Friday, March 19, 2010

I am Your Wet Blanket (or Sandy Towel)

My spring breaks were almost always spent at home or maybe (if timing and paychecks worked out) my parents (both teachers) might take my kid brother and me to a beach for a daytrip. Cape May, New Jersey was a favorite spot (and still is, but off-season) and we made it to Atlantic City once or twice. I have no wacky stories from high school or college about hitting a beach and drinking myself stupid over spring break.

And since the first books in my 13 to Life series take place in the small town of Junction in fall... *shrug* All I can tell you about spring break is that not all of my cast of characters will live long enough to hang out on a beach together (or kick sand at each other). Yep. I know. I’m a total downer. But bad things tend to happen when your characters tangle with some of the stuff going down in 13 to Life.

But let’s not worry about that now, okay? Let’s look in on Jessie (13 to Life’s narrator and one of my main characters) and take a minute to visit the cafeteria at Junction High. No—you don’t need to bring your baggage with you—just relax wherever you are and imagine small town America in fall, leaves scampering by an older school building with a cafeteria at its heart...

Even my psychology teacher was experiencing an absurdly premature bout of spring fever, making us write poems about the psychological impact of spring. I’d done the assignment, but sitting at our regular lunch table I was beginning to doubt its worth. I bent the straw back and forth in my milk carton and groaned. “Poetry is not my...” I rubbed my eyes, searching for the term.

“Forte?” Sarah asked.

“Yeah. Poetry is not my forte. Heck, vocabulary may not be either.” I shrugged.

“So what did you write?” Sarah encouraged. “I’ll help if you want.”

I bit back a growl. I was the one with somewhat authorly (if that’s even a word) aspirations and there sat Sarah, perfect in so many ways, with her blossoming vocabulary and sparkly new do-gooder personality. A better person wouldn’t begrudge her help. So I pulled out my poem and silently repeated the mantra that kept me going—the phrase that nearly hummed in the back of my head like white noise.

Forgive her. You’ll be a great friend to her.

By repeating it I hoped to believe it. So far that theory wasn’t entirely working. “Don’t worry about helping,” I said, “but maybe if we all shared... I’ll start.” I cleared my throat.
“The Psychology of Spring.

“When winter weather’s beat us down
And far we are from autumn’s crown
Spring’s promise like a bud fresh sprung
Imagines birdsong not yet sung.
An itch we feel and cannot shake
A drive to explore, to shape and make.
Spring calls us out like a hen to chicks
And grows bright flowers from last year’s sticks.
Each spring utters an oath of life
Carried beyond cruel winter’s strife.”


I snarled the paper in my fingers, stuffing it into my backpack. “Ugh. It’s all rhyming couplets.”

Amy blinked at me. “That so didn’t suck.”

“Thanks. So what score does not sucking get me? I like to predict my class average.”

She stuck out her tongue.

“You’re next,” I announced.

“Fine.

“I raise my eyes to spring’s blue skies
Its puffy clouds and skimming breeze
Blow kisses that are meant to tease.
Love and lust is in the air
And people act without a care.”

“Love and lust, huh?” I winked at her. “Where is Marvin?”

She shrugged. “Maybe it’s not about him.”

“You two fighting again?”

Another shrug in answer.

“My turn!” Sarah volunteered. She held the paper before her and belted out:
“The queen bee in spring does—Ow!” Sarah’s paper crumpled in her hands as she was hip-checked into Sophie, sitting silently beside her.

“Yo. Sorry.” A couple members of the football team swarmed around the end of our table, shoving each other and messing around. Like normal. Oblivious to everyone else.

Until Sarah, ex-queen bee of Junction’s most socially savvy set, snapped at them. “Idiots!”

The guys jumped and for the briefest moment their faces tightened, pinching in something distinctly like fear as they stared at petite, beautiful and blonde Sarah Luxom. And then they remembered where they were, who we were and what rung on society’s ladder we each occupied. Chuckling and slapping each other’s backs they turned and walked away.

“Are you okay?” I asked, reaching for the arm she now clutched.

