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Posts tagged ‘debut novel’

Aside

COVER REVEAL + Manuscript of my debut novel should be ready for the editors this week!


Here I am reading, editing & rewriting one more time…

Dear Readers,

The manuscript for my debut novel (current Work-in-Progress title: DOG BONE SOUP, A Boomer’s Journey…) is almost ready to go to the pros (professional editors). I feel like I’m making progress. Wanted to share my latest cover design with you.

I would love to get your thoughts on the cover design and on the back cover blurb. Simply click on the image to enlarge.

The more 'eyes' the better. Thanks so much Marilyn and Dale for heads-up on changes. You're awesome! ~ Bette

Thanks for reading & comments. APPRECIATED. The more ‘eyes’ the better. Thanks so much Marilyn and Dale for heads-up on changes. You’re awesome! ~ Bette

For the latest updates on my novel, free chapters, excerpts, notices of author giveaways and other freebies, I invite you to sign up for my bi-monthly author updates at http://eepurl.com/t-7JP

Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Happy reading, writing & all of those other amazing things you do,

Bette A. Stevens

Aside

And you’ll find me writing… MORE PURE TRASH


Writers Write Postage StampIt’s time for this writer to get writing—finishing up my first novel MORE PURE TRASH (current working title). What’s this novel about?
First of all, it’s a sequel to my short story PURE TRASH released in July 2013. Here’s what I’ve put together (unedited & still in revision state) for the back cover of the novel slated for release Summer 2014. I invite you to leave a comment and let me know what you think of the title (above) and the back cover text (below). As things progress, I’ll  keep you posted. Thank you. ~ Bette A. Stevens

Onion sandwiches and dog bone soup… Shawn Daniels is leaving it all behind!

Remember the Good Old Days? You know, the 1950s and ’60s, when America was flying high. The All American Family lived a life filled with hopes and dreams and life’s necessities too.

Shawn Daniels isn’t your typical American Boomer Boy. No, Shawn is a poor boy. He can’t join Boy Scouts or sports teams. There’s not even enough money for what most folks consider the essentials. Besides, Shawn doesn’t have time for any of that. But when chores are done, there’s always time for fishing!

Shawn Daniels is the oldest in a family of four children. His father is the town drunk. Shawn’s family has no indoor plumbing or running water, but they do have a TV. Dad deserves the rewards of his labor at the tannery—television, beer and ballgames—while the boys keep the firewood cut and stacked, haul in water for cooking and cleaning and weed the gardens or shovel snow. Shawn hates school. He’s been the butt of the kid’s jokes for years, eating his onion sandwiches in the cafeteria while others feast on food that he only dreams of tasting.

It’s 1964 and Shawn Daniels is ready to leave it all behind. Shawn’s on his way to U.S. Army boot camp in North Carolina to soak up some southern sun and begin a new life. But for some reason, he just can’t get Mum’s scrapbook out of his mind. When a little fellow with blonde hair sits beside him on the plane, the life Shawn is leaving behind comes back in a flash. The plane’s getting ready to take off, so fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!

Love Month is Knocking!


May your February be filled with love... ~ Bette A. Stevens

May your February be filled with love… ~ Bette A. Stevens http://www.4writersandreaders.com

February is knocking and it’s time to get up and answer the door. That means lots of edits and rewrites for my debut novel, featuring Shawn Daniels, protagonist from PURE TRASH—the short story prequel to the upcoming novel. Since I plan to release the novel this spring, February is the perfect month for me to get out those colored pens (editing) and get that first draft tuned up and ready to share with my first outside-of-the-house editors. Our darling kitty—Midnight—is on high alert to help at every turn. She loves pens, eye glasses, paper clips and everything that glimmers or moves. And, of course, she has to make sure that there’s nothing for her in my tea mug. Midnight was busy playing with her catnip mouse (photos) earlier today— giving a glorious partridge time to munch on some of our delectable crab apples—before she went out for her morning stroll.

I’ll have a Valentine’s Books Giveaway to share with you soon. Meanwhile, stay warm and enjoy the wonderful Month of Love.  ~ Bette A. Stevens

How to write a novel in 30 days!


NOVEMBER WAS NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH

THANK YOU NaNoWriMo and my writing buddies for helping me meet the challenge of writing a novel in 30 days!

2013 Accomplishment

ON NOVEMBER 27th, 2013, the draft of my upcoming debut novel reached more than 55,000 words as I finished writing the final chapter. If there are any writers or want-to-be writers out there who haven’t finished , or perhaps haven’t started, writing their stories yet, I highly recommend committing to the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. You’ll find plenty of support and encouragement both online and through regional group write-ins.

