Thursday, August 21, 2014

BOOK BLITZ - Double Negative by C. Lee McKenzie

Title: Double Negative
Author: C. Lee McKenzie
Published by: Evernight Teen
Publication Date: July 25th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

“My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn’t been laid yet. I couldn’t go into the slammer before that happened.” Hutch McQueen.

Sixteen-year-old Hutchinson McQueen is trapped between an abusive mother and an absentee father. Shackled by poor vision and poor reading skills, he squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. After another suspension from school and suffering through one of his mother’s violent attacks, he escapes to a friend’s house that turns out to be a meth lab. 

The lab is raided and Hutch lands in juvenile detention. When the court sentences him to six months in a new juvenile program, he meets a teacher with Alzheimer’s who will change his life and hers.

So often I have to cut something that doesnt add to the story or that takes the story in a direction Id rather not have it go. These tangents require some dealing with, and I go through several stages before I make the final decision to take them out.

Stage One: I ignore them and keep writing, hoping that there will be a light at the end of the tangent tunnel. . .and soon.

Stage Two: I stop writing and cut the part thats giving me fits. Paste it into a new document and play with the possibilities. What will happen if I continue down this path? Will I eventually end up where I want the story to go? Where could I end up if I keep going with this?

Stage Three: I take a hike. Always my last resort and usually the one that works.

I went through all of these stages before I removed this tangent.

In my original version of Double Negative, I had the mom leave, then return. This is a scene that never showed up in the book because I changed my mind, and she never came back, The impact of her disappearance was much stronger, than if Id had her return and continue interacting with her son, my main character, Hutch.

In this scene, Hutch enters the kitchen to find his dad. Hes heard his mom come in during the night, and hes tense about the reunion.

         Jimmys at the counter, sipping from his mug, looking out the window. He looks over his shoulder at me when I come. You get in late last night?
         “About midnight. Had a job with Eddie.
         “Your moms back. Did you know?
         “Yeah. I heard her come in.
         He puts his mug in the sink. Im leaving today for Arizona.
         “You coming back?I try to stifle the choke, but Jimmy catches it.
         “Come on, kid, I never know what what Im going to do till I do it.He reaches across and touches my arm. 
         “So whys she here?
         His smile spread off to one side of his mouth. Guess.

I love to read my out-takes because it makes me remember what I was thinking of doing during the drafting of the book. If Id kept scene like this, my story would have been very different.

In my other life--the one before I began writing for teens and younger readers--I was a teacher and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects. Go ahead. Pat me on the back.

My idea of a perfect day is one or all of the following: starting a new novel, finishing writing a blockbuster novel, hiking on a misty morning trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saying Namaste after a great yoga practice, sipping a cappuccino topped at a bustling cafĂ©, reading in front of a fire with snow outside, swimming in an ocean someplace.

I've just set out my perfect life. Day after day after day.

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