Wednesday, April 1, 2020

#142 Inside the Emotion of Fiction "SWEET SLEEP" by Kim Cormack

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****Kim Cormack’s Sweet Sleep is #142 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

#142 Inside the Emotion of Fiction
Sweet Sleep
by Kim Cormack

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? Let me tell you about Sweet Sleep. I had this name right out the gate and never wavered.

Fiction genre?  Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc.  And how many pages long? Sweet Sleep is the first novel in The Children Of Ankh Series Universe (which) is multi-genre YA Crossover. I’ll go with Sci-Fi, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no.   If yes, what publisher and what publication date? Yes, it’s published, released in 2014. It was pimped out and rereleased in 2016 with a new publishing label.

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I was writing children’s books and was in the process of being diagnosed with M.S. I had a nightmare in October of 2009. It began with the partially open front door and ended at the creepy lullaby. I wrote down the dream in the middle of the night. Just like that, my genre changed, and I was lost in this universe of characters.
          While writing this book, I had an m.s relapse and lost the use of all, but three fingers. I had crazy brain fog during the editing process, the struggle was comically real. I fought through it and kept going while dealing with physical loss and a diagnosis. When I reread book one, I saw the figurative meaning of everything clearly. I’ve been lost in this universe for over a decade now.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work?  And please describe in detail.  And can you please include a photo? I have impressively weird things by my computer. An enormous hunk of rose quartz, a dragon box, a zombie pen holder, a seashell, pictures of my kids and my childhood throne. There’s also a quote plaque that says, do one thing every day that scares you, which has become my writing mantra.

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day?  As far as writing rituals go, I just sit down and disappear down the rabbit hole for a good six to eight hours. I’ll listen to music when I’m doing things or bathing, plotting scenes but rarely stick to plans. I play chicken with myself by not editing out shocking situations. Sometimes, my writing day takes a wild turn. I stay true to what my imagination gave me and be brave with my storyline. (Above Right: Kim's writing space)

What is the summary of this specific fiction work? Fantasy adventure, magical realism, non-stop action with laughter, tears and a coming of age paranormal romance that will capture every reader’s heart. A story of a teenage girl who overcomes tragedy and evolves into something she never knew possible as her immortal destiny comes to light. This paranormal fantasy will leave you breathless as it takes you through the darkness and leads you back out into the secret world of immortality triggered by choices in the afterlife.

     A comic romp through the afterlife with three Clans of naughty certifiably insane antiheroes who battle while collecting partially immortal teenagers as they survive the exterminations of their family lines on their sixteenth year. If they’ve impressed the Guardians of the in-between with their bravery, they shall be granted a second chance at life as sacrificial lambs for the greater good. They must join one of three Clans of immortals living on earth and can be stolen at random by any other Clan until their eighteenth birthday. Plot twist...To prove their partially mortal brains are capable of grasping immortality, they will be dropped into an Immortal Testing which is basically a simulation of their own personal hells. Like rats in a maze made of nightmares and other ghastly depraved thoughts best left locked behind those mortal happy place filters, they must come out mentally intact after being murdered in thousands of increasingly creative ways. 

    She had never coveted the role of princess. She’d always wanted to be the hero


     The information contained within this book is not intended for mere mortals. Reading this may inadvertently trigger a Correction. If you survive or have shown great bravery during your demise, you may be granted a second chance at life by one of the three Guardians of the in-between. For your soul’s protection until your 18th year, you must join one of three Clans of immortals living on earth... Ankh, Trinity or Triad. You are totally still reading this, aren’t you? You’ve got this. Welcome to the Children Of Ankh Series Universe. This is not a fairy tale. This is a nightmare.

