Jaren's Blog

May 24, 2010

First look @ book

Filed under: My Book — Jaren @ 2:09 pm

This short narrative is taken from a chapter in my book.  It is about one-third of the way into the story.

I have placed it here on the blog for one reason, “I need your feedback.”

While short and in draft form; I feel it gives a sense of what you will see if this writing ever makes it to print.  Please take time to comment.  Sharing your feelings will aid me in knowing whether or not this is a worthwhile venture.  Thank you in advance!

4:32 p.m. That’s when I first noticed that Alice was missing.

We had been touring the grounds of the temple at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, for most of the day. The largest temple in the world, during its prime Angkor had been home to an estimated one million people. The fact that it still stands as one of the seven ancient wonders of the world is physical evidence of Cambodia’s regional power from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries. Today, the jungle dominates Angkor Wat, not only its exterior grounds but also encroaches on to the structure itself. The tour had been one of the most incredible experiences we had ever had as a family, but right now it was the furthest thing from my mind. My little girl was not to be seen, and we were in a very foreign land with a sometimes dubious reputation.

“Karen!” I whispered nervously. “Where’s Alice?”

“She was over by that piece of statuary just a minute ago, Jim. She was with Lucy and Rick. I’m sure she’s close,” she assured. “Ah, see, here come Lucy and Rick now,” Karen continued as their 17-year-old son came around a corner, his vivacious 14-year-old sister in tow.

“Rick, where’s Alice? Mom said she was with you,” I blurted.

“Nope–must be with Johanna. We just stopped to look at the elephant painting again. Lucy just can’t get over how cute it looks!” he mocked as he smiled at his younger sister.

“Not with me!” Johanna piped up as she stepped out from behind her mother.

“Jim?” Karen said quickly as her mother’s instincts kicked in. Then turning to the children she demanded, “When was the last time any of you saw Alice?”

And that’s when I first felt the magic that was to enter our lives, for although I could hear our three older children stammer in self-defense, a calm unlike anything I had ever felt before enveloped me, not unlike the robes worn by the monks that still inhabited Angkor Wat–comfortable, warm, and just a little mysterious.

Without saying a word, I reached over and took my wife’s hand, motioning with a nod of my head to follow. Though I had no idea where I was going, I knew exactly where we were headed. We were going to find Alice.

We retraced our steps about 30 feet back down the hall whence we had come and turned right, even though we had come from the left. There, chatting with an older man as comfortably as Jesus must have been with the learned men when Joseph and Mary returned to find him at the steps of the Jerusalem Temple was little blonde 7-year-old Alice. Though we had never seen this man before, we both felt immediately that she was in no danger, so we stood back in silence and watched the scene before us.

The older man was not sitting in a lotus position but rather kneeled, which put him eye to eye with our daughter. He extracted something from a hidden pocket in his robes and pressed it into her hands, whispering comfortably as he did so. I could not resist and raised my camera to capture the moment. An unusual feeling of gratitude washed over me as I pressed the button– warm light from the late afternoon sun flooded my subjects through a lower window as my viewfinder revealed an image normally reserved for the front cover of National Geographic. With or without the picture, I will never forget that moment.

The flash alerted the old man that he had visitors. He looked over at Karen and me–and our children, who had caught up to us and had been equally captivated by the scene–and seemed to recognize immediately the situation. A concerned family had come looking for their precious missing one. He smiled warmly at us, and we knew that Alice had been in no danger. Then turning back to Alice, he clasped her little hands in his own, tapped at whatever he had given her, and whispered gently. At that, he rose and shuffled off down the hall.

“Alice, who was that?” Johanna blurted out, now that the magic of the moment had gone with the disappearance of the old man. “What did he give you?”

“And why didn’t you tell us where you were?” chastised the ever-protective Rick.

