Being in between contracts is a strange position to be in. It can be good and bad, scary and exciting all at once. The good part is that I find a little more freedom to write outside of the box I normally write in. I'm not on anyone else's schedule. I have the freedom to be creative in a variety of areas, so in that way it's a little less stressful and at times more fun. For instance, right now I'm working on a few things, but one piece in particular seems to flow easily. It's that feeling as if the story is almost writing itself. I know if you're a writer reading this that you'll know what I mean.
In this particular storyline, I have one character who is really a heinous person. She just is. But to me she's also hysterical. Her favorite word is the "f" word, which makes my poor heroine cringe at the sound of. My dear friend Jessica Park (also an amazing author--read her Gourmet Girl mysteries, you will love them) has read quite a bit of this story and also agrees that this heinous character is funny and that yes, her use of the "f" bomb is true to character. I am not one to use this word on a regular basis, although it has occasionally slipped from my mouth and typically if I am in physical pain. And I know that finding a character who says this all the time funny, might seem juvenile, but I can't help myself from laughing at her and the usage of the word.
Anyway, I figured I'd start posting some chapters of this story up for crtique, enjoyment, whatever--since I'm writing it, I figure I might as well put it out there and if you enjoy it and find my use (I mean this charcter's use of it appropriate or inappropriate, I'd be interested in knowing). It's in rough draft form. Just wanted to put that out there before you all start pointing out the typos. LOL.
The thing is, you won't meet this heinous character in the first chapter, so you'll have to keep coming back if you wind up liking what I've written. I'll likely post a chapter a week, as long as I get some feedback that suggest you want me to keep posting it, then I will. If you enjoy it and have a friend you think would enjoy it, then let them know about it.
I don't have a title for it. My working title is "The Dead Celebs." I am attaching the book trailer for it (I tend to get ahead of myself and be optimistic when it comes to my writing--anything really), so you get an idea of what it's about, and obviously since the "f" word is prevalent then this is not a book that will be appropriate for "younger readers." I am going so far as to give this one a rated "R" rating, so you have been warned.
Love the feedback.
Also, if anyone has any suggestions for a title, I'm game.
Hope you enjoy the first chapter. If so, let me know. If not, well....fine.
My name is Evie Duncan and I hang out with dead rock stars, and occasionally a dead movie star or two might suddenly waltz across the living room. I know, weird, huh? Trust me. I think so too. One night I actually watched Fred Astaire lift Ginger Rogers off her feet right in the middle of the kitchen, and I went to grab my coffee cup, because I was sure Ginger was going to knock it off the center aisle. Ah but as luck would have it, her pretty little shoe went right through the cup. I’ve discovered that ghosts can walk right through you or any object for that matter—just like in the movies. That part is true from what we all “think” we know about ghosts, but I’ve learned quite a bit more about them over the past few months.
I know its sounds completely insane. Right? Like commit me insane. But honestly, I am not crazy. Okay, maybe a little bit, and believe me, the first time I saw Bob Marley in my place (technically not my place, not even close to being my place, but I’ll get to that) in Hollywood Hills getting high and singing “Buffalo Soldier,” I thought I was either dreaming, hallucinating off bad food from Denny’s, or—yes, that I’d gone completely mad. None of that was the case. Bob was and is a very real dead guy who likes to hang in my place, along with a handful of other deceased famous rockers, as well as some who never quite hit the charts. It is one of those guys who almost made it to the top but didn’t that I happen to have—sort of—fallen for. So, not only do I hang out with dead rock stars, but I also think that I am in love with one of them or at least I have a sever case of lust, which makes me totally screwed up. But I still stand by the fact that I am not crazy.
Before I go any farther with how this me being able to see the famous deceased phenomenon started, I need to go back a few months to the day after my twenty-eighth birthday. Raised in Brady, Texas: population about 8,000 people. The signs were everywhere. Signs that is—to get the hell out of dodge.
I was at Mrs. Betty LaRue’s quaint craftsman, which smelled of fresh laundry, home cooking and mothballs. She was comforting me over the dismal turnout of the Mary Kay presentation that she’d hosted for me—my latest attempt at becoming an entrepreneur.
We were drinking apple cranberry tea, her lhasa apso Princess curled in a ball under her chair and my dog (of indeterminable breed. Am thinking she is part coyote, part lab, possibly some border collie in there) Mama Cass lay over my feet. I loved that Betty always let me bring Mama Cass in the house. Cass went everywhere with me, but not everyone happens to be as gracious as Betty.
“I really thought this would go so much better,” I said, bringing the warm brew to my lips.
Betty smiled, the fine lines in her eighty-something-year-old face creasing deeper into her skin, “Oh honey, I don’t know what happened to my girls today. I am so sorry. I thought there’d be at least ten of us. They all love my snickerdoodle cookies. I don’t understand. But you know how some of us old gals get; we forget things.” She twirled a wisp of curliqued hair on the side of her face around her finger. The rest of her hair was pulled up into a yellowish white bun (or chignon as Mama calls it) on top of her head. She’d obviously been in to see my mother that morning for her weekly hair appointment.
I nodded. “It’s okay, Betty. Thanks for hosting it anyway, and the cookies were delicious. Three isn’t such a bad turnout.” Thing was, only Betty bought anything, and her friends Margaret and Hazel only came for the cookies. “And I made about ten dollars, so that will at least buy me a couple of meals. You’ll love that anti-wrinkle cream.”
Betty ran a hand over her face and laughed in her sweet, southern, gentile manner—something I had failed to learn, as my father always reminded me. “Child, there is nothing gonna work on this here face. I’m proud of them. I earned these lines.”