Please include just one excerpt and include page numbers as reference.  This one excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer. I ugly bawled writing this. Here is the dream that started this universe from, Sweet Sleep.
     The drive was uneventful. The same old scenery flashed by her window. As they pulled up in front of her house, she leaned across the seat and thanked Kevin’s dad with a hug. She opened the door and took a deep breath. The air smelled like wet cherry blossoms. It must have been raining while they were eating dinner. She stepped out of the car into a puddle and twisted her ankle. Of course. With a soaked foot, eggs and school bag in hand, she hobbled up the steep driveway towards the front door.
     She lived in a wooded somewhat isolated area. Normally she would have darted from Kevin’s dad’s car into the house, but her ankle stung each time she put pressure on it. As she came closer, she noticed the door was partially open. It was a little windy out and quite normal for the door to be unlocked. Maybe it was left ajar and opened by the wind? She heard tires on gravel and turned just in time to see Kevin’s father driving away. Kayn felt off, apprehensive as she made her way up the long gravel driveway to the door that seemed to have a life of its own, shifting from cracked to closed with the breeze. She dug out her phone to look at the time. Quarter after eight. She was fifteen minutes late. The door moved again. She shook her head and laughed. This was obviously a prank. They’d left the door open, and entrance lights off to freak her out. Chloe was probably hiding around the corner. Practical jokes were a daily occurrence in their household. Slivers of light from the moon flashed through the branches as they swayed in the wind and for a moment it felt like they were waving her away. She was being silly. She shoved her cell into her pants, pocket dialling Kevin by accident.
     “I’m home!” Kayn yelled as she kicked off her shoes and dropped her school bag. She flicked on the light and nothing happened. The power wasn’t out. She’d seen the lights on upstairs as she walked up the driveway. It’s just a burnt-out lightbulb. She massaged her ankle. Great, there goes the track meet. Kayn tried to take off her wet socks, but a stab of pain from her freshly twisted ankle caused her to place a hand on the wall while attempting to balance. Her hand slid off the wall as she struggled to tug off her sopping wet sock. “Kevin’s mom gave us eggs,” she called out quietly, suddenly aware she was alone in the house. Where would they go at this hour? Her mind sorted through the possible scenarios. Something wasn’t right. “Mom…Dad?” She called…answered by silence. She went to close the door and felt something wet. A faint sliver of light was streaming through the doorway. She stepped into it and held out her hand. Her palm was covered in blood. Ripples of adrenaline coursed through her. Whose blood was this? It felt like thousands of spiders were running on the surface of her skin. She froze, paralyzed by fear as shivers of terror crawled across her flesh. She gingerly stepped backwards. A dark figure loomed at the end of the hallway. Who was that?
     Her sister’s voice screamed, “Run Kayn!” In a pitch so raw, primal and shrill that it lit her survival instinct on fire. She spun around and ran, bringing the eggs with her. She sensed someone chasing her but looking back would only slow her down. Kayn ran with no rhyme or reason in the direction she was pointed in. Halfway across the back lawn she slipped in wet grass and scrambled forward, knowing someone was a second behind her. She spotted the overgrown opening to the trails, threw the bag of eggs to slow her attacker, and raced for them, knowing there were a million places to hide. Fuelled by animalistic survival instinct, she burst through the blackberry brambles blocking the path, ignoring the pain as they tore at her flesh for it only heightened the self-preservation that possessed and drove her forward. She barrelled through the overgrowth, where instinct prompted. The crunching of leaves and twigs in the trail behind her told her he was close; far too close to do anything but react. She slipped in the mud again, skidding yet not falling. She’d now lost her precious half a second lead, allowing her hunter to close the space between them. Her heart pounded wildly in her chest, threatening to burst right through her skin as her tired legs propelled her body through the winding trail. The rocks on the path brutalized her feet as the sharp reaching branches and twigs slashed at her legs.
     “You have to run faster Kayn! Run faster!” her sister’s voice screeched inside Kayn’s terror-driven mind.
     The ground was crunching directly behind her. He was so close that she could feel his breath on her hair and neck as he panted. He was almost touching her. He was fast, inhumanly fast. A rush of adrenaline edged her ahead. She could see lights from the neighbour’s house peeking through the trees. She was going to make it. She was almost there. The darkness that pursued her was keeping pace. Almost to safety…just over the creek. Her bare feet hit the wooden bridge. Almost there. She was going to make it. Kayn felt the elation of victory. She was about to burst through the bushes as something hot was driven into her back. Her eyes widened in terror as the knife plunged into her again. The blade seared a molten trail of excruciating pain. A sweaty hand muffled her gasp of shock as she sunk to her knees in disbelief. Her captor’s arms, slick with perspiration, constricted around her neck crushing her larynx with the strength of a python. Screaming and pleading for her life was now impossible.
     He continuously brought her to the brink of strangulation and then harshly revived her. Each time her eyes slipped shut, she felt the slicing, searing pain of his blade as he brutalized her stomach and chest until her eyes remained open in terror. Blood sputtered from between her parted lips as she attempted to speak. She could see a shadow on the patio through the trees in the luminescence of the porch lights. Someone was out there having a cigarette. They were so close. Help me, oh, God, please help me; see me, please, I’m right here, Kayn’s mind screamed. He continued to plunge the knife into her. He’s killing mePlease, her soul pleaded as her vision blurred from her tears. She gurgled as she choked and sputtered out blood. Why, are you doing this to me? She felt the competing rhythms of their hearts, as his sweaty torso pressed intimately against hers. Her stomach churned with revulsion as she felt the warmth of his rapid excited breathing against her neck. His quiet laughter echoed in her mind as a raspy male voice began whispering things she couldn’t understand. Her blood had soaked through her clothes and it was trickling down her arms. She was going to die. He released her. She slumped forward and tried to grasp the ground with her fingertips, but no matter how hard she struggled from within the confines of her mind she couldn’t move. Her breath came in short laboured attempts as a soothing voice whispered, Sleep, it’s time to go to sleepAs she closed her eyes, she heard Grandma Winnie’s final words to her, ‘You survive. You fight hard.’ She screamed from within, clawing at the soil and forcing herself up to her knees. Suddenly, there was a blinding explosion of pain across her head and face. The lights flickered and went out.
