Day Twenty-Two

Home Stretch

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200This is Day Twenty-two. My word count is at 39,707 words. I wrote 3,047 words today, and I’m averaging 1,804 word per day now.

By this time next week, I should have passed the 50,000 word mark for NaNoWriMo-2016 and be well on the way to my personal goal of 60,000. Or, I’ll be done with the first draft.

Things are going along very well. I’ve done my best to lay waste to much of North Carolina (the setting), and develop my main character, Amy. I’m pretty excited about how this is working out.

Some of my writing friends on Twitter are doing well, too. I do my best to encourage and support them as we make our way through this month of writing.

It isn’t as hard as folks might think. And it is. The key is getting started. Once you start, it isn’t hard to keep going. There is the struggle each day to pull up the application and open the document and pick up where you left off. But, that just takes about a half-cup of coffee.

The other day I had this great idea for an epilogue. Yesterday I wrote the epilogue as part of my work. It gave me a finishing framework within which I’ll work the rest of the novel.

So, things are going well, even with a little travel and some interruptions. I’m on track and making progress, and within about 15,000 words of a finish.

Keep writing!

 

Day Fifteen

Halfway

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200This is Day Fifteen. The word count for today is 3,470. I’m averaging 2,019 words per day. My total as of today is: 30,299. This is half way through the month and half way to the end of NaNoWriMo 2016.

If my goal was 50,000 words–which is the goal for NaNoWriMo–I would be three-fifths the way to the word count goal. But, my personal goal is about 60,000 words, so I’m halfway there.

I’m cheerleading friends on Twitter and Facebook. Some even cheer me back, and that is a wonderful thing. I like seeing friends succeed at this as much as I like succeeding at it.

Both Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers, the first two books in the Spirit Missions series, were the result of first drafts done during NaNoWriMo. No, they didn’t go from that to published right away. They went through numerous rewrites, edits, revisions, and more edits. That’s what got them the “Spirit Filled” awards and the great ratings and reviews on Amazon.

So, this project, working title of Alien Alliance, will have a similar process. Edits, rewrites, more edits, revisions, all that. Of course, my wife will be my first reader because … well, she IS my wife. And she deserves a reward for her patience.

The main character, Amy, appeared in the first two books. She was the secondary character to Paul in those, but this time, she’s the main character. There are reasons for that. But, I’m not spilling any beans here. You’ll have to wait for the book to come out.

Can you tell, yet, that I’m having a great time putting this one together? Well, I am. Yeah, there are days when it is hard to sit down and hammer out the story. But, I try to push through. The last two days I’ve logged more than 3,000 words each. That helps. Holidays are coming. I’ll need the buffer.

Keep writing.

 

Day Eight

Day Eight

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200I just finished writing on day eight of NaNoWriMo 2016. So far, I’m averaging a little over 2,000 words per day. Today’s count was 2,150 words. I’m kind of hitting it as a chapter each day. Tomorrow, I’ll start with a fresh chapter. That seems to work pretty well.

So far, the total word count on NaNoWriMo is 16,179. the NaNoWriMo November target is 50,000 words. My personal target is 60,000 words. I should hit that with no problem. I include about 2,000 words in the personal target from some effort prior to NaNoWriMo.

This story uses Amy Grossman’s point of view. She has a bit more internal dialogue than if it was from a male point of view and I’m having a lot of fun with it. The hard part is getting it right when things get tough. And things are getting tough. I’m already thinking of what I have to rewrite tomorrow to do a better job of expressing Amy’s …

Whoops, don’t want to give anything away.

The working title is Alien Alliance. I have a feeling this title won’t work well and a couple of ideas have come up since I started the book.

Those of you who’ve been waiting for this, know that it is in progress. After November, I’ll let it “cool” for a few weeks, then get into the editing, rewriting, and polishing phases. This is a lot of work. I’m hoping to hire my editor again and she’ll help get this story in it’s best shape.

For now, though, I’m hitting it hard every day and increasing the word count. Lots of action. Interesting characters. Can’t wait until we can get this finished and out to the public.

It’s amazing how much fun this can be.

Keep writing.

 

Amy’s Lesson

(This is a short-short story–about 1,500 words–I put together the other day. My thought is to write a third novel following Paul and Amy from Sudden Mission and the sequel, but from Amy’s point of view. So this is an exercise in writing from Amy’s point of view, plus a little view into the dystopian world they live in, and some seasonal fun. Happy Halloween. – GLP)

Amy Grossman shrugged her shoulders against her backpack straps as she entered the small town. The breeze pushed a lock of her auburn hair across her grey eyes and she gently looped it back behind her ear with her right hand.

Aside from the breeze tossing gold and brown leaves and bits of paper around the street, nothing else moved in the town. Empty storefronts looked out on the main street. Windows shattered, doors smashed in, and the products formerly offered for sale inside gone.

They seemed to cry out to the empty streets. Why?

Fall was strong in the air and the early morning frost that coated her sleeping bag was still fresh in Amy’s memory, and just then it made her shiver. Normally, the autumn breeze would bring crisp scents and a promise of harvest and feasts. But this small town had been ravaged by looters, gangs and rovers in the last two years. The smells in and around it held a strong suggestion of decay and rot.

Fortunately, the smells of not-so-freshly dead were long gone.

BOAmy jumped, startled by the sudden rush of breeze and scrape of dry leaves on the sidewalk near an alleyway. She found herself in a fighting stance, holding her bō in an attack position, looking around. She still had nightmares from her experiences on this last summer’s mission trip. The lost souls they went to save, the hellhounds, the battles, the demon, and the possessed–all continued to haunt her daily life.
She remembered there was a term for what she now experienced. Nightmares, jumping at sudden noises, being hyper-vigilant. She just didn’t remember the term. It’s not important now, anyway, she told herself. There isn’t anyone to help me deal with it other than Paul and my family.

