Tuesday, March 4, 2014

GS Chapter 1: Going Nowhere- Part 2

“Sunlight shines into the q-quiet tomb
He rolls out of bed; he walks past his shoes
He crawls out the door, he climbs down the stairs
He knows it’s not right, but he doesn’t seem to care…
He doesn’t care.”
I often dream I’m flying. That I’m going somewhere important, somewhere far and somewhere special. When I daydream, though, I’m drowning. I’m reminded of the fact that when my eyes are open, I can barely keep my head above water.
That’s why it irks me when the sound of doorbells and happiness wakes me from my nap. I felt myself drifting into a dream— into a good one— and suddenly I’m not.
I pull the headphones out of my ears and sit up in an agitated stupor. I’ve only been out for thirty minutes, but grogginess has turned me into a monster. Probably should’ve shut the door before I laid down for a nap.
The sound of Bailey’s voice adds thunder to the storm raging within me. “Glad you made it, Sahara,” she’s saying. I swing my legs over the bed, ready to kill.
I make out the other person’s less familiar voice as I stomp, stomp, stomp, wait—hold up down the hallway.
“Glad to be invited!” Sahara replies in an all-too-realistic British accent. There’s some shuffling, giggling, and even more movement before Sahara continues, “You know you owe me this, though, since you came to see me last year and ‘haven’t had time to entertain anyone’ ever since…” She says the words, mockingly and Bailey’s feathers ruffle. Go, Sahara, I think as I sneak a bit closer, forgetting my anger for a millisecond long enough to let curiosity take over.
“Yes, well, I’ve said I’m sorry,” Bailey defends once she regains composure. “And lucky Mr. Williams’ grandson dragged him down South for the summer…”
“Yes, well, lucky I still have my Visa. I could kill you for all this last minute business. Posting a ‘Help Wanted’ advert on Facebook? Really, Bee, where’s your dignity?”
“I know, I know, I’m desperate.”
“Anyone could’ve answered it.”
“I know, I know, I know.”
“You’re lucky I’m so popular. So loving. So thoughtful. Thoughtful enough to reach out to my other American friends. I have those, I hope you know. Ones who call me, as it were.”
They move into the kitchen and like a ninja, I follow, keeping to the shadows. Oh, Sahara. You may just be my new favorite person in the entire state of California. What, though, ever possessed you to become friends with Bailey? My inner monologue rages as I creep closer, closer, closer to get a better look.
Sahara unwraps the mustard yellow scarf from around her neck, revealing her dark complexion and, if I’m not mistaken, beads of sweat. I know she’s not from around here, but summer is summer anywhere you go, isn’t it? Apparently she didn’t get the memo judging by her dark leggings, knee-high boots, and long baggy shirt made from some sort of wooly fabric. I can’t make out whether or not she’s melting from my post behind the grandfather clock.
As Bailey pulls a few things out of the fridge, Sahara cuts her a look. “So that Mr. Williams… he the bloke who owns the place?”
“Yes ma’am,” Bailey answers putting a rotisserie chicken out onto the counter. She checks the fridge for other ingredients she might have missed before slamming the stainless steel door shut and turning to her company. “He’s the one I’ve been telling you about. Such a fascinating life that man’s had.” She shrugs as if to toss away the subject. “Anyway, since I’ve been writing his biography since Christmas, he pretty much figured he could trust me to keep an eye on the house. For some reason, he seemed really excited about lending his place to a bunch of wayward—”
“—and inspirationless writers.” As Bailey laughs, Sahara picks up a tomato and takes it to the cutting board. “Oh yes,” the girl goes on. “God bless his soul.”
And suddenly, I’m in a movie. I’m the stupid girl who takes a step backwards as if to retreat, but the floor creaks alerting everyone of her presence, begging them to look.
So I step, floor creaks, Sahara looks, Bailey glares.
I’m caught.
And Sahara exclaims, “Oh!” breaking the short, but still awkward silence. “Didn’t see you there!” She smiles at Bailey, but nods toward me. “New recruit?”
If Bailey thinks it’s good to see me up and about, she doesn’t show it. “Yep,” she says in robot. Then her mouth sets in a straight line as she fights so hard! to look like she’s a decent human being, capable of smiling in spite of my presence. “Alright, Ellie, this is Sahara Gold.”
“Troublemaker extraordinaire,” Sahara interrupts with a wink.
“And pretentious songwriter desperate for something new to whine about,” Bailey adds cutting her a disapproving, but amused look. Then, Coz looks at me. “You two would get along, I think.”
She is so lucky Sahara beams and cuts in before I can choke her.
“Is that what you’re here for? You’re a writer, too? That can’t be it, though, ‘cause… hold on, give me a second…” Confusion floods her features. “I didn’t send the ad to any Ellie, did I? Did I?” She drops into a slump as she struggles to remember. “I know I didn’t,” she mumbles. Her eyebrows knit together and a hand goes to her hip. “I doubt I even know an Ellie...”
Bailey’s eyelids flutter as she pats her friend’s shoulder and mutters, “No, no, Sweetie, I invited her…” Sahara’s mouth forms an “Oooooohhhhhh” and Bailey snorts, laughs into her friend’s wooly shoulder, looks almost human. Almost. Until she speaks again.
“Elena,” Bailey assures her friend, “is an expert in the art of whining. That’s what I was referring to, Dear, and you’d better catch up ‘cause—” She prods her phone; it springs to life. “—she’s been here for a whole hour and thirty minutes so she’s already getting some great material.”
Sahara snickers, smiles at me, and I rage, rage, rage, hiding it all behind a smile that shouts, Idon’tcareIwon’tcareIwon’t…
Bailey tilts her head toward me. I cringe inside, but smile, smile, smile, as I hear the emphasis on the first word of her bland, blank, “That’s”—bold, italics, underline, underline— “my cousin.”
From Sahara, another, but louder, “Oooooooohhhhhh!”
“Ellie!” she repeats. “Ellie, oh Ellie, yes! I just up and forgot about you for a sec, didn’t I?”
“Mm.” I swallow. “Funny how that happens.”
My eyes find my cousin’s and I don’t care. I won’t. But it comes out.
“You think I can talk to you super quick?”

