Behold, Chapter One

First let me rant on the fact that even though I am not yet published I know for a fact that I write better than a Number One UK bestseller. I just finished Stolen by Lesley Pearse, and honestly wouldn’t have if I hadn’t paid nine pounds equals fourteen dollars for it.

Plot = decent. Intriguing at parts but predictable all the way through. No surprises.

Characters = awful. Completely flat with nothing interesting about them. Readers know what kind of people they are from the first page which I HATE. People change, make characters change a little, jeeze Louise. And on top of that, they weren’t even likable. Protagonist, way to sappy. Protagonist’s best friend, total bitch, right down to no sympathy for 9/11 victims. Oh and by the way, Lesley, gay best friends are more than people who care about girls and want to take them shopping and fix their hair and say “honey.” The main man also, when trying to be sincere, told the protag something along the lines of “it’s all about you, babe.” How insincere is that!?!?! It’s just a line!!!! Guys use it to pick up chicks and it gets thrown in trashy romance novels you read as a guilty pleasure!!!!! It doesn’t belong in a work of literature about a woman trying to rebuild her life after an abduction!!!!! I literally rolled my eyes when I read it.

Dialogue = good when it wasn’t being preachy, which was 73% of the time.

Writing in general = I’m livid. All telling and no showing. Like at all. Every crucial bit of information was exposed by characters remembering what happened. “And then she recalled being chased by a shark and feeling terribly scared. It was a horrifying thing to go through. She felt he wasn’t being sincere and was completely put off by his nature. She just felt he wasn’t really a good person.” – Disclaimer, not a real quote, I’m angrily paraphrasing.

GARAADFHSGHASJDJSFGH!

If you want a good book about a woman rebuilding her life after an abduction, check out Chevy Steven’s Still Missing. And no, I’m not a weirdo obssessed with abductions, I’m doing a little research for a story of my own.

Speaking of stories of my own, how about the excerpt I promised?

Well, here you are dear readers. Thank you for giving me over 10,000 hits. Remember I’m still trying to get on freshly pressed and gain a few more subscribers, so please pass me on!

Behold, a portion Chapter One of my favorite novel.