She shook it off and continued on. She sought a grocery or hardware store that may still have something useful left. This was the third town in the last few days of foraging. They were having to go further and further from their community each time they sent out foragers. And each time they returned with fewer useful items, less edible foods.

Amy had a short list from the community, most of which she found already. But she still needed to find some tools and some special oil, undamaged clothing, and any edible food.

The community produced almost everything anyone needed from their household gardens and a few small farms. But, they always sought to add any unspoiled canned food and stocks of clothing. Amy could not carry all that back in her backpack, but would note the location of large stocks of clothing, food, or hardware for larger groups who would come later with trucks.

Fuel was rare now so vehicles were only used when absolutely necessary and there was a large cache of supplies to bring in.

She stepped carefully across the threshold of a broken entry door, trying not to make too much noise. Her eyes scanned the dingy, dark interior of the former hardware store.

#

Nothing moved.

She didn’t expect to find much on the shelves. Most were cleared of anything useful. Everything left behind was damaged or destroyed and joined the detritus covering the shelves and floor of the store. She moved carefully toward the rear of the store and found the door to the back room. This is where stock was kept until brought out to the shelves. Looters often overlooked this part of the store operations, and the community harvested a lot of good tools and material in these back rooms.

This one, though, was well looted. Boxes torn open and the remains of spilled fluids and powders littered the floor. If there had been tools and equipment back here, they were long gone.

She shook her head, but still made a loop through the room to make sure she didn’t miss anything.

Outside, she identified a small grocery a couple of blocks down the street and made her way to it. Just after the Troubles, the time when Satan threw reality into chaos and decimated two-thirds of the world population, supermarkets and grocery stores were difficult to enter. Power failures caused frozen and refrigerated food storage to fail. The resulting smell of rotting food could be overpowering. Now it wasn’t so bad. You just didn’t touch or move anything from the freezer or cooler units.

She walked slowly through the aisles of the grocery. What she found was boxed food chewed into by mice, or worse. All the canned food she saw was dented or bulging–and most of those scattered on the floor. No coffee in cans, bags or bulk at all. At the bulk bins for coffee, she opened one and breathed deeply of the aroma. Even empty, it still held an aroma.

I miss good coffee, she thought.

She sighed and shuffled on.

In the candy aisle, she saw one little bag dangling from a display hanger. It had a patina of dust, but a dull orange and yellow could be seen through it. As she drew closer, she recognized it.

Candy corn.

Carefully, she pulled the small bag from the hanger bar and gently wiped the dust off the package. Yes, it was candy corn. It was intact and the candy inside looked unharmed, even safe to eat. The pieces had bright white, orange, and yellow parts.

She resisted the urge to tear it open and devour all the pieces immediately. Tears filled her eyes and spilled down her freckled cheeks. Memories of her childhood, Halloween treats, and the flavor and sweetness of candy corn in her mouth drifted through her head.

Then another memory–a lesson–came to her. Something she could do to share this special treasure.

Candy corn.

#

Amy watched the small children enter her little Sunday school classroom. She could barely contain herself as she sat on the floor waiting for them. They circled around her and joined her on the floor doing the normal things small children do; wriggling, giggling, and squirming around.

“How are you all this fine Sunday?” Amy said. This was the signal for the children to settle down and pay attention. After a moment, they were attentive.

“Fine, Miss Amy,” they chorused.

“Good,” she said. She looked around at the small, sweet, smiling faces. “We have an interesting lesson today. Who can tell me what God is?”

One little boy shot his hand up. Amy nodded to him.

“God is good,” he said.

“Thank you, Brad. That is correct. Anyone else? What is God?”

A little girl on the other side put her hand up.

“God is our Heavenly Father,” she said when Amy looked at her.

Amy smiled and nodded.

“Right. Did you also know that God is three in one?”

All the children looked at Amy, some confused.

“God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” she said, using the fingers of her left hand to enumerate the points. “All three in one God. It is called the Trinity.”
Another little boy raised his hand.

“Yes, David,” Amy said.

“Does he come apart like a toy?”

“No, not really,” Amy said. She chuckled softly. “Let me show you something that might help understand God.”

She reached behind her and into her pack and carefully brought out a small package. Her hands shook just a little. There was enough for all the children here, with some left over. But for all she knew, this was the last package in existence. She carefully opened the package and spilled the contents out in her hand.

“This is candy corn,” she said. “I want each of you to take one. Just take one, hold it in your hand and look at it carefully.”

The children all took a piece of the small candies. Amy realized this was the first–and likely the last–time that these children would see and experience candy corn.

“Notice that there is a white part at the tip, an orange part in the middle, and a yellow part on the large end.”

She used her own piece to demonstrate as she spoke, pointing to each part. “But the candy corn is one piece. This is like God. God has the Father part, the Son part, and the Holy Spirit part, but is just the one God.”

The children looked at the candy and back at Amy. No one raised a hand.

“And, do you know the best part?” Amy said. She held up her piece of the candy.
Most of the children shook their heads. No one raised a hand.

“God is sweet and good! Just like candy corn.” Amy popped the candy corn into her mouth and chewed. The flavor wasn’t as strong as she remembered, and the candy was just slightly stale. But it was good and sweet. She savored it a moment, with those childhood memories flooding back. Then she noticed the children hadn’t moved a muscle.

“It’s okay,” she said, smiling. “You can eat your candy now.”

< The End >

Keep writing.