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  1. #1
    Jay Elwood Seymour

    My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Anyone who is willing to take a look, I've love your opinions and thoughts.

    Thank you to anyone who is nice enough to give it a read.


    Chapter One - The Twins

    Elijah and Emerson Egan are fifteen year old identical twin brothers who, aside from their obvious physical likeness, share only one truly identical trait; their shared embarrassment and distaste for the other’s lifestyle. Emerson likes to spend his money on the latest and most popular clothing, while Elijah spends his money on the latest and most expensive electronic gadgets. Emerson keeps his long moppy hair looking rugged and messy, as if he’d been playing football all afternoon, for which he often did. Elijah lacked control of his hair, as it tended to wrap around his head as if he had just been caught in a hurricane. If they had not spent nine months in their mother’s womb, they probably would have never spent any time together at all.
    There was hope for Elijah who, in just a few short months, would finally no longer have his brother walking on his heels and criticizing his every step. Come September, the twins would be attending different schools on different sides of what they both considered the most boring city in the West Midlands, Coventry. While Emerson would be continuing at the local high school, Elijah would be taking a city bus to the prestigious Eric Pattinson Six Form College. There he will receive top notch education and secure himself a spot at one of England’s most respected universities.
    Crossing through his neighbor’s yard, Elijah knew fully that the eyes of Mrs. Woods were fixed on him as she stuck her rubbery neck out her upstairs window. He pulled open his grandmother Beatrice’s sliding glass door, and dropped his book bag next to the cat’s food and water dish. Despite the fact that the cat had died several years ago, his grandmother left it food in the off chance that it would return from the dead. Neither of the twins ever brought up the filled bowls for a dead cat in conversation, and Beatrice had only acknowledged the fact once, when she caught Emerson on all fours drinking out of the water dish in the attempt to make his friends laugh.
    Being a Friday, the house would be empty all afternoon for Elijah to enjoy in peace. His grandmother would be taken out to dinner by his uncle, and Emerson would be cruising with his best friend Meric and their stuck up clique of popular friends. Friday evenings were once reserved for a night out with their father, but he missed out several times and eventually lost interest. Elijah preferred the night to himself, as it meant he could invite his only close friend, Christian Roepke, over without having a brother sitting on his shoulder the entire time.
    Elijah skipped up the stairs and around the corner toward his room, only to unexpectedly notice his brother changing his clothes. “Why aren’t you out with Meric?” Elijah asked.
    Emerson pulled the itchy sweater his father had bought him for Christmas over his head. “Dad phoned and he is taking the two of us out to dinner tonight. He wants to start up the ol’ weekly ritual again. So you will have to postpone your little play date until later,” replied Emerson with a sneering hint of sarcasm.
    “Shut it, Em,” Elijah said lazily as he ejected himself from his brother’s bedroom. Emerson had never enjoyed the company of Christian, unless it was to make fun of him or call him a sissy. Emerson had an unhealthy obsession with football, and because Christian couldn’t care less about sports, he saw him as less of a man. On the other hand Elijah was rather good at being goalie but the interest was simply not there.
    After Emerson had combed and re-combed his hair for about twenty minutes, the boys waited in the living room for their father’s posh two-door to pull up. Marquis was far taller than his sons and considerably more muscular. His chest was set high and his dark black hair was combed without a single hair out of place. His eyes were deep and his smile was bright and big.
    The ride was long, cold, and silent, until Emerson accused Elijah of wearing a shirt that he had nicked out of his brother’s closet. At this point Marquis complimented Emerson on dressing appropriately for dinner, and criticized Elijah for looking poor in his t-shirt, blue jeans, and zip-up hooded sweatshirt.
