NaNoWriMo 2014

Well, I’m doing this insanity once more. I really need to have my head examined. I have never finished a novel I have set out to write over the course of the last several years. But, I have had more success with short stories. So, this year I am writing a collection of short stories entitled Solar Powered Dog and Other Assorted Tales and am basing them off Erikson’s psychosocial development stages. Here’s an excerpt from a chapter dealing with Care and Generativity.

Holly was a nervous sort. She liked to claim that nervousness was her great aunt’s domain, but it was something that they shared, something that united them. Matilda hadn’t raised Holly from the time she was a small child, she had instead stepped in when Holly was in her teens and Holly’s father had decided that she needed a woman’s touch. It was perhaps an antiquated feeling to have, but Matilda was pleased to have the time with her great-niece.

There’s had never been a typical relationship; Matilda was not necessarily the mothering sort. Her own husband had died young; a victim of a car accident, and Matilda had never found the need to remarry. She had her friends, her family as it was, and her work which kept her occupied. But as she approached retirement and her nephew George had an existential crisis about raising a teenage daughter on his own, she was pleased to step into this new role.

It didn’t take long for her to realize that perhaps she had underestimated the work and emotional toll it would take raising Holly. Matilda had been under the misapprehension that a girl of 14 would be nearly raised, and would instead need a chaperone of sorts to help her make decisions about impending adulthood. This did not turn out to be the case.

Ten years later Matilda and Holly’s relationship had reached the place that she assumed it would have started, with Matilda weighing in time and again about various choices. She often wondered if she had made the best possible choices in her time with Holly, but she was certain that she had done her best. It certainly wasn’t a simple task helping a witch come into her own.

But now she had concerns, real concerns about how Holly would be able to balance life outside the one that she and Matilda lived in with the real world out there beyond their doors. Matilda had not kept Holly from the world, in fact she had made the clear and conscious choice to keep Holly mainstreamed in her education and away from those who would have kept Holly, and Matilda, ensconced in a coven. That was not a real path to life, to Matilda’s view, but now that her darling niece was making the transition from child to adult, she worried. She also worried about Holly dating someone whom she had not met. Matilda had always managed to screen possible boyfriends before. However this one had managed to sneak through.

Matilda knew better than to worry. But this was her Holly, out in the world with a stranger. It would be impractical for Matilda not to worry. So for now she waited for Holly to return home to her.

The End of NaNoWriMo 2012

I didn’t get much past 10,000 words. But that’s okay. The idea of NaNoWriMo is less about completing the herculean task of writing 50,000 words (I couldn’t seem to eek out the time each day to write over 1,600 words and ended up horribly behind from nearly the beginning) but in beginning a novel. I have acheived that. I may not be a 50,000 word winner but I am a thankful participant because now I have a new novel to work on, and workshop with my friends. I’ve already begun editing down the wordiness that happened in my attempt to get the word count.

So, I’m off to spend my holiday in a few weeks finding out how Sydney and Jerome get on in Transitions.

Chapter 8: Intruder


Ms. Griffiths gave Jerome the feeling that he was facing an enemy, but he couldn’t put his finger on the cause. She was as good as her word, leaving him alone to enjoy the festivities earned through hard work. It was official now, he had his degree in International Marketing from King’s College London. He was celebrated by friends and family alike and had done the near impossible of making his father proud. He had been able to thoroughly sink into the enjoyment of the past two days, but not without wondering what awaited him on Wednesday afternoon.


It had brought him back to The Trusty Servant. Perhaps this was part of the reason Jerome felt naturally at odds with Griffiths, she seemed to infiltrate the most prized areas of his life.


“You don’t seem please to be meeting me here Mr. Davies. I have it on good authority that you frequent this establishment several times a month.”


“Your information should have also told you that I never bring women here, Ms. Griffiths. Are you having me followed?” How else would she have known his habits so intimately as to email his  favorite pub as a meeting location this morning?


“My employers are not having you tailed, no. But considerable resources are used to ascertain whether or not a target is a good candidate for the position you are about to be offered Mr. Davies.”


“Target? Candidate? These don’t sound reassuring Ms. Griffiths.” Jerome’s unease continued to grow. “Next you’re going to tell me you’ve ordered my favorite pint and grub as my last meal before your employers drag me off to parts unknown.”


“That is certainly not my intention.” At last he’d gotten her to use the first person. “My employers believe it is important to approach candidates in environs which are comfortable to them, that is all my choice of meeting location is meant to accomplish.”


