#NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (Day 3, 2015)

The weather was agnostic.  There was no commitment to any particular sort of forecast, not even short term, except for the leaves.  Those things couldn’t hold water.  The trees were showing their colors.  Ditches on both sides of the road spilled over with their fallen vestiges, and the skies made their cards known with clouds, as still as ever, dark but not foreboding, standing sentry duty.  No rain, bright sky, but no sun to be found.  Macon knew winter was close, but the air was still polite and her hands could stand to be without gloves.  She drove the roads at dusk.

 
She left the radio off and focused on the taillights fifty yards ahead.  “Focus on the taillights of the car in front of you and you won’t have to worry about staying in the center of the road; you just will.”  She remembered the lessons her foster dad tried to teach her.  She’d heard horrible stories about foster families over the years, but hers was one of salvation.  Her only regret was that she hadn’t been placed with them sooner.

 
A trio of Lodgepole pine trees presented themselves from the other side of the bend in the road up ahead.  Two were upright while the third leaned in as if preparing to tell a secret to the others.  She rounded the corner and caught a sip of the Hood Canal before more pines crowded in to block her view.  Another opening and she glimpsed one of the Olympic peaks, “The Brothers,” she recalled, before the sign ahead offered “Fresh Steak Gyros.”  She slowed and pulled in, parking where the gas pumps had been many years ago.


PrintTune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

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#NaNoWriMo 2nd Verse, Same as the First

Keep in mind, the purpose of WriMo is to write, not edit.  Editing is for December … or January if you’re still finishing in December.  Point is, I’m not editing these “snippets” before I post them.  There will be no “set up” for the scenes.  Just raw, unadulterated, first draft train wreck coming at you for the next 29 days.   If that sounds familiar, you may recall my NaNoWriMo posts from last near.  Here’s the daily:

It was well into one o’clock on a Tuesday.  Apparently hers wasn’t the only office with a soap opera playing out in the staff lounge where idiots acted like their mothers worked there.  It took twice as long to drive the main strip, the coffee shop only two miles away.  Halfway there as sign read, “Hold’Em Tables Tuesdays @ Two”  If not for traffic at a standstill for nearly a minute, she probably wouldn’t have noticed.  If not for the drive through coffee shack in the bar’s parking lot, she probably wouldn’t have stopped.

The kid at the window was chewing a wad of gum that looked like he’d shoved the whole pack in his mouth.  She wondered why he wasn’t in school, but their first verbal exchange explained it.

“Tired o’ waiting in traffic, eh?” he flipped a paper coffee cup like Tom Cruise in that 90’s movie.

“I don’t usually leave the office this time of day.  Is it always like this?” she nodded back at the road as a Mercedes and a Volkswagen Bug entering the lot caught her peripheral vision.

“Coffee rush hour.  No joke.  It varies throughout the week, but every Monday – from seven to eight, from ten to eleven, and just a tick past lunch, they come out.”  He scratched his head, and shrugged.

Zombies in search of a cup of caffeine brains, she thought.  Herself among them.  “Why no line at your window?”  she was getting tired of this conversation already.  She glanced at the letter sized, laminated paper that served as a menu below the window’s sliding glass.  Three choices were offered, all of them the same price.  Before he could answer she blurted, “Are you kidding me – a buck fifty for a coffee?”

He smiled and pointed to his name tag.  She hand’t paid attention to it yet.  She read his name, and below it in smaller print, “Owner.”  He said, “You got it dude.  It’s a long story, but I’ll keep it short.  You get what you pay for; the coffee here sucks.  I guess word’s gotten around to most the regulars at this hour.  I’ll give you a break, you not being a regular.  You should go into Smitty’s.  They have better coffee than burgers and, I’d say they have the best coffee for at least twenty blocks in all directions.”

“I was hoping to grab and go, Stuart,” she motioned to her watch, “people are expecting me back.”  Before she could shift into gear, however, he caught her by surprise.

“How old do you think I am?”  he asked, leaning a little out the window.

“I don’t know,” she answered without a beat, but paused before releasing the clutch.

“I’m nineteen.  Do you know how I bought this, my first business?”

She was getting antsy.  How did this hour, this moment, get so out of line?  She just wanted a coffee.  Maybe she’d just break down and make a thermos in the morning.  Those Keurig machines were on sale at Costco.  She couldn’t bring herself to buy into so much waste – a whole plastic and paper capsule for each cup.  Where was the landfill going to be found.  Is this why they were going to Mars?  She felt a long, beleaguered sigh escape as she answered, “How would I know that?”

