SNIPPETS FROM THE PAST…

 

Today has been filled with nostalgic moments.  On my Curl up and Read blog, I posted something from the distant past—from October 2009.  And that experience led me to searching the archives here.  Back when I featured excerpts from some of my own creations.

Here’s a snippet from An Accidental Life, a book I published in 2006.

 

As she considers going on the run, a pregnant teen ponders her options in this excerpt from An Accidental Life.

While the social workers had been planning her future, Savannah trudged along Clovis Avenue, staring vacantly into shop windows and wondering how she was going to get through the next five hours.  She had to wait until Blake finished up his classes for the day, and then they were going to meet at his apartment.

Last night as she’d left the mall, she was certain that she had only one option:  to run.  But when she reached the foster home, she had decided to put that particular plan on hold until the weekend.  With Blake’s help, she might be able to come up with a better solution.  But every time she thought she’d found a plan she could live with, she kept bumping up against the one major obstacle:  school.  How was she going to find a way to live on her own, or with Blake, while still continuing in school?  And without a guardian she couldn’t even enroll in independent studies.  Her age was turning out to be a major hassle. She and Blake couldn’t even get married, since she wouldn’t be sixteen for another five months.  Not that he’d even suggested that!

As the afternoon wore on, she found herself spacing out and realized that she’d forgotten to eat lunch.  She had totally blown off school today, even though it was such an important part of her life, because she couldn’t think.  Her mind wandered off, even in her favorite classes.  Now she searched through her pockets, finally glomming onto the handful of bills she had hidden there.  Blake had a habit of leaving money around and lately she’d been slipping the occasional stray bill into her pockets.  She knew he’d never miss it and rationalized that if she’d asked, he would have given her the money anyway.  Guilt plagued her sometimes, but she pushed the unwanted feelings away.

She slipped into a little café on one of the side streets, finding a booth in the rear.  She hid her face behind the menu and when the server arrived, her pencil poised above her little order book, Savannah asked for a bowl of soup and a large piece of pie.  While she waited, she nibbled on the crackers and sipped the glass of water.  She had started feeling a little better by the time her food arrived.

Glancing at her wristwatch…the very large masculine one that Blake had loaned her…she saw that it was already three o’clock.  No wonder she’d been so famished!  Two more hours until she could meet up with Blake.  She would hang out here for awhile and try to read the book she had stashed in her backpack.  They’d refill her coffee cup for awhile and when they started hinting around for her to leave, she could head off toward the campus.  Blake’s apartment, which he shared with Scooter, was across the street from the college.  If she timed it right, she’d arrive there about the same time that he did.

***

Perhaps I will now return to the present, but I enjoyed my moments back in the past.  Do you ever revisit old blog posts?

***

TUESDAY INTROS/TEASERS: RAIN — JULY 10

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Just grab your book and share the opening lines; then find another excerpt that “teases” the reader.

Today’s excerpts are from Rain, by Leigh K. Cunningham.

Winner, Literary Fiction category, 2011 Indie Excellence Awards.
Silver medalist, 2011 Independent Publisher Awards (IPPY), Regional Fiction: Australia/New Zealand.

Set in provincial Australia in the early sixties, Rain is a multigenerational family saga that chronicles the lives of three generations of the Wallin sawmilling dynasty. It explores the often difficult but enduring ties between mothers and daughters, men and women: the sacrifices, compromises, and patterns of emotion that repeat themselves through generations.

In a journey that spans four decades and crosses the globe, Rain is an epic tale of the choices and consequences that comprise one family’s history. By turn dark and amusing, Rain delivers an emotionally charged revelation about love, loss, guilt, self-discovery and redemption. The enduring question of family bonds, escapable or not, divides, conquers, and triumphs.

***

Intro:  Maine was a town with immunity from outbreaks of new ways of thinking.  Bohemians had never penetrated its outer limits, nor had the beatniks, and the Hippies would go the same way—around the perimeter.  The Aquarian age that blew through elsewhere releasing seeds that would sprout rebellion and enlightenment, passed over Maine at a great altitude.

***

Teaser:  Michael would have slept longer, but the familiar stench of potato cakes had exacerbated his alcohol-induced nausea.  p. 24

***

Now I’m off to see what the rest of you are sharing….

FIRST CHAPTER FIRST PARAGRAPH – TUESDAY INTROS – FEB. 21

Today I’ve decided to participate in First Chapter First Paragraph, hosted by Diane, at Bibliophile by the Sea. 

I’ll also be spotlighting this one in Teaser Tuesdays, at Should Be Reading.

The rules are simple:  excerpt the opening paragraph or two, along with the book title and author.