“Unfortunately that has not worked Ms. Griffiths. Why don’t we proceed to the business at hand so we can each be on our way and end this mutually dissatisfying association?”


Ms. Griffiths looked rather displeased, but continued on. “My employers are an NGO called the Bloom Partnership. They work in the field of information gathering and are interested in bringing you on as an information agent.”


“So, you’re recruiting me for MI6 then? Is this some ploy derived from a James Bond movie? What are you really after Ms. Griffiths? This is certainly implausible.”


“Be it implausible, it is true. As I said they are an NGO, they are non-governmental. It would not be working for British Intelligence of the American CIA. You would be working for a separate organization which shares information it gathers with those organizations and those like it. You’re background, education, and place in society make you an ideal candidate for the Partnership.”


“I feel a but coming on Ms. Griffiths. What is it?”


“I have advocated to my supervisor that I do not find your manners to be suitable for the job at hand, but I am to be overruled and you are to be offered the position.”


“And what would that do to the position I’ve accepted? What of that?”


“It would become your cover, Mr. Davies. The type of work you have chosen is the perfect excuse to travel and make the necessary connections to gather information.”


“And what of my holiday?”


“You would be asked to cut it short in order to be trained by the Partnerships operatives and assigned your own research analyst. To the outside world your holiday remains the same, but there is simply a small change of itinerary known only to you.”


Jerome was floored. He took a moment to finish the pint he had been drinking throughout this conversation. Could anything Ms. Griffiths said be true? Did he want it to be? Jerome had chosen to leave the life of government and policy at a young age not because it didn’t fascinate him, but because it did. It had become all encompassing and had brought out the darkest parts of his personality. Marketing had been the answer to keep his life light and fun. Use the knowledge gained during his study of international relations to instead work to sell goods and package brands for the international market. Live a comfortable life outside of the combative arena of international politics. He was now being asked to dive back in to a world he thought he had left well behind him.


“I don’t have an answer for you Ms. Griffiths. I thought this world was well behind me.”


“I understand that Mr. Davies. This is not a scenario where you need to know right now. In a few days a courier will bring you travel documents for the training I’ve mentioned. You will have an opportunity to walk away then, or after the training. No questions will be asked. The Bloom Partnership simply asks that you think about the opportunity they are offering to do the work of an intelligence offer without the game of espionage.”


With that Ms. Griffiths excused herself from their small table and made her way to the exit. Jerome sat for awhile longer, ordering himself another pint while his mind chewed away on the job he had just been offered.

NaNoWriMo – Halfway mark

I mentioned before that taking part in NaNoWriMo was perhaps a ludicrous idea on my part. I am, at best, an amateur writer. The possible completion a work in 30 days, let alone writing 50,000 words seemed well outside my skill level. As I sit here tonight I am hovering below 10,000 words when the target is north of 25,000 if I were  on pace. I have not been on pace once throughout this experience. But, that hasn’t lessened it for me. Of course I would like to achieve victory and write the 50,000 words before midnight on November 30th, but there are more victories than just that.

I have a definite story arc that I am aiming for. I know (vaguely) where my characters are headed. I have committed more words to electronic ink in just over two weeks than I have previously committed in two months.  My own creative process is engaging me. I want to write more. These are all victories for me. A year ago I did not dream to call myself a writer, now I am comfortable inside that dream.

Here’s hoping your NaNoWriMo goes they way you hope!

Chapter 6: Reappearances


Sunday found Jerome nursing what others would call a hangover and what he simply thought of as a migraine. While a bright mind he did own, it did not always put together facts he did not wish it to, and realizing that his drinking did in fact lead to hangovers would make him think less of himself. To his own mind, Jerome was invincible.


Handy around the kitchen, Jerome prepared himself his Sunday special of eggs and pancakes, a habit picked up from his time studying in the States. It was while he was eating his small feast at 11 am that the phone rang. Not thinking much of it Jerome reached for his mobile.


“’ello” was his muffled greeting.


“Mr. Davies, this is Ms. Griffiths from Friday afternoon. I was wondering if you had time just now to continue our previous conversation?”


“I felt we had reached the end of our conversation Ms. Griffiths.” Jerome replied while pushing away his plate and the remaining breakfast it contained. His appetite had left him.


“You walked away from our conversation as it turned to topic you’d rather not discuss. However, I need to discuss certain aspects of your past and personal habits if I am going to be able to decide if you are as suited to the type of work that my employers are looking to hire you for.”


