Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My First Novel (Oh the humiliation!)

Gena Showalter, Jill Monroe, and PC Cast are all baring their souls by posting the first chapter or prologue of their first novels. Well, I'll join in - nothing like group humiliation to help us bond. Here's my first novel, a lovely little Harlequin-esque romance entitled TO TRUST IN LOVE. I wrote it while recouperating from a car accident (whiplash, etc). I'd just read a horrible book and said, "I could write better than this!" Unfortunately, I was not on strong, psychtotropic drugs that would account for the very cliched nature of this book. Be kind and try hard not to laugh too much at the painfully obvious no-nos).

To Trust in Love by Kelli McBride
Chapter 1

Marissa Chandler stared into the full-length mirror seeking assurance there. She knew the leaf green dress was perfect. The silky material was airy enough to keep her cool in the humid Oklahoma weather. The color accentuated her fair skin and brought out the red tint in her long brown hair. It clung just enough to show off her figure, but not enough to be indiscreet.

No, it was not the dress that Marissa scrutinized so carefully. It was the figure. Even after two years, she sometimes would pass a mirror and not realize that the slim body was hers. After being overweight for twenty-three years, it took some time getting used to being thin. Instead of being hidden by sixty extra pounds, her 5’9” body was beautifully displayed at 145 pounds.

It was like her spirit was walking around in a different body. She had always had the long mane of honey-brown hair. The ivory, near flawless complexion, high cheekbones, and slightly slanted blue eyes coupled with winged eyebrows and full lips had often made people comment, “She’s such a beautiful girl. It’s too bad about the weight.”

Well, now the weight was no longer a problem, except in her mind. She often forgot that she now had a firm, toned body that matched her face. Marissa had to look in the mirror to reassure herself that she was not dreaming. However, her problems did not disappear with the sixty pounds. Though a successful mystery novelist, Marissa was still plagued with moments of low self-confidence, especially around men. The programming of twenty-three years did not go away with a handful of dates and the looks of male appreciation she now received. In fact, men made up a whole new set of problems. It was not easy being a twenty-six year old virgin with practically no experience in dealing with male advances.

Shaking her head, Marissa stopped brooding and set her thoughts on why she was dressed up. It was her friend’s wedding day. Rachel was tying the knot that afternoon.

“And if I don’t get a move on, I will miss it,” Marissa said to her reflection.
Just then, her sister Ariel yelled from the other room, “Are you ready yet?”

“Yes, I’m coming,” Marissa called back.

Picking up her purse, she smoothed down her dress and joined her sister in the living room. Ariel was two years older and two inches shorter than Marissa. Her dark brown hair with red tints was cut in a sassy bob that curved under her chin. Her eyes, though blue like her sister’s, were more round than slanted and had a tinge more gray to them. She was always thanking providence that she had been given a slim figure with slight curves to match her 5’7” frame. It was hard enough being a female assistant D.A. without looking like a centerfold as well.

“You look great,” Ariel commented as she started out the door towards her car.

As she followed her sister, Marissa assessed Ariel’s suit dress. She complimented her on her taste. “That outfit is just right for an up and coming young defense attorney.”

“Well, Rachel does know several important people. I wouldn’t want to meet one today looking like a debutante,” Ariel joked with a pointed gaze.

Lifting an eyebrow Marissa inquired, “Are you implying that I look like a deb, Counselor?”

“I plead the fifth,” Ariel laughed, holding her hand up in a mock oath. “Seriously, you look great. Is there any special reason you went to so much trouble with your appearance?”

“That’s leading the witness.”

“And I guess speculation would be objected too?”

Marissa was silent for a moment. She knew Ariel suspected something. “Okay, Kate called last week and said that Jarrett might be at the wedding.”

“Jarrett Prescott?” Ariel said in feigned astonishment.

“Yes.” Marissa stared quietly out the window.

So,” Ariel drew the word out slowly.

“What do you mean, ‘so’?” Marissa turned her head to her sister.

“Just that you’ll finally get a shot at him,” Ariel answered.

“Ha!” Marissa crossed her arms defensively and half turned to Ariel. “What makes you think I still want a shot at Mr. Prescott?”

“What makes me think...?” Ariel repeated incredulously. “You were nuts about him for three years. You pined for the guy, milked all of your friends, including his sister—your best friend, for information about him, and kept a picture of him by your bed. You went out of your way to be his friend, grateful for any word from him, and you ask me what makes me think you’re going after him? Geez, you must think I’m an idiot.”

“Ariel, that was over five years ago. I have changed a lot since I last saw him. I will not deny I am eager to see him again, but it is more a feeling that I will finally be able to put those old emotions to rest. I’m not hoping to start anything,” she explained. “Besides, he’s probably bringing some gorgeous woman with him and he won’t even notice me.” Again, she looked out the window.

“Kate would know,” Ariel said, sliding a look at Marissa from the corner of her eye as she mentioned Jarrett’s sister.

“No,” Marissa said distractedly. “She didn’t.” Biting her lip, Marissa glanced quickly at Ariel to see if she had caught her admission. Ariel’s pursed lips, trying to hide a smile, showed Marissa that her sister understood the importance of that slip.

"Okay,” Marissa admitted. “I asked her if he was seeing anyone steady. I just want to be prepared. I really don’t know how I feel anymore.” Frustrated, Marissa ended her confession.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” Ariel said softly. “I didn’t mean to tease you. I know you went through hell when he left town. I just did not realize you were still hung up on him. You have hardly mentioned him in years.

“I am not hung up on him!” Marissa snapped. “I...,” she searched for words to defend herself, then slumped in her seat in defeat. “Oh hell, I guess there’s a good chance that I still am hung up on him. He was everything I wanted in a man five years ago. Faults and all, I loved him. They say you never forget your first love. I just hope you can get over him,” she finished with a fervent prayer.

“Hey, cheer up,” Ariel said. “Once he sees the new you, he won’t have a chance!”

“I just wish he would have had more interest in the old me,” Marissa mumbled.

Ariel wisely kept silent as they drove on to the wedding.


Dana Pollard said...

I love stories of reuniting. Even if the guy didn't notice the girl. Makes it even better!

Kelli McBride said...

This was such a Fantasy Island thing for me. I used to dream about meeting the first love of my life again, only I was slimmer and drop dead gorgeous. ;-)

The rest of the book is a mess - I had no idea about POV or the difference in how men speak and how women speak. And I would describe settings in detail to fill up space. Yikes!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Kelli! I took the plunge too. It's just cathartic to put those first efforts up there, isn't it? I love reunion stories. My current WIP is a reunion. My first, many moons ago, was a medieval. :)

Kelli McBride said...

Cathartic and scary!

Jill Monroe said...

Hey, I really enjoyed this!!!

Kelli McBride said...

Oh, Jill, how sad to see how the wasting hand of time has crippled your critical acumen. ;-)

I do think there are parts of this book that work well, but overall, it's so amateurish. You've not read the 3/4 page length description of her incredible house that I wrote. And of course the really stupid reason why these two didn't get together years ago and why they are still apart. Talk about mountains out of molehills!