     In the woods lay a bleeding angel in all her glory. Her arms posed gracefully above her head, her hair soaked in the mud, blood, and feces in which she lay. Dying, fading into the other realm, her form was christened by the rain, as the trees had begun to weep upon her for the brutality she’d endured.
     Kayn awoke in frigid darkness to the fragrance of damp moss, tree sap and the sweet metallic taste of her own blood in her mouth. Images from her childhood flickered through her mind as the pain recycled in waves until it slowly dulled and become a tolerable numbness. She was so cold. Where was she? Her body gave an involuntary shudder as her mind fed her slivers, flashes of inhuman savagery she’d suffered until she understood where she was and how she’d come to be dying in the forest all alone. If she kept her eyes closed, he might believe her to be gone. She could slip away peacefully and become one with the forest. She could hear the soothing sound of raindrops as they tapped on the branches above her. Maybe, he was gone? She opened her eyes and imagined the lush green branches of the cedar trees above as giant arms, capable of offering her protection from the elements. At first the image was nurturing and beautiful, but then the trees came to life. They cackled and mocked, “You’re going to die you silly bitch,” as they waved their branches to the haunting sound of rattling raindrops and the howling of the wind. Kayn’s consciousness snapped back to reality. She’d lost a lot of blood. None of this was real. The forest floor was alive with a dancing mist that seemed to add a thickness to the tapping sound of the raindrops. Writhing in the mud as her essence moistened the ground beneath her, Kayn willed her body to move; her fingers clawed at the soil until she was spent. For a moment she lay still, feeling like a half dead animal waiting to be finished off by its hunter. With her eyes gazing towards the heavens, she’d been watching a stream of light from the moon that had made it through the cover of rain clouds and branches. It felt like she was breathing through a pinched straw. She concentrated on each breath…in and out…a little air. The glimmer of the ray vanished, leaving only cold isolating darkness and the flickering of blurry confusing images. Help me. The only answer to her soul’s plea was the crackling quiet sound of the rain. What little vision she had clouded with tears. She screamed from within the confines of her mind as the blindingly excruciating pain abruptly returned. As the wave of agony passed, she sensed his presence. She tried to focus through the glossy film of her tears. His dark shadow ominously loomed as it had in the hallway. Please, pleaseNo more. Now only a few feet away, he was watching her. She willed herself to grasp at the moist cold earth with her fingers, but she was unable to move. Her body was now nothing more than a broken shell. How cruel for her mind to still see; to still desire life at this point. As his form loomed above her, Kayn looked into his eyes with a desperate plea, why are you doing this? Her body gave an involuntary shudder. Kayn realised she was naked, completely exposed to the elements. Why was she naked? Her eyes filled with tears again. She felt instant, overwhelming shame. 
     The dark mass of her violator knelt beside her and leaned in. She could smell his putrid breath as it moistened her face. There was an electrical current between Kayn and the man in the dark, it was like a charge. Every hair on her body stood on end as he ran a finger over her exposed breast and said, “You were never meant to be born, this situation had to be corrected.”
     His knife glinted in the light from the moon as it was raised above her chest. Yes, she thought. Let it be over now. She closed her eyes as he sliced into her flesh and opened them with acceptance. She felt no more pain. She stared deeply into his eyes as hers filled with tears.
     With a voice thick with emotion, he spoke, “From this life unto the next.” He slowly carved a symbol into the flesh above her heart.
     She lay limp in his arms, still conscious of what was happening, as he pulled her close and cradled her naked body like a baby, rocking her broken violated flesh in his arms, stroking her blood-soaked hair. He began to sob as if he were repentant in some way for how he had tortured her.
     As her vision flickered one last time, the man was gone; it was her mother looking into her eyes. Her mother’s eyes were filled with so much love that it seemed to release her from pain and fear as it had when she was a small child. Her mother cradled her as a baby, rocking her back and forth. She was safe now in her mother’s arms. She was at peace. Mommy, her heart sang, you’re here to save me. The warmth of her mother’s love enveloped her tortured soul. She looked into her mother’s eyes. Her mother lovingly touched her face and started to sing a song that she had sung to her every night when she was small
     Sleep, sweet sleep till the morning.
     Just dream away and close your eyes.
     My love, you’ll be safe until the morning.
     Sleeping in my arms, all through the night.
     Although bad dreams come to scare you,
     my love will scare them all away. My heart…
     The lights flickered, the pain went away, and her mother was holding her, singing: “Sleep, sweet sleep.”   
Why is this excerpt so emotional for you as a writer to write?  And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? Obviously, I had no plans to drastically switch genres but when you’ve been given something like this to roll with, how do you not? I was hysterically bawling writing this and even more so when I painted the walls. That’s what I call my first round of editing after the book is finished. I don’t delete scenes that make me uncomfortable, it’s a promise I’ve made to myself.

