[Short Story] High Noon

I wrote this piece during NaNo17, between the hours of 12pm and 2am the day it was due for my local writing club’s annual short story contest. The prompt was “Snowbirds.” (They are everywhere in Florida, people from up north who come to live down here during the winter to escape the snow. For the record, as a whole they are terrible drivers.)  I was half-delirious when I wrote it, but I think it turned out okay. It’s pretty much a one-shot–not much editing involved except for a last-minute review just before I submitted it for judging.

HIGH NOON

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Leona, but our system seems to have glitched. The courtesy car we were planning to give you was double-booked with another appointment at the same time.”

On any other day, Maggie would have laughed it off and joined the other unfortunates lounging in the waiting room of the dealership. She might have gladly taken a break from life to sip at a hot mug of coffee, and even at that moment the aroma of a fresh brew wafted over her like country air.

But she had to be back at the Riverrun Country Club House at noon if she hoped to defend her HOA presidential nomination against Luanne Marcone, the one woman in the world she would relinquish even coffee to sabotage. A transplant from Chicago, Luanne called Florida her home from the first week of November through the last of March. Maggie, however, came down from the Adirondacks from October through April. Luanne’s greater absence alone should have been sufficient to lay the matter of the presidency to rest.

Maggie fixed the clerk—Becky, as her nametag read—with the kind of glare that had kept her husband faithful for thirty-four years.

“I must have that car. Is it still here? If it is, I was here first.”

“I—I think it is, but let me talk to my supervisor.”

Before Becky could skulk away, the glass double doors of the dealership’s service center swung open amid a torrent of dust kicked up by the autumn breeze, and there stood Luanne Marcone. She was tall, slender only because of it, her face long and eyes shrewd. She paused a step inside, her arms still stretched wide to hold the doors ajar as she narrowed her eyes at Maggie. Maggie stared back at her, her heart pounding against the jail of her ribs. Slowly, Luanne dropped her arms to her sides, and the doors swung closed behind her with a final thud.

“Maggie.”

“Luanne.” Continue reading

Advertisements

NaNoWriMo17: Day 5

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot…

No gunpowder was involved in my novel today, but there was some treason and a lot of plot.

After surpassing my 15K daily goal by 5K, I am now resting at 100,180 words total. I. Am. Pumped. Writing 15K would have put me at 95K, and it didn’t matter how tired I was and continue to be. It was just too close to 100K to not go for it. My previous best time to 100K was 7 days; now it’s 5. That means I’ve averaged 20K/day so far. On top of that, it’s my wordiest three-day weekend on record: 75K from Friday through Sunday, a 10-15K increase from my previous record (can’t remember exactly). And it’s not even 11:40 yet (of course, I got the extra hour today, but it still would have happened).

Before anyone thinks I’m now a machine who can consistently spit this kind of wordage out, I’ll alert you that tomorrow will be a much quieter day. Beyond being exhausted, I’m in a great deal of pain and really would like to go for a decent walk. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m aiming for a minimum of 12K, but that would be my lowest month-to-date word count–and I can’t stand that. Nonetheless, the deadline for a short story contest I really need to participate in is Tuesday, and I haven’t even started a story yet. That’s going to be much slower writing, and then I will have to edit it.

Lots of things to do, so little time! My fingers have begun a revolt, so before I end up having to use my nose to smash the keys, I’ll sign off. Happy writing, everyone!

Wordsketch: An Assassin’s Tour of Lower Brayven [Fantasy]

I’ve waffled over posting this. It references more mature themes than I’m used to writing. The vast internet may laugh at what I call “mature” themes, but I’ll still rate it PG-13. It was just a quick warm-up I wrote to prep for more serious writing, the first scene that popped into my head when I opened a blank document. I have no plans for it.

Lietta leaped out of the window faster than the old grandfather clock in the corner could fall. When it did crash against the hallway’s tile floor, chiming out a strange melody as its death knell, she was already halfway down the alley, tripping over broken crates overflowing with the shattered glass bottles of underground cabarets. The sweet-sharp burn of grapes and alcohol hovered over the refuse like flies, clotting the air with an oppressive reminder of her early days in the Service. Continue reading

[Short Story] The Long Shadow

I hesitated for months about posting this because I want to do something with the concept and didn’t want to ruin my chances for publication… until I realized I am more interested in self-publication for short stories and this particular iteration needs a lot of work before I get even to that point. If it hadn’t been written for a contest, this story would have been about three times its current length. Even after writing it with the 2500-word limit in mind, I had to chop off 400 words. I have my opinions concerning its quality, but I’ll let you decide. 