    The conversation at dinner consisted mostly of Emerson and Marquis talking of football and rugby all evening. If Elijah had not spent the majority of dinner with his eyes firmly planted on the rear end of their attractive brunette waitress, he would have surely died of boredom. The event would not be complete without Marquis pulling out his wallet that was so large Elijah could swear he heard a heartbeat emanating from inside. They were each given a one-hundred pound note, but with a little time and talent, Emerson soon would have wriggled a fifty out of his father as well.
    Marquis clearly believed that money was the fastest way to win his sons’ affections, and to make up for giving custody of his sons to his late ex-wife’s mother. When the twins were only two years old, their parents Marquis and Maegan Boleyn separated and later got a divorce. Unable to mentally or financially support her and her twin sons, Maegan moved in with her mother, Beatrice, and eventually changed their surnames from Boleyn to Egan, to show her distaste for her ex-husband’s family. Within the month, Maegan was given the shock of her life when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The disease brutally attacked her body and just three years after her diagnosis she succumbed to the effects, dying with her sons and mother by her side. She had made it very clear that she wanted the twins to be raised by her mother and not her ex-husband. Without a fight, Marquis accepted his ex-wife’s dying wish.
    The twins seemed content with being raised by their grandmother. She cared for them like they were her own, and showered them with the same love, support, and guidance their mother would have shown them. Beatrice often told Elijah that she would occasionally see him of out of the corner of her eye and think it was his mother. She told him that he was his mother’s son from body to soul.
    Elijah had only pecked at his plate, and as dinner came to a close, Emerson asked his father if he would drop him off downtown to meet up with his friend Meric instead of going home. Marquis agreed, and Elijah couldn’t be more than happy to go home alone because it would mean that he could still invite Christian over to enjoy what was left of the night. He would at least be able to reap the few hours away from his annoying other half until tomorrow.
    Marquis dropped the boys off at their respective locations and told them that he would see them next Friday for dinner again. Elijah unenthusiastically mumbled “great” under his breathe, ran up the stairs, and into the house as soon as possible.
    Beatrice was sitting in her favorite chair, sipping on tea and watching a game show on television. Elijah told her about his day and complained about his father as he sifted through the local delivery menus. Having only nibbled on his food at the restaurant, he had a hankering for something greasy and cheesy. Not to mention, he now had a hundred and fifty pounds burning a hole in his trousers pockets. After inviting Christian over and ordering pizza, Elijah listened to his grandmother talk about her day. Beatrice worked at the local primary school and almost always had a cute or funny story about the kids to tell. She often exaggerated her stories as well, so Elijah usually had to decipher what was true and what was added to make the story more interesting.
    Christian showed up, along with a brand new video game he had just purchased. The two ran up the stairs and down the hall so quickly that Elijah nearly lost his pizza when turning into his bedroom. Beatrice shouted up the stairs to remind Elijah that they were going into town early to catch the early bird grocery sales and not to stay up too late. This didn’t really mean much as Elijah tended to stay up late every night against any lack of sleep. Beatrice often cited this as reasoning for Elijah’s stick figure like appearance.
    Just as Elijah and Christian began really having a good time, Elijah’s mobile phone rang. Seeing that it was Emerson, Elijah ignored it and set it to silent. It was no doubt Emerson and Meric calling to harass or prank him, and he had much more pressing things to do, like getting to the next level. Around one in the morning Christian noticed the time and remembered that he had promised his father he wouldn’t be out late. Christian’s father was often strict with his only son but usually would lax his judgment when it involved Elijah because they had been friends so long and he typically knew what to expect of them.
    After Christian left, Elijah brushed his teeth, removed his shirt, and pulled on his pajama pants to get ready for bed. He went to turn off his mobile for the night and noticed that Emerson had persistently called several times that night but though nothing of it. Crashing into his bed, Elijah fell asleep the instant his head hit the pillow as heavy rain pummeled the roof of their small three-bedroom home.

