The Snake

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Water drops on blue background

From Jumping: a Novel.
Babe, on the arrival of her sisters. [I have three sisters.]

“I remember seeing a snake come down from the porch roof of a cabin I was staying in with friends. As we watched, it extended half of its length down through space as if the space had substance to support it, leaving its other half anchored on the porch roof. It lowered that front half right into a fir tree leaning against the porch, into the nest of a small mourning dove, a nest clearly visible to our group on the porch, a nest with two small eggs in it.
The dove had left the nest, probably because we had scared her off by coming out on the porch, and the snake had seen its chance. It moved into the nest with half of its body still on the porch roof, and swallowed both eggs, so quickly, so effortlessly, I could almost believe it hadn’t happened. I didn’t want to believe it had. Then it withdrew itself back up onto the roof, again as if suspended by invisible wires, and disappeared from sight. We stood there, silenced by the finality of its act. . . .
“Later I found a snakeskin tucked in the fold of the bottom step of the back porch. It was beautiful, elegant, like a woman’s elbow-length opera glove, dropped unheedingly, while she was on her way to somewhere else. . . .”

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Why I jumped.

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jumping rope

From Jumping: a Novel.
Babe, the narrator is speaking.
“I can remember the first time I jumped rope,” I remember out loud to Miles, “with my sisters holding the ends of the rope, not sure I could navigate the timing and the sweep of the rope, not believing I was as smart and as quick as they were. I have to admit that I was pretty impressed with myself when I knew the rope had cleared the ground under my feet. Then I got my rhythm, and it felt easier. I forgot the sense of accomplishment I got from that. What a rite of passage that was. I had forgotten.”
He laughed and gave a little two-footed jump, shouting back, “That’s what I’m talking about! You made your own jump! And we don’t really forget our jumps. They leave their mark. What would it feel like to you if you jumped right now, Babe–right where you are, not into the Void or even out of a swing? You just jumped. Why can’t we still do it?”

Jumping: a Novel is available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=jane+peranteau&sprefix=jane+peranteau%2Cstripbooks%2C327

Photo: Herald Examiner Collection, 1976. LA Public Library Photo Archives. Girls jumping rope at elementary school in Riverside, CA, cheering for summer vacation.

Life is to short to play it safe.

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I discovered if you don’t regularly jump–off a porch, from a plane, into a new life–you’re not living. Life loses its juice and so do you. For every time I left town with a suitcase and never went back, I grew leaps as a human being–I think jumping is a shortcut to living. When do you feel more alive than when you take a risk, a life leap, a free fall?

Are you selling out when you sell yourself? Sure!

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You can’t let it change you.  Then it’s not selling out.  But is that even possible?  Nowadays, if you’re a writer, you’re in sales.  We just used to think someone else would be doing it for us.

The other day, the 21 year old technical whiz who works with me and I produced the first draft of a video for youtube.  The publisher will either edit it and put it up or send us back to the drawing board.  Their marketing person said two minutes, don’t read, talk about the book, but don’t give it away.  Right now, we’re at five minutes and six seconds.  And we’ve got lots of out-takes.  A couple of times we got to laughing and almost couldn’t stop. The techie/director took care of lighting, sound, time, setting, wardrobe, hair frizzies, script management, feedback, production design, and more.  I supplied the script and showed up.  That was a lot!

I think the truth is my apprehension, at core, comes from the fact that I’m still getting to know the book.  I wrote it and moved on to the next one.  Now I look at it and try to remember.  I’m surprised and unsettled by the comments of others who’ve recently read it.  They’ve seen something I didn’t know was there and been moved by it.  The book is clearly a thing unto itself.

I will say, as I go back into Jumping, looking for things to quote or things for readings, I find a lot I remember and still like.  Maybe that’s because I know the book wasn’t written just by me.  Go, little book!

 

 

People are getting their books–whoa!

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Sometimes I forget how and where and why I even wrote this book–after all, I wrote it more than two years ago and have written a few more since then–and now it’s out there.  Actually, that was the first question of the Examiner interviewer–how did I come to write it.

I said I wrote it for two reasons: (1) I took a creative writing class at Inprint, a great writing program in Houston.  There were eleven of us in the class, an engineer, a physicist, a lawyer, a teacher, a student, etc.  What inspired me is that they always wanted me to read first, to see what happened next.  I wrote the intro to the book in that class, but I didn’t know it.  (2) Every psychic I’ve seen, and that would be about a half dozen in the past decade, generally done with a group for fun, would ask me where my book was. Not that psychics necessarily have a corner on the truth, but by the time the sixth one asks you, you begin to wonder.

Ultimately, writing is such a private act, there’s still something shocking about it going public, even when you know it’s coming.  I wrote it every night after work is the how.  Generally in my second-floor Albuquerque apartment (corner of Broadway and Coal) is the where, staring out the window at downtown whenever I paused in my typing.  The real answer to why is that it came and it kept coming, every time I sat down to write and sometimes in between.  It still comes.  I keep a notebook with me, to catch it.

Now I feel as if I’m in that dream where you’re standing naked in front of a clothed crowd, no where to run, no where to hide.  Even though this must have always been the goal, I’m still a little freaked out to have achieved it.  I guess I’ve jumped.

 

A box came

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A few days ago, the FedEx truck pulled into the driveway, and the guy got out in the pouring rain (yes, in Mountainair, NM) to deliver a box.  I wasn’t expecting anything and opened it quickly without looking at the return address.  It was my book.  Finally, after a year (felt like ten) of waiting, twenty copies of my book arrived to shock me into awareness that this book will really be going out into the world, with my name on it.

I still find it hard to believe.

People tell me Amazon, where the book has been on pre-order for weeks, is sending out notices to people that they’re shipping the book before its official release on Nov 1.

I still find it hard to believe.

Today, I did my first interview (written) for examiner.com, a news/popular entertainment website with 8 million monthly views, arranged by my marketing manager @ Hampton Roads Publishing.  It won’t be posted until after Nov 1.

I still find it hard to believe.

I’ve been writing this series of books–I’m now on book five–since 2013.  If you get out of their way, as the saying goes, they practically write themselves.  The first book won the 2014 Hampton Roads Next Best Fiction Writer contest.

I still find it hard to believe.

I wonder if other first-time authors feel this way?

 

 

 

“Kinetic energy on the fly!” – the Void.

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No one documented the small patch of singed grass under the trees nearest to the Void or the tiny iridescent scales that dazzled in the sunlight.