Alright Julie…it is done. My donation to NaNoWriMo is complete and I’m ready to drop (or re-drop) my first chapter into NaNoWriMo’s database to see the ever important “number count.” I’m as excited this year for the entire month of November as I was last year ~ except this year the end will be even sweeter. But I’m also more nervous this year. I know we aren’t using NaNoWriMo for its true purposes this year and we’ve talked about that. We are instead using this month of literary abandon to edit, polish, grow and finish those novels we wrote this time last year…you know the ones which have been hanging over our heads for the past 12 months ~ neither of us ready to read and re-read those 50,000 words we poured so much of ourselves into. So now, this month, is the time and somehow the stakes seem higher.
In keeping with our promise to encourage each other to keep moving forward I am posting an excerpt of the first chapter of my unnamed book that, right now, has 50,000 words ~ I’m hoping I can grow to at least 100,000 words this month. Before I post my except, I’ll give you a little background on my characters (Stan was finally privy to the plot just the other day….I kept it a under wraps from him for the past year)…the book is based on a set of secret diaries kept by a woman named Cece, who is based very loosely on me (we are told write what we know so I went that route with my first book). They are her thoughts and feelings about her life with her husband and children (I have used some of my letters to my kiddos and writings about them) but these diaries also contain a secret which only Cece knows, or suspects. Cece passed away many years ago and her secrets remain hidden until her daughter, Maggie, is, in a sense, challenged to find out the hidden truth behind her mother. Maggie is drawn into the quest to learn about life before she was born and when she was young. Maggie is leading herself on a search to find the truth about her mom and the secret her mother has uncovered.
I was just told that my mom was a fucking bitch. I sit here in stunned silence, knowing my mom is not here to defend herself. She died when I was 10…nearly 20 years have gone by without me hearing her voice, having her hand brush against my cheek as she leans over to kiss me goodnight. 20 long years have passed and my heart still aches at my loss. My thoughts are in turmoil. My heart rebels at what I am hearing. What the hell am I supposed to do with information I can neither validate nor dispute? What is the point of telling me this story now when my mom can do nothing to defend herself ? I want to leave, to walk away but I can’t. I am held spellbound by the story I am being told. It is a side of my mother I have never seen or heard and one I that is begging me to find answers.
My name is Maggie Walker. I am the youngest of four children. I guess you could say I was a baby “oops.” My two older brothers are 15 and 12 years older than I am and my sister is 10 years older. So, really, I am a youngest, an oldest and an only child. My brothers and sister were well on their way to being grown up by the time I started kindergarten.
I didn’t know my mom nearly as well as my siblings did. My mom died of cancer when I was 10. She will never know my children like she knew my brothers’ and sister’s kids. There are so many times I feel lost and disconnected when it comes to losing my mom which is why I have no earthly idea how to stop the barrage of horrible, spiteful words coming out of the mouth of my aunt. My dad’s sister-in-law is spewing venom about a woman I adore and I can’t defend her. I don’t know enough about her and the story behind my aunt’s venom to say a word.
As I sit here listening, I know there is so much more to the story. The burning desire to get to the facts starts churning in the pit of my stomach. It’s what I do. I am a private investigator, so digging for the facts is second nature to me. Some call it nosy, I call it fact finding. I need to get away and get my head together but my aunt’s tale holds me in a tight grip.
I don’t know my aunt very well. She has not had much contact with my family. Nobody really talks about her or what happened in the time she and her my uncle lived not far from where I was born and raised. I am not sure she and my uncle are even married anymore. I have no idea. Their life seems like a deep, dark, secret buried in the proverbial family closet.
I sit across the table from this woman and take in her appearance. She is impeccably dressed. Her tall, slim physique is clothed in what appears to be a Chanel suit. She looks to be in her mid-forties, maybe fifty. Her face has remained largely unlined but her neck gives away her age. She has incredibly beautiful dark blue eyes and her hair is almost black. My gut tells me it’s dyed but there are no roots to prove it. I shift my focus from her to the things she is using to define herself. Two carat diamonds glitter in her ears. Her watch looks to be a Patek Phillipe and she is carrying a Chanel bag. I am not sure what brand of shoe she is wearing but they look as expensive as the rest of her. I have to say I am vaguely repulsed by this woman. I don’t know if it’s because of the story she’s telling or if it’s because things just seem a bit “off” with her….
I shake my head, trying to bring myself back to the present ~ to focus on what she is saying and not her appearance but it’s hard. Her appearance draws me in. We are sitting at Becco’s in New York City having lunch together. I’m here on business and somehow my aunt found me. I’m not sure how or why she decided to contact me but here we are. The longer I sit here the more I realize this here and now is not where I want to be.
So, here it is…the beginning of my first novel. It’s now my time to rock and roll. So many of you, along with Stan and my kiddos, have asked me lately about by novel and it’s time to make it into something I’m proud of. And this one is for the love of me actually…oh OK, and my children too!
The excerpt above is protected by Copyright
Writing the Devil’s Diaries
© 2012, Jennifer Combs-Pokrywka
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.