First things first. Today, 8 December, is John Lennon’s 31st Jahrzeit. For a long time I used to write about it in my journals, but embarrassingly, I haven’t journaled for the last few years. However, I have begun to journal again on and off in the top-spiral notebook I bought when I was switching my writing hand from right to left and needed something to practice my handwriting in before publicly outing myself as a lefty. (Long story short, I was in the closet about the true extent of my sinistrality till this year. I kinda always knew, but I was very confused and discouraged since I grew up writing right-handed, and many people still feel handedness is determined solely by the hand you write with, no matter you do just about everything else with your other hand.)

Anyway, John has been my official favorite Beatle since I was 17. I started strongly preferring him when I was 14, but I felt I weren’t allowed to switch favorites. I’d initially favored Paul solely because of looks, but let’s be honest, that’s a rather silly reason to pick a fave rave. So I lied to myself for a few years that I had two favorites, but as Jerry Springer often says in his Final Thought, “When you claim to love both, you truly love neither.” I now have all of his studio solo albums, though George is my favorite solo Beatle. (I’m probably the only person who’ll give you three answers or say “It depends what you mean” when asked who my favorite Beatle is!)

I feel so privileged to have been allowed to share the planet with John for even a little while. That scumbag murdered him 10 days before my first birthday, so I have no memory of being alive at the same time he was, but I still feel glad we were on the same planet for that small span of time. I even wrote the parole board a letter in the fall of 2000 when I found out that dirtbag was getting its first parole hearing. I was so upset I was shaking when I saw the disgusting news on the Beatle Brunch website on the old ’93 Mac in my first dorm room at UMass, the second floor of Chadbourne, the Native American-themed floor. Thankfully, it seems this thing will be denied parole like clockwork every two years. Let’s be honest, there’d probably instantly be a revenge killing if it were ever sprung from prison.

In honor of John’s life, here are some of his solo songs. May you rest in peace in your eternal home, and may your memory be for a blessing. The world is a better place because you were in it for 40 years and two months.

So many people look so perfect on the outside, but their insides are rotten.

This song never fails to give me chills.

The last song he recorded.

***

I’m also taking part in the Can We Guess Your Character’s Age? Blogfest, wherein participants post the first 250 words of a completed book or WIP and invite other participants to guess the character’s age. It’s based on voice, and tests if others think the purported age matches the character’s voice and behavior. We’re not allowed to post the title or genre, and any references to age or school grade should be taken out.

I decided to use something I’ve never posted an excerpt of before, since I’ve already shared so much from the books with my three main sets of characters. It’ll be a nice change of pace to finally use an excerpt from a standalone. This is a near-total rewrite of the original opening, which I wrote back in the fall of ’92. I worked on the manuscript on and off between 1992 and I think 1995 (at most, 1996 was the latest date I worked on it), but now I think I’m ready to get back to work on finishing it and fixing it up (but only after I finish Justine Grown Up, of course).

The protagonist’s name was originally Casey, but being the big name nerd I am, I decided I wanted something a little more memorable and standout. It’s 261 words, so I wouldn’t have to stop in the middle of a paragraph.

***

Arcadia MacGregor wasn’t expecting her entire life to be turned upside-down as she teleported into her house after school.

Arcadia’s mother Maura had a very serious look on her face, and Arcadia’s five-greats-grandmother Stephanie was shaking her head dismissively.  They both fixed Arcadia with a look as she walked past them.

Maura broke the ice. “Arcadia, I just phoned a psychic, and she said there’s going to be a war and that we must flee the continent!”

“She says this so-called psychic looked like a teenager,” Stephanie said. “I can’t believe she’s buying some teen fraud’s bogus predictions and planning to immediately leave.  But I’m staying.  I grew up in this home.”

“Leaving?” Arcadia asked. “But everyone we know is in St. Paul.  How could you decide to leave the continent based on what some dumb phone psychic told you?”