I turn and take one step (don’t care), two steps (won’t care), five steps (won’t) toward the hall before she can say no.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

GS Chapter 1: Going Nowhere- Part 1

Chapter One: Going Nowhere
            “Camera opens in a close-up of a guy—
            Focus slowly as he opens his eyes.
            In the background hear his girl, she’s screaming words.
            The door slams shut before a car outside is heard…”

            This is me.
            Average build. Average looks. Average day on a street corner.
            I slammed the door of my mom’s Jeep closed only two seconds before this, but what do you know! She’s already halfway down the street and not even thinking about looking back!
She salutes me with a honk and a wave. Goodbye! says her honk-wave. So long Ellie, my only daughter, my heart! My lower lips quivers, but I shrug it off with a scoff. Good riddance, I say. Who the heck needs her.
            Tearing my eyes away from her car’s fleeting figure, I focus, instead, on the tightwad standing across the street. Short hair. Short temper. Just short. That is my cousin. That is the girl I’m supposed to be “learning from” this summer. That’s Bailey.
            To think it’s been a year since I saw her last and she looks the same. Same cold cut expression. Same judgmental gleam in her eyes. Same slow-blinking stare… She’s even wearing the same thing she wore when she vowed she’d never speak to me again which is awkward. Guess she really loves that powder blue dress. The white polka dots are cute and all, but really? I expect better from a college girl.
With a sigh, I lean down to pick up my guitar case and my duffel. Can’t get much worse, can it? Life, I mean. Generally speaking.
            More specifically, then, my life. It can’t get much worse, can it? Bailey’s cross-armed stance screams, “I don’t want you here,” almost as loudly as my heart begs me to make a run for it. As I cross the street, I map out my options. Break for Casey’s? Club Bailey with the guitar and laugh maniacally until she regains consciousness and calls the police?
A tight grin takes over my face in an attempt to be cordial. “Hey, there,” I say.
She doesn’t return the sentiment.
Instead, she shows off her fluency in robot. “Is that everything?” she asks.
She stands only a few inches taller than me on the top step of the path leading to the front door, but every time she speaks I hear, I’m better than you, I’m better than you…
I nod slowly— deliberately— and make her wait for the, “Mm-hmm.”
She inhales sharply. “Come on, then.”
Biting my tongue, I follow her through the front door of the warm, toffee-colored home. I knew that this wasn’t her parents’ place from one look at the ritzy address. But once inside, I swallow thickly as my eyes dart across from one foreign room to the next. Pictures of another family line the walls and shelves. Worn couches and warm rugs litter the floor.  Antiques and little trinkets wink at me as the light from the wide front windows hits their faces. And once again I’m made aware of how out of place I am everywhere I go.
“Nice place you got here,” I remark as we fly down the hall past a painting by some scribble named “J.W.”
Without turning around Bailey replies, “It’s not mine.” Then she twists the handle of the last door down, pushes it open, and stands in the doorframe so I can pass.
You might be wondering why I’m being forced to spend the summer before my senior year with a grump like Bee. Honestly? I’m still trying to figure that out for myself. Often times I wonder if life’s trying to punish me just for existing. But then I remember Bailey got accepted to Stanford and Yale, and I think, Life doesn’t do that. If it did, she’d be getting it a thousand times worse.
