So, this is a book idea that hit me last night, and I thought I'd share the first chapter (ish...) here (though probably not the rest of it, since I want to publish it one day...).
The back cover summary would be something like this:
For a fantasy author, falling into your own world and becoming your main character should be a dream come true, right?
Wrong. For Catherine, it's slowly turning into a nightmare.
You see, she couldn't figure out the ending of the book. Now, as she's running out of pages, she has to wonder if she'll survive her own narrative, or will her own desire to write a different kind of story doom her in the end?
The office, which was warmer and more welcoming than others of its kind, had light gray walls and large windows. The man behind the desk was scanning through several pages of text, intently focusing on the words. Across the desk, watching his reactions closely, sat a young woman. Her short, curly brown hair was pulled back into a small ponytail, and her brown eyes followed the man’s progress carefully. Finally, he cleared his throat and looked up. “Well, Catherine,” he said. “This is a very good book; I’m quite invested in the story.”
“Thank you, sir,” she answered. “I sense there’s more you want to say?”
“Well, yes. For one, it’s a bit presumptuous to name your main character ‘Catha,’ isn’t it?”
“Since I write under a pseudonym, I don’t think it’ll be much of a problem. I doubt that’s all you have to say, though.” She clasped, unclasped, and clasped her hands again.
“No. Arguably a more important question is where’s the ending?”
“I don’t know yet, Mr. Logan. I-” She hesitated. “It won’t come to me. I keep turning over different endings in my mind, but none of them seem…right.”
“Well, I’d think you had ended it, since Catha and Raydon, your two main characters, just got married, but you have so many loose ends. The villain isn’t defeated, and very little about the state of the world has changed since the beginning of the novel.”
“No, this isn’t the ending. The ending just refuses to come. I’m still working on it, and hopefully I’ll have it soon.”
He nodded. “Well, if you can get it, I’ll publish this book. It’s very well-written and engaging; all it lacks is a good wrapping up.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Logan. I’ll do my best to get that done as soon as possible.” She stood up, reached over to shake his hand, and walked out of his office. Now what? she thought. I’ve been trying to come up with that ending for months. Why won’t it come to me? She kept running over all the different possibilities in her head, dismissing most as quickly as they came. I want this book to stand out; I don’t want to just write another fantasy book that fulfills all the usual conventions. I’ve done that already, and it’s fun, but I want to do something different this time. She was startled out of her musings by her phone ringing as she stepped out of the publishing company and onto the sidewalk. “Hello?” she said as she answered.
“Hey, Cathy! How are you today?”
She sighed. “Hi, Garrett. I’m all right; how are you?”
“I’m doing well; I’ll be even better if we can make a date for tonight.”
Catherine winced. “I can’t tonight, Garrett. I have to work on my book.”
“Oh, come on! You have to let me drag you out of that office of yours every now and then. Let’s go out tonight.”
“I’m out of my office right now, Garrett, visiting my publisher, but I’m going straight back so I can work. And I’m sure I won’t have finished the book by the time we would be going out, so I have to stay in and work.”
“So you won’t even let your boyfriend treat you because you’re so busy? I’ll pick you up at six.”
“No, Garrett, and you can’t say anything about working too much. You cancelled three dates last month because you had to catch up on things, remember?”
“Yes, well, that’s really why I want to go out. All my ‘catching up’ has paid off. I got a promotion!”
“Good for you!”
“Thanks. Oh, hey, what did Logan think of the book?”
“He liked it-”
“That’s great! We have two reasons to celebrate, in that case! So, you see, you must come.”
“You didn’t let me finish. He liked it, except for the ending, which is nonexistent, which is why I have to stay home and work tonight. I’m sorry, Garrett, I’ll have to take a rain check.”
“Well, I guess, if you have to, we can go out tomorrow or next week.”
