Sunday, November 30, 2008

NANO--Day Whatever

I'm writing again, but I'm expecting a much more reasonable word goal from myself this time around. I had to backtrack about a 1,000 words and start again. I went wrong, and I couldn't continue until I got back on track.

My brother Mike would have been 39 today. The novel I'm writing is my birthday present to him, and will be dedicated to him once I finish. Here's a short snippet from it.

First draft. Please don't quote or repost. Thanks.

The sound of singing drew her. Katie stopped and listened. The singing seemed to come from somewhere to the right and up a short rise. Brush obscured her vision of what might lie beyond that rise. She hesitated, reluctant to leave the road, the only sign of civilization she’d seen, but the music was like a siren song. She plunged off the road and into deeper snow, picking a way through the snagging branches and uncertain footing to the top of the rise.

The first thing Katie saw was the soaring majesty of an evergreen, at least ten feet in height, perfectly shaped, and loaded with decorations on its lower branches. The next thing she saw was the people who surrounded the tree, placing decorations on its branches and singing a song that seemed full of minor keys but somehow didn’t sound like a dirge. Someone played a small tin whistle that inserted a metallic punctuation to the rise and fall of the voices.

Katie stood, her feet cold in the snow, astonished that anyone would decorate a tree out in the middle of nowhere and sing while they did it. At least thirty to forty people stood around the tree, dressed in warm fur coverings, leggings, and knee-high boots, and with colorful scarves covered with intricate designs.

Crunching snow to her left drew her gaze. A girl about her own age, red hair framing her face, freckles across her nose, approached her. The girl’s expression was open and friendly.

“Hello!” the girl said. “I’ve not seen you here before. Have you come to make your wish?”

“Wish?” Katie repeated.

“Yes. This is the Wishing Tree. Did you bring your decoration?”

“I’m sorry, I have nothing,” Katie said.

“Oh!” the girl said. She reached inside her fur coat and brought out a tiny doll made of sticks and cloth. “Here. I brought her in case someone lost or broke their decoration. You can have her.”

Since the girl held out the doll with an expectant look on her face, Katie took it. She looked at the doll and marveled over the handiwork. The doll wore a cloth dress that seemed to be made of some pliant leather and decorated with the same kind of intricate designs she saw on the girl’s scarf. The doll’s face was hand-painted and very detailed.

Katie looked up at the girl, lost. “What should I wish for?”

The girl cocked her head. “Surely you must have some desire in your heart.”

I only want one thing, Katie thought. I want my sister back.

The intensity of her expression must have caught the girl’s attention. She reached out and caught Katie’s sleeve. “Be careful what you wish for,” she said. “Do not wish for the impossible, for it can only lead to pain.”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Oh, yeah. Happy Thanksgiving!

What I'm thankful for---that I still have something to say, even if I am typing like a one-handed juggler with an itch.

NANO Update---Arguing with Myself

Part of the problem, besides the tendonitis issue in the arm, is the subject matter of my new novel. I'm attempting to tackle suicide and its aftermath head-on, and I'm flinching.

I'll get around it. But it may take me a week or two. I am writing--but snails would walk faster on a sidewalk smeared with molasses.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NANO- Day Four - Moderately Upward Trend

Word Count: 580

Total Count: 3,380

Not a sterling word count, but at least it's going in the right direction.

First draft, please don't quote or repost.


The long howl of wolves broke through her shock. She ran, blind in her panic, slipping and sliding in the snow, trying to find a place—anyplace—to hide. The featureless landscape turned out to be not so featureless. She fell off a rise onto lower ground. She struggled to her feet, sputtering, cold snow finding its way beneath her clothing. Katie floundered in thigh-deep snow. To her left, a low stone retaining wall rose out of the snow, and to her right the land fell away to a deep ditch. She realized with a sense of shock that she stood on a road, and that the howling of wolves drew near on that road.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NANO Day Three--- Ick.

Count: 200 words
Total Count: 2,800

It's obvious the EDJ is going to interfere with the great word count I was getting over the weekend (notice how I've changed my tune about the 1,300 words?--looking better all the time!). Not just yesterday's count--I'm factoring in how I'm doing this evening, even though you don't see that word count yet.

I just can't take a marathon session of sitting and typing after doing that all day for the EDJ.

First draft, please don't quote or repost.