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. I did cut a chapter diving deeper into Lily’s backstory, but I moved it to a prequel, I’ve yet to release.

Other works you have published? The Children Of Ankh Series are YA Crossover and all mainstream fiction length. Sweet Sleep, Enlightenment, Let There Be Dragons, Handlers Of Dragons. Right now, I’m writing book five, Tragic Fools.
       There’s also a side series about Lexy of Ankh. The C.O.A Series, Wild Thing, Wicked Thing and Deplorable Me.
I’ve also started writing a series of middle grade novellas, Bring Out Your Dead is book one.

     Kim Cormack is the always comedic author of the darkly twisted epic paranormal romance series, “The Children of Ankh.” She worked for over 16 years as an Early Childhood educator in preschool, daycare, and as an aid. 

          She has M.S and has lived most of her life on Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. She currently lives in the gorgeous little town of Port Alberni. She's a single mom with two awesome kids. She has a son in grade 9 and a daughter in University at VIU. If you see her back away slowly and toss packages of hot sauce at her until you escape.
          “I began writing this series shortly after my M.S diagnosis. I had many reasons to fight. I had incredible children, a wonderful family, and amazing friends but this series gave me a purpose. Whenever things become dark, I use my imagination to find the light within myself. No matter what life throws your way, you are stronger than you believe. My hope is that the character's strength becomes an inner voice for the readers that need it. Stand back up and if you can't stand... Rise up within yourself. We are all beautiful just as we are. We are all immortal.
Stop by and download the first three books in this series free this week. “


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