau- to secure a man in case her Richard had changed his mind.  She saw this new beau for three months and accepted his proposal of marriage.

Richard showed up at the house when his service was up and Jeanne knew in her heart that she still loved him.  He was the only man for her.  She conveniently forgot to mention that she was engaged to another and they agreed to marry that very week.  It was a whirlwind wedding and they left right away on their honeymoon.

Her beau showed up at the house the day after she left and her brother had to break the news to her ‘fiancĂ©’ that she was already on her honeymoon!

Sixty years later, she still laughed when she thought about how that conversation must have gone.  No, she didn’t feel any remorse.  She did what was right for her.  She knew the young man would go on to find someone who loved him truly.  And she and Richard lived happily.

For the most part.

There are stories of a time when Jeanne took to drinking and smoking.  If Richard didn't bring her a six pack of beer and a pack of cigarettes when he arrived home from work, there would be hell to pay.  So like clockwork, he'd arrive home with a six pack in hand and a resigned expression. 

He explained to his youngest son that "If your mother's happy- everybody's happy."  
Then he'd heave a sigh and look heavenwards with a small smile "....and you know very well, if your mother's miserable- everybody's miserable."  

But something must have happened to make Jeanne realize that alcohol and cigarettes could be detrimental to a happy life.  For one day, she quit both.  She put a pack of cigarettes on the arm of her chair and a pack of beer in the fridge and they remained there for over a year.  She never touched either again.  Her resolve and stubbornness put to good use. 

They had six children and were married for over sixty years before Richard died in 2002.   
Marie-Jeanne outlived him by eight years.  Despite having Parkinson’s and diabetes, she still talked, walked, and went to bingo twice a week.  She wasn't judgemental- probably figuring she had her own sins to atone for without worrying about everyone else's.  And she followed day time soap operas or 'her stories' with an almost religious fervor.  

She always swore up and down that she’d never live with any of her children.  She wanted to be independent and believed a child shouldn’t have to take care of their parents in this way.  Maybe this is due to the way she took care of her own mother for a number of years.  In any case, when the decision was made that she would leave her home to live with her daughter, she died before the move could take place. 

Even in the end, she got what she wanted, how she wanted it.    

As some might have guessed, Marie-Jeanne was my grandmother.  She passed away this week and she will be sorely missed.  She had her flaws like anyone but she was the strongest woman I’ve ever known and I can only hope to have inherited a fraction of her verve.  She loved to laugh, no sickness could dim her sharp wit and she had a resolve that could move mountains.  She was also the last living family member who could speak French with my husband’s family and a part of me hopes I’ve done her and Lucina proud- moving back to France and renewing traditions and a language that would have soon been forgotten.

It occurred to me that no imagined character, no matter how well described, how many impossible adventures they go through or words attached to their name- no character can ever compete with the people who have really lived.  Try as we might, our characters are but shadows- trying to capture a glimmer of the life that pervades from the real thing. 

My grandmother was quite a character.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blogfest of Death- Six Days Late and A Dollar Short

