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About NaNoWriMo

IT’S NOT TOO LATE! To start…

Here’s what NaNoWriMo is all about:

  1. NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month
  2. What do you do? Write. This thing here is all about quantity not quality, and for once, that’s a good thing. Just get those words on the pages and tell your inner editor to go take a long walk off a short bridge
  3. How do I jump in the game? Easy! Visit: http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/dashboard , register and jump in with both feet
  4. What do you do? Pledge to write 50,000 words in one month. Then, go and write them. Again, it’s about quantity not quality here
  5. When did it start? Midnight, November1st. It ends November 30th. So, yes. It already started for 2011, but you can begin whenever you want
  6. Why bother? To get that novel outa ya! “The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creativity,” says NaNoWriMo Founder and Executive Director (and 12-time NaNoWriMo winner) Chris Baty. “When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it’s a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”
  7. What good could come from it? Your novel. Look, true, most won’t go anywhere other than the grand satisfaction of knowing that you acheived this–you wrote a novel. You are a novelist. However, something great COULD happen: “The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creativity,” says NaNoWriMo Founder and Executive Director (and 12-time NaNoWriMo winner) Chris Baty. “When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it’s a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month.”
  8. Is there a prize? No. Well, yes–immense satisfaction. There are no judges, no prizes, and entries are deleted from the server before anyone even reads them. This is all for YOU!
  9. Conclusion: At midnight on November 1, armed only with their wits, the vague outline of a story, and a ridiculous deadline, more than 250,000 people around the world will set out to become novelists. Will you be one of them who embarked on this grand journey inside your head by November 30th?
  10. I DARE YOU! Want to get started? Feel free to contact me if you want a virtual writing partner or just a friendly voice of encouragement now and then. I’ll even be happy to coordinated writing collaboration groups for anyone who’s interested to help prevent existential lonliness through the process. If you’re not already of friend of mine through FB, friend me: Daphne Taylor Street. You can send me an email: daphne.street@facebook.com

Happy trails! –Daphne

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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in FICTION: Novel (NaNoWriMo)

 

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(NaNoWriMo) Chapter 1

CHAPTER 1

I’ve often wished that I could write a book right after I’m dead. Wondering how the last chapter would read. Wondering if, of all of the profound lessons learned, the most important of these lessons would continue to be “cherish now.” I think it might.

Floating face-down in the harbor, my lifeless body bloated, lodged against a dock-side piling with my foot trapped in salt encrusted seaweed, head beating repeatedly against the hull of an inhabited yacht, soon to wake its residents. Our hero is sitting on the seawall nearby, watching the rose-colored water brighten in the sunrise, sipping on a hot can of stolen beer he found in an abandoned dockside lockbox that was left unlocked. He’s not able to quench any thirst, just drinking as a habit, finding solace in a sense of normalcy, wondering how to talk—his tongue is too swollen from dehydration to move—paralyzed. And when he can talk, he’s wondering how to tell the story, our story, and what will happen when it all comes out.

After several minutes of my head thudding against his yacht, a young man in his late twenties emerges from the boat’s cabin. His dark, short, brown hair disheveled, wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt with a photograph of a snook silkscreened on the back draping over a pair of wrinkled cargo shorts, he yawns. He rubs his naturally tone torso and scratches the short stubble on his chin while looking around to find the source of the thudding. Eyes practically swollen shut from exhaustion, he squints into the glare from the water’s surface. A small helium-like nasally yelp with a Long Island accent comes from below and demands, “Aaron! That’s it. Get rid of this stupid boat. It’s too noisy! Aaron! Are you listening to me? Aaron! Oh what the hell…”

Aaron pays no attention to the actual words yelping at him. He never does. For the past two weeks he’s trapped himself with this crazy woman on his 36 foot yacht with no sober explanation of how or why on his journey back from Mexico to St. Petersburg, Florida. What he does know right now is that he needs the screeching to stop along with this incessant thudding so he can get some sleep. Yawning, “Uh-huh,” he replies to her and climbs up to the bow. He looks over starboard-side, and his eyes fix on my dead body and my head bouncing in-time with the wake against the bow of his vessel. “Son of a …,” Aaron croaks out, then slumps down, sitting with his bare feet dangling over the side—shock sets in. The last thing in the world he wants to deal with is his terrible choice in a girlfriend, caused by too many tequila-filled nights in Mexico, and a dead body—in that order. If he could choose, the dead body is preferable to the girlfriend problem. On the other hand, he thinks, this may be a brilliant way to get rid of the squeamish, high-maintenance, whiny girl for good. He calls down to her, “Honey, please come up here and give me my phone. It’s an emergency.” After a small pause and still staring at my body he continues, “Honey, please hurry. It’s an emergency.”

