Crystal Bryant

I'll let you know when I figure out who I am.

I’ve moved

Further posts will be made at http://www.crystalraebryant.com/blog

Mimi Trager, Septuagenarian Extraordinaire

I’ve started a young adult novel so that I have something to bring to the writers’ group I lead each month. I’ll be posting chapters here, under password protection. If you’re interested in reading along and commenting, let me know, either in the comments or through Facebook, and I’ll get you the password.

I’m leaving the first chapter open as a teaser, and it can be found here.

I may only post one chapter a month, as my minimum goal is to write a new chapter for each meeting, but it will be at least one chapter a month.

Mimi Trager, Septuagenarian Extraordinaire — Chapter 1

When Nella Andrews arrived for the first day of her summer job, her seventy-four year old charge was sunbathing in a bikini in the front yard. Nella double checked the address. 1212 Oglethorpe Way. She compared it to the mailbox. Match.

The screen door of the two-story home swung open and a younger woman, about her mom’s age, stepped out, carrying a pitcher and a couple glasses on the tray. “Daniella! You’re here. My goodness you’ve grown! I haven’t seen you since just after you lost your first tooth.” She set the tray down on a side table and started down the steps.

The sunbathing woman tipped her sunglasses down for a moment eyed Nella, then pushed them back up and turned her face back toward the sun. Nella froze, unsure whether she was expected to greet the older woman, or meet Linda Trager’s advancing arms of welcome. Linda’s arms were faster than Nella’s decision making capabilities, and Nella found herself swallowed up in Linda’s embrace.

“I was so happy when your mother said you might be looking for a job down this way for the summer! Let me introduce you to Mom.” Linda paused her ramble and released Daniella, pushing her into the grass, over to the older woman. “Mom, this is Daniella Parker, Mickey Wright’s daughter. Daniella, this is my mother, Miriam Trager.”

Nella stuck out her hand. “It’s Nella, and nice to meet you, Mrs. Trager.”

The skinny old woman reached up and pinched Nella’s hand in her boney one. “Call me Mimi. And likewise.”

Linda began pulling Nella toward the house. “Let me show you around, Daniella. Mom, your lemonade is on the porch.”

For a moment, Nella stood stretched between the two women, her hands firmly clasped on either side, but Mimi let go before Linda pulled them both along after her.

***

Linda gave her a whirlwind tour, ending in the kitchen with a dizzying overview of Mimi’s medicines. “Don’t worry,” she said at Nella’s shell-shocked expression. “There’s a schedule, it’s here on the fridge.” It was a laminated grid with several different color crosses. “Just mark off each pill as she takes it. Red for the morning, green for lunch, yellow for evening, and black for right before bed. Though you probably won’t have to worry about those often. And we clear it at the end of the day. Well,” she looked around the kitchen, “do you have any questions?” Mimi joined them, now fully clothed.

“I don’t think so,” Nella said.

“Well you have my number if you do. Mom, don’t give Daniella too much trouble, alright?”

“Pardon me, Ms. Linda, it’s Nella.”

“Right,” Linda said, gathering up her purse and keys from the kitchen table. “You two have a great day getting to know each other. I’m only ten minutes away if anything goes wrong.” She finally left.

Nella and Mimi eyed each other. “A bit much, isn’t she?” Mimi said.

“She seems… very well put together,” Nella said, gesturing toward the schedule.

“She’s a controlling, worrying busybody. If she’d just take a step back and let a body be, maybe she’d still have a husband.” Mimi sighed, and stepped around Nella to fill a glass with water. “Not that she needs one, but once you’ve got one, a decent one at least, you might as well try to hold on to him for awhile.” Mimi sighed, and popped a pill. “That’s the heart meds. Mark it.”

Nella reached for a marker.

“Use the red one. Linda will throw a fit if her colors are messed up.”