Or grab an excerpt from somewhere in the book.

I’m going out on a limb and sharing the opening of my novel Web of Tyranny, available on Amazon. (Kindle version – also available in paperback).

 

For the first few seconds of every day, before reality hit, she felt her body floating in a cloudy tangle as she came up from her dreams.  Beautiful dreams of sunny days filled with music, ice cream and lots of laughter.  She could still remember a time when her days had been like that; she’d been much younger then, granted the indulgences of early childhood.  Those moments usually happened in the warm, cozy rooms at Grandma’s house, when she’d had a feeling that everything would work out somehow.
    

But she was not at Grandma’s today, and as she tossed aside the heavy tangle of sheets and blankets, she knew she wouldn’t be going to Grandma’s again any time soon.  Father had other plans for her.   Her summer days would be full of farm chores, beginning in the early hours of the day and ending only when the last box of fruit had been emptied and the last peach had been cut and placed on the trays.  In the shed, with its overhang that shielded from the hot summer sun, the smell of ripening fruit made her gag, but she had to stifle the urge.  Otherwise, she could end up with a far worse punishment than cutting fruit all day.
    

Margaret shuddered as she recalled some of those punishments.  

The story chronicles the life of Margaret Graham, from age ten to adulthood.

Book Description:  In equal parts funny and serious, Web of Tyranny by Laurel-Rain Snow is a proud, if poignant tale of Margaret Elaine Graham, a woman entangled in the trenches that epitomized her abusive childhood home only to flee into a stultifying marriage with Bob Williams. Seduced by the hope of achieving her goal of a college education and a life free from domination, she is blinded to Bob’s true qualities—and in a very real sense jumps from the pan into the fire. Oppression begets oppression and as Meg walks a thin line of human betrayal, she learns to stake her own claim to happiness—no matter how high the cost. Her fight leads to politicking during the radical antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, which manifests as a near-compulsion, which will turn her world on end. Enticed by the possibilities open to her and chafing at the strictures of the marital ties, Meg bolts from the marriage with her toddler son in tow where a whole myriad of troubles await her.

***

Now I’m going to hop on over to Diane’s and Miz B’s blogs and find out what the rest of you are spotlighting.

THE SUNDAY SALON — SEPT. 11

Welcome to another Sunday Salon.

Today is the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and all around will be various commemorative events.    I haven’t done anything in particular to remember, except to reflect on the good things in life that we still get to enjoy.

But I do recall what I was doing when I learned about it….It had been a quiet, ordinary Tuesday, except that my son was visiting from Europe and was creating a “beer garden” out back.  I was laughing and enjoying that—then I went to pick up the mail, and along the way, heard the news on the radio—and then everything changed.

I do recall reading a novel afterwards in which the fictionalized characters were dealing with the aftermath.  In one of them, The Usual Rules, by Joyce Maynard, a young girl’s life is forever changed by her mother’s death in the WTC.

Throughout the week, I’ve done my usual blogging and reading.  In case you missed them, here are some of my non-meme blog posts.

MOMENTS THAT DEFINE US

9/7 CHECK-IN POST-ROW 80

ENTANGLED IN THE WEB

***

Earlier today, I took Sparky, my Kindle, and sat at an outdoor cafe to enjoy lunch and reading.

Here are the tables before I sat down to read and eat….

Finished reading these books….

Books Read and Reviewed-Click Titles for Reviews:

1.  Darkness, My Old Friend, by Lisa Unger

2.  The Rasner Effect, by Mark Rosendorf

3.  Alison Wonderland, by Helen Smith

***

I read a little more on The Handmaid’s Tale, (a reread), by Margaret Atwood.

For the rest of Sunday, I plan to start reading this one….

The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta….

I’ll also be hanging out with my grandson Noah….What are the rest of you planning?

THE SUNDAY SALON — LAZY, HAZY, CRAZY SUMMER DAYS — JULY 10

 

 

Here we are in the midst of summer, surrounded by lovely books, but also sometimes drawn away from our reading by other activities.  Today’s Sunday Salon will be my forum for discussing how my summer is going so far.

I am reminded of other summers when I’ve already gone on vacation by this time…but alas, I seem to be stalled here.  Partly due to responsibilities, like child care (of my youngest grandson), but also partially due to feeling riveted to my computer for various writing challenges, etc.

Yes, a laptop would come in handy.  Something to explore….

So far this week, I’ve been torn between reading my WIP pages (after one Beta read) on Interior Designs, and actually reading Web of Tyranny, one of my published books on Kindle.

Yes, oddly enough, I had never read my Kindle version.  I didn’t have my Kindle at the time it came out, so I decided to “view it”…finally.

