Name: Mayken Brünings
Email Address: m.bruenings at web dot de
Age Category: MG
Genre: Magical realism (with sports)
Other Age Categories and Genres You Like to Write: YA Fantasy, YA Magical Realism
Twitter Handle: @MaykenAlanna
Web Presence: http://www.maykenbruenings.com
Chapter Excerpt is From: Chapter 8
500 Word Excerpt:
We all know the ritual. The moment after the starting horn sounds, the hall will erupt into deafening noise again. But right now, all is quiet.
Just as the whistle has switched off the noise, it has switched off my nervousness. I look ahead, at my lane, at the blue and green backstroke flags hanging limply at the five-metre mark.
At the second whistle, we step onto the blocks and take our positions. The silence is almost eerie. I grip the edge of the block and lower my head.
“Take your marks.”
My muscles tense.
An ear-splitting screech explodes in my head, and the next thing I know is I’m in the water, the screeching still piercing my ears.
I’m flailing wildly. I can’t get a grip on anything.
A hand takes hold of my arm, pulls me up. A second hand takes my other arm, and I am lifted out of the water. My ears are hurting from the shrill sound.
I stand beside the block, shaking. The screeching finally stops. I am staring into the face of Coach. His hands hold my shoulders.
“What happened to you, Clare?” he asks.
Behind me the whistle sounds again, and something in my brain clicks.
False start. DQ.
I’m in the showers, still shaking. I’ve been standing under the hot stream of water for at least five minutes. I was unable to speak, even when Coach repeated his question. I didn’t know what happened. I still don’t know.
I can’t remember the last time I did a false start. I’m good at starts. When we do them at practice, I usually end up getting picked for a demonstration.
I’ve also seen video footage of our starts. It’s part of classroom. Angel, Coach’s assistant, films us occasionally at practice, and then we watch the footage together during a classroom session
In the videos, I always seem to fly off the block before the starting signal ends. I have good reflexes, Angel says. Reflexes or reaction times are really important in swimming. On the Provincial level, a fraction of a second can get you in or out of a final, on or off the podium.
The shaking slowly subsides but I still don’t understand what happened. Where did the screeching come from? My mind is numb.
I can’t decide what to do. As a result of the DQ, I’m done for the day. When the shower stops, I slowly return to my seat at the back of our club’s section.
“Got DQ’ed, Clare?”
Sarah. I stop, but I don’t reply.
“I thought you were so good at starts.”
Leave me alone, I want to say. The words are stuck in my throat.
“DQ’ers don’t get onto Provincial, you know?”
“Stop spouting nonsense, Sarah. Coach doesn’t kick people for a single DQ.” Nate stands near the railing.
He glares at Sarah until she turns away, then comes over to me. “You all right?”
I shake my head.
“It happens to everyone,” he says. “There was another false start just now.”
Bio: A trilingual writer, translator, swimmer and full-time working mom of a (so far) bilingual kid with a husband who helps me keep all these things balanced, I write during my lunch breaks in a Parisian café (though to be honest it’s an American café, but it’s in Paris, so that counts, right?). I started reading when my bedtime stories were Pippi Longstocking, and I haven’t stopped since. I’d been writing quietly for years when an illustrator friend pointed me to SCBWI, they set up a conference in Paris of all places, which prompted me to join Twitter, and that’s when I really started learning about writing, revising, querying, CPs and beta-readers and all the rest.
Critiquing Style: I don’t have much critiquing experience to go on yet, but I’m more of a line-editor than a big-picture person. If you need typos weeded out or inconsistencies hunted down, I’m your girl. But give me romance, and I’m utterly useless.