Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nanowrimo - Day #28 - Whohoo!

Am I a writer? Who can say? But, apparently, I write. And this month I wrote a lot - just over 50,000 words, in fact.

Now that I've been added to the list of Nanowrimo winners for 2012, I feel... well, astonished, to be honest... and thrilled... and grateful to all who encouraged and supported me - especially my good friend, Janet, who is also shooting for a Nano win this year. (You can do it, Janet. I know you can!!)

Whether all my hard work produced anything worth reading, only time will tell. The one thing I can say for certain tonight is that it was worth the writing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Day #25: The joys of novel writing, dog parks and long runs through Shubie Park

Whohoo!  I broke 43,600 today - meaning I have less than 6,400 to go to reach my goal of writing 50,000 words at 50.  Better yet, I have a story that mostly makes sense. Of course, there'll be lots of rewriting to do if I want to turn my scribblings into anything resembling a real novel - but, since it's the first "first draft" of a novel I've ever written, I'm pleased as punch.

And I must say I've learned lots from the experience so far. First, it's not that difficult for me to write 1,600 or 1,700 words a day so long as I keep my inner editor locked away in the attic while I'm doing it.

Second, when I let the writing flow, lots of stuff happens that I don't anticipate. Where did that plot twist come from? What did that character just say? Where the heck is this story going anyway?  It's downright fascinating watching my subconscious spew the stuff out.

Finally, I actually enjoy trying to write a novel. I always thought/hoped I might - but, since I'd never attempted it, I wasn't sure.

All that said, I'm still looking forward to a break from all this writing when December 1st rolls around.

A quick word about my running this weekend. I treated myself to a long run to Shubie Park and back (15k in all), with a stop and stretch at the spot where my story opens - the far end of a trail called Vivien's Way. It felt good to run after so much sitting and writing.  A good portion of the park is crisscrossed by "off-leash trails" enjoyed by dogs and their human companions (yes, they let the people off leash too) and I don't think there's anything more joyful than a dog park on Sunday morning.  It's positively infectious.

The other delightful thing about the run today was that it reminded that, even when things are at their gloomiest, there's usually beauty and joy around if only you take time to notice.

This late in November the leaves are mostly off the trees and well on their way to becoming mulch so the forest was looking quite dreary today. Still, there was plenty of beauty to be found in the reflection of the sky on the surface of the lake.

Light streaming through the trees.

And bright green moss adding punches of colour to the forest floor.

That's it for tonight, folks. I've typed about as much as I can for one day and I think Husband might appreciate a little company for a change. Have a great week, everyone! And good luck to all you NaNoers out there!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Day #22

Before I start whining, let me start with some positive stuff. The weather's been amazing this week! Sun, sun and more sun - not exactly normal for November in Halifax but I'm not complaining. I love hanging out on the upper deck when I take the ferry to work in the morning. This view never gets old.  

In addition, husband's been diligently extending the hearth in front of the fireplace in town so a new wood-burning insert can be installed tomorrow.  Everyone in our little family loves sitting by a wood fire when the temperature dips so we're excited about the upgrade - especially our youngest cat, Nemmie. 

I've had good runs this week as well. I went for a lovely 6k around the lake Tuesday night and another fabulous 9k tonight. The weather's been perfect for running and my legs are feeling good so I almost feel ready to get back to serious training. I dipped my toe in the water tonight by running a few hills but I need to sit down this weekend and prepare a proper training schedule for my first race in 2013 - the Hypothermic Half in February.

Now, the whining about NaNo. I hit a bit of a wall last night. My story, which seemed to be humming along quite nicely - with interesting, complex characters and a more or less logical plot - suddenly morphed into a steaming, twisted wreck of irrational motivations and "plot-holes". Needless to say, I fell bed into feeling quite sorry for myself. Things looked a bit brighter this morning when I dreamt up a plot twist that just might get me out of the soup but only time will tell if it works.

Incidentally, one of the interesting things about this first foray into novel-telling is how nervous I am about sharing the darker parts of the story. I suppose it's because I'm reluctant to let anyone know I'm capable of such dark thoughts.  But I am writing a murder mystery after all, and murder mysteries are supposed to be dark, so I know I need to get over it.

