Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Lucky Boy by Caroline Gerardo: Guest Post, Excerpt

A dark coming of age story. Seth McGrath goes through hell to raise ten grand to find a girl. What would you do to find your true love?

This young man is the son of an icy neurosurgeon and a pill popping debutante who send him away to be raised by his Grandmother. Seth will sell drugs, arrange bum fights for hire, and steal from anyone. What does it take for a psycho to become a CEO? Find out in this chilling tale, written in contemporary literary beats. A MMA style of writing that will keep you up reading.

available paperback and all ereaders

Kindle  |  Nook

I have a Bachelor’s Degrees in Literature and Art from Scripps College and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Claremont Graduate University. I have been writing, taking photographs, and living a creative life since I was a little girl.

After college, I muddled along making a meager living as a performance poet and painter. I married my college sweetheart (after eighteen rocky years we divorced).

With children to feed all by myself, reality became such that I must work hard to sustain myself and family.

In 2008, I joined a writing group in Los Angeles. I ghostwrote a couple thriller novels for someone. In the end of 2009, I came out of the closet (after blogging on Blogit in secret for ten years prior) and decided to self-publish a series of seven short stories. This first project became tied up in litigation. I have now edited and put all seven stories together (to be released sometime after August 29 2012). That group of short stories (Cardinal Sins) seems long in my past.

I published poetry and short fiction in some twenty-two magazines in the past two years. I also completed two novels: Toxic Assets and The Lucky Boy. The two long form novels are very different. Toxic Assets being a literary thriller and The Lucky Boy a combination of literary novel and dark YA. My next two projects are: a long form novel now titled Eco-Terrorist and a short film based on my poem: The Last Willow Flycatcher.

Blog  |  Website   |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

My writing process

I am a planner. I believe all people should write out their one, five and ten year plans. Without a point to work towards, and a method to break down the steps on the path, we are lost. My planning includes my creative work, family, financial, spiritual, and health aspects of my life.

My daily schedule:

I wake up at 5:15 every day. I don’t need an alarm clock that rings. The coffee machine downstairs delivers an aroma and I jump up.

For two hours, I work on the long form novel. This time is important because it is when I am fresh and ideas from the past day are ready to flow. I work on the kitchen table wearing a Darth Maul baseball hat. This goofy hat indicates to my children that Mom is working. My house is quiet until my son Carson wakes and grabs something healthy to eat. If it is a school day, I made his lunch the night before and he now has his permit (soon he will drive himself to school yippee).

From eight to nine AM I check emails, Twitter, Goodreads, my blogsite, now new on Pinterest, write a few responses to emails or publishing events, book appointments etc. I use an egg timer to limit my time on twitter and other sites that get me off tangent reading. I do not use any auto tweeting or auto-bot marketing services. I dislike the feel of receiving the junk mail tweets and junk emails – therefore I have decided not to use any of those type of tools. This has worked very well in finding readers.

I take five and ten minute breaks to stretch and complete the daily chores on the weekends, but on weekdays I work my “Day job” in mortgage and will switch hats to complete that set of duties. I carry with me a separate cell phone connected to my writing platform and will check that when I am waiting in line, waiting on hold, or doing anything that allows multi-tasking. I don’t have a formal lunch, I will spend the hour writing a blog post or editing.

Evenings Monday – Thursday I write from 5:30- 9:30.

Weekends usually are nine hours broken into pieces.

This gives me about 40 hours writing, five hours marketing and planning, and 40 hours job.

On the weekend, I shop at the farmer’s market, plan dinners and have five twenty minute meals half prepared. Eating healthy is vital to support your creativity and ability to sustain a pace. I wrote a post about diet for creative people here if you are interested:

What we put in our bodies and our minds does come out in the work.

I always carry notebooks. Handwriting patterns of speech, an idea to express emotion through how someone uses their hands, a moment of synchronicity that becomes a poem and more are drawn, scribbled and rarely written in pretty handwriting. I have been seen writing poetry in the bleachers of one of my children’s Lacrosse games on a regular basis. Allow information to fill your soul. Be a sponge for great information. Read all the time. Be unafraid to tackle hard subjects, those that make you ache inside might connect the most with those in our time.

Time is the most important thing we own. I do not squander minutes it on junk television or agreeing to do things that keep me from goals. Learn to say no thank you upfront and save yourself from working on deadlines for others. I used to do a great deal of fundraising for causes, but I do not have the luxury of time to give in that direction today.