Alice just gave us that look that all 7-year-old girls seem to know instinctively, the one that says, I knew exactly where I was this whole time! Don’t get all huffy! There was nothing to worry about! Walking up to her mother, she opened up her hand and said, “He gave me this bracelet. Isn’t it pretty?” “Oh my,” Karen commented softly as she reached out to touch it, feeling a deep sense of love overcoming her. “That is beautiful, it is elegant and very remarkable.” The sophistication of the workmanship was rare to anything Karen had ever seen.

I heard a step behind us and turned to see that our tour guide had joined us. “Did you see this older man, Tree? Do you know him?”

“I am sorry, Mr. Callister. I have never seen him before, although he walks as if he is comfortable with these surroundings. If that is the case, it is strange, for I give tours here every day, and yet I have not seen him.”

“His robes–they did not seem to be the same as the robes of other monks we have seen today. Do they mean anything to you?”

“Again I am sorry, Mr. Callister. They were unlike anything worn by our local monks, and yet I must admit that there was something hauntingly familiar about them, as if I should know them by sight and know of their considerable meaning. Very strange, I must say.

“One more thing that you should know, Mr. Callister. I overheard just a bit of what he was whispering to your little one. He was speaking a blessing, the words of which are very ancient and very sacred. Few outside this temple know this blessing. I only came across it last fall as I studied ancient literature at the university. While browsing the archives looking for descriptions of how the temple was built, I found an old but very well preserved text that spoke of an unusual spirit that attended this most famous of all temples, a spirit that connected this world with the world of those who had passed on before. The bracelet that he gave your daughter contains very old symbols that remind one of this blessing and its meaning.”

Though the intellectual gist of what our guide had said went right over Alice’s little blonde head, she understood enough to know that this was a very unusual gift. But then, that was something that she already grasped as soon as the old man had wrapped his worn fingers around her young ones and pressed the bracelet tight against the palm of her right hand. As she looked up into her mother’s deep blue eyes, she smiled, then radiated the afternoon light in her smile. Somehow they both knew, as did I, that she would never be the same after this day.

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42 Comments »

  1. I just read the chapter,I can’t wait to read the book. I know it will be a literary treasure. Thank you for sharing the chapter but now I have got to read the rest! I am completely hooked. Ronda

    Comment by Rhonda Landes — March 27, 2010 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  2. Wow, When did you start writing. Nice job! I would love to feel more from the mom…I guess cause that is my perspective. I longed to see the old man more clearly as well.
    I am an avid reader and would love to read more.
    Good luck
    Gayle

    Comment by gayle willardson — March 27, 2010 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Jaren,
    Wow! Finish the book. This is very different than I expected. It grabbed my attention right from the first moments. I want to know what has happened up to this time. I certainly want to know what happens after. So, finish the book or you will have to tell me the whole story in person. I will just show up at your house and you will know I am not leaving until you have told me everything. Probably easier just to write the book than have me move in for a while. I am okay either way, though.

    You are an inspiration, Mate.

    Larry

    Comment by Larry Huston — March 27, 2010 @ 10:21 pm | Reply

  4. Very interesting story, captivating even. I was a bit confused trying to know who was talking in each of the paragraphs towards the end, but maybe had I read the previous chapters, this would have been more apparent. The following sentence seemed to me a bit wordy or lengthy, and could possibly use some revision: “There, chatting with an older man as comfortably as Jesus must have been with the learned men when Joseph and Mary returned to find him at the steps of the Jerusalem Temple was little blonde 7-year-old Lucy.” Perhaps it’s just missing a comma.

    Other than those thoughts of critique, I think it sounds very well written, nicely told and again, captivating.

    Comment by Micah — March 27, 2010 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  5. Jaren,
    Thank you so much for letting me read this. You are amazing and I cannot wait to read the whole book. You totally caught my attention and I want to know what’s “the rest of the story”. I am not one bit surprised though, because I love reading anything your write, it always feeds me, I feel better about myself, better about others and a firm desire to become a better person. You definately have found your niche, keep it up, stay with it and someday I will be able to say, I know that famous person, he’s my friend. As someone very special always says, Good Luck Mate!

