Feeling good on 10/09/08

My brother Peter, who passed away in 1992, would be turning 56 today. He would be positively tickled by the cadence of this particular date. Love you, bro!

I've been holding my breath ever since I finally submitted my overdue manuscript. If my editor didn't like it, I'd be up the creek (and the fact that I missed two deadlines wasn't helping my cause any). A New Kind of Bliss will be, well, a new kind of story for me, one with a lead character who isn't as genteel and understanding as the others I've written. This girl's got flaws. Well, yesterday I received word from my editor that she loved it. "Winning, flawed, comforting, real," were her words for my lead character.

Of course, that is no guarantee that readers will feel the same way, and that is where the real chance-taking comes in. No writer - no, make that most writers - wants to write the same sweet, understanding characters over and over again. Even if readers don't agree with the thoughts of Emily Yancy, they will feel as though they know her . . . and sympathize with her dilemma, even if they haven't experienced it themselves (few have).

At least I hope they will.

Here's a sneak peek of what is officially not a WIP, but an upcoming novel that will be available for purchase in May (and y'all know I'm gonna let everybody know when it's available for pre-ordering). This is not the opening chapter, but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out what's going on, so enjoy!

***

The bloom, as they say, is off the rose.
It certainly didn’t take long. We buried Pop the day before yesterday, and already I’m wondering how I’m going to cope with living in Euliss again. The old town is dirtier and noisier than ever, a fact I’m made aware of every time I leave my mother’s quiet street. Crumpled milk cartons and soft drink cans and bottles missed by the alleged street sweeping machines lined the curbs. A variety of hip-hop CDs, with language too raw to be played on the radio, competed for listeners at top volume on boom boxes positioned in windows like fans. And it’s full of vehicles in desperate need of Midasizing.
I went to the supermarket for Mom the other day. Residents on the black side of town – Euliss might be in New York, but it’s segregated as 1950s Alabama, with blacks and Latinos for the most part kept west of the dividing line – were thrilled when a major chain opened in the neighborhood with the promise that their prices would be the same as they were at their location across town. This was a novelty, as their competitors’ prices at their stores in the black and Latino neighborhoods bordered on larceny, like two dollars for a single green pepper. Not a more exotic red or yellow pepper, but an ordinary green one. I doubt Leona Helmsley would have paid two dollars for a single green pepper . . . unless it was for that dog she left all her money to. I can hear her telling her maid, “Skip the green peppers. Only the little people eat them.”
Anyway, the first thing I saw upon entering the market that was the crown jewel of Euliss’ west side – a windowless dull brown brick structure that reminded me of a prison – was a crudely hand lettered sign that said, ‘Please do not spit on the floor.’ I rolled my eyes. People in Scarsdale don’t have to put up with this shit.
I kept reminding myself why I was here. Mom needed me. Sonny's circumstances in terms of proximity and time off made him the ideal candidate, but that girlfriend he'd had here in town changed everything. I didn't want to contribute to any more problems between he and Nell. They'd been married thirty years, and I'm fond of my sister-in-law. I also know firsthand how difficult it is to survive infidelity. Nell must be a better woman than me, because I couldn't bring myself to do it. If I’d stayed married to Al I would have spent the rest of my life worrying about what he was doing every minute he was out of my sight. Frankly, I feel I deserve better. But staying with Sonny was the choice Nell made, and I respect it.

***

8 comments:

Sean D. Young said...

Look at you!! Go girl!!

I wish I could read more. I can see vividly Emily. I can't wait to read the whole story.

Congrats! You worked hard enough and the readers will embrace this story just like the editor did.

Sean

Patricia W. said...

I remember when I moved to Cincinnati, fresh out of college. I was amazed by how clean the supermarkets were. Really! The best supermarkets on Long Island still had dirty floors, dim lights, and cashiers with funky attitudes.

Grocery shopping became a pleasure and Kroger became one of my favorite hangouts. How sad is that?

Woo-hoo! I'm glad your editor loved it. We know you stressed over this one but it was worth it. Folks better get ready because Miss Emily's got NY attitude for days!

Anonymous said...

Great news, Bettye! You know I like nice characters, but I really love characters with an edge. Glad Emily will keep some of her sass. (Wasn't so sure there for a minute.) And I'm still waiting on Micheline's return.--Reon :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Bettye, speaking of characters with edge, Eve and Margo are on their way to you. ;-)--Reon

bettye griffin said...

Sean, bless you for your optimism!

Patricia, I'm so accustomed to those shiny supermarkets in Florida I was shocked at the way many of them looked in Illinois, although in Wisconsin they're a little better. And yes, the stress seems worth it, but that's what happens when you stretch the writing muscles. BTW, I thanked you and Reon in my Acknowledgments.

Reon, I'll be returning to Micheline soon, on the 2nd of December, as a matter of fact. I actually started this sequel last year and it's about 30% complete, but I have to re-read both The People Next Door and Nothing But Trouble to make sure I'm fully acquainted with the cast. Don't be surprised if I ask for your opinion (see above note to Patricia). In the immortal words of Margo Channing, "Fasten your seat belts."

Looking forward to receiving that DVD!

Gwyneth Bolton said...

Looks like another winner! I love the excerpt! I can't wait to read it.

Gwyneth

shelia said...

Your teasers are like being on a diet and not being able to eat the whole cake--I want more.

I look forward to reading the new book.

bettye griffin said...

Gwyneth, you continue to amaze me with all you do, and I know that you don't half step with your reading any more than you would with your wonderful writing!

Shelia, what a nice compliment! Thanks.