Posts Tagged ‘characters’

Writing should be like your best friend. It should be easy and comfortable with a strong connection that pulls you together.

Your friend should allow you to be your authentic self, allowing you to be free to express your views and ideas in every way without judgement, completely accepting you as you are. If there are times when you are apart, your friend should welcome you back so you pick up exactly where you left off last time. Your friend will forgive your imperfections and challenge your opinions and hold you accountable for the things you say. Your friend will help you be a better person, strengthen your values and solidify who you are, and your bond will be unbreakable. Your friend will only ever support your dreams and help you achieve your goals so that you find happiness.

So give writing time. Develop, nurture and care for it. Express your love for it and never give up on it. Through the good or the bad, it’s there for you always. You’ve got a friend!

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‘Hey, Dad,’ the boy said.

‘Hi,’ his father said, standing from his chair to embrace his son.

His father was a tall man, solid, with hands as big as baseball mitts—hands that had picked up his little boy and thrown him a million miles into the air, watching the tyke laugh and flail with glee before catching him. The boy smiled, remembering, and the man smiled too, perhaps with the same memory surfacing in his mind. There was safety and security in his father’s arms, a love expressed through action, and that had made up for all the absent days, the boy reflected.

His father’s smile was easy and his expression genuine, yet his hazel eyes were deep and serious and watchful as though every movement came under scrutiny, and maybe it did. His voice could command a room, if required to do so, and those large hands had been known to silence a disrespectful few, if also required to do so. He was old fashioned, moulded from old fashioned values and a man true to his word. This earned him the respect he required but it was his kindness and integrity to do right that made him a good leader and a hero in the boy’s eyes.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

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The boy entered his room and smelled the pot-pouri his mum had left in a bowl on his chest of drawers, an attempt to rid the dank odour of sweat-filled socks and shoes that permeated his room. He felt cold air prick and touch his skin, coming in from the window his mother had also left open, and yet there was still a welcoming warmth and comfort that greeted him from being in his space. This was his room, his sanctuary. He looked at the poster-filled walls of sporting heroes and pop stars and wondered fleetingly if it was time to remove them. Wasn’t he too old for such things now? Then his eyes moved to his Avengers action figure set, where they stood poised and ready to protect him at any moment of peril, and decided that no, he wasn’t too old yet.

He moved to the window to look out into the green backyard with rising blades of grass stretching to the fading pink of sunset and took a deep breath. Another gift to be savoured, he thought. He stood at the window for a long time admiring the sky as the pink turned to purple and then to grey and then to dark-blue. He inhaled another deep breath of fresh air, feeling the coolness enter his body, and exhaled a thank you out to the universe. He could do this. He could reunite his family. He could do what so desperately needed to be done. He closed the window, dropped his bag at his feet and flung himself backwards onto his bed.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

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It wasn’t until my third blood nose that Mum decided, with temper at boiling point, to go and speak to Johnny Lindell’s parents. She dragged me by the arm, the tissue paper still plugged into my nostril and hanging from my nose, and marched up the road in a lengthy stride and charging demeanour, which would have frightened even the biggest herd of on-coming stampeding buffalo, to the Lindell’s place. I jogged to keep up, matching my two or three steps to Mum’s one, and I knew that Mum meant business. I had never seen her this fired up before.

Afternoon had not yet settled to dusk, and the sky flared deep oranges and pinks from the lowering sun. We reached the small brick house with our cheeks flushed and our faces glistening with sweat. Rubbish and toys lay scattered across the front yard. The tall, tangled grass desperately needed a mow and graffiti marked the dirty white walls of the front of the house in a colourful tag of scribbles and letters. A window was open and we could hear heavy-metal music and voices from within. Mum pulled back the mesh of wire that served as a front screen and banged on the door. Specks of brown paint floated to the floor, settling with others that had already made the journey down from where the paint curled back and flaked away from the corroding wooden door in protest.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

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On the days when loneliness appeared and entered her world, drowning away her strength and clarity, as it seemed to do more often these days, she would surrender to the tears and question God. Why was she to suffer like this? Hadn’t she done enough to serve Him? Hadn’t she been a good disciple and served her Lord dutifully ever since her first church visit? Well … most of the time, she conceded.

She remembered her father leading her by the hand while she craned her neck at the enormity and beauty of the church, the large colourful windows, the high ceiling, the way the light floated in like fairy dust to settle amongst rows of filled wooden pews of men and  women dressed in suits and frocks and hats. Yes, her pale-blue dress that hung to her ankles was stiff and starchy and whooshed and rustled when she walked, but she felt like she had fitted in, like she had belonged. But where was her hat she had wondered, looking up at her father whose eyes stayed forward and his expression stoic. This she reminded herself to ask mum later. Being four years old was not too young for a hat, she had decided.