In case you think I'm exaggerating, here are links to two true stories that inspired my imaginary one. The first is a case from the US. A young woman is suing the owners of Model Mayhem alleging they knew the site was being used by two men to lure women into situations where they could be drugged and raped and that the owners hushed up the rape scheme. The second is the story of Amanda Todd who was victimized by a cyber-bully/predator so mercilessly that she eventually took her own life.  

Bottom line: If you read the snippets I posted over the past couple of weeks and imagined I was writing a romance, I'm not. I just haven't screwed up quite enough courage to share the dark stuff yet. One day soon I will though.  Promise. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Day #17

It was another good weekend of writing, running and riding - despite the sudden drop in outdoor temperatures.

This is what our window looked like when we woke up Saturday morning. A thick layer of frost obscured our view of the trees and river beyond so I knew I'd be wearing long pants and a jacket for my LSR.  It was cool enough that I wished I'd packed my running gloves as well, but I still had a terrific run. I only did 14k up the river and back but it felt much better than last weekend's long run. I kept it relatively short because I knew I'd be joining my friend, David, for another 10k this morning. It was cool again today but the sun shone brightly and David and I talked non-stop so I thoroughly enjoyed it.

On the writing front, my story is still coming along well. With luck, I'll top 31,000 words before I crawl into bed tonight - so I'll have a small cushion going into next week. There are thirteen days of writing ahead so, as long as I don't run into a wall or suffer a major technological glitch, I should succeed in reaching my goal of writing 50,000 words by November 30th. Of course, that may not be the end of it since I'm pretty sure I won't be finished telling the story by then, and in any case will have tonnes of revision to do before I can refer to all those words as a "novel".  However, I'm determined not to think about that for now. For the next thirteen days, the only thing I want to worry about it writing 50,000 words.

My one disappointment this weekend was that I didn't ride my motorcycle as much as planned. I kept hoping it would warm up so riding would feel as comfortable as it did last weekend but, alas, it wasn't to be. I did go for a short ride yesterday afternoon but, despite layering up, got cold quickly and concluded I'd better head back to the house before my hands got too numb to operate the clutch and brake levers. When the temperatures dropped even further today, I decided to give riding a miss altogether. Here's hoping next weekend's is a bit warmer so that I can get out at least once more before the bike goes away for the winter.

In closing, here's another snippet from the story, written over weekend. Hope you enjoy it!

