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Scrambled images and apparitions fill Jennifer (Jay) Delford's dreams, as she tries to untangle the clues that could safe a life; keeping her Wide Asleep
Jennifer (Jay) Delford hadn't thought about her time at North Carolina University for nearly 50 years, memories of bulbous lecturers preaching that 'fashionable young ladies' have no place in academics and how she had met her sweetheart, the blue-eyed renegade seemed as though they could now be looked back on with mirth and irony, and yet these thoughts had been long buried with all other thoughts that allowed Jay to dwell on the unfortunate death of a young girl whose life could have been spared had Jay only been able to unscramble faster the clues her head played her each night as she lay in bed Wide Asleep.
Now as her granddaughter Jenny, begins to wrestle with strange apparitions as she sleeps, Jay puts pen to paper to write down her memoirs of things she had long tried to forget. Knowing that to waste time could mean that another innocent life will meet an untimely death.
Join Jay as she delves into her past and details how she was once very much a young woman, living in a man's world.
Excerpt: Chapter 3, Fish Bowls can shatter in your hands.
“Have we not proved that women will simply never be as strong willed or intellectual as men?” Professor Clark professed to a rowdy bunch of adolescent morons. I told myself that my unshed tears could have been some form of twisted victory, however pathetic it may have seemed. Even though the din created by the laughs coming from most of the boys in the room threatened said victory, that is until I heard a strong familiar voice daring to defy Professor Clark’s onslaught. I started to feel something when I saw my saviour stand up and at the time I rationalised it as a form of relief that he was willing to defy the cruel pack of snarling sniggers. The sinking feeling in my stomach began to turn into a rising sensation- I was soaring as a small shred of hope in men evaporated its way into a corner of my then shrinking heart.
“I feel sir that what you cannot comprehend, is that women may be great orators, teachers, politicians and perhaps even one day Presidents. A woman Sir, it is possible can be as great, intelligent and knowledgeable as any man, and yet Sir, women will always be the rock that holds our great country together, as they possess something which no man could conceive, for with their knowledge and intellect unlike men of the same standing, they bring love, passion and patience, holding on to all hope after fickle men have moved on to their next conquest; the only men who do not accept authority from women are men who have little understanding of their own failings and are therefore wilfully ignorant and in no way worth listening to; Sir.”
At my time of life it is inevitable, perhaps even acceptable to be left with a few regrets. The fact that I did not have the courage to look up and see what kind of expression Professor Clark adopted after the blue eyed renegade's speech is one such regret. Many times I have imagined his chubby face to have rapidly reddened, showing his anger, frustration and unadulterated shock. His brow-mop would have been used to dab the ever-growing number of sweat beads surfacing on his forehead and I am convinced that all thoughts of the inappropriateness of mine and Maddie's involvement in the debate had vanished from his conscious. All thoughts and eyes, including my own, I'm sure would have been on Mr Later Comer. In clichéd terms, steam would have been coming out of Professor Clark's ears.
My eyes seemed to linger on the figure that had occasionally given me a lift home, as I stared I once again took in his great stature, and perhaps for just a moment felt the weaker sex. Of course everything he had said was true, but as I stared, open mouthed at this strange man, I found an inner monologue trying to decide whether I would have done the same for him; and as I took in every inch of his appearance, my heart wrenched and fell with a thump, as I realised I wouldn't have sacrificed myself, the way he had.
Suddenly it seemed my unconscious had taken in all of the man who had stepped in to help me; the indistinguishable figure of my dreams was abundantly clear. Mr Unacceptably late comer, Mr Women have weaker chests, Mr half smile, the blue eyed renegade; my saviour now had a name...
Hi Cheryl. This isn't the type of book I would usually choose to read but I found myself liking the way your protagonist thinks. She is obviously an intelligent and witty woman who understands people and I think I would like her if I met her. It's always difficult to judge a book from an excerpt, which is out of its own context and therefore cannot be understood completely. Memoirs can be fun or they can be very boring, whether they're real or fiction. If you keep Jay as a witty, intelligent and self aware woman as she seems in this excerpt, then she can help prevent yours from being one of the latter. Your spelling needs care but apart from that, I liked it. Thanks for sharing.
I hope your poetry is doing fine.
Turning now to this piece, which I guess is co-written, several thing jump out at me.
Firstly the written excerpt needs to be tightened up.
That's called a development edit. It includes words which need not be included.
Clear and concise doesn't happen. Try reading out aloud and and seek out the voice.
As a guide check on he length of some longish sentences. Introduce action and then follow with the dialogue by the Prof. Ask why he talks in such a long sentence , and equally who might listen. Make the comparison between men and women snappy.
Introduce more 'white space' into your paragraph. It helps the page turning. Also even though this is a piece from a person's POV aim to name that person early on. Full marks for naming the Prof but don't stop there.
All the time I was reading I had the impression of extra words inserted into the paragraphs to make the wordage increase. Right or wrong it is worth considering. Best wishes,
Meant to say check out Trestle Press for submissions.
Thanks for the replies both of you :-)
It is co-written Cleveland and I will of course look carefully at your suggestions, but one thing I would say in response is that both myself and my co-worker are both wordy people and that is the style of both our writing (you know that from reading my poetry) whilst I'll conceed that we can surely tighten up this excerpt, I don't want to loose either of our styles... as for Prof. Clark speaking a lot, here it would seem out of context I suppose, but this is simply his character, in other places other Jay's thoughts are heard over his words but for this small section, it seemed important to 'hear' what he had to say so that our heros words would be more impactful.
As for not naming the hero yet, again it is out of context here, but a large section of this chapter focuses on social etiquette in the 1950's and Jay's frustrations with that time, therefore his name is a mystery for her until the very last sentence in this chapter, which would be the next sentence ... I just missed it out above because I didn't want you all to know his name! :-P lol.
Thanks again for your thoughts, I'll look at it again most carefully and make some changes.
P.S Trestle Press look really helpful... if I ever get this book finished! lol, Thanks!
Also, Thanks Merita, I'm glad you liked Jay, me and my co-author spent a long time developing her character before we even started writing. We hope she'll be a force to be reckoned with :-) I will read it through and try to catch those spelling mistakes.
Thanks for reading and reviewing.