 

On the Blogs:

Then I was posting sample chapters of my published books  on my group blog, Dames of Dialogue, including this one this past week from Miles to Go here.

Earlier in the week, one of the dames posted an interview with me here.

 

Reading & Reviews-Click Titles for Reviews:

1.  Shades of Grace, by Barbara Delinsky

2.  Blood Brothers, by Nora Roberts

 

And that’s all I’ve finished so far!  I spent most of the week on those other activities.

But today I’m reading a book that I might just finish very soon…it’s one I’m really enjoying.

The Little Women Letters, by Gabrielle Donnelly

And maybe I’ll even get around to this one that’s waiting on Sparky, my Kindle:

The Uncoupling, by Meg Wolitzer

 

So that’s it for today…what have the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” brought for you this week?

MOTHER-DAUGHTER MOMENTS – AN EXCERPT

In this excerpt from An Accidental Life, a mother and daughter try to enjoy a rare visit without calling attention to any of their previous conflicts or differences.

 

“Good morning, did you sleep okay?”  Joyce bustled in and set the tray at the foot of Shana’s bed, her eyes gleaming with excitement.  “I made your favorites…” She gestured toward the colorful plate bearing two slices of French toast with bacon; a large mug of coffee was set next to it, and a side plate held a grapefruit.

“You remembered!”  Shana enthused, not having the heart to remind her mother that she hadn’t eaten like this since she was a teenager.  “Looks delicious!”  She obediently sipped the coffee and scooped up a bite of grapefruit.  “Are you going to join me?”

“No, I’ve already eaten.  And I thought you might enjoy reading the paper in solitude.  Unless you’d like company,” she added, almost hopefully.

“Sure, why don’t you join me?  Have another cup of coffee and we’ll share the entertainment section.”  Shana patted the end of the bed.

Jumping up quickly, Joyce retreated to the kitchen, returning with a mug of coffee, which she placed carefully on the antique trunk at the foot of the bed.  Then she pulled up the little wicker chair and waited for her section of the paper.  As she did, she looked around the room, marveling again at how much difference a little paint and new linens could make.  Reaching for the proffered paper, she began to skim the pages, all the while very conscious of Shana sitting there, picking away at her food and apparently engrossed in her reading.

Joyce waited, not wanting to interrupt the mood.  Everything seemed so peaceful and this little ritual they had enjoyed all those years ago almost evoked that time in her mind.  But not quite.  Something was off.  But Joyce decided not to push the issue.

A few minutes later, Shana reached into her canvas bag and retrieved a pack of cigarettes, and at the same time, a little crystal ashtray, which she placed in her lap.  Joyce almost said something, but again held her tongue while Shana lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply.  In the end she couldn’t help herself.  “When did you start smoking?”

“Oh, sorry, Mum.  I guess I was a teenager when I first tried it, but I never smoked here in the house.  I knew you wouldn’t approve.  Want me to put it out?”

RELIVING THE PAST — AN EXCERPT

In this excerpt from An Accidental Life, Melody Vaughn lives through one of the worst times in her life…all over again.

 

As the shadows lengthened, hinting of twilight, Melody still sat in the chair by the window, the half-empty cup of tea before her.  It had long ago gone cold.   Her heart had turned into a stone, weighing heavily in her chest.

Next door, Hugh had noticed when the social workers left and waited for Melody to appear.  Hours later, he had neither seen nor heard from her.  He had busied himself straightening up his little house, then puttered around in the garden for awhile.  Now he had just finished developing some film in the dark room and uneasiness crept into his awareness.  Something was very wrong!

He approached the A-frame cottage, and as he neared the house, he could see her outline in the window.  She was sitting so still.  She didn’t react when he neared the house, so he rushed to the front door, alarmed.  He rang the bell, but when she didn’t respond, he turned the knob and entered.

Melody heard someone entering the house, but kept her gaze fastened on the twilight shadows.  Almost imperceptibly, she shifted as she felt the presence behind her, and then shuddered when she felt the arms around her.  As his presence gradually seemed to melt the block of ice inside, she turned slightly.  As he continued to hold her, she began to sob.

They sat like that for awhile:  Hugh, with his arms enfolding her, protecting her from the world at large; and Melody, clinging to him, her face on his shoulder while the tears flowed.  Finally, he led her away from the window and over to the soft, beckoning sofa.  “It’s okay,” he kept repeating.  “Everything is going to be okay.”  His voice soothed her, and she felt a calmness descend.  Finally, she looked up at him and their eyes connected.  And she somehow knew that he would understand it all.

Sighing, she began to talk, everything spilling out in a rush.  She took him back there, to that time in her life and to that young girl she had been.

