Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Goodbye, February!

My pseudo-art. Rain, by Rebecca Carvalho. February 28, 2012.
It's raining in Madison. The weather channel promised a thunderstorm for later today, and I'm looking forward to hiding under my blankets with a book. For now, though, I thought I should publish a new blog entry. . . which is a good way to push down, and conceal a little, that last creative nonfiction one on crushes.

Unfortunately, you'll hate this new entry. There's nothing interesting going on at the moment. There's nothing different. Well, have I mentioned I'm writing a new book? Ah, I haven't! But I'll keep this one in a cloud of mist while I'm still working on it. I'm writing 1,700 words a day; if I keep this rhythm, in a month or two I'll have a novel-length YA story to tell you. If I keep going, I'll be able to compete again with the writers from that cupid's blog (yeah, that one I mentioned not too long ago) with a new book. My goal, God willing, is to get a literary agent before I go back to Brazil.

I hope you're doing well. There's so much going on with my friends. So many bad news, actually. February truly was a creepy month, but it's almost over. It would be over today. . . but, alas, this is a leap year. Let's pray that March will bring better news, good things to everyone. I wish you all the best.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Being brave: telling your crush you love him

Hey guys,

I guess Valentine's Day inspired me to start writing a lot more on love. Here's what happened to me when I decided to tell my first crush I loved him. Hopefully, he won't read this. Hopefully, my memory is intact. If it isn't all true, we could just call it creative nonfiction, right?  
--------------------------------
My First Crush
By Me?

When I was ten, I had a crush on a boy I knew since we were seven. We were friends, though not close friends, not the type of friends who tell things to one another. We happened to be classmates every year since we first met, and to some extent he was always there for me. That’s probably why / how this crush started. Also, we shared the same birthday.

He was a very good-looking boy. Tall and scrawny like a boy who unexpectedly grows up too fast during summer, with brown hair and brown eyes that lit up when he talked with his friends. Whenever I looked at him, I’d always find him smiling. Always in a good mood. He was someone that made you feel comfortable and happy just to be around.

Even though I had best friends I trusted, I hid my crush from them. I wasn’t ashamed of having a crush on him, I just didn’t know how to bring up the subject. I also didn’t know how to explain the way I felt. One day, though, when we were waiting in line after recess, they were talking about what they thought of the boys in our classroom, and I let slip that I was interested in someone.

Oh, how dreadful it is to see your friends won’t let you alone until you let them know all your secrets. They tortured me until they took away what they needed. And, as I stood there with a sinking heart, watching their excitement, my world turned upside-down when I noticed my crush had just arrived and stood behind me. 

Luckily, he had not heard our conversation. At least I don’t think he did. But, instead of dropping the topic, his presence left my friends even more excited. I don’t know why, but they decided I simply had to let him know how I felt. Expressing my feelings, of course, was out of question. No way. No, thank you very much.

One of my friends grabbed me by my shoulders and started shaking me when she noticed he was walking away.

He’s leaving. He’s leaving! Go. Go now! Go tell him!” She yelled in a high-pitched voice. She had never yelled at me.

Startled, my brain functioned to stop infuriating the creature that subjugated me -- er. . . to be nice to my friend. My heart was beating fast, but I had to be brave. She might be right, I thought.Maybe this is the time to tell him that I like him.

I spun on my heels and ran up to him. He looked a little surprised when I approached him, but was still friendly.

I -- Um -- I have to tell you something,” I stammered, losing that first courageous impulse.

His eyes told me he knew precisely what was coming his way, and it was a little disheartening to notice he didn't think that was a good surprise. Since I had started all that, I felt I had to finish it.

“I like you,” I told him. And with my heart racing, added: “And I wish you were my boyfriend. Do you want to be my boyfriend?”

Now that I think of it, I probably gave him a heart attack. I was too abrupt. Even if he had feelings for me, my question came so out of nowhere that he'd still have said 'no.'

He didn't say no, though. He, UM, actually ran away. Literally. He spun on his heels and ran away from me as fast as he could. He was good at soccer, so he ran pretty fast.

I looked back at my friends for support.

“Go after him!” They yelled, and their cheering cries got my legs moving quickly.

It seriously was like the running scene in “My Best Friend's Wedding.” I went after him, running like the crazy girl I never thought I'd be, asking for him to be my boyfriend. There were so many other kids coming back from recess, and they probably heard me, but now I don't want to think about how I embarrassed myself.

