NaNoWriMo Day 3: And the days of crappy writing have begun…

Pretty much sums it up.  Today was a crappy writing day.  I pretty much hated just about everything I wrote, and every word on the paper felt like I was carving garbage out of granite.  It was hard to write today.  Nothing came easily, I was tired, and grumpy, and bummed out that my sentences were clunky, repetitive, and my words and descriptions elementary and boring.  I guess some days are just like that.

But, in the interest of keeping my promises to myself, I am posting my crappy writing from today.  Please feel free to give me suggestions on how to make it better.  The good news is that its probably not hard to improve it, since there’s so much to fix!

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tumblr_nkakscZYyz1qzjmo0o1_540The Revivalist

by Anastasia Betts

Chapter Excerpt

By the time Ella reached the steps leading up to the front door, she was thoroughly drenched.  Hair plastered to her face, mud and damp sticking her skirts and petticoats to her legs, sweat making her chemise and under garments chafe in the most uncomfortable ways.  But she was her at last.  An din one piece.  She gratefully set her bag down on the portico, and rang the bell for assistance.  No one came.  She waited a period of time that she deemed acceptable, and then added an additional count of five, owing to the fact that her version of acceptable, and the worlds version of acceptable did not always agree — and then rang the bell again.  She waited.  And waited.  But still no one came.  She had raised her hand to ring the bell a third time when the door was pulled open to reveal a very stern looking woman.  She was tall and slender, and had the look of a beauty faded by time or circumstance.  Her had was perfectly coiffed albeit in a style quite austere, pulled severely back from her face, which was all hard angles and edges.  Gaunt was the word that came to mind.  Don’t they feed people here, Ella thought?

“Umm, hello.  I am Eleanor Whitby and I was sent ov-“

“I know who you are, and that’s a nit wit.  How dare you think to enter this house, dressed like that?  Why you’d have mud all over Mr. Poe’s floors.”

“Oh, quite right.  I”m very sorry but I wasn’t s-“

“You’ll need to walk around back.”

“-ure where I sh-“

“There’s an entry for servants, you know.”

“-ould go.” Ella finished lamely.

The woman made no introduction or offer of help.

“Off with you then.  Around the house, in back I said.”

And with that the door was promptly and most decidedly shut in Ella’s face.  She was liking the place less and less by the minute, not that she had liked it all at any point, but she had been hopeful — hopeful that it would be at least a friendly and congenial place to work, full of people with whom she could make acquaintance and connection.  She began to think that hope may have been in vain.  With the door shut and no other option, Ella once more picked up her bag, and began to hobble and tote herself around the house to the back where the coveted servants’ port of entry was to be found.

The house was big.  Much bigger than was perceptible from the road.  Her trip around its perimeter told her that much.  At least the ground here was a bit firmer and prevented her boots from sinking in, gathering more mud on her hem.  Oh will this walk never end!  Ella said to herself, exasperated. Her experience of this evening had called to mind a story she had once heard, where a man was made to walk on and on as a form of punishment.  He was made to walk without ceasing until at last, in a state of utter exhausted, he collapsed and died.  She didn’t know if this were possible, death by walking.  Nothing in her medical training provided her any evidence to the contrary.  She began to laugh at the irony of it – to have survived drowning only to die walking.

No sooner had she these thoughts that she had arrived upon her desired destination, the servants’ door.  Or at least, she presumed so since she was now at the rear of the house and this was the only door on the bottom-most floor.  The doors upon the portico were likely for the residents, and not for the help.  She knocked lightly and the door swiftly opened.  Her friend Ms. Severity greeted her about as warmly as an icicle greets a cold winter morning.

“Well don’t just stand there like a ninny, come in,” the woman barked.

Ella wasn’t about to argue.  The temperature outside had dropped considerably just in the time Ella had walked from the front to the back of the house.  She stepped in from the cold, bag dragging behind her, to find herself into what knew to be aptly called a “mud room.”  It was dark and cramped, with overcoats and boots piled up around the perimeter.

“Take your shoes off your shoes and put them there,” she pointed harshly to the floor. “You can take off the rest of it in there,” she pointed to a small door that must have led to a closet.

“You mean for me to take off my clothes?”  Ella asked, astonished.

“Just the one’s with mud on them.”

“But all of them have mud on them!” Ella replied.

“Well then I guess you’ll have to take them all off,” the woman said shoving Ella more forcefully than was necessary into the small dressing room behind her.

“You can’t be serious,” Ella exclaimed, stumbling backwards into the much smaller room.  The woman slammed the door and said, “Master Poe insists on a clean house, and I’ll not let a gutter snipe such as you be the cause of trouble in this household. Now hand me your filthy garments or you’ll be walking up to your room as naked as the day you were born.”

Ella couldn’t believe this was happening, but she didn’t doubt the seriousness of the woman’s threat.  She began to unbutton, untie, unfasten her garments with a haste and efficiency she’d hardly known possible.  The closet was small to be sure, but at least  there was a pitcher and basin on a small side table.  She use the water and wash cloth to vigorously scrub the mud from various parts of her body, her face, her hair.  There really wasn’t a spot on her face, arms, or lower legs that hadn’t been tarnished.

The door opened abruptly on Ella standing only in her chemise, which was mud free thank goodness.  The woman snatched Ella’s soiled garments and in turn thrust another stack of clothes at her, then disappeared with a slamming of the door just as quickly as she had appeared.  Ella looked at the grey woolen garments in her hands.  They were woolen and very itchy, but at least they were clean and no doubt warm.  Despite the manner in which they had been provided, she found herself feeling grateful for them.

“Hurry up, girl!” she heard the woman snap. “Don’t dawdle!”

The door flew open again just as Ella had finished fastening the last button.

“Well, I don’t know how fit you are, but at least you’re clean,” the woman pronounced, turning to exit into the adjoining room, which Ella presumed was the kitchen from the look of it.

Now that she had been deemed acceptable, Ella picked up her bag and attempted to follow the woman.

“No.”  Came the automatic and stern reply.

Ella had no idea what the problem was.  She was clean.  She had left her offending clothes and shoes behind in the room.  The woman motioned to the muddy bag in Ella’s hand.