Her father led her to a seat in the front row under the watchful eye of Mrs. Myrtle, who sat facing her from the first seat in the choir, while he went off to fulfill his duties as an elder of the church. Mrs. Myrtle looked as wicked as a scarecrow with a voice as rough as a cement mixer, but sang her heart out in the choir as if the day of judgement had arrived and her effort could earn her a place in the kingdom … and perhaps it did.

So why now was she being punished like this, even after a lifetime of heartache? This was as Father James had preached at almost every service, “Her cross to bear,” and bear she would. What choice did she have? She sighed and breathed out, willing her strength to return. She would fight, she had to. Yes, the cancer was spreading but she would be damned if she would let that control her.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

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It was one of those days, you know … when you wake up of your own accord. Not with the sound of a noisy alarm clock beeping its high pitched tone into your ears, or a screaming baby needing your attention, or stern tones of a wife wanting you to help with whatever she needed help with, but with the soft chirping of birds flying freely outside the window; the night making way for another day—a day without the grind of your day job. The house is silent.

Your morning cuppa goes down a treat and you can smell the jasmine you planted last spring, airing its fragrance around you as you stand on the deck outside admiring your garden. All is still and peaceful. The perfect morning.

The sun begins to warm you and you feel carefree. It takes you back to your teenage years, before the manic of life took its hold on you. You stand and stare, enjoying the peace and tranquillity. The good old days.

Then you hear the crying coming from her bedroom and you are brought back quickly. You wait momentarily to see if it stops. It doesn’t. You make your way to her. You’re soon joined by your other half and together you tackle the morning duties—feeding, cleaning, caring and the like—but the crying still doesn’t stop. By afternoon, your temper starts to fray like a severed rope, and comments from the other side seem to push you closer to the edge.

‘Don’t feed her like that. Don’t hold her like that. No, you’re doing it wrong. The doctor said you should …’

Eventually it gets too much for you and you lash out, soaring your voice above the crying to be heard, saying things that eat into the integrity of your marriage. You yell accusations, casting blame on her that she caused this. You can’t let her have the last word, so you yell louder until your tone is unrecognisable and your eyes glare with determination. Then that moment, the moment that defines who you are, stares you in the face and taunts you, daring you to make that decision … Today is the worst day of your life.

*  *  *

I woke when I heard her crying, as I did every morning. Simon was already up, which was unusual. He normally slept in and I tended to Lily. But he came in from outside, coffee cup in hand and met me at her door.

‘What were you doing?’ I asked.

‘Just thinking,’ he said.

It struck me as odd that he was up. Simon only ever looked after Simon. But I was happy for the help and I needed him now more than ever. His constant absence meant I needed to spell things out to him about looking after his sick daughter. He was a fish out of water at home and generally not happy.

It wasn’t long before we started to argue about stuff, the usual kinda stuff. Lily kept crying and our arguments intensified. I just wanted him to understand what I went through everyday. I needed his help and support and not only on the weekends.

Lily’s crying increased in protest of our arguing and then … Simon seemed to change. His face red with fury; his voice hoarse from yelling abuse; and, his eyes fixed on her. I tried. With God as my witness I tried. But I was too slow. I knew the reality of our home situation was a lot for him to deal with, along with his work, but who would have thought he’d—

I miss Lily.

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I remember grabbing Mr. B my teddy for comfort. He was my soft and cuddly place, my courage when I was scared, a good source of entertainment when I was bored, and a confidant—always a good listener when things at home were crazy.

The house was quiet, except for the howl of the wind outside and some shuffling sounds from the lounge. I could feel a change in the mood, like a bad smell seeping through the air turning everything unpleasant and I grew nervous. I pressed Mr. B to my chest and edged my way along the dark hallway towards the soft, gentle, triangle of light that rested neatly at the doorway entrance. My footsteps were silent against the thin layer of carpet but I could do nothing to dampen the thunderous beat of my heart. Still, I moved hesitantly towards the doorway, ignoring the strong urge to turn back and find sanctuary under the blankets on my bed before it was too late. Something was wrong, I could feel it, and I needed to find out. I waited for my eyes to adjust before I cautiously peeped around the corner.

Mum sat naked and slouched on the couch, her head buried in her hands, tendrils of long brown hair trapped between her fingers. She looked pale against the light. She was crying. Instinctively, she looked up, her tear-filled eyes locking onto mine for a moment before quickly averting to the floor where she searched and grabbed an item of clothing for cover. But I had seen the shame as clearly as I could feel the guilt in her presence, and the naked truth of our lives would be forever captured in that one sad moment, a moment that would later replay itself over and over in my mind as the years passed, and would play an integral part in my childhood and my future.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

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I resent my dad. Well, there’s not much to tell except that I vowed never to be like him. Any decent man steps up and takes responsibility, right, Doc? Not my father. He walked out on us, the coward. Didn’t even try to reconcile with Mum. I wonder if Mum tried? She never did say, so I guess not.

