NaNoWriMo excerpt – #3

Rough draft, the protagonist, experiencing a triggered memory flash of an unfamiliar event and a girl she doesn’t know…

Her palms were slick red, almost black in the moonlit woods. Droplets pulled at her skin as they let loose and fell to the pine needles and dirt. The sound of the rushing creek filled the air around her, barely audible over her pounding heart and desperate breathing.

Twigs snapped behind her. Needles and branches brushed on someone or something coming toward her.

A girl stumbled from the trees into the break. She wore ragged jean cutoffs. Her plain black t-shirt was torn from her left shoulder down the front far enough to expose the brightness of her white bra. Dark hair was matted to her face. She dripped sweat as she panted. She bent forward resting her hands on her knees. She looked up at Lissa. “Spence, what the fuck happened?” she asked when she saw her friend’s hands.

“I don’t know,” Lissa answered, still trying to control her short, quick breaths. She held out her hands, palms up, like she was trying to give them to the other girl. The other girl backed up, shaking her head in refusal.

“She was like that,” Lissa’s voice trailed off as she turned her head slightly, looking toward a small tight grouping of trees.

“Like what?” the other girl asked.

“I tried to help.”

“What the fuck is going on?”

“I was too late,” Lissa started to cry, adding to her breathlessness. She pointed to the trees, a trickle of dark liquid snaked down her wrist. She wiped at it with her other hand, smearing more of the stickiness on her forearm. She let out a sob.

“Is that blood?”

Lissa nodded, tears streaming down her cheeks.

(Part of) another random scene

Lucas looked at the place where Irene’s left pinky and ring finger had been attached to her hand. The skin was discolored, shiny patches surrounded by scaly flaking skin. She rested her hand on the table. She was sensitive about it, but never hid the hand. Her mutilated hand was the only exposed evidence of the ordeal.

Lucas thought about the word “ordeal.” It sounded like a cop, doctor, or school teacher type of description. An easy label, for someone who hadn’t endured what the victim had. The word sanitized it, made it more acceptable and appropriate for polite conversation. Each time he heard somebody use it, he’d picture himself smashing every tooth out of their fucking face. But he’d continued to hold himself in check, straining to keep the tremors in check. Every bit of this new disease, caged anger and frustration, would travel through every nerve, muscle, and bone of his body on an unrelenting search for release.

People would see the missing fingers and think it was the extent of her injuries. Lucas had seen the rest, just once, when she had a momentary lapse and left her bedroom door open. Hundreds of scars from small cuts and stab wounds covered her torso.

NaNoWriMo excerpt – #2


Another rough draft excerpt from my NaNoWriMo project:

Luna slid the hallway door open, it led to the the bedrooms and the master suite. She heard giggling and the murmur of a deeper voice. The sweet, pungent aroma of marijuana filled her nose. The giggling stopped and the murmur changed, quieter, urgent. The sounds and smell were coming from Simon’s room. He should have been at school.

She walked down the hallway. Simon’s door cracked open as she passed. His eye peered through the opening. Beyond him, Luna caught a glimpse of a girl she didn’t recognize, sitting cross-legged on his bed, wearing only panties. The girl’s long brunette hair draped over her bare breasts.

Luna kept walking as the door clicked shut. She dropped her purse on the bed in the master suite and opened the door to the walk-in closet. The closet was about twice as long as it was wide. The mirrored wall opposite the door made it seem larger than it was. The left side was filled with business suits in black and varying shades of blue and charcoal. Some were jacket and pants, most were jacket and skirt. The floor beneath the rack was a jumble of high-heeled shoes of every color imaginable.

To the right, a row of white shirts and a few cocktail dresses hung above a built-in padded bench. A shelf above the clothing was packed full of boxes and more shoes.

Luna stepped to the end and picked up a gym bag, a promotional gift in a plastic wrapper which she tore off. She looked the bag over, trying to remember where she got it. She couldn’t.

She looked at the mirror, admiring the blue suit tailored to accentuate her figure. Her impeccably shined high heels sunk into the the high-pile carpet. She shook her auburn hair free as she loosened the tight bun. The soft angular lines of her face sharpened in the shadows of her hair.

She kicked a shoe from her foot at the mirror. She was about to kick the other when she heard Simon behind her.


She didn’t answer. She didn’t turn, instead her eyes locked with his reflection in the mirror. He looked panicked.