“Oh, but all my things are in there,” Ella said.

“You’ll get your things later,” She said. “For now, leave that filthy thing in the mud room.”

Ella dutifully, if not somewhat reluctantly, returned her bag to the mud room.

“I’m sorry, I don’t even know your name,” Ella began, hoping for an introduction.  “My name is Ella Whitby-“

“You may call me Ms. Beaufort, Master Poe’s head of household,” the woman said.

“Head of household?  You mean like a housekeep-“

Head of Household.” Ms. Beaufort said with air of finality.  The subject brooked no more conversation.

“Yes, I understand.  Head of Household,” Ella said, trying to keep the peace.

“And as Head of Household,” Ms. Beaufort continued, “It is my responsibility to ensure that the household is run according to Master Poe’s very exceptional, very singular standards.”mud room

Ella had never heard of a head of household as a position in the house before.  Perhaps this title was one of Poe’s peculiarities?  She wasn’t sure.

“We’ve been expecting you all day, but I’m sure no one expected you to be so rude as to arrive after sundown.” Ms. Beaufort said, scolding.

“It’s too late tonight to get into particulars,” the woman began, “So, I’ll show you to your room, and then we will discuss your placement here in the morning.”

“Yes, thank you.”  Ella said, grateful to hear that she would soon be in her room resting.

“Yes…?”  Ms. Beaufort challenged.

“Uh, yes ma’am?”  Ella replied, remembering her manners.

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Nano…plano..failo…

So yeah, NaNoWriMo is less than 2 weeks away now and I’m starting to freak out that I don’t know, deep in my gut, what I want to work on.  Do I have novel ideas?  Heck yes.  But almost all of my ideas are historical fiction, which require gads of research, and I just don’t think I have the time or energy for research this year. 😦

I was in the car a lot yesterday with Halie (my daughter), and our car conversations almost always turn to writing.  She’s a writer too, though she’s working on her own indie comic (its a great story and if she ever gets the website going I’ll post if here).  So, LA traffic means trapped in your car for a long time which means good discussions (for the most part).  Well, yesterday’s discussion led me to think that perhaps I do have one historical fiction that I could work on — one that doesn’t necessarily require immediate research.  Meaning, I could probably get through most of NaNoWriMo on mostly minimal research.  Though its based on true events (or should I say inspired by true events), its not truly historical because we don’t have enough information to go on…  Also my main protagonist is completely fictional, though my other main character is historical.  What are the rules for this anyway?

So this story I’m thinking of, tentatively titled “The Revivalist,” probably belongs in the American Gothic Horror (Romance?) genre.  It takes place in the late 1800s during the early days of the surgical/medicine/end of the scientific revolution movement…  If you’ve ever watched that show “Knick” the TV show on Cinemax (or Amazon Prime), then that’s precisely the era/setting in which my novel takes place.

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I may just watch the whole first season to get in the mood to write…  but for tonight I think we might just go see Crimson Peak… the new gothic movie out by Benicio del Toro…

I did it!!! #Nanowrimo Winner @ 50,068 word count

I could have kept writing.  I was in the middle of a scene.  But I figured writing over 18,000 words in less than 24 hours, I had earned the right to stop.  For now. 🙂

I’m proud of myself but I feel a bit underwhelmed by it all.  I guess its because I know that even though I got a boatload of words written, the idea of a complete novel is still very far off.  Oh well, its been a great experience and I’ve gotten a great start.  I’ve learned a lot too.  I’ve learned a lot about my characters, my fictional world (even it if is based on 1850s Boston), their relationships, their motivations, their challenges.  I’ve learned that the book I thought I was writing, was actually NOT the book I was writing — but will come later in the series.  And I’ve learned a lot about how to write — how I feel when I’m writing toward a very concrete established goal, vs. writing just for the pure enjoyment of it.  There are pros and cons to both.

Anyway, to all of you who have followed me and stuck it out with me through this journey, I thank you.  I also want to thank my husband for his support, even while he struggled with getting his own nanwrimo goal completed.  He won, by the way, with 56,000 words.  I’m kind of envious of his word count… just a little. 🙂

And most of all, I’m grateful for that little voice in my head — the one that refused to let me give up, even when I had already given up and made my peace with it.  Its amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

And so, for 2014 Nanwrimo… here is my final excerpt….  Again, please overlook the mistakes.  This has received no edits since my main focus in the last few hours was simply hitting the word count.

****McKendrick Saga – Nanowrimo Excerpt Day 30 *****

Without her mother’s knowing, Jo had made several clandestine trips back to Dorthea’s. Had her mother found out, it most likely wouldn’t have been a problem, since Charity would most probably assume that Jo was returning for additional fittings of her debutante ball dress. But Jo didn’t want any problems, even if the chance of discovery was slight.

“Arent you worried that Dorthea will say something to your mother?” Lu had asked.

“Not at all,” Jo said. “Dorthea absolutely loves to try out new and innovative fashions, and what could be more innovative than a pair of bloomers? Besides, I convinced Dorthea that I have mother’s blessing, and I paid her in advance.” Jo smiled, clearly impressed by her own cleverness. “No, I don’t think that Dorthea will be uttering a peep. Afterall, I shall be the talk of the ball and all of the ladies will be wanting to know who dressed me. I’ll say, Dorthea of course, and Dorthea will be booked until the end of the decade.” Jo continued, imaginging the scene. “My mother will be happy about all the attention, I shall be happy to be wearing pants instead of a dress, Dorthea shall be happy with all of the new business – everyone wins.”

Lucinda wasn’t so sure. Jo had a way of concocting plans which on the surface seemed to be full proof, but in actuality were the worst ideas ever.

“I’m not so sure your mother will be happy with the attention you get, especially if that attention is on account of you dressing yourself like a radical suffragette,” Lu cautioned.

“Oh bother, what does mother know about the suffragette movement? She hardly ventures out of the house and cares only for parties, dances, frivolities – all the trappings of gay society.” Jo dismissed Lu’s concerns with a wave of her hand.

“Never the less Jo, I think caution would be wise. Perhaps it is best to save this ensemble for a less – eh – critical moment.”

