In the middle of the church program…
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Ker-thump. Ker-thump. Ker-thump…
The mouth of the valve strained with every gushing heartbeat as blood cells crowded, one on top of the other, each trying to be the first to squeeze through the newly tightened space. The lethargic aortic cusp no longer opened wide like a hungry fish mouth, murmuring, ready to let everything in, unable to pump anything out. Yet, the sutures strained to maintain the new prosthetic valve’s position, slightly rocking back and forth.
This was the daily rhythm of this place.
Meanwhile, lines pulled tight like sutures around Mrs. Johnson’s mouth, denoting her own heart’s strain in the waiting room. She had long exhausted herself from pacing hours before, the only voices there to comfort her being those inside her murmuring head. She rocked quietly in the ripped Naugahyde chair that hadn’t been designed for (nor was any longer capable of) receiving such blatant torture. But all she considered was whether her husband’s heart was designed for the torture his body was presently undergoing – his chest cavity cracked open, clamps holding it spread eagle style, while a sterile machine sucked the life out of him…and then back in…beat after gurgling beat.
A family nearby gurgled over a baby, over food, over one another. Mrs. Johnson’s heart ached.
“Code Blue,” came the announcement — much too serene for its meaning – over the hospital intercom system, causing Mrs. Johnson’s heart to gurgle and miss a beat. She squeezed her blue eyes tight and rocked harder, a whimper escaping her mind as she heard the chair’s pleather rip. Minutes felt like days with each crack of another knuckle.
A half-hour more passed before a tired white coat entered the waiting area, looking around in dismay. Mrs. Johnson teetered on the cusp of her settled space.
A family nearby slowly stood, wrapping one another in their tears as they watched his face fall and his head shake.
Ker-thump. Mrs. Johnson had to reprimand herself that this was no time for celebration.
Another week, another Trifecta challenge…(but I mean that in the very best way! I’ve come to look forward to these prompts, but moreso to enjoying this writing community). I thought we could take a trip into the cardiac surgical suite this week with the prompt that was offered:
MOUTH (and, no, not as in “The Mouth of the South”). As in, its 3rd definition:
- Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
- You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
- The word itself needs to be included in your response.
- You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
- Only one entry per writer.
- Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.
(Er, you do understand this isn’t about weight gain, right?) And, by appropriate southern states terminology, it’s actually ‘The Next Big Thang,’ but when you’re braggin’, you wanna’ make sure the rest of the world can understand you too.
I’m actually not bragging on myself nearly so much as I am the person who took the time to throw some encouragement my way by making this nomination – and some other folks who I’d like to take the time to pass the baton forward and maybe some of them will run with it.
I greatly appreciate the gift of exhortation, and especially appreciate MommyVerbs directing her particular gift towards me. She told me to “Engage the Day!” Thank you so much for “verbing” me!
In her post, she explained that The Next Big Thing involves bloggers who either have a book under their belt, or are in the process of writing one, or should be writing one. What a great compliment to receive!
And, yes! I do have a novel I just recently finished! Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share. My best current share is that I finally figured out how I wanted to classify its genre this week – as mystical realism. I’m currently working on its sequel, as well as another unrelated novel between work on my dissertation. But this first novel is closest of all to my heart, and I can’t wait for it to find its way into yours!
I’m getting ahead of myself though. Apparently, there are some specific questions that I’m supposed to answer in order to officially accept such a Big Thing – Next. So…here goes:
What is the title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for your book?
Its background comes from many personal life experiences, one of those being the loss of a daughter for whom I wanted to provide with her own life venture; another coming from the loss of my grandmother’s Irish father to her in her childhood. The mystical portion was the impetus, sparked by a recurring dream from various times in my life. And its setting in the reality context of the story (versus the supernatural one) came from my ‘little-brother-like’ nephew’s shared fascination in our family’s Irish heritage, which he was studying prior to losing his battle with leukemia in his early twenties. I wanted us to be able to make this trip to our ancestors’ homeland together, and I wanted (perhaps needed) a way to express restoration in the midst of loss.
What genre does your book fall under?
As I earlier mentioned (bragged?), I’ve just decided it belongs under the genre of ‘mystical realism’ (more often referred to as ‘magical realism‘ – but Ireland is a mystical place, as are the book’s experiences).
Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?
Funny how my characters have lived among me for these past three years to the point that I can see them clearly in my mind. However, I can’t place a finger on specific actors that match those characteristics. I would want the Donnellys to all be authentic Irish actors.
Setting: It begins briefly in Dublin, then transitions to the Lietrim/Sligo region of the Irish Republic.
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
My tag-line rolls into three thoughts. Here they are:
Restoration. All souls need it in a broken world. So much so that some unknowingly seek it out – not only for themselves, but also for others.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m in the process of query letter submissions to literary agents. This process is helping me learn to better summarize my overall project, but I know I still have much to learn in the area of appropriately marketing my work (since it wasn’t written as the product of a business mindset – which may be the greatest struggle for many writers).
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The concept for this novel was birthed in early January 2009, and although I had completed a massive amount of it within months, I had to set it aside due to the demands of my doctoral studies. I got around to penning the final words on September 1, 2012, when my characters (and one of my test readers) demanded resolution to their story (or just their freedom from being held captive in my brain – who could blame them for that?).
What other books would you compare this story to?
