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Posts Tagged ‘coming-of-age’

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 12.38.12 PMAfter releasing my latest novel THE SECRET MISS RABBIT KEPT, I put ‘Enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest ‘ on my Bucket List. I’d never considered a contest before, but I thought there might come a day when I might regret having not given Miss Rabbit the opportunity to try her luck.

**Background for those not familiar with the contest: Any non-contracted author can submit their work into one of five categories. The entries are then whittled down in stages: 10,000 to 2,000, then 500, then 25. From there, 5 Finalists are announced and held up for a popular vote. And all of this takes place over a 5-month period.

Torture, right? You have no idea

If you haven’t seen my FB posts, my Tweets, my LinkedIn or Goodreads profile, my Pinterest pages, or my Instagram shots (yes, authors have to be social media freaks),  you might not be aware of my current spot among the remaining 100 entries in the General Fiction category. There’s still a long way to go (or not), but as a member of the ‘100 Club’, I received a review by Publisher’s Weekly. Mine, completed last week, is included below: 

“Smart but self-doubting Sophie — nicknamed So-So by her family — narrates this winning coming-of-age-story that takes place where people really do come of age: the nursing home. Although loved by her parents, Sophie lately feels the sting of being abandoned by her birth mother when she was an infant. “Assuming the residents were unloved toss-aways” like her, Sophie starts a job on her 16th birthday as a nurse’s aide at Sterlingwood Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where one Mrs. Gertrude Steiner promptly pees on Sophie’s leg and dies in her arms. Although she’s devastated by her first three days at the home, Sophie’s new friend and guide, Emma Jean Baker, is able to show her — and the reader — the humor and humanity behind the horrors of aging and dementia. She’s also Sophie’s guide into the world of Miss Mable Rabbit, a slight but sharp resident who resolved decades ago never to speak to anyone. In her, Sophie finds a purpose: to unlock her secrets and hear her talk again. By uniting the young and old souls, the sly and ever-caring Emma Jean hopes that each woman will come to an understanding not only of the other damaged soul, but also of their own. Though the plot is predictable, the novel’s sharp, funny characters, their warm and friction-filled relationships, and the madcap — but very real setting — provide insights and surprises aplenty.” 

My current placement could be the last stop on this journey (the competition is fierce), but I’m thrilled with this reviewer’s kind words.

We writers put our hearts and souls into our stories, and The Secret Miss Rabbit Kept took every bit of mine. While I would love nothing more than to see Miss Rabbit among the next 25 (dare I say the final 5?), my readers love her as much as I’d hoped they would. Winning hearts — more so than winning contests — is the stuff of any writer’s dream.

PS Lest I jinx anything, let me say BOTH would be very nice 🙂

 

© Robin Cain 2014

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  Chapter One

ImageMy mother was murdered.

That’s what I told nosey old Penny Parker, anyway–mostly because she always acted like she was better than me, but also because the truth was much worse. I’m sure she would’ve loved to hear how my real mother didn’t love me, how she’d thrown me away like an old bag of clothes, but I refused to give her the satisfaction. Penny would say, “She actually dumped you like garbage? Wow, glad I’m not you.”

Heck, I wished I wasn’t me, but Penny didn’t need to know that either. No one did. So to make myself feel better, I made up the story about my mother being murdered—anything sounded better than rejection—and she bought it.

Unfortunately, Penny Parker had a big mouth.

“Why on earth would you tell Mrs. Parker’s daughter that your birthmother was murdered?” my mother asked the very next morning. Although she’d waited until she’d sung me Happy Birthday and lit the candle on my birthday muffin, her question turned my wish into one for Penny Big Mouth’s murder.

“Good Lord, So-So,” she said, using the moniker I’d been given years earlier by a relative who’d curiously decided ‘Sophie’ was too difficult to say, yet hadn’t considered its possible long-term affects on my self-esteem. “Making up a story about your birthmother being murdered? That’s just wrong. Reminds me of the nonsense folks made up back in the fifties. Girls suddenly sent off to live with relatives, parents hoping no one would be the wiser when their daughter reappeared nine months later, everyone acting like nothing happened. You know my dear friend Linda? She reached adulthood before her parents even told her she’d been adopted.”

Sixteen years old and my birthday celebration reduced to a lecture and a muffin.

“Things have changed in the last twenty years, So-So. Putting babies up for adoption is an act of love. If you aren’t comfortable telling people the truth then tell them it’s none of their business, but don’t just make up stories. Especially not awful ones.”

A long silence followed, leading me to believe she might’ve finally exhausted her subject matter.

“Do you suppose she ever thinks of me?” I asked.

“Does who ever think of you, dear?” She tilted her head to view me above the eyeglasses perched upon her nose and which had come precariously close to falling into her sink of sudsy water. “And stop playing with your food. You’re making a mess all over my floor.”

“My birthmother.” I swept the remaining muffin crumbs off the table and onto the floor when she looked the other way.

“No matter how many times you ask, my answer isn’t going to change. I don’t know.”

“Come on. Isn’t it normal for me to wonder about something like this–especially on my birthday?”

“Yes, of course it is. It just seems that you’ve been asking for as long as I can remember–and not just on birthdays, either.” She tossed the towel she’d been using to dry the dishes on the counter and faced me. “I don’t want to seem heartless, but I can’t change the facts. I don’t know the answer.” She removed her glasses and held them up to the light. Once satisfied her view was unimpeded–acknowledged with an imperceptible nod of her head–she put them back on. “Enough now. Go get ready for work. Seeing as this was the only job you could get, you better not start off being late.”

Lie number two I’d told in as many days. The nursing home wasn’t the only place I could get a job. It was the only place I’d applied. Assuming the residents were unloved toss-aways like me, I figured we’d have something in common. This idea—spawned by the anniversary of my birthmother’s choice—made near perfect sense, but my mother didn’t need to know as much, seeing as she’d just busted me for one lie.

Instead, I left the lie intact and dressed for work. The required shapeless polyester uniform, paired with the white rubber-soled shoes, looked ridiculous and only added to my already-sour mood.

Happy birthday to me.

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