Thursday, October 15, 2015
Canvas Bound by Laura M. Kolar
Canvas Bound by Laura M. Kolar
Sixteen-year-old Libby Tanner’s art comes to life. Her painted skies turn from day to night, leaves rustle on trees, and sometimes, a mystery boy appears.
While attending England’s Aldridge Art Academy, Libby meets charming Brent Henderson, a performing arts student who showers her with attention. But his rival, gorgeous Dean James, is the one who occupies her mind, even though he’s very much attached to his current girlfriend.
Libby soon learns there’s more to both Brent and Dean than she ever imagined. In order to save her future and the boy who’s captured her heart, she must unlock the secrets behind her art by entering the most dangerous place of all… the world within her paintings.
But once she steps into the canvas, she risks being trapped forever.
The early afternoon sun cascaded in through the bare window as I sat alone in my studio. The hazy golden glow surrounded me, warming my face. We’d already gotten a few inches of snow, but the crisp white blanket dappled with a jewel-like shimmer inspired me rather than chilled me.
I’d almost finished a snowy bridge scene. The honey-colored stone pillars and iron railings of the bridge blended effortlessly with the trees in the background, glistening in the burnt-orange sunlight. With a final dab of dark purple, the painting was complete. Hope bubbled inside me when delicate white flakes began to float down inside the canvas. I shivered, then held my breath until the last snowflake fell, but my mystery boy never came, and the painting went still once again.
“As if I didn’t have enough going on right now.” I smacked my paintbrush down on the easel.
“You couldn’t show up just this once when I’d really like to see you.”
You’re losing it, Libby. Or maybe it’s already gone?
It’d been over two months since I’d painted the orchard and seen my mystery boy, and I sometimes wondered if the magic was lost to me. Even my classwork lacked... something.
My mind was so unsettled and my painting so sporadic lately that I ached deep inside. I was so disconnected... from him.
When I was sure nothing more would happen within the bridge scene, I set the whole thing aside and gathered my paint-soaked brushes. The colors spilled down the drain as I washed the brushes, wishing the murky swirl would carry my sorrow away with the pretty hues. I glanced over at the picture of my parents. If I’d been in the same mood at home, my mom would force me out of my studio. We’d go get ice cream and pedicures, and when we got home, an empty canvas would be waiting for me on my easel.
I intended to walk away and do something else for a while, but I couldn’t. Without someone there to distract me, I was a slave to the canvases lining my wall, waiting to be painted. I placed one of them on the easel then dragged my fingertips across the clean, taut cloth.
It shimmered like the sun setting in the horizon, with vibrant pinks, yellows, oranges, and even some purples. I jerked my hand away, and the canvas went blank again.
That’s never happened before.
My pulse quickened as an image formed in my head. I rushed to open my paints and fumbled with the brushes as I set to work. As if the image would be lost if I didn’t go fast enough, my hand flew from my palette to the canvas and back again.
By the time I was done several hours later, my hands and neck were stiff, and my jeans and T-shirt were ruined. But I didn’t care. All I cared about was that he was there, leaning against a tree.
The tree’s leaves had turned burnt sienna and ocher where it stood at the edge of a wide creek. The iridescent water in the creek glided over the rocks in its path, determined, flowing to an unknown destination. In the distance, the sandy slopes of a hill rose just high enough to allow the sun to shine down on the tall grass.
I reached out and brushed my fingertips across the painting. It shimmered as the boy looked up, his eyes widening in surprise. Then he scowled and shook his head. He pushed away from the knotted trunk of a massive walnut tree, turned his back to me, and vanished. The leaves on the tree rustled, and the ground beneath it quaked. The large tree came crashing down inside the painting, falling directly over the creek. Then everything froze, as if I’d painted it that way.
My heart sank, and tears pricked my eyes. I wanted him back. I wanted to know why he seemed so miserable. And most of all, I wanted to know why he was in my paintings in the first place.
In the beginning
It was a dark and stormy night
Long ago and far away
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
Call me Ishmael
You get the idea.
A question I get asked a lot when I tell someone I write, is how do I start the story? How do I know what words to put first on the page? This isn’t easy for me to answer because every story is different. Normally, I write linearly, as in page one to ‘The End’, but the last two stories I’ve written as the scenes have come to me and the beginning wasn’t the first thing I wrote.
I have found it helpful to figure out who the key characters are in the story and what I want the reader to know about them right away as opposed to something I want the reader to find out as the story unfolds. For example, if your main character is a mechanic, you could start the story with them staring at a pan of dirty oil and remembering or noticing something intriguing that gives the reader some insight into the character’s personality. But later you find out they’re not really a mechanic, they’re in a witness protection program and only know about cars because they were some mobster’s driver.
One thing I’ve never done is start a story with dialog, though other authors like this format. I personally feel it’s a bit too abrupt to start with people talking and not even know who they are in order to get a feel for how the dialog should be read, happy, mad, psychotic. A couple I started with what’s considered a ‘cliché’, the girl woke up from a dream, the boy stood in front of a mirror (they’ve since been changed). I’m not saying that’s right or wrong (I’m not saying any of this is right or wrong), but I’ve heard that agents and publishers shy away from these types of beginnings. I think mostly because they’re not very original ideas.
Some writers like to introduce secondary characters right away and some like to hold off a few pages or even a chapter. Also, if you’re writing from two points of view, deciding which character to start with is a whole other dilemma because you kind of have to start two separate stories.
Then, once you’ve gotten through all of that, you have to actually sit down and write the first words. Are they funny? Are they thought provoking? Do they make any sense at all to anyone but you? The very first book I wrote started, My name is Charlie Murphy and I just got dumped. Is it good? Is it bad? I suppose that depends on how much you want to know about Charlie. (By the way, he’s a super sweet guy. The kind every mother wants for her daughter.) At any rate, if you haven’t figured it out already, the first words are quite possibly the hardest to write.
Then again, Once upon a time has a nice ring to it.
Laura M. Kolar lives with her husband and daughter in a one-stop-light town in northern-lower Michigan. Though she didn't discover her love of books until she turned thirty, as a self-declared hopeless romantic, she has spent the past few years reading and writing stories with mostly happy endings. If not at her day-job or with her family, you will find her sipping a cup of chai latte while sitting in her favorite rocking chair, hunched over her laptop writing or spending entirely too much time on Twitter.