Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Writer's Voice entry, "Camelot & Vine"

When Casey Clemens slams up against her 40th birthday her Hollywood acting career is floundering, her married boyfriend is cheating on her with his wife and she doesn't like herself any more than anyone else does. Then a freak accident lands Casey in the sixth century and she inadvertently saves the life of her hero, King Arthur. To protect herself, she tells the king she's a magical wizard from the future. (At least it's partly true.) King Arthur's thrilled. Britain is being attacked from all sides by invaders and he could use a good wizard. He's got Myrddin, but Myrddin's more scientist than sorcerer. Casey learns from Myrddin, makes friends and begins to like her new life. She's a good actor; for a while, her lie is her secret.

King Arthur's powerful ally Lancelot harbors his own secret: his affair with the king's wife, Guinevere. A wizard who knows and sees all is inconvenient, to say the least. Lancelot gives Casey a choice: leave or die. But Casey's stuck in the Dark Ages, unable to leave, surrounded by enemies and struck by a realization: she's in love with King Arthur and she's not going anywhere--not yet.




Camelot & Vine

 The day before my fortieth birthday was my last day as Mrs. Gone. For nine years, every American who turned on a television knew me as their wacky neighbor with the solution to their household cleaning problems. They're Gone! That's right! Gone! cleans everything! Which it didn't. I bought it once (not that the Gone! company would give me a free bottle) and never bought it again. That didn't mean I wouldn't endorse it on national television for a cut above union scale.
Being a product spokesperson was good work. I owned a sunny condo in the fashionable Los Angeles suburb of Toluca Lake. I drove a relatively new BMW coupe. The cleaning lady came on Tuesdays. I ate take-out and never cooked. I went to yoga occasionally, and occasionally showed up at acting class. I auditioned for and sometimes got parts in low-budget films.
I thought of it as an acting career until the day before my fortieth birthday when, on the set of my latest Gone! commercial, the director shouted, "That's a wrap!"
As usual, I handed over the product bottle to the props guy, returned my earrings to the costume girl and, avoiding the candy at the craft services table, strode directly out the studio doors.
The director followed me to my trailer. "Casey," he said.
"Bill. What?"
He dug his Nike toe into the studio lot asphalt. I waited. He cleared his throat and stared at his feet, like a kid who's afraid to tell his mom he got a bad report card.

33 comments:

dive said...

Hokay, I want to read more, please.
I can't wait to have my own copy gracing my bookshelves, Petrea.

On a semi-related note, I know a couple who named their kids Lancelot and Guinevere. They're six and eight at the moment but I fear things are going to get creepy as they reach their teens or actually read the stuff their parents so obviously did not.

John Sandel said...

Looks like you did your research!

Dina said...

OK I'm hooked. Let's get this baby published already so I can read all of it!
Your stack of research books is impressive too.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

AND?! I hate to be left hanging! LOL.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you all. You shall have signed copies.

Dive. Eeuw.

JS, I know you're pleased as I start on something else.

Dina, these are just some of the books I have at home. I keep the rest at the library.

Kalei: so what happens next is she loses her job, and...

Adele said...

I can't wait to read more! Really. Mrs. Gone gets Gone from her job, somehow is Gone to Arthur's time, but exactly how??? The story has me hooked. I'm so impressed...

Petrea Burchard said...

Adele, I hope you'll love it. I think it's right up your Anglophile alley.

Whew! I didn't make it into the morning round but I'll have another chance this evening. I got up at 5:30 to enter (entry times are based on east coast hours) and I did pretty well. I know how to be faster on the draw for the second round. They're only taking 150 entries on the first two rounds (75 each). After that it's the writing, no matter how fast you are.

Even if I don't get in, preparing for the contest has made me sharpen my query and that's incredibly valuable.

If I don't get the book traditionally published I'll self-publish it. The tarnish is off that process, so it's on my list of possibilities.

Adele said...

Best of luck today! I'll keep my fingers crossed, while you keep yours fast.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

While Casey's stuck in the 6th century, she ought to seek out her 21st century boyfriend's ancestors and have um whacked.

see? I'm hooked already - your welcome - I'm here to help

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Adele.

