excerpt | the art of letting go.

You guys are amazing and so sweet and I love you all dearly and because I love you, I’m going to give you an excerpt of The Art – the opening scenes.  *Jeremy Jordan voice* But first a story…

I worked on my novel for three or four hours at Starbucks last Friday and – y’all.  Y’allllll.  It was actually so much better than I remembered it.  The little things I loved about it, the general idea of it in my head – all of it was still there.  Obviously, there was a little to work on.  Wording that I rolled my eyes over, phrases that just needed to be cut because my readers aren’t stupid (and I hate it when authors write down to their readers and don’t want to become one), etc etc.  I got through the first two chapters, reworking the beginning to include a scene I wrote for a course last semester.  And it turned out pretty dang good!  I’m really excited about continuing to work on it over this semester – and not nearly as nervous.

So, I was going to write an update post on Sunday (because I was busy watching La La Land, meeting Veronica Roth and getting her to sign her newest book, Carve the Mark, for me, then talking to the owner of a bookstore about working there – as you do on a Saturday).  But then I got my first grade back from one of the last college courses I’m doing (the TESU Capstone, which is kind of a big deal)… and it was pretty bad.  Not only that, the professor said he was “personally disappointed” in me.  To say the least, I was pretty low for a few days.  That night, I ate ice cream and watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which was amazing), then, the next day, got back to my school again.  I had to focus really hard on the next paper – a ten-page literature review *rolls eyes* – but I got it done and the immediate pressure is over so I’m back to write this super late update.  (Also, a friend of mine read The Art and loved it, so that makes me feel a whole lot better.  {pleasedon’thatemeforgivingittoher.})

AAAAAAANYWAY.  It’s been a rough week but it’s almost over, and in celebration of that (and, again, as thanks for being such amazing followers), here are the opening scenes from The Art of Letting Go.  Enjoy.  🙂


The Art of Letting Go | Chapter One – April 12th, 2012.

My eyes flutter open at six-thirty, and I lie there, watching the sunrise slowly light up my room, waiting. Five minutes later, right on cue, my phone buzzes. I smile, roll over slowly, and pick up my phone.

‘Morning, Peach! <3’

My smile widens a little and I yawn before replying, ‘Good morning! Get your workout in?’

The reply comes seconds later. ‘Yep. So ready for Friday!’

‘You’ll crush them, babe.’

‘No duh! Now go get ready!!!’

I drop my phone on the bed beside me, sit up, and stretch. Good morning, world! I toss the decorative pillows back on my partially-made bed and head downstairs, cautiously looking around for Dad. He’s not around – probably already at work – so I check my social media while my single cup of coffee brews. When it’s done, I bring it upstairs and start on my makeup, thinking about my outfit and the day ahead as I brush and blend.

I put my earbuds in, even though I’m the only one in the house – what can I say; it’s a habit – and start up an episode of Thyme Traveler on my phone. I’ve already seen all of the available seasons, so I’m rewatching the whole thing before the next season starts in the fall. I make sure to pick a more lighthearted episode. The last time I did this while putting on my makeup, I watched a season finale and cried. Mascara went everywhere. What a mess, I remember, grinning.

Twenty minutes later, I glance at the clock beside my bed and stop the episode before I get sucked in any more. I finish up and quickly pull on my favorite pair of jeans, then switch them out for shorts, remembering how warm it’ll probably be. Yanking a tank top over my head, I slip into some sandals and pull my messenger bag over my shoulder. I barely have time to transfer my coffee to a to-go cup before running out the door.

I drive to school with the radio up and the window down so the wind can blow in my hair. I’ve done this nearly every day of my junior year and I know it’s made a vast improvement on my perspective on the day. With a little over a year of school left, I can’t imagine not doing this every day. How hard is it to just leave the building you’ve spent most of your waking hours in for the last four years? More than that, to leave and head off into the unknown? True, I’ll spend the next four years after that in another series of buildings… but it seems so different. So much more adult.

My grip on the steering wheel tightens, but I force myself to take deep breaths to try to relax.

I stop at a red light and close my eyes. I’ve got David. We’re going to college together. Everything’s going to be okay. It’s not that big of a deal. Time to grow up.

I open my eyes and mouth this over and over again as I drive the remaining mile. It’s become my mantra over the past few weeks. David helped me with it. Every time I feel the anxiety start to rise, I just repeat it a few times. It usually helps. As David’s graduation date approaches – and mine still remains a year away – it’s getting a little harder. But David is always there to calm me down.

He really is the best boyfriend a girl could ask for, I muse, finally starting to calm down as I pull into the parking lot. I make a mental note to buy him something special on our date tonight.

I enter the building, a smile on my face. The halls are overrun with teenagers, all laughing and teasing and kissing and shouting and running, standing in poorly-formed circles or small groups. All are enjoying a few final moments of freedom before the bell rings.

“Daniella!”

I feel a hand on my arm and turn with a smile. “Hey, babe.”

“Morning, Peach,” David says, wrapping his arms around me. I bury my head in his chest, inhaling the sweet, spicy smell of his cologne. “Sleep well?”

“Mm-hmm.” I close my eyes, soaking in the moment. I could stay here forever.

The moment ends a few seconds later when I finally pull myself away from the security of David’s arms. The cheerful, warm-and-fuzzy feeling stays with me, however. It always does.

We walk down the hall towards our lockers, side by side. This is how we first met. Daniella James and David Jamison. Our lockers have been next to each other ever since I changed schools two years ago. David was the first person to greet me, the first to help me find my class, and the first to make me feel welcome. We’ve been friends ever since. Last year, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I’ve been in a constant state of bliss ever since.

“Are we still on for tonight?” he asks, taking my hand, his fingers entwining with mine.

“Of course,” I answer, swinging his hand back and forth and feeling myself get hypnotized by his Jolly Rancher green eyes.

“Good.” He flashes that billion-dollar grin of his that lights up his entire face and, in turn, the rest of the world. I smile back, once again realizing how lucky I am.

“Think you’ll win the game on Friday night?” I ask, letting go of his hand to get my geometry book out of my locker.

“Absolutely.” He folds his arms across his muscular chest and leans against his locker, facing me. “Peachtree City High has been an easy win for the past four years. I wouldn’t count on anything changing.”

“Me, neither.”
“And you’ll be cheering me on from the sidelines, right?” he asks with a wink.

“Absolutely,” I reply, shutting my locker door. I spin the lock and turn to face him, tilting my head a little. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

David’s smile softens and he leans forward to rest his forehead on mine. Then, he whispers, “That’s why I love you.”

In an instant, I melt. “I love you, too.”

David quickly kisses my forehead before straightening up. “See you at practice?”

“See you,” I reply.

He waves and vanishes into the crowd. I smile and watch him over my shoulder as I walk away. Suddenly, I feel my books being knocked out of my hands. “Hey!” I exclaim, staring at the books.

“I’m so sorry,” the guy replies, kneeling down to pick up my books.

I recognize the head of hair below me and roll my eyes. “Kyle, you’re such a klutz.”