    - - - - - - - - -

    Sunlight harshly pierced Elijah’s eyelids as he groggily twisted his body into consciousness. He noticed that it was now half past eleven in the morning, and cursed his brother for not waking him up. Frustrated he rolled out of bed and threw on yesterday’s t-shirt as he stumbled into the hallway.
    To Elijah’s surprise Emerson’s adjacent door was not only shut, but locked as well. Emerson had only locked his door once before that Elijah could remember, and that was when he had taken a girl into his room during the New Year’s Eve party they had had the year before. He thought for a moment that his grandmother had decided to go alone and let them sleep in, but he heard her voice softly coming from downstairs.
    Elijah could hear several voices mumbling from the kitchen as he crept down the hallway. Strangely he could feel the hair sticking up on the back of his neck. Something felt wrong in the pit of his stomach, as though it had disrupted his very soul. He almost felt as if he was going to vomit. Each step he took was like a nuclear explosion. He could not understand why he suddenly had the morbid fear of descending the stairs. As they turned to face the kitchen, the stairs seemed to be as deep as the ocean. His heart was beating so rapidly, it was as if he had just fallen on ice. With his next step he could see black shoes on his grandmother’s tile kitchen floor. Beatrice had always insisted that everyone remove their shoes when entering her house. Elijah could then see that the black shoes underneath the breakfast tabled were connected to a policeman who was accompanied by a police woman. When they stood up, the man touched Beatrice’s hand, and the two let themselves out silently.
    Elijah immediately began to hope and to pray in his mind that the police officers were there because Emerson had destroyed some property or was caught shop lifting or drinking. It was stupid. It had to be something that his impulsive idiot of a brother had done. He must have been drinking, had one too many pints, and starting acting silly in public. Elijah was bargaining with God to make it something simple, stupid, and reversible.
    Beatrice jerked her head around to the sound of Elijah’s cold bare feet touching the floor. He noticed that she was still wearing her violet nightgown. Her tea was absent of steam, yet filled to the brim. Her eyes hit him in the chest like a brick wall. They were small, bloodshot, and tear soaked. At that very moment she seemed more fragile than he had ever seen her before.
    “What’s going on?” asked Elijah, somehow already knowing the answer in his heart of hearts. The words seemed to fall out of his mouth without force.
    “Oh…” she spoke in a deep somber tone. “Oh… I’m so sorry Elijah…” She was having trouble speaking without crying. “I… I can’t even say the words…”
    “What is it Grandma!?” Elijah demanded her to answer. His concern and anxiousness were rising exponentially.
    “It’s Emerson… he’s… he’s dead…” Beatrice burst into tears. She leapt from her chair and flung herself on Elijah. He felt her hands clutch onto the back of his shirt.
    Elijah’s head began to rest on her shoulder as the revelation of his brother’s death began to sink in. White hot tears streamed down his face and he could hardly breathe. The very worst that he could feel inside him had come to life. His eyes burned as he could feel his soul being ripped in half. They stood in the kitchen alone, weeping into each other’s shoulders as their world stood completely still.