“Mom, I can explain.”

She stood uneven, bending her ankle side to side, driving the lone high heel into the carpet. “Go back to your room.”

“I can explain.”

“Go.” She pushed harder on the shoe.

“What are you doing here, shouldn’t you be at work?”

“And where are you supposed to be?” She jerked as the heel snapped. Simon flinched.


“Right. Go, now.” She turned and faced him. The lines of her face grew sharper as the muscles tightened.

Simon glanced at the gym bag and turned and left, leaving the master suite door open like he’d found it. His bedroom door clicked shut.

Luna kicked the broken shoe from her foot and undressed, dropping the jacket, skirt, blouse, and camisole on the floor. Freed from the skirt, she squatted next to the bench and slid open a panel. She moved aside two shoe boxes, revealing a safe. The keypad illuminated when she pushed the star key. She entered her code and the lock unlatched. Inside there were two neat stacks of banded bills, ten bundles. The bills were hundreds, crisp and new. She dropped them in the gym bag.

NaNoWriMo excerpt

Heat from the candles warmed her face as she leaned over the cake. The tang of sulfury smoke mixed with sugary vanilla filled her nose. A camera flashed off to her side, momentarily brightening the dim single bare incandescent bulb lighting of the dining room.

Chocolate was her favorite. She’d requested chocolate when asked what kind of cake she wanted, but she knew it was a plain white cake beneath the white frosting. Again. Even yellow cake would have been better.

She’d made her wish and blew, but the stupid candles wouldn’t go out. Everybody around her laughed as she blew and blew, but each time the thin green candles would relight. The camera flashed again, somewhere behind her. The laughs floated and danced, living beings, circling her like evil clowns in a macabre fun house. She blew harder, but the candles magically burned again. Black flecks of ash from the candle wicks sprinkled the undecorated frosting. A tear ran down her cheek.

Her dad noticed and stopped laughing. He locked eyes with her. His face took on a look she knew too well, a combination of pity and disappointment. He licked his thumb and index finger and pinched and held the wick of one candle. He repeated this until all of them were extinguished. The camera flashed again.

“Stop the goddamn flashing,” she yelled.

Her mom, whose laugh had changed to a sporadic self-conscious giggle, froze. “Lissa, watch your language.”

“It’s always that goddamn flashing, always,” Lissa said. “If I ever get my hands…”

Her mom’s hand flew faster than Lissa could react. Lissa was caught by a full open hand slap across her face. Her cheek stung and burned as blood rushed to the surface.

As Lissa stood up, her chair tipped backward and fell over, bouncing on the worn wood floor. Lissa swept her arm across the table, pushing the cake onto the floor. It landed top side down, breaking open. She stared at it for a second, taking in the sight of the white cake beneath the frosting before she ran out of the room. Her twelfth birthday had turned out just as bad as all the rest.

Judgment (rant)

So this guy asks me why I wear clothing with somebody else’s name on it. (The initials of the company are E.B. if you want to know.) I understand the question, but I wonder why it is that clothing with a name on it is used as a tool of judgment. Like I have some fixation with a name on clothing? I’m sure this guy drives a car. Doesn’t it have a name on it? Many car brands are named after the founder, designer, or the offspring of the founder. Ford, Ferrari, Dodge, Chevrolet, and Mercedes, just to name a few. Does this guy ever eat at McDonald’s? Yep, that’s somebody’s name. Shop at Sears? Yep, that was named for Richard Warren Sears. Drink a Coors beer? Guess what, named for Adolph Coors. Like rum and Coke? Facundo Bacardi. Bought a book at Barnes & Noble? Flown on a Boeing? Ridden a Schwinn bicycle? Shot a Smith & Wesson? Ditto, ditto, ditto, and ditto, all named after people.

I wear the brand because they make clothing I like. It’s not a statement it’s clothing. It fits my lifestyle. It fits my budget. And it fits my expectations of quality, fit, and comfort. On the other hand, this guy’s judgment is of poor quality, poor fit, and irritating discomfort. I’ll keep rolling with somebody else’s name on my comfortable clothing, guilt free.


I’ve been waiting for seven weeks to find out if I’d be accepted to a novel writing program through a northern California university. I received notification yesterday that I was accepted. They only accept “about 30 students per cycle” to this two-year program. I was doubtful I would get in because of the odds.