“I won big at cards as soon as I turned eighteen.  Now I’m not even that good, but I can read people.  You don’t like a lot of small talk.  You have a little problem with OCD, although you wouldn’t know it to look at your car.  Ever think about getting one of those yearly car wash memberships?  I mean, you can afford it, even though you drive a low-end car.  See I know all that from observing you.  I know, right?  I’m not what anyone expects.  Kinda’ why I get along at poker. So when you look at your watch and tell me you gotta’ get back?  I see someone who just wants to leave this place, really, and maybe get the coffee somewhere.  But lady, oh um, excuse me, ma’am?  You don’t really care about getting back.  I’m just sayin’.”

Now this, she thought, this was good.  A refreshing surprise – this kid.  Rude and obnoxious, not very clean, granted.  Still, she was intrigued.  She actually allowed a smile as she said, “Tell me, Stuart,”

“Stew,” he interrupted, “You can call me Stew.  I’m really sorry for the ‘lady’ routine.  Table talk.  Got a game in ten minutes.  Yeah, call me Stew.”

“Right.  Stew.  Tell me please, if you know so much from our brief interaction here, what makes you think I’d rather be in a bar,” she motioned to Smitty’s and smirked, “correction – a run down bar, probably full of smoke and bad jukebox music (I’m thinking George Jones era Country Western from the looks of it) instead of a posh coffee shop with free wi fi?”

Stew plunged his hands in his pockets and gave a head bob of defeat.  “That I don’t know.  I should have guessed from the OCD thing maybe.  Then again there’s the car.  Do you know you have like,” he paused and appeared to be counting, “five crumpled Whataburger bags in your back seat?  I don’t know.  I don’t really think that far out when I’m postulating.  I already told ya’ I get by at poker.  I’m not great.”

She put the car back in neutral, pulled the brake, and stuck her hand out the window with another smirk.  “Macon Belfair,” she announced.

This move caught him off guard and drained all confidence he’d been faking.  “Stew Graves, serious as a heart attack,” he placed his now sweaty palm in hers and gave a weak shake before pulling it back and blushing.

This time, she waited a beat, stumped for that short time.  Finally, “Why would you not be serious about your name?  Did I miss something?”

“Table talk again.  Speaking of – why don’t you just park and come check it out?  There’s no smoking inside.  They don’t  allow the jukebox or TVs while they have the game, for real.  That’s why they do it at two.  Used to be at six thirty and people complained it was too loud.  What are they gonna’ do, make it quiet as a cemetery while people are trying to enjoy their happy hour after their eight or ten lousy hours?”  He was cleaning off his counter and unplugging his machine as he spoke.  “Anyway, I wasn’t joking about the coffee.  Smit Jr. drinks it non-stop from noon to four and he’s pretty picky about it.  They don’t have all the flavor fluff you got at these other places, but you’ll see if you come it.  It smells up the place and, I mean, it smells good.  Smit says he read somewhere that’s the real benefit of coffee to a human body anyways, the olfactory job it does on us.”

“Okay.” she caught herself by surprise as her body complied with her answer, dropped the brake and shifted into first, “Just for coffee though.”  She meant she wasn’t going to join in the poker game, since he’d been talking about it as much as the coffee.  She could tell by his look of fear that he thought she meant something else, but she’d already started rolling forward too far to explain.  Now she was blushing.  She laughed out loud in her solitary trash mobile after turning off the engine and grabbing her wallet.  Most people didn’t get her.  She thought she actually liked it that way.  If they didn’t know her, she didn’t have to put forth the effort to get to know them only to find out that she thought they were idiots and should take a long leap off a short pier.  She didn’t turn on charm unless it served a purpose for business … or pleasure with no commitments.  This kid had made her smile twice, surprised her more than once, and here she was, blushing from a mishap in her verbal communication.  She hadn’t turned on the charm for the usual reasons; she was after all old enough to be his mother.  He’d charmed her into being charming.  “Tricky kid,” she said aloud.

 

Another NaNoWriMo! Who is With Me!?

Today starts that crazy 30 days of scratching your brain and rearranging your daily schedules to find the time and discipline to crank out 1660 words a day, or a whopping 50K words for the National Novel Writing Month.  I have participated for several years and finally made the count last year.  Anyone can play (I’m smirking), so check out the website at nanowrimo.org and get started.