She charges at him, wearing nothing but a teal bra and matching undies, clinging to a perfect dark athletic body with flowing long brown hair coming up from below carrying an open can of Diet Coke, “An emergency? What kind of an emergency means you’re too lazy to come and get your own… Ahhhh!” she lets out a piercing scream, spilling Diet Coke all over the deck as her eyes locked on my corpse, and she drops Aaron’s phone in his lap. Aaron tries to avoid snickering, which isn’t too hard when he realizes that not only does he need to deal with my dead body, but now he also has to clean his deck. He hangs his head. The girlfriend immediately grabs her belongings and flees. At least something went well this morning. He shuts his swollen eyes and rests his head against the lifeline still hearing the thudding of my head against his hull.

In the nearby distance, our hero, Jimmy Talbot, has finished sipping his hot beer and allowed a small smirk to surface across his lips as he watched the scene before him, the young woman, practically naked, taking flight out of the marina and losing herself in the waterfront city. The City of St. Petersburg, Florida was slowly waking for this soon-to-be media-charged Saturday morning. As for Jimmy, he knew he had to begin being responsible for perhaps the first time in his 37 years of life. His best friend and her legacy was counting on it. He rose to his feet and made his way over to Aaron’s boat, “Hi, partner. Sorry about this and all, but I know that woman down there. You called the police yet?”

Aaron sprung to his feet, shocked and frightened. “No, sir. Not yet. I was about to…”

“That’s good,” Jimmy said. “You do that, and I’ll sit right here. They’ll likely have a lot of questions for me.”

“Umm. Yeah, sure.” Aaron made the 911 call, hands and voice shaking, not knowing what to make of Jimmy, not wanting to think about it at all, he explained to the dispatcher that there was a dead body floating off of the bow of his boat in the harbor and that he had no idea how long she had been there or what happened to her. Within seconds, the sound of sirens started closing in until about eight police cars were parked directly at the entrance of the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina. Jimmy was sitting cross-legged on a lockbox, clutching his tan legs, now worried about the smell of beer on his breath at this hour of the morning and just now noticed a small splatter of blood on his sun-bleached Tommy Bahama Hawaiian-style shirt. A line of police were moving quickly down the dock, and Jimmy panicked. He jumped up, turned his back, and stuck a finger down his throat, vomiting into the water, but making sure to catch some vomit on his shirt where the blood splattered. He tore his shirt off of his body to wipe his mouth standing on a pair of lean, steady legs with his worn navy corduroy shorts hanging off of his hips, making room for a small, tan beer belly. As he turned around, he came nose to nose with a uniformed officer. Jimmy nervously patted on his short blonde beard and wrung his longish curly hair out of his face to take a good look at the officer, hoping to appear honest and friendly, squinting his baby blue eyes.

The officer stepped back after he caught a whiff of Jimmy’s breath, then quickly began asking questions, What’s your name, may I see some identification please?” Jimmy grabbed at his back pocket for his wallet while his eyes drifted over to Aaron who was engaged in a conversation with a guy in cheap gray suit pants, white shirt and an ugly tie. Must be a detective, Jimmy thought. Jimmy handed over his whole scuffed brown leather wallet, containing his Florida Drivers License, a Regal Cinema rewards card and about $2,000 in cash to the police officer, then swiftly walked toward Aaron shouting, “Hey partner! Don’t worry, I got this.”

The guy in the ugly tie swung around, “Are you the person who stated he knew the deceased?”

Suddenly, all the bottled-up emotions burst in Jimmy, and tears came flowing out of his eyes, he became increasingly unsteady on his feet walking towards Aaron and the guy in the ugly tie saying, “Yeah. I knew Veronica. Uh, the deceased.” The confident but friendly nature of his voice was betrayed wholly by the emerging gray hue rolling in, clouding his baby blue eyes like a thunder storm complete with pouring rain. “Veronica was the best. She lit up the world, you know. She was just one of those people that… that… you know, a star. Not like famous but like a star in the sky, lit-up, steady light, you could actually navigate by her brilliance. She was just like that, you know?”

The uniformed officer previously abandoned by Jimmy called out, “Detective Morano, his name is James Lancelot Talbot, 37, lives about a couple blocks away at the Bayfront Tower Condominium.” The officer handed Jimmy’s wallet back to him.

“Everyone knows me as Jimmy,” Jimmy corrected.

Detective Morano, the guy in the ugly tie, said to Jimmy, trying to change the subject for a moment so that Jimmy could regain his composure, “Bayfront Tower? Expensive address. What do you do for a living, where do you work?”

