Check out the first chapter of my novel, The Shadow Twins, below, along with some writing resources and tips.
THE SHADOW TWINS: BOOK ONE (CHAPTER ONE)
In one summer, my life got ten times more complicated. Firstly, my grandmother moved out of our house and halfway across town to be closer to her store. Secondly, all of my best friends moved away – and not even to normal places like Toronto or L.A., but to Jacksonville, Canberra and Vancouver. I know nothing about these places. And thirdly, I got my period. Now that I’d said it, I didn’t think that last one counted, although it did complicate things.
I was starting the tenth grade – which was when high school started in my town – with no one to sit beside at lunch, no one to complain to about how annoying and unfair the teachers would be in the future, and no one to hang out with after school. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I couldn’t plan for this, because it was unexpected. It was like, “Oh, guess what? I’m moving to Australia in two days. Sure, there’re lots of poisonous animals, but it’s beautiful!”
I was lost now – well, not really, because I’d been living in Ashville for six years and I knew my way around town – but I felt helpless, like that feeling little kids got when they lost their parents in a huge department store. Sure, my social life wasn’t as important as academics and getting into a good university – as my Dad always said – but it was as important as everyone thought it was. The average teenager had at least two good friends. Currently, I had zero. My acquaintances added up to well over fifteen, but they all had things to do, as far as I was concerned.
They didn’t have time to be my friends.
I sat on the school bus far at the back where no one could see me by myself mentally debating the pros and cons of my situation. There were no pros – at least, no possible ones. I had considered: my friends coming back and everything returning to the way it once was or someone new moving to this town and me befriending them. But no one new had ever moved to Ashville in a long time – not since two years ago. The population didn’t go over ten thousand…ever.
I sighed and leaned my head back against the leather cushion on the back of the seat. That was nearly a big mistake. My head just barely missed a huge wad of bubble gum that someone had stuck there; probably from last year (the seniors are a nightmare).
I stared out the window. Everything – the cars, the houses, the trees, the people – was moving by so quickly. It seemed like only yesterday when I was hanging out with my old friends. Then, in the blink of an eye, they just got up and moved away, one of whom hadn’t even bothered to say goodbye to the rest of us. I didn’t know if their parents didn’t want us all hanging out or they just spontaneously got better jobs. It was annoying, and I didn’t want to think about that. It made me feel sad. Outside, the sky was a beautiful, cloudless blue. I was hoping for a cloud, because they said that every cloud had a silver lining. I would need a thousand silver linings to make me feel better today – but even one could really help.
The bus pulled up in the bus loop in the front of the school seconds before the bell rang. If I didn’t hurry, I was going to be late. God, I hated my bus driver. He was old and fat and rude and he was always late picking me up. I’m sure it was just me. What was wrong with me? I wondered as I walked down the tiled hallway and up the stairs to my newly-assigned locker.
There was nothing unlikable about me at all.
I had caramel-colored hair, that edged just above my shoulders and it was always tamed with a pink-and-white headband with roses on it whenever the sun or rain came out. That was a gift that my grandmother had given me. I was named after her: Mallory Joan Harper. She’d given it to me when I was young, and I hadn’t started wearing it until a few years ago. The last time I’d spent time with her was for her fifty-ninth birthday the past summer.
I hurriedly put my books into my locker and dashed into my homeroom class. I tripped over my shoelaces (not that clumsy) but caught myself quickly by thrusting out my hand and gripping the door-frame (rather good reflexes). I needed to buy new shoes anyway. As I walked in, all eyes were, thankfully, facing the teacher. I was probably about the plainest girl in the now tenth grade – either that or the girl who always wore that pink-and-white headband – my rep.
The teacher, whose name was Mr. Jameson (who was homeroom as well as English), was tall and lanky and had auburn hair and a matching mustache. He talked very fast and loud and I disliked him from the minute I heard him.
I had to spend forty-five minutes with this guy.
Lunch was after math class, which had been brutal. I’d felt like I’d been bombarded with trigonometry and Cartesian graphs. Yeah, sure, I didn’t really understand how to use the cosine law, but neither did half the class. And yet, Ms. Dante felt that I knew all the answers to all the questions – just because her and my mom were, like, best friends. I’d blushed so many times, I felt I could never blush again. My cheeks were permanently pink, which did nothing for my face. My mortification made my hair look bleached blonde, like I was extra, or didn’t have a clue about anything, especially in math.
The cafeteria was a crowded place, with floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls, letting lots of light in. The room was large, the voices bouncing off the walls and assaulting my ears. I moved cautiously around the tables, searching for one that I could make my own. I found the perfect one – the table in the back, near the vending machines. I could see the soccer field from where I sat. And I wasn’t too far away from the cute boys’ table, too – not that that mattered. No cute boy would look my way anyway. I took out a brown paper bag with my lunch. Usually I packed it myself, because my mother had other things to do. I wasn’t very picky about what I ate – leftover Alfredo pasta from last night’s dinner, which wasn’t slimy and mushy at all, by the way. I was just about to take a bite out of my lunch when a voice called out in my direction:
I cringed in my seat, hoping the floor would split open, swallow me whole, and then spit me back up in a place far away from America, like New Zealand. I knew very well who that was: Leigh-Anne Kingsley, the most popular, most inconsiderate, most annoying person to ever exist. I hated the way she said my name – she probably held her nose when she said it; her voice sounded nasally high-pitched and disgusting. A few students – seniors – looked in her direction. But when they realized it was her, they decided not to get involved. God, she even got respect from those older than she was. Leigh-Anne called me again, as if I were a child, and wasn’t to be taken seriously, or like my feelings didn’t matter.
I turned around and saw her waving. I sat in my seat, goose-flesh rising on my arms. I made my body rigid, and didn’t glance in her direction again. I didn’t like her. I didn’t even respect her. Okay, fine, I respected her (a little) but I didn’t appreciate her. Everything she did was for herself, or for her friends. And even then there had to be something in it for her. Her selfishness was terrible, in an amazing way. I was very aware of the fact that sitting at the same table with her, looking over at her, or even breathing the same air as her, would get me some social recognition. That was usually how half the famous people in Hollywood became famous – fame by association.
I didn’t know if I wanted to risk that, even though life was worth taking risks, because nothing was really set in stone. Miracles happened everyday. The only assurance was that you were going to die. I didn’t want to die right now. And by hanging out with Leigh-Anne I was guaranteed to suffer from serious migraines due to lack of sleep and stress. Could migraines kill you? But the sane side of my brain kept telling me that I really had nothing to lose, and that things could be a lot worse – I could be kidnapped, or killed, or both. I mean, it wasn’t like I had any other friends that I would rather sit beside, right? I’d known Leigh-Anne since I moved here.
Social interaction was a must for every living creature. I needed to talk to someone.
So I grabbed my lunch, stood up and went over and sat with her because if I didn’t, I knew there would be some sort of consequence. It wasn’t that I was afraid of Leigh-Anne (she was scary, though), it was just that I knew her well (we weren’t friends) and I knew what she was capable of. And, incidentally, I was thinking of taking back that last comment about her being selfish because it really was nice of her to invite me to sit with her and her friends, even though she hated my guts.
At least, that was what I thought.
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