I don’t have the sense of direction I had last year.  I had plot lines scribbled and edited all over my house and stacks of books for exoplanets and astronomy (the story was sci-fi), character sketches and even artistic pictures of the scenery in my head.  This year I have a character, a hint of an idea, and an interest in professional poker to go with.  I also have this foggy idea that this will be a literary novel, and am going to pull from my popular post on this blog “Doom Pie,” somehow.  I’m “pantsing” it this year.  I’ll post snippets daily like before, in no particular order.  Here’s the first 204 words:

People told her to smile as a kid.  She wasn’t unhappy.  She found little use for the palette of emotional expression that most people employed.  She felt the same about small-talk.  She’d wasted so much youth speaking in trivialities with adults; she didn’t want to be trite in her own adulthood.  The table was the only exception to this rule.

When content her face stayed relaxed, no hint of an upwards slant in the cheeks, no pursing of the lips.  Happiness looked no different but for a sparkle in her eyes if one looked close enough.  If anger seethed in every part of her body, her face betrayed nothing of the inferno lurking beneath.  It wasn’t that she wore a mask – everyone else wore too many, substituting facades as it pleased them.  Millions of one-man vaudeville shows for the world audience.  She wasn’t big on theatrics.  Control was her thing.

Confusion, her most common state in social settings, required an exhausting effort.  Her forehead bunched and by her twenties she’d noticed a crease was fully formed there.

To make this pillar of composure laugh made the whole world do a standing ovation in your soul.  To play poker with her would wreck your bankroll.

L. Frank Baum, 1899

Writing & Blogging: Lessons Learned in NaNoWriMo2014

If you are a writer, an author, a novelist, or interested at all in the literary world, you know that November marked the popular National Novel Writing Month, or as it is more affectionately (or vehemently) known – NaNoWriMo.  This was my third year participating in the event where writers from all over the world commit to a monthly word count goal of fifty thousand words.  This was the first time I won; I wrote over 50K words and am still going.  But more importantly, I learn a few things from the experience.

1. Keeping a daily writing habit is essential. 

Doesn’t matter if the material is not my best, or even crappy.  Putting my body and mind in the habit of writing something, anything, everyday knocks the idea of writer’s block off its rocker a little.  It means I don’t worry about quality so much as quantity for this exercise.  If you wrap that whole philosophy up into a little stocking stuffer – it means you tend to be looser, more limber, and can step into the ring looking like a buff, energetic writing monster.  It means quality will come easier.

2. Setting a daily minimum keeps me honest. 

Otherwise, I can subscribe to the idea of daily writing and then cheat out a sentence or two and call it a day.  Maybe you don’t have this problem.  I do.  So even if I set a low 500 word count minimum, I can do the math on how much content that gets me in a year and be happy that I’m on board.  With the day job, I think 500 – 1K is reasonable depending on your genre.  I intend on upping that to 3K – 4K when I go full bathrobe writer in 45 days.

3. First draft writing is important for building confidence.

Before my first 50K on one project, I always wrote as if doing a term paper the night before its due.  I wrote, edited, rewrote, wrote some more, polished that, etc.  By the time I got to the ending, I had lovely content leading up to it and the “grand finale” of finishing and being done at the same time was wonderful.  But facing such a large project, I had trouble.  My first two NaNo years were hell because I couldn’t let go and just type.  I made it to about 3K the first time, and only 8K the second.  I knew that I needed to prove to myself that I could tackle a project as large as a novel before resigning and becoming (for all intents and purposes) unemployed.

So this time (and as many of my blog posts display for all to see) I just threw caution to the wind and made myself ignore aspects I wanted to go back and change after a few paragraphs.  It required discipline to stay committed to that plan.  It also required that I let go of the control I relish in the creative process for the time being and just vomit the ideas and ramblings that came to me onto the page.  The experience was a watershed moment in my writing practice and I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it to give it a go.

I intend to finish the content of the book this way (probably another 50 – 100K) and then revise for the next two months.  Then I will follow the seasoned advice of many successful and published writers and toss the whole thing in a drawer for a few months.  In June or July (right around the time of Camp NaNoWriMo) I will pull it out and begin learning how to edit and develop a third and fourth draft.  Who knows?  Maybe it will be ready for an agent shortly after that.

