Young Adult Fiction, Christian Fiction
Sabine is a budding poet who was practically born with a pencil in her hand. Though her intelligence and maturity far surpasses that of those around her, she lacks the confidence and social graces to come out of her shell.
She’s been forced on numerous occasions in the past to slip inside the glass double doors of Hilltop Baptist Church. The youth group was her mom’s idea, really. A shot-in-the-dark way for Sabine to try and make some wholesome friends in a wholesome place. Not that it ever worked out… At least she was usually able to make it out with minimal negative attention as her plain-old invisible self.
This time was different. She always hoped it would be different, but not like this.
When Sabine decides she’s had enough of this life, she ends it and becomes more visible than she’s ever been before. Is it possible she wasn’t as forgettable as she once thought? The only way to find out is to watch the aftermath unfold, and no matter the outcome, she can’t do a thing about it. No one can…
…or can they?
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Bridget’s trembling fingers remained mere inches from the gun. It was as if she was afraid to move, like I’d paralyzed her in fear. I didn’t feel like waiting for her anymore, though. I gave her a chance to leave. I put the muzzle back to my forehead and squeezed my eyes shut. The last thing I saw was her fighting back a sob, tears dribbling down her rosy cheeks, her saddened eyes staring into my soul. The image was burned into my brain, perhaps forever. I was about to slip my finger in front of the trigger again when I felt a clammy hand wrap around my wrist and pull me down. She was surprisingly strong, so strong that if I kept my eyes closed, I could easily imagine it being a man’s grip. I tried to push her away with all the strength I could muster, accidentally sending her head back against the wall. She clutched her head with both hands, no longer able to hold back her whimpering. She was mean, sure, but I never wanted to hurt anybody. A hard pang of guilt struck at my core.
“I didn’t mean to do that. I’m sorry.” I sobbed even as I spoke. I scampered as far as I could to the other side of the stall, bringing the gun back to my temple. The crinkled fabric of my dress slacks pressed into the skin of my knees. I saw my reflection in the stainless steel panel of the side of the stall. I didn’t want to be her anymore. I didn’t want to be anything.
I heard Bridget shifting on the floor behind me, right up until she was on her knees behind me. I felt her icy fingertips on my shoulder. “Please… Please, listen to me. Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”
No, get away. Get back,” I breathed, pushing her hand away. My heart was thumping at an overwhelming pace and I couldn’t wait for it to stop. I slipped my finger in front of the trigger for a final time. I spoke without turning back what would be my last words. “How could He love a piece of shit like me?”
Sabine, you’re not—”
I let my last breath go, pulling the trigger and losing all the feeling in my limbs. It all disappeared in a haze of black.
About the Author:
Chelsea Vanderbeek has been writing fiction and poetry for over eight years. She has previously been featured in Ars Poetica, the small-press publication of Warren County Community College. She currently lives with her family in New Jersey. She would encourage you to visit her website, www.chelseavanderbeek.com, where you can find updates on her upcoming releases.
Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? Well, thanks for having me! I’ve been writing for over eight years now, and I have to tell you that the passion has only grown. You start out writing crap. That’s just a given. The first novel I ever remember writing was about a girl who got intense migraines (and it turned out she had brain cancer–I KNOW IT SUCKS), and she also had weird experiences. For example, she crashed her car into her garage and destroyed it, and five seconds later it was back to normal–and THAT was because she had a guardian angel. Now, this is probably the stupidest story idea you’ve ever heard in your life, but hey. We all have to start somewhere. I started in Craptown, and I’m now (thankfully) miles and miles away. Unfortunately you can’t drive those miles… Metaphor. Yeah. I guess what I’m saying is there wasn’t a shortcut. It took a lot of backspacing crappy words and banging my head against the desk, but ta-da! I’ve published a book and here we are, chatting it up like a couple bros.
How many books do you currently have published? Oh, you caught me on my debut.
Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release? I’m frying up more books as we speak. I’ve got two in the editing phase (one about two girls on the same co-ed football team that often butt heads, and another about high schooler struggling with her sexuality). Not to mention I have lots of ideas I’m nurturing, some of which I could be starting first drafts on as early as November. So you’ll definitely be hearing more from my side of town in the future (but definitely not Craptown).