Seven weeks of ups and downs, optimism and pessimism, waiting and endless indigestion, finally over. The last 34 hours or so have been filled with relief, celebration, elation, disbelief, and nervousness.

Thanks to my family, friends, and coworkers for listening to me drone on endlessly about the waiting. Thanks to everybody that I cornered and forced to hear about my acceptance. Thank you to Mark E. and John R. for your support and references.

Now it’s time to get to work.

Random fiction

I do a bit of free writing/journaling to keep things going. Once in a while when I’m doing that, I get some sort of vision that triggers a scene that has nothing to do with any of my many unfinished novels. Don’t know where this came from, where it might be going, but I enjoyed writing it. I felt like sharing it.


“Stop,” Cyd shouted again as she rounded the corner into the alley. Her shoulder brushed brick as she took the corner too tight. The sound of rain hitting brick, concrete, and puddles muffled her command. The stolen purse was swinging in the thief’s hand. Cyd was losing ground, he was getting away.

The alley was dark, the only light was an old incandescent flickering under the small overhang of a service door the thief was nearing. Cyd’s wet clothes weighed her down and every step she took sprayed more water on her jeans. The only places she was still dry was inside her waterproof boots and under her short-cut leather jacket. She’d tossed aside her umbrella when she started pursuit of the thief. Wet, cold, and one, or maybe three too many shots of tequila, she just wanted to climb into her warm bed. She was between cases so there was no reason for being out at 3:00 AM. The thief was nearing the door with the light. If he made it through the door, she might not ever catch him.

She unzipped her jacket as she ran. She took the revolver from her shoulder harness and clicked off the safety.

“Stop.” This time wasn’t as loud as before. Cyd slowed, stopped, took aim. There was a flash like lightning and a loud crack filled the alley, bouncing off the rain-soaked walls. The thief tumbled to the ground under the light in the doorway. Cyd looked around. The alley was empty, buildings rising three or four stories on each side. They were old sweatshops, abandoned, or at least unoccupied at this time of night.

She walked toward her attacker, gun held ready. She couldn’t believe she had hit this guy. She was accurate at the shooting range, but it was dark, raining, he was running, and she’d been drinking. She would have never lived it down with the local cops if she had reported her stolen purse. It was tough enough being a PI and getting on the good side of the cops, but they were notorious for breaking balls.

The rain slowed from fierce to steady. She neared the door. The body looked like a couple of half-full black plastic trash bags dumped in a puddle. The light from the doorway reflected like a sky full of stars off the shiny material. Cyd saw no movement. Her heart pounded beneath the leather jacket. Water dripped from her nickel-plated revolver leading the way. She hunched down and poked the tip in the back of a shoulder. No movement. She squatted, closer. Keeping the gun trained on the mass of shiny blackness, she grabbed a shoulder and pulled the body over.

Her heart stopped. For a second, she thought it wouldn’t start again. When it did, it was with the hardest, fastest pounding she’d ever felt in her chest. The face she saw was that of a young girl, 14, maybe 15, tops. Blonde hair stuck to her face, matted in the rain, surrounded by a black hood. The girl’s left eye was missing. Instead a red, pulpy mass hung from the socket. If that side of her face was covered, she’d look like one of those teen magazine models.

Cyd turned her head and threw up next to the body. The sight and smell of the vomit made her queasier. She looked at the face of the girl again. Her shock fought against her alcohol haze. She turned the girl’s head and pulled the hood back. It was some kind of rubberized plastic, it felt tacky, even in the rain. The shiny surface belied the feel of it. Cyd ran her fingers over the back of the girl’s head. There was no wound. She sat down, not caring about the puddle beneath her.

Cyd looked around the alley. It was dark and quiet, except for the patter of the now light rain. The gravity of the situation started to creep through her mind. She’d shot a purse snatcher. Worse yet, she’d shot a teenage purse snatcher. She had drawn her weapon, issued no warning that she was going to shoot, and fired. All while she was most likely legally drunk. Fuck! Over my stupid, fucking, purse!

Cyd flinched when she heard a click behind the door. She looked up. Another click and tiny beam of light shown through a hole in the door to the right of the handle. She tensed and lifted the gun from her lap, pointing it at the door. The little hole was the sole focus of her attention. She moved closer, around the body. The wood of the door was splintered around the hole. Small pieces of wood dangled around it. She looked closer. The hole was about the size of a .38, the same as her gun. And it looked fresh.

The door opened.