I tried to go back to sleep. Already awake. I give up.

PA, you are some kind of genius. Damn, another rewrite.

Desiree said...

Great fun--looking forward to the rest!

Adele said...

Haha! Whacked. I love that word. Very Bonnie and Clyde meets King Arthur!

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Des.

Adele, I've been looking for a phrase like that, to quickly give the book's essence. I had thought of "Bridge Jones meets Braveheart," but Casey is American and Braveheart connotes Mel Gibson, speaking of whacked. So I'm still looking for the right quickie phrase.

altadenahiker said...

The Gone Girl, I love it. And will be first in line for my autographed copy so I can read more. Many, many congratulations on writing this book, Petrea, and I plan on offering a whole bunch more congratulations after the book deal.

Katie said...

Such fun to read your excerpt! Can't wait to read the whole book, in whatever form it's published. Good luck tonight. And that's quite the stack of research material. I hope you didn't sit in a drafty stone room to get in character. I was thinking maybe The Time Traveler's Wife (who travels too!) meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but that might not quite be right either.

Bellis said...

Good luck with part 2 of this competition. Jut figuring out the rules would defeat me, so you're doign well. I love your photo essay with genuine pewter accessories. And I really want to read more of the story.

Amy said...

Love it so far! Will be excited to read it in whatever form it ends up being published! (may I ask that it be available on Kindle?) :)

BaysideLife said...

More, More, More. Publish right away. I love that you have The Mists of Avalon in your research pile. My fav.

LONDONLULU said...

OK, you take gorgeous photos *and* you write (and have curated an enviable collection of Ole British-y books). Too much talent in one sitting!

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you all, you're being very generous. (That's a wonderful thing about this particular blogging community, the ungenerous usually don't comment.) I researched heavily: history, archaeology (love!) and fiction, and like many authors I think research is half the fun. I became a big fan of libraries, but I also collected books when I could.

Now, if you've got a minute, you might stop by and share some encouragement with Margaret, who is about to self-publish her wild, fabulous and funny novel, "The Goddess Lounge." The book will be out in a couple of months and I can already recommend it.
http://margaretfinnegan.blogspot.com/

Petrea Burchard said...

Here's the direct link to Margaret's post about her book.

Latino Heritage said...

Great first line! Looking forward to the rest of the book.

Petrea Burchard said...

Argh!

Well, I didn't get into the contest. As Bellis noted, the rules were complicated. I figured them out but I wasn't fast enough on the draw. One could not enter before 6am and again before 6pm; at both times the available entry positions were filled within seconds. Yikes! I have no idea how they did it.

However, having today as a deadline made me slap my query letter into shape. It wasn't snappy before but I think it's snappy now and I'm ready to send it out.

Thank you all fur your encouragement today! I'll let you know when and if anything further happens.

Margaret said...

I have actually read the whole thing, and I loved it. It is a really fun time.

Ms M said...

I've enjoyed reading your excerpt and would really enjoy reading the whole novel! Too bad you didn't get into the contest -- you deserved to! But all the best as you send out queries. Keep us posted.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you, Margaret. I'm your big fan.

They just posted on the contest site that there was a mixup so there will be another chance to enter tomorrow. I'll give it another shot and let you know!

TheChieftess said...

Looking forward to reading the whole novel!!! Can't wait for an autographed copy!!! I want to come hear you talk about it at Vroman's!!!

dive said...

Good luck trying to get around the mix-up, Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'd love that, Chieftess. Vroman's is in my plans.

I'm also planning a tour of Britain, Dive, so I hope you've got a spare room.

Adele said...

Just saw that there was another chance today. Any news?

Petrea Burchard said...

Adele, it's nice of you to ask. No, I didn't get in. Getting in to the contest wasn't about whose work was the best (I'm relieved to tell you) but about who was able to see the "widget" and sign in. It was random and, I believe, fair. So, next time!

Adele said...

Oh, that's disappointing. I think, however, that next time will be moot. Your snappy query letter will have done its job by then, and publishers will be busily knocking down your door. It will become a problem, so get your door reinforcements ready!!

Petrea Burchard said...

Adele, you're hired.