          Kate opened the door smiling, and waved him inside as she turned to head back to the kitchen immediately.
“Sorry, I just need to go turn the scallops over. Don’t worry about your shoes. Just hang your coat in the closet to the left and follow me to the kitchen when you’re ready.”
“Scallops? I thought you said you were making pasta.”
“I did. I am. But, in honour of company, I decided to pull a few scallops out of the freezer to throw in the sauce. Do you mind? I know not everyone likes them.”
“Mind? Absolutely not. It smells great and I love scallops.” He’d hung his coat in the closet, noticing as he did that there didn’t seem to be any men’s coats or jackets hanging there.
“Here’s the wine,” he said walking into the kitchen. “I wasn’t sure what to get so I asked the guy at the store for advice and he recommended this one. It’s from the Valley but he swears it’s good.” She smiled, took the wine and examined the label.
“He’s right. It is good - one of my favourites, in fact - so thank you. I know some people look down on local wines but they’re much better than they used to be, and it’s nice to support local producers. Several of them have won national and international prizes in fact.”
“Are you into wine then?” he asked.
“No, but I like to drink it and one of my regular clients is the NS Vintners’ Association so I’ve picked up a fair bit of information along the way.”
She set the scallops aside and stirred cream into a pan of sliced sweet peppers, black olives and string beans. A second pot of water boiled on the stove.
“Anything I can do to help?” MacIntyre asks.
“Just set the table, if you don’t mind. There’s cutlery in the top drawer to your left, and plates and glasses in the cupboard above it.” The dining room is small but nicely decorated. There’s a round dark dining table with four chairs and a matching sideboard. A tall bookshelf in one corner holds two shelves of books and a collection of pottery and photographs. On the walls, there are several pieces of original artwork in vibrant shades of red, blues and greens. He takes a two placemats off the sideboard, lays them on the table, and arranges the dishes and cutlery. When he returns to the kitchen, she has just dropped a handful of linguini into the pot on the stove and is putting the finishing touches to a simple green salad.
“All set,” he reports.
“Great. Thanks. Sorry there’s nothing to munch on before supper but I wasn’t planning on company this week and I hate stuff going off before I get around to eating it.”
“No problem. It’s a treat having a home-cooked meal.”
“You don’t cook?”
“I do, actually, but it’s not much fun cooking for one.”
“No. I know what you mean. I feel the same.”
“So I guess that means both of us are single?” he says raising an eyebrow.
“Ha. I guess. At least, I am. You?”
“Divorced. A couple of years now. But, in the interest of full disclosure, she had good reasons for dumping me.”
“Now, that’s interesting.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a man say a woman had good reasons for dumping him. May I ask what you did to deserve it?”
“The usual, I guess. Worked too hard, took her for granted, behaved selfishly, did too little to help around the house - and left the toilet seat up, of course.”
“Of course”, she says dryly. “Is there anything else I should know?”
“No, I don’t think so”, he replies, feeling a slight pang of guilt. He doesn’t need to mention Jocelyne, does he? They’re not really a couple - more like friends with benefits. At least, that’s the way he thinks of it, though maybe she sees things differently. He supposed it was time they talked about it.
“Do you have kids, for instance?”
“I do, actually. A daughter - Lindsey. She’s 23.”
“Does she live here in the city?”
“Yeah. She’s got a cute little apartment in the Hydrostone and works with an event management company. It’s great having her so close. What about you? Any kids?”
“No, I was married years ago - very briefly - but we never had children - which was a good thing as it turned out. My ex wouldn’t have made much of a father. The pasta’s ready. Why don’t you put the salad and bread on table and have a seat? I’ll bring the pasta in as soon as it’s dished up.”
Over supper, they talked about work, running, and the places they’d traveled. The both loved Ireland, and were lukewarm about Germany. Paris was fantastic. When they’d finished, MacIntyre washed the dishes and Kate dried.
“Tom, if you can’t say anything, I understand, of course, but can you tell me more about how Patrick died? The newspapers haven’t been very specific, other than to say where his body was found.”
“You’re right, Kate, I can’t say much - mostly because we don’t know much at this point. He died as a result of a nasty blow to the head. It looks like he was murdered but we don’t know who did it or why, and so far we haven’t got much in the way of leads to go on.”
“What was he even doing in town?”
“His daughter tells us he was here to finalize his divorce but we’re still confirming that.”
“I see,” Kate said thoughtfully.
“Well, I’m just surprised, that’s all. I wouldn’t have thought he’d need to be here as long as he and Heather agreed on how to divide up their property - but maybe it was an excuse to visit Maddie too.”
“That makes sense.” Kate yawned and MacIntyre looked at his watch realizing how late it was.
“Sorry, Kate. I’m a bit of a night owl, so I just didn’t realize how late it was. It’s time I was hitting the road and let you get some sleep.”
“No worries, Tom. I enjoyed having you but you’re right. It’s a bit late and I’m afraid I’m fading.”
She walked with him to the front door. For a moment, he stood with his hand on the doorknob wondering if he should kiss her goodnight. Before he’d made up his mind, she put her hands on his arms, stood on her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his softly, then stepped back to stand looking up at him, her head tilted to one side quizzically.
“What?” he asked.
“You seem like a really decent guy, Tom.”
“Decent, eh? I’m not sure how to take that. Would a 'decent' guy ask if he could have another kiss goodnight?” She smiled.
“Actually, that’s exactly what a decent guy would do.”
“Well, then, may I?”
“You may,” she said laughing and stepped into his arms. This time, they kiss more slowly.
“I’d like to see you again, Kate.”
“I’d like that too, Tom.”
“Good. Then I’ll call you - soon.”
Stepping out into the cold night air, he closed the door behind him and breathed deeply. What a great evening, he thought to himself. The woman’s fearless, smart, gorgeous - and she can cook. Don’t screw this up, Tommy boy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Day #15

It's late so this will have to be short.  I just don't want to sleep without posting a short note to say - yay!! - I made it to the halfway point and I'm still writing.  Better yet, I managed to squeak past 25,000 words tonight so I'm still on track to write 50,000 by the end of November.

Experienced NaNoers say this is the toughest week - the week when it's tempting to throw your hands in the air and quit because it's impossible to believe you'll ever finish the darn story. It is tempting to quit, I must say.  Largely because my story has gotten so dark  - which is not really the story I wanted to write. I hope I can find a way to introduce a little light in the next 15 days!