For more information on how to sign up and commit to write your own novel in 30 days next November, check out http://nanowrimo.org/how-it-works

Here’s what my draft looked like at the end of the day on November 27, 2013. Since then, I’ve taken a holiday break. Come January, I’ll be reading, writing & editing my draft over and over before having a professional editor take a look-see… Winter here in Maine is a great time for all of that inside work. I’ll get in a little snowshoeing on warm (30+), sunny days and catching up on all the books I still have on my TO READ LIST, too. Have a wonderful winter. ~ Bette A. Stevens, author of PURE TRASH, The Story (the short story prequel to my upcoming debut novel)…

The CreateSpace  (an Amazon affiliate for indie-authors and self-publishers) photo above was posted on my Facebook feed. The version you see, has been adapted by me for this blog post. I have self-published all three of my books using CreateSpace and recommend that you check them out if you’re considering self-publishing.

You can find my books—AMAZING MATILDA; PURE TRASH, The Story and THE TANGRAM ZOO AND WORD PUZZLES TOO!  at http://www.Amazon.com/author/betteastevens

First draft of PURE TRASH, The Novel (working title) for Bette's first novel planned for release in 2014.

First draft of PURE TRASH, The Novel (working title) for Bette’s first novel planned for release in 2014.

Sign up for Bette’s FREE Email Updates at http://eepurl.com/t-7JP

DEBUT NOVEL… I finished the draft!


I did it! This is my first NaNoWriMo and my first novel. The challenge was to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days during the month of November. Well, this is Day 27 and I just wrapped up the first draft. I am working towards a publication date of Spring 2014. I invite you to follow my blog and sign up for Bette’s Email Updates (right column of this blog) for updates and excerpts as the journey to writing my debut novel continues. You can read an excerpt of the novel’s prequel, PURE TRASH, The Story at the top of this blog. Happy reading. ~ Bette A. Stevens
2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover“Debut novel will take you on an American adventure you will never forget.”

PURE TRASH, The Novel (Coming—Spring 2014)
The Adventures & Coming of Age of Shawn Daniels: A poor boy growing up in rural New England in the 1950s and ’60s.
by Bette A. Stevens

Description: If you grew up in the 1950s and the 1960s, you may be among those who recall those good old “Happy Days” of television fame.  Poverty and prejudice were generally ignored or simply acknowledged as existing in third-world countries during this time in American history when a new middle-class was burgeoning. But poverty and prejudice were sitting right in front of us, in towns and cities all across this great land. The 1960s is a time when racial tension abounded, the Vietnam conflict was heating up and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was a time when Americans were planning trips to the moon. And, it was a time in America when the poor were ignored.

For Shawn Daniels, growing up during this time of plenty was far from happy. Shawn’s life is one that few Americans are aware of now, or acknowledged at the time. Shawn’s dad is the town drunk, the family has no running water or indoor plumbing, but they do get a TV.  With few of life’s necessities or its perks, Shawn learns to make the best of what he does have. Poverty and prejudice are just two of  the themes in Shawn’s story. This novel will take you on an American adventure you will never forget.

PURE TRASH, The Novel is the complete package for PURE TRASH, The Story (August 2012, Amazon) –a short story adventure that highlights bullying, class division, prejudice and poverty in rural New England. PURE TRASH, The Novel opens with Shawn leaving high school to join the U.S. Army in 1964. The storyline follows Shawn’s life from age four to age 18 when he sets out on a new adventure carrying with him the hope for a future far better than the past he is leaving behind.

THE NEXT BIG THING


the-next-big-thing-logo-300x190Welcome to The Next Big Thing!

I’ve been working diligently on my first short story for the Young Adult/Adult audience. You’ll get a sneak peek into the story. You’ll find the first two scenes at the end of this post … You can sign up for my author updates on the right column of this blog to get your FREE pre-released copy of the entire story before it’s published.

My writer friend, Suzanna Williams http://www.suzannawilliams.com/2013/02/15/the-next-big-thing/ tagged me for this “chain blog.” It’s a little like a chain letter, except that it’s only focus is what authors are working on right now. Suzanna was tagged by Katherine Lowry Logan http://www.katherinelowrylogan.com/2013/02/the-next-big-thing-plus-19-links-to.html. All I have to do is answer a few questions about by current work-in-progress and invite other authors to do the same. I’ve chosen authors Linda Loegel and Sherri Rabinowitz. They’ll be posting their updates next week. Follow along and be the first to get the scoops!