The room is cramped, but lived in— comfortable. The window next to the bed lets light stream onto the queen sized mattress, and the couch inside the room adds a nice touch to the overall ambience. Books on the desk, chairs, and floors tell me that whoever lived here before we took over was obsessive. And the posters on the walls of Time’s Up and Just Kidding! tell me that I’m okay with that. Good taste in music makes you alright in my book.
“And this is mine?” I have to ask to pinch myself, to make myself believe this is happening. I’ve always had my own room, but we’ve never stayed in one place long enough to get cozy. To think that this room would be mine for the next three months felt like a dream. Especially since it already looks the way I’d want it to had I been allowed time to pack more than a change of underwear. Especially since it already feels so… me.
I turn to Bailey, and she snorts. “Yeah, you wish.” As my face falls, she reaches into a pocket on the front of her dress and pulls out a folded slip of paper. “This,” she starts again reading the sheet in a kind of singsong, “is yours and an Asher-comma-Tracey’s.”
“A who’s?” I ask thoroughly confused.
Bailey’s confused, too. “Your roo-mmate’s.” She enunciates it like I’m stupid.
“What roo-mmate?” I enunciate back.
Her brow furrows and her arms cross as she evaluates me. “Sam didn’t tell you what this place was, did she?”
It’s a statement more than it is a question, but I answer with a shake of my head. Bailey unfolds her arms and gives me the worst look of all— the pity stare. I turn my back to her. Low blow, Cousin… Low blow.
“Well you know my mom,” I say to the Time’s Up poster staring at the room from its place next to the bed. “She probably figured you’d do a better job filling in the blanks.” I pick up a stuffed animal from its perch on a pile of books and turn back to Ellie. “Do I get hints, clues, or are you just gonna tell me?”
Bailey blinks twice and then looks at the doll in my hand. To it, she says, “Lunch’ll be ready in two hours. Try not to get arrested in the meantime.” And then she’s gone.
“Ha, ha. How original.” The empty doorframe couldn’t possibly care less. I toss the innocent creature in my hands over my shoulder and let it hit the floor… let it stay there while I grumble. Let it sit there and watch me burn. Let it smile at me from the ground, before I roll my eyes and pick it up again.
Because I guess that’s probably part of it. This could be what I suspected: a sick sort of punishment for my shoplifting escapades last year. But I realize that’s only part of it. That’s just the excuse for me being here— the “reason” I have to stay.
“Hey!” My voice echoes down the empty hallway bouncing off “J.W.’s” painting, off the trinkets. “This place got a toilet?”
Bailey’s “Yep!” comes back just as coarsely.
“Oh gee, thank you!” I return enraged. One by one, I open all of the doors in the house. I close them again. I lock myself away in the fluorescently lit bathroom and slide down the cold, wooden door letting the ground take away the weight of the day.
I sit there for a whole minute— for two. Then three and then four and I allow myself to feel. To think. To breathe. To hate the world because if I don’t, who will?
I sit there and I mutter. It’s like everyone expects you to be perfect these days. To be normal. To wear a bra when you’re out in public and a tampon when you’re on your period… But I’m not perfect. I’m nowhere near it.
On my knees I search for the sink. With my hands I find the faucet, turn it on, and pull myself up again. I look at myself in the mirror, counting off every imperfection.
And I sigh.
Because I can.
I wink at myself. A tear rolls down my cheek.
I wash it away. Another one takes its place.
I’m not perfect and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I never will be. I’ve come to terms with it, but the expectations of everyone else flood my brain. I don’t want to live my life chasing some impossible version of myself. I guess it’s too much to hope for that someone just expects me to be me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meet Bailey Valentine!