In any case, as proof of my diligence, I offer these two short snippets. Please remember these are only first drafts. No editing is allowed until I've got at least 50,000 words.

        It wasn’t often his daughter Lindsey called to suggest they go for a run together, but he loved it when she did. This evening, she suggested they meet at Point Pleasant Park and do an 8 km loop through the Park and around the south end of the city - one of their favourite routes.  He knew it would be a challenge to keep up with her so he decided to warm up first by leaving his car at the office and running slowly to the Park gates where they’d agreed to meet at 6:00.
Since it was November it was already dark by the time he changed into his running clothes and headed south. He avoided the traffic on South Park by cutting through the side streets to the west of it. A blanket of wet, gold leaves covered the streets, glowing warmly beneath the streetlights, despite the chill in the air. Winter is coming, he thought.
When he arrived at the gates, Lindsey’s car - a beat up 1997 Ford Tempo - was already parked in the parking lot. It wasn’t very pretty but she’d gotten it for a good price and it was relatively cheap to maintain and operate. He liked it too because it was old enough that he could help diagnose problems with it. All the electronics in newer cars made it much harder for a backyard mechanic like him to figure out what the trouble was.
He’d learned about cars from his dad, who was gifted when it came to figuring out how things worked. Nothing made him happier than taking something apart and putting it back together again. MacIntyre didn’t have his father’s innate talent, but he enjoyed tinkering too and the hours he and his dad had spent in the garage working on cars together were some of the happiest he could remember.
“What about you? Are you seeing anyone these days?” He always felt awkward when she asked him about his love life. Fathers weren’t supposed to talk with their daughters about such things - at least, not in his version of the perfect world. Things had changed, he knew. Everyone got divorced these days, and lots of kids grew up witnessing their parents navigate the dating game, but it still didn’t feel right to him.
“Not really. There’s one woman I’ve seen on and off for a few months. She great. Smart, beautiful and fun to hang out with - but, much as I like her, I really don’t think it’s going anywhere.”
“You know she’d never coming back to you, right?”
“You know who, Dad. Mom. I think she still loves you in lots of ways but she’s never going to come back to you. She’s with Tony now and she’s really happy.”
“I know that, Lindsey. And I don’t blame her for that. Your mom had good reasons for leaving me. I didn’t mean to be a shitty husband and father for all those years but I know I was. She deserved better. So did you.”
Lindsey put her hand on his arm signaling him to stop, then turned him around to look at her. “Listen to me, will you, Dad? You were not a shitty father. You weren’t perfect maybe, and - yes - I wish you’d spent more time at home when I was little, but you always - always - made sure I knew how much you loved and believed in me, which is something lots of fathers never do. Got it?” MacIntyre nodded, his throat tight with emotion. God, he was proud of her. What a strong, smart, caring woman she’d become.
“As for whether you were a shitty husband,” she continued, “when you guys first split up, Mom had lots of nasty things to say about you. But now that she’s happy herself and can look at what happened a little more objectively, she’s a lot kinder. In fact, she’s even been known to say nice things about you from time to time,” she finished teasingly. “Seriously, Dad, she doesn’t think you’re a bad person. I think it sometimes make her a little sad to think about when the two of you were together but she’s not angry anymore. She knows she made mistakes too.”
“That’s good to know, Lindsey. I was angry with your mom for a long time after she left me, but the reality is she’s a terrific person and I will always love and respect her very much. God knows, she did a helluva job raising you.”
“You both did, Dad.”
“Thanks for that, kiddo. So what do you say, shall we see who can make it back to the car first?”
“You’re on!” she said laughing as they turned to run full tilt towards the park gate. As they ran MacIntyre noticed the moonlight shining on the surface of harbour and realized he felt happier than he had in very long time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Day #13

It was an awesome weekend - full of running, writing and riding my pretty red motorcycle. I mentioned in my last post that I ran 8k on Saturday. I followed that up with a further 16k on Sunday. I'd intended to run again yesterday but was feeling pretty tired so spent the afternoon on my bike instead. My last stop was, Green Bay, where I took the photo above. It felt good to spend some serious time with my butt in the saddle  I haven't made it to 80 kms/hr yet but at least I'm feeling more comfortable on the highway.