I laughed back. “So you only bought the cream from me because you felt sorry for me?” Mama Cass’s ears perked up and she lifted her head, which I bent over and scratched.
Betty sighed. “Evie Duncan, I have known you since you started kicking up a fuss in your mama’s belly, and I have watched you try so hard to be exactly what your mama and daddy wanted you to be, especially after all that bad business.” She nodded and brought her tea cup to her lips, her hand shaking ever so slightly. I sighed, knowing exactly what bad business she was referring to, but both of us didn’t want to expand on it. Betty waved her free hand carelessly in the air as if to brush any painful thoughts away. “But a good southern girl who would marry a good southern boy and have babies and run a family like your folks did is what I know you wanted to be for them. However, dear girl, then you got real lucky now, didn’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You got a God-given talent.” She tried to set the tea cup down on the side table. I reached over and took it from her, setting it down for her. “Thank you, honey.”
I looked down at my dog, now licking my toes that stuck out of the one pair of high-heeled sandals I’d had for the past five years. “No I don’t, Betty. I know I’m good, but there’re a lot of good musicians out there. Great musicians.” Now I was twirling the ends of my hair, but there was no way my mama or even myself would ever put it up into a chignon. My hair was stick straight, long—past my shoulders, dark brown and thinner than I would have liked it to be, but a silky thin, which was good, I suppose. The closest anyone would ever get to pinning my hair up would be a ponytail.
Betty waved a hand. “Nonsense.” Placing her hands on the sides of the chair, she pushed herself up and ambled over to the white-bricked mantle, took an envelope off of it, brought it back and handed it to me.
“Your birthday was yesterday, wasn’t it?”
She frowned. “I may be old but I don’t forget my favorite people’s birthdays.”
“I’m one of your favorite people?” I mused.
“Honey, you know you are. You got spunk. Had it since you came out ass backward, showing the world what you thought of it,” she said, referring to the fact I’d been born breech.
“Thank you. I think.” I couldn’t help smiling. Betty was the only one I knew who spoke the truth without holding back. She didn’t tip toe around a thing. Very different from my family. Tip toeing was what we did best.
“Open it. I don’t have all day. It’s about time for my nap.”
I tore open the envelope and in it was a check for five thousand dollars made out to me. I gasped.
“Betty! What…” Mama Cass jumped up, her huge ears pricked forward, tail wagging and watching me like a hawk. “It’s okay, girl.” She lay back down.
“I was twenty-eight once too, you know, and I had dreams, big dreams.” Her blue eyes glazed over for a moment. “I wanted to be a movie star, and I could have too. I was damn good, like you are at what you do. But then my folks, like yours, had other ideas for my life and I decided to play by their rules. Now I don’t regret it . . . maybe I do a little, but I’ve had a good life. Thing is, Evie, you can sing like a nightingale and you can play the guitar like nobody’s business. And you need to get the hell out of this podunk town before you wind up like every other girl here—knocked up, changing dirty nappies and cleaning up after everyone else every day for the rest of your life.”
I frowned. I’d already seen almost every girl from my high school graduating class living out this exact life already. The lucky ones had skipped town and gone on to college. I hadn’t been quite that lucky for a variety of reasons. But I also hadn’t had the misfortune to be married to some guy who didn’t appreciate me, expected his dinner on the table when he got home from his shift at the local textile factory, and wanted his wife and children to obey, just because he said so.
“It’s amazing it hasn’t happened to you already,” she continued. “My guess is you were either smart enough to use birth control, smart enough to not date one of the goof-offs in this town, or scared to death by your daddy’s hell, brimstone and fire sermons.”
“Pretty much all of the above, but still, what is this for? I can’t accept this.” I waved the check in the air.
“Yes you can, and you will. You gotta go live your life, Evie Duncan. Pack up that van of yours, your guitar, and Mama Cass and head west. You sing your heart out in every bar, every café, every church—I don’t care where you go and sing your heart out at, but go and sing. I know one thing: you have what it takes to be a star. Forget all about that makeup you’re trying to pawn because you and I both know that won’t get you nowhere. Take the money, cut your losses and run. Go live your dream, child. You gotta stop living for your mama and daddy. You didn’t cause what happened and you can’t ever change it. They have to at some point get on with their lives, honey, and if they don’t, I hate to see you waist yours. So go on and live life. Do it for me. Go live my dream. Humor an old woman. Please?”
How could I refuse after a plea like that? “But my daddy—?”
“He’ll get over it. And your mama is gonna secretly be cheering you on. It’ll be hard on them, but this’ll be the best thing for all of you, especially you, Evie. Trust me. ”
So I did. I trusted Betty LaRue. The next day I did exactly what she’d insisted upon. I packed up my 1974 VW van, a suitcase of clothes, my Rosewood Gibson acoustic guitar and Mama Cass. I pulled out of my parents’ driveway with Daddy’s arms waving wildly in the air and him yelling, “You’re gonna ruin your life out there. Los Angeles ain’t the city of angels. It’s a city of heathens and devils!”
I knew he was just scared. My leaving was breaking his heart. I’m pretty sure if I looked closer that I’d be able to see the tears in his eyes. I could see them in my mother’s big hazel eyes, the same color as my own, as she mouthed, “I love you.”
I rolled down the window, choking back my own sobs. “I love you, too. I’ll call. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”
With that, tears blurring my vision, Mama Cass’s head in my lap, a Patsy Cline cassette in the tape deck, I headed west to the City of Angels. And although the tears kept coming, for the first time in sixteen years I felt like I could finally breathe again.