“As previously discussed Ms. Griffiths, I already have a contract with a firm and have signed a non-compete clause so your employers can stop trying to lure me away.” Jerome had spent months deciding which firm to sign on with and was not about to jump ship now.


“I do not represent a Marketing firm, international or otherwise, Mr. Davies. My employers are interested in offering you work along another avenue.”


Jerome cut her off before she could continue “What makes you, or your employers, think that I would be interested in another avenue of work?” The disruption of his routine and the all-knowing air employed by Ms. Griffiths was more than Jerome could stand to be polite to.


“As you know Mr. Davies we are quite familiar with your academic and career pursuits and feel that you’re postponing your start date as evidence of continued unhappiness with the fields you choose. Not that they are not suited to you, simply that you have not found the position which best suits your self. My employers believe that we may have such a position for you.”


This caught Jerome completely off guard. He had felt for two days, and had been reassured by his friends just the night before, that this was simply some company’s tactic to approach him with an offer to leave his current job. A sleazy tactic surely, but nothing out of the ordinary in a competitive job market in a growing field. Plenty of agencies were looking to hire the best and the brightest coming out of the premiere programs, why shouldn’t Jerome have assumed as much? Now it appeared that Ms. Griffiths and her bosses were approaching him for different reasons and with a different end game in mind.



“And what is it that you would like to offer me Ms. Griffiths? What type of work do your employers’ feel that I am better suited for? Rubbish collecting?”


“You greatly undersell yourself and the people I represent with the idea of rubbish collecting. There is an opportunity within the organization which we feel would combine your degrees and years of experience, as well as your personality, in a way that you would find fulfilling. Would you be interested in meeting to discuss this further?”


“Honestly, I would prefer you simply told me what it is you’re after so we can wrap up this charade of a conversation and I can decide whether or not to alert my mobile phone service to block your number. What type of work do your employers suggest, Ms. Griffiths?”


“They are in the international information collecting business Mr. Davies, and you are well-suited for the task. Perhaps you would prefer to meet with them directly? I can arrange that for Wednesday so as not to interfere with your prized commencement ceremonies.” It was Ms. Griffiths turn to be snide.


“That will have to do, Ms. Griffiths. It seems as though you will not rest until you bludgeon me into accepting a meeting, so yes, let’s go ahead and set up said meeting so that I may get off the line with you and go about my life which you seem so determined to interrupt.”


Under what is perhaps an ill-advised decision, I have decided to make an attempt at National Novel Writing Month. This is perhaps ludicrous. No, scratch that – this is ludicrous.

I have made previous attempts at writing. I have an unfinished manuscript Here Again sitting on my hardrive, but the file was corrupted several months ago and I can’t bring myself to attempt to rewrite what was lost. Perhaps after the cleansing experience of NaNoWriMo I will once again be able to go down that literary path.

I have spent the last few months working on flash fictions pieces that may someday form a short story collection, but for the month of November I will be working on a brand new piece entitled Transitions. An excerpt below:

Chapter 1 – Goodbyes


She knew she would be saying good bye forever, but she just couldn’t seem to get the appropriate amount of emotion built up. The moment was going to pass her by, she knew that she was going to fail to give it the proper notice and she would regret it forever. It wasn’t everyday that you said goodbye to a partner, closing a chapter in your life so completely that there would simply be no reopening it. She would need to bury the very part of her that made her able to complete the project over the past 18 months so that she could move on and go back to a normal life. But she couldn’t seem to get there.


Sydney was to the outside observer an everyday practical woman with no discerning characteristics. If you saw her you wouldn’t be able to pick her out of a lineup a few hours later. Her average build and plain Jane brown hair in a sensible cut with contemporary but not overly fashionable clothes had made her perfect for her post. Now they would make her transition easier by half. Her partner would have no such luck. He would have to recreate himself as a pigeon where heretofore he had been a peacock.


Jerome was never unnoticed since he hit puberty, but unlike so many others he sailed through the normally tumultuous period without any of the usual scars. He grew six inches, his voice dropped, and all the baby-fat had melted away in a matter of months, not years. By the time he had become paired with Sydney he couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t felt comfortable in his own skin, even if it was very different from the chameleon comfort Sydney felt in her skin.


It was this comfort that made Sydney and Jerome such a solid and successful pairing. Neither needed their partner to be their stabilizer, they were able to accomplish that for themselves. They sailed through life with very few eddies to throw them off course. That was until they were decommissioned and sent back to their previous lives.