The great news about being "done" is that I will be hitting the submit button on Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Competition tomorrow. (Because, let's face it, I plan on spending every spare second reviewing it again, just to make sure it's for sure, 100% ready to go. And even then, it won't be.)
This is the first year that the competition has been opened up to YA novels, so I am super stoked. If I make it through the first round, which would mean that I would have to WOW the judges with my pitch, which I am not sure if I will be successful or not considering it's the first pitch I've ever written, then I will be notified on February 25. I'm already having heart palpitations and sweating bullets as the sharks swim in my stomach gnawing at my intestines. But, I'm only a little nervous. A little nervous energy never hurt anyone, right? Right? Right. Thanks for the support! (As I bite off my bottom lip)
This also means that I am "ready" to start sending out query letters. While I've been on a one track mind of writing, I've also been doing tons of research on who I will send a query to. Also, so that it wouldn't seem so horrible once I was done with the manuscript, I began writing my query letter a while back. I think it's done. I hope it's done. I mean, it IS done. So, this also marks the moment in time, where I will be embarking on the journey to find an awesome agent to represent my work. It is not an easy process and it's one that is full of rejection and heart break. But, I'm up for it. I'm ready to see where it leads me.
So, since I am entering this in, I figured I would post an excerpt from the beginning of my novel. It is titled VISIONS and is completed at 65,219 words. Not that I'm counting. Enjoy and I'd love to hear your thoughts! (Please, I'm begging you.)
The first memory of it happening to me was when I was eleven years old. I will never forget the date. It was December 4, 2001. My family all relaxed in the living room watching a bizarre movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The fireplace was blazing in the background and the Christmas tree lights twinkled. It was during the good ole’ days, back when my family was complete and everything made sense. My brother, Barret, watched eagerly to see what was going to happen next and Emerson kept burying her face in Dad’s shirt any time a scary part (to a six year old) came on. I leaned up against my mother and laid my head down on her shoulder as she began carefully stroking my hair. Unexpectedly, I fell into a strong and vivid dream.
All of the sudden it was Christmas Day. Red and green wrapping paper flew all over the room, littering the wood floors as Winter Wonderland played softly in the background.
There was Barret, smiling a big goofy grin, clutching Combat Mission: Beyond, a video game he had been holding out for. Dork.
Emerson was jumping up and down after receiving Holiday Barbie which she’d thrown countless temper tantrums over all year long.
Then, I saw myself carefully unwrapping a small box wrapped in red shiny paper flecked with gold speckles. Lifting the lid to the box slowly, I peered inside and pulled out a sterling silver James Avery necklace with a small cross hanging from the end of the chain. I watched myself as I looked up to my mom and dad beaming, knowing they had given me the perfect gift. I looked back over to myself and noticed my eyes beginning to water as my mouth formed a small smile. The smile was a sincere one, showing that there was nothing I wanted more in the world.
Without warning, my eyes opened and I was back on the couch in the living room. The dream had been so clear, like it had really happened. It was the weirdest sensation. Honestly, I believed that it was a half dream, half will of power, trying to imagine myself opening up the exact present I had so badly wanted that year.
But then, when Christmas day came, and the exact moment happened again, almost in slow motion, the scene unfolding exactly as it had in my mind weeks before, it was a little harder to ignore. It was eerie knowing what was about to happen; like an out of body experience.
Still, I tried to disregard it and didn’t tell anyone about it, thinking that if I did, they might think I was crazy or just making it up. That’s what was so hard about being a middle child. Everything I did or said was constantly being scrutinized and blamed on the fact that I was the deprived middle child, begging for attention. So instead, I wrote it off as déjà vu. It seemed to be a pretty close match anyway.
As the years passed, it seemed that the visions, or whatever they were, grew more and more frequent. And now, in high school, it seemed like they were impossible to escape. Not that any of the visions were anything life changing. Most of them included things like who was going to win the football game on Friday or who would become homecoming queen, or the best ones for me, what the questions were going to be on a history test. But most of the time, they are completely useless pieces of information that for some reason I manage to get a pre-recording of. Never do I ask for these visions to come to me. Most of the time now, it happens when I am not paying attention and I accidentally bump into someone in the line at lunch or brush shoulders with a friend in the hallway. They always come into my mind and play like a murky movie in my head, usually only for a few moments, until I can shake it off. And with nearly 1,400 students attending my school, it is practically unavoidable to not run into someone at least once a day and get a glimpse of their future.
I guess when I am trying to keep a positive attitude on my annoying secret, I look at a couple of positives. Number one: It only happens when I make physical contact with someone. Number two: It doesn’t happen every time I touch someone, just when the vision decides to show itself to me. The thing that’s the worst for me though, is that depending on the strength of the vision, I end up with a head splitting migraine afterwards.
After my first vision, I started keeping track of them in a journal. I took comfort in storing the information and tracking how long it took from having the vision, to it actually happening. It was a way for me to express myself without ever having to tell a soul. I would write the date and the vision and then leave a couple of blank pages behind it in order to find out when the visions actually happened. Usually, I'd find a lesson of some sort and jot that down as well. The paper listened and absorbed my words without ever judging or criticizing me. The journal was my confidant which allowed me to feel like I wasn’t completely holding secrets from all of the people who loved me.
But like I said, none of my visions are monumental and most of the time they are just bothersome, especially since I made the decision to neither alter or fix the future. And usually the pettiness of the visions I receive only land me with a mild headache that can generally be warded off with a couple Ibuprofen and butt-load of caffeine. There’s only been one time that the vision was so strong, it caused me to go back to bed, in my dark cave of a room, allowing no sound, smells, or lights to intrude. That same vision is also the one and only time I tried to change things, in which I was utterly unsuccessful.
It was the one time that it had been life changing and I was unable to stop the outcome from happening. And now, my whole family suffers because of it. To say I feel guilty is an understatement. And carrying the burden with me is completely unbearable.