When I started my long run Sunday, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sunshine felt wonderful after the cool, dreary weather we had last week. I took this photo from Peace Park.

I can't say it was one of my better runs.  I think I was fighting a cold (successfully, it seems). Or maybe I was wearing the wrong shoes. Or maybe it was this weather system blowing in.

Fortunately, as ominous as the cloud bank looked, it didn't bring nasty weather and, by yesterday, the skies were clear and it was 17 degrees again - perfect for motorcycling.

I've been thinking about setting some new running goals lately. I'd like to do the Cabot Trail Relay again, and think I might tackle the 10th Bluenose Marathon. Since they're both tough races and take place just a week apart, it would be a good idea to run the Hypothermic Half in February as a warm-up as well. Before making any decisions, I'll have to confer with Husband to see what he thinks about me getting back into serious training mode. He might prefer that I focus on our various renovation projects instead. :-)

For those wondering about the writing project. It's going well. I hit 21,000 words before leaving for work this morning, and so far the plot still makes sense. I'll try to post another snippet tonight. The story is getting pretty dark and twisty but, then, it is a murder mystery. And I must say there seems to be something very cathartic about the exercise. I've been sleeping better in the past week than I have in a long while. Go figure.

A big thank you to my friend, Janet, who's training for her first full marathon and participating in NaNo as well. When we got together for our "write-in" on Saturday, she suggested I consider writing in shorter blocks of time, and it really seems to be working for me. Last week, I needed 2-3 hours to write 1,667 words. Now, I'm writing the same number of words in about half the time. The trick is to focus and stop myself from revising as I go. As I keep telling myself, there'll be lots of time for editing when/if I get the first draft done.

Have a great week, everyone! I'd love to hear how your running is going. Any big races planned?  And, if you're NaNoing too, how are you feeling on Day 13?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Day #10

I am doing this. I am actually do it. Writing a novel.  Admittedly, it's a really really bad novel, but nevertheless it feels freakin' awesome!  And today was an especially good day because, after going for a mellow 8k run and a short motorcycle ride, I spent the whole afternoon with my friend, Janet, frenetically writing - when we weren't talking, eating or drinking wine, that is.  In a few short hours, I managed to write a total of more than 3,000 words - the most I've written in a single day so far - thanks largely to Janet's sound advice and encouragement.  Thank you, my friend!

I'm too tired to write much more tonight so instead let me share this insight from Karen Russell which arrived in my NaNo mailbox yesterday:
When you stop demanding perfection of yourself, your writing desk will become a spacious place. You don’t have to listen to the coach when he screams at you that your novel is out of control, that your characters are misbehaving, that the plot has gotten away from you. Slipperiness is good. Sloppiness is OK. Try to cultivate a maternal patience with your own uncertainty and doubt; a tolerance for bad writing; a willingness to let a story develop embryonically. 
Love it!

And, in the spirit of tolerating bad writing, let me offer this snippet from Murder in Camera.

    It was a clear night and the moon was just past full, so even without street lights he had no difficulty navigating the trail as it hugged the shores of a Russell Lake.  It always amazed him that so few people used the trail. It tended to be busiest on early, warm spring days when Haligonians - happy to be back outside after the long, dark, damp winter months - bundled up kids and grandparents and took them for a walk around the lake to get some air. Sunday mornings were another busy time when local running groups training to run half and full marathons circled the trail as part of their longest training runs. Other than that, he mostly had it to himself as he did tonight.

And what a night it was - cool and crisp - just the way an autumn night should be. In the darkness, he couldn’t see the fallen leaves littering the path, but he could smell their sweet mustiness and hear their soft swish as they danced away from his feet. On autumn nights like this one, running felt easier than it did any other time of the year.

Reaching the far side of the lake, he turned a sharp corner in the path and, from the corner of his eye, noticed movement to his left on a path that joined the main trail and lead to a small subdivision of tidy older homes, built when a good-sized family home was still less than 2,000 square feet. A few seconds later, he could see a slight figure, dressed in dark clothes and a light-coloured cap running towards him. The figure slowed somewhat, as the runner spotted him in the moonlight and warily assessed the situation. Friend or foe?

"Evening” He called out, in what he hoped was a friendly, reassuring voice. “Nice night for a run, eh? Hope I didn’t spook you. I don’t often meet fellow runners on this trail after dark.”

