Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hide and Seek - Childhood games and Lovers' Initiation

Chapter 4  Excerpt:  Hide and Seek

Picture the month of May with greening woods and blossoming trees.  It is a perfect time for young lovers, for renewal and for planting seeds.  Handsome Daniel Fletcher has returned from his first year at military college with hopes of a carefree summer vacation.  Family and friends gather for a barbecue on the Fletcher property. 

~ ~ ~

After the joyful chaos and feeding frenzy at the barbecue, everyone had a hand in tidying up. It was soon turning to dusk and the younger children wanted to play hide and seek.  It was one of their favourite outdoor games and they were elated when Daniel agreed to play as well.  The adults retired indoors for drinks, to play cards and have a chance for some quiet.

Just as the children were noisily preparing for the game and to decide who was "it" first, Victoria's father hollered out from the MacDonald’s porch, "Victoria!  Time to come in."

"Aww, Daddy," she pleaded, "Can I please stay a little longer?"

"No.  Come in now, Princess."

Sera watched her friend's shoulders sink as she walked slowly towards home. 

"Bye, Victoria.  See you tomorrow."


"It's going to be biking day," Sera said, attempting to cheer up her friend.

"Yeah, okay.  See ya."

The other kids were already clustered around Daniel as he started laying down the rules of the game.

"Okay, you punks, listen up!  No going past or up the trestle. No going across the road.  No going beyond the raspberry patch.  Got it?"

The younger kids shouted in excited unison, "Yes!"

"Okay, then.  Eenie, meenie, minee, moe..." He recited around the circle of kids to determine who was going to be "it" and ended up at Walter.  The others whooped up in a cheer.  Daniel said before turning to run, "Count to one hundred, Walt.  You can do that now, can't you?"

Walter quipped back with a smirk, "Screw you, Danny boy.  Of course I can and I'm gonna find you first."

"Well!  Let the games begin," Daniel laughed heartily with his broad smile flashing across his handsome face. 

Walter turned to the corner of the shed and hollered out, "One!  Two!  Three..."

The kids squealed and scattered into the dimming light towards the gardens, the lilacs and the raspberry bushes.  Sera watched as Amy grabbed Daniel's hand and led him quickly down the path towards the train trestle then took a sharp left along the raspberry bushes.  Sera quickly and quietly followed, crouching behind.  The two teenagers ran beyond the bushes, up the slope towards the forest with Amy's long, black hair and blue skirt flaring around her.  Sera stopped at the edge of the raspberry patch.

That’s not fair, she thought, Daniel said no going beyond the raspberry patch. That cheat!

Sera decided to follow them, creeping from tree to tree and bush to bush as she watched them climb up the slope towards the forest. 

Walter finished counting, "ninety-eight, ninety-nine, ONE HUNDRED!,” then hollered, “Ready or not here I come!"  He turned and scanned the Fletcher's large back yard and from the corner of his eye, noticed one of the twins' heads peering over the rock behind one of the gardens. 

No, he thought, Too easy.  I'm going to find Daniel first, that smart-ass!  He straightened and smoothed his long braided tresses on each side of his head and sniffed the air, catching the lingering scent of the barbeque, cherry blossoms, lilacs and...Amy's perfume.  Channel Number 5, here I come, he snickered to himself, You were practically hanging off the poor guy all evening. You're probably stuck to him right now.

As Walter snuck down the path and up towards the forest, he saw Gwen racing from the garden towards home base, touching the shed and shouting "Home free!"

Whatever, thought Walter as he prowled and crept up the slope, I've got bigger fish to catch.

Deeper into the pine forest he crept, from tree to tree, bush to bush. 

As he peered out and down towards the place the kids called ‘Rabbit Hollow’, he saw Amy and Daniel lying against one of the sloping rocks, nicely revealed by the reflective light of the gibbous moon.  They were kissing wildly and Amy's hands were all over Daniel's body — rubbing stroking and clawing.  Walter could hear their hushed voices just enough to know what would happen next. 

(Sorry. This section has been snipped due to steamy content.  You'll have to purchase the book.)

With a mischievous thought about them getting into trouble, she (Sera) forgot the new experience and galloped down the hill.  As she raced towards the shed, she noticed the other kids gathered around the cherry tree, laughing and whooping it up.  As she flew by and touched the shed, she thought, "This is too easy." but declared anyways, "Home free!"

Gwen ran over to her, laughing, "Walter's got Daniel's shirt and is cornered in the tree like a cat!"

"Really?" Sera responded coyly, "I wonder how that happened?"

Walter was laughing while shaking the limbs, sending a sprinkling of blossoms from the tree.  The younger children cheered and jumped around singing, “Let it snow, let it snow…” and "Here comes the bride!"

Daniel hissed at him, "Walt!  Walter!  That's enough.  Give it back before our folks come out!"

Amy retreated to the safety of her friends, Dela and Gwen.  Dela turned to her, puzzled.  "Why is your hair messy?"

"I-I I guess from hiding behind the garden."

Gwen added, "and why are you covered in pine needles? Were you rolling on the ground?"

"Yes.  Of course!  Now do any of you ladies have a comb?"

Daniel had climbed up the tree as far as his larger build would take him. 

"Okay, Walter," he hissed, "You WIN.  Now give me back my shirt you sneaky bastard!" Just as he spit out the last word, the shirt landed on his sweaty face.