 Flight 187 from London to Washington started out as any other.  It had been a long time since I had taken a plane.  And it had been years since I visited my family in the United States.  The small flight from Paris to London had gone smoothly.  My husband and I had drawn straws as to who would take our youngest daughter Matilda on their laps.  
He lost.
My son Henry was almost six years old and much better behaved than his two year old sister.  He was so excited as we boarded that airplane. He loved everything that could fly; birds, bees, planes, kites… It fascinated him. I once caught him sitting atop our second story window, arms stretched out wide and his favorite used and stained blanky tied around his shoulders like a cape. I remember him saying dramatically : “Mother. I am ready to fly and take on my destiny!”
 Thankfully I caught him before he leapt out the window to his death. The window has since been bared and I burned our copy of Superman that afternoon.
We took our seats at the very front of the airplane. We always try to get those seats. You’ve got just a few centimeters of leg room more than the others and you don’t have to worry about accidentally bumping the person in front of you with your folded up knees when you take a nap.
The take off went smoothly. It’s always my favorite part. There’s something so awe inspiring at leaving the ground far beneath you. My son and I looked out from the window seat while my poor husband tried to keep Matilda from clawing his face off so she could look out too.
Hours passed and darkness fell. The pretty stewardess asked if anyone would like anything else before handing out polar blankets and small pillows and tucking us in like loving den mothers. The lights in the airplane dimmed and some romantic comedy popped up on the big screen for those that didn’t feel like napping.
Unfortunately my two children definitely didn’t feel like napping and a romantic comedy just wasn’t going to do it for them.
I was about to take out their favorite books from my traveling bag when the plane lurched to its side and we heard a loud ‘thump’. Everyone perked up and sat up a bit straighter in their chairs, casting worried glances around. My husband and I even smiled at each other knowingly as Henry’s eyes grew wide. “It’s just turbulence.” I told him. He unbuckled his seatbelt and crawled into my lap where I buckled my seatbelt around him and hugged him close.
But then it happened again. The plane seemed to fall several feet at once and the lights dimmed. Another lurch to the opposite side. Another loud thump.
People began to gasp and murmur. The seatbelt light came on and the stewardess’s rushed to the front of the plane and strapped themselves in dutifully.
The captain’s voice came on over the loud speaker in a muffled crispy sort of way “Ladies and Gentlemen. This is the Captain speaking. As you can imagine we are experiencing some turbulence. We require that everyone remain in their seats with their seatbelts fastened. We will be…”
And then everything went black. There were no small carpet lights leading the way down the alleys. No exit signs. Nothing. The plane was pitched into total darkness.
“Oh my God, We’re Falling!” someone screamed.
I felt my husband’s hand clutch mine. “Mommy what’s happening?” I heard Henry’s voice and felt his body stiffen. For once my baby Matilda was sound asleep in my husband’s arms. She didn’t make a sound. “I don’t kn..” I started but I couldn’t finish. The air in the plane began to depressurize and we began to fall. My stomach lurched up into my throat and it made speaking near impossible. Yet many of the people around us screamed without cease. My son clutched me with all his force and buried his head in my chest. I began to pray silently. “Dear God, …Please exist! Please help us to stay together, Please!!”
I squeezed my husband’s hand. And then I began to yell with all my force.
“Andy!! Andy! You listen to me!” I screamed. “You hold on to Matilda!!” My nails must have been biting into his skin but he didn’t respond. “You hold on to Matilda!” I repeated. “And you hold on to me!!”
My other hand clutched around my son. “Henry!! Can you hear me!?” I felt him nod into my chest. “Baby, don’t be afraid!...Something’s going to happen...."  I swallowed against the pain in my chest and throat. 
"...We’re going to die, baby. But it’s going to be o.k.! Mommy and Daddy are going to stay with you, do you hear me??!!” He nodded once more but I felt his little fingers cling around my back. “You just hold on to Mommy! I’ve got you! And I’ve got Daddy and Matilda! You just stay with me! Andy stay with me! We’ve got to stay together!” I screamed, panicked.
We held each other like that for a long time, quiet in our own thoughts as the plane went down. People around us screamed. Random objects flew around the cabin and my ears hurt so badly. I felt like I was going to faint and vomit all at once and my son could have been suffocating from the way I was clutching him to me.  And the only thought running through my head is ‘We have to stay together’. I was too shocked to cry. All I could do was repeat this thought through my head over and over again.
The cabin door swung open briefly. I could hear the pilot’s calls and imagine him trying different buttons and knobs, trying to get our plane to miraculously wake up and bring us to safety. But I could also see the massive front windows and there was no mistaking the body of water that was mere moments away from enveloping us. At this point, no one was screaming anymore. Those that had been before probably ran out of air or fainted. Besides the sound of rushing air and flying objects hitting their targets, everything was silent.
And then we hit. I felt a brief ‘pop’ and a pain. 

The pain was everywhere.
And it occurred to me in the briefest of moments that the closest I could come to describing death was giving birth. Both were terrifying. And there was pain. So much pain that you wondered how one could endure it and still live. And then you have to face your fear and get the hard part over with. You give birth. You die.
In either case, when it’s done, nothing will ever be the same. And you are usually left with something beautiful, a sense of a miracle.
In this case, after the pain came darkness. Nothingness. A black void. Slowly but surely the ability to ‘think’ came back to me. And it occurred to me that I couldn’t feel my child in my arms. I couldn’t ‘feel’ anything. The ability to feel that comes with owning a body doesn’t really exist in the state I am now. I couldn’t see anything. Not the plane or the crash, or other people. There was nothing but darkness everywhere.
And that is how I have stayed since it happened. Just my own thoughts attached to nothing, seeing nothing. For a while I didn’t remember who I was and it occurred to me that I was not simply Caroline Adams anymore. Before I was even born, I had been someone else. Something else. It was like fitting into an old skin and then realizing that it had been on you all along. Memories began to come back to me. They say that your life flashes before your eyes before you die. But I can attest that this happens some time after the fact.
I've remained this way for countless hours and from the moment I was able to recollect myself, my life, and what happened to me- I have felt the need to replay it over and over. To remind myself. To never forget.
A light is flickering in the distance and my whole being rises to attention. The darkness is finally being breached. As the light falls upon me I realize that my consciousness is growing outwards. I am no longer just unattached thoughts, I am a being. I have extremities, like I did in life. But it’s different. Here I am but energy. And emotion. Oh God. The light is so beautiful. And as it falls and lifts away the darkness I realize that attached to my extremities are other beings beside me. Henry. Andy. Matilda. We are still clutching to each other as we did in life. Like me, their bodies no longer exist but we recognize each other immediately and the emotion is overwhelming. The last strands of fear of the unknown fall away and are replaced with love and thankfulness. Overwhelming joy and love engulf us along with that heavenly light and I know, finally, that I didn’t lie to my little boy when I told him everything was going to be o.k.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back in Circulation

This week went by so fast that sometimes I wonder if I didn’t dream my parent’s visit.  The wedding vow renewal went off without a hitch and if you guys are really good I’ll let you have a peek at my favorite picture at the end of this post:)  

So, my parents didn’t spend umpteen dollars on tickets just to watch me sit around my living room.  (Although I think me in my natural habitat could very well be ticket worthy)
In seven days we:  Had a wedding,  Drove to Normandy to see the American Cemetery and the D-Day memorials,  Went to the Palace of Versaille, and  Spent a day in Paris seeing the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees. 