TRYING TO ESCAPE THE PAST — AN EXCERPT

Bridget Carlton has had some disappointments in her lifetime, but she is struggling to turn things around.  In this excerpt from An Accidental Life, she and her new “boyfriend” are discovering each other.

 

She almost smirked to herself at the somewhat “self-deprecating” descriptions she gave herself.  That would be her mother’s word for it.  And add poor self-esteem and abandonment issues to the labels her mother would apply.  Abandonment issues. A cloud crossed her face, but she quickly replaced the shadowy thoughts with more pleasant here-and-now images.  She had just refocused on Colin’s eyes when she heard a voice at her elbow.

“Well, what do you know?  It’s Bridget Carlton!”  Bree’s loud voice invaded their privacy and Bridget cringed inwardly, even while flashing a fake generous smile in the other girl’s direction.

“Well, hi there, Bree, imagine running into you!  And your baby is getting so big!  Oh…Bree, this is Colin; Colin, Bree.”

Bree plopped down beside them in the booth, without invitation, and proceeded to dominate the whole setting.  First she removed her baby from the stroller, placing him smack in the middle of the table.  Then, rather rudely, she reached across the table to take a morsel from the pizza, which she handed to Jonathan; he then proceeded to smash it all over his face with his fingers while his mother tried flashing her baby blue eyes at Colin!  Who does she think she is? Bridget grimaced to herself, trying to maintain her composure and a pleasant exterior.

Colin seemed totally flabbergasted, staring at the young woman with the baby and not missing the protrusion in her abdomen.  But he regained his charming composure, made small talk, and then, as if something extremely important had suddenly occurred to him, he spoke quickly:  “Well, it was nice meeting you, Bree.  Bridget, we have to run along now!  Remember that thing we have to do?”  And he hustled her out of there.  Outside, in the parking lot, they both burst into laughter, now bonded by their mischievous little stunt.

“Well, I guess we’d better be off to that…thing…we have to do,” she sputtered, sliding into Colin’s car.

EXPOSING THE VULNERABILITIES — AN EXCERPT

 

 

In this excerpt from An Accidental Life, two friends and colleagues have dinner together.  Karin muses about her relationships and vulnerabilities.

 

Two weeks later, Joyce and Karin sat in Karin’s condo, eating spinach enchiladas and sipping margaritas.  Ever since they’d made over Joyce’s apartment a few months ago, they’d met regularly for dinner at one or the other home.  It had become like a ritual and seemed to reinforce for them that they had a life outside the walls of their offices.  Where previously they had confined their friendship to the office and to the occasional lunch or movie, they had now added a new dimension with their dinners.

Karin liked having dinner with a woman friend.  It kept her grounded in reality.  She truly believed that she sometimes forgot who she really was when she was with Scott.  These feelings sometimes left her with a residue of guilt…For after all, wasn’t he what her real life was about?  But then she reminded herself of the person she was with other people, especially other women, and decided that it was probably inevitable that she would still mask her true self with him.  They didn’t really have a “commitment” per se.  They’d talked around the subject of exclusiveness a few times, but in the end, nothing definitive had been established.  They didn’t mention the future.  That ambiguity left Karin feeling vulnerable.

AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR FROM THE PAST — AN EXCERPT

 

After a long, rather grueling day in the “trenches,” social worker/single mother Karin Larson heads home.  Excerpted from An Accidental Life.

 

Karin had just completed her last in a series of rather grueling home visits and as she drove away from the final house, she glanced at the clock in her car, noticing the time.  Oh, my God! Already six o’clock and she had vowed to leave on time today!  She accelerated, swinging onto the freeway and muttering to herself.  When will I ever get a life? But with this line of work, there was no such thing as a normal life.

Turning on the radio, she listened with irritation as a crooner sang about lost love and she quickly changed the station several times…  Nothing on!  Finally, in exasperation, she pushed in a cassette, hoping for a little control over her listening pleasure.  This particular tape contained the rather annoyingly self-righteous voice of a motivational speaker, reiterating his message about how to take control of one’s life.

Karin laughed, deciding that the country singer was better.  He would at least be amusing.

She concentrated on the drive.  By now the five o’clock traffic should have diminished.  She could feel her whole body tensing as she drove, while trying to relax the muscles one by one in a futile attempt to just let go of all the anxiety.  She would get home in about half an hour.  There was no point in accelerating, passing, weaving in and out of traffic…Those efforts did nothing to hasten her progress in the long run and only increased her tension.

When she finally pulled up to the curb outside the townhouse, she stared at the car in front…Some kind of sports model, parked right behind Bridget’s VW.  Who could that be?