    - - - - - - - - -

    Four days had passed since Emerson had died and Elijah felt completely drained. He had only eaten a piece of toast and drank a few glasses of water since he had heard the news. He had not made his bed or showered either. The remotes to his video game system lay on the floor, exactly where they had been put the last night he and Christian had played. His television, computer, and book shelf remained untouched since Friday night.
    On the dresser laid Elijah’s mobile phone that he had ignored when Emerson tried to phone that night. Why didn’t he answer his phone? How could he continue to play video games while his brother desperately attempted to contact him over and over again? Perhaps he was calling for help. Maybe he was lying on the ground dying and desperately wanted to call his brother to tell him for the first time and for the last time that he loved him.
    According to the official report, Emerson was killed late Friday night by a gun shot wound to the chest. No weapon was found at the scene and he was the only victim. To Elijah’s surprise, the police found illegal drugs in Emerson’s trouser pockets, and concluded that Emerson had probably been killed either selling or buying drugs.
    It seemed impossible to Elijah. He knew that his brother was fond of alcohol and partying. He would even go so far as to think that his brother might have experimented with recreational drugs before, but he could not see Emerson sneaking about dark and dank alleyways in the attempt to get a hit or make a sale. He didn’t want it to be true. He didn’t want people to think of his dead brother as a drug addict.
    The funeral for Emerson was simple and respectable. Everybody from his mother’s side of the family had come to say goodbye, but the only person from his father’s side was his father himself. During the funeral all Elijah could do was sit there and stare into space. He had cried so much the last few days that he could not produce a single tear anymore. When his grandmother spoke, Elijah could hear his father mourning behind him. Never had he seen such a pouring of emotion from his father. It was a loud and harsh wailing that one would never expect to hear from a grown man with Marquis’s build. Most of Beatrice’s family did not like Marquis, but today they put that aside. For the first time ever, Elijah saw his grandmother embracing his father. Several years ago, Elijah’s grandfather John divorced Beatrice, but today they were holding each other in their arms, crying. It seemed like everything that had happened in the past was pointless, now that Emerson was gone.
    Elijah was seated next to Christian while several teachers spoke of how much they enjoyed Emerson and how much they will miss him. Elijah was holding Christian’s hand and squeezing it involuntarily to stop from howling. Christian held his father’s hand in an effort to do the same. Even if they had never gotten along well, Christian was still affected by Emerson’s death; perhaps for the pain he knew was inflicted upon his best friend.
    After the funeral, the mourners all went to Beatrice’s house to give their condolences, and soon enough only the closest family members remained. Sitting on the couch, Elijah pretended to be happy to have the company, but in truth all Elijah really wanted was to be was alone. He dreaded the thought of the coming Monday, as he would have to return to school and finish up these last two months as if nothing had happened at all. Nearly everyone at the school knew Emerson, and surely seeing his identical twin brother walking in the hallways would be like seeing a dead man walking.
    Elijah began to wonder who else God would rip from his life. He had already lost his mother when he was five and now, ten years later, he sat without a brother. When Elijah thought about his mother, he could see her smiling at him. It was his strongest memory of her. He could see her sitting on a bed with a green pillow in her arms, crying. Only a toddler, he went up to her and asked, “What is the matter, mummy?” She would not tell him, but she would pull away her long brown hair to reveal her deep brown eyes. Looking into those eyes he could feel as though everything was going to be alright. He could feel her embrace as if it were real, every time. He sat there, in the present day, clutching onto that same green pillow as if it were her.
    The warmth Elijah felt quickly dissipated when his father sat coldly next to him. They could not look at each other, because if they did they would both be reduced to tears.
    “Your brother never deserved this… no matter what kind of shady things he was involved in,” Marquis said with bated breathe.
    “I know…” responded Elijah, lifelessly.
    Elijah suddenly noticed Emerson’s best friend, Meric, was still there in the corner. He didn’t seem sad or empty, but bored. He looked as though he was merely going through the motions of his best friend’s funeral.
    Anger began to fester inside Elijah until his father spoke, “Elijah, I know this is the hardest thing in the world for you but I can understand your pain. I lost my brother when I was a teenager was well. Gaston was only three years older than me. He went off to university in France and I never saw him again. I was with my mother the day she was told that her eldest son had died. It’s one of my fewest clear memories. But before she was told, I saw a dove fly onto the windowsill. I think it was a message from God. He wanted me to know that although it was tough at first, He works in mysterious ways, and that in the end I would understand why He took him from me. He knew I would one day understand that it is all a part of His great plan.”
    Elijah did not know how to respond to this. It made him feel awkward and depressed. Elijah did not like the idea of a god that would take away a person’s twin brother because it was part of some great and mysterious plan.
    “I think it would be nice of you if you would start coming to church with me on Sundays,” continued Marquis. “I know you have only been a couple of times before, but I think you would like the kids in the youth group and if…”
    “I’m not going to church with you,” interjected Elijah. He jerked his head around and faced his father. “What do you think? That now that my brother is dead that I’m going to go running off to God for answers?”
    “Elijah! Calm yourself down,” shouted Marquis, grabbing his son’s shoulder.
    “No! You’ve be trying to get the two of us to go to your stupid church as far back as I can remember.” Elijah smacked his father’s hand off his shoulder.
    People began to notice the growingly vociferous feud erupting between Elijah and his father.
    Attempting to calm Elijah down, Marquis spoke in a soft yet stern tone, “I am only worried for you Elijah. I am worried for your eternal soul!”
    “Worried!? You didn’t seem worried about Emerson.”
    “But I was! I have been worried since the day your mother refused to baptize you and your bother. I have prayed to God every single night to forgive his sins and yours as well! I could have never expected that I had so little time left with him.”
    “And now he’s dead,” screamed Elijah, throwing the pillow off his lap and standing up. “He was a sinner. He never attended your stupid church and he never accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. So tell me father, where is he now? Is he in hell? Is he going to burn forever for the actions of his mere fifteen years on earth!?”
    Marquis stared up at his son, speechless and livid with anger. An awkward silence fell between the two of them while several of the mourners began to slowly creep toward an exit.
    Looking about, Marquis finally broke the silence as he pulled his son closer to him. “Elijah, I cannot pretend to speak for the Almighty myself, but I can assure you that Emerson will be judged just as you, me, and every…”
    “You’re wrong!” Elijah shouted as tears began to form in his eyes. “And you can take your church and your blessed savior and piss off!”
    Elijah stormed up to his room and slammed the door so hard that a picture frame fell off the wall and crashed onto the floor. Marquis gave Beatrice a look of distaste as though it were her fault that Elijah had shouted at him. He jerked his coat off the coat rack and slammed the door behind him just as his son had done.
    Beatrice quickly and quietly ushered the remaining mourners out of the house, and thanked them for coming. She went upstairs to take Elijah a glass of water, but found him lying on Emerson’s bed curled in a ball. He was holding the itchy sweater that Emerson had worn on the night he died; the last thing he had seen his brother alive in. It had been wrapped around his waist when he was shot and remained relatively unblemished. Beatrice sat on the bed and petted his hair as he clung onto his brother’s sweater and cried.