Kyle looks up, relief plainly written on his face. “Oh, it’s just you.” He grins sheepishly. “Sorry, Danni.”

I put a hand on my hip and raise my eyebrows. “Just me? Excuse you.”

“I was worried that it was, like, some new kid or – even worse – a hot girl.”

Excuse me?!”

Kyle stands and puts the books back into my hands. “You know what I mean.”

I squint and lean into his face. “I hate you.”

Kyle smiles with that lopsided grin that is uniquely his just as the first bell rings. “Same to you. Hey, are you gonna be able to come to the photography showcase tonight?”

I frown slightly and start walking towards class. Kyle keeps my pace beside me and waits expectantly for an answer. “Why would I come, Ky? Besides seeing your beautiful photographs, that is.”

“Well, that, obviously, and because you’re a cheerleader and that’s what they do – come to photography showcases and cheer for their favorites. Right?” I laugh and he elbows me. “Right?”

“Right,” I say, checking my phone. A second later, I put my phone back in my pocket and elbow him back. “If I can get off work early, I’ll come. Eight, at the library?”

“Yup,” Kyle says, stopping in front of a classroom. He waves to someone inside, turns to me, points his index finger at my face, says, “Be there!” and saunters into the classroom.

I roll my eyes and head off to class.


Thoughts???

the elevator {a short story}

(I actually don’t love this title so somebody tell me what to change it to, please.)

I just finished re-reading Fangirl – and yes I totally sobbed when it was over – and, as always, felt like writing.  I wrote this the other day for a playwriting course I’m taking (ALL THE HEART-EYES EMOJIS), so I decided to convert it to short story form, especially for you guys.  It was ten pages as a bare-bones script, but six as a short story, so grab some tea or hot chocolate and enjoy!  (And, as always, let me know what you think.  I love hearing feedback from you guys about what I write!)


The Elevator

“Hold the elevator!”

The young woman quickly stuck her hand out, barring the doors from closing as she scrolled through her phone. She barely looked up as a young man ran in, breathless.

“Thanks,” he said, panting.

“No problem.”

The doors closed.

He pushed a floor button. She scrolled through her phone.

A few seconds later, the elevator jerked. Both of its occupants were set off-balance, but not enough to knock them to the ground.

The young woman cursed, wiping at a spot where her coffee had sloshed over the side of her cup and onto her blouse. “Perfect.”

“Whoa,” the young man said. He stared at the floor buttons for a moment. “I… I think the elevator’s stuck.”

“Great,” the young woman sighed, rolling her eyes.

“Huh,” the young man said. “I’ve, uh, never been in this situation.”

He pulled the strap of his messenger bag down, swinging the bag around to his back, and pushed the “call” button repeatedly. After a few moments, he pursed his lips and stepped back. “I have no idea what to do.”

“I’m assuming just push the button and wait for someone to come?”

“I guess…?”

He pushed the button one more time. Then, with a resolved look, pulled his messenger bag off and sat on the ground, his back resting against the wall of the elevator.

“Uh, what’re you doing?” the young woman asked him.

“We don’t know how long we’ll be here,” he told her, shrugging. “Might as well get comfortable.”

The young woman stared at him for a moment, then huffed and sat down in the wall adjacent to him.

“I’m Charlie,” the young man said, holding his hand out.

“Amy,” the young woman replied. She shook his hand, then quickly let go.

“Nice to meet you. Awful circumstances, but nice anyway.”

Amy shot him a terse smile before going back to her phone.

“Do you work here?” he persisted.

“Yeah, I’m Parker’s secretary,” she replied, not looking up from her phone.

“Parker…?”

“Jim Parker, CEO of Haywire Electricians.”

Charlie laughed – quick, surprised, partially out of obligation. “Wire. Electricians. Got it.”

“It was funny the first time I heard it, too,” Amy told him, still staring at her screen but raising an eyebrow.

“I bet you have to say it a thousand times a day. It must be annoying to get the same response.”

“You have no idea,” she mumbled.

Charlie pulled a thick stack of papers out of his messenger bag and started rifling through them, quickly reading through certain lines. Amy glanced up at him over her phone, then quickly looked away.

“Well, that’s good,” Charlie finally acknowledged, absentmindedly. “Good for you.”

Amy let out a short, mirthless laugh. “Hardly where I’d wanted to be by twenty-four, but that’s what life handed me.”

Charlie looked up over his papers. “Hey, when life hands you lemons…”

“Make lemonade while looking for champagne.”

Charlie’s brow furrowed, but he smiled nevertheless.

They went back to their respective tasks, halfheartedly working, both glancing up at the elevator every now and then.

“How long do you think we’ll be here?” Charlie asked.

Amy sighed and took a sip of her coffee. “I have no idea. I’ve never been stuck on an elevator before, either. Maybe ten minutes? Maybe an hour? Who knows.”

“It’s always ten hours in books,” Charlie mentioned. He flipped a page and started scanning it. “The characters start sharing ridiculous secrets with one another and it’s always cliché and stupidly pointless.”

Amy smirked. “Read a lot?”

Charlie frowned a little, peering closer at his paper. “Tons.” He looked up at her and smiled, almost embarrassed. “I’m a writer; I’ve gotta read everything.”

“Interesting,” Amy replied, her tone saying otherwise.

“I’m trying to get my novel published right now, actually.”

“First?”

“And only, if it takes this long with all of them. Abbot & Chadwick – fourth floor, the reason I came – is the ninth publisher I’ve visited about it.”

“You’ve visited nine publishers?” Amy asked, finally seeming to be interested.

“So far,” Charlie sighed, lining up the edges of his papers. “I’m so afraid I’m gonna have to put it on the back burner while I start my next one.”

“Can’t you submit a manuscript online or through the mail or something?” Amy asked, confused and a little annoyed at his apparent stupidity.

“Oh, yeah – I’ve done that, too. Definitely. I was just hoping a personal visit would give me a better chance.” He pursed his lips and glared at his stack of papers. “Obviously it hasn’t.”

Amy watched him for a moment, her face softening. “Hey, nine publishers isn’t bad. I heard J.K. Rowling got turned down by twelve publishers before somebody finally agreed to publish Harry Potter.”

“Really?” Charlie asked, looking up, his face hopeful.

“You’re almost there.” She watched him for another moment, then quickly added, “And, hey, if this one doesn’t work out, I know a friend of a friend who works at Grimaldi House. No promises, but I might be able to pull a few strings and get him to look at it for you.”

Charlie’s face lit up and he inhaled sharply. “Could you?” he asked, traces of a smile on his lips. “That’d be fantastic!”

“No promises, remember?”

“Got it. Thank you – thank you so much.” He started rifling through his bag again, finally pulling out a receipt and a pen. He wrote down his information, then handed it to Amy with a smile. She traded it for a business card.

Charlie looked at the card for a moment, then put it in a small zippered pocked in his messenger bag, saying to Amy with a grin, “I really appreciate this.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied, seeming to mean it. She went back to her phone, then looked back up at him, faltered, and then said, “Let me know what happens today. I mean, if you want to. You don’t have to. If you don’t want to.”