“Nonsense – this is the perfect moment. What could be more perfect than to let everyone know exactly who I am from my very first moment in society? That way Ill never have to deal with the fakery and show. The endless role playing. Mother wants me to enter society, so fine, I’ll enter society. But Ill do it my own way on my own terms.”

Lu just shook her head. She wasn’t sure her friend had thought this all the way through.

“Jolene, it is time to go are you ready?” Charity called from the foyer downstairs.

Donna descended the stairs and delivered a small hand written note to Charity waiting at the foot of the stairs.

“what is this?” Charity said irritably.

“I beg pardon, Ma’am. But Miss Jolene says she feels just a mite ill at the moment. She’s certain it will pass, but she asks if she can just have another hour before leaving.”

“Another hour!” Charity huffed. “But I am supposed to hand out the carnations to the guests at the start – its part of the fundraising effort by the Boston Ladies Society. I have a very important position tonight!” Charity said, full of self-importance. She looked like a peacock puffing up his feathers as if to prove how important he was.

“My dear, I’m certain that if Jo says that she is coming, she will come. We can go on ahead, and have Watson drive her over when she feels better. I’m certain its just a small bout of nerves. Besides, Lucinda is up there with her. You and I both no there’s not a chance that Lucinda would miss the biggest social gathering of the season.”

Charity looked doubtful, though she knew most of what Charles said was true. “Are you certain? What if she doesn’t come? After all this is supposed to be her first foray into society. Should we wait here for her and go together?” Charity said, uncertain.

“My dear if want to miss handing out carnations we can certainly wait. But I am sure that Jo will be fine and Lucinda will see her safely to the event. If , she does not show up, we can always come back to retrieve her.” Charles said patiently.

This seemed to mollify Charity some what.

“Yes, yes of course. We can always come and get her, its not too far away. And, I do so want to be there to hand out carnations. It’s a very important task you see. I shant wish to disappoint Ms. Ellis.”

Ms. Ellis was the president of the Boston Ladies Society, and Charity had only just made her way up enough amongst the ladies to actually receive an assignment. Re integrating back into society had been a much tougher challenge than Charity had expected. Charity had thought with her name and connections that she would be accepted, welcomed with open arms even, back into the bosom of the ladies of the Boston Brahmins – so called because they resembled so closely the upper caste of Indian Society. But Charity had been surprised to find their friendly affection not so forthecoming. But Charity was determined, and through her grit and determination she had finally made some inroads. She had found many of the ladies had become very passionate about the issues of the day, slavery, abolition, temperance, and heaven forbid, suffrage. Charity had pretended to be interested in it all, or just enough so, to sercure invitations to sewing circles and ladies meetings, the she found the pretense exhausting. She was glad to have been asked to be part of the planning committee for this fair, as it signaled a new development in her efforts. Her peers were finally accepting her. She was especially keen to impress Ms. Ellis – a young widow in her early thirties with a tremendous amount of money and power.

“well if youre sure, Charles. Donna, please tell Miss Lucinda that we are counting on her to deliver Miss Jolene to the fair in precisely one hour, and if they do not show, we will promptly return for the both of them.”

“Yes Ma’am,” Donna said, turning to ascend the stairs.

Jolene looked at herself in the mirror.

“Did you ever see anything so glorious or divine?” She said, twirling to get a better look from all angles. “Dorthea is a veritable genius!”

Lucinda had to admit, Jo looked divine. The beautiful and very modern ensemble suited Jo’s lithe figure impeccably. Even without a corset, Jo’s slim waist was highlighted to perfection. The top, rather than the modest linen version worn by Amelia Bloomer to the suffragette convention, dipped low across Jo’s neck line, and hung just off her petit shoulders. The blouse puffed out in soft billowing ruffles around her bosom and down her arms, cinched in at her tiny waist by a very wide ribbon, not unlike a more feminine version of a man’s waistcoat. A full, split, yet short skirt billowed out from under her ribboned waistline, falling to her knees. The front of the skirt was split to revel delicate, shapely “bloomers” which hugged her legs with every movement. Lu couldn’t decide if it was brilliant, or scandalous.

“Lu, do you think that anyone will understand this? I mean, will they know what I am doing?” Jo asked hopefully.

“I daresay a few ladies are in the know, but no one is near brave enough to pull it off. I happen to know a few of the older ladies were at that very convention. Though I can’t say for sure if they approved or disapproved of Mrs. Bloomer’s attire.” Lu said. “One thing I can say for sure, is that you’re sure to cause a stir.”

Jo smiled even wider, “I think I’m ready.”

A knock sounded at the door and Donna’s voice drifted through. “Miss Jolene, your mother says that if you’re not at the fair at the promised time, they’ll be coming back for you as right as rain. And they says that Miss Lucinda best make sure you turn up.”

“Do not worry yourself Donna, we are nearly ready to go.” Jolene called back to her.

Jo took one last look in the mirror. Lucinda came up behind her, placing Jo’s cloak gently over her shoulders.

“Are you ready for this?” Lu asked, smiling at her friend in the glass.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Jo responded happily.

“Good, then lets go stir things up,” Lu said, as they both turned and headed out the door.

Jo and Lu arrived at the fair in plenty of time. The fair was being held at the huge estate of Ms. Ellis, Calvin and Robert’s very wealthy, very powerful widowed aunt. Jo had never been here before though she had certainly heard of it. Ms. Ellis’ home was the very center of the Boston social scene, and parties, fairs, and fundraisers were a regular occurrence here. This was Jolene’s first official “society” event, and she was excited despite her professed dislike of society and all its annoying conventions.

The house was brightly lit with the newest of modern conventions – electricity. While most of Boston’s homes still relied on gaslamps. It was a wonder to be sure. The line of carriages waiting to enter the portico was at least a good block long, and Jo and lu chatted happily as they waited for their turn to disembark. Happy music drifted brightly from the open windows of the home out into the night – and a beautiful night it was. They couldn’t have asked for better weather. Though the humidity was a little higher than normal, it was not too warm and a light breeze blew in from the bay. Jo could feel the color in her cheeks, she felt like every inch of her buzzed in anticipation. She hadn’t completely given up the idea that being a lady was useless, by like any one addicted to excitement she truly did look forward to the night’s adventure that awaited her.