What do you enjoy most about writing? I honestly love creating and getting to know my characters. I always say that character development is 50% of my writing process. I actually think that one of the most important things for a story to have is believable and authentic characters (because when you know your characters well enough, the story actually starts to tell itself… or they tell it to you…). I find an image (using Pinterest or Google Images) of what I envision my character looks like, because visual aids go a long way with me. I fill out a bio (with stuff like birthdate, age, good/bad traits, likes/dislikes, family, the whole shebang) for each of my characters, even minor ones. I interview the hell out of my characters (mostly mains, but minor characters do find their way into the mix as well) to get an idea of their “voice.” All of this happens before I type word number one in my first draft. It really is one of my favorite parts of the process.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? I actually wrote a college paper on writer’s block, believe it or not. The thing about writer’s block is that it can be more of a psychological problem than you’d think. A fear of rejection, thinking that your writing is gonna suck before you even put a single letter on the page, can clog the drain pretty quick. It could also be that you’re bored with your own story and you need to change things up. Knowing the cause has actually been a substantial help; I can think of at least one story I wouldn’t have written without this knowledge (and it was over 40K words). I give myself permission to suck in the first draft. No, really. I type it in the literal document. “This story has my complete permission to absolutely unmercifully suck and, in the interest of getting words down, I shall let it.” A first draft is like a toddler: he makes a mess and you clean it up, in that order.
Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? Mmmkay, *SPOILER ALERT* In my debut Forget Me, I have this character named Bridget. Now, this girl took twists all over the place. In earlier drafts, she wasn’t nasty at all and stayed alive the whole story. But then, as I developed her? She out of nowhere decided to A. Call Sabine a retard, and B. Commit suicide herself. I mean, sure she did all this wild stuff I wasn’t expecting at all, but actually? I was pretty proud of myself. To have a secondary character (who was actually pretty damn minor in the first few drafts or so) come to life like that and demand and push her way into the story like that? Pretty cool.
What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers? There’s so much I could say, but I’ll try to give you some good ones. Hmm… write for yourself. Don’t write what you think other people want to read, because there’s a good chance they don’t even know you exist and won’t for a while even after you’re published. If you do it for you, then you get the enjoyment, happiness and fulfillment out of it and money and recognition become less important. Also, if you write something that makes you laugh/cry/squeal with delight/make you physically upset, you’ve probably got a winner. If your writing makes you feel something, there’s a good chance it’ll make your reader feel something too. But it’s all about being honest with yourself. And that’s another thing: if you want to be a writer, you can’t be afraid to take punches. You can’t be afraid to admit that the one plot twist you once thought would make Stephen King jealous is just damn stupid, or that you need to get rid of that one character and his intrusive afro because he and it serve no purpose, or that you need to toss the word “mite” in that sentence because it sounds dumb. If you can learn to take constructive, honest criticism you’ll be set. Showing your work to other people isn’t easy (and I’m sure a lot of you newbies out there wouldn’t DREAM of showing another living entity your work), but I really think that’s where I turned a corner. It takes guts, but it’s so worth it. Above all? Don’t rush this stuff. Some of the most beautiful things in this world take time to grow.
Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character? Okay, since you said “extras,” well, I created a playlist to go along with my story. I’ve assigned a song to every chapter, and you can get a look at it here: https://chelseavanderbeek.com/playlists/. I’ve been told by some that it’s diverse, and others that it’s really cool. Oh, and one more thing? If you heeded my spoiler alert before, just look out for Bridget. She does some pretty unexpected stuff.
Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of William Sleator, but he was one of my favorite authors in my childhood (and he still is). My favorites of his were Singularity and The Duplicate. The Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson is pretty cool too.
What about television shows? Movies? Yeah, I’m a sitcom junkie. Seinfeld, King of Queens, Reba… I dunno, relaxing stuff to laugh at and get my mind off life. I could watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off a thousand times and still get a kick out of it. Jim Carrey’s great too. Liar Liar was cool.
If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words or under, what would you say? Err… “Notebook in hand at all times.” Yeah, I think that kinda sums it up. I never stop writing. I could tell you all the places I’ve written (even in my swimming pool, for example) but I think that’s another story for another day… I know I’m nuts.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers? I’m giving out cherry-flavored lollipops for anyone who may want to leave a review on my Amazon or Goodreads page! But they’re imaginary. And they’re not cherry, they’re internet-flavored. But no really, thanks for taking the time to check out my story and this nice little interview here! Hit me up on social media if you like. Let’s be pals!