Mark your calendar for Friday, March 1, 2013 and be the first to get in on “Next Big Thing” for these authors:
Linda Loegel:  www.lindaloegel.blogspot.com
Sherri Rabinowitz:  http://rithebard.wordpress.com/

What is the working title of your book?

PURE TRASH: The Short Story by Bette A. Stevens

Where did the idea come from for your book?

The idea for this story came from many years of actively listening to friends and family. Many of the life experiences of kids growing up in the 1950s and 1960s were very different from what mine had been. I lived a fairly comfortable middle class life with lots of support from family. Shortly before I wrote the original draft of the short story, I had read THE BEANS OF EGYPT MAINE by Caroline Shute. Her story reminded me of the personal stories I had heard over the years about a dysfunctional, poverty-stricken family, also from New England. This family included an alcoholic father, who had little thought or ambition to improve his own lot in life, never mind his family’s. The kids were the butt of the entire town’s jokes. School provided no respite. The oldest son was responsible for any shred of normalcy that prevailed. The mother had ambitious plans for her family, but little hope in having those plans materialize. As a listener to these tales, I was interested and sympathic; I felt that others would be interested as well. Since my childhood had been what could be labeled as normal, I thought it would be a story worth telling — The story of a boy growing up in a family whose turmoil pervaded every aspect of their lives.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult/ADULT Fiction, Coming of Age

Which actors would you choose to play in a movie rendition?

Sean Penn as the ne’re-do-well, alcoholic dad, Ed Daniels.

Jodi Foster as Dody Daniels, the mother—Mum to the kids: a woman with high aspirations, but little power to see those aspirations realized.

Child Actors: two boys (ages 4-18) two girls (infant-13)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Nine-year old Shawn Daniels knows it’s going to be a great day; no school and no bullies to make him wish he was invisible today!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As an Indie Author, I’ll use CreateSpace to publish. My plan is to start by publishing PURE TRASH, The Story (This short story—about 5,000 words—covers one not-too-unusual day in the life of young Shawn Daniels.) first as a paperback, then as an eBook. Next, I’ll incorporate this one day into a coming of age novel. I’m working on the novel now. The novel will be a memoir as Sean looks back on his life and heads toward his future as a U.S. Army recruit. The story and the novel will show the  dark side of growing up in a family engulfed in alcoholism and poverty. It will also highlight the positive influences that several adults had in Shawn’s life and many who didn’t. Bullying is a hot topic in our schools and in society today. Many readers believe that it only involves children… My goal is to put that myth to bed and awaken adults everywhere to the crucial role they play in the lives of all of the children who come into their lives.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took about a month to write the first draft of the short story. So far I’m on my fourth draft and working on the final copy and content editing. I’ve outlined the novel, and plan to finish by summer’s end.

What other books would you compare this story to?

I’ll choose a few that come to mind about coming-of-age and dysfunctional families (not to compare in any other way):

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Tale of Lucia Grandi: the Early Years by Susan Speranza
  • Before, After, and SOMEBODY In Between by Jeannine Garsee
  • A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary Pearson

Who or what inspired you to write the book?

I was taking a creative writing class at The University of Maine. The stories I had listened to over the years were fascinating to me and I felt that others would find them interesting as well. When I read the original short story to my peers, they were drawn in to this little known experience of growing up in the have-not environment the Daniels kids called home. My classmates wanted to know a great deal more about Shawn and Willie Daniels. I thought that a novel, written from Shawn’s perspective would find an audience among adults of all ages.

What else about the book might pique the readers’ interest?

The year is 1955. If you grew up in the 1950s and the 1960s, you may be among those who like to recall those good old “Happy Days” of television fame. Even younger generations enjoy watching the old TV reruns to get a peek into what life was like back then. In this short story, Shawn and Willie Daniels are off on a Saturday adventure in search of trash to turn into treasure. It was going to be a great day. Sean was sure of it. No school and no bullies to remind him that he’s not one of the crowd. This is a story about bullies and what it’s like to be bullied. It may redefine your definition of bullying. If you were a child who was thought of as “different” in some way, you know what bullying is about: torment, persecution, intimidation, to name a few of its synonyms. For Shawn and Willie, their difference was based upon the social status of a dysfunctional family and the alcoholism and abject poverty in which they grew up.