“I already know where we’ll go,” Maura blazed on. “Ron recently wrote me a letter in which he proposed marriage, and I accepted.  So we’re going to his space colony near Jupiter.  As soon as he gets back from his latest astronaut mission, we’ll be married.  And you know that’s also where my foster daughters Sara and Meredith live.  We’ll move into their house and give them a real family.”

“Mother!” Arcadia gasped. “I’m only telling you this for your own good, and one day you’ll thank me.  Don’t marry Ron!  I’ll be a laughingstock if my parents get married!  The 3000 Census last year said only one percent of Americans are Nuclears!  And I don’t want little sisters!”

17 thoughts on “John’s Jahrzeit and Can We Guess Your Character’s Age? Blogfest

  1. Hello, Carrie-Anne:

    I, too, liked John Lennon a lot and thought he was the best of the 4 (however, Ringo made me smile, a lot!). I was 20 when John was murdered and it was a very, very sad day. I remember just sitting in silence, shocked and in tears, my best friend at my side. the world lost an amazing individual that day. Thank you for paying tribute.

    As to your character’s age? I’m going to say around 15. The story sounds very funny. I wish you luck with it. It’s nice to bring out something so ‘old’ and start working on it again. It’s funny how our perspectives change after 10 years or so.

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  2. This is a tough one with the mother and the five-great grandmother present.

    Based strictly on Arcadia’s dialogue, I’m going to say 15. The first time she speaks she sounds younger. The second time older, and then younger again. It’s like she’s trapped at that age where she’s about to mature a bit more, but still holding on to younger silliness.

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  3. My husband worked at Attica for 13 years and for a time worked in the special housing unit where Mark David Chapman is held. He’s in that unit for his own protection…or else the general population would probably kill him…just to say that they did. My husband says he will probably never be granted parole, but only because of who he killed. Anyone else would have been released long ago. He’s a model prisoner. But as you said, he would probably be murdered if ever released.

    Anyway, I’m guessing she is about 13 or 14. But I do know she is in school…since you didn’t delete that info before posting.

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  4. Your opening line made me think of an older character, but I’d agree that some statements make her seem younger, like the reference to not wanting younger siblings. I’m not actually sure about her age. I’d thought about 19 at first, but maybe 17 or even younger.

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  5. I’m going to say 16, though the voice seems to be a bit inconsistent. I do love the idea of teleportation, living on earth verses Jupiter, and consulting psychics! Nice, juicy details.

    Be careful with your dialog–it comes off a bit stilted. Maura’s speech about her daughters and marriage proposal read like an info dump. Find a way to weave those details in throughout the chapter. Wouldn’t her family already know her situation?

    Good luck. 😉

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  6. Honestly, I like the name Casey better as Acadia MacGregor seems unnecessarily complex to me. But I’m dyslexic, so I tend to prefer plainer names.

    The voice feels young to me, like 12-13 young.

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  7. I would say that she’s sixteen or so. The cultural and societal structures of this world stand out as being different, and you’ve definitely got the sci-fi element going here. Very interesting.

    The only thing that bothered me is that you refer to Arcadia constantly by name– it’s okay to use pronouns, because otherwise it reads kind of stilted.

    Happy Writing! 🙂

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  8. My grandfather once met George at a party. I live and hope that I’ll be walking down the street one day and hear Paul and Ringo say “Hey didn’t your grandfather meet George that one time? Do you want to hang out?”
    (I’d be a bit worried if I heard it coming from George and John though)

    Also here’s a little something I stumbled across the other day. http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/02/john-lennon-signed-my-album.html

    The line “I’m telling you this for your own good” said to her mother doesn’t sound like the sort of thing a young student would say so I’ll guess that she’s about 18

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  9. Other than the line “for your own good” I’d say she’s a high school student, probably around 15 or 16. She’s sassy enough to be older, but still young enough to be embarrassed by what people could find out about her.

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