“Evening. Yes, lovely night for a run. I probably shouldn’t be running ton my own, but I couldn’t resist. The night was too perfect not to. And I’ve got my gun along, just in case.”

He chuckled. I hope you’re kidding about that. The gun, I mean. I’d hate to have to arrest you for carrying a concealed weapon.”

“Who said it was concealed?”

She’s stopped now several metres away in the moonlight.

“Well, considering you’re not holding anything in your hands, I assume you must have it tucked in your clothes somewhere.”

“Busted”, she said laughing quietly.

“In all seriousness, miss, I’m a police officer so I see enough to know you really shouldn’t be running trails like this one after dark by yourself.”

“Thank you, officer, I’ll keep that in mind, but I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to let fear keep me from running where I want to, when I want to. In any case, as I tell my friends, if I cross paths with bad guys, they’re going to have to catch me first.” He could hear the smile in her voice.

“I admire your attitude but, all the same, I still have to advise you to be careful and take precautions - like telling someone where you’re going, at least.”

“Yes, sir, officer,” she said mockingly.

“Okay, okay, I know I sound like an old lady but…”

“Seriously, officer, I appreciate it. And I promise I’m careful as I can be in the circumstances. I do make sure someone knows where I am, I don’t listen to music and - as a general rule - I don’t stop to talk to strangers.” She laughed again.

“Like me.”

“Like you. In fact, on that note, I think perhaps it’s time to say goodnight and finish my run. Thanks for the advice, officer. And enjoy the rest of your run.” With that, she turned  and ran along the trail in the direction from which he’d just come. Thoughtfully, he watched her disappear into the darkness and stood listening to the soft sound of her receding footsteps. Then, shaking his head, he resumed his run.

He meant it when he said he admired her attitude.  After he'd had a daughter of his own and she'd started going out with friends, he'd become uncomfortably aware of how often women are warned to limit where they go, what they do and who they spend time with in order to protect themselves. He thought it must be depressing to go through life being told you should be scared all the time. It wasn’t that he didn’t feel fear from time to time - any sensible cop did. It was just that being a relatively big, fit guy and a cop meant he wasn’t a target the way most women were.

He hoped that she would be okay out here tonight. He’d thought about offering to run with her but knew the offer would likely be misinterpreted. Better just to keep his eyes and ears open. On a still, clear night like this one, a cry for help would carry easily across the surface of the lake.

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Day #8

Gawd, I'm tired.

Nano, Day 8 yesterday and I'm only slightly behind in my word count. So far, so good. Only 22 days to go. Grooooooan!!

Last night, I finally finished a scene I began on day 2, which felt great. Unfortunately, I realized just as I was finishing it that I'd accidentally created an inconsistency with a later scene so I now have a bunch of rewriting to do as well!  

I'm discovering that writing a novel is a bit like playing Concentration (a card game that involves remembering the location of cards laid face down on a table), assembling a puzzle, and participating in improvisational theatre all at the same time. It's a little crazy-making - but fun too!

Unfortunately, between all the writing and other commitments, I haven't had much time for running this week but I hope to remedy that starting tomorrow morning. Husband's away this weekend so I should have plenty of time for writing, running and riding my motorcycle.

Of course, I'll also be participating in the local Remembrance Day activities. Here on the east coast of Canada, where nearly everyone has a connection to someone who served in the military, Remembrance Day is taken seriously. On Sunday morning at 11:00, a significant proportion of Nova Scotians will assemble at cenotaphs around the province to remember those who've sacrificed so much and listen to recitations of In Flanders Fields.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone, but don't forget to remember all those men and women - soldiers and civilians alike - who have lost their lives to conflict.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Day #4

So far, so good. I hit 7090 words this morning so I'm still on schedule - though it feels like my story already has too many subplots.  If I can find time before bed tonight, I'll try to start winnowing them down. Given this is my first attempt to write a novel, it's probably a good idea to keep the storyline as uncluttered as possible.

Here's a snippet if you're interested. It's a scene I wrote on day one.  Please remember not to expect too much. It's only a first draft, after all.  That said, all constructive criticism and suggestions welcome.  :-)

(An excerpt from "Murder in Camera" by Janice Brown. All rights reserved.)