First two scenes (latest edit) from the short story, and hopefully my last revision:

PURE TRASH: The Story by Bette A. Stevens

Saturday morning. I could see a patch of sunshiny, bright blue sky peeking out through the torn curtain as I yawned good morning to my little brother. Willie was six. I was nine. No school, I thought, as I smiled and plotted our course for the day. Sometimes I wished Saturdays would last forever.

“Good morning sleepyhead,” Mum said. She smiled at me as I stretched my way into the kitchen. “Get yourself dressed, Shawn. Run out and split some firewood and bring it on in. I’ll fix you some hotcakes.”

I slipped on my overalls, grabbed the ax from behind Mum’s rocking chair and headed straight for the outhouse. I had to go bad. Didn’t know if I’d make it. Whoopee, I managed to hit that darned two-holer just in time. I always liked to use the hole where Dad sat. It was warm from the morning sun shining through the crack in the door. I whistled as I thought about what a great day this was going to be. Willie and me were going to ride our bikes into town, and I was sure we’d find some empty bottles, maybe enough to buy some soda pop. The birds chattered back and forth in the maple branches that hung down over the old two-holer as I sat and thought. Sun streaked across my lap. Yes, it was going to be a great day.

I split the wood just the way Mum liked it done. Stacked it in the kitchen near the cook stove, grabbed the pails and headed out to the well to haul in water for the day. Mum had laundry to do and baths to get ready for us tonight. Yes, it was going to be a great day all right.

Chores were all done and Mum’s hotcakes were waiting for me by the time I finished up outside and sat down at the table. Willie finished his breakfast in a flash and ran off to watch TV with Dad.

“Gee, Mum, can we go now?” I asked, as I gulped down the last forkful of hotcakes smothered with maple syrup that Mum had boiled down from this winter’s sap.

“Now, Shawn, you be careful. Willie hasn’t gone out on the roads much, so you let him ride ahead of you. Keep a good eye on him. You hear?”

“Sure, Mum,” I said as I headed for the living room to get Willie.

Dad sat in the big brown chair, feet propped up on the worn hassock. Beer bottle in hand, all he heard or saw was his TV. It was Saturday, and Dad loved his baseball. Though I knew he’d find time to take us boys to do some fishin’ later—after he got good and drunk he’d be able to hold his mouth just right. Dad always said that you had to ‘hold your mouth just right’ or the fish wouldn’t bite. He’d have enough beer in him by the time we got back so he’d be ready to catch his limit. The games should be over by the then. We’d run down to the brook, walk out into the cool swirling water and catch some trout or brookies for supper. Yes, it would be a great day all right.

“Come on, Willie,” I said. “Let’s go!”

Willie nearly knocked me down as the two of us raced for the door. Mum reminded us to be careful. “Yes ’um,” I hollered back. We jumped on our bikes and pedaled hard up the driveway.

Mum said it was three miles to town. I kept my eyes on Willie as we pumped up the first hill. We coasted down the other side with the cool wind brushing our faces, ready to head up the next hill.

“Pull over, Willie,” I hollered when we got to the top of Andover.

Andover was the biggest hill we’d have to climb. We both stood up on our pedals to help us get a real good start up that hill. The turnout in the pines was the perfect spot to find empty cans and bottles on either side of the ridge. I never did understand why anyone would just throw those bottles out like trash. But I was sure glad they did. Stark’s General Store paid cash, two cents each, and we thought we were rich every time the clerk handed us our reward in real money.

Pedaling up the half-mile hill was a lot of work, but it was worth it, and not for just the empties. Flying down the other side gave me the best feeling in the whole wide world. I guess that’s how that old chicken hawk feels when he soars above the pines at the edge of the field out back of the house.

Once we reached the peak, we plopped our bikes on the ground and threw ourselves onto the soft, damp bed of leaves at the edge of the woods. It was so peaceful. My mind wandered into the sky and I dreamed about the ride down the other side and the 10 cent Orange Crush we’d buy at Stark’s General Store.

“Hey, Willie,” I finally asked, “did ya bring the slingshot?”

“Sure did, Shawn. Whatcha wanna shoot today?”

Willie’s brown eyes looked as big as Mum’s pan fried donuts and his smile pretty nearly filled his round face as he jumped right up from his leafy bed and hovered over me like a bear.

I helped Willie make that slingshot out of rubber bands I’d sliced from one of the old inner tubes piled out by Dad’s rusty Ford Roadster. That Ford had headlights on top of the fenders and the “old jalopy,” as Mum called it, was just rottin’ away out back of the two-holer. We broke a crotched limb out of the choke cherry bush to use for the handle. I tied the rubber band and the handle together with string from one of the flowered chicken feed sacks that Mum used to make her house dresses. That string was real strong and I was good at tying knots. Willie was proud as a peacock when it came to showing off that slingshot.