Charlie smiled at Amy, softly, as if his entire impression of her – all ten minutes that he’d known her – had changed in that instant. “No, I will. I definitely will. Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

Charlie went back to his papers, but Amy continued looking at him.

“What’s your book about?” she finally asked.

“It’s a young adult novel about a kinda dark subject: The main character’s friend commits suicide and the main character has to figure out how to move on and keep living,” he rattled off, not looking up from his paper, as if he’d said it a million times before.

Amy’s jaw went slack and her lips parted. Her eyes glazed over a little and she didn’t say anything for a minute. When she eventually did, it was hushed and reluctant. “Really. That’s, um, interesting. Does she… or he… move on?”

Charlie looked up at her with a sly grin, not noticing how her countenance had changed. “Spoilers, but yes. She gets really depressed and hits a really low point, but finds hope through another friend.”

Amy looked relieved. “Good.”

Charlie smiled and looked back down at his stack of papers – which, now Amy realized, was obviously his manuscript. It was massive. “Yeah,” he replied.

“So… why suicide?” Amy asked after a moment. “Couldn’t you have picked a happier subject? The world’s pretty dark as it is, so I doubt it needs more dark material… right?”

Charlie leaned back against the wall, intertwining his fingers together behind his head, thinking for a moment before he replied. “Well. Yeah… Fair point. But I feel like people learn more through the hard things than happy things. Right?”

Amy nodded, so Charlie went on.

“I mean, you never hear about how someone learned about the value of time and how to spend it wisely after they get engaged, right? Not that it hasn’t happened, though. It’s just, nine times out of ten, it’s the hard stuff that teaches us lessons. Sucks, but it’s true. Plus, I’ve got a personal connection with it, so….”

“It?”

“Suicide.”

“Oh.” Amy frowned, taken aback. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. It’s been a while, so I’m okay with talking about it. Finally.” He put his hands together in his lap, staring at his thumbs as he rubbed them together. “It was my mom.”

Amy barely contained a gasp. Her shoulders fell. “I’m so sorry. That.. that must have been really hard.”

Charlie didn’t reply for a moment. He raised his eyebrows and took a deep breath before admitting, “It was. Harder than anyone ever thinks. And I want to show people that, if I can,” he quietly added, shrugging with one shoulder.

“Show them what?”

Charlie looked her in the eye. “That suicide always kills more than one person. It sucks that – so often – the space a person fills isn’t really felt ’til they’re gone – and when they’re gone, they’re gone, and people can’t tell them how much they miss them or stop it from happening or…”

Amy averted her eyes. She swallowed before replying. “I’m sorry, Charlie.”

For a moment, total silence fell.

Charlie continued rubbing his thumbs together.

Amy massaged her temples.

The only sounds were the occasional buzz of Amy’s phone, which she ignored, and the soft murmur of the people in the building, which they both listened to.

Charlie cleared his throat. “I once heard someone say that you should always tell people how important they are to you,” he softly said. “Not because they may be gone tomorrow, but because it’s worth saying.” He took a breath before continuing. “Well, my mom was gone before I thought she would be, and I didn’t say I loved her enough.”

Amy didn’t say anything; she just watched him.

“It took me years to figure out why my mom killed herself… and then it took me even longer to figure out how to move on.” He stopped, looked Amy square in the eye, and gave her a bittersweet smile. “Anyway, I figured that since I’ve finally felt happy again after so many years of thinking I never would, I’d better share whatever small insights I can.”
Amy listened, but didn’t nod or smile. She simply said, “I’m sure your book is wonderful. And I know it’ll help a lot of people.”

“I hope so – I mean it’d better,” Charlie replied, laughing a little. “God knows I’ve spent years trying to get it into their hands.”

Now Amy smiled, almost as if she’d been resisting it.

Charlie smiled back, then took a deep breath, stretching. “Anyway. Sorry about that. I didn’t intend for the conversation to take such a depressing turn.”

“It’s okay,” Amy told him. “I asked.”

“You did,” Charlie replied, his eyes twinkling.

They went back to their respective tasks after a moment, yet neither were interested in what they were doing anymore. Amy sipped her lukewarm coffee, staring at her phone but not doing anything. Charlie read the same paragraph three times before looking around the elevator.

“Your company’s on the top floor?” Charlie quickly asked, as if it’d just occurred to him as he looked at the floor buttons they’d pressed. “You must have the best view of the city from your desk.”

“The CEO has the best view,” she sighed, putting down her phone. “My desk is right outside of his room. In a boring, windowless hallway.”

“That’s too bad.” Charlie tapped his manuscript, staring at the floor. “Maybe you’ll have that room someday, though – right?”

“I don’t think so…”

Charlie looked up at her, his brow furrowed. “Why not?”

Amy sighed. “Honestly? I hate my job. I hate filtering complaints and hearing everybody laugh about our stupid company name – which, by the way, Jim came up with when he was drunk.” Her grip on her coffee cup tightened as she went on. “I hate sitting at a desk all day and getting home to an empty apartment. I hate the dull monotony, I hate the routine, and I hate the fact that nothing changes and that nothing ever will change. And I hate not being able to do what I want with my own freaking life.”

Charlie didn’t reply for a moment, finally saying in a consoling tone, “I’m sorry, Amy.”

Amy shook her head, looking away. “No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have vented like that. I’m just so… so…” She didn’t finish, merely shaking her head again.

“I just vented on you,” Charlie reminded her with a soft laugh, “so I think it’s okay. Now we’re even.”

Amy turned to him, the corner of her mouth tugging up a little. “Okay.”

Charlie cocked his head, watched her for a moment, then said, “So what do you want to do?”

“What?”

“The age-old question: If you had unlimited time and unlimited resources, what would you do?”

“I want to climb Mount Everest,” Amy replied, not hesitating a second. A hopeful look appeared over her face as she spoke her dreams into existence. “I want to see Niagara Falls. I want to go to London and Edinburgh and Paris and Rome and Venice and… I want to see the world, Charlie.” She stopped, frowning. “And all I’m seeing is my desk. Every day.”

“Then quit,” Charlie casually said, shrugging.

Amy’s shoulders dropped. She stared at the floor again. “I can’t. I need the money.”

“Do you have any savings? Can’t you leave for a while, see stuff, come back, earn money, repeat?”

Amy shook her head, still avoiding his gaze. “I used it all to pay off my student loans. I probably only have a few thousand dollars saved – and I’m going to need a new car pretty soon.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

Charlie was silent for a moment, then offered, “What about backpacking?”

“What?” Amy asked, finally looking at him again.

“Backpacking. You could save tons of money. Ever seen Gilmore Girls?”

Amy’s entire face brightened. “Yes! I used to love that show!”

“It’s my guilty pleasure,” Charlie told her in a hushed, conspiratorial tone. “You can’t tell anybody, okay?”

Amy chuckled. “I won’t.”

“I always wanted to watch episodes of Rory and Lorelai backpacking across Europe – you know, between seasons three and four? I don’t think the budget was big enough, though.”

“I wanted to see that, too!”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Amy and Charlie smiled at each other.