The grown-ups came out of the house to see what all the commotion was.  Sera was worried that they'd find out about the dirty things Amy and Daniel were doing up in the woods.  As she saw her brother struggling to put his shirt on, she ran up to intercept her father, grabbing him by the hand.

"Hi, Daddy!" she chirped.

"Hey, short stuff.  What's going on?"

"Oh, Daniel lost at hide and seek and he's upset at Walter.  That's all."

"Ahh.  A sore loser, eh?"

"Yep. Please can you make us a bonfire so we can roast marshmallows?"

"Sure, Sweetie." then he called up into the tree, "Boys!  Stop your fighting.  Get along, now."

"Yes, Dad," answered Daniel.

"Yes, Mr. Fletcher, Sir!" shouted Walter before he punched Daniel on the arm, dangled and dropped catlike out of the tree.  "I can help you build that fire, Sir." 

"Alright, Walt." responded Matthew, "That will be a big help.  Just cut out the tom-foolery."

"Yes, sir," He responded genuinely this time then turned up to the tree to faux-salute Daniel while giving him the finger and a wide grin.

Sera couldn't help but giggle at his antics.  Walter was such a trickster.  As he made his way to the woodpile beside the shed, his grandmother pulled him aside and snarled something in Ojibwa.  He stopped to face her but looked down to the grass and responded softly in their language.  She gave him a couple of light slaps on the cheek then returned to join the adults.  She paused to smile at Sera and pat her on the shoulder.

Within a few minutes, the kids were sitting around the bonfire and toasting marshmallows.  Amy was glued beside Daniel once again.  As usual, Dela and Gwen were like two peas in a pod.  Walter and Perry were comparing who could make the biggest flaming marshmallow without letting it burn to a crisp. 

A couple of neighbourhood kids saw the activity at the fire pit and dropped by, offering a package of hot dog wieners and cans of pop as price of admission.
~ ~ ~ 

End excerpt

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Although this particular holiday is not referred to in The Year of the Rabbit (a novel), the themes of life and death are prevalent.  So are confession and sin.  When you read the novel, make note of the Ten Commandments, how many are broken (or bent) and by whom.
Enjoy your time this long weekend with family, your time for reflection on life and opportunities for renewal.  


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Movies with Trains: The Station Agent

What a sweet coincidence the evening of the day I release the novel that TV Ontario airs an indi movie about trains and the intertwining lives of people living in solitude - some by circumstances and some by choice.

A couple of the young folk stayed to endure the The Station Agent while snuggled at their usual spots on the sectional, performing quests on their electronic gadgetry.  They may not admit it but I think they enjoyed the story since they made enough comments on the fact that this poor fellow who just wanted to be alone was constantly visited by other people!

Let us ponder about the difference between solitude and loneliness.  We choose to exist in solitude if only for a few hours a day. It's important to have that quiet time, to reflect, strum a guitar, meditate or read.  We don't choose loneliness.  

In the novel The Year of the Rabbit, young Sera encounters loss and loneliness on more than one occasion.  It started one Halloween night when Father Gio helped Sera's friend and mother escape an abusive home, spiriting them away onto a train.  Her loneliness is briefly lifted with the birth of her illegitimate nephew.  She finds comfort at the Red Hare restaurant and escape through reading many books harvested from the town library.

If you are a fan of trains, their purpose in connecting communities and lives, visit the domain for The Year of the Rabbit. Read the PDF of chapter 1.  Buy the book :o)



Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's ready! Print on Demand version released today

Exhaling with relief and bittersweet satisfaction.  

After many months of working with editing services, proof readers and exploring publishing options, I can finally announce the novel's release with a Print on Demand service. An Ebook version will be coming soon. 

- - - - -

The Year of the Rabbit
A novel about Fate, Family and Forgiveness

A young priest, resigned to going through the motions of following the teachings of the church in a small Muskoka town during the 1970's, finds his true calling through unexpected encounters with his precocious love child and his attempts to protect her from the evils in the world.

A little girl tries to make sense of her lonely world and sees the Year of the Rabbit as one of hope due to the birth of her illegitimate nephew.

- - - - -

Thanks again to those who showed interest, provided wise advice and words of encouragement. 

I have planted a seed and will return in a couple of months to see how this grows. Real-life demands await me.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Women, Waitressing and the Art of Service - The Documentary

How did I miss this?  

TV Ontario aired this documentary on March 16th. I'm interested in seeing it since I waited on and bussed tables for a short period in a former life.  I was oblivious to any gender or pay inequality at the time. 
In the novel The Year of the Rabbit, Jenny and Amy Young wait tables at their family restaurant with the occasional help of hired staff.  Jenny enjoys her work, performing it with pride and finesse. Amy, being a teenager, helps out because it is expected by her Chinese Canadian parents.  It's husband and father Carl who gladly and expertly works in the kitchen.  The parents practically live the art of service and provide it with compassion. 

Young Sera Fletcher enjoys an inside view of the people who prepare and serve the food at The Red Hare restaurant.  It was was not only a third place for her community; it became her new home when her own family began to crumble. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Second set of proofs for review

So, I received a pair of proof copies of "the novel".  

I can see there are already areas that need updating and correcting.  Ack!  The online publishing / print on demand service recommends to do three sets of proofs because there's always something you're going to miss...  Thanks to SJ for tips. 

This is very exciting yet tiring.  It's almost like being pregnant and having false labour.  Just come out already!  I love you baby.  I created you and think you are so beautiful.  I want you to greet the world, this mixed-up yet promising world.  I hope people will think you are beautiful too.