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Home Stretch – #nanowrimo Day 30

I’m almost there.  if you read my last post, I had decided to quit, and was ok with it.  I had accepted it.  Then something happened and i started writing again.

I began writing at 9pm, and had 18,000 words left to complete.  It is now nearly 2 am, and I have 7700 words to go.  That means I wrote about 10,300 in 5 hours !! Not too shabby.  My word count stands more or less at 42,300.  Yay for me! 🙂

Anyway, I thought I would post another little excerpt before I go to sleep and “clear the mechanism” as my husband says.

Again, i haven’t done ANY correcting.  Please excuse the mistakes.

******McKendrick Saga, Nanowrimo Excerpt Day 29.5 *****

“But I didn’t get to say goodbye!” Charity wailed. “He never forgave me, not in all this time. He’s gone now and I’ll never be out of disgrace!”

“There, there my dear, its all going to be all right,” Charles looked awkward and uncomfortable as he gingerly patted his wife’s head and shoulder, as one might pat a an adder that could turn and strike at any moment.

“Nooooo nooooo, it will not be alright” Charity continued. Her face contorted in the most unattractive crying that Jared had ever seen, even for Charity. He slunk to the far corners of the drawing room, intent on remaining as invisible an observer of the scene as possible, lest he become the object of Charity’s displeasure as he so often did.

Jolene ran over to her mother, ever one for the direct approach. “Mother, what is it, what is the matter?”

“Tell her Charles, I just can’t!” Charity moaned like she was dying right there on the chaise lounge.

“Your grandfather lockwood, and your uncle Richard Lockwood, both, have unfortunately passed away most unexpectedly as a result of the Cholera epidemic in Boston,” Charles said.

“ohhhhhhhh! It is a tragedy of the greatest proportions!” Charity cried. “My father never forgave me for marrying Charles, and now he never will! Now I will never have my father’s forgiveness or my inheritance!”

“But that is precisely what I’ve been trying to explain, if you will allow me ma’am,” an unfamiliar voice spoke from the far side of the room.

All heads turned toward the smartly dressed elderly man. Charles made the expected introductions, “children, this is Mr. Carlson, Mr. Lockwood’s man at service.”

The man nodded briefly to the children, “how do you do.” He said in a hasty if not perfunctory manner, and turned immediately back to Charles and Charity.

“Ms. Lockwood – eh – I mean Mrs. McKendrick, this is what I have been trying to tell you. Yes, your father is gone – for which I am very sorry and express my sincere condolences – but your brother is gone as well. Which isn’t to say that I’m not sorry for his passing, for I am as well, oh dash it all, I’ve come to tell you that with your brother also gone so suddenly, that you are Mr. Lockwood’s only surviving heir.”

Charity had a stunned look on her face; she ceased crying, though the hiccups continued.

“What do you mean I am the heir?” Charity said, incredulous.

“I mean you are his last surviving child, and therefore his only heir.”

“But my father disinherited me. Since Robert is dead, surely his estate will pass to my evil twin cousins Bert and Barty over in Cheshire County!” Charity insisted, but with a whole lot of hope and very little conviction.

“Would that it were true, at least bert and barty wish it so. But alas it is not the case. Your father never re-drew up his will, he never made your disinheritance legal in any way. Either he believed that the two of you might one day reconcile –“

Charity snorted loudly at this, then covered her face embarrassedly with her soggy hankerchief.

“More like the old son of a gun was too arrogant to believe he might ever die,” Charles grumbled impolitely.

“— or he did not expect, as Mr. McKendrick has said, to die so young. It is fair to say that he never expected your young healthy brother Robert to die at the age of twenty one.”

That started a set of fresh wails from Charity, “ohhh poor Robert! He was so young! He was so handsome and smart! Ohhhh” she cried. “But – “ she stopped and sniffed delicately, “ do I understand you correctly, sir, that because of my dear brother Robert’s untimely death, that all that my father has now passes to me?”

From his darkened corner, Jared rolled his eyes. Was she daft? That was precisely what he had just said. But he held his tongue.

Mr. Carlson replied patiently, “yes Mrs. McKendrick, that is precisely what I am saying. All of the wealth and holdings of Mr. Lockwood, your father, now pass directly to you – well, to your husband actually.”

“To my husband?” Charity cried her voice loud and shrill, “Whatever do you mean? You just said that I was my father’s heir. And daddy hated Charles after all. He would roll over in his grave at the very thought!” She continued, as if Charles were not right there, holding her, comforting her, hearing every unthinking word she uttered.

“That very well may be, but do remember that as a married woman, all of your property, everything you own, belongs to not to you but to your husband.” Mr. Carlson reminded her.

“But that’s not fair,” Jo said, joining the conversation for the first time. She looked apologetically at her father.

“But it is the law,” Mr. Carlson said. “If Mrs. McKendrick was unmarried, she would, indeed, inherit all of the estate. But as a married woman, by law it becomes her husband’s inheritance.”

Charles spoke softly to Charity, “My dear, you know I care nothing for such things, it is your inheritance, even if in the eyes of the law it is mine.”

“And so it should be!” She said hotly. “well never mind, Charles never did have a head for money. I shall manage it all and it shall be as if it were all mine in any case.”

Everyone’s eyes were on Charity now. She had ceased wailing and crying, and there was a scheming look, a calculating look to her now. Her mind was ticking off various properties and investments. The Mill in Lowell, the Mansion on Tremont Street, the Shipping line, and those were just the investments that she knew about.

“Do you have a full accounting of daddy’s estate? I should like to have a look at it immediately,” she said, pulling herself erect and out of Charles tenuous embrace. She no longer needed or wanted his comfort it seemed. Charles moved imperceptibly further from her on the sofa, putting physical distance between them to match the emotional distance that charity had just established.

“There is a great deal to be done, a great deal indeed. We must see to an accounting of all the investments, the accounts are settled, the debts. We must know exactly what we are worth, what must be liquidated, what must stay,” she stood up and began to pace, thinking and talking furiously as she walked about.