After a moment, a bemused expression came over Charlie’s face. “Do you believe in fate?” he asked.

“You think we’re in a Hallmark film, too?” she replied, giggling a little.

Charlie laughed. Amy watched.

After a second, Amy licked her lips, took a breath, and said, “I… I lied to you.”

“When?” Charlie asked, tilting his head.

“Haywire is on the fifth floor.”

Charlie’s brow furrowed and the smile faded from his face. He glanced at the floor buttons, then back to Amy. “Then… why were you going to the top floor?”

Amy swallowed.

“I was going to jump.”

Charlie stared at her, his expression half pained, half shocked.

“Jump?” he whispered.

“From the roof.”

His face paled. “What?!

“I can’t do this anymore,” Amy told him, covering her face with her hands.

No,” Charlie firmly said. He leaned forward and pulled her hands away, looking her straight in the eye as he said, “You can. I know you can.”

“I can’t,” she halfheartedly protested. Tears started to well in her eyes.

Charlie shook his head and inched forward. “Remember what I said earlier, about my mom? We couldn’t tell her how much we missed her after she killed herself. Imagine all the people in your life who won’t be able to tell you that if you do this.”

“There’s nobody like that for me!” Amy angrily objected, sobbing. “You don’t understand. I have no friends. I’m so pathetic – I’ve been in this city for two years and I still haven’t made any friends.”

“Well, now you have one,” Charlie told her, not hesitating for a moment. “You hear me? Even if you’re right and there’s nobody there for you, you’ve got me. Okay?”

Amy sputtered and bowed her head, unable to speak. Charlie just watched her, stroking her hands with his thumbs. He opened his mouth to speak several times, but closed it before saying anything.

After a while, Amy looked up, tears still streaming down her cheeks. Charlie let go of one of her hands and she rubbed the tears away. “Charlie, I-”

“Fire department!” a voice interrupted, shouting from what seemed like far away. “We’re here and we’re going to get you out. Are you okay?”

Charlie leaned back and yelled, “Yeah, we’re fine!”

“Okay, good. The elevator’s stuck between floors so we’re going to pry the door open and then let you know what you need to do. We’re going to get you out of there – just stay calm, okay?”

“Got it!” Charlie replied. Then, he leaned forward again, looking at Amy with sympathetic eyes. “Are you okay?”

“I…” Her voice faltered, so she cleared her throat before starting again. “I think so. I will be. I hope.”

Charlie nodded, looking down at her hand in his. He swallowed and blinked back tears of his own. He turned his attention back to Amy after a moment. “I’m not going to leave you until you’re through this, okay? Let’s go get lunch or coffee or something.”

“But my job…” Amy weakly protested.

“Call in sick,” Charlie suggested.

Amy reluctantly smiled a little, then looked up at him. “What about your manuscript?”

“This is more important.”

A sob escaped. Amy bit her lip and lunged forward, wrapping her arms around Charlie. “Thank you,” she whispered, crying.

Charlie smiled, hugged her back, and sniffed. “I’m glad I got stuck in this elevator with you today, Amy.”

“Me, too.”

A moment later, they broke apart, both slightly embarrassed but glad. Amy found a tissue in her purse and blew her nose. Charlie pretended not to need one.

“I never answered your question,” Amy told him just as they started to hear the firemen prying the door open.

“Oh?” Charlie said, shoving his manuscript into his messenger bag.

“I do believe in fate. At least, now I do.”

Charlie smiled at her.

“I do, too.”

daniella&david {a scene from the art of letting go}

In keeping with the subject matter of the week (love, duh) and because people keep asking me to share more of my writing, I’ve decided to release another excerpt from my new novel, The Art of Letting Go.  This scene takes place about two-thirds of the way through the book, right when Daniella is learning how to let go, and it’s in the middle of a few vignettes showing what Daniella and David’s relationship looked like before he died.  It’s a pretty cute scene that I’m Rather Proud Of, and basically spoiler-free, so here it is!  Enjoy!  (And, as always, let me know what you think in the comments!)

Another memory resurfaces. This time, it’s of David and I, alone at his house, making dinner together. As I splash a few drops of wine over some chicken, I realize something. It reminds me of a scene from one of Mal’s favorite romantic comedies where an unlikely couple is making dinner together. Cliché, yes, but it was an adorable scene. I glance across the countertop, where David is chopping celery, onions, and carrots, then turn back to the chicken and smile.

We’re a pretty unlikely couple, but also kind of a stereotypical couple: the football player with the cheerleader. It’s the couple in every teen angsty drama. But… David and I have something different. He asked me if we could hang out before he knew I was a cheerleader, and I didn’t know he was on the football team until a week or so later. Also, he’s in regular classes and looking at a full-ride football scholarship for college next year. I’m in mostly honors classes, but I don’t have any colleges picked out – yet – so my college-related future is a little fuzzier. I know the first place I’m going to apply, though, and it’s going to be wherever David’s going.

“Almost ready for this mess?” he asks, looking up at me.

“I’ve been ready, kid,” I tell him, grinding some pepper over the chicken. “Isn’t that supposed to go in here first? After, like, sauteing it?”

“Ehh, it’s okay.” He glances up at me, grinning, then sticks his tongue out and bites it between his teeth as he starts chopping again.

I swear, the guy could be one of those professional chefs on a cooking show. He’s got the look, too, which I think matters more than the skills. He’s amazing when it comes to cooking. I’ve only had two meals that he’s made, but I already know it for a fact – the guy can cook like nobody’s business. I fold my arms and lean on the counter, watching him with a smile on my face. My mind wanders to ten years from now, where I can totally see us doing this in our kitchen, with one or two little kids running around at our feet. The thought makes me grin like the idiot I am.

“Ready!” He dumps the celery, onions, and carrots into the pan with the chicken. Then, he feigns a scared face. “Boy, I hope we’re doing this right.”

“I don’t think there’s a wrong way to cook,” I say, opening the oven door and sticking the pan in.

“Of course there’s a wrong way to cook. Are you mental?”

I roll my eyes. “It’s food, so, I mean, as long as it’s still edible when we’re done with it, I think we’ll be good.”

David laughs. I frown slightly as I close the oven door. “What?”

“You.”

I turn to him and peer at him slightly. “What about me?”

“You’re so funny.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yeah, you are.”

I try to keep myself from grinning and roll my eyes again. “Whatever.”

“Whatever,” he says, copying my tone exactly as he rolls his eyes. Almost immediately after, he presses his fingers to his eyes. “Gah, my eyes are burning. Stupid onions.”

I giggle, watching him fan his eyes with a towel. “I hate cutting onions because of that right there. You start crying and then it ruins your makeup.”

Instantly, he smothers his face in the towel and starts fake-sobbing. Then, he looks up at me with puppy-dog eyes, sniffing a little. “Is my mascara running?”

I laugh and slap the towel out of his hand. He grins and picks it up off the floor in one fluid motion. I watch him fold it in thirds and put it on the counter, right beside the oven. Pride swells up inside of me for no reason whatsoever. I love this man.

Embarrassed at myself, I shake my head to clear my mind. “So what’s for dessert?”