Physical exercise is important for creative people. I hike, run, hot yoga, and play sports with my children. Last Saturday I hiked eight miles in Red Rock Canyon and Sunday ten on the Kern River. In my backpack I had a gallon of water, notebook, camera, and “protection.” My oldest says I should not go alone, but arranging someone who wants to leave at the minute I am ready, well is difficult. This weekend, I went with the Laguna Nursery to Lotus Land in Santa Barbara.

I will post photographs of the amazing mini-climates, rare plants and my experience on my blog and Pinterest. Getting out of your own surrounds adds new ways to see, opens the creative person to thinking and combining better art.
My writing process for novels:

· First draft 150000 words

· Write seven days a week

· White board with graph of story

· Photograph images of story, character, drawings of characters

· Outline two pages of the narrative

· Read it aloud

· Then edit two times after you beg friends to read and comment

· Let it rest.

· Edit one last time (lost my two best beta readers last year –Tony, and then my Mom can’t after her stroke)

· Send to professional editor.

· Decide on cover art from the photographs and images after the book is completed. All covers are created from my own artwork/ photographs.

· My original outline may not be at all like the end product novel. The characters direct the story and take over. My work is often character driven.

· It takes me about a year to finish a book.

My recent novel:

The Lucky Boy is a dark bildungsroman. Seth McGrath’s a boy who experiences trauma at home. I will not reveal you if he has ADHD or is disturbed or has a guardian angel who helps him.

The story is set in 1965- 1972 when these types of modern labels went undiagnosed. In The late sixties, it was acceptable to spank your children, but this boy is actually beaten. The trauma of not receiving love, scars the young boy, until he is sent away to live with his paternal Grandmother. Something spiritual in Grandmother’s approach leads him towards finding love and connections. It as if she is a psychology and neuroscience expert before her time. Then suddenly she dies, causing Seth to stress to the point of ruin. He regresses to bad choices. Evil friends arrange what they label “bum fights” or illegal betting fights, selling drugs and stealing lead Seth into the wrong pathway. Somehow, he maintains decent grades and works hard at sports. These are not enough to make him feel accepted or grounded. Seth decides to run away to find his true love.

In order to write the fight scenes I trained in a Mixed Martial Arts studio.

I hope you will read The Lucky Boy and feel free to contact me to let me know what you think.

I am easy to find on twitter: @ cgbarbeau

I just started on Pinterest and have about 40 photographs that I enjoy sharing.