“And of course we will have to move back to the mansion on tremount,”

“Move?” Charles said, dazed.

“Of course we will, do you not see your daughter there growing into a young lady? You would not dare deprive her of her legacy as a Boston Brahmin?”

“What’s a Brahmin?” Jo asked, but was promptly ignored.

“And of course we will send your boy off to school – perhaps they can do with him what you have been unable to do, make something of him. I for one shall be glad to have him in someone else keeping for once,” she continued.

Jo looked at Jared, meeting his eyes. He looked cool and unaffected but she knew him. Her words hurt, even if he was well aware of her dislike.

“And Charles will have to take over running the mill –“

“Now see here! Just wait a minute, I don’t know anything about running a mill,” he protested

“So you shall learn! You listen to me Charles McKendrick! I have done it your way for ten years now. For ten years I have sat here in the middle of cow country, and played the pauper’s wife – a life I was never destined to lead. And now, now my destiny has come calling. You. Will. Not. Deny me this. If you love me. If you ever loved me. You will not deny me this Charles! You will bring the family to Boston and take your place in the family business, and you will cease this menial work with cattle!” She was screaming now, the force of her voice filling every inch of the room, sucking the air out so that no one dared breathe, no one dared utter a single word. Even Mr. Carlson stood in complete silence. The only sound to be heard was the deep and hearty draw and exhale of Charity’s heaving chest. Charity stared hotly at Charles, daring him to speak, daring him to contradict a single word of her admonishment. He did not.

Many moments passed. No one spoke, no one moved, no one breathed. The storm that was Charity McKendrick stilled and gentled, and passed.

“Mrs. McKendrick,” Mr. Carlson dared to step into the void, the eye of the squall. “I will have the accounting for you next week, if you can make the trip to town?”

She turned to Mr. Carlson, her eyes flashing with deadly promise, “I most certainly will be there. We shall all be there. With daddy’s money, we most certainly could hire laborers to pack up this old place and move it to the city. “

Charity looked around the humble, yet respectable drawing room her face a mask of disgust– all around her the room was a revelation of the last ten years and the life that Charles had provided for her, for the family. Jolene followed her gaze, confused. What did she find not to her liking? Jo loved this room with its bright and cheery windows and shelves full of books – shelves that her father had made himself, along with much of the furniture.

“No, I daresay there is not a single thing here I would deign to take. I think I shall have all new things, entirely new things.”

“But mother,” Jo began to interject.

Her mother turned on her then, her eyes still burned hotly, as they had when turned on Charles. But Jo was not afraid of her mother.

“Mother there are things here that are special to me. I shall be sad to leave them. I do not even want to move to Boston.” Jo said, making her feelings known.

“Nevertheless, you shall. You shall and you shall grow to love. You are a silly little country mouse. But believe you me, I shall make you into the very belle of society. You will have the chance that I so foolishly abandoned. You will achieve all that I did not.” Charity looked at her and vowed.

“But I do not want to go to Boston! I want to stay here with our horses, I want to stay here with Spirit!” Jo had a temper herself when it came right down to it, Jared decided.

“You will go.” Charity shouted.

“I won’t!” Jo vowed.

The slap was hard and full across Jo’s face, and whipped her head violently to the side.

Charles was on his feet before Charity had even realized what she had done.   Jo looked at her mother, holding her cheek. She looked at her mother as if she didn’t know her, like she was some stranger standing there. Jo had never been struck, not once. Jared had always been the one to be punished, and that had been enough for Jo, seeing his pain.

“I HATE you! I will never forgive you for this, ever!” Jo said, and ran from the room.

Charity, who loved her daughter despite her bitter and resentful nature, was beside herself. “What have I done? What have I done?” She kept repeating nonsensically. Charles just held her and brought her back the sofa.

“My dear its been a trying day, much has happened. You are not yourself,” he soothed.

“Yes, yes, I am not myself, I am not myself.” Charity chanted.

Finally on Track. #Nanowrimo Day 18 – Word Count 30,520

I’m finally ahead again for the first time since the beginning of the month.  I wrote a good amount tonight, most of it crap – I’ll admit it.  But, I did get one scene that I’m happy enough to share.  YAY! 🙂  (I thought I wasn’t going to be able to share anything tonight because it was all crap, but then this happened…)

This scene occurs after a very eventful day — full of chases, brawls, kidnappings, hiding in closets (and a first kiss if you read yesterday’s excerpt), a visit to a house of ill repute, and a tavern …. all of which resulted in a number of injuries to our intrepid heroine (Jo) and her trusty sidekick (Cal).  Even worse, they parted ways on the heels of a fight during which Cal told Jo to act more like a lady, and Jo told Cal to go court Lucinda if he wants a lady.  It wasn’t pretty.

In this excerpt, Jo is being brought to the Ellis home (Cal’s home) for medical care – by Cal’s older brother Robert.  Robert does have a small history with Jo, since he’s her brothers friend, and was her escort to what amounted to the 1850s version of her “coming out” ball.  Cal and Robert have a close relationship, but its put to the test in this scene…

***McKendrick Saga Excerpt – Nanowrimo Day 18 *****

Robert kicked open the door to the study, using his back to hold it while he maneuvered a sleeping Jo through the doorway.  Calvin was already on the couch, Doctor Sams wrapping his bare torso tightly.

“Broken ribs, huh?” Robert said, his tone ironic.

Cal gave his brother an annoyed look, until he noticed who Robert held in his arms.  He tried to jump to his feet, but his sore ribs immediately forced him down again.

“I told you son, you’ve got to stay still for the next few days so these ribs can heal.  You’re going to be in some pain for quite a while.”  Dr. Sams gave Cal a disappointed look, as if he couldn’t believe that Cal would be stupid enough to get into a fight with two men twice his size.  He didn’t know the half of it.

Cal looked at Robert, his face a mask of worry and panic.  He could see that it was Jo, but he had no idea if she was ok, or how she’d come to be with his brother.

