I wrote the first line of CHARMING before I was really ready to begin writing the
story because I knew how important that line was when I first thought of it.
Haley’s walk home, the emotion and fear and wariness she felt, set the tone for
the book. She’s miserable. She’s afraid. She’s trapped. So many people suffer
these feelings on a daily basis. Maybe not because of an abusive family member,
but maybe a bad job, a dead-end relationship, just something, even illness. What
better way to connect to a character than through this pain? What better way to
really understand her? As someone who's experienced a great deal of pain in her
life, I can totally relate to these feelings, and I hope that even if you
haven't shared any of these experiences, you can empathize with those who have.
Chapter 1, Part 1
Thirty-two steps until Haley Tremaine entered hell. Thirty-two steps
until she walked into the smell of alcohol and burned microwaveable meals, into
a place where fear overwhelmed. Fear of whether Dad would go on a rampage and
hit her, or maybe even her little sister Jocelyn, the girl Haley protected at
the expense of her sanity, her safety. Even if that sister didn’t appreciate it,
or have a clue.
Before Mom died, Haley would have called this home.
But not anymore.
Now? Now, this was definitely hell.
“You punishing your palms with that anger, or are you having a stroke?” Even in
the darkness blanketing the empty streets, Haley couldn’t mistake the slight
smile toying up the side of Christine’s long, slender face. She walked home with
Haley every day after their shifts ended at the Berkshire Candle Company and
knew all the horrid details about the broken family life inside the Tremaine
Haley unclenched her fists and shook them out, allowing the chilly October air
to whisk the sheen of sweat into the night. Nothing more nerve-wracking than
going to hell. “Sorry.”
“Since you’ve refused all offers to run away and leave this town behind, you
could try this.” Christine took a hit of her thinly wound joint, winked, then
held it out for Haley. Like tonight would be any different from the other five
hundred times Christine had offered.
“Not happening.” But maybe, just maybe, being high would make walking through
the squeaky front door hurt a little less. Maybe the pot would snuff out the
anger and fear that burned and spread like uncontrolled wildfires in Haley’s
head when Dad yelled, when he grunted disgusting noises because she took too
long to clean his mess or get him another beer, and when Jocelyn just sat there
Dad’s favorite. Dad’s favorite because he thought she chose him instead of Mom
the night she decided to leave. Dad didn’t know the truth.
Jocelyn didn’t either.
“Not today, anyway.” Hopefully that day never comes.
“Always helps me get over my issues, but suit yourself.” Tucked into her
too-large, red and black flannel jacket, Christine finished off the
awful-smelling joint with a shrug, then jogged across the cracked asphalt,
hundreds of jagged tar lines holding the road together like band-aids. She
forgot to say goodbye. As usual.
Haley stood on the side of the street between the power lines and her yard
covered with a thick layer of pine needles and red leaves, the closest thing
Deerfield Massachusetts had to a sidewalk. She stared through the yellow glow of
the streetlamp Christine ran under, waiting for her to walk into her house. Once
she did, Haley jogged up the few steps to her front porch, pulled open the
screen door, took a calming breath, then walked in.
No one was waiting. The only greetings she received were sounds of the
late-night news reporting the most recent murder, the smell of stale beer, and
that ever-unsettling panic in Haley’s chest, the panic that never went away
while under the same roof as Dad.
Backpack slung over one shoulder, she ditched her plain black work shoes next to
the pile of others by the door and crept through the house that didn’t
appreciate anyone creeping around. The worn floorboards rattled with every step,
despite Haley’s efforts to place each foot gently in front of the other. She
passed the kitchen on her way down the long hallway. The cramped space was a
mess of dirty pots and pans sitting and crusting on the stovetop, trash
overflowing the can and spilling onto the floor, empty plates scattered on the
table. All left for Haley to clean. All left for Haley to worry over.
On the way to her room, Haley paused by the arched opening leading to the den.
Dad and Jocelyn sat in each other’s company, watching TV as so many normal
families would. But did all those families take advantage of one member? Did
they pretend like that member didn’t exist unless they needed help with
something? Or was Haley the only lucky one?
It's horrible when home becomes Hell. I enjoyed your post. Please enter me. (Vera Wilson 11:28am September 14, 2014)
Home is supposed to be a place where you can take a deep breath, but that is not Haley's life. Thanks for commenting! (Krystal Wade 10:09am September 15, 2014)
I can relate to your posting today, but on a different level. Your posting reminded me of what it was like growing up, and I hope your book will help other girls, who are going through something similar right now. It took the death of my parents, to finally come to terms of my grief, and we're talking decades after my Hell!! I'm just now trying to deal with it, but know I won't be hurt anymore. Thank you for writing your book, and helping others. (Peggy Roberson 11:21am September 15, 2014)
I am so looking forward to reading Charming! (Jenny Ford 11:43am September 15, 2014)
Oh Peggy, thank you so much. I'm sorry to hear about your struggles, but I'm glad you've found your strength.
And thank you, Jenny! (Krystal Wade 11:47am September 15, 2014)
I was lucky never to experience something like this. This would be a very good book to read! (Julie Parrish 3:20pm September 15, 2014)
Poor Haley - she sounds like a modern-day Cinderella. Hope that she has a fairy-tale ending in your book. (Joanne Schultz 4:01pm September 15, 2014)
Oh yeah.... I remember getting knots in my stomach when I pulled into the driveway and saw my husband's car was there! Thank goodness he found a f**k buddy and left me! (Barbara Wright 7:39pm September 15, 2014)
How horrible it would be to have home not be a haven. Would love to see the heroine overcome such situation. (G. Bisbjerg 12:48pm September 16, 2014)
Ah, a celebration of family life.
Lots of families like that.
But the title _Charming_ scawes me.... (Mary Ann Dimand 6:13am September 16, 2014)
Great first chapter. I hope it has a happy ending! (Pam Howell 9:12am September 16, 2014)
Looking forward to reading this book. (Bonnie Capuano 10:11am September 16, 2014)
That first line really pulls you in. The excerpt sounds very interesting. (Larena Hubble 12:56pm September 16, 2014)
Awesome excerpt Krystal, I LOVE how Haley counts the number of steps into her private hell. The character of Haley just grabs & won't let go of me as the reader.
Mindy :) Birdsooong@comcast.net (Mina Gerhart 1:17pm September 16, 2014)
Touched a chord re my own childhood. Could use your HEA ending.... (Elaine Seymour 1:18pm September 16, 2014)
Thank you for the chance to win. I like when authors write about what they know because the book becomes more "real." It is just blah when the subject is not a good one to know. (Sally Hannoush 3:47pm September 16, 2014)
I would love to read this book. Thank you for the chance !! (Susan King 8:31pm September 16, 2014)
I photo alone is interesting .The cover makes me want to check it out. (Deb Pelletier 8:37pm September 16, 2014)
Charming sounds charming! (Denise Austin 10:42pm September 16, 2014)
Can someone explain the cover picture to me? (Sarah Nicholas 11:20pm September 16, 2014)
Hi Sarah, the cover picture is a representation of some of the horror that takes place in the novel. While there is a lot of my personal pain woven into the story, it is still a thriller with a killer. (Krystal Wade 8:50am September 19, 2014)