December 26th, 1956 flashback 

A Polaroid photograph of an infant that looks about nine months old leans on the windowsill of the McGrath’s avocado-colored kitchen. Seth is actually a year old in December 1956, but he was only five pounds eight ounces at birth. The doctor reviews his medical journals to check what percent of normal his son might meet, as he doesn’t practice pediatrics or neonatology. The child is measurably underweight. At best, Seth is 80 percent below normal for height and head size. However, he is growing. The baby is proportionate, but the doctor expects a child above the charts, as the father is six foot three.
“You’re not feeding this baby enough. His bone development will be harmed,” the pediatrician tells Maiya during a regular physical. She sends the nanny infrequently for the follow up visits.
As an infant, it appears to outsiders that Seth lives a charmed existence as the son of a neurosurgeon and a socialite wife. If a child might pick his parents, his fortune ahead appears easy. The unborn in the womb responded to usual stimulus. The delivery was seemingly normal. A few flaws went unnoticed. Maiya McGrath showed signs of high blood pressure in the random ballooning of her feet over the tops of her shoes. She also had chest pains, but this is confused with acid indigestion. In 1955 at the hospital when Seth was born, the specialists did not make consultations. Seth’s early years hold no recording of anything unusual.
The family enjoys an oversized Colonial on the Main Line. The two-story house has a single front door. The doctor works in a local Radnor hospital two days and takes the train into Philadelphia three days a week for surgery. He sees his brain injury patients from his office, tracking their progress with great success. He’s a busy man and never bothers with Girl Scouts, Little League, or homework with his two children.
Maiya maintains her figure with aerobics classes. She wears pink leg warmers and the right tennis shoes. She plays bridge on Monday at the Country Club. Every Tuesday, she meets girlfriends for lunch. Friday is nails day. The days in between are open. Maiya expects her subjects to glow in her presence. She leaves the driving of children to the nanny or the full time housekeeper. Often as an infant, they leave Seth to cry for a long stretches of time while Lorena, the nanny, watches I Love Lucy on television because she adores Desi. The doctor thinks this is good because picking up a baby spoils them to whine more.
In the afternoon, Lorena lays the baby on his tummy to nap in the downstairs port-a-crib. Then she locks down the net that covers the crib to keep the industrious little escape artist from climbing out. Lorena calls him mono or monkey child in her slang Spanish. She closes the sliding pocket door.
As instructed, the nanny busies herself with washing the bottles, but she skips the step of sterilizing the bottles by boiling that the pediatrician orders. The nanny washes them in soapy water and lets the baby bottles air dry in the pot with a rack for boiling. This gives the appearance of doing what they told her to do.
The child’s cries sound more urgent and hysterical than usual. His pattern of honks and then wailing grows more dramatic than normal infant fussiness. The babysitter slowly continues her chores. Her feet are swollen and sore from the long walk to the bus stop.
Then a soft whimpering with staccato bursts irritates the nanny. She checks on baby Seth, thinking that perhaps the schnauzer had made his way in through the pocket doors and teases him. There, she’s astounded to find the baby’s head lodged through the bars of the crib and his weak neck hanging like a piece of red licorice with a swollen softball, unmoving. The wooden spindles of the crib are just wide enough for the infant’s soft skull to push through the opening. The baby isn’t strong enough to lift and retract his head. She lifts the baby’s face from the outside of the crib. His neck has given up struggling. The tendons in his collar are limp. He appears lifeless.
The woman begins screaming in Spanish. With some unearthly strength, she turns one of the wooden slats with her left hand to allow a quarter inch more space to slide the child’s soft cranium back through the opening with her right hand and push his skull back onto the mattress. Her screaming and the jolting of the tiny child somehow shock the infant to gasp for a breath of air.
She holds him close to her chest. “Sorry, miho, I did not come sooner.”
Kissing him numerous times, she says, “Oh, Dios mío! Gracias a Dios estás vivo. Forgive my lazy.”
The child nuzzles her chest. She brushes his hair into one curl, a gesture he recalls and his body calms from trembling. He wiggles as if to nurse.
In the day that follows, the McGraths fail to notice the tiny lavender capillaries on the chubby neck. The newborn also has a dent in his cranium from lack of fluids and the sobbing. As soon as he rehydrates, the indentation fills in an hour. In two days, the stained branches fade from the skin to the color of a yellowed confederate uniform.
Lorena takes green papaya and blends it in the Osterizer with boiled sugar. Seth spits out the stringy texture. She buys more papayas and comes upon a method of juicing them. The extract is added to his powdered formula as a substitute for water.
“Come on, little baby, the papaya helps heal up bruises real fast. That’s a good boy, drink it.”
“We’re going out for a long walk today, Seth.” Lorena keeps him away from the parents for a day and a half with minor distractions. She wipes her forehead with her sleeve and dots the beads of sweat around her nose. “Forgive me, little one.”
She makes up a witchcraft story to Maiya who is susceptible. “Do not tell the doctor about the bruises from the devil, Maiya. I know how to get rid of the demon.”
“I didn’t see any bruises, Lorena.”
“Well, just in case. We need to burn some sage in the house. I will take the baby to see if we can find some growing wild.”
“My husband won’t be home tonight, Lorena, and I have plans with my friends. Why don’t you keep the baby in your room?”
“Should I bring the port-a-crib into my room?” Lorena asks.
“Yes, then I can sleep in the morning.”
The nanny is more diligent in her charge. She looks both ways in everything she does. Then again, she checks twice when she takes the baby for walks in the stroller. She actually buckles him into the stroller with the canvas strap, which she never before used. She feeds him on an exact schedule. Every two hours a buzzer is ringing. One tone is to prepare the next formula. Another is to remind her to sterilize. She uses an electric alarm clock, the buzzer over the oven for timing baking, and a chalkboard to record her care of Seth.