The Long Shadow

Samarkin raised a fist, squinting through his blackout goggles at the dust cloud hanging off his stern over the Uzur Desert. His first mate Sitara shut off the ship’s thruster and bowsed up its single sail against the howling gusts, casting the vessel into mechanical silence. The winds of a coming storm screamed over the dunes, punctuated by the metallic clinks of the rig resting its tired parts.

“See a sail yet?” Samarkin asked.

“Should soon, Sir, according to the heat index,” Sitara said in her robotic monotone, rolling over the deck on her treads. Continue reading

Year

It was her first year.

Granted, it was her thirtieth first year. Every such year was new and exciting, a change from the last, an adventure to be experienced, a open invitation to travel the realms of life. Her favorite places to visit were Metropportunity  and the Steppes of New Skills, but she veered toward the Old Friends Crossroads as if it were her home in Tradition.

Like every new year, she, too, was new, built by self-reflection, the wisdom of past experience, the advice of static and passing acquaintances. It was inevitable that she would spend a breath or two upon the Setback Plateaus, but only a breath, for spreading out before her, glimmering in the sun of Hope, was the great Ocean of Possibility. And every year the journey was different, and she began as someone else: someone braver, someone better, someone filled with renewed determination and every potentiality imaginable.

Because this was her year, like every year was her year: a gift, a promise, a blessing.

via Daily Prompt: Year

NaNoWriMo Day 12

I’m concluding today with a disappointing but not altogether unexpected 55K. Another slow day for me, but not because I’m slowing down. Creatively speaking, I’ve just been exhausted. The biggest reason for this is my lack of sleep (says she who is writing this at 11:15pm), but a small part is played by the pressure I’m feeling to write a short story for a contest.

It’s due in two days. *cue Psycho screeching violins*

I’m not good with restrictive prompts, i.e. “use this” or “follow this.” I’m good with idea-starter prompts, the kinds where you can be inspired by something but go your own way with it. This short story prompt is restrictive. Not a bad thing, but difficult for me.

Anyway, I’m going to bed before I ruin tomorrow’s writing chances, too. Hope everyone is doing well!

 

NaNoWriMo Day 7

Week one of NaNo has come to a close. I did another 5K. Admittedly, I was secretly word-warring with another person very close in range to my word count, which caused me to write an extra 1K words over my initial goal of 4K. That brings me up to a rounded 35K. If my math checks out all right, I should hit 50K by the end of the week.

Next week will be interesting in the non-writing world for me. I’m being moved out of my position at work and shifted to a new one, so once our new administrative assistant comes in, I’ll get to streamline my schedule at the office. Hopefully this will spark a trend at home of organizing my day in a much less distracted way, and I might just be able to get more writing done.

I hope everyone else has had a wonderful first week. Let’s dive into the notorious Week 2 with determination and confidence!

NaNoWriMo Day 6

A day filled, once again, with relative productivity concludes with 5K added to the total for a combined 30K so far. I could have kept writing, but between other engagements and needing to retire at a semi-reasonable time to make the most of my non-time-change routine, I’m keeping it limited.

Angels of Ilesanzi is taking me on a spiraling vortex of surprise. Moment to moment and word to word, I’m not entirely sure where the story is going. Ergo, a few unexpected developments have taken place today. I love when stories take charge like this; the flow is so much more organic and makes better sense than what I manufacture by intent (though it still needs to be cleaned up).

In totally unrelated news, I ran for an hour today! That’s a big deal for me because I injured my knees about a year and a half ago, and they got so progressively bad that I was limping around while just walking. Physical therapy and dedicated exercise has gotten me back up and literally running, and today I beat my previous post-injury record of 45 minutes (accomplished on Wednesday, which robbed my 30-minute runs of the record). Apparently I can’t just increase my running by five minutes at a time.

Tomorrow is the last day of the first week of NaNo, so let’s make it count!

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Full of productivity in almost every way, Day 2 has concluded with another 4K added to the count, bringing me up to a hair over 11K and well ahead of my goal. I was restless to write more, but obligations elsewhere snapped at my heels all day!

One of the reasons I’m writing considerably fewer words this year has to do with my fitness intentions. Last year, I sacrificed my workout time entirely, spending, on average, eight hours a day hunched over my laptop on my bed (plus the eight hours I spent everyday at work staring at a screen). The back cramps, muscle weakness, and lack of discipline born from this practice became intolerable and led indirectly to a couple of exercise injuries for which I had to seek professional medical attention.

This year, I promised myself I wouldn’t damage my body in the same way. It’s new for me: not fighting early morning lassitude to scribble a few thousand words before work, getting home and not slamming out as many words as possible in the remaining hours of the day. My competitive spirit is hyped up and frustrated, but the rest of me is pretty content.

In what ways do you look after yourself during the rush that is NaNo? Do you couple the challenge with other personal goals, like losing weight, regulating a workout schedule, or being more productive in other fields?