Wiping the tears out of his face, keeping his calm and confident voice, Jimmy replied, “No, I worked. I don’t work. I mean, I made a lot of money once, and I didn’t like working. So, I bought a condo and a boat, lots of fishing gear, and I try not to spend much money. Keeps me away from working. It benefits me, protects any potential employers from me, and my family isn’t bothered by me. Good thing all around, you know?”

“You made a lot of money working once?” questioned Detective Morano. “Was this work legal? I don’t know of a legal job that pays that well for anyone to work once.”

Jimmy is used to being misjudged. He realized a long time ago that his manner and lifestyle beg for it, so he’s almost flattered by it now. He smiles politely, replying “Yes, sir. To my knowledge engineering and ship building is still legal work. I patented a couple hull designs that win a lot of races. It paid well and still pays with residual income from the patents. I also write a little, take some pictures and paint a little, but I’m not so good at meeting deadlines, so it just provides a bit of drinking money, you know? Yep, that’s it. That’s what I did and what I do.”

Detective Morano responded, “Oh, I see. So, you’re a writer.”

Jimmy ruffled his brow not wanting to be insulting, he replied, “Yep. Something like that.”

Aaron, overhearing the dialogue, was too nervous to give off an obvious reaction, but he grew concerned that this detective might not be the brightest bulb in the socket and just stared wide-eyed at Jimmy. Jimmy caught Aaron’s eye and instantly sensed his concern. Jimmy smiled at Aaron and said with easy confidence, “No worries partner. I got this.”

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in FICTION: Novel (NaNoWriMo)

 

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(NaNoWriMo) Prologue

Azores Islands, Portugal 1641

Captain Simon Crosse scoped the open seas off the coast of Portugal, near the Azores Islands sensing the eerie calm of the clear blue skies blending seamlessly into the flat horizon, the dead wind lufting sails, hanging impotent on massive masts. Adrenaline began to swell in his veins, his heart about to burst through his chest. He knew the signs—a wild storm was brewing. He can’t see it coming; it’s not visible. Its scent fills his flared nostrils. Fresh Spanish blood is about to give up life, limb and loot. His connection to his rage is complete here, appropriate to battle. He paced the cabin, an irate caged tiger, eyes as pinpricks. His First Mate, Wiley, close at hand, slendered himself against the far wall, hoping to remain invisible at these moments. Wiley’s at the ready to take over the helm and command of piloting the vessel as soon as the Captain lets loose his fury on deck.

And so it begins. The Captain opens a simple wooden box, appearing dull and out of place surrounded by prized, jewels, art and sculptures. As the lid raised, it spilled forth a bright light. The light emanated from a strange linen cloth glowing bright, revealing a large sapphire blue skull. Its shape was alien, elongated cranium, enormous eye sockets and no space for a mouth. The Captain’s eyes steadied on the horizon, he gently tossed the skull over to Wiley and charged out of the cabin.  “All hands on deck!” the thundering words boomed from the Captain’s chest. Words that could have been heard clearly a mile off.

Wiley moved to the helm, kissed the skull gently on its forehead and secured it in a small porthole. The skull began to change color, now glowing an iridescent white, illuminating the entire cabin. Wiley began singing softly, a gentle tune he composed to honor the relic. “Ah, good juju,” Wiley says to the skull winking at as if it were his lover.

All at once, a hurricane of ruddy, burly Englishmen swarmed the deck, focused on their well-tuned assigned tasks. No further instructions needed. They operate as a single machine with a single purpose in five parts. First, find wind to fill the sails, blow if they must. Second, prepare for battle. Third, win the battle and take no prisoners. Forth, pillage loot. Fifth, return to land safely and celebrate. The objectives and necessary steps are law, and everyone knows their respective places and responsibilities. Any deviations or mishaps result in immediate death. The men appreciate the simplicity of clear rules and consequences. The Captain is keenly aware of the motivation it provides, so he is sure to never disappoint. When Deckhand Masters, with six years of tenure on the crew, lost grip of the most forward main sheet yesterday in battle, all the ship’s men gathered and cheered as the Captain personally anchored Deckhand Masters to the ocean floor—his new permanent home.

Only a few have ever earned forgiveness from the Captain. Apart from the Captain’s beloved First Mate, two others also hold much distinction and even love from the Captain. The ship’s chaplain is the Captain’s closest confidant, and he fashions funeral wreaths of seaweed, which he blesses and keeps at the ready for funerals at sea. Not one shipman goes unacknowledged by the chaplain when he passes on to meet his maker, no matter the manner in which he meets his demise. He has a small dog named Cat he keeps in a bird cage. He feeds Cat mostly birdseed and small licks of honey, which Cat does enjoy.