“Is she ok?  I mean – what happened?  How did you —“  he said

“Hold up there little brother, one question at a time,” Robert smiled patiently, carrying Jo to the other settee.  He bent over to put her down, but in her sleep she reached out for him again, tangling her arms around his neck.  Calvin frowned, feeling annoyed, though he couldn’t pin point why exactly.  Robert worked to free himself from Jo, but her hands kept reaching for him, for the safety that his embrace represented to her sleeping self.  Finally Robert gave up and just sat on the settee, Jo curled like an injured kitten in his lap.

“She looks fine enough, I’m sure she doesn’t need you fawning all over her.” Cal said irritably.  “She wouldn’t like it anyway.  If theres one thing Jo hates, it’s people thinking she’s helpless.”

Robert raised an eyebrow and gave his young brother a speculative look.  “Is that so?  Well it so happens that Jo is not ok, but with Dr. Sams ministrations I daresay she’ll pull through like the champ that she is.”  Robert looked admiringly at the small girl sleeping in his arms. Her strength and tenacity had impressed him far more than her pretty little show at the fair.  He decided he like this Jo, the real Jo, much better than Jolene the debutante.  He took the cap gently from her head, so as not to wake her, and began running his fingers over her face, skull, and through her hair – some of which was crusted over now with dried blood.

“What are you doing?” Cal demanded, ‘You can’t just go touching her like that!  Not while she— while she — she’s in such a vulnerable position!”

Aside from a slight smirk, Robert just ignored Cal and continued his examination.  Like most siblings he enjoyed tormenting his younger brother.  But, he had a more noble purpose in mind; he wanted to better know the extent of her injuries.

“Dr. Sams, I believe the young lady may have a broken nose. Her eye socket seems in tact, though its hard to tell with all this swelling.” Robert said, his voice clinical now.  Cal remembered that Robert had been a medical student at Harvard before switching over to the law, but it galled him to see Robert touching Jo so liberally.  “And, she seems to have a rather deep cut on the left side of her scalp.”

Dr. Sams nodded, removing various and sundry items from his medical bag.  He wet a cloth with some noxious liquid and smeared it over her cuts and bruises.  “Might be that some of this hair needs to come off,” Dr. Sams said, gesturing to the area where Jo’s head was cut.

“You’ll do no such thing!” Cal shouted, standing up despite the pain in his ribs. “Jo wouldn’t want it I tell you!  She wouldn’t let you near her with a ten foot pole!”

“Easy, easy,” Robert said, giving Cal a disapproving look. “What’s gotten into you Cal? No one is going to cut her hair, no one is going to hurt her.  Now sit down and rest like the doctor said.  I’ll make sure she’s ok.”

“Well, I don’t think there is a need for you to be so… handsy about it!” Cal accused.

“Handsy?  I’m not being Handsy little brother, I’m examining the patient.” Robert reassured him.  “That being said, I believe Dr. Sams can take it from here.”

Jo had slipped back into deep sleep and Robert was able to easily remove her arms from around his neck.  He laid her gently back onto the settee, using a blanket to cover her.  He again smoothed her abundant riotous curls away from her face to ensure no impediment to Dr. Sams’ work.

Cal snorted and turned to sit back down.  He kicked the empty water bucket in his frustration.

Robert’s look turned from speculative to knowing.  You love her, Robert thought, taking in his brothers behavior.  Poor sot.  Loving any girl was a challenge at best, but loving a girl like Jo?  Good luck with that, he thought.  Robert fancied Jo himself, but at the present moment he considered her too young for him.  She was sixteen and only just.  Perhaps in a few years she might interest him in a serious way.  For now she was simply his best friend’s pretty young sister.  But to Cal?  He understood now.  Jo was Cal’s first love.  How glorious.  How painful.  He didn’t envy his young brother one bit.  He was in for a rocky ride with this filly.

#NANWRIMO – CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON!!!!! …and the 25k badge

photo

Hello fellow Wrimos!!!  I have returned from the long dark abyss of not writing all week, and then writing all weekend to get back on track.  Holy cow I’m exhausted.  I wrote around 13,000 words this weekend, and I’m done for.  I have NO IDEA how the insane 50K in one day Wrimos do it.

Part of my problem is (1) three herniated disks, and (2) tennis elbow.  That translates to:  no-comfortable-place-to-sit-and-type-anywhere-ever.  But, with the help of my awesome husband (you can check out his nanwrimo blog here: aaronbetts.wordpress.com ), and the use of my parent’s cabin up in Running Springs – I have overcome these obstacles and gotten myself back in the game!

This past week was really hard.  I didn’t have time to write, and I didn’t have time to read all of your lovely posts either. 😦  There were many times when I really felt like giving up.  I mean, who wants to force out 10,000 words just to keep up in a silly contest?  But, its not silly and I really really want to win this year.  I mean, I’ve come this far haven’t I?  I can do it!  I have to keep telling myself that, or the lazies might get me.

This weekend, conversely, was super awesome.  It was so relaxing to get away from the city and into the country for a change. My parents have this quaint little cabin that they use whenever they are in town to visit us (They live most of the year in Florida). That means when they are not here, we get to use it – which is awesome.  Aaron and I haven’t used it as much as we would have liked.  Something always seems to get in the way; excuses abound.  This weekend, Aaron wasn’t accepting any excuses. “We’re going!” he kept insisting.  And, I’m so grateful.  I work so hard during the week, it can be easy for me on the weekends to just say, screw the world! And just stay in bed.  The chronic pain doesn’t help either.  But this time I listened to my wise and sage husband, and we went.

Its been glorious!  Yes the writing was work, but I made it through.  I spent most of Saturday just resting, and I’ll admit it, resisting the writing.  But, I got busy eventually.  I was able to get 3000 words in yesterday, and another 10k today (or nearly that).  YAY!!! 🙂

I liked a lot of what I wrote, even though I recognize a LOT of it still needs mounds of work.  Still, there were some satisfying bits and pieces.  Also a lot of unexpected things showed up, like….. wait for it…. Jo and Cal’s first kiss!!! WHAT?????? I know right?  I was stunned too.  That wasn’t even going to happen in this book, like, EVER.  I keep plotting ways to kill Cal off, because Jo is supposed to fall for this manly man in book 3.  But Cal won’t go away!!  What the heck man.  Oh well.  I’ll let him live for now and see what happens.  Maybe he’ll become a manly man… eventually.