“Fine!” she insisted. But seeing the grim glint in her eyes as she watched the jocks leave, I had a sinking feeling we were suddenly much farther from fine than I hoped.

Welcome to Junction! Bwa-ha-ha! ;-) And have a great Spring Break!


Keep up with Shannon Delany at her website, on Twitter, her blog. 13 to Life releases June 22, 2010.



24 comments:

  1. Nice poetry Shannon! I'm reaaaaally looking forward to this book and this is the first time I've seen an excerpt from it :) Fall is actually my favourite season but I like the ideaology behind Spring and all it represents.

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  2. OK that wasn't one of your "tortuous" teases! No-one was hurt :-) I never did spring break either so joing the club.

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  3. Nice poetry Shannon! I can't wait to read 13 to Life! I love the cover. :D

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  4. This is my first peek at an excerpt from 13 TO LIFE! And. I. Loved. It. I'm so excited to read this book, I can't even tell you! Can't wait, come on June!

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  5. The book sounds interesting and kinda spooky I cant wait to read it. I like the cover its cool looking.

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  6. XD you know now I'm going to spend most of the book thinking "wait...the author said not everyone survives for spring break...omg is it THIS person? THAT person? who it is?!"

    because that's the sort of reader I am :D

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  7. Lynsey, like Jessie, poetry's not my forte, but I'm glad you all didn't suffer too much. Although not an actual excerpt from the book itself, it's written in the same voice and tone (with a few of my most important characters--but pre-Rusakovas).

    See, Karen? No werewolves were hurt in the writing of that scene. ;-)

    Thanks, Kelly. Mercifully that's the only poetry you'll see relating to the books (although I'm still working on book 3... ;-)

    Glad you enjoyed it, Heather! If you want to see an excerpt taken directly from the book, you can go here: http://tinyurl.com/yabed45

    Thanks, Elizabeth. :-) There's about equal doses of humor and (as my editor says) "supernatural funk" so spooky's definitely in there. :D

    EXCELLENT, Lexie! That's why I felt letting this one little spoiler out wasn't a bad thing and it might be fun later to see who guessed correctly. ;-)

    Thanks for commenting, folks--spread the word so everyone comments on all the Class of 2k10 Spring Break posts--we have some awesome prizes we're giving away. :D

    ~Shannon
    PS--Big thanks to Heather Long for hosting our group of debut authors. :D

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  8. No Spring Breaks here either...I am really a stay at home person at heart.

    Thanks for the excerpt!!! Sounds good!

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  9. *giddy laughter* This series makes me giggly and it hasn't even come out yet!

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  10. *giddy laughter* This series makes me giggly and it hasn't even come out yet!

    And the poetry wasn't bad.

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  11. *giddy laughter* This series makes me giggly and it hasn't even come out yet!

    And the poetry wasn't bad.

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  12. Great sneak peek!

    I didn't have much opportunity, as a child, to travel during spring break either. But, we sure made the time of worth while! Sleeping in, lazing about, eating anything and everything in sight!

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  13. What an awesome teaser! =D If we went anywhere on spring break, it was to visit relatives.. which, I admit, often got boring since my aunt didn't have cable, etc... it was a bummer because back then, I didn't really appreciate the whole let's just visit with relatives thing =P

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  14. Awesome teaser ;-)

    I didn't do spring break travelling much when I was a kid either, I mean, I went on a few trips to Canada with the school, but that wasn't too glamorous, nowhere near as cool as going to some tropical location!

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  15. Why did you stop??? More, more! I want more! Can't the excerpt keep going until the book finishes? Really, I don't think I'm asking much here. Dang June is far away *sigh* Love it!

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  16. I cannot wait for your book to be released! *Is it June yet?*

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  17. My first excerpt from 13 to Life and I loved it. Now I'm even more thrilled for the 13 to Life release.

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  18. Awesome!! can't wait to read 13 to Life!!

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  19. 3 months!? We have to wait 3 more months!? Arggh. :)

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  20. Great excerpt. Thirteen to Life sounds good. Love the cover.

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  21. Thanks!! Sounds like a great book. Looking forward to it. Congrats on the upcoming release!

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