The ship’s scribe is the other. She is the only woman on the ship and happens to be the Captain’s daughter. She’s obsessive with detail and stores memories like libraries, all categorically organized in her brain, easy to access and use however best benefits her. She documents every name of every shipman, their battles fought and crosses them out with a definitive date marked “END” as soon as they are no more. She also serves as a war correspondent, documenting every story of every battle just as she sees it. She keeps a clean count of the death toll on both sides and accounts for loot acquired and estimates loss. As soon as the sounds of battle cry out in the air, she stealthfully puts herself in the midst of the chaos, yet cunningly out-of-view, recording all she sees. Her bunk is cluttered with carefully bound ledgers, which she stitched by hand every one.

Meanwhile, on deck, the men staring at the still tell-tails, bow their heads and pray for wind, and so it appears. Immediately, magically, gusts of wind conjure from nowhere to fill the heavy sails in the hot flat sea. Then, it appeared. Drifting slowly out in the distance, paralyzed by the calm that formerly afflicted the pirate’s ship, a Spanish galleon came into view. It seemed as a toy ship floating aimlessly in the hot mid-day sun. The Captain sees it first, for he had smelled it long before it reached a range of visibility. He straightens his spine, elongating his already towering torso, and he points directly at the spot of the galleon with a long crooked finger. He need not say a word. All the shipmen notice and know exactly what to do. They tack directly into their magical wind, with their target in sight, prepared to conquer, pillage and destroy. The men, in unison, follow the Captain’s orders by effortless instinct. He is a man of few words, and that works well for everyone.

Captain Simon’s power in leadership is not founded on fear alone, though fear doesn’t hurt. He’s a Pied Piper. He leads and others follow as naturally as breath, to victory and even to death if that were fate’s command. It helps that error as foreign to him as losing. He never lies. He never cheats. He is always true to his word. Yes, certainly, he’s a murderous pirate, but he goes about his business honorably.

The Captain climbs up on the bow sprit, balancing effortlessly on the wooden plank. He is as tall and slender as a cypress, agile with flawless dexterity more than brute strength driven by a quick-witted, cunning mind, always six steps ahead of even his most worthy foes. Still, his face, always clean-shaven, is a living map of scars bearing a history that could tell tales filling a million adventure books. His snake-like eyes peer through thin eyelids slightly hidden by wisps of longish black hair, pulled back in pale, clean cloths. He notices that his ship is approaching its target much quicker than he anticipated. The supernatural wind powering its sails is unusually strong today. He feels omnipotent. He glares at the Spanish galleon growing larger before his eyes as his ship approaches faster and faster still, the sharp hull creating little wake as a razor cutting through flat water.

At once, the port-side’s 19 cannons blasted towards the galleon, and the Captain grabs a deckhand with both slender, powerful hands upon his baggy shirt, ordering him to the crow’s nest atop the mast, handing him a telescope. The deckhand scurries to the top like a ravenous squirrel. “Mate, what do you see up there?” the Captain demands.

“I see crows, Sir,” the mate responds obediently.

“What?” the Captain barks back, assuming this will be the very last word the deckhand will ever hear. He prepares to catapult himself to the top of the mast to fling the deckhand outward, into a freefall to the deadly waters so far below. The only punishment allowed for a man who would utter such a daringly obtuse smart-ass response. But, when the Captain’s gaze meets the gaze of the deckhand, there, indeed, are many small crows flitting about. Large, adult crows were actually kept caged in the crow’s nest—a lookout point atop the tallest mast on the ship, fitted with a sturdy basket. These crows were kept caged there, and care was provided by the mate assigned to that spot. This assignment was either out of punishment as inhabitants are prone to experiencing severe seasickness at that altitude on even the most calm waters. Or, it was just an assigned position, merely handed off to fulfill a need. As for the caged crows, they serve a very useful purpose. When a sailor wants to find land quickly, he releases a crow and follows its navigation to the nearest land “as the crow flies.” Apparently, these particular crows were kept caged so long and cared for so well, they bred. As for the small crows—their offspring–they are small enough that they can fly through the cage bars but not yet old enough to have confidence enough to leave their parents and seek land.

“Looks like they nested up here, Sir. What do you want me to do with them?” the deckhand asks genuinely.

“Sod the crows! Scope the galleon; what do you see? How many men are on deck?” the Captain orders.

“Maybe a hundred fifty or so,” replies the deckhand.

“What are they doing? Are they preparing to return fire?” asks the Captain.

“No, Sir. They are scurrying like mice. They look frightened. Confused,” said the deckhand.