I opted out of the Paris day.  I’ve seen it all a million times and dragging my three kids around the monuments on the hottest day of the season was not my cup of tea.  

I apparently missed a tense moment when my little brother (age ten) got the top of his head stuck in the revolving doors at the Louvre.... ahem.  What more can I say?  As someone who has walked repeatedly into sliding screen doors, I don't think I'm fit to judge.

I admit, I set small goals for myself this week.  I wanted to be sure I: 

1. Kept my house clean. 2.  Stayed away from the computer 3. Kept my parents happy  4. Prove to my parents that I’m ‘alright’!

 It’s hard for them.  I live in France and we don’t see them often.  For a number of years my father tried to convince us to move back..…pretty much every time we spoke.  But they’ve come to terms with it in the last couple years and they were pleased at the way we’re living and raising our kids.  So score there.

As I’m sitting here, my feet propped up on the coffee table and the kids completely ignoring their morning cartoons, I feel a tinge of satisfaction. They were small goals but I met them. 
And it made me realize that the goals I’ve set for myself with writing and publishing are pretty huge.  Instead of feeling like a big ole faking failure because I haven’t acquired representation-  I should be looking at things differently.

 Every query I send out is a goal met.  The manuscript itself is a goal met.  Every request for material is a small step forward.  And every rejection a small step back.  But my biggest goal is to know I did my best-  That I really looked at my manuscript objectively and it’s the best it can be,  and to just keep going and not lose hope.  That’s probably the hardest goal of all.

What are your goals and do you feel like you’ve met them ?  or like sometimes, you might never meet them?

Oh yes, and because you guys were so patient with me this week, here's the promised wedding photo.  I feel it's pretty representative of our future together.  My husband is apparently begging God for mercy and I look every bit the conspiring blonde psycho.  Have a great day ya'll!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Welcome to the BlOscars

Good evening and welcome to CreepyQuery Girl’s 2010 award ceremony from hell.  The following awards have been created by a variety of bloggers and represent several different categories.  Before we go any further, I give you:  ***THE BLOG BLING***

I have to say, When this sucker made its debut into the blogosphere, you guys made me feel like the most versatile blogger on the planet.  I received this award from Melissa, Miss Ali, Hart Johnson, Kelly Dexter, Holly Dodson, Vatche, and Lisa K.!!  Thanks you guys!

I received this adorable BFF Award from Jen at Unedited.  Cause she’s my blogging sweetheart:

I received this ‘Honest Scrap’ award from Julie Mesnil!  Thanks Julie!

The ‘Blogger Buddie’ Award was given to my by T.J. Carson!  Thanks T.J.!! 

This sweet ‘Sugar Doll’ award was bestowed to me by Jen at Unedited, Laura  Wavy Lines and Lola Sharp.  Thank you girls!

I received the ‘Sunshine’ Award from Jo Schaffer.  Thanks Jo!

The mouth watering ‘Happy 101’ award was also given to me by T.J. Carson.  I love this woman.

Stina Lindenblatt so generously offered up a myriad of her much coveted awards to a number of bloggers.  Thanks Stina!!   I’m not only taking this award, but your idea right along with it!  Hope you don’t mind! lol.

Last but not least, we have the ‘Blogger Buddy’ award which was bestowed to me from Caroline V.  Thanks Caroline!!

Now, many of these awards come with a post's worth of rules and additional information you’re supposed to give.  For the Happy 101, I think you’re supposed to write ten things that make you happy.  For the Versatile Blogger, I think you’re supposed write seven things about yourself and then give it to seven people and let them know they’ve won.  And for the others, you’ll have to look it up on Google because I don’t remember. Lol.  But I think this post is long enough so I’m just going to get to the part you’ve all been waiting for….

The following bloggers are some fresh new following faces that not only have great follow-worthy blogs, but are also generous with their time and comments!  So in the words of the great Tu Pac Shakur, I just wanted to let you know ‘Yo Appreciated’.  The candidates sitting in the winner’s circle are welcome to whatever award their little heart’s desire!    Don’t all rush to the buffet table at once.  I hate cleaning up crumbs.

Without further ado:  Our winners-
(cue camera zoom to the VIP seating  area)


Please click on the shining faces above to get to know our winners and their awesome blogs!  
Thank you all for attending!


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