He was too fast for me to continue chasing him. When I finally realized what I was doing, I stopped going after him. Later that day, I told my friends to stop thinking about that. It was over. I think being rejected took away the magic that surrounded that first crush. All I wanted was to forget him. And that's what I did. I didn't even look at him anymore. I didn't acknowledge his presence when he was around.

A year later, during a dull mathematics class, someone tapped on my shoulder. It was him. The awkwardness between us had already vanished, so I looked back. In fact, I was too busy that year studying for Military School's entrance examinations to pay attention to my old feelings.

“Do you remember what you asked me a year ago?” He asked me, and looked really nervous.

“No,” I lied. I was starting to feel nervous myself.

“Well, you asked me if I wanted to be your boyfriend. The – the answer is yes.”

“What?”

He caught me completely off guard.

“The answer is yes,” he repeated, this time confidently.

I don't know what got into me, but I was suddenly feeling hurt. My pride spoke louder, and I caught myself saying “I was too crazy back then. Things are different now.” Those were really harsh words, but I didn't mean to be rude. I really just saw him as a friend. Although today I blame myself for being rude, it makes me happy to think he actually tried fighting for something he had lost.

Unfortunately, our time had already passed. He was disappointed, but he didn't give up. He continued doing his best to show we should be together, but I wasn't interested in him the way I had been a year ago. When you're ten, eleven years old, relationships are like butterflies. They're beautiful, but too delicate in a time when we're still figuring out who we are and what we want from life.

We at least became friends. One day he told me that when I was chasing him the day I expressed my feelings for him, he tripped and fell, and hurt his knee because of that. I didn't see him falling, and it makes me feel bad to think I caused all that. But I can't help thinking that maybe there's a scar left there on his knee. A scar that says he was once desperately chased by a girl who loved him.

A little bit of Daphne. . . and Ben

I've decided to show you an excerpt from my latest novel, Daphne's Book. I was hoping you could get a sense of what the friendship between two of my main characters is like. Daphne and Ben are both shy and awkward around one another, though not just because of the attraction between them. Do you know someone from the time you were in kindergarten, and felt you could say something about that person, but the two of you never really talked. Now imagine having to interact with that person years later, when you both end up going to the same college. He / she is the only person around who knows you, but at the same time. . . not really. Well, that's the case between Daphne and Ben.

Here's a scene from when they're looking for Andre Molina, a boy who disappeared in the woods. I hope you'll enjoy it. Feel free to leave comments.

----------------------


If it was an animal, it would have attacked us by now,Ben finally said.

A sudden, distant cry made them jump in fear. They held their breath and concentrated on listening, but there were no other noises.

The boy?Ben murmured and his suspicion was enough to get both of them running as fast as they could toward the source of the crying.

Daphne felt that her feet were very uncoordinated on that uneven ground. Although she expected to trip and fall on her face at any moment, she ran as fast as she could, paying attention to moonlight that went through the tree tops and lit the path here and there.

The terrain gradually became steep. At first, Daphne and Ben tried to go down on their own, but the ground was so muddy that Ben slipped and lost his balance. Daphne quickly grabbed his hand before he could have fallen and held onto a tree trunk to keep them firm.

Are you all right?She asked him.

Yeah, I am. Thanks,he said. Daphne, though, could feel that he was trembling, but forbore mentioning it.

Still holding hands, they continued running down the slope. Although Daphne was scared and anxious to find Andre, it wasn't her fear what kept her heart pounding. She felt strange holding a boy's hand.

The crying restarted and this time it was more audible. There were, also, splashing noises. A rush of adrenaline went through Daphne's body.

The boy is drowning!She shouted.

Feeling that every inch of her was ready to save the boy, Daphne ran faster than she had ever ran in her life, closely followed by Ben. They ran until they reached the border of a clearing in the woods, where a pearly lake could be seen reflecting the moon. She squinted her eyes to understand what was in the water, and was about to shout Andre's name when Ben released her hand and immediately covered her mouth.

Daphne instinctively struggled, all her nerves emitting alert signals and confused thoughts invading her mind. Daphne could not understand why Ben wouldn't let her go save Andre's life.

She grabbed his wrist and tried to pull his hand away from her face, but Ben proved to be stronger than her. In an aggressive attempt to release herself, she tried kicking him, but he pulled her closer to him and whisperedit's not the boy.His words made her stop struggling, and he finally let go of her.

I'm really sorry,he whispered in a mortified manner.ListenIt's not the boy. Look over there. They are swimming.