“I was thinking of something with peaches,” he says, filling our glasses with water. “We’ve got, like, a million in the pantry. My mom’s got this thing for peaches and it’s kinda rubbed off on me and my dad, so we always go pick some at least twice when they’re in season. You like peaches, right?”

“I love peaches.”

David laughs a little, clearly surprised. “Really? No kidding?”

“No kidding!” I grin and shake my head slightly. “Peaches are so common around here, it feels like everybody I meet is tired of them.”

“Same here!” he says, still incredulous.

“It’s my favorite fruit.”

“Mine, too!” He furrows his brow, but the smile is still on his lips. “That’s kinda crazy.”

“Only kinda,” I reply, smiling a little and fingering the chain of my necklace. “What’s your least favorite fruit?”

He pulls a disgusted face. “Plums.” He shivers and sticks his tongue out, as if he can taste it. “They’re purple and slimy and yucky and I do not like them.”

“You sound like a three-year-old,” I tell him, laughing. “’Yucky.’ HA.”

“What’s your least-favorite fruit?” he counters, as if it’s an argument.

“Bananas,” I say, my face making nearly the exact same expression. “Because they’re mushy and just nasty.”

“Now you sound like a three-year-old,” David tells me, a twinkle in his eye. Then, it’s as if an idea hits him. “I’m gonna call you Peach.”

I laugh. “Why?”

“Because it’s awesome. And because, a while ago, you asked me to come up with a better nickname for you, because Danny-ella isn’t good enough.”

I smile. “Okay.”

“Peach it is.”

“Then I’ll call you Plum.”

David’s face contorts again. “Why?”

“Because it’s awesome.”

David grins that billion-dollar grin again and the twinkle returns to his eye. “Okay.”

 

the art of letting go: a deleted scene (and its ever-so-slightly better rewrite).

dd9b217944ce28214bff2c3c8c65a7dbRecently, I’ve been re-writing lots of The Art of Letting Go (!!!!), and it’s been going really well.  (I keep falling even more in love with this story, it’s insane.)  I say “re-writing” because it’s not editing; I’m literally putting in big chunks of writing and taking out equally big chunks.  I’m doing this because I didn’t really have a plot when I started writing it last year, and I came up with the plot as I wrote it.  (Not recommended, btdubs.)  So I’m working more on layering (#ThanksWayneThomasBatson) than editing.  Editing will be a completely different monster.  (#yay)

To be honest, I never really read though the stuff I wrote while I was doing Camp NaNo last year, so I’m actually reading through the whole thing for the first time as I edit!  It’s neat to read it in order, because my mind was all over the place while I was writing it.

So anyway, I’ve decided to give you guys a deleted scene – something I cut out.  This takes place a few scenes after David dies.  Even though I liked the banter between Daniella and Kyle, it was way – WAY – too happy for that moment in time.  I feel bad about giving you guys an awkwardly-written scene that has a lot of incorrect information in it (in the next draft, Kyle isn’t a photographer, never leaves town that summer, doesn’t have a nickname, and Avery isn’t a ballet dancer), plus the fact that these characters are totally different now (right here, they sound too much like characters from Becoming Nikki), but that’s the point of behind-the-scenes stuff, right?  Raw writing from the author. … Right?  *sweats nervously*

“Two in the morning is early enough that it doesn’t count, Ky-ky.”

Don’t call me that,” Kyle tells me, firmly, but with a twinkle in his eye. “Or else I’ll bring out your nickname.”

My eyes widen. “You’ve never told anyone, have you?”

Kyle grins slyly. “No… but now I have something to tease you with in case you ever do something I don’t like. Boo-yah!” He pumps his fist. I sit up and punch him on his side. “Hey!” he protests, holding up his hands. “All I wanted are some cookies!”

I smile a little. “Okay. But you have to make most of them yourself – I don’t really feel like making cookies today.”

“Deal. Race you to the kitchen!”

Kyle jumps up and runs into the kitchen. I follow close at his heels, then dash past him, sticking out my tongue as I slap the counter.

He stares at me incredulously. “Where’d that come from?”

I grin. “Just give me a pile of chocolate chips and I promise not to tell.”

Kyle rolls his eyes, but dutifully pours a few dozen chocolate chips onto the counter in front of me. I sit on the barstool and watch him. He knows where everything is – he’s known ever since we’ve been friends.

“Hey, Kyle?”

“Yeah?” he replies, pulling the sugar out of the cabinet.

“Remember when you’d come over and make cookies and then study, a long time ago?”

I can hear the smile in Kyle’s voice. “Of course.” He turns and grins. “How could I forget?” He pours sugar into a cup measure. “Good times.”

I stare at his back, reminiscing. Of course, all of that was before trig and calculus, before his girlfriend, Avery, and before David. I swallow and stare at my chocolate chips. Things changed after that. ‘We’re still friends… right?’ I frown a little.

“Hey, how’s Avery?”
Kyle turns and shoots me a weird look. “That’s random.”

“I know.” I shrug and try to stack the chocolate chips into a mini leaning tower of Pisa. “I was just wondering. I haven’t seen her for a while.”

Kyle doesn’t answer for a minute. When he does, it’s a little hesitant. “She’s good. Really busy, with the dancing and all.” He glances back at me as he whisks ingredients together. “Did I ever tell you that she finally made it into that camp this summer?”

I look up, a little shocked. “Really? Wow. I bet she’s pretty excited.”

“You have no idea,” he says, grinning. “She can’t stop talking about it.”

“I wouldn’t be able to stop talking about it, either. Think she’ll be able to make it into a big company – Atlanta or New York, maybe?”

“Oh, she’s definitely got her sights set high. She’s going to New York after the camp, scope it out and everything. I’ll be gone this summer, too.”

My brow furrows. “Wait, where are you going?”

“Photography camp.” He freezes and stares at me. “I thought I told you about it.”

I decide to mess with him a little and frown at him, feigning amazement. “Photography camp? We didn’t discuss this…”

“Come on, Danni.” He puts down the bowl and leans on the other side of the island. “I don’t have to tell you everything about my life, do I?”

“Not everything…” I turn and fold my arms, sticking my nose in the air. “Just when you’re going to be gone for weeks on end. I’d like to know when you find new friends and leave me behind.”

“Shut up, Dan,” he tells me, laughing. “You’ll always be my best friend.”

I drop the charade, a little confused. “I will?”

“Of course,” he says with a wink.

I don’t know what to say. Thanks, I guess. He starts singing a song in high falsetto. I grin and join him.

For a minute, it’s just like old times. And I love it.

WOW, I HATE THAT.  UGH.  Don’t kill me, guys.  The book is so much better now.  Great, now I feel like I have to give you another excerpt to show you how good it gets.  Ugh.  *looks for better excerpt*  Okay, here’s the next draft of that scene.  (I told you it got longer.  : P)

For a while, Kyle and I just sit in the living room, side by side, with my head on his shoulder. He doesn’t say anything, and I’m fine with that. I’m just clinging to the fact that someone cares enough about me and what I’m going through to just be there.