4. Truth – “Find a niche for your blog and stick to it.” 

In posting my blog since I moved to Idaho for work in 2013, I’ve watched how interested readers/followers are in what I post.  My original idea was to have a daily snippet of writing, just a morsel, that readers could enjoy in less than a couple of minutes with their coffee. I discovered that I don’t do that well.  (Someone who does that really well is – http://myothervoices.wordpress.com/ although the content is not daily.)   I tried serials, but learned writing them “on-the-spot” daily is embarrassing since I didn’t edit them much prior to posting and later wanted to change the storyline or bury my head from all the typos.

I hadn’t learned that lesson until NaNoWriMo2014.  I posted unedited tidbits from my daily word count climb for all to laugh at and/or find amusing.  But since I slid around in the plot arc so frequently, and since there was no character development provided for a backdrop, it was hard to follow any story or stay hooked.  This was the valuable criticism from my lovely beta-reader and wife.  I agree.

Overarching all of this was the countdown theme.  My wife and I have set a goal for my return home once bills are paid and finances in tune for losing my income.  I thought sharing the experience of the countdown would interest some because, who doesn’t dream of quitting their job and writing full-time?!  I learned that to leverage that, I needed much more focus and time than I could provide to the blog.

My point?  The most popular articles on my blog since starting it are the ones dealing with the writing practice, habit, journey, and frustrations.  I love to write about those things almost as much as I like creating fiction.  So I believe I have found my niche.  Expect blog modifications to follow.

Asrai Blessing: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (The End)

The pilgrims gathered on the bow of the ship as instructed by Larien.  Their traveling things, now much lighter, had been hoisted above their heads to the awaiting dirigible airship above.  Now, they each took turns saying their goodbyes to the Asrai.  To R’Zen and Tboi, Amras said, “Courage and wisdom your honor brings.  I embrace you for certain of times.”  Tboi blushed a pinkish color and R’Zen bowed deeply at the pair.

Larian touched Hoss’s face and cradled it there with a rippling kind of sadness in her face, “So acquainted with loss your strength.”  She turned to Ingrid and said, “A heart must never win where knowledge can sacrifice.”  Ingrid made no sign that she understood, but nodded and hugged the brother and sister.

Each of them taking one of Miriam’s hands, they placed a kiss on both and said, “Stories to tell.  Stories to tell.”  She smiled and shivered, thanking them for their blessing.

Terra felt ticklish again as Larien and Amras both gave her a parting hug.  “Take your care, world woman,” Larien still used the mysterious title, “must needs to find the cure.”  She looked to Ingrid and Miriam for help, but neither had any answers to offer and met her glance only with a shrug or raising of the eyebrows.


This is the last quick read of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.  NaNo conquered.  Next move – additions and revision number one.

 

 

 

Lizard vs Horse: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (29)

Terra was excited.  It was one thing to read about things, even to watch vids on them, but in a short time she was going to actually see, with her own eyes, the beaches of Kepler-Z.  R’Zen, reading her excitement from behind and aching to give his much atrophied legs a good exercise, jogged to her side.  Her horse, startled by the appearance of a fully grown matterhorn gentry suddenly appearing at its side, crow hopped and then calmed back to its original trot.

Participant-2014-Square-Button“N’Sa, apologetic for startling dumb animal,”  he smiled his cantankerous smirk and Terra laughed, not missing his intended irony.  “Beach not far,” he trilled, “if Ms. Terra wish to race.”  He was stripping his leggings and tying them around his neck.  Terra smiled, even giggled a little, then played a game she remembered playing with Ingrid what seemed like so very long ago.

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (28)

Tboi hadn’t spoken or paid much attention to Terra after their disagreement.  Now she reflected upon how nice it felt to have been stuck in the same awkward plight with him.  She smiled her recognition of this when she caught his eyes.  His face, a pleasant mix of relief and contentment, now shifted to one of hurt and disdain.  He looked away and she was bruised by his disgust.

 

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

The Speaking Tree: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (27)

NEEDANAME was a seventh generation folk-teller.  His stories, when he told them, made young and old sit still and stay quiet.  In the early mornings, when most were stretching their muscles, scratching their itches, and hustling to and fro, there was one story he especially liked to tell.  He called it, “The Speaking Tree.”

“When the moon races slower and the Cimarron week is nearly at an end,” he would say, his raspy voice so quiet you had to stop moving in order to hear over the hustle, “there is a MOGUL that lives in a particular tree.”  He would would stand tall and stretch his arms and hands, then freeze, to imitate a tree.  “If you find this tree, you may still never know of this MOGUL, because for one hundred twenty-one days, it never makes a sound.  But if you find it, or happen to be sitting beneath its dwelling tree, you will hear a song and a word or two, and never will you ever be the same again.”