Inspector Tom MacIntyre steps out of his car, turns up the collar of his leather jacket against the cold, damp morning air, and strides toward the trail head, blocked by bright yellow police tape.  Constable Dana Carvery stands waiting to brief him, an implacable expression on her smooth brown face, though he knows she must be unsettled by the situation. She is, after all, a rookie and her first murder case is bound to shake her up a little.
“Morning, Constable. What have we got?”
“Morning, Inspector.  The victim is male, mid to late forties. Cause of death to be determined of course, but I’m guessing the massive head trauma might have had something to do with it”, she said, grimacing.  
“Body’s just off the far end of the trail out on the point. He was found by a Ms…” She pauses to check her notes. 
“By a Ms. Jane Anderson, who was out for her morning run. We’ve got her waiting at the visitor’s centre, by the way. ”
“Anything else?”
“Well, yes, actually, I should probably warn you It seems like something found him before Ms. Anderson did. Hard to say what, but whatever it was had a good chunk of his face for dinner.” 
“Yeah, it’s not pretty.”
“The truth is, Constable, murder is almost never pretty - if that’s what it was. Murder.” 
“Unless he bashed the back of his own head in, Inspector, I’m pretty sure it was murder.”
“Fair enough. Guess I’d better go take a look then.  Anything to watch out for on my way?”
“No. The forensic team has already done a preliminary survey of the scene.  Didn’t find anything to speak of on the path so they said you’re clear to walk out. Just stay on the path.” 
The trail he saw cut a path through old forest, hugging the edge of the lake.  In the cool fall morning, the air smelled crisp and clear. The sun cut brightly through leafless branches over his head.  Across the lake, he heard children laughing. “Nice place to die,” he thought, smiling grimly to himself. 
Reaching the scene a few minutes later, he’s pleased to see Sargeant John Myers directly a team of three men and one woman whose job it is to systematically examine the scene, collecting and photographing in situ anything that might turn out to be evidence in the case.
“John, good to see.”
“Good to see you too, Mac.” Mac. The name people at work. His mother and father still insisted on calling him Thomas. His wife called him Tom - when she wasn’t calling him a son of a bitch. “What have we got?”
“Dana will have give you the basics. Male. Middle-aged.  Maybe 40 to 45. Caucasian.  Death likely caused by blunt trauma to the head inflicted by someone other than the victim.  The weather’s been cool so it’s hard to say for sure but my guess is he hasn’t been here long. Just long enough for something to munch on him for dinner.”
“Yeah, Dana mentioned that. Any I.D.?”
“No wallet but he had a phone on him. We’re checking it now.  I should have a name soon.”
“Anything else?”
“Yeah. There is one thing. Come and see for yourself.”
Turning, he lead MacIntyre to the knoll where the body would lay undisturbed until John and his team had completed their work.  He walked just close enough to see what he had to.  Dana was right. It wasn’t pretty. He’d seen a lot of ugliness in his 22 years as a cop but nothing prepares you for the sight of a man with half his face eaten away. 
“Try to ignore his face, Mac. Notice anything else that’s strange? Look at what he’s wearing.”
He was right, MacIntyre thought. The man was lying on his back, head twisted to one side. Arms and legs outstretched.  From the waist down, he looked as if he was dressed for running - shorts, socks, running shoes.  From the waist up, he was dressed for something else. Dinner out maybe? He upper body was clad in a soft pink, long-sleeved dress shirt, unbuttoned at the neck, the collar turned up to frame his face. 
“That’s a helluva get up.”
“No kidding. I’ve got my team checking now. I’m betting he didn’t go running in that shirt. And judging by the amount of blood on it, I don’t think he was wearing it when he was killed either.”
A phone rings and both men reach for their pockets. 
“It’s mine,” John says.
“John Myers”, he says answering it. “What have you got for me? Uh huh. Okay. Right. Text the info to me and copy it to Mac, will you? Thanks.”
“That was the office”, he says to MacIntyre. “We’ve got a name. The phone belongs to a Patrick Moore who, as it happens, was reported missing by his daughter two days ago. They’ll send us her name and address in a minute.”
“Shit. Guess that means I get to do the honours. I’ll take Dana with me if that’s okay with you.”
John nods solemnly.
“Yeah, I can get one of my guys to keep on eye on things until reinforcements arrive. It helps to have a woman along when you’re breaking bad news to the family.”