“How about we find some old tin cans and pile them up like a tower?” I asked Willie. “Better yet, let’s both make towers and see whose gets knocked down first.”

“Yes, siree!” Willie hooted as he made a mad dash to grab as many of the rusty cans as his chubby arms could hug together at one time.

We played on that hill, building at least a hundred towers. All shapes and sizes, some looking like castles. Every now and then we’d take a shot at a passing squirrel or chipper. It was a great day, all right. We found more empties than ever. This was the first sunny day in a long time.

The sun was high over the trees across the road before we piled the last of our empty bottles into the huge chicken-wire basket I’d made for my bike last fall. Willie’s bike had a regular basket, but it didn’t hold much. We ran back to grab a few more and stuffed as many as we could into our overall pockets. I shoved the last two down the front of my shirt and tucked it in real good and tight.

We were off! What a feeling. Flying into the wind, I could see Willie’s hair whirling in a hundred different directions, while my own whipped around my ears and face. Mum would sure take the scissors to the two of us tonight. Then we’d hop into the big metal washtub filled with steaming water from her cook stove. That bath would feel good, too.

ᵜᵜᵜᵜᵜ

Brakes, bike tires and a cloud of dust announced our arrival in the gravelly sand covering Stark’s parking lot. I was feeling like David right after he conquered the giant Goliath. That’s when I looked up and spotted Mr. Wentworth pointing over at Willie and me from his brand-spankin’ new 1955 Ford pickup. That red truck shined just like the candied apples Mum made for us kids in the fall. I could hear his deep-throated laugh as he stared at us boys from across the lot.

“There’s Eddy Daniels’s boys, regular chips off the old block,” I heard him telling old Tom Matthews, the town barber.

As the men laughed and talked, Mr. Wentworth’s steel-like eyes never lost sight of Willie and me.

Sometimes I hated coming to town. Like I hated going to school. Folks like the Wentworths always made me feel like a nobody. The minute I’d spot them, I could feel my breath stop. My hands, my teeth and my stomach all got sucked in together. I wanted to throw up. I hated that feeling.

Just thinking about those people made me feel sick. Folks like that always got a big kick out of making fun of Eddy Daniels’s kids. They always teased us about Dad’s drinking.

Mr. Wentworth hollered over to me. “Hey boy! Your pop too poor to buy you a real basket for that bike? He sure had plenty of cash for beer last night.”

I hated it.

When he said that, I couldn’t help but think about how Mum had bawled her eyes out when Dad brought home that brand-spankin’ new Zenith TV. She said that if he’d had money to buy a television, he’d better find the money to start fixin’ up the house. I hated them fighting, too.

Mr. Wentworth’s eyes glared straight through me, and he grinned like he knew how sick it made me feel.

I forced my eyes to look at the ground in front of my shoes, while the men joked and laughed. My hands clenched and unclenched. I pretended not to hear them. Willie was still looking straight at them with an open-mouthed grin on his face. I could tell he was ready to holler right back at them. Willie was a talker. Mum calls him “The Social Bugger.”

Carefully, I unhooked my basket, shot a quick glance at Willie and whispered, “Hush. You just grab your bottles and follow me.”

We headed straight for the twelve wooden steps leading up to Stark’s General Store.

Mr. Stark himself was behind the counter today. I always liked to see him. He was smiling back as if he was glad to see us, too. Empty bottles and all. Most of the clerks hated to see empties. They’d roll their eyes and shake their heads as if to say, “Not you two, again.” But not Mr. Stark. He was a different sort. His silver and black speckled hair had waves that curled around his face. His haircut sort of fit right in with his smile. Bright blue eyes sparkled and danced inside those wire-framed spectacles that looked way too small for his big round face.

“Hi, boys! Looks like you two young’uns are in for some extra treats with all those empty bottles.” Mr. Stark smiled at Willie and me as he counted them up. “Forty-eight cents,” he said, reaching into the cash drawer for the four dimes and eight pennies that he pressed into my hand as he winked and smiled.

I was sure that Mr. Stark knew I’d divide the money between us. The other clerks would have tossed a quarter, two dimes and three pennies right down on the counter. But not Mr. Stark. He closed my fingers around the coins with his huge hand. It felt like a big friendly hug. I knew why I liked him a lot.

