I need some critical opinions. Originally, I had one LONG first chapter that recounted a DREAM the main character then proceeds to LIVE. (I actually have a good girlfriend who is doing just that, reluctantly, as she knows how it ends...) I could not bear to cut my beautiful words. Eventually, I decided to put segments between other sections, and divided it into seven parts, which all in time acquired introductory quotes and some got Moods and Music as lj allows.
Link for the seven segments to read:
(read pandemo 1/10-17/2001 for that version) or see these individual links:
Now, I am almost done and want to submit the novel. Most publishers ask for the first three chapters, which in this version, would NOT get them out of the dream, into the "real" story, much less allow them to realize that she has portends, rather than dreams, and that in some fashion, they do come true.
I am also much LESS ATTACHED to my first attempt now that I have pieces of three books, one actually finished, than I was right after I'd just started my first one and was struggling with form. So, here is a much scaled down version of that original first chapter, as ONE chapter.
Her long auburn hair swirls around her as she dashes to her husband's side, knocking him sideways.
Reflexively, he grabs her as he falls. She lands on top of him.
The gunshot echoes above the traffic noise on the busy street.
He feels her body shudder from the impact. Her blood splatters him.
Other agents start toward the lone gunman, guns drawn.
Rolling over, he flees for his life.
-- from Despina's Infamous Green Journal, 1/1/02
The night was far from spent, but she had awakened again, palms clammy, heart thudding. Vague wisps of dream clung to her mind.
I'm sure I've never been to a hotel with that type of convention hall before. I thought dreams were supposed to be made up of real events, just redeposited... My hair has never been long, and I'm SURE I'd remember if I'd ever had a husband... especially a knock-out like him!
Afterward, she lay sleepless yet again, wriggling around in a futile hunt for a more comfortable position, as if creating the right "nest" among the sheets, blankets, pillows, and comforter would bring the bliss of a dreamless sleep.
Focus your thoughts on something, someone, or some place serene and peaceful. Imagine yourself in that place, with that someone, doing that something, or using that something, whenever you feel anxious.
"The modern mantra to replace counting sheep," she thought cynically, squirming into yet another, equally unrestful, position.
Don't knock it until you give it a fair try.
"Okay. I will. I'll dream up the perfect lover, and take him to bed with me each night I can't fall asleep," she resolved as a way to end her inner dialog. She dropped off before she got him created.
The next night, she tried again, with great success.
It is the dawn of the computer age. A British computer sends an old adage to its Russian counterpart as part of the calibration process.
"Out of sight; out of mind."
The Russian computer dutifully translates the message into Russian, then sends the Russian language version back to the British computer.
The British computer runs it through its translating program and prints out, "Invisible and insane."
-- Anonymous joke circulated heavily in the early days of computers.
She was driving Baby Blue Ram, her old beater of a pickup, east on Highway 2. The windshield wipers intermittently batted at the spittings of snow decorating the glass.
"A hitchhiker? Mid-November is no time to be out seeing the country on foot!" she thought.
Never pick up a hitchhiker. They might turn out to be a serial killer, and you might turn into their next victim," her conscious niggled her.
"That jacket sure looks short. And a bit worn. It probably isn't much protection from that wind."
You're just an old softy. See a stray dog, and nothing would do but you had to bring it home, even though you KNEW how your father hated dogs in the house!
"But, this is a human being, not a dog. He can't curl up in a snowbank with his tail protecting his nose," (assuming the smattering builds up to a bank... it is too hard and cold a snow to create a comfortable drift.)
"He's not even trying to hitch. He's just walking along."
Phew! Finally out of sight.
"Out of sight; out of mind."
Translated into Russian and back into English as "Invisible and insane."
"Rats! It is INSANE to be out walking along, not dressed for the weather, on a day like today."
You have to live with yourself.
She slammed on the brakes and did a U'ee right in the middle of a deserted flat stretch.
Appalled, she eyed the pile of feed she had laboriously drug helter-skelter onto the floor and seat, plagued by second thoughts. She watched him grow and grow in the rear view window as he did a tired jog up to the passenger door.
It would be helpful, if one decides that one just MUST pick up a hitchhiker, to have ROOM for him before making the offer. Now that I've GOT him, WHERE am I going to PUT him?
"Well, now that we have the "You Tarzan; me, Jane," bit out of the way, where're you heading?"
"I'd settle for someplace warm in exchange for honest toil, at the moment."