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (26)

 

“Was there a question somewhere, Bishop?” The Maiden’s voice, less mundane than before and with a bite of disgust, sent ice water through Terra’s veins.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

 

Tboi: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (25)

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Tboi.  She liked the sound of his name when she said it.  He’d said her name too.  His words leading up to it had been angry, but not when he said her name.  She closed her eyes, could still hear it, “That’s why we don’t touch the ground, Terra.”  She shortened it.  “That’s why, Terra.”  His voice had softened at her name, had been gentle.  He’d asked her what she was thinking.  She wondered, in the silence that divided them after angry words subsided, what was he thinking.


 

Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

 

Stagecoach Shootout Prelude: NaNoWriMo BotD (24)

“Right.  Anyway, Nog knows the plans, both this one an’ the contingency plan.  If they come at us this way, he knows t’ scuttle the coach.”  He could tell this confused both Terra and Tboi.  “He’ll derail us, so you’ll have t’ make sure yer strapped in on my signal.  Otherwise, Tboi here will be too busy cleaning yer bloody carcasses off an’ trying to heal ya’ to figure out how t’ aim a weapon.”

Ingrid drummed her fingers on the coach wall in irritation and he took the hint, but before he could continue, Terra asked, “If we derail, how will we get away or get to the Depot?”

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“No get away,” hummed R’Zen.  “Must kill all or else.”

 


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

The Matterhorn Gentry – R’Zen: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (23)

“R’Zen,” said Miriam, “Be nice.  She is the product of Ancestrian teaching, but you will find her a very brave and gifted individual.  Give her a chance.” Terra squirmed and continued to weigh her options.

“N’sa,” he hissed with a soft humming, “what difference between Ancestrian and individual?”

Miriam opened her mouth to speak, but Terra beat her to it.  “Individuals can think what they want,” she stuttered as she dropped onto the bench, and purposely scooted as close as his large frame would allow comfortably.  Her defiant look hadn’t quite made it to his eyes yet; she remembered the flicker of orange that surprised her the first time she’d caught a glimpse of his reptilian face upon entering the coach.

A deep rumble churned from his chest and rolled out as a slow laugh that sounded to Terra like he was having a coughing fit while humming.  “Your heart beats pound at me with rapid pace, N’sa.  When finally you meet me, I count you brave as Miriam says.  But you make laughs – so silly.”  His tongue slithered outside the rounded tip of his mouth/nose as he said these last two words, it curled casually upward and then withdrew back into his mouth.  Terra noticed the scales at the edges of his mouth pull upwards as his jaw muscles beneath formed what looked like a smirk.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

Time: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (22)

Baker’s Dozen took an entire day to traverse and although the light of Kepler, the red dwarf sun, still shone on this last of the solar week.  All three seated in this compartment knew the time of day.  Tboi knew, just as all Lorgose knew, because of their uncanny connection to the planet and its stages.  R’Zen knew by virtue of his third eye, his parietal eye, a biological feature of his alien kind, detecting even the slightest differences in light – and he was able to quickly regulate this sensitivity to the lumen cycles of any world he visited.  Bishop Patel knew because of the antique pocket watch he carried.  “It’s got 21 jewels,” he bragged whenever anyone asked him to show it off.  He wound it daily – just three twists – and calibrated it regularly with the pawns of the Planetary Time Counsel or with his friends like R’Zen or Tboi.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

Well of Amundsen: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (21)

They could see for only a hundred yards down and then it was as if the well was a black hole that swallowed light and atoms into a swirl of nothingness.

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Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.

History Long Forgotten: NaNoWriMo Best of the Daily (20)

. . . So it was that they lived in peace and a wonderful new harmony was formed in the marriage between the two dweller peoples.  They became one people, the Lorgose.  Traditions mingled and many stories of the two intertwined and became one.  They often asked me to make known these stories in original form, but time and again I declined.  Participant-2014-Square-ButtonI judged it a blessing and refused to curse these, my kindred.  Still they came, time and again, to ask for a teaching on this matter.  On this sol, I am the only remaining constant who can sort them.  The Maker empowered me for the purpose I’m given.  I watch and I judge, and so my blessing and my curse is this:  I remember everything.


Tune in for quick reads of the best (or least despicable) selections from the previous day’s word count, by virtue of my daily writing regimen for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  WARNING:  editing has not taken place.