“Thank you, sir!” I smiled back at Mr. Stark and then down at Willie. Willie and me headed straight back out the door. We sat on the steps and began our storefront ritual. We had all the time in the world today. Willie and me were free as the birds and the bees. We had our bikes and plenty of money to boot.

“What a day, Willie! We’ve got enough for ice cream, some soda pop and probably a bunch of penny candies, too,” I said. Then I handed Willie his share.

“Dang it, Shawn. You mean I get to hold on to my own money today?” Willie shook his head and quizzed me as I handed him his share of the cash.

“You sure do, Willie. I think you’re getting big enough now to do some figurin’ on your own. Just give a holler if you need any help.”

We grinned at each other. It was like we were sharing one of the world’s best kept secrets. Then, we marched right back up over those twelve steps and headed straight inside Stark’s to pick out our treasures.

I sure wasn’t in any kind of a hurry. Stark’s carried just about everything anybody could think of. I liked to wander around and look over the fishing gear. Today I had plenty of time to check out lots of other neat stuff, too. I knew Willie would head straight for the ice cream freezer.

I headed around the store to get a peek at all the stuff I’d never had time to take a real close look at before. Sporting goods. I loved to go fishin’. The glass case came nearly up to my shoulders and ran the length of the back wall, except for the space where a clerk could get in behind. The bottom shelves held knives of different shapes and any size you could imagine. Some of the knives were simple, others downright fancy. There were smooth leather covers and holders for those blades that likely cost more money than I’d ever see at one time. On the next shelf were handguns. One was so small it looked just liked a cap gun and there were lots of other pistols. Rifles and shotguns, too. There were even fancy leather holsters just like the ones Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger and all the cowboys wore on TV and in the movies.

On the back wall above the glass case hung bows and arrows, and gun racks filled with rifles and shotguns. There were jackets, vests, fishing gear and even bags to carry your trout back home in. Best of all were the fishing poles. How I longed for a real pole. One with a spinning reel and some store-bought hooks. Oh sure, I’d still use worms. They worked real good. Didn’t need all those fancy doo-dads made with feathers to get fish to bite. Didn’t need a store-bought pole either. But, oh, how I wanted one. “Someday, I’ll have me one just like that,” I told myself, spellbound by the shiny green pole and black reel that hung high over the glass counter. Someday.

“Yes. Someday, I think I’ll get me a store, just like Mr. Stark’s. I’ll work at the counter every Saturday when all the kids come in,” I thought dreamily, dazed and smiling up at that perfect, shiny green pole.

“Hey, Shawn, whatcha get?” Willie asked right after he rammed his shoulder up against my arm.

I jumped right out of my daydream and shook my head. Then, I turned around to meet Willie’s ear-to-ear grin.

“You owe Mr. Stark five cents for my Good ‘n Plenties, Shawn. I already opened ’em up, Shawn. Can’t put ’em back on the shelf now.”

Willie’s hands were full. One held his soda pop and a small brown bag that I knew was chock full of his favorite candies. The other held his ice cream. Willie was more than ready to devour it all right on the spot.

“I’ll take care of it, Willie,” I said, “I’ll meet ya out front in a couple minutes. I’ve got to get my stuff and settle up with Mr. Stark.”

Sure, Willie spent more than his twenty-four cents, but that was OK. Willie loved his sweets.

Willie sat on the step licking the sticky remains from his lips and fingers by the time I’d finished up inside. The only thing left of that ice cream was an empty wooden stick. Willie’s face said it all. When it came to ice cream, chocolate was Willie’s favorite.

“Hey, Shawn, what we gonna do when we leave Starks’s? Whatcha say we stop over to the school playground before we head back home? Can we? Can we, please?”

Willie’s endless words only stopped every now and then so he could pop a cherry-coated Tootsie Pop onto the tip of his tongue and snatch it in for a lick or two.

“You promised we’d have all day, Shawn. I want to swing right over top of those bars and then hang upside down on the tip top of the jungle gym. I ain’t s’posed to do that at recess, Shawn. This might be the only chance I got. Please?”

“We’ll see, Willie,” I told him as I licked the last smooth, cool bite from my stick.

I still had money in my pocket. “Come on, Willie. Let’s go back inside and get a soda pop. We can drink it right out here, turn in our empties and grab some more candy before we head out.”

Willie’s eyes lit up like fire crackers.

“See you at church tomorrow morning, boys,” Mr. Stark called out to us after we turned in our bottles and headed out the door cramming licorice sticks and bubble gum into our pockets.

“See ya tomorrow, Mr. Stark,” I called back.

“Can we head over to the playground, Shawn? Right now? Please, please, purty please?” Willie begged.