“Perfect. That’s your spot, mate. Do not abandon your post,” orders the Captain. “Watch and learn.”

The Captain draws his saber and prepares to lead his crew onto the enemy vessel. The Captain’s ship is nearly on top of the Spanish galleon at this point. “I smell Spanish blood and riches already,” says the Captain, the sign for the crew to board and pillage the enemy vessel. And so they did it.

Worthy opponents in skill, yet the Spaniards appeared shocked and stunned by the attack as if they didn’t see this giant pirate ship approach theirs with cannons blaring at them, blasting these cavernous holes in their ship. The Captain’s sharp eyes beam through a path between sordid struggling bodies and flailing weapons, and his human hunt begins. He’s seeking out the Spanish galleon’s captain. This is the sole mission of his battle—extinguishing life of rival captains he believes to be his tree of life, his path to immortality. The loot is just candy. Elegantly, the Captain wades through the ensuing chaos, a deadly and unfamiliar labyrinth. Then, on the aft deck he sees her, ordering a small crew. Her. The Spanish Captain is a woman. Small, beautiful and powerful. He’s conflicted. He stops.

He positions his thin frame behind a mast, knowing any pause to be a grave error in battle. Then, in one seemingly choreographed move, Captain Simon takes the Spanish Captain into his arms, abandons his saber to his side, gripping his stiletto and presses it firmly against her jugular. Her loyal crew falls back pained and obedient to the compromising circumstances, powerless. Captain Simon is beyond aroused. He has captured a prize. A powerful, beautiful prize, perhaps under other circumstances, she would be his equal and a potential conquest of another kind. His head swimming with unfamiliar confusion, he contemplates breaking one of his own laws: taking a prisoner. He presses his body harder against hers. This prize would be far more fulfilling in captivity than dead, or a curse. No, not “or.” He knows it would be both.

On the pirate ship, the deckhand in the crow’s nest has stopped watching the battle below and turned his attention upwards. He is watching the sky turn an angry. From a hot, dead calm, swirling winds chop up the water and begin tossing the ship. He’s nauseous, but his sickness is the least of his concerns. Hovering just over head, a cloud as black as night hangs motionless. Ominous, it waits not more than a second or two before dropping in altitude, as a black ceiling strobed with lightening, covering the two ships. Hot, thick bullets of rain pounding furiously down, stinging skin and blinding sight with booming thunder shaking even the most steady bones. Just as suddenly, the winds pick up and begin tossing both of the giant ships around like playthings. The deckhand has been ordered to his position. He dare not move. He knows he will die and soon. At least if he keeps his post he will die with honor in the eyes of God. He grips tightly, rain water gathered to his waist. He prays.

Captain Simon’s crew aboard the Spanish galleon are beginning to load the loot onto the pirate ship, altering not one movement in the midst of the storm. It matters not. The mission remains the same. The two Captains entwined together like serpent lovers watch. The Spanish Captain looks up at her conqueror and says, “Please, tell me one thing. Where are they taking it all?”

Captain Simon, has become physical aroused in this position with his conquest, pushes even deeper into her, sinking his body into her healthy, plump skin as if to become one, then answers, “I’m afraid I don’t understand your question, Ma’am. They are taking it to my ship, of course.” He breathes heavily into her ear, straining to resist his carnal instincts.

“What ship? You and your men, you came from the sky, out from the sky! Where is your ship?” she pleaded.

He looked over towards his ship and watched his men load the treasure onboard; then he noticed it. She was right. Onboard of what? There was no ship there to be seen! Yet, his men continue to walk on and off where he knew his ship to be. Rain was pouring down, visibility was impaired, but the ship was most definitely not there, or rather, invisible.

As the storm brewed, the waves, wind and rain wreaked merciless havoc on the vessels, beating up the decks, filling the cabins with water and tearing down the masts, splintering them like frail sticks—consuming countless lives in moments. The deckhand in the crow’s nest hangs on tightly as his small bucket crashes down into the cold unforgiving waters, inviting him to his damp grave. Both ships toss furiously and take in more water until they both capsize. First Mate Wiley maintained his steady position at the helm and wept as the waves took the glowing alien relic and returned it to the bosom of the sea.

Captain Simon blinked his eyes disbelieving the possibility of an invisible ship. He then saw his ship suddenly come into view. “Look!” He whispers in her ear, “There it is. You see, now? My ship. Isn’t she beautiful?”

A single wave, as grand as Gibraltar, grabbed both ships as a mighty hand, forcing the vessels down along with all the lives, history and treasures they held to the bottom of an unforgiving sea.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in FICTION: Novel (NaNoWriMo)

 

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