So, in the spirit of Jo and Cal doing whatever the heck they want in spite of what I have planned for them… I give you, “The First Kiss”

PS…. I apologize in advance for the length of this excerpt…

[cue scene]

*********McKendrick Saga Excerpt — NANOWRIMO Day 16 ********

“Stop fighting me!” Calvin said, as he pulled her along behind him.  The alleyway was barely wide enough for one person to pass.  Jo could still hear their pursuers shouting from the street.

“Hurry up!” she said, pushing Calvin ahead of her now, “go faster!”

Calvin rolled his eyes, then turned to grasp the knob of a door off the alley to their right.  He pushed it open and yanked Jo in behind him, pulling the door closed just as two menacing faces appeared at the alley entry way.

“Did they see us?” Jo whispered.

“I’m not sure.”  Cal whispered back, “Just be quiet.”

They were in a very dark, very tight space, face to face.  She could feel the heat of Calvin’s breath landing rhythmically on her forehead, though he appeared to be attempting to hold his breath.  Seeking any extra space, Jo gingerly extended her hands to feel for her surroundings.  She could feel the handles and rods of tools to her left and right, or were they brooms?  She wasn’t sure, but it seemed to be a storage closet of some sort.

Footsteps sounded on the other side of the door, just a thin barrier of wood lay between them and their pursuers.

“Where’d they go?” one of them said.

“I dunno, I reckoned they went this way.”

More padding of footsteps.  The men seemed to be walking back and forth in the alley.  Jo held as still as she possibly could. The knob started to rattle and shake, and a startled gasp escaped Jo’s parted lips.  In an instant the warmth of Cal’s hand was over her mouth, stifling any other exhalations.  The rattling stopped.  Thankfully Calvin had thought to throw the latch.

“Aw, come on ye lump. They aint here.  Ye let em get away.”  Something large and solid thunked into the door, as if one had pushed the other.  Then Jo could hear the footsteps fading as the miscreants gave up the search and moved on.

“Don’t move.” Cal whispered, his mouth close to her ear. “Not until we’re sure.”

Jo nodded silently.  Cal’s breath tickled her neck, and perhaps something else as well.  Butterflies rioted in her stomach; Jo wasn’t entirely sure it was just the danger of being chased by angry irishmen who thought they’d been swindled.

Jo was pretty sure the men were gone, but Cal’s hand was still resting over her mouth – though more gently now.  She wondered at the mixture of smooth and rough flesh.  Cal was an expert rider and she could feel the callouses on his palms rubbing against her lips.  The butterflies were rioting again.

Jo felt Cal’s hand slide away from her mouth, as if Cal had just remembered it was still there.  Although he didn’t remove it from her face entirely.  She felt it slide over her cheek, then down over her jawline, his thumb brushing gently over her lips.  His breath was coming faster now, or was that hers?  The butterflies in her stomach were gone now.  A thundering herd of bison had taken up residence in body, running at full speed through her veins.  Her blood pumped through her ears as loud as mighty Niagra.  Her heart pounded louder than the fireworks on Independence Day.  She could feel Cal leaning closer now.  Was he going to kiss her?  Was he?

She suspected he had wanted to for some time, but he’d never gotten up the gumption to do it.  Jo had always he didn’t want to hurt Lucinda, who had the worst of girlhood crushes on Cal.  Or maybe he, like she, valued their friendship too much, and didn’t want to chance having things change between them.  But the truth was, Cal wasn’t just Jo’s best friend.  She liked him.  She liked him a lot -a lot more than just a best friend.  She had always been too shy or too afraid to say anything.

By the looks of it, Cal seemed to be doing just fine figuring things out without any additional encouragement on Jo’s part.  She could feel his lips just inches from hers.  The air between them was charged, tingling, alive with microscopic bolts of lightening.  She felt hot and flush, and was grateful at least for the darkness that hid her from his view.  What would he say if he could see her now?  Would he think her forward?  Inappropriate?  Oh who was she kidding — Cal already knew that Jo was entirely inappropriate.  Jo forced herself to stop thinking. She leaned imperceptibly closer to Cal, pressing herself into him just so.  She wanted this after all.  Didn’t she?

Cal couldn’t believe that they were here, together, like this.  Smashed up against one another in the tight confines of the tiny storage closet.  Thank heavens it had been here, and unlocked too.  Cal wasn’t sure how they would have escaped without it.  When Jo had run like a bat out of hell from the Chuck-a-luck game, he’d still been in shock over her winning that last roll.  She had quadrupled her money in one shot, and the gamers, a rough sort on any day, hadn’t appreciated her luck — or their empty pockets.  His sense of self preservation had kicked just as the punch intended for this face had been thrown.  He had raced out of that alley as fast as could, dodging and ducking as he went.  The punch originally meant for him had connected with another gambler when Cal ducked, turning the brawl into one giant free for all.  After that, Cal’s escape had been relatively easy.  He ran up North Beacon street, chasing after the two devils who took off after Jo.  He saw her make a left on Olive and he knew he had only one chance of catching her.  He took a short cut through a series of tight alley ways until he was fairly certain he was ahead of her on Olive.  Sure enough, a quick peek out of the alcove revealed Jo running at break neck pace, the two brawlers not far behind.  But, the street was crowded and both Jo and her pursuers were ducking in and out of traffic, jumping barrels and foodstuffs for sale, skirting around passersby, created a general nuisance of themselves and an unruly commotion of the street.  As Jo approached, unaware of Cal waiting for her, he worked to time his move just right.  The men chasing her were now stalled behind a wagon that had just passed between them and their prey.  Just as she reached the opening that concealed Cal’s presence, he shot out and landed a solid grip on her upper arms, yanking her to an abrupt stop, and pulling her into the shadows of the alley with him.

She had struggled, at least until she figured out it was him.  He hadn’t slowed for a moment, just kept dragging her toward the unlocked storage door that he had discovered on his way to head her off.  He hadn’t, however, realized it would be quite so tight with the two of them nose to nose inside of it.  They had to stay completely still to avoid knocking over any of the tools that lined the walls.