I finally said, “Sure, Willie, let’s go!”  (To be continued…)

 

(The entire pre-published story of PURE TRASH: The Story by Bette A. Stevens will be available for FREE to my email subscribers in May. Sign up for my Author Email Updates and get yours!)

Want to read the rest of the story?  Simply sign up for my AUTHOR EMAIL UPDATES at right-hand column of this blog.

Please leave your thoughts/comments at the end of this post. I hope you’ll share the news with readers that you know who might enjoy this story. Thank you for taking the time to read about my Next Big Thing! ~ Bette A. Stevens

You can find out more about author Bette A. Stevens and her books at

 

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Author’s Work in Progress…


AUTHORS BLOG BOOK TOUR

I thank author J. Naomi Ay for inviting me to join this interesting and innovative tour. You can find out what this amazing Sci/Fi Fantasy author is doing right now at: http://www.jnaomiay.wordpress.com

Now, to get to my assignment for today—interview myself… This post will update readers on my latest work-in-progress (WIP). I’ve asked some of my author friends to join the tour. You will find them listed at the end of this interview and you’re invited to visit them next Thursday, December 19th to find out what they’ve been up to!

MEET THE AUTHOR:
Bette A. Stevens

That’s right, it’s me…

What is the working title of your book?

PURE TRASH: The Short Story by Bette A. Stevens

Sean and Willie

Sean and Willie Daniels, the talk of the town.


Opening excerpt from the short story:

Saturday morning, I could see a patch of sunshiny, blue sky peeking out through the torn curtain as I yawned good morning to my little brother. Willie was six. I was nine. No school, I thought, as I smiled and plotted our course for the day. Sometimes I wished Saturdays would last forever.

“Good morning sleepyhead,” Mum smiled as I bounced into the kitchen. “Get yourself dressed and run out and split some firewood and bring it on in. I’ll fix you some hotcakes.”

I slipped on my overalls, grabbed the ax from behind the broken chair and headed straight for the outhouse. I had to pee bad. Didn’t know if I’d make it. Whoopie, I managed to hit that darned hole just in time. I whistled as I thought about what a great day this was doing to be. Willie and me, we were going to ride our bikes into town, and I was sure we’d find some empty bottles and cans, maybe enough to buy some soda pop. The birds chattered back and forth in the maple branches that hung down over the old two-holer as I sat and thought. Sunshine streamed in through the east cracks. Yes, it was going to be a great day.

“Gee, Mum, can we go now?” I asked, as I gulped down the last forkful of hotcakes smothered with the maple syrup Mum had boiled down from this winter’s sap.

“Now, Shawn, you be careful. Willie hasn’t gone out on the roads much, so you let him ride ahead of you. Keep a good eye on him, you hear?”

“Sure, Mum,” I answered as I headed for the living room to get Willie. Dad sat in the big brown chair, his feet propped up on the worn hassock. Beer can in hand, all he heard or saw was the TV. It was Saturday, and Dad loved his baseball. Though I knew he’d find time to take us boys to do some fishin’ later. The games would be over by the time we got back. We’d run down to the brook, walk out into the cool swirling water and catch some fish for supper. Yes, it would be a great day all right. “Come on, Willie,” I hollered. “Let’s go!”

Willie jumped up and raced me to the door. Mum reminded us to be careful. “Yes ‘um,” I hollered back. Willie and I jumped on our bikes and peddled hard up the dirt driveway.

Mum said it was three miles to town. I kept my eyes on Willie as we pumped up the first hill and coasted like skiers down the other side, invigorated as we headed up the next climb.

“Pull over, Willie.” I hollered when we got to the top of Andover. That was the biggest hill we’d have to climb and the perfect spot to find empty cans and bottles on either side of the ridge. I never did understand why anyone would just throw them out like trash. But I was sure glad they did. Stark’s General Store paid cash, two cents each, and we thought we were rich every time the clerk handed us our loot in real money.

Peddling up the half-mile hill was a lot of work, but it was worth it, and not just the empties. Coating down the other side gave me the best feeling in the whole wide world. I guess that’s how eagles feel inside when they soar above the pines under those high, puffy clouds.

Once we reached the peak, we plopped our bikes on the ground and threw ourselves onto the soft bed of leaves at the edge of the woods. It was so peaceful. My mind wandered into the sky and I dreamed about the ride down the other side and about the Orange Crush we’d buy at Stark’s.  (to be continued…)

I would love to get your feedback:

  • You can leave your comments at the end of this post.
  • Please leave feedback in the Poll below by clicking the relevant circles YOU LIKE from this excerpt from PURE TRASH: The Short Story:

 

Where did the idea come from for your book?