I’m fairly certain I was strongly influenced by all the Sidney Sheldon books I read in my earlier years – his many female protagonists, with their unexpected adventures and romance always in the way, so to speak (but I guess Sheldon’s Genie is the closest he got to mystical). 😉
Though there are a good number of mystical reads around, and a good number of suspenseful adventure journeys that include a romantic element, I haven’t personally run across a similar read to this. (If I had, I wouldn’t have felt compelled to write about it, I suppose.) The main characters are interconnected from an historical past of which they aren’t even aware; while being influenced from a mystical dream that has occurred their entire lives, yet neither can bring themselves to reconcile (much less admit to) such a connection in reality. This element of uncertainty/denial actually serves to move the story forward.
Who or what inspired you to write the book?
At the Water’s Edge began as a personal expression for processing some losses in my life, while honoring those precious loved ones – all of whom have inspired me, one way or another – throughout my own life’s journey. This is a surreal tale, though, combining both natural and supernatural elements to speak to the importance of relationships with both those in our present and the ancestors of our past. After all, what’s life without a little magic sprinkled in?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Readers are likely going to feel pulled along in indecision with Danielle in the decisions she’s going to finally have to face, both practically and relationally, as they become drawn into the lives and experiences of the Donnelly family with her.
I’ve included excerpts from the Irish bard of my story’s area, W.B. Yeats, particularly seeking to embrace his style of sharing the love of his land, drawing his reader into both the content and context surrounding his subjects.
It’s my hope that, through the descriptive aspects of the landscape, the people, and this region’s poetic elements, readers particularly of Irish emigrant descent might allow their souls to make that magical, ancestry-laden connection with the Emerald Isle.
And now…I would like to tag these folks as…. “The Next Big Thing!”
- Marla at TravelingMarla surely has a fun, inspirational book in the works on her transformative experiences.
Joe’s a Poet and He Knows It (joe2poetry) – with a book of poetry! And he’s bloody Oirish too. 🙂 (I may be pushing it again.)
Tom at Cobbie’s World continually inspires me and others with his observant and gracious comments and feedback. I always enjoy reading his shared thoughts and bet you would too.
There are, of course, so many more talented bloggers whose work I read & with whom I have the privilege of interacting. It’s an exhaustive list. I’d invite you to peruse my “Whispers & Shouts” section for some of my more prolific commenters, as these are generally the ‘writer-types’ who actively interact on my blog.
And if you have a recent project in the works or under your belt that you’d like to brag about, have at it in the comments section! We’d love to hear about your ‘next big thang’!
Dream big, -jody
For those of you who read my recent post, NOW!, you must be thinking, “Did she forget her SD card again?!”
No, that’s not it. This time, I’m addressing a different sort of button pushing.
I grew up back in the days when there were no digital cameras or second chances (as in rescheduled retakes) during annual school photo shoots. Whatever you got at the first sitting (after one magnanimous click) was what was going to end up showcased in your family’s great room (not matching so well, since they weren’t usually that great). Your closed eyes or giggly-wrinkled nose would ultimately end up in your school yearbook, where you would not-so-covertly scribble your name across your face over every one of them you could get your hands on – and that’s how you would forever mercilessly remain in the hallowed memories of those few select people who somehow managed to hold onto those bound books of burden to showcase at your umpteenth class reunion. (Not that I’ve had one of those umpteenth ones yet…)
Because of this potentially life-altering scandalous circumstance of bad PR, our school photographer took his job very seriously – seriously, as in this otherwise complete stranger worked his elementary comedic one-liners on us (of which he had two – one for the girls and one for the boys – that lasted all the way until our junior year of high school) over and over again, trying hard to elicit the brightest smile for this one stop shot at infinite photographic humiliation.
As one charming suitor of mine once put it, after his friend had shown him a yearbook picture of me while we were talking on the phone and then he later met me in person: “Your 8th grade picture is a huge undersell. But I wouldn’t want you to see mine either, come to think of it.” I couldn’t be upset with him. It was a fair, albeit humiliating, assessment. But that was nothing compared to when my dad died and, while we were packing his things away, my then-husband accidentally discovered all my years of school pictures were piled up, one behind the other, neatly in a picture frame for his perusing. He thereby proceeded to pick through them – and to pick at me – year after excruciating year (all reluctantly re-lived in a matter of minutes). Again, it was a fair assessment (but it wouldn’t disappoint me to find out he had to do penitence in protestant purgatory for it – maybe something like having to hang out with Ernest Angley. Oh wait, is he still alive? Well, that was as awkward as my photo story…)
So…that brings me to my own photographic lesson of why we work so hard to push just the right buttons to elicit just the right response – the one we think we’re seeking when taking pictures. Why do we always feel the need to call out, “Smile!”? Isn’t it more genuine to allow our subjects the freedom of their own expressions?
Well…if you do, just be forewarned – you might end up with something like this…
Ahem. That was a little awkward too…
Of course, it could turn out that you’ll get a smile for all the wrong, mischievous reasons, instead (as in, “Do not back your little no-life-jacket-on-self any closer to that pool, little mister…”):
To be honest, I guess few of us ever get exactly the photo we’re after, regardless of which side of the camera we’re on. Yet, the ability to capture our life experiences and visually carry our memories with us to share with others (even mixing in some good-natured ribbing along the way) is surely still cause enough to make us…
Trifextra: Week fifty-two: Trifextra has challenged me to provide a 33-word example of personification. Since I spend so much of my intimate time with My Work, this only seemed an appropriate response.