She took a few steps forward and stood behind a tree. What had sounded like crying noises was, in reality, laughter. Daphne noticed two figures swimming in the lake side by side. She could hardly understand their silhouettes, but she was certain those were a man and a woman. Their bodies glistened in the moonlight and made them look like mythological figures, water elementals celebrating the full moon and enchanting Daphne's eyes. They laughed in their embrace, and their laughter offended her.

Daphne's face and neck burned with shame. Feeling increasingly disgusted, she abruptly stepped back, accidentally bumping into Ben. That unexpected physical contact made Daphne push him away, repulsed. She could not see him well, but the faint moon glow was enough to let her notice that his expression was very surprised.

   

Querying

Yesterday, I was talking with two people on Twitter about those "what I think I do, how my friends see me, etc" sort of posters. We're eager to see writer and literary agent themed ones. Strangely, there's practically nothing out there on the topic. If you've come across anything like that, please let me know.


This post, however, isn't about those posters. I didn't know the people I was talking with, so out of curiosity I checked out one of their blogs. One of them is an agent, and the other is an author. The author's blog had an interesting suggestion for writers who are going through the querying process: organize your list of lit. agents with QueryTracker.net. I signed up for free, and in a few minutes was able to (1) search the names of all agencies I had already contacted, (2) write down whether my attempt had been successful or not, (3) read comments from other writers who had also contacted the same agents.


I know now, for instance, that I've contacted 21 agencies and already got 9 negative responses. Although those are disheartening numbers, I feel like it's way better than just feeling like all you get are rejections. I also can literally see I have many unanswered queries, which leaves space to daydreaming, more wishing and an attempt at soothing my poor nerves.


So, if you're querying, sign up at QueryTracker.net!


Have a great Thursday, bonitos.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Creepy February and Inappropriate Analogies


It is 5:13 AM of a cold, miserable Wednesday morning. Oh, don't worry, my mood isn't miserable. I'm just tired. I should be in bed, I know. I am in bed, actually; although not asleep, I'm sitting here under the blankets, using a laptop to work on some writing that I should have written months ago. I forbore listening to certain ideas, and now they've found me. They chased me all the way to now. Well, all the way to a week ago, precisely. But they're still here like half lovely, half annoying guests who can't realize that they should be leaving soon.

Editing certainly is a strange activity. I keep reading and reading, and I can't help feeling surprised now and then as the story progresses. It's almost as if, though not entirely, I had not written Daphne's adventures at all! One extraordinary thing is how clearly I see the characters now. Well, Daphne was always as concrete as yours truly, but some other folks were still a mystery to me. Now, finally, I think – though am probably wrong – I understand them, their decisions and the meaning behind unspoken words.

My life still is upside down. My friends' lives are upside down as well. And February turned out to be Creepy February, but at least we're still alive. The good thing is that I'm starting to see beauty from staring at the world from this angle. And that probably sounded naughty, but I don't care. It's late, and I'm tired, and I'm going to sleep in a second. By the time I wake up later today, this blog entry shall be already erased from my mind, along with the shame of making a sexual pun.

I wish you guys all the best!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Packing - Unpacking Blues

Hi!


As I mentioned in my last blog entry, we've moved into a new place. It's a house not too far from where we lived. Cleaning the apartment was really hard and moving out was exhausting, but Michael's dad made it easier. He helped us a lot, and even gave us a ride now and then, and provided snacks.


Our room is still a mess, but today we were finally able to arrange the furniture the way we wanted and to set up our work corners. My writing area faces a window. I like it. Although it is distracting at time, it also feeds my imagination. I see flocks of birds quickly flying by St. Mary's Hospital, which is a tall red building with many white windows. I also see a few naked, scary trees. And a factory, too. I don't know what it is for, but this morning its chimney was releasing a stinky smoke. Michael has a theory on what they could be burning, but I don't think anyone could stomach reading about it. There's a frozen lake nearby, where I constantly see people ice fishing when I go outside, but I can't see them from my window.


I think I'm a little melancholy. I hate moving out. Packing and unpacking are annoying, and I keep feeling we have too many things. My goal is to every week get rid of stuff we don't use anymore, so we're ready to travel to Brazil when time comes. I'm also a little melancholy because I couldn't get literary agents interested in Daphne's Book so far, but I'll keep trying. If that fails, then I guess I'll just publish it online for free.


Well, that's all for now. I hope you guys are doing fine and getting ready for Carnival! I miss Galo da Madrugada, even though I was never the type of kid who liked partying.


My warmest wishes, even though I'm having trouble staying warm myself.
-- Becca