Nella grabbed the correct marker and found the right row. She placed an ‘X’ in the square. When she turned around, Mimi was already in the living room, settling into a recliner.

“Can I get you anything, Mimi? Blankets? A pillow?”

“I’m old, girl, not infirm.” She turned on the television. “Nothing good on television these days.” Dramatic music streamed from the TV and two people stood with their backs to each other, tears streaming from the woman’s eyes.

“What’s this?” Nella asked.

“You Only Live Once,” Mimi said. “This girl’s slept with about everyone on the show, not that I blame her all that much. I could do some wicked things to that Julian. She’s pregnant, but not sure who the father is. The guy acts all shocked that she cheated on him, but he’s had a thing going on with her supposedly best friend for the last season and a half. She’s probably not really pregnant though. It’ll probably turn out to be cancer.”

Nella’s phone buzzed in her pocket, and she turned her attention away from the show.

How’s the new job? Jason texted.

So far so good. The old lady seems a little crazy. It’s pretty much just a babysitting job. What are you up to?

Nella looked up see Mimi watching her.

“Boyfriend?” Mimi asked.

“Yeah. From back home.”

“How long you two been dating?”

“Year and a half.”

“And how old are you now?”

“Twenty-two.”

“Are you two serious?”

Nella squirmed. “Pretty serious.”

“You’re too young to be serious.” Mimi’s eyes turned back to the television.

Nella’s phone rang before she could respond. She walked away from Mimi into the kitchen before answering.

“Hello?”

“Daniella? It’s Linda. I just got to work. How is everything there?”

“Everything’s going fine here, Ms. Linda. Mimi just took her heart pills.”

“That’s good. That’s good. Listen, you give me a call if she gives you any trouble alright?”

Nella held back a sigh. “Yes, Ms. Linda. Would you like to talk to her?” Nella peered into the living room. The soap opera was still on, but Mimi’s seat was empty.

“No, no. That’s alright, dear.”

Nella walked down the hall. The bathroom was unoccupied.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, Daniella…” Mimi’s bedroom was empty too. “… I forgot to put the golf cart keys away last night after I took mom over to the Dearborn’s. Can you put them in my room? Mom thinks she’s still good to drive anything, but I swear she can’t see five feet in front of her face.”

“Uh-huh.” Nella dashed through the house to the front door. The golf cart was gone.

Internet Love

Short list this week. I spent a lot of time finishing up a response to a manuscript and then vegging out watching TV before I tackle my next project, my first full read through of Book 1 of the Reaping Chronicles.

 

Things I loved on the internet:

Bruce Lee Remix — This one reminds me of the Bob Ross remix that was big earlier this year.

Gangnam Style — I really want to flash mob this. My brain has been mixing up “Cinder Fella” from last week and “Gangnam Style” in an extremely odd remix that keeps looping.

By the Numbers: Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Patient Zero data.

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Click here to open the spreadsheet in Google Docs.

Information I extract:

  • Chapters
    • Number of chapters
    • Max chapter length
    • Min chapter length
    • Average length of chapters
    • Number of scenes per chapter
    • Max scenes per chapter
    • Min scenes per chapter
  • Scenes
    • Number of scenes
    • Max scene length
    • Min scene length
    • Average scene length
  • Total number of words

Internet Love

There are days I realize how much I love the internet. Yesterday was one of them. There are so many amazingly creative and wonderful people out there, and the internet lets me connect to them. Or at least their work.

Things I loved on the internet the past few weeks:

Abridged History of Western Art Music – by which he kind of means Classical/Instrumental, but that doesn’t quite cover it. Starting in the Middle Ages, continuing through the 20th century, this reddit post links to formative examples of music from each time period, and hints at current artists to keep an eye on.

H+ – A large percentage of the world’s population has adopted the H+ implant. It has replaced the need for cell phones, computers, TV and computer screens. Your brain, your body, with the implant, becomes all these things. An overlay on top of reality. The internet straight to your brain, 24 hours a day. But things go wrong. My only complaint with this show is that I can’t get enough of it.