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Race Report: Bacchus 10k Fun Run - Muir Murray Estate Winery

All the running Husband's been doing this fall culminated in us heading to Wolfville this morning to participate in the Muir Murray Estate Winery's Bacchus 10k Fun Run. And fun it was. Upon registration, we were handed plastic wine glasses and advised to carry them with us during the race! Ya gotta love a race that involves carrying wine glasses.

Though it was a cool foggy morning, the sun was breaking through as we started to run and the views of the dyke lands that border Wolfville were lovely.  (I didn't take my phone with me so don't have pictures of my own to share unfortunately but here's a link to a lovely photo taken by my friend last fall.) 

At three points on the course, we were offered glasses of white, rose and red wine in turn and we took full advantage of the opportunity to catch our breath, sample some wine, and savour the view.

Despite the wine breaks (or, perhaps, because of them!), we covered the distance is just under an hour. Afterwards, we enjoyed more wine (this time served in souvenir wine glasses we were invited to take home with us), yummy snacks, and live music provided by Swig, a local band.  The icing on the cake was running into two of our favourite people - Kathleen and Jody - who'd come over the mountain from Chester Grant to run the 5k.

A fellow runner kindly offered to take a picture of us together as we were loading up to head to the pub to meet another friend for lunch at the Port Pub in Port Williams. 

A great day all in all, and I'd certainly recommend the Bacchus Fun (Wine) Run to anyone. Just be warned that this is a true "fun" run.  There's no big sendoff, no official time, and no finisher's medal. Just wine, music, funny yellow hats, souvenir wine glasses and some gorgeous scenery. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day #1 - 1967 words

After going for a fabulous 6km run tonight, I grabbed a light supper, poured myself a glass of wine and began to write.  Here's the first scene. I thought the runners in the crowd might appreciate it. Keep in mind this is only a first draft, and think kind, encouraging thoughts please. :-)

This was her favourite part of the run - the “cream” she promised herself whenever she left the house to tackle a long slow run.  To get here, she had to run along a busy highway for several kilometres. She hated the car fumes, the noise and the leering gaze of too many male drivers.  Here, running on her favourite trail through Shubie Park, she felt free and light - unselfconscious, like a gazelle. Okay, maybe not quite a gazelle, but like someone who’d been running a long time and was reasonably good at it, which she was in fact. 
The trail she ran on, Vivien’s Way, wasn’t long. It looped for only a kilometre off the main trail out to small point of land that jutted into Lake Charles but she looked forward to it because she nearly always had it to herself and she enjoyed the challenge of propelling her body up and down hills, around rocks and tree roots. In order to avoid falling, she had to focus on nothing but running - which was very meditative. Whatever else was going on in her life, a couple of laps around Vivien’s Way always soothed her heart and her head.
She’d reached the far end of the loop now and paused at the bench located there to stretch her adductors and drink in the view of the Lake Charlotte. In the early morning light, the reflection of trees dressed in late autumn leaves created orange and gold Rorschach images on the surface of the lake. It was too early for much traffic on the road that hugged the far side, and the small fishing boats that dotted the lake in summer had gone for the winter. Aside from an occasional bird flitting from tree to tree, the scene was completely still. 
She changed legs now and reached overhead to stretch her arms and shoulders as well. They felt tight after a long night at work so it felt good to feel them let go a little as she leaned first to the right, then to the left and finally forward towards her foot resting on the back of the bench. That was when she noticed it - a running shoe sticking out of the tall, dry grass that grew on a sunny knoll a short distance from where she stood stretching - and it appeared to be attached to something - a leg?
Heart pounding, she dropped her foot from the bench and took a few steps towards the shoe. 
“Hello? Hello? Are you okay?” 
No response. The voice was hers but she could barely hear it above the rushing sound in her ears. Something was very very wrong. She could feel it.  
Telling herself whoever it was might need her help, she straightened her shoulders and called out more confidently, 
“Hello. Hello. Are you okay. My name is Jane and I’m trained in first aid. Do you need help?” 
She couldn’t believe she’d just said that. Apparently, she’d learned something in the St. John’s Ambulance first aid course she’d taken at work a few months ago.
Hearing no response, she began walking slowly towards to the shoe. As the ground beneath her feet rose towards the edge of the knoll, she got a better view of the shoe and the body attached to it. It took a few moments for her brain to make sense of what she was seeing. When it did, she turned on her heel and ran retching and sobbing back along the trail.