NANoWriMo: Halfway There

I’m a little over the half-way mark with my novel. I seriously don’t know how other writers do it. I had to put most everything I could on hold while I write this novel. There are  important things that come up during the day, which I can’t ignore. Work and other obligations are a priority, which leaves little or no time to write.

I’m not making excuses. If anything, this experience has given me a front-row seat of someone who writes for a living, authors like Stephen King, Sandra Brown, and James Patterson probably crank out a book a month. Bravo to them for being able to sit in one spot for eight hours or more and write continuously without getting distracted.

I love to write, but like a lot of things, if I had to do it for a living, would I enjoy it as much?

Right now, I’m behind about 3,000 words. That doesn’t sound like much, but couple it with the 1,700 words I am supposed to write each day, I am struggling to make my goal.

I’m still confident I can make it. What it will probably come down to, is finishing it up the last few days. Because I may not be great at sitting still, but I am awesome at deadlines.

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An Excerpt from The Edge of Eternity

Robbie set his alarm for 1:45, which would give him time to get to Eddie’s by 2. He was disoriented when he woke up, and almost turned the alarm off without thinking. But then he sat upright in his bed, remembering the mission.

He threw on his coat and opened the window. He crawled out on the roof and shimmied down the drain spout, falling the last two feet. Snow was starting to fall as he walked down his quiet street. When he got to Eddie’s, he saw a light still on in the living room. As he got closer, he saw someone passed out in the chair in front of the TV.

“Pssst …. Over here,” he heard someone say from the side of the house. Robbie went around the corner and saw Simon standing with the side door opened. He put his finger to his lips and held the door open for Robbie until he stepped inside.

“My dad’s asleep in the front room, but he might wake up. Make it quick.”
Robbie tiptoed upstairs to Eddie and Simon’s room, and went to the edge of Eddie’s bed. He pulled out the piece of paper with the words of the incantation written on it, and whispered the words, as he held the mirror up.

Eddie was laying on his side, breathing heavily, dead to the world. Drool was dripping from his opened mouth. Robbie held the mirror up to Eddie’s face and waited. All he could see was Eddie’s reflection, but then another image slowly came to the mirror. It was a faint outline, but he could tell it was Brody. The mirror changed back and forth from Brody, to Eddie.

Eddie snort and rolled over, making Robbie lose his balance. He caught himself before he hit the floor, but he had everything he needed. He passed Simon on the way downstairs and murmured, “Thanks ….”

Simon followed Robbie outside. “Did you find anything out?” Simon asked him, as he pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket.
Robbie nodded and pulled his collar up and zipped his coat. The snow was starting to come down even harder than before. He rubbed his hands and blew on them to warm them up.

“He’s in there. They both are. I saw something else, too but I couldn’t quite make it out.”
“What were they doing? I mean, what exactly did you see?”

Simon took a long drag off his cigarette. Robbie was mesmerized by the glowing ember. He became focused again and answered, “Well, at first it was Brody’s reflection, and then Eddies, and then there was a kind of fog… and I thought that as it, but I saw a figure in the background. It was really creepy, man.”

Simon nodded and exhaled the smoke. He bent over and put the cigarette out and put the butt in his pocket to hide the evidence.

“So, what now?”

Robbie sighed. “I gotta go tell Nancy. She’ll know what to do.”

 

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In My Father’s Footsteps: The Navy Years

The following stories are excerpts from my father’s journal, his life story, which I am copying into blog form, under the title, In My Father’s Footsteps.

My father served in US Navy at the end of World War II on the USS Vella Gulf. He visited exotic places such as Hawaii, Japan, Guam, and the Philippines, and I didn’t know the extent of his adventures until I came across a box of typed pages in my mom’s storage room nearly five years ago.

My dad died in Sept. 2008, but his memory lives on through his stories. And after reading his stories about his time in the Navy, I have a deeper appreciation for those who have served in the military, and what was sacrificed so we could be free.

The atom bombs had decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan sued for peace. Later, I wondered about our choice of Nagasaki, which was something like 90-95 percent Catholic I find it hard to believe; is it possible that hatred of the Catholic church could poison a decision of such magnitude?

We anchored off the coast of Japan–was it the end of April,1945? –and everyone hit the sack.  There wasn’t anything else to do! Next morning everybody was talking about how we rode out a typhoon.