Cold Days has a release date! – This is probably only interesting to fellow Jim Butcher fans. And I’m darn ecstatic. The only thing I’m more excited for is The Hobbit.

Cinder Fella – Disney/pop mashup, GloZell the Fairy Godmother, a disney prince/princess dance off where the princesses dance to a Katy Perry “I Kissed a Girl”, Little Mermaid “Kiss the Girl” mashup, “Thriller”, and a surprise guest that made me giggle. There’s so much awesome crammed in this video it’s ridiculous.

By the Numbers: Amped by Daniel Wilson

The Amped data might be a little harder to read. Each chapter was preceded by a news article or historical document, so I labelled all these small pieces as “0” chapters. Because of these small pieces, the averages will not be as accurate as previous posts.

Genre: Science Fiction

Click here to open the spreadsheet in Google Docs.

Information I extract:

  • Chapters
    • Number of chapters
    • Max chapter length
    • Min chapter length
    • Average length of chapters
    • Number of scenes per chapter
    • Max scenes per chapter
    • Min scenes per chapter
  • Scenes
    • Number of scenes
    • Max scene length
    • Min scene length
    • Average scene length
  • Total number of words

Don’t Touch My Books, Bro!

I try to stay away from soap boxes, but don’t touch my books, bro!

Basically, a school in Knox County has had their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, a program that I benefited from greatly in college) summer reading list available for a few months now. A week before school starts, one of the parents throws a royal hissy-fit over one of the books chosen, Robopocalypse, by Daniel Wilson. I’m a fan of Daniel Wilson. His books provoke me to think about technology and humanity and all the relationships between the two. The STEM enrolled students were supposed to read the book over the summer and discuss it in small groups this fall.

The parent, within their rights, objected to some language in the book. But, instead of accepting the alternative assignment (which had apparently been offered from the beginning because of the language), to choose another book and write a book report on it instead of participating in the discussio>ns of Robopocalypse, is pushing the school to remove the book from the curriculum completely.

The parents are completely within their rights to choose what books their child reads. (Whether and how far I believe parents should take that censorship is another discussion entirely.) What irks me is that they keep insisting that their rights have been violated, and refuse to choose another book for the alternative assignment, and want to force everyone else’s child to conform to their standards, to reject the right of other parent’s choices.

High school kids are in one of the most malleable stages of their lives, yes. And a good parent wants to do their best to encourage their children to become good people. But we live in a complex world, and no one believes exactly the same. If you want your right to chose for yourself and your child, you need to respect the right for others to do the same.

Stepping off the soap box now.

By the Numbers: John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War

I’d forgotten how much I love Old Man’s War by John Scalzi until I was scanning through to pick out the data. I stopped several times just to read.

Genre: Science Fiction

Click here to open the spreadsheet in Google Docs.

Information I extract:

  • Chapters
    • Number of chapters
    • Max chapter length
    • Min chapter length
    • Average length of chapters
    • Number of scenes per chapter
    • Max scenes per chapter
    • Min scenes per chapter
  • Scenes
    • Number of scenes
    • Max scene length
    • Min scene length
    • Average scene length
  • Total number of words

By the Numbers: The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe

I should clarify that when I count scenes, I’m counting sections that the author has separated by either a chapter or an empty line indicating a change in time or place. This may or may not be how the author would define scenes.

Today’s by the numbers spreadsheet is The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe.

Genre: Fantasy

Click here to open the spreadsheet in Google Docs.

Information I extract:

  • Chapters
    • Number of chapters
    • Max chapter length
    • Min chapter length
    • Average length of chapters
    • Number of scenes per chapter
    • Max scenes per chapter
    • Min scenes per chapter
  • Scenes
    • Number of scenes
    • Max scene length
    • Min scene length
    • Average scene length
  • Total number of words
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