I’m nearly asleep when Kyle leans over and whispers into my ear, “I want some cookies.”

I smile, opening my eyes. “Well, Mal and I ate the rest of them last night… and this morning.”
“Cookies before breakfast? Naughty, naughty.”

“Two in the morning is early enough that it doesn’t count.” I close my eyes again. “And I’m too tired to make cookies right now.”

“What if I make them?” Kyle suggests after a short moment of silence.

“Fine with me.”

Kyle nudges my head with his shoulder. “Come on.”

I follow him to the kitchen, dropping down into the stool that has become so familiar to me in the last few days. Kyle starts pulling ingredients out of the cabinets.

“You know,” he says, glancing at me with a Kyle-esque twinkle in his eyes, “in anybody else’s kitchen, this would be weird.”

“In anybody else’s kitchen, you’d probably be able to find the ingredients for cookies,” I mumble, unimpressed. I set my arms on the counter and rest my forehead on them.

“You’ve got everything I’ll need.”

“Surprise, surprise.” I close my eyes, thinking about when I’ll need to go to the grocery store again. I sometimes had Dad bring home essentials on his way home from work, but, most of the time, I just did the grocery run after work once a week.

I hear a lot of little somethings drop on the counter in front of me and I pull my head up.

Kyle shakes the bag of chocolate chips and a few more fall out, making a small pile a few inches away from my arms. “Merry Christmas,” he says with a teasing smile.

I pop one in my mouth and start sucking on it. “Thanks.”

After a few minutes of melting, measuring, and stirring, Kyle pauses, glancing around the kitchen. “You moved the spatulas.”

“Mal said they’re supposed to go in the drawer with the other bigger utensils,” I tell him, resting my chin on my arms.

Kyle makes a face. “Well, that’s lame. Tell Mal that they obviously need to go with the measuring cups.” He takes the three spatulas out and puts them back in their proper drawer. “They’re for baking, not cooking.”

I smile a little, ready to go back to the time when I used to tease Kyle about his love for cooking. “And the difference is…?”

“Daniella, what will I do with you?” he asks, sighing and feigning annoyance. “How many time do I have to tell you the difference?”

Obviously a lot more,” I reply.

Kyle rolls his eyes. He leans against the counter with the bowl in his hands so he’s facing me, and starts gently stirring the wet ingredients together.

“Dude.” I hold up a hand, staring at the bowl. “Use a whisk. That’s gonna take forever, the way you’re doing it.”

“The way I’m doing it,” he counters, glancing up at me, “is better than using a whisk. Whisks are for, like, hot chocolate and sauce that you make in a pot on the stove. This is called folding, and it’s an art.”

“Whatever,” I tell him, rolling my eyes.

“Whatever,” he replies, doing the same.

I smile, remembering the easy banter we had before everything changed a few years ago. Before we got significant others, I tell myself. “Hey, speaking of, how’s Avery?”

“We weren’t speaking of Avery,” Kyle tells me, his eyes lighting up at her name nevertheless.

“I was thinking about her. Same thing. How’s she doing? I haven’t seen her in a while.”

“She’s great. Saving the world, one charity at a time. The usual.”

“Last I heard, she was in NYC with that internship,” I probe. The truth is, he hasn’t mentioned her recently because, also last I’d heard, their relationship wasn’t going so well. I don’t worry about this much, because I know he can do so much better.

“Yeah, that ended about a week ago. She’s in Cambodia now.”

“Typical Avery.”

Kyle smiles – a genuine so-in-love smile, complete with blushing cheeks. “Yeah.”

Okay, maybe they’re doing better. I pop another chocolate chip in my mouth. “How’s her gap year?”

“It’s good,” he tells me, looking up at me. “She’s good. It’s all good. Tell me, why the sudden interest?”

I shrug and don’t reply. He starts “folding” in the dry ingredients and my mouth starts watering. Kyle’s cookies could, given the chance, solve world peace. Alas, the world would never be truly at peace because Kyle was too embarrassed to tell anyone about his wicked baking skills.

“She got that big job she wanted,” he finally tells me, unable to keep it in. “You know – the one up in D.C.?”

“Oh, did she? Fantastic,” I evenly say.

“Yeah. I’m gonna go visit her.” He looks up for a second. “I might be gone a lot this summer, actually.”

I look up at him, frowning slightly. “Really? Why?”

“Just a lot of random stuff – nothing major,” he says, busying himself with the cookie dough.

I drop my head in my arms again. “Why is everyone in my life leaving me?” I mumble.

“What’s that?” Kyle asks.

“Nothing.”

Meh.  Needs more work, but you guys can tell it’s ever-so-slightly better, right?

Well, I’d better post this before I get too self-critical and chicken out.  If you want to see more of my writing, you can click on the orange tab on the far left side of my blog and find the tag marked “Daniella” (the working title for this novel).  Or you can just click on the tag on the side of the blog post, under and to the left of the blog post title.  Whatever floats your ark.  (#ChristianReference)

(Let me know in the comments if you guys want me to do more posts about The Art.  I’m thinking about doing a Pinterest-inspired post, explaining some of the pins on my board for The Art, and maybe a playlist for the story.  What do you guys think?)

an introduction: say hello to my new novel

So I think it’s time I reintroduced you guys to my newest novel, The Art of Letting Go.

Some of you may remember it from Camp NaNo last year, and the weekly updates I did (here’s week one, week two, week three, week three pt.2 (??? yeah, I don’t know how that works, either), and week four).  It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it because, frankly, I haven’t had too much time to work on it.  What with school (Junior status achieved = win), work, reading, obsessing over Peter Pan (thanks to this) and Anne of Green Gables (thanks to this) and Into the Woods (thanks to the movie, which I recently watched for the first time, and a local production that I’m playing violin for – SQUEEEE), singing along to random songs, and just trying to live life well, I haven’t found much time to work on it.

But it’s incredible what happens when I do get the chance to work on it.  Just look at this:

It hits me a few days after Valentine’s Day that the next hurdle I’ll have to jump will be the Senior Prom. I think about it as I fill orders for customers at Jerry’s, as I drive to and from school, during classes. The question I can’t seem to find an answer to – should I go and wish I could be with David, or should I stay home and miss my Senior Prom – haunts me.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

What would David want?

A few weeks before prom, I’m finishing the last of the homework I’d been assigned and the question is, for the millionth time, on my mind. I complete the essay, look over my work, and email a copy to my teacher for grading. Then, I close up my laptop and spin around in my chair, surveying my room.

I don’t know what David would want, I realize, staring at a picture of the two of us that’s hanging above my bed. I had it printed a few days before Valentine’s Day, finally deciding that it was time to look back on my relationship with him as a happy time in my life, not marked by sadness. At least, I think, rolling my eyes and pushing off my desk to spin the chair around, that’s the plan.

I pull my legs up and watch my room pass in a whirl around me. I feel like a human tornado, spinning around horrifically without wreaking havoc on the world around me. Sometimes I feel like this without being in the chair – like I’m a ticking time bomb that’ll go off in a chaotic swirl of emotion and wreck all the relationships I, somehow, still hold onto. The chair slowly stops and I’m left staring out the window, my body listing to the side as I try to reorient myself.

