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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Ramblings of an Excited Author - Delilah K. Stephans
Like most authors, I started writing for myself. I got in trouble in second grade for writing on the back of my test papers. Remember, the teacher would tell you – Once you finish turn your paper over. Well I would and then I’d start writing. Which since I went to school at the same school my Mother taught second grade meant she heard about it before the day was over. I’d love to be able to say she encouraged me – but I don’t like to lie.
But it never stopped me from writing. Life sometimes got in the way and I couldn’t write. Sometimes so discouraged that I couldn’t do what I wanted, I’d stop writing for years. But, always the urge came back and I’d be scribbling stories in notebooks or typing them into a word processor. It made me happy, eased the stress of the real world if I could escape into my dreams for a few hours. Then I met someone who encouraged me to write, if it made me happy.
I started writing fan fiction. I did that for years. For those of you wanting to start writing it is actually a good place to learn. No one is a harder or harsher reviewer than a fan who disagrees with your interpretation of their favorite character. But, you can try different skills and learn from them. It will even build your confidence.
Four years ago I stopped writing Fan Fiction, because I’d reached a point that it was either – well to use one of my father’s favorite expressions – fish or cut bait. So I started working on original projects. SCAREY! But I kept at it. I went through a period of getting stuck at midway or right at the climax of the story. Then one day, a red head plopped down beside me and started talking. Maybe I should mentioned my characters appear as fully formed people to me.
Anyway, this woman wouldn’t shut up and insisted I write her story. Figuring she’d shut up and disappear around chapter 3 I started typing. Chapter 3 came and went, then Chapter 4, 5, 6, and on and on until it was finished. I showed the story to a few friends and they loved it and encouraged me to submit it.
Today you get to meet that opinionated red head! My first published book – Sarah’s Story is now available (boy that feels good to type) at Red Rose Publishing. To get you interested here’s a little taste.
The stench of too many unwashed bodies, excrement, and blood filled the building. The décor left much to be desired. A central hallway with long cells ran along each side, women and children on the left, men on the right. At the far end sat the clerk.
The system was fairly straightforward. Auctions were once only for the cargo of slave ships, now these people were from my neighbors plantations. The reasons for their presence ranged from too many mouths to feed to a woman pregnant from her master.
I blinked back my tears at the real proof of the cruelty of man to his fellow man. The people in those cells didn’t want or need my pity. What they needed was coming sooner than their captors expected and after ten years living this life I welcomed the approach of the Civil War. Oh, I wasn’t a fool and well remembered my history. These people would never see true freedom, nor would their children or grandchildren experience true equality. But, their great-grandchildren would see the beginnings of it. How I’d love to tell them of a future where a man with dark skin could run for the Presidency, but I didn’t relish spending time in an insane asylum.
I started examining the women, and my gaze met that of a wide-eyed girl of no more than six. Thin and wiry as any child of her age, her dark brown eyes were filled with fear and curiosity.
I knelt in front of her. “Hello.”
“Hello, Miss.” Her clear, sweet child’s voice rang with caution. I wanted to yank her out of that cell, hug her close and keep all the evil away of the world from this precious little girl.
“Is your mother here?”
The girl nodded and pointed to the far wall, a very pregnant woman rose with assistance from another woman, and walked towards the bars. It was easy to see she was the girl’s mother and even easier to tell that the girl’s father had not been a slave. Her mother’s skin a deep mahogany, while the child’s was a warm toffee and the thinner nose told me her father had been their previous owner or overseer or even the son of the one of the men. “Is your father here?” I knew he wasn’t but possibly the woman’s husband was.
“No Miss.” The child crooked her finger in the age old come closer curl and I obliged leaning forward. “He sent Momma, Uncle Adam and me here.” She confided this outrage in a tight whisper.
“Would you and your momma and Uncle Adam like to come live with me?” I figured Uncle Adam was the woman’s husband. A glance over my shoulder and I could guess which man was Adam. He stood at the bars, watching me intently. Not nearly as large as Sam, he was muscular, most likely a field hand.
“We don’t got no choice, Miss.”
“We don’t have any choice.” I corrected her without thought. “You do with me. If you wish it, I will walk over to that man at the end and buy the three of you. Then you would come and live at my home. Would you like that?”
Before the child could answer, a hand wrapped around my arm in an iron grip and yanked me to my feet. I didn’t think. I didn’t plan. I reacted. As I spun on my attacker my free hand formed a fist and came around hitting my attacker in the jaw. He released my arm as he fell and I stepped forward, raising my skirt. I planted my boot in his crotch. “Keep your hands off me.”
The man glared up at me as he rubbed his jaw, but didn’t move.
I took a minute to admire him. His eyes, a clear vivid blue, flashed with anger. His hair, a surprising black, was cut to military regs. It was only then I noticed the vivid blue of his uniform that hugged his very trim and nicely muscled form.
I stepped back allowing him to stand. Inside my body was humming, the man looked good enough to eat and, boy, did I want to. Ten year is quite a famine.