The stress of making another possible error overcomes her in the middle of the night. Lorena tiptoes into his bedroom to make certain the little prince is breathing.
“Good baby.” She pats his back with a cupped rhythm.
She looks into his face with a careful inspection as she changes his diaper. Something is different about the two eyes. Baby Seth has cobalt blue eyes. One is slightly different from the other. The nanny holds the eyelid up. When she holds up the eyebrow with her fingers, the fold of skin of the right eyelid balances with the left lid.
“See, honey, now you are handsome. Maybe we need to tape the eye up at night to make your eyelids match. Don’t tell anyone.”
He responds to her voice.
“See how smart you are.”
To overcome her anxiety, the nanny weaves a story about the infant’s prenatal care.
“Maiya, the baby needs the old country herbs to grow. Someone has put a spell on him. Look at his evil eye.”
“He’s an ugly thing,” Maiya says. “Yes, I see one eyelid is droopier.”
The nanny begins burning sage under the crib. She gathers violet, thyme, and ginger root. She places them in a glass bowl to dry in a sunny window.
She adds some marbles to create magic. She tells Mrs. McGrath, “We need to attract the light.”
The next day she pounds them with a wooden spoon “to balance the heat.” Then Lorena grinds them with a pestle. The friction binds the fiery catalyst. Maiya watches all the silly procedures with religious belief. The poultice is rubbed on the baby’s neck to hurry the healing.
Lorena tells enchanting fabrications. “There was an older twin and Seth’s umbilical cord became wrapped around Richard’s neck during delivery,” the nanny utters to Maiya, granting her the cache of a secret.
“What are you talking about, Lorena?”
“Oh yes, they will all lie to you because they feel you can’t handle the truth. But I am your real friend. I reveal this story only to you.”
“Even my husband? Don’t tell him?”
“Yes, he loves you and told them to lie to you, Maiya.”
“Yes, you know your husband can’t be trusted. This story is gruesome, are you ready, Maiya?”
“I must know, Lorena.”
“I believe baby Seth as a seed in the womb strangled his brother in some jealous uncontrolled urge. Your husband, the doctor, named the murdered unborn Richard.” Lorena makes up a wild story while Maiya’s eyes are motionless.
It is like a fairy tale that Lorena uses the twin to make herself powerful and useful. Maiya’s vivid dreams relive a past that never occurred. The frightening story seems to distance Maiya even further from reality. She spends days writing the twin’s possible names in ring binders. Her handwriting is illegible.
“I want to rename the twin and have a funeral. Do you think Seth remembers?” Maiya loses herself in a belief of clairvoyance and mystical spirits. The nanny encourages with foxglove and frangipani teas (both being poisonous). Lorena believes she controls ancient Egyptian magic.
“Nightshade is slipped into my tea by my husband. See the tea leaves are telling me their sorrows,” Maiya tells Lorena.
Alarmed at his wife’s distress, the doctor prescribes her something to stop her increasing anxiety. “I’m your husband. I would do no such thing, darling. Honey, take this to the pharmacy tomorrow. After sixty days it’ll build up and you’ll feel much better.”
The next month he hands her another script. “Take this one as well.”
“No, really, see the tiny purple flowers in the bottom of my teacup.” She shows him the flakes in the bottom of the porcelain.
“There’s nothing there, Maiya.”
“What else can I combine to encourage the protection of the angels?” Maiya says to the ceiling.
The nanny ties two twigs together with red thread to form a solar cross. She creates a symbol.
“I’m making more protection for you and for the baby.” Lorena mounts the crosses in various rooms.
“Can you give me something for my stretch marks?” Maiya asks the nanny.
“Use this bee balm and vitamin C crystal cream I made. Rub a bit on every night.”
“Oh, that’s great.” The mother will be in Lorena’s confidence after she notices the stretch marks disappear.
Maiya looks at her reflection in the rimmed mirror with her lit Virginia Slims cigarette forgotten on the vanity.
Lorena exercises the baby’s legs every day. Lorena slowly moves his thighs in a kicking motion.
“Come on, practice swimming with me; help me make your legs strong.”
He puts up resistance. She notices Seth now spasms only once every thirty minutes. His real mother never holds him more than two minutes because his fussiness tires her. Lorena lifts his arms and allows the infant to put pressure on her fingers. At first, he’s cranky and irritable about the new routine. After two weeks of leg lifts and arm curls, the little man giggles. The baby gains strength and coordination from the exercise. She can tell he desires to beat her in some competition. Seth smiles at Lorena in adoration.
Lorena experiences the smell of infant burps from a distance while Mommy flops the treasured child about. This causes a fury in the house. The nanny suffers jealously of his real mother’s existence. She sees the obsessive woman as weak and pallid.
“Mr. Seth, this will be our confidence,” the nanny whispers to the babe her in arms, “you are going to grow up strong. You are now my baby.”
William McGrath and “The Mrs. Doctor,” as William describes Maiya, believe “children should be raised by professionals.”
Seth speaks a first sentence at age two. “I’m a yucky boy.”
Everyone laughs. Lorena’s English isn’t good enough to understand the joke that Seth speaks with a little lisp dropping his L sound and making him say he’s icky negative rather than fortunate. The parents fail to correct the boy, finding the undersized child rather toy-like.
Maiya also begins calling him “my little monkey” for his climbing agility, body type, and lisp.

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Debby said...

Very intriguing. I like to make plans but then I never follow them
Debby236 at gmail dot com

oriana said...

Im just start at Pinterest too!
thanks for the giveawya!!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Wow! I can't believe how disciplined you are with you writing! Spending so much time like that! Go you! :)

Gale Nelson said...

Great interview. I would like a print copy. Thanks for the giveaway.

Suz said...

This book looks great! I would love to win a print copy! Thanks for the giveaway!

Suz Reads

Helen said...

looks very interesting