The farther she moved into the woods, the more strange they seemed. Katie had lost her sense of direction, and it added to her sense of strangeness to see no tracks and no other indication anyone was in these woods but herself. It came to her what a rash thing she did rushing after a unknown figure in the middle of the night. As the thought crossed her mind, she saw the dark figure ahead. Katie stopped. Mel stood there, her dark hair and clothing tossed by an unfelt, unseen wind. Her expression of pain and sorrow tore at Katie’s heart.

“Mel, it’s me,” Katie said in a shaky voice.

Her sister held out her hand, and started to fade from sight.

Mel!” Katie screamed, and she lurched forward, reaching for that outstretched hand.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NANO Day Two-- Well.

I eked out the same wordcount as yesterday.

1,300 words

Total count: 2,600

Guess that's twice better than nothing, which is what I have been getting.

Little bit of snippet--first draft, please don't quote or repost.
The crying drew her to the living room. Mel stood in front of the Christmas tree, trying to lift phantom ornaments to hang from its branches. Her long dark hair, once her pride and joy, nearly obscured her face in a tangled mess. She turned to look at Katie, tears running down white cheeks, eyes wild.

“Help me!,” she said. “Katie, help me, please!”

With a cry, Katie woke. A sense of dizzy disorientation shook her when Katie realized she stood in the dark living room near the bare Christmas tree. She turned to see that the rest of the house was dark and still. The hour must have been late. She could hear Dad’s light snore. They were in bed asleep. Katie turned back to the tree, and her gaze focused on the bay window beyond. Moonlight bouncing off the snowpack lit up the outdoors quite well. She had no trouble seeing the dark figure that stood by the barn and looked up at the house.

The breath left Katie in a rush, then returned with her deep inhale. “Mel?” she whispered.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NANO - Day One - Where the Rubber Meets the Road

So I got started late. I've been having difficulty lately with pain in the hips and back. The pain is starting to subside, so I'm hopeful I can spend longer sessions at the computer.

Here's a snippet from what I'm working on for How to Think Sideways. Doesn't exactly meet the NANO qualifications, except that I only put word one down yesterday, but hey, NANO is whatever you make it, right? This is my NANO.

Goal is 1700 words a day. Thankful for what I get.

November 15, 2008: 1,300 words

First draft, certainly subject to change. Please don't quote or repost.

Katie Medina gave Suttonsville a huge thumbs down. She called it Sucksville, but under her breath, where her parents couldn’t hear. The people were dull, and her new classmates uninteresting. Except when they were thinking of new and creative ways to snub her.

She stared out her bedroom window. Dad had brought them to live here—on a farm, of all things! Okay, a non-working farm, but still. Her bedroom looked out over the tangled growth of wood that stretched for miles from the backside of the decrepit old barn she could see to her right if she strained her vision. The woods drew her attention—the depths seemed to change with the movement of sun and shadow and become a completely different place every time she looked. As if it moved while she wasn’t looking.

Today, the woods were quiet. Snow covered the ground, painting the stark branches white on top. The interior of the woods seemed darker than ever against the white contrast of the snow in the farm yard.

Katie turned to her bedroom. Peeling wallpaper, deep casement windows with wood some enterprising soul had painted white, and wide plank floors painted gray. Highly unsatisfactory. The memory of her old bedroom, up-to-date and modern, with apple-green walls and windows that you could raise without jerking and straining brought a kernel of anger to the back of her throat. At least she had the second floor of the farmhouse all to herself. Her parents slept in a large echoing room at the back of the house at ground level.

Restless, Katie took the creaking stairs down to the main floor and through the hall toward the kitchen. The Christmas tree stood in front of the bay window in the living room, still unadorned. Katie passed by, hurt ballooning in her chest. Mel had always been the one to decorate the tree, harassing Katie until she helped. Not this Christmas tree. She realized with a sense of shock that Mel would never see her handiwork in front of this bay window, lit and glowing. Mel would never decorate a tree ever again.

Monday, November 10, 2008

By George, I think she's got it!

I think I've finally found the one--you know, the one idea for a story that grabs you and won't let go. I've been struggling to find the one story I wanted to write for the How to Think Sideways class. I've storyboarded two so far, but something about them just didn't appeal.

Then, yesterday afternoon, it hit me what I wanted to write about.

As soon as I have a substantial snippet, I'll post.