Monday, December 5, 2016

Is It Over Yet?

There were times, over the past few weeks, that I didn’t think I was going to finish the NaNo challenge. Times like when I got sick and had a zero word count for four days in a row, or when Netflix just had to release the Gilmore Girls reboot the last weekend in November.

If you’re registered with the NaNoWriMo site, you can look me up (I’m Lady Cat) and check my stats. Apparently my usual pattern is to get off to a slow start and then halfway through the month I start catching up. This year was no different.

What was different for me this year was the way I wrote my story. I started at the beginning, but then I had an idea for the ending so I skipped to the end and wrote that. Went back to the beginning and fleshed it out a little more, but got an idea for the scene just before the end so I wrote that. Worked a little on the beginning again, and got an idea for the scene before the last scene I’d worked on at the end. And so on, and so forth.

At some point I made a list of what was supposed to happen between the beginning and the end and I looked at this list and didn’t think it was enough to make it to 50,000 words. I think there was like three or four scenes listed. But surprisingly, these scenes ran really long.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish the challenge, but I liked my story enough that I really didn’t care as long as I was able to finish the book. And I think the thing that surprised me the most about it was how there are no plot holes. This is almost unheard of for me during NaNo, especially given the way I was jumping around in the story. I have one more scene to write and then it’s done. It may not be pretty, but it will be complete.

So that was the best part about NaNo. The disappointing part was the local NaNo experience. When I learned we had a couple of official Municipal Liaisons I was really excited. And that excitement lasted for the first couple of write-ins, but went downhill pretty quickly after that. The MLs had a lot of enthusiasm, and they used their own money to book places for write-ins and provide snacks, but they weren’t very well organized. And the one was pretty chatty during the write-ins.

Seeing as I haven’t been doing any blog posts lately, I didn’t see the point of doing a wordage report - as you can see by my NaNoWriMo widget on the right, I got over 52,000 words written for the month of November, so that should be enough for anyone.

And because you’ve been such a lovely audience, here’s an unedited excerpt from my NaNo novel, The Eros Portal. This is near the beginning where my main character is out looking for her friend’s cat (that she’d been looking after while her friend was away) who’s escaped from her house:

Makayla trudged on for another twenty minutes or so before she could no longer see where she was going. Had she been able to, she would have seen how the tracks circled back towards her house about fifteen of those twenty minutes ago. What she thought were tracks were really just the indentations made when small clumps of snow fell off of the tree branches in the faint wind that had sprung up.

“Damn it!” She looked around and realized the sun had set. With no clear idea of how far she had come, she could be in serious trouble here. She’d always wanted to live out in the country, so the surrounding woods had been a big selling point of her house. And while it was great in the summer to have the privacy and few neighbours, in the winter it felt very isolated.

Everything looked the same in the dark. If she was lucky, she’d be able to retrace her steps. If not, she’d be as lost as Mittens.

“Stupid damn cat,” she muttered under her breath.

A flash of blue light off to the right caught her attention. It flickered, like the light bulb was about to burn out. It couldn’t be from the highway, could it? She’d been walking for a while but she didn’t think she’d walked that far. And she hadn’t been going in that direction, unless she got turned around somehow.

Didn’t most people walk in circles when they walked without something to guide them? But that didn’t really make sense either, she didn’t have a blue light in her house. Shrugging, she made for the light anyway. Light meant people, so even if it wasn’t her house it was bound to be one of her neighbors, not that she had many of those.

The light was further away than she thought and she was getting dangerously chilled. Her fingers were totally numb. What kind of an idiot took off in the dark in nothing but a sweater? No hat, no gloves ... But the sweater had been right there and she would have lost precious time going back through the house to the back door for her coat. This is what came of being in such a rush. She was probably going to end up frozen to death while Mittens was curled up on her porch having a nap.

The light was still ahead of her, and the woods were growing denser. Had the trees been this close together on her way in? She pushed through some shrubbery that still had a few dead leaves attached to it and stopped to stare. A doorway of iridescent blue light filled the space between two slender trees.

“What the hell?”

Makayla took a single step forward and stopped again. Then she took a couple of steps to the side and the door seemed to disappear. Moving back to her original position, the door shimmered into view again.

As curious as the cat she’d been looking for, Makayla moved forward, one step at a time. A ripple went through the shimmering blue and she paused for a second. The light settled back into a staticky glow, like the snow on the TV when the cable went out.

Another step closer and the snow turned blue again and seemed to clear a bit. It was almost translucent. One more step and she could see vague images in it. It wasn’t the woods in behind it, it was something else altogether. Some place else.

Maybe it was some kid’s science project - holograms or something like that. His parents probably made him set it up out in the woods in case of accidents. Like, if something shorted out and set fire to something. It was pretty advanced looking, if that’s what it was.

One more step and she was able to reach out and touch it. It tingled on her fingertips, a ripple effect spreading out where she touched. It wasn’t until she tried to pull her hand away that she realized what a stupid thing it had been to do. She appeared to be stuck fast.

Makayla yanked her arm back but her fingers remained glued to the shimmer. In fact, it actually seemed like the shimmer was pulling her hand further in.

“Oh, no no no!” She twisted and turned her hand and her fingers turned easily, but they wouldn’t let go. “Hello? Is anybody out here?” What kind of person set something like this up in the middle of the woods and then just abandoned it?

“Hey! I could use some help here,” she yelled. Surely whoever made this couldn’t be too far away. Wouldn’t they need to monitor it or something? “Look, I’m sorry I touched your experiment or whatever, but I need you to shut it off.”

There was no answer. Millimetre by millimetre her hand was being enveloped in the glowing light. No matter how much she pulled it refused to let go of her again. Digging her heels in she tried to wrench free, but slipped on the damp ground and only succeeded in causing her whole arm to become enveloped.

Panting from the effort, she glanced around but she was surrounded by darkness. It was getting really cold out. It was starting to hurt to breathe. She didn’t bother calling out again, if there really was someone out there it was obvious they were only going to watch, not help.

While the point of contact with the light tingled, the rest of her arm didn’t seem to be affected at all. She tried wiggling her fingers, but the rippling effect made it impossible to see through the door. Looking at the ground where the light made it easier to see, she looked for an electrical cord or whatever was powering the thing. There was nothing that she could see.

There weren’t many options here. Maybe she should just get it over with. Steeling herself, Makayla took a deep breath and then stepped through the doorway. She was aware of light and heat and then nothing at all.

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