Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Chapter for You

Hi, Readers. Remember me?
Man, it's been a while. This book is eating my lunch.

I thought I would include a chapter of my book and get some
thoughts. Keep in mind, this is the ROUGH draft. It's not perfect, and it probably never will be despite my anal efforts and fondness for the delete button.

I randomly picked a very early excerpt from one of my chapters for you all to read. So I want to hear thoughts, criticisms, what have you. I know there is plenty in here to rip apart, so by all means...

P.S. Sorry for the weird spacing. It's not letting me fix it, so just pretend it's properly indented and all that jazz.

An Excerpt from Chapter Something
By the time she had made it to the kitchen, Collin’s silk tie was already strewn on the floor. His worn leather Bible and a crumpled Charleston Gazette were plopped onto the round dinner table. His back was turned to her as he peered into the refrigerator.
“I made the ham and cheese casserole you like. It’s in the oven,” she beamed.
He looked over his shoulder. “How long is that going to take?”
“Forty-five minutes or so, I just put it in. How was your day?”
Collin let out a short, harsh sigh. “I’m just going to make a sandwich. It will be faster.” He reached into the open door and grabbed the remaining deli meat. “Sorry, but I’ve got a late deacons meeting tonight.”
Bailey tried to mask her disappointment. “But you just got home.”
“The Lord’s work never rests, you know that.” He took out the whole wheat loaf stowed away in the bread drawer. “It’s not like I particularly want to rush out again.”
Doubt flooded Bailey’s mind like water rushing a sinking ship. She questioned whether or not he really meant what he just said. “I know you don’t,” she said, almost to herself.
His callused hands gripped the dark gray countertops. “I didn’t even call this meeting. Charles Stinson did. I’m sure it’s just another one of his mindless budget assessments.”
Bailey reached out to stroke her husband’s broad shoulders. She knew how much he detested Charles and his endless financial crises. “I’m sure he just wants to make sure the church is balancing everything well, especially considering the last few months.”
Collin’s arm stiffened. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“I just know attendance hasn’t been entirely consistent lately,” she said, choosing her words carefully. “And that has probably affected the church’s finances, especially with the new building going up.”
“The church is fine. Attendance is doing well and the finances are holding,” he said sternly, turning back toward the fridge.
Does he really think I’m that blind? she wondered. “I’m sure it is, but you know Charlie. He just wants to be certain.”
“I should think you would trust me a little more, Bails,” he said, spreading a generous amount of mayonnaise onto his sandwich. “As the head of this church, if I’m telling you everything is all right then you should believe it. No questions asked. You and Charles.”
Bailey paused for a moment. She knew he was right. Believing the pastor shouldn’t be difficult for any member of a congregation. It wasn’t asking too much. After all, if the man behind the pulpit wasn’t aware of the inner workings of the church, who would be? Yet, Bailey could not distinguish flawed husband from impeccable pastor, the man at church and the man at home. They were one in the same, yet entirely different. It was impossible to differentiate.
“It doesn’t hurt to double –”
“For God’s sake, Bails. I’m your husband.” He was practically shouting now. “Have a little faith.”
She watched her spouse shove the sandwich into his mouth. “Faith?”
“You aren’t trusting that God wants us to have this new building. That he will provide.”
Leaning against the cream-colored wall, Bailey clutched her hands behind her. She wanted to tell him that that he was being unreasonable. That faith wasn’t blind and foolish.
“I was just looking forward to you coming home,” she said instead.
“Well if dinner had been ready, we could have eaten together.”
His words stung more than he knew. “I’m sorry, sweetie. Rita just dropped by earlier, and I lost track of the time.”
“What is that? The third time this week?” he questioned while he chewed. “Doesn’t she know that you have other obligations?”
Bailey ignored the muddled slosh inside his mouth. “She’s lonely, Collin. And she’s my friend.” My only friend, she thought. The only one who knows…
“I understand, probably a lot better than most people that widows are lonely. But there are several women at the church who don’t have husbands.” He wagged his scrawny finger at her. “And you, my dear, are heavily favoring Rita Blankenship.”
Does he understand me so little? she wondered. How much does it speak of a marriage when the husband doesn’t recognize his wife’s best friend? She silently admitted to herself that her disappointment wasn’t exactly merited. Expecting him to understand her reasons for relying so heavily on Rita was futile. He wouldn’t understand until he knew everything, as Rita did. As only Rita did.
She forced a smile. “I will try and see some other ladies this week. It’s only Tuesday.”
“Excellent,” he said, a little too cheerfully. “You can take this casserole to the Conners, too. Jim just got back from the hospital this morning, and you haven’t exactly been showing him the kind of service a minister’s wife should.”
Her face flushed. She glanced toward the batch of homemade bread and blueberry muffins sitting on the counter in a red basket. She had planned to take them to the Conners the next morning.
“I wanted to give him time to –”
“I know you can’t do everything, Bails. But he’s an elder.”
She nodded her understanding.
“Your negligence doesn’t exactly make me look good.”
Her eyes shifted toward his tatty loafers. She wanted so much to please him, to give him something to be proud of. Isn’t that why she had come to Charleston in the first place? To do something right, for once?
Collin walked across the hardwood floor and poured himself a glass of white wine. “You can’t simply gloss over the most important people in the church. That’s your job, hun. I only have two hands.” His broad shoulders slouched over his wine glass. “I can’t keep reminding you of your responsibilities.”
Bailey bit her tongue. It was pointless to argue, she knew. This speech had become part of their daily schedule, as routine as brushing their teeth before bed, or reading the newspaper over a warm mug of hazelnut blend in the morning. Sometimes, she thought Collin actually enjoyed chastising her.
“We have an image to uphold as the head of this church,” he droned. “The people at St. Martin look to me to guide them. Me and you. We can’t let them see us screw it all up.”
“I know.” She sighed. “I know, dear.”
He smiled sardonically. “Then start helping me, Bails. We’re a team. We’re in this together.”
Bailey turned toward the oven to check on the casserole. She didn’t want him to see the tears brimming in her eyes.
A team? she thought. Oh, how she wished it was so.


  1. I thought it was very good. I could picture the couple in my head and relate to how the woman felt about her husband.

    I don't really have anything to pick apart here, because I'm not an editor or a writer. But I will say when I got to the end I wanted to read more and that's a very good thing for any story.

  2. Aww I think its coming out good so far. I really do not know the premise of the story. Reading this excerpt makes me want to read more. I am just sitting here wondering why he is being a dbag to his wife. I cant help but feel sympathetic for her. Good job

  3. I loved what you wrote about the doubt flooding her mind like water in a sinking ship (or something like that) :) I think you have a GREAT start! Thanks for sharing this and keep it up!

  4. I definitely wanted to keep reading! That's a very interesting relationship you're portraying-- an emotionally abusive pastor husband? Intriguing.

    Glad to know someone else out there is putting their creative work out there for people to read and potentially critique. It's one thing to share a blog with everyone you know, but fiction writing is a whole other ballgame that makes me very self-conscious!


  5. I loved it. Have you ever considered sending any of your work into the North American Review? (

    I'm a PR intern there right now and I think your work would be great for it! Think about it. :)