Monday, November 23, 2009

Finished product

A couple of years ago I started writing a book.

It was the product of reading several books that I just knew I could do better. The whole, "If this can be published - surely I can be published," really inspired me to write. I mean, have you read some of those - especially cheesy LDS fiction - books out there? And of course, I should probably thank Stats for being my inspiration as well. I'm certain out of the 510 pages, about 60% of my book was written while I was supposed to be doing stats, was doing stats or was sitting in class for stats. It certainly brings out my creative juices!

Anyway, after two years I've finished my book. It is a fairly huge accomplishment. I can't help but feel a little puffy about it. So I sent a few copies out for friends/editors to read and I printed out a copy for myself to begin the red-lining. I left out the 250+ pages sitting out and Roberta started reading it.

The first comment I heard from her about the book was through Becca who had overheard Roberta telling a friend on the phone that she was reading a book that "the little girl that lives with me" wrote, and that she was enjoying it. She finished it in a couple of days - yesterday, reading for 6 hours or so. And the consensus: She loved it. She had a lot of really good things to say about it, couldn't put it down, etc.

I am very pleased. We both know that there is some work to be done. Some rewriting to do and some congruency fixes. But according to Roberta, it is publishing-worthy. And, maybe even career-worthy. Which, I must say, I would love! And there are more books in the works, so I guess we will see. I will keep you updated as I edit, and start sending this piece of work to publisher.

One good review, and I've totally let it go to my head.

An excerpt:


He didn’t have to peek at his cards again because he knew exactly what he’d find. He’d mastered his poker face some time ago, but the knowledge that he was about to win a rather large sum of money made him want to smile. And it wasn’t because he actually needed the money; it was more the fact that the men he was playing with all needed a lesson in humility.
He looked at the blonde, scruffy man sitting across from him – not closely, he didn’t want to be caught staring – but enough to read the look of desperation on his face. This man needed to win. What was supposed to be a blank slate instead showed exactly what it shouldn’t – he was in deep. Of course, the man wasn’t going to win. Ashton had this in the bag, and for a second, he felt a little guilty. He really didn’t need to win. The casino they were sitting in was owned by his very wealthy grandfather, which would mean that he’d inherit the wealth eventually. He was the only grandson and his grandfather had promised him that he would get part of his inheritance as soon as he married. The death of his parents had already left him set in the financial department, anyway; though many wouldn’t know it considering his current state of homelessness.
This self-chosen placelessness was what found him in his grandfather’s casino in California. Here in California, men were throwing money and gold down as if it was as worthless as feed corn, and now that he was here, he was enjoying being a part of it.
“Call,” the blonde said as they went around the table again.
“Fold.”
“Fold.”
Ashton hid his smile behind a cough and laid his cards face-up on the table. He heard a few muffled grunts of approval and awe. He tried to ignore the cursing on the other side of the table and the threats. He didn’t think that the threats were something he should be worried about. He’d be leaving the casino as soon as possible, and probably the state. His grandfather was notorious for being notified of Ashton’s presence and he didn’t necessarily want to be found, which meant never staying in one area for too long.
“You cheated,” the blonde man accused him, rising from his chair.
“I don’t think so, friend,” Ashton said, gathering his chips carefully. He walked over to the counter to cash in, leaving the man in the hands of the other players who were trying to hold him back and calm him down. Yes, Ashton would leave the area tomorrow. It wouldn’t do to have some angry cowboy wanting his head over a game that he had won fair and square.
“Ashton Hurst?” The man behind the counter asked, before Ashton could say anything.
He nodded in assent and leaned against the counter, knowing what to expect.
“I have a message for you, sir.” The man slid the missive over to Ashton. Then the clerk took the pile of chips and began counting, giving Ashton a moment to read his letter.
The Old Toad had found him, at last then. Ashton looked at the time-worn letter that looked as though it had traveled all over the country, maybe just one step behind him. The crisp writing was familiar enough, though he had managed to avoid it for three years, and he already had a decent idea of what the letter would be commanding him to do. It was exactly why he had wanted to take off. Later that night, he ran his calloused fingers through his hair, and set the letter and his hat on the slab of wood that served for a nightstand next to his dirty bed. It would be heaven to just curl up and fall to sleep. No matter how dirty the bed was, he was worse off. He hadn’t seen even a body of water since last week’s cattle run. He unbuckled the belt that held his gun, and carefully hung it on the bed post. If his grandfather had any idea of what he had been doing for the last few years… he smiled as he imagined the old man’s usually green features turn into the burgundy that was commonplace during a full blown tantrum.
Ashton walked to the wash basin that held the tepid water that he knew would give him instant relief, and began wiping down his face and neck. The dirt and grime that clung to his body after everyday had become so familiar, that he almost felt naked without it. He looked back at the letter sitting on his nightstand. He hadn’t read it, yet. After cashing in his chips, he decided to use the money to go and see a man about a horse, literally. He wished that he had stopped at the bathing house, too. And now, he dreaded opening the wretched letter. Still, a morbid curiosity was dying to read it – he cursed his curiosity and then sighed. He supposed that now he had it, he might as well read it. In a few long strides, he was back in front of the nightstand with ancient letter in hand. It had probably been written months ago. The news might be so old that it wouldn’t matter, he reasoned, as he tore open the seal. Ashton scanned to the bottom of the letter, it was not signed. The Old Toad –as Ashton referred him, others knew him as Martin Hurst, proprietor, businessman, and influential personality in New York – did not need to make his mark. The seal on the back of the letter was enough, as were the words.

3 comments:

  1. Okay - I want to read it! You best be planning on sending me a copy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am so proud of you Shelli! Yaaaay...I hope I can be privileged with reading more, and I can't wait to see you at Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  3. So, I just stumbled onto your blog (Found it on a friend's blog, of course) and I must say, I love the excerpt from your story. It's wonderfully descriptive without boring the reader. The character development, even in a minor character such as the scruffy blonde man, is great. I actually felt like I was sitting in the casino with the characters. I'd love to read more of it. I hope you could get it published, I'd definitely buy a copy.

    I, too, love to write (and read), so I can honestly say that you have a real talent for the written word. Kudos to you!

    ReplyDelete

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