“Thank you. Sorry about that, I’m glad about your promotion, and I can’t wait to see you!” She quickly hung up before he could get another word out. I love him, but…he can be so pushy. And obsessed with his own work, but when I have work to do, he can’t accept it. Oh, and how often do I have to tell him that my name is Catherine, not Cathy?
She huffed, shaking her head. “I don’t need to keep thinking about him; the person I need to be thinking about is Catha. What’s going to happen to her?” Catherine made her way toward her apartment, turning over possibilities in her mind. Once she had unlocked her door and shut it behind her, she threw her purse and keys down on the kitchen table. She grabbed her water bottle and dropped down onto the couch, booting up her laptop as she did so and tucking her blanket around her legs.
She pulled up a playlist of her favorite music to write to, pressing play as she began staring at the last written line of her story. She started a new page, typing a chapter heading at the top. Those would be the last words she would type for a long time. Instead, all she did was look at the long white page extending beneath the one neat, black line. She scrolled back up to look at what she had written before.
She huffed after about thirty minutes had been wasted in this form. She laid her head against the back of the couch, closing her eyes and casting her mind about. She took a quick drink of water, her eyes cracking back open. “Why is this so hard?” she asked the air. Of course, no answer came. “All I want is to write a distinct, unique fantasy book with an ending that is different from the traditional happy ending where all is well. That’s all!”
Still, the air around her was silent. Catherine groaned and set her laptop aside for a moment. She rose and threw a sandwich together and grabbed some chips, refilling her water bottle while she was in the kitchen. She dropped them beside her seat, taking a detour to her bedroom. She pulled on her fuzzy house socks and took her hair down from its ponytail. Finally, she settled back down into her seat, wrapping herself back up in her blanket. She nibbled on her sandwich and chips as she continued to stare at the computer screen.
Catherine, at last, was willing to give up. After several hours of effort, she had only written about ten words. She pulled herself up and was about to go to bed when she heard strange noises coming from the direction of her food pantry. Her brow furrowed, and she turned the light in the kitchen on, shining a flashlight inside as she swung the door open wide. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, but she sniffed hesitantly. What…is that…is that smoke?
She glanced back toward her room, slipping shoes on and grabbing the pocketknife her brother had insisted she take with her when she moved to the city. She dropped it into her pocket and snatched up her jacket. Finally, taking a deep breath, she started to push her cans and boxes of food to the sides of the pantry. A bright light suddenly shot out of the pantry, almost knocking her over. It was followed up by a thunderclap, which did make her fall to the ground.
Catherine hit the ground hard, and the texture of the ground made it clear that she was no longer in her house. She coughed, trying to get a deep breath through all the smoke that engulfed her as the light faded. She pushed herself to her knees and then to her feet, rubbing roughly at her eyes so that she could see again. “Milady!” she heard a voice call. A hand grabbed her arm, and she gave a half gasp, half scream. “It’s all right, milady, but you must come with me!”
“Who-who are you?” she gasped, trying to yank her arm away, but he held tight.
“We can discuss that later, but we have to go now, unless you fancy being killed.”
“Not terribly, no.” She decided to let him pull her along with him. She coughed again, more fervently this time.
“I’ll get you out of here, but you have to trust me and come on!” The man began to run, and Catherine followed as best as she could. Finally, they were clear of the smoke, fire, and ruin. She looked over at her companion, seeing that he was rather tall, with dark blue eyes and blond hair. She sighed. “Thank you. I’m sorry for being wary of you at first.”
“Don’t apologize for that, milady. Your hesitance does you credit. Trusting a strange man is never in any woman’s best interests. Now, my name is Raydon. May I know yours?”
She froze at that name. No…it can’t be. “I’m Cath…uh…” She trailed off as a group of men on horseback approached.
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady Catha. Now, come, we must hurry if we’re to get away from here.”
She let him pull her onto a horse behind him, still in shock. I can’t be in my own world, can I?
What’s even worse, if I'm Catha, I have no idea what happens to me in the end.
Lady Jaygee, Royal Pianist and Lover of Cats, Knight of TLC