I missed it; slept right through it.

But our curiosity carried us topside to the flight deck gangway. The day was one color; dark, low-lying banks of clouds. Black seas with a little more roll than usual. And the distant land mass repeated the overall impression of foreboding.

The only apparent life ashore was several figures in flowing white attire. Later somebody told me it was a sign of mourning in Japan.

While my shipmates and I slept through the typhoon, the fury made landfall and carried the unsuspecting into eternity.

Once in a while, it seemed, the white robes appeared to pause in their dreamlike pursuits, gaze silently out to sea. To seek comfort perhaps?

Or maybe it was to pray that the salt spray cleans their loss, their sudden grief.

When we finally got clearance to enter the harbor, we did it with painful care. It reminded me of when we slowly made our way up the majestic Columbia River to Portland, Oregon right after the shakedown.

I swear there was no more than a few feet on either side of the bank. My memory’s dim, but I think power cables inched us along.

Now, entering Tokyo Bay, it seemed unreal we should be doing so, peacefully. We passed a famous Japanese battleship, the pride of the fleet, sitting on the bottom.

The USS Arizona was avenged.

Before they set us ashore for liberty in Yokohama, they told us we had to have an officer with a sidearm, peace hadn’t been signed. But at the small boat dock, all’s I saw were enlisted men and a smattering of commissioned officers and they seemed to be in charge of the dock.

So, I and a buddy took off by ourselves. The following are mainly observations; not necessarily in order. Cause I’m not sure when, only that. My first impression was dozens upon desolate dozens of flattened city blocks.

And the sickening sweet, almost suffocating smell of countless bodies beneath the bombed-out rubble. And maybe ruined sewage systems; putrid decaying flesh, alone, couldn’t smell that bad. An occasional lone plane droned high overhead, triggering Pavlovian panic and frantic stabbing toward the sound, “B-29! B-29!”

I’ll never forget boarding the little old-fashioned trolley-most of the citizens were women and old men-pretty much all dressed, it seemed to me, in the same type of uniform, same drab color. They wouldn’t take our money. Without exception, everyone bowed politely, the beautiful Japanese custom, when we came into speaking range.

What a surprise when I took my hand down the pole that ran down the length of the car, the one you hang onto. Surprise! My palm was black with sooty dust. Japanese, small in stature, didn’t aspire to those heights!

We stopped at a little shop that also had postage stamps. The only clerk in that shop, housed in a small building, was Caucasian. She gave us some yen we used for change. I bought a tiny carved elephant ornament. I don’t know human nature, but I do believe the look she gave me with my change could be interpreted:

“Hmmnh … the last of the big-time spenders! Sayonara!”

Which reminds me. At one point, two or three Japanese teenagers followed us, taunting insults. They would keep their distance, stopping when we stopped, and then stand there and jeer something in the mother tongue.

And of course, in the true spirit of the international code, the first thing they learned from the GI’s careening around in their Jeeps was to flip us the bird and then run away, hysterical.

I felt like I’d never left home!

At one point, we found ourselves atop a windswept hill in Yokohama. A small cottage was the focal; apparently the man and wife thought we were coming their way, and came out to meet us. I believe a teenage daughter held back about 12 paces. They bowed politely, of course, hoping to put them at ease and no one to interpret; we showed good intentions with generous handfuls of Camel cigarettes.

Message received, we took our leave.

One phase of the Navy not touched on: the opportunity came to move up to the ship’s photo lab with Jack Evans from Spokane. I jumped at photography; it’s fascination was just short of fanaticism. It was a good life. Cooks sent up yummy stuff like veal steak; we never cooked anything, except in butter! And another fringe benefit; I learned to process film and print pictures.

Once I got the hang of it, I blew up our family portrait (minus Molly), an 8 x 10 to something like 11 x 14. I think I ended up with enough of these to paper the bathroom!

Jack Evans also taught me how to use different types of cameras, including the K-20, a handheld aerial camera. The closest I came to a news photo. I was on the flight deck near the bridge superstructure, when this F4U came in too high … or the water may have been choppy.

The inverted gull-wing fighter, preferred by many of our Marine pilots, actually had landing gear not built for setting down smoothly on a rolling flight deck. Too static?