Taneia, 1943

He had a knife at her throat.
“Not a sound,” he hissed in her ear.
Laura clenched her jaw and nodded, heart hammering. She couldn’t see him. He stood behind her, one arm wrapped around her torso, pinning her arms to her sides, the other pressing the cool, sharp blade to her neck.
Shouting – Schelt shouting – replaced the awful gunfire outside. Moonlight peeked through the cracks in the wooden barn walls, casting eerie shadows on the walls. Voices and heavy footfalls approached. Her captor swore.
It was that profanity that triggered something in her brain. She understood him. He spoke Taneian, her language, not Schelt, the enemy’s tongue. He was a Taneian soldier left behind during the retreat.
He’d be killed if the Schelts found him.
“Trap door,” she rasped.
“I said be quiet!” His grip on her tightened.
“There’s a trap door under Bessie.”
“What?”
“The cow on the left. There’s a trap door under her stall. Opens to an extra storage room. You can hide.”
The barn doors creaked. A sliver of light spilled in and grew. Laura’s stomach plummeted. She had no desire to meet an armed Schelt soldier face to face.
Neither did her captor. He darted into Bessie’s stall, dragging her with him and groped around on the floor for the door. The prickly animal complied with people for once and shifted over. Before Laura had a chance to clamber down, he tossed her into the pitch darkness, leapt after her and closed them in. Bessie stomped above them. Her clunking almost drowned out the Schelts. Almost.
Barely able to see anything, Laura scooted back into a corner and hugged her knees to her chest. How had she gotten tangled into this mess? She’d been trudging home from the butcher’s when the fighting broke out. The Taneians – people who called the small island nation off the southwest coast of Ireland home – evidently unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow chuck the Schelts out of her small town, Titusville. Terrified a stray bullet would make her its target, she sprinted into the barn only to be grabbed from behind and threatened with a knife. Could she not have one moment of peace?
“Oh damn,” the man breathed.
“What?”
“They saw you come in.”
“So? I’m nothing to them, did they see you?”
“I don’t think so, but they’re looking for …” His sentence hung incomplete, straining the little room with whatever he refrained from saying.
“Looking for what?”
She heard him swallow his discomfort. “Female … companionship.”
He blood iced. She dug her fingernails into her elbows, willing herself to relax. They wouldn’t find her here. They wouldn’t.
“I will not let them touch you.”
The intense sincerity in his voice surprised her. What was she to him? Nothing. They did not know each other. For all she knew, he could be after the same thing the Schelts were. Yet the way he promised to protect her … the fervor in his voice made it sound like he’d known her all his life and would die before he allowed anyone near her.
That one sentence wholly comforted her. She knew she was safe with him. Now that he had dropped the knife of course.
***
“I think they’re gone,” Thomas told the girl a few minutes later. He could hardly see the slip of a thing, but he heard her breathing in the corner. Even breaths now, not ragged and sporadic ones like before.
“Good,” she replied. “Is it safe to come out, do you think?”
“No. They could be just outside.” He’d be staying in this blessed secret sanctuary for as long as possible to avoid capture. If the Schelts found him, the heir to the Taneian throne, cowering like the cornered rabbit he was they’d have a field day.
Then they’d kill him.
He leaned against the wall, heat from the woman warming his chilled body even though she sat as far away from him as the tiny space allowed. He closed his eyes, despair crashing over him like waves at his favorite ocean-side summer palace. He’d failed. His meticulously planned mission to liberate the occupied southern tip of his nation failed. He’d lost men. Too many good men had died for nothing; and now he, the embodiment of their hope, huddled in a spare storage room, abandoned on his own order to save more lives, only alive himself because of … of … he didn’t know her name.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to risk this for me.”
“I hardly had a choice with a knife pressed to my throat.”
“Touché. I’m Thomas.” Best omit the Crown Prince of Taneia that customarily accompanied his name. The less conspicuous he remained the better.
Besides, people in this town probably wouldn’t recognize him as the prince anyway. They isolated themselves, following many of their own laws, none of which contradicted royal law naturally, under their religious leader, the Shepherd. They paid their taxes and preferred to be left alone. No reports of abuse reached Rhocent, the capital city, save for Thomas’s mother’s accounts. All in all, they caused no trouble, content in their separateness.
But they were still his people. They were just as Taneian as he. That was what spurred his botched mission. He had a duty to protect all his citizens, especially from bloodthirsty Schelts who had thrown in their lot with that psychopath Hitler and his maniacal Germans …
“I’m Laura.”
“Thank you, Laura.”
“You’re on our side.”
He chuckled. “Yes, I’m on your side.”
They lapsed into uncomfortable silence. What else could he say? They’d be down here for at least another ten minutes; he refused to lift the trap door before then. He’d never realized how awkward it was to get to know someone in the dark.
As if she’d been thinking the same thing, he heard her shuffling around, hay swishing across the dirt floor and finally a metallic clank.
“Do you have a match? I found the oil lamp the Shepherd keeps down here.”
“I think so.” He fumbled in his pockets. No, the matchbook was in his pack. He shrugged it off and cried out, surprised at the searing pain in his side.
“Are you all right?”
Ears ringing and side burning, he grunted some kind of response. The pain brought back memory of a hand-to-hand combat. He’d won but not before the bastard got a good swipe at him with his bayonet. He grimaced. That’s why he was so cold. It had nothing to do with the chill in the air; he’d probably lost a great deal of blood by now. As if on cue, stars danced before his eyes like the ballerina he’d secretly been seeing after he found out about Maureen and the sailor. He leaned back against the wall, praying he wouldn’t pass out.
Warm hands cupped his face and guided him to the ground. “Relax,” a silky voice soothed. “You’ll be all right. Tell me where the matches are.”
Laura. That’s right, he was with the new woman Laura. And she needed matches for the lamp.
“Front pocket. First aid on … top in … the large one.”
In a few seconds she had the lamp lit. Thomas shut his eyes against the headache it triggered.
“Good Lord!” she exclaimed. “You need a doctor!”
“No doctor. They’ll find me. Stitch me.”
“But I can’t –”
“You have to.”
“I’m not a nurse.”
“You’re all I’ve got.”
“You need stitches.”
“There’s … sewing stuff for uniforms. It has to do.”
“Thomas –”
“Please, Laura.”
She hesitated, strangely quiet. Thomas almost thought something had happened to her until he heard her rustling in his pack.
“Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet. It’s going to hurt.”
“I’m a big boy.”

More next week!

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About Miss Rosemary

is a recent college graduate from NY hoping to complete her novel of ten years. Stop by her blog, Miss Rosemary's Novel Ideas at http://missrosemary.net or contact her at MissRosemarysNovelIdeas@gmail.com with comments, questions and suggestions. She'd love to hear from you! View all posts by Miss Rosemary

28 responses to “Behold, Chapter One

  • Cities of the Mind

    There is a certain happy feeling that goes with reading a bestseller and thinking, I could do this better.

    Solid writing on the sample chapter, and interesting mix of fantasy (alt history?) elements and historical aspects (Hitler, Germans). One thing that maybe shouldn’t be given away is that this fellow is Crown Prince. I mean, if people are sacrificing themselves for him, he must be important, so much better (more fun) to leave your readers wondering how and why.

    • Miss Rosemary

      Thanks Conor, I like your happy thinking 🙂

      And also, thanks for the tip. I thought about leaving it hanging more and am still toying with it, but also find it quite fun messing with Laura, ie readers knowing but her not. I’m still playing around with it. You’ll be the first to know the outcome!

  • Chelsea Ady

    I applaud you for finishing the dreadful novel. Not everyone possesses such extreme mental control.

    You definitely have the right to critique other writers. I’m riveted to your work. I think my nose was about an inch from the screen.