    Comment by Mary Stephens — March 27, 2010 @ 10:47 pm | Reply

  6. Jaren like I said before I am not much of a reader but this is one that is deep but yet kept my attention. I would want to read on to see just what the effects of the bracelet would have on this little girl and just what events would take place. I am not much for history but adventure is always fun I am one that need pictures. HEHE

    What is the age group you are writing for here adult or pre teen? Thank you for thinking enough of me to ask for my opinion. What a get complement!!

    Comment by Lori Fleming — March 27, 2010 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

  7. Very intriguing. Good attention getter. Mysterious and compelling. I’d like to read more!

    Comment by Jill Rea — March 27, 2010 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  8. Jaren, I like reading this very much. Makes me want to read more. So hurry and finish so we can read the rest. My brother wrote a book that was published. If you would like to talk to him and get some ideas what has to be done and how he was able to get it published let me know. Thanks for letting read this.

    Comment by David — March 27, 2010 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  9. Wow Jaren, This is very, very good. I didn’t know you could write. The story is historically informative, and captivating. I am so excited to see what happens to the little girl, and the family. Please continue to write and finish the book. It will be a gift to all who read it. Best wishes my friend.

    Comment by Alana Turley — March 27, 2010 @ 11:48 pm | Reply

  10. The only thing I had to read twice was where, it said Rick where Alice mom said, then she was with you I blurted, like it needed to be two lines, I don’t know I don’t read that much, this was very good, bought back a time where I was dieing in the hospital. One of the workers came to me to run test because doctors couldn’t find why I was dieing as I am writing this to you, I am meant to be here through the different things I have lived through, That man and I lived through something close to this thank you for asking me to read this, this book well go far for you, keep fortth going with this book

    Your friend,

    Linda

    Comment by Linda Murdock — March 27, 2010 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  11. Interesting and caught my attention, but at first it was Alice who was missing, not Lucy.

    Comment by Shauna Smith — March 27, 2010 @ 11:59 pm | Reply

  12. Keep on writing. Very intriguing. I am curious as to what has already happened if this is a third of the way into it. This seems more like an opening chapter with a great hook.
    One question: Am I confused or did “Alice” somehow turn into “Lucy” part way through?
    Anyway, I think its got real promise, and if you want someone to give you blunt comments and edits I’d be happy to help. In any event, I want to know what’s going on, and that the key to success.

    Comment by Doug Short — March 28, 2010 @ 12:00 am | Reply

  13. Jaren, this is very engaging. It draws you in immediately. I read the other comments and so I won’t repeat. But I thought you should describe the bracelet.

    Comment by Pili Meyer — March 28, 2010 @ 12:25 am | Reply

  14. I read your script twice… At first I feel lost between the description of the historical place and the members of the family; who belongs to whome. At the beginning you gave more attention to the atmosphare around your characters Which is not bad but I wished to Know more about your characters… Then you focused just on people and the obcure old man which reveal more adventure to the script. I think your story will be read from all ages espicially adults because the adventure spirit in it.Plz try to make us not be lost or not connected to any sentence or phrase as it happened with me as I began to read the script. The script does not reveal who is the main character which make us follow each chaacter to know who coul be the best or the hero, so I think it is good to be connected to all persons in this script.The mix of reality and the imagination of what could be the old man and what could be happen in the future will make me want to conntinue reading to know the surprised conclusion. One thing that I wish that you can trying to change… plz try to make it not a commen short stories that wewatch them on T.V. more innovative and creative actions and events will make it more demanded. Stay away from common and familiar short stories…
    With all my respect and wish of success,
    Your friend, Bouthaina Halawi

    Comment by Bouthaina Halawi — March 28, 2010 @ 1:42 am | Reply

  15. I really like it, I think it will make for a fantastic read!
    ❤ Karlie

    Comment by Karlie Harmon — March 28, 2010 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  16. I love it! I can’t wait to finish the rest of the book! You are amazing, I can’t wait until it gets picked up!