Just as the plane touched down, the sea suddenly rose to meet it. I squeezed the shutter of the K-20 … or maybe the speed graphic … just as the left wheel buckled, fire shooting out with the escaping fluid. I shot the camera again, ending up with a two-photo series of the accident.

I had the duty the morning of the fatal accident. Pilot misread the flight officer’s signal to elevate the flaps two degrees.  Seven degrees simply threw the doomed plane into the sea. The pilot’s body was never recovered.

The picture of the funeral service was a perfect variation of the Missing Flyer Formation. Purely by accident, of course. But the fact that our skipper was late, left an empty chair in the front row.

The expressions of grief, subdued sorrow among the remaining members of the pilot’s squadron made the empty chair the focal point of that moment of silence.

One day in San Diego, shortly before we would begin our cruise up the coast for decommissioning, I had a ball with a K-20, boxes of Kodacolor film spools at my side. I spent all day shooting planes coming in for landings and taking off. It was a good experience, keeping those beautiful birds inside the frame, coming and going.

I never got to see the results; it was something like six weeks back and forth to Eastman labs. But I can imagine they set the tone for the day.

I promised I would get back to you about almost buying the Deep Six at Waikiki. It was a piece that followed my adventures in qualifying for sea duty in boot camp at Farragut, Idaho.

My buddy and I wore swimming trunks under our uniforms, and wandered wonderingly through the breath-taking lobby of the Royal Hawaiian hotel. In 1945, this beautiful red sculpture was the top-of-the-mark of the South Pacific.

Imposing majesty describes it pretty well. We were the only two in the lobby, and our heel-clicks echoed, “intruders!” down from the high-flying ceilings. 

Maybe it was the soothing silence of the quiet A.M. that felt good. But more than likely, it was because we weren’t tossed out, persona non grata, on our Navy Blue Butts!

“I guess I’ll get my feet wet,” I said standing and brushing sand. I was being accurate.

“Go ahead, I’ll sun awhile.”

Explanation. I must tell you, dear reader, for background. Fire Control is not manning the hoses.  It is aiming and firing the big guns! The Navy seeks to determine personnel best qualified to do this, through testing.

Which of these lines is parallel? Which of these lines intersects? Which of these two lines curve away? Which of these lines is longer? Which of these lines is thinner? If you stare at line A, does Line B appear to merge or move away?

I honestly thought, all those years before my Company Commander, a Chief Petty Officer named Steve Stracchia, formerly a coach in the Chicago school system taught me the difference between a granny and a square knot, that I knew the meaning of the shortest distance! 

I didn’t; not by the wildest stretch.

I slowly walked out into the silent surf-hardly a ripple-in an, imperceptible to me, widening line. Like I had good sense.

When the water rose above my belt line, I turned and started back in a straight line. 

Oopserblub!

Who moved the bottom of the ocean?

A small voice, panic, I think, kicked-in my best Dog Paddle; I rediscovered air. Another tentative feel for the bottom; all water. Then i spotted a small Hawaiian boy–must  have been 9 or so–swimming toward me, straight out from the faraway beach.

“Hey!” I hollered. “Where’s the bottom?”

Without interrupting his strong methodical strokes, he pointed straight down. And nonchalantly pursued his Olympic swim to — I don’t know, make a monkey out of a non-swimmer we all know and love …

After that, a lifetime to compose an oath never to so much as venture levity on the subject of swimming in unsupervised oceans … specifically the Pacific!

As my account attests, I made it; 25 years later, I also made it through a drunk-up-the-bucket head-on collision. The accident was bloodier–and I vaguely remember an out-of-body experience, but the result would have been the same. 

So much for close calls. I’d like to leave swimming behind, too. But one more experience was when we were in Guam. It doesn’t involve me; just silly things a guy will do for attention.

A big Polish kid, a deck hand-and I say it with all the respect a guy that chases false echoes all over a radar screen can muster for men who do the hard work-just off the fantail in his dungarees on a dare…for 20 buck actually. But was it worth it? Getting called up before the captain, having it on your permanent record. Unless you go for a Hollywood stunt stint, how would this sound?