And sometimes I feel like this, I tell myself with a smile. Surveying the beauty with an inner calm that I can’t explain.

I frown. But that doesn’t solve The Prom Problem.

I sigh and stand up. I cross the room and am out the window in seconds. I sit down, pull my knees up to my chest, and lean back on the siding next to my window, watching the light fade from the sky. The sun’s already gone down, but there’s a faint light still in the sky, left over from its rays. I can already see the moon over the trees. I decide I will stay out here until the stars light up the sky.

I don’t know what it is about this project.  It feels like there’s a magical something that happens whenever I work on it.  I feel like I get this incredible blessing of being able to write beautiful things that have amazing potential (after editing, of course).

Or maybe it’s just me?  I don’t know.  If you guys think the above quote is awful or amazing, let me know.  (Seriously.  Comment.  I love comments.)

Anyway, the thing that scares me about The Art of Letting Go is what it’s about and, like what I said before, the potential it has.

BECAUSE THE THING HAS AMAZING POTENTIAL.

I’m just scared I won’t be able to reach that potential, you know?  I’m scared that it’ll fall flat and I won’t be able to accomplish what I want – which is to help people through grief and depression.

If you’re new here (first: HI!), the story’s about this girl named Daniella who witnesses her boyfriend get killed in a horrible school shooting.  Throughout the duration of the novel, she has to learn how to move on and let go.

At least, that’s what my initial idea was.  (Which I came up with literally a week before NaNo started.  Yeah.  Seems to be the Thing To Do ’round here.)

Since then, it’s morphed into so much more than that.  It’s about true friendship and depression and loss and how different things factor into our perspectives on life and when the words “moving on and letting go” seem easy and flippant and how actually doing that is JUST the opposite.

And it’s hard to write.  SWEET BUTTERED CRUMPETS, it is hard. to. write.  Especially when I know that I have this massive vision for what I want it to be and I feel like I can’t get it on the page.

The hardest, most daunting thing about The Art is that I’ve never gone through something as tragic as Danni.  (Praise God!)  I know The Number One Rule of Writing is “Write what you know,” so… I’ve had to write from empathy.  (But I have many issues with that rule, which I won’t go into, so I’ve basically ignored it while writing The Art.  We’ll see how that works for me.  Pinterest helps a ton.)

I also want the characters to seem real.  That’s one of my personal being-too-hard-on-myself critiques that I had for Becoming Nikki – looking back, it feels like the characters are, at times, a little too one-dimensional.

But that’s the thing about writing, I guess – you write to write and you write to get better.  I want the characters in The Art to be relatable and flawed and really fantastic.  I want my readers to be able to connect with Danni and David and Kyle and Mal and Matt.

So I guess that’s what’s been on my mind lately.  Trying to encapsulate this massive vision into a 200-page novel that grips readers and encourages them and changes them.  Nope, not hard at all.  (<—- Sarcasm.)

Anywho, I just wanted to re-introduce you guys to The Art (aka TAoLG, which is how I’ll probably reference it in the future) because it’s my current work-in-progress and I’m this close to being done writing it.  (*cries tears*)  It’s the story I want to try to publish via the traditional route, so it kinda has to be good.  I’ll probably rant about it more in the future, so… you’ve been warned.  😉

{insert witty blog post title here}

(aka random ramblings because I’m too tired to stay on topic)

So I’m in CollegePlus.  It’s amazing.  It’s time consuming.  It’s nerve-wracking.  And I love it.  One of the things I love about CP is the people.  (See my last post.)  The students are amazing.  Everyone has the same convictions, so it’s really easy to connect and have really deep friendships.

I’ve been listening to Rend Collective, a band I was introduced to, basically nonstop for a week.  *glares in the direction of a certain person*  It’s awesome.  Here’s one of my favorite songs.

I haven’t written anything in *checks* almost three weeks.  THREE. WEEKS.  The last thing I worked on was The Art of Letting Go, and I left Daniella in a REALLY tough place.  Unfortunately, I’ve been so swamped with school that I can’t find time to get her out of this really hard place.  Another thing that’s keeping me from working on TAoLG is the fact that I’m almost done with it.  I’m almost done writing it for the first time – the first draft.  As soon as I finish the first draft, it’s basically over.  The rest is editing.  I can’t discover things about these characters anymore.  And it’s really sad to think about.  😦  But I want to work on it more than I don’t want to work on it, so.  I’ll work on it soon.  Want the last few sentences I wrote, three weeks ago?  Of course you don’t.  Watch me push it on you anyway.  😀

A few weeks ago, I got a letter of acceptance to my first choice. I read it once, texted Dad about it, then stuffed it into a drawer in my desk, trying not to think about it. I still can’t really see myself at college without David right there beside me. We’d spent so many hours together, dreaming about what our life would be like in five, ten, fifteen years – how we’d spend our college years together, get married sometime during or after college, then start having children. It seemed like the American Dream. But I’ve been constantly hit with the stark reality that it was just that – a dream.

– The Art of Letting Go

(SNIFF.  I forgot about that part.)

On a slightly happier note – STUDIO C SEASON FIVE, ANYONE?!  So funny already.  My favorite sketch so far, I think, has been this one…

… followed closely by this one.

On another note, I was looking at pictures from the set of Unbroken earlier today and I started fangirling again.  Guys.  If Jolie ruins it – meaning, she doesn’t add in the Christian aspect of Zamperini’s testimony – I. Will. Sue.  Eva’s gonna join me.

Here’s the trailer again, in case you missed it the first dozen times I posted it.

“If You get me through this, I swear – I’ll dedicate my whole life to You.” (FISTPUMP)

Let’s see… what else should I talk about?  I know – my adorable younger siblings!  Earlier today, JellyBean was walking around, carrying a loaf of bread in its bag.  When I told her to put it back in the bread drawer, she stood there for, like, two minutes, trying to get the drawer open with her toes like her older siblings do.  (Heh.  Heh.)

And earlier today, my little brother watched Spy Kids 2 and was singing that song that Floop sings – something along the lines of, “You can dream my dream, you can dream my dream! And, if you follow me, you can all be free! Free! Free!” And JellyBean was copying his handmotions and singing, “Bee! Bee! Bee!” It. Was. Adorable. I’m telling you guys – they get cuter every day.

Well, it’s time for me to head to bed. Before, though, I’d like to tease a few things. (But only tease. MUAHAHA.) I have not one, but two VERY exciting blog posts coming up! One is the Very Special Announcement I told you guys about in my last post, and the other is something that has happened since I got back from the CPE3. Very exciting stuff. You won’t want to miss it!!!  And that’s all I’m going to say.  🙂

the art of letting go: nano week four recap

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THIS. PICTURE. urmagursh. it’s like the summery of taolg. craziness. makes me cry. : (

NaNo is over.

NANO IS OOOOOOVERRRRRR!!!!