"I see. Would you like to stop at the Chinese restaurant for a bite to eat while we figure out where you can find your ideal soft landing place?"
Silence. Finally Despina spoke again, "There are other restaurants if you don't like to eat Chinese."
"Anyone local hiring? I'd rather work outdoors."
Alarm bells went off. No money for a meal... but unwilling to take charity, she decided.
"I don't know of anything off hand, but I can sure use some help unloading this feed if you'd consider trading the labor for lunch. It will put you off on a side road instead of in town, however," she finished helplessly.
Whatever ARE you up to? You don't know anything about him. If you take a drifter home, what does he have to lose? He'll be warm and fed, and you'll have a hard time putting him out afterward if you couldn't even drive by him.
"Where're you from?"
"Arizona." His voice and eyes hardened.
"You were heading east."
"I'm coming from Kansas."
"Arizona is southwest of Kansas, and both of those are WEST of here."
"So they are," he acknowledged, the humorous glint returning to his black eyes.
Unloading had never gone so rapidly. He set off across the creek with two bags of salt, one on each shoulder.
I wonder if he's a weight lifter. He makes those 50 pound bags look about as substantial as sacks of potato chips.
She headed up to the house to make a few phone calls to see if anyone needed a good hired man.
Maybe I can deliver him someplace safe before dark.
"Where'd you plan to spend the night?" She stopped, turning slowly to face him, raising one eyebrow in question.
"Who lives in the old house down by the barn?"
"Nobody. It doesn't even have water or heat."
"Who owns it?"
"I do. Would you like to shower? I can wash up your things while you get cleaned up, if you'd like." My nose will be ever so grateful if you say "yes". She was embarrassed to feel her nose twitch, and watched, appalled, as his obsidian eyes glinted with humor as if he'd read her thoughts.
Eying the huge pile that resulted when he unpacked, she thought, Wherever did he have all THOSE stashed?
Using cold water so he didn't get a nasty surprise when he showered, she started the load with double the normal amount of soap, then dug out some of her father's baggiest pants and a black oversized sweatshirt she generally wore with a good six inches of sleeve rolled up, and deposited them outside the door.
He exited while she was loading the dryer. The legs of the pants she always thought were so big hit him mid-calf. She burst out laughing. His long black hair hung loose around his shoulders, and the sleeves were just slightly too short.
Eying him appreciatively, her wayward tongue commented before she could stop it, "You sure clean up nice."
"Clothes make the man."
A startled bark of laughter burst from her. "So I've heard."
He could play the lead in a movie, even in rags. It's a wonder he's such a hard worker. Most good looking guys are pretty good at getting others to do their work for them.
Picking up his pack, he slid it on, opening the door. "May I?"
Mother, May I? Frowning, she silently nodded her head. His feet would have hung out over the edge of the bed, anyway, I bet.
Every morning, she dropped Cu somewhere on the way to school. Every night, she collected him from whatever farmer had hired him for the day.
Christmas time drew near.
"Would you like to call someone special for the holiday? The rates are cheaper then," she ventured at supper the night before.
"No," he said gruffly, picking up his plate and setting it in the sink, then heading for the door without waiting for the customary CD to finish.
Oops. Still a tad touchy about home.
The winter passed. When school was due to end for the year, Despina asked Cu if he had a valid driver's license, or would like to take the Iowa driver's test so he could drive himself to work and back once school was over for the year.
Instead of answering, he responded with a completely unrelated question. "What do you do during summer vacation?"
Well, a non sequitur is an improvement over being ignored when you ask a question, Despina thought. Aloud, she said, "Oh, I read some, work on my book a little, and 'horse around' a lot."
"Will you come to Arizona with me? You should not be facing any danger. My people need you." He stared at her face intently.
Pasting on a smile to hide behind, she thought furiously. Go with him? Not as a girl friend, nor as a wife... Not judging by his actions here over the past six months... Facing danger? Danger here or danger there? Danger living without a man around for protection? "Doing what?"
Surprised, he gave her his typical one word answer, "Teaching," as if that were the only possibility in the world.
Danger teaching? Gun toting tots to teach? Tomahawk practice at recess? Let's scalp Teacher today?
"How do you know they need a summer school teacher?"
"They always need teachers," he explained in what was for him a veritable geyser of words.
My question is, which of the three is best in your opinion? 1)The original sans individual quotes, mood, and music
2)The seven segments with the individual starting quotes and mood/music
3) The shortened version