    Comment by Macee — March 28, 2010 @ 2:09 pm | Reply

  17. Jaren, interested in reading more especially the part that lead the family to Cambodia and their lives after the trip.

    I read about 7 year old Lucy in the temple but I believe the story was about Alice.

    Comment by JoAnne — March 28, 2010 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

  18. Hi Jaren,
    Thanks for telling me about your new endeavor. I enjoyed reading this chapter and look forward to reading the rest of the book when it is published, as I am sure it will be.
    The story is reminiscent of the archetypical fairytales that I so enjoyed as a kid, where innocence and love in the form of a child are chosen for special attention by wisdom and experience in the form of an older person. This will be a magical story loved by young and old alike.
    All the best with the story, I look forward to reading more.

    Comment by Baro Shalizi — March 28, 2010 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  19. I have to admit and be honest, I am not good at sitting still and reading “just” a chapter like that, but; the story and writing kept me reading on and wanting more..nice job!

    Comment by "Fish" — March 28, 2010 @ 3:13 pm | Reply

  20. That’s fantastic! You’re able to describe your exact feelings so well, I’m very impressed. It’s funny cuz I can totally hear Rick saying the phrase, “Why didn’t you tell anyone where you were!?” Good going! I’m excited to read more!

    Comment by Connie Tidwell — March 28, 2010 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  21. Intriguing story here. I will be interested to see where it goes from here. I always knew that a mad man that could get in a cold swimming pool at 5:00 am every morning in January, and lead his teammates to a state championship must of had a mission to complete. Maybe this is part of it. Keep opening doors my friend.

    Comment by Adam — March 28, 2010 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  22. Great job Jaren. Impressive writing.

    Comment by Georgia Cuthbert — March 28, 2010 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  23. Well,Jaren,

    There is certainly no flaw in it that I can see from a literary standpoint. Every writer has their own style, and you describe things beautifully. I was very interested in the story and the mystery behind the Monk. The suspense of loosing a child is always a killer for every mom to read about. I am glad it didn’t drag out too long…lol. What is the name of the book? And what do you hope to accomplish with it?

    Comment by Angella Joy — March 28, 2010 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

    • Angella, no name yet as it is only rough draft. Nothing as I initially wrote it to express feelings and relieve stress. In my heart if only one life is changed by the words, mission accomplished.

      Comment by Jaren — March 28, 2010 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

  24. Jaren,

    I enjoy your writings. This story immediately captivated me. As others have mentioned, I too am interested in character development, the family dynamics, and a description of the bracelet and the stories surrounding the gentleman with Alice. Solid connectivity of the characters to the story and each other will keep your readers asking for more. I will definitely read the book and look forward to having you at my book club as the guest author. Keep writing, it is a gift you were meant to share.

    Jen

    Comment by Jennifer Strickland — March 28, 2010 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  25. Jaren,
    Great job. Even though it’s only one chapter it sucked me right in and I would love to read the finished product..You are a excellent writer and I love your style. Love to see you finish it and have a best seller… Good luck and continued success. Thanks for letting me preview your idea…

    Comment by ron mcmilin — March 28, 2010 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  26. Jaren,

    Very interesting chapter. I was immediately captivated by the story and I wanted to know more. I agree with the comment about more detail on the bracelet. You’ve peaked my interest and I’m impressed with the writing. The only thing I didn’t like was “gist” in the last paragraph. Didn’t seem to fit with the style of the writing. Great job!

    Comment by Jennifer Parrish — March 28, 2010 @ 10:05 pm | Reply

  27. Having lived in Thailand (with strong similarities to Cambodia), your description of the ancient temple became very real to me. I had no problem putting the characters in the context of their surroundings. Perhaps one of your greatest writing assets will be your own life experiences with your own family. The dynamics of those relationships can be universal. We all have had similar situations play out in our own lives. Your ability to relate those circumstances in a dialogue familiar to your readers will be what makes the story come to life. For a brief moment, I was the dad with the camera. Thanks and GOOD LUCK!