I’ve gotten so much done this past weekend, it’s kinda crazy. And it’s good to be reading a lot more and doing my poor, neglected schoolwork, but… I miss Daniella and Kyle and David and Mal and everybody in The Art of Letting Go. Trying to work out how to be in college, work two jobs, read, practice piano and violin, have some semblance of a social life, and still find time to write. It’s a lot, but I’m working on taking out the things that I’m doing right now that don’t really matter in the long run. I’d much rather do things that have eternal value rather than here-and-now pleasures, if that makes any sense. Unfortunately, I get distracted more often than not, and I’m trying to get that fixed. (*dismounts soapbox*)

Anywho.

The last week of NaNo was… stressful. Like, literally THE most stressful week of NaNo – even more stressful than that week I was at my grandparents’ house, if you can believe it! I was soooooo behind at the beginning of the fourth week that I honestly didn’t think that I’d be able to win. (But then I kept thinking, ‘I’m two for two. I’m not going to fail now!’)


Monday was SO much fun, though. I went to a friend’s house and we wrote for four hours, getting a little over four thousand words done. YAY! We also had time to eat junk food (and real food), watch the new
Mockingjay: Part One and The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies trailers (SOB) and I watched The Book Thief for the first time! (Also SOB.) It was a very feelsy day, both writing- and movie-wise, and I enjoyed it very much. Thanks a million, Frankie!

Tuesday, I wrote over four thousand words again, and then wrote over two thousand words on Wednesday, finishing off the fifty thousand (plus eighty-six) at about 11:30pm that night. (During NaNo, late nights are non-negotiable. As are things like headphones, soundtracks, chocolate, and sweet tea.) I sat back and enjoyed scrolling through my OpenOffice document of my novel, which was very gratifying.

Final statistics:

Words: 50,086

Pages: 78

Writing places: In my basement, in my room, in the bathroom, at the kitchen table, in my living room, outside, at the library, in the car…

Approx glasses of sweet tea: 37

Approx pounds of chocolate: 8

Approx hours thinking about my novel: 720

Approx minutes of crying over my novel: 20

Pages of sheet music required to unwind every day: 12

Books read to retain sanity: 4

So… yeah. NaNo’s over. But The Art of Letting Go is not. In fact, I think I’m at the climax right now. Act II just wrapped up in a gut-wrenching fashion, and Act III is opening up in a similar manner. (Let’s hope my gut lasts ’til the end of the novel…)

Excerpt time! These excerpts are mainly from the beginning (ish) of the novel, because, towards the end, there are some spoilery things and Events Which We Will Not Speak Of At This Time. Obligatory notice: I don’t edit while doing NaNo and haven’t started the process yet (I usually write the entire book before going back because I need to know where it’s going before I can edit, blah, blah, blah), so… pardon the type-os, grammatical errors, wonky phrases, etc, etc.

Excerpt one:

Kyle and I ate our pizza in silence. I didn’t feel like eating, so I pulled the cheese off my pizza, then ate the sausage. I ended up eating the crust, too, but it took me about an hour because I would eat a bite and slowly chew it as I stared out of the big picture window in the dining room. Kyle sat with me the entire time.

I help him clean the kitchen after we were done, again, in silence. When we’re done, I stand in the middle of the kitchen, not knowing what to do.

“Let’s sit on the couch,” Kyle suggests.

I slowly nod. We sit down together, side by side. A memory flashes through my mind and I take a deep breath. The last time I sat down on this couch, next to a guy, was last Tuesday, when David came over to study with me after school.

Tears stream down my cheeks. I rub them away, and the motion attracts Kyle’s attention. “Hey,” he whispers, wrapping his arms around me. “It’s okay.”

I cry into his shoulder for the second time today.

“It’s okay, Daniella. You’re going to be fine.”

I listen to it, but I don’t believe it. ‘How can I be fine, now that my best friend in the entire world – the guy I knew I’d spend the rest of my life with – is just gone?’

I let myself cry. I can’t think of anything else I can do.

Excerpt two:

The summer slowly draws itself to a close. I start getting preoccupied with school stuff… and, at Kyle’s constant reminding, college stuff. Every time I start looking at colleges and scholarships and application processes, my heart feels like it’s been ripped out and stomped on repeatedly. It kills me to know that I’m doing it without David. And I can say that now because it genuinely hurts that much. When you’ve imagined scenes of your life and then get to those scenes and certain people you’ve pictured there aren’t there… it hurts. It’s painful, and I can’t escape it. I had imagined parts of my life with David and now… they can never happen. Funny how that works.

Anyway, before I know it, I’m entering the school building again, except it’s different because I’m a Senior now. Yahoo.

I get there a few minutes early because Mr. Turner wants to show me something. He doesn’t tell me what it is, but I know exactly what he wants to show me. Turns out, I’m right.

“Right this way, Daniella,” he says, smiling at me and leading me down the hall.

I follow him down a hall I know all too well. I know I walked down this hall a million times in the three years I’ve been here, but I remember one distinctly. Half-stumbling down it, with Kyle’s arm around my shoulders, guiding me.

I shut out the emotions as I follow Mr. Turner through the door to the library. He flicks on the light just as I drop my backpack to the floor. I look up and gasp. The entire library has been renovated. The shelves start at a different end of the library and everything is moved around. There are new tables, new chairs, new carpet, and a new color on the walls.

“C’mon,” Mr. Turner says, motioning with his hand. I follow him across the library and through an aisle of bookshelves, all the way to the back, where the Bio section used to be.

And then I stop.

There’s an empty space in the bookshelves. Right in the middle of the floor stands a wooden podium with a glass case on top. Inside the glass case is a football helmet. I don’t have to go any closer to know that it’s David’s. I know every scratch by heart.

I swallow, summon my courage, and walk towards it. I want to touch it so much, but I can’t. The stupid glass is in the way. A plaque catches my eye and I read it a few times, whispering the words on it under my breath. “In memory of David Anthony Jamison, 1994-2012. You lived a short life, but impacted so many people. You will be missed.”

I finger the indented lettering on the plaque, blinking rapidly. ‘I’m not going to cry in front of Mr. Turner. I’m just not.’

“I have to go back to my classroom and finish getting ready. Mind if I leave you here?”

I purse my lips and shake my head firmly.

Mr. Turner squeezes my shoulder. “See you in class.”

He leaves and I fix my stare on the plaque. It feels as if it commands my gaze because I just can’t look away.

The plaque seems to unleash all of the memories of that day that I’ve blocked out of my mind. The way David’s shirt felt as I clasped it in my fist. The look of utter hopelessness in the suicidal boy’s eyes. Most of all, I distinctly remember the blood on my hands. I can’t escape it. I’ve had nightmares centering around it – nightmares where I can’t get it off and can’t get away from it. I shudder and block the memories. Again.

I turn around, trying to spot the place where David fell. The library is radically different from before, but, if I wanted to, I could probably figure it out. My mind instantly starts calculating where the bookshelves used to be.

I get out of the library as fast as I can.0

I’ll leave you guys with a song of how Daniella kinda-sorta feels now. She’s still grieving, but she’s past the hardest part. She knows she’s been through so much and now feels like she can handle almost anything life throws at her. (And then I think, “MUAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s what YOU think, Danni!”)