Once in the closet he had quickly locked the door behind them.  It was nearly pitch black, save for the small cracks of light seeping in through the crevices of the door jam. He held his breath and had hoped she was doing the same, especially after he heard footsteps just outside the door.  Cal thought they were done for sure when Jo gasped.  The rattling knob had startled him too, but he had been quick to slam his palm over Jo’s mouth… Jo’s inviting mouth with soft, full, rose-colored lips.  He couldn’t see them of course, not in the dark.  But he didn’t need to.  He had every inch of her face – of her memorized.  He saw her from afar.  He saw her when she wasn’t there.  He saw her at night in his dreams.  He simply saw her.  Even here, in darkness so complete he couldn’t even see his hand there in front of him, he saw her.  He saw her as if she were bathed in the brightest sunlight, for that’s how clearly her countenance had been emblazoned upon his soul. She had turned him into such a sap.

He realized somewhat abashedly that his hand still covered her mouth, though he suspected the men were long gone.  He was reluctant, though, to remove his hand and break contact with her.  Instead of removing his hand, he simply slid it over her smooth skin, her cheek, her jaw.  How anyone could mistake her for a boy he would never know.  But he enjoyed seeing her in boys clothes – clothes that revealed far more of her shape than her ladies dresses ever did.  He knew, for instances, that she had long strong legs that could keep her solidly seated, even when riding bareback.  And though she usually wore her boy clothes a little large for her lithe frame, he could just make out the line of her rounded hips, and the curve of her… of her… he shook his head slightly.  He knew he was wrong to let his thoughts wander so inappropriately.  He was grateful for the dark that hid his face; he was quite sure that if Jo could see him right now, she would surely slap those thoughts right out of his head.  In fact, even though she couldn’t see him, he wondered at the fact she hadn’t already slapped him.  He took inventory of their position – their bodies pushed together, his hand still on her face, his thumb grazing gently over her lips, which were parted slightly he took note.  He could hear her rapid breathing, keeping pace with his own.  Was it the thrill of the chase?  Or, something else? He felt himself leaning closer.  A moth drawn to her flame.  She would stop him wouldn’t she?

But she didn’t stop him.  He felt her leaning closer, leaning in for… for… and then it happened.  The slightest touch.  Her lips fluttering across his own, like the wings of a butterfly against a child’s cheek.  Or the fluttering of eyelashes.  His lips burned, singed where they had met Jo’s.  He relished the touch, savored it, but at the same time felt an unquenchable fire ignite for more.  The force of the desire slammed into him with a shock, a bolt of lightening that broke through the dreamlike reverie… he remembered himself. Painfully so.

“We should go” Cal said, setting her away from him, “quickly. Before they return.”

Jo was confused – he had pushed her away.  Did that mean he didn’t want to kiss her after all?  Had she guessed wrong?  She shook the thought away.  Cal was right of course.  The two men could come back at any moment, and what was she thinking anyway?  Hiding in a closet, in the dark, in boys clothes, with Calvin, tempting him with a kiss (if you could even call it that).  This was by far the riskiest thing she had ever done, and she had done some pretty risky things in her day.  Time to come to your senses Jo, she told herself.

“Yes,” she said, “good point.”

She turned and felt around clumsily for the door knob and latch.  Just as she found it, she felt Calvin’s hand land on hers, and then instantly pull back.

“Oh!  I’m sorry, I just thought you couldn’t find—”

“I found it,” Jo said, annoyed that he would pull back as if she disgusted him. “Of course I found it, I’m not a total ninny.”

“I didn’t say you were—“ Cal began to protest, but then the door was swinging open, letting in the light.  They stumbled blindly out of the dark and into the light, like Lazarus from the dead.

“Nevermind,” Jo said.  She didn’t have the patience for Cal to play the awkward schoolboy now.  Best to just ignore it and pretend nothing happened.  Maybe that would put him at ease.

Looking up and down the alley, Jo pronounced the way clear.

“Come on, let’s go to Belknap street,” Jo said, forcing a bright smile.

“Belknap street?” Cal replied. “What on earth for?”

“Because I’ve got a load of money in my pocket, and hankering to spend it.”

“Spend it on what?” Cal said, eying Jo suspiciously.  Good, Jo thought.  Suspicious was better than the awkward-embarrased-shy look he’d been sporting when they exited the closet.

“Why a knife of course,” Jo said smartly, and took off running down the alley.

Cal watched Jo run ahead of him for just a moment before taking off after her.  Some things would never change, he thought, shaking his head.  He touched his lips automatically, the ever so slight taste of her lips lingered there, like the fast-fading hints of a dream.  Was it a dream?  Had he simply imagined he kissed her — no, he corrected himself — she had kissed him.  Maybe it was a dream. But his blood still flowed in in disturbed fits and starts, as if his heart couldn’t decide whether to race or stop all together. Well, he thought, his body believed the kiss had happened, even if his mind doubted it.

He watched Jo disappear down the alley and turn the corner, never slowing, never looking back.  Clearly she was back to her usual self, untroubled by anything that had happened in the closet or even the chase that led up to it.  He felt a stab of disappointment at that realization.  What had he expected?  That Jo would swoon, overcome with ardor and passion? He shoved the thoughts aside, exhaled an exasperated sigh, and ran to catch up with her.

To Infinity and Beyond. . .

Ditto.

Aaron's Ramblings

NO, this is not a post about Disney. You’ll have to visit my Disney Photography page for that (shameless plug). This post is about the newly released Interstellar by Christopher Nolan. I have been tracking this movie for some time and have been greatly anticipating its arrival. It seems like there are 2 types of Chris Nolan fans – Love him or Hate him. I would be in the former. I have like his style of story telling since Momento. I was BLOWN away by Inception, The Dark Knight has been one of my favorite movies for a LONG time (and not just because of Heath’s performance – though that was a HUGE part of it).

I wasn’t super keen on the casting but that was not enough to get in the way of my enjoyment. It had some of my favorite actors (McConaughey, Hathaway, Chastain, and even the suprise…

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