    Comment by Vardell Curtis — March 28, 2010 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

  28. Jaren, I just read the chapter and I, like everyone else, cannot wait to read the book. It is truly captivating. Thank you so much for sharing this much of it with us. Please let us know when and where to purchase your book. Cheryl

    Comment by Cheryl Ragsdale — March 29, 2010 @ 10:13 am | Reply

  29. Jaren, I love your story, cannot wait to read the book. You know God works in many strange ways. My father always said everyone has a talent; perhaps you have found your talent.

    Comment by Beth McCallum — March 29, 2010 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  30. Jaren,

    Being that I like to read stories of this nature, it immediately captured my interest.
    In this brief snippet, you seem to have a very good story being developed and I, like many others have indicated here – am looking forward to reading it in totality.

    I will indeed recommend you to others for review and comment.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Brent Davis — March 29, 2010 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

  31. Jaren,
    We enter this story somewhere in the middle but it has a mysterious quality to the tale letting the reader imagine if we are speaking of God or some spiritual being (in the eyes of the reader). I especially liked the part where the father raised his camera to capture the moment. Your description helps the reader imagine the scene. I too, have thought of writing, a story of a mothers courage following the death of a son. I applaud your courage on taking on a remarkable and spiritual subject. Something we all need more of in our lives.

    Comment by Paula J. Miller — March 29, 2010 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  32. Hi Jaren, great job of writing. We were in Cambodia and Ankor Wat a month ago. It is not an easy place to explor, and it is swamped with tourist. You might want to add that element to your fear of a lost child. You have a great story line and much talent!! good luck, Ann

    Comment by Ann Pettijohn — March 29, 2010 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  33. I don’t want to spoil the ending for everyone else, but I figured out who the monk is. It’s Haru, isn’t it? J/K.

    On a serious note, looks like a great book. Can’t wait to see the rest of it.

    Comment by JJL9 — March 29, 2010 @ 6:50 pm | Reply

  34. Wow! So interesting! So well written, gripping, and easy to read. Can’t wait for the other chapters! Diana

    Comment by Diana Bull — March 29, 2010 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  35. OK I’m intrigued. You know I have a very soft spot for little kids and I felt the fear of a child missing. Glad you didn’t leave her missing in that short piece. Let me know when I can read the whole thing.

    Comment by Lurae Stanger — March 29, 2010 @ 10:42 pm | Reply

  36. Jaren,
    I liked it very much. It was intriguing and well written. I do hope that you finish the book and are able to publish it! This one snippet does capture my attention, so I look forward to reading the entire book!

    Comment by Tony Cannon — March 30, 2010 @ 12:03 am | Reply

  37. Captivating storyline. Well developed for such a short glimpse into the overall story.

    The intuitive acceptance of the speaker to what could be a problematic situation was refreshing. Dialogue starts out well but then becomes somewhat wordy. The guide (Cambodian?) speaks almost too fluent English.

    There is a writer’s aphorism: ‘Show don’t tell.’ In describing scenery or action endeavor to have the words describe the scene in motion rather than a static presentation almost as a picture frame.

    Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more.

    Comment by Colman — March 30, 2010 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  38. You have a way with words that’s for sure. I think you would make a great book writer 😉

    Comment by Alisha Ririe — March 30, 2010 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

  39. WOW! What an interesting read. Can’t wait to get the rest. Keep us posted on the progress!

    GO UTES!

    Comment by Jeff Saddler — April 14, 2010 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  40. Beautifully written. Everyone has their own vision on word eloquence. I found it an easy read. Simple. Captivating. Pulling me in with the first paragraph. Great job at turning ordinary words into scenic adventures. You have a gift (i.e. mad skills). Keep up the great work.

    Comment by Sou Khamsourivong — April 14, 2010 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  41. Jaren – I liked this! It’s intriguing and well written. I want to read more, and hope you will continue. Be aware of your point of view (first person narrator) and keep it consistent throughout.

    Comment by Aunt Janet — May 15, 2010 @ 10:32 am | Reply


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