  2. #2
    Jay Elwood Seymour

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Okay, grrr. I appologize for the way it looks. It looked so much better before I hit post.

  3. #3
    Gregory White

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Well, it is obvious you can tell a story but what it needs the most is the mighty red editing pen (in my opinion).

    Frankly, there is too much telling and barely any showing. You could take that same first paragraph and show them in a store --- one with designer clothes in hand, the other with electronics and show the conversation that is going on about it.

    Other sections just need to be crossed out completely. Sometimes, as writers, we get so attached to the words we formed on paper (or electronic paper) that we don't want to get rid of them. Here is the worst offensive I found:

    ----Sunlight harshly pierced Elijah’s eyelids as he groggily twisted his body into consciousness. -----

    an editor/agent would either crossed that sentence out or throw the manuscript into the slush pile. For today's market, it is better to simply say:

    'Elijah woke up the next morning in a tangled mess. His neck hurt and his pillow was on the floor.'

    Not trying to rewrite you, just to show an alternative. The sun piercing through the eyelids has become a worse offense than, 'it was a dark and stormy night'.

    hope this challenges you instead of discourages you...


  4. #4
    the cat came back

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Whnever I see that kind of formatting, I just skip it, and I know I'm not the only one.

    I'm actually very interested in angelology because of the part they play in something I'm writing. If you fix the formatting, I'll read it.

  5. #5
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Yeah, you just have to put an extra space between your paragraphs because otherwise it runs together. I wish we could have a FAQ or something to let people know because this happens all the time.

  6. #6
    Dale Day

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    I took one look at the big paragraphs with no spacing and skipped the whole thing.

  7. #7
    nom de plume

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Yes, Rogue, i share your sentiments on the FAQ (that should also mention a maximum length of excerpts and a host of other things).

    This is indeed hard to read. I didn't even try but picked up a few things from the beginning:

    " Elijah and Emerson Egan are fifteen year old identical twin brothers who, aside from their obvious physical likeness, share only one truly identical trait; their shared embarrassment "

    Whose POV is this??? It's neither Elijah's nor Emerson's. This is only a question; it's all right to have a narrator whom you use in a logical fashion in the book but i point it out in case you weren't aware of this odd POV.

    fifteen year old identical twin brothers
    should be:
    fifteen-year-old identical twins (it's understood that they are male; you need the hyphens)

    "share only one truly identical trait;..."
    "truly" is unnecessary clutter
    "share" and "identical" sound somewhat gauche
    why not simply say something like: "only have one trait in common"

    I think this calls for a colon NOT a semicolon.

    "Shared" in "shared embarrassment" is redundant. You mentioned earlier that you're going to announce something they share.

    For the reasons pointed out above, your very first sentence sinks your query with agents.

    I only read the first few sentences and see something not quite right in every one. For instance, "playing football all afternoon, for which he often did."

    Get out the red pen and the pruning shears instead of contemplating POD or self-publishing.

  8. #8
    Debra Storky

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Too many adjectives. Too many adverbs. Too much telling and not enough showing.

    Is this the manuscript you queried 102 agents about, and blamed the rejections on the religious subject matter? You really should have worked on the craft first, and queried agents only after it was as good as you could get it. My advice would be to join a critique group and listen to the critique group when you revise this, and then requery. Sorry to be harsh, but really it's not fair of you to blame your rejections on everything but the writing.

  9. #9
    nom de plume

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Yes, Debra. My sentiments exactly.

    Yesterday i posted a "harsh" comment in the Other Ways Into Print forum instead of offering my congrats as i was supposed to do. (Besides, my nostrils picked up a waft of spam drifting out of that thread).

    Why should i congratulate anyone on self-publishing? What's the big deal? Even my dog can self-pub provided she can get her paws on my credit cards. ("THE BOOK OF LOVE" as told by a Golden Retriever)

    For kicks, i always click on any link to a self-pubbed novel and read a bit. I've never seen one that didn't have spelling errors or horrid grammar. Yet, the defense offered by the self-pubbers on why they took this route is that they weren't "understood" by agent or their material is too avant-garde or controversial and la-di-da.

    I'm just saying ...

  10. #10

    Re: My Chapter 1 ~ I would your thoughts.

    Just my opinion, feel free to ignore:

    He did this. He did that. He did this.

    It reads like an outline.

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