Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hardwood Floors

Interesting fact of the day:  While One Army Wife's Tale is my first published work, it's not my first "book."  About five years ago, I started writing a novel tentatively titled Hardwood Floors.  It began with a dream.  No, did.  I had this crazy vivid dream about writing a book called Hardwood Floors that was loosely based on my life growing up and my relationship with my best friend, which, at the time, was severely strained.  I woke up the next morning and started writing frantically, sure I was going to be a world famous author within a few months.  I got a few weeks and a few thousand words in before I decided I was wasting my time, that nobody would ever be interested in reading anything I wrote.  So I gave up.  

Then, about a year later, I read a novel a few of you may have heard of.  Twilight.  Think ill of me if you will, but I absolutely loved it.  I still do.  One of the things I loved about it was that the author, Stephenie Meyer, wasn't as much a great author as she was a fantastic story teller.  Her grammar wasn't perfect.  She used a lot of the same phrases repeatedly.  But her voice was easy to identify with.  And the story she was literary crack.  I devoured all four books in less than two weeks time.  I became obsessed with all things sparkly-vampire related.  Of course, this was right around the time the first Twilight movie came out, so I wasn't alone in my obsession.  The Twilight craze was taking the nation by storm.  You couldn't pick up a magazine or turn on the TV without happening upon an interview with Rob, Kristen, or author Stephenie Meyer.  And I was cool with that.

During one of my late nights of online vampire stalking, I came across an article in which Stephenie discussed where the idea for Twilight came from.  It came from....get this....A DREAM.  Just like my unfinished novel!  Who knows, if I had stuck with it and finished it, maybe I would have been the one with the big book and movie deals.  I decided, despite the fact that it had been a year or so since I'd opened the file saved on my ancient PC titled Hardwood Floors, that I had to finish it.  I did some editing, some retooling, and picked up where I left off.

Several months and about 75,000 words later, I gave up again.  My life was just too busy to spend night after night sitting in front of the computer telling a tale that no one else would ever read.  That was in 2009.  After finishing One Army Wife's Tale last month, which is as non-fictional as books come, I was itching to write something fun; something different, something fictional....something that would allow my overactive imagination to run rampant.  And so I came back to my old friend, Hardwood Floors.  Sure I have a few other ideas rattling around in my brain, a few of which I've given a little bit of life too.  But Hardwood Floors was my first venture into serious writing as an adult.  And it's almost finished.  I can't quit on it now, even if it isn't my best work.  So, I'm back at it.  I'm currently reacquainting myself with the story and the characters, doing some editing, and will hopefully be finished writing my first novel this fall.  My hope is to make it available in print sometime this winter.  For now, here's a little sneak peak:

Hardwood Floors, by Jenn Carpenter


The dream is always the same.  It’s a beautiful summer day down near the river and I’m seven, maybe eight years old.  My silky locks are blowing in the wind and the tall grass tickles my bare feet as I run, which makes me laugh.  It’s one of those rare good weather days, the kind that makes all of the brutal winter storms and the dreary spring days worth it.  Fluffy white clouds drift across the bright blue sky, completely obscuring the sun at times.
Just ahead of me is my best friend Hannah, who is skipping dangerously close to the river’s edge.  Her auburn hair is wild around her angelic face as she flashes me a mischievous grin.  Trailing behind me, clutching my hand tightly, is my other best friend Sennie.  Her thick black hair is twisted into a perfect braid that is slung over her shoulder.  She’s afraid to get too close to the water’s edge, and she keeps tugging me back toward more solid ground.  She’s slowing me down, and Hannah is getting further and further out of reach.
“Hannah!”  I call out, no longer able to see my fast moving friend.  I try to run after her, but Sennie’s turned into an anchor, her feet firmly planted.  I turn around.  She’s staring up at the sky, which has suddenly turned dark.  The sun has disappeared completely behind thick black clouds, and Sennie whimpers as a roll of thunder rattles the ground.  “Hannah!” I call out again, icy raindrops starting to lash my face and hair.  The wind is howling furiously now, and I can barely hear my own voice.   But I hear it when Hannah screams.  It’s a terrifying, gut wrenching scream.  And I feel it, in every fiber of my being.
Sennie’s dark eyes are wide with horror.  She’s frozen in place.  I pull my hand free from hers and I run, against the wind and the rain, as fast as I can, to the edge of the river.  But Hannah’s not there.  She’s gone.  There is nothing but pitch black torrents raging over the giant rocks below me.  I turn around as a bolt of lightning crackles in the distance.  Sennie is gone now, too. 
“Hannah!” I scream, my voice lost in the storm.  “Sennie!”  But there’s no answer.  They’re both gone.  And I’m alone. 
I wake up, struggling to catch my breath, trying to convince myself that it was just a horrible, horrible dream.  But I know the truth.  They are both gone.  And I am alone.  And it’s all my fault.