Name: Bailey Valentine
Stature: Short
Ethnicity: You decide. I often see her as <INSERT ETHNICITY HERE!>, but sometimes that changes in my head. I  often purposely omit these details so that you can decide for yourself or see a character you relate with as yourself. I only mention race if it's important to the story somehow, or I have a very clear picture of the character already.
Eye color: Brown
Hair color: Brown (but she just got a hair cut and lightened it a little! It's still brown, but still...)
Known for: Her death glare of doom.
Role in the story: Ellie's older cousin and the hostess of a summer writer's house.

Bailey was one of my favorite characters to write for the webseries, so she's one of the characters I really want to get right in this new format. Right off the bat, you'll see that she and Ellie just DON'T get along, and throughout the story you'll get to see why that is and hopefully understand that Bailey is neither entitled to snub her cousin nor is she entirely wrong in giving Ellie a hard time. Ellie's a tough person to love (although, in my opinion, she's an easy character to love--- fingers crossed!) and Bailey is a tough person, period.

The reason I love Bailey's character so much is because she's not the main character of this story, but in so many ways, it's just as much hers as it is Ellie's. The story is told through Elena's limited, first person perspective, but I have a feeling that if you're anything like me and like trying to see a narrative from different angles and trying to understand the characters until you just can't squeeze meaning out of them anymore, you'll really like Bailey. She's Ellie's opposite in almost every sense of the word, and but one thing they have in common is their stubbornness. If it's a war Ellie wants, it's a war she'll get, in Bailey's mind.

Bailey is strong, quiet, and rational. She's not the kind of person who gets mad for no reason. She's caring and an almost maternal figure who probably thinks she can save the world. But it frustrates her when she can't and as you know, Ellie's kind of given up on herself by the time the story starts.

So that's Ms. Valentine. She's very into close-knit relationships and is lovely to the people she loves. But when she starts to give up on a person, she becomes a bit cold and hardened toward them. It's because of this that  Ellie wants to get as far away from her as possible, but what Ellie doesn't realize is that Bailey sees all of her cousins problems, heartache, and failures as her own. And Ms. I-got-into-Stanford-and-Yale can't really tolerate personal imperfection.

Hope you guys love her as much as I do!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Week and Counting...

Yay! Today is the reveal of The November Project's real title and STUFF. I know I promised a video but I just remembered you guys have already heard the theme song on Almost (not quite) There. So you don't need to put up with my terrible vocals again. YOU'RE WELCOME.

YA Contemporary Fiction
When seventeen year old Ellie Carter is forced to stay with her cousin, Bailey Valentine, for the summer, she believes that she's finally hit the bottom of the abyss. But when she finds out that Bailey and her team of rag-tag writer friends are trying to enter a script into a Starving Screenwriter contest to win $50,000, she realizes she has to get her act together if she wants to be part of theirs.

Interested in knowing more? Feel free to check out last week's post by clicking here!

Can't wait 'til November to hear more about GOING SOMEWHERE? Check back in tomorrow for Bailey's character profile!

Bugs and hugs,

Friday, October 19, 2012

The November Project

This November, I'm going to turn the webseries I wanted to make for you guys last summer into an online series. Want to read along?

Seventeen year old Elena Carter has had a bad year. A bad mother. A bad life. At least, that's her opinion. And now she's about to have a bad summer just to top off the list.

Though she'll soon be a senior in high-school, being not-quite-eighteen means she still has to do as her mom says. Thanks to her mother's off-beat friends winning an all-expense paid vacation to God-knows-where, Ellie is sent to stay with her college-aged cousin, Bailey, while her mom's away. Not only does Ellie hate Bailey's guts, but she doesn't like the idea of spending most of her summer in a house full of teenage writers who are trying to write a script to enter into some Starving Artist contest. 

Ellie is done with trying to "change her ways." She's no good and she knows it. Bailey knows it, too. So why does Bailey keep trying to reach out to her? And why won't she give up already? Ellie has and she knows it's just a matter of time before she gets the boot. She wants to be left alone so she can get on with her life.... Right?

Tune in next week to see the title of the project and to see an exclusive video!

Lots of love,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Something's Coming

I swear!

Be on the lookout for my first webseries! Going live on YouTube in the summer of 2012.

P.S. Want exclusive content and first-to-know knowledge? Stay posted! I'll keep you lot updated.