The idea for this story came from many years of actively listening to friends and family. Many of the life experiences of kids growing up in the 1950s and 1960s were very different from what mine had been. I lived a fairly comfortable middle class life with lots of support from family. Shortly before I wrote the original draft of the short story, I had read THE BEANS OF EGYPT MAINE by Caroline Shute. Her story reminded me of the personal stories I had heard over the years about a dysfunctional, poverty-stricken family, also from New England. This family included an alcoholic father, who had little thought or ambition to improve his own lot in life, never mind his family’s. The kids were the butt of the entire town’s jokes. School provided no respite. The oldest son was responsible for any shred of normalcy that prevailed. The mother had ambitious plans for her family, but little hope in having those plans materialize. As a listener to these tales, I was interested and empathic; I felt that others would be interested as well. Since my childhood had been what could be labeled as normal, I thought it would be a story worth telling — The story of a boy growing up in a family whose turmoil pervaded every aspect of their lives.

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult/ADULT Fiction, Coming of Age

Which actors would you choose to play in a movie rendition?

Sean Penn as the ne’re-do-well, alcoholic dad, Ed Daniels.

Jodi Foster as the mother, Mum to the kids: a woman with high aspirations, but little power to see them realized.

Various Child Actors: two boys (ages 4-18) two girls (infant-13)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Sean Daniels grows up as the oldest child in a family whose abject poverty defines who they are and inevitably determines the young man Sean will become (PURE TRASH: The Novel: memoir of a young army recruit on his way to boot camp).

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As an Indie Author, I’ll use CreateSpace to publish. My plan is to start by publishing PURE TRASH, The Story (This short story encompasses one day in the life of young Sean Daniels) first as a paperback, then as an eBook. Next, I’ll incorporate this one day into a coming of age novel. I’m working on the novel now. The novel will be a memoir as Sean looks back on his life and heads toward his future as a U.S. Army recruit. The short story will be appropriate for middle-grade students as well as young adults and the general public. I think it would be helpful for a younger audience to be exposed to the dark side of growing up in a family engulfed in alcoholism and poverty. Since bullying is such a hot topic in our schools today, this story will help open up the table for further discussion.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took about a month to write the first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to?

I’ll choose a few that come to mind about coming-of-age and dysfunctional families (not to compare in any other way):

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Tale of Lucia Grandi: the Early Years by Susan Speranza
  • Before, After, and SOMEBODYIn Between by Jeannine Garsee
  • A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary Pearson

Who or what inspired you to write the book?

I was taking a creative writing class at The University of Maine. The stories I had listened to over the years were fascinating to me and I felt that others would enjoy them as well. When I read the original short story to my peers , they were drawn in to this little known adventure about growing up in the have-not environment the Daniels kids called home. My classmates wanted to know a great deal more about Sean and Willie Daniels. I thought that a novel, written from Sean’s perspective would find an audience among young adults.

What else about the book might pique the readers’ interest?

When most of us think about the 1950s and 60s,TV’s hit series “Happy Days” often comes to mind. It’s fun to reminisce if you grew up in that era; but those times were far from happy days for the children growing up in poverty in a dysfunctional family. Sean does enjoy some happy days on his journey to adulthood, but the not-so-happy days are the ones that help to mold his character.

Thanks for visiting and for your input on my latest work-in-progress: PURE TRASH: The Short Story. Don’t forget to leave me your feedback in the comments section at the end of this post. THANK YOU! Bette A. Stevens

You can find out more about my books at

http://www.Amazon.com/author/betteastevens

BE SURE TO MARK YOUR CALENDAR. Here are the links to some awesome authors. You are cordially invited to visit them next Thursday, December 19,2012:

Linda Loegel:  www.lindaloegel.blogspot.com

Sherri Rabinowitz:  http://rithebard.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/special-blog-book-tour-edition/

Terri Kelley:  http://terriLkelley.com/

Amelia E. Curzon:  http://ameliacurzonblogger.wordpress.com/

Susan Speranza:  http://www.susansperanza.com/#!blog/cgh3

Aside

Lisa Haselton\’s Reviews and Interviews: Interview with debut novelist Jean Mckie-Sutton


Author Interview/Book Tour

Jean McKie-Sutton’s debut novel

Take the tour!

via Lisa Haselton\’s Reviews and Interviews: Interview with debut novelist Jean Mckie-Sutton.

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