    I like Conor’s suggestion, but I also like what you did. As a reader, it is equally frustrating (in a fervent, page-turning way) to know the identity of someone while the protag doesn’t as wondering who this important man is. If you reveal the identity the way you have it here, I would advise stretching out Laura’s obliviousness to the point of making your readers shout his identity at the page. I don’t know how that fits into your plot, but it’s just an option. 🙂

    • Miss Rosemary

      Thank you thank you, you’ve got it! She doesn’t know right up to the point where they march up to the palace doors and comes face to face with his … oh I’ve said too much. But it’s at least 30,000 words of her not having a clue thought it’s staring her in the face. But I’, glad you liked it 🙂

  • Rowenna

    Thanks for posting what you’re working on! Awesome read 🙂

    Oh, I’ve definitely felt the “Why? Oh, WHY?” reaction to some books–why they were published, why they were bestsellers. I try to ignore it lest it eat at me, and remind myself that, deep down, it’s mostly about me–I didn’t get published with my first book, so there’s some jealousy boiling in me–fueling the indignation (and I can honestly say I thought that book was better than some published stuff I’ve read…but clearly it didn’t click and they did, or I wasn’t persistent enough). Sigh…all to say, I know the feeling well 🙂 Stick it out and keep writing!!!

    • Miss Rosemary

      Thanks Rowenna!

      And yes, I do know a great deal of it is jealousy which I try to curb. But just like with your book, when you know it’s good it’s good. It’s when you’re not sure and uneasy about a piece and let jealousy overtake you that it becomes a problem, at least for me.

  • coffeepearlsgrace

    So glad you shared a preview of your book! I loved reading it. Well done! And I definitely understand your frustrations with reading a worthless text. I really don’t understand how certain books actually pass as “literature.” Oh well… I guess we learn what NOT to do. 😉 Keep up the good work!

  • jannatwrites

    I’m sorry you paid so much money for a terrible book. I hate it when that happens! It is frustrating, but at least you know you can do better. You show ’em!

  • West Coast Admirer

    Miss Rosemary,
    My dear I’m in love with you and your work. I would like to request in advance a signed copy of this novel once it is published by some NY firm lucky to have you. I would have to agree with you on the british author. If the writing was anything like the Evening Standard I could only imagine. Because the initial comments on your post were about the abduction that’s what I thought was happening to Laura but this Prince Tom sounds delightfully more intriguing!
    Sincerely,
    West Coast Admirer 😉

    • Miss Rosemary

      Dear West Coast Admirer,
      You will OF COURSE receive an advance copy 🙂 And yes, the book was quite on par with the Standard – yet somehow I am nostalgic for that dear Standard … As for dear Prince Thomas let’s just say he’s very much like dear Ben … oh Ben.
      Come, come, come East Coast!!!
      Miss Rosemary

  • Menu Update « Cities of the Mind

    […] and I did spend some time on your lovely blogs of course. In case you missed them, Miss Rosemary’s got a chapter from her book up, Brown-Eyed‘s got a neat little methodology piece up, […]

  • Sangu

    There is immense joy in reading something successful/popular and thinking ‘I can write better than this’, though I always then wince and think ‘oh dear, what if people think that about my book??’. Ha!

  • brownpaperbaggirl

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your rant…so much trash (for lack of a better word) is published and mass consumed. On another note, your story is wonderful. It completely pulled me in and I can’t wait to read more!

  • Maimoona Rahman

    I liked it 😀

    And I hope you get into NYU.

    And: Did you ever write an article on good story introductions? I remember it was you. Have been looking for it :S

  • Megs

    Thank you for the warning about Stolen… just reading about it made me shudder.

  • sthowell

    I echo Cities of the Mind that it feels good to know that you can do better than someone who “made it.” I get that feeling all the time. Life’s too short for bad books. I enjoy your blog. Rock on.

    Steve
    http://steventhowell.wordpress.com/
    Twitter: @steventhowell

  • ABlankWhitePage

    Ooohh, the intrigue!

    Also, I am always disappointed when something sells loads, and I don’t like it (*cough* Dan Brown *cough*). But then, people buying books is good. People buying lots of books is even better. And people who buy lots of books usually can’t resist getting just “one” more…so maybe that “one” will someday be yours.

    Always makes me feel better, anyway.

  • krisceratops

    It’s about time! Loved the excerpt. Can’t wait to see what happens next. I recently read “My Sister’s Keeper” and clearly remember thinking Seriously? This is the bestseller that got such a huge movie deal? It does make us feel a wee bit better, doesn’t it?

    • Miss Rosemary

      Oh indeed! I did like My Sister’s Keeper but it was SO CLICHE! I guess people like cliches…

      • krisceratops

        It was mostly just the metaphors that got me. The story was cute, but there would be these huge, super obscure, paragraph-long metaphors that were supposed to be made by a 12-year-old (or whatever, I don’t remember how old she was supposed to be. She talked like a 50-year old anyway). Just overkill with all the super melodramatic language. :p

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