“Jun 15, 1945 — Seaman First Class Harvey Youngblood. Captain’s Mast. Charge: Jumped into the waters off Guam from the ship’s fantail, against all regulations and rules of common sense. For a lousy 20 dollars. Disposition: 30 days restricted duty and loss of credibility and bathing privileges.”

Signed (Captain)

Vella Gulf”

Remember back when, I was talking about our Radar gang studying shipboard units on the old World War I 4-stacker destroyer, The USS Moosehead? The only time in the Navy we rigged our canvas hammocks, and actually slept in them!

Took me back to E Avenue, of course, and the homemade hammock Mr. Hess fashioned from baling wire and barrel staves.  Except the Navy type had no hesitancy about showing you the flip side!

A week or two really isn’t enough time to get acquainted with a ship; but she had her moments. Porpoise, related to the dolphin-one step down would be my guess-swam beside us like patient sheep dogs. I think I know attitudes; in reality, I imagine attitudes. But if I could read the Porpoise that attached themselves to our outfit, they seemed to be saying, “We know you don’t think we know. We know you don’t think you need us. But apart from being refugees from Sea World, we are in our element. And we will show you the way back to San Diego. Trust us.”

I must admit, Porpoise create greater phosphorescence accidentally, than man-made fountains do on purpose! The phenomenon was awesome! And while the huge swimmers weren’t silhouette, they cut through the water like swift shadows, swirling the eerie bubbles.

Other little animals, sea lions, occasionally made infrequent appearances near the dock; the little guy with the push-broom mustache and Eddie Cantor eyes, was a real character. He’d lay there, swimming on his back, and stare at us, unflinching, like sailors were something in a zoo, and was afraid he’d miss something if he looked away.

This little guy was so covered with oil, he resembled an Alaskan disaster.

But back on board, and out to sea: The waters had gotten choppy, and destroyers, being the smallest first line fighting ships, really bob like tin cans.  So a few of us went topside after evening chow and the up-and-down and round-and-round motion is easier to take when you’ve got the open sky to take a fix on. 

Three or four of us were strung out along the railing; none of us saying a whole helluva lot. Rather, we were listening to what the sea was saying to the Lamb Stew, which we were looking to settle peacefully.

Now, I’ve got nothing against Lamb Stew, but most of my shipmates can’t say the same.  Or prefer not to. I’m afraid they want to vote with the majority, who claim they hate Lamb Stew!

They insist it’s BAAaaaad. 

I like it. I doubt I would ever get enough of it.

And now, standing here beside me was Jonathan Booker; the tall guy who looks like Nat King Cole, and our connection to M.I.T.  I said something to him, noncommittal, and his eyes told the whole story. Picture a nice guy with a Master’s degree, wearing a white sailor’s cap, squared at two fingers, of course, and you’d see the same thing I saw:

An egghead in a sailor cap. You couldn’t miss him. Eyes at half-mast and down at the mouth. I wasn’t just communicating, so I simply observed, fascinated. 

Is that a gyro, maritime folks use in navigation? I think Seaman Booker was trying to create a mathematical equation using peristalsis–his internal move-alongs–and the up-and-down pitch and roll of the heaving sea.

When the USS Moosehead reared up, Jonathan just reached over to the railing and claimed the motion with an index finger until his inner ear lined up with steady-as-she-goes.

And he was comical. Methodical. 

Jonathan slowly removed his white hat, folded it carefully and tucked it into his waist. In the same, slow, purposeful, metered motion, he removed his tie from the middy collar, and placed it carefully at his feet. It was ritual. 

Continuing in deliberate slow motion, Jonathan pulled the jumper over his head; nothing said. The mood was unhurried patience as he bent to place his blouse on the pile at his feet.

Then, leaning as far over the railing as common sense and safe procedure permitted, it came up for a vote.

Bleeaaaahh!

And man and seas were one once again.

I think they waited until we made port before Jon Booker and another fella went over the side to wash down the Lamb Stew, and anything else that came up.  By the way, through all the upheaval, my black buddy’s white T-shirt stayed spotless. For although we were landlovers, we did not know better than to spit into the wind!

In My Father’s Footsteps

NaNoWriMo: First Blunder

There’s always gotta be a first, right? I mean, if I were perfect, there would be no need for this challenge. It would be easy-peasy. I would be rich and famous and have everything I ever wanted.

But life doesn’t work that way. Not