I remember the rain bucketing down that night he left. My father’s tall, dark frame cutting through the torrent, deflecting the heavy rain drops that bounced off him like bullets against Superman’s body, disappearing from the view of my bedroom window, vanishing into the darkness.

He didn’t even look back. If he had, he would’ve seen my face, wide-eyed and curious, pressed up against the glass, bewildered. At the time I thought he was coming back, probably just gone to the shops, or gone to see a man about something or other, as he would always tell Mum. Little did I know it would be the last time I would ever see him, and not even a goodbye. I mean, what am I supposed to think? The man I loved and adored couldn’t give a damn about his own flesh and blood. What kind of a man is that? Certainly not the man I want to be.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

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The outside porch light gleamed off his beady eyes and his smile worked hard at masking his guilefulness. The reverend stood upright and tall. For a man over fifty he had not a grey hair in sight. Instead, boasted a perfectly combed mop of brown hair and a perfectly straight set of glowing white teeth. He reached out and shook my hand, his gold watch gleaming with reflected light. Needless to say, I now knew where all the Sunday collection money was going―straight on the reverend’s looks.

‘May I come in?’

‘Yes, of course. Nicole and the girls are already asleep. Do you want me to wake them?’

‘No, no, it’s you I want to speak with.’

‘Great!’ I thought.

The reverend glided past me, his smile still in place, and a waft of heavy cologne left hanging in his trail—his demeanour projecting himself more as a used car salesman than a man of the cloth.

Now, I’m a person who believes in respect and manners and it didn’t seem fit to kick a man of faith out of my own house, especially when his wife played an integral part in helping my daughters live their lives. So I just sat there and indulged him.

We moved into the lounge and I invited him to sit. Of course he took the seat directly opposite me and right in line with the TV so I was obliged to turn it off and keep my eyes focused on him. It was already going bad and we hadn’t even started yet. He placed his briefcase onto the table but still held on tightly to his bible. He regarded me for a long time.

‘Would you like something to eat?’ I asked.

‘I’m fine, thanks. Tracy cooked up a storm in the kitchen tonight. She really outdid herself, so I’m quite comfortable.’ He patted his stomach, which folded over his belt buckle like rising bread dough out of a baking tin. ‘Gosh, I’m a lucky man, Edwin. She’s a truly wonderful person, isn’t she?’ He looked at me expectantly.

‘Drink? Beer?’ I asked, sidestepping his question, hoping, in fact praying, pardon the pun, that he’d accept so that I could have one to take the edge off. God knows I needed  it.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

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Mum was always gone to work before I left for school, and returned home around dinner time. I was a lonely child and I remember purposely getting into trouble just to get detention so I had someone to talk to for an hour after school. I did everything wrong―spoke out of turn to the teachers, disturbed the kids during class—you name it, I did it. It was all for attention. Needless to say, I gained a bad reputation for it. I was one of those troublesome kids that parents usually warn their children to stay away from, the one the teachers usually use as an example for the others to stay in line. But in my mind, the detention was worth it. A little bit of company was nice and spared me the loneliness and boredom of being in an empty house for a while. I guess the punishment was more on the teachers, those who drew the unfortunate short straw, grumpily sitting in the detention room with me answering a relentless barrage of questions that came with my bored, enquiring mind, even though they had their own work they planned to catch up on. What could they do to stop my chatter? Give me more detention and themselves more punishment? I think not.

Oh, you might think that the freedom of not having parents around after school would be a dream come true, that you get to do whatever you want—no chores, no homework, just playing or relaxing or watching television. And yes, it was nice on occasion, but I would have traded it all to have Mum at home, and even further still, would have traded my soul to have Dad at home. I wished someone was there to tell me to do my chores or tidy my room or to help me with my homework, to make me feel like a normal child doing normal things. But it wasn’t like that. I had to see to myself, pack my own lunch in the mornings, do my homework without any help in the afternoons and sometimes even wash my dirty uniform if I managed to be too playful in the schoolyard. There wasn’t any point advertising how poor I was by wearing the old scrubby uniform all week because that would only lead to more trouble.

And when Mum arrived home from work, I would run to her like an over-excited, tail-wagging puppy, but she would only acknowledge me by asking for her glass and her bottle of red and to give her space and time to unwind after a hard day, saying that she would spend time with me soon. I’ll give you one guess how that turned out.

And that illusion I had of Dad returning, with that big old smile he usually wore, to wander into the lounge room and scoop me up into his arms and ruffle my hair, to tell me some crazy joke he learned at work about some guy that walked into a bar, soon turned to resentment and then hate as the years passed by and I grew older and my life became harder. All I wanted to do if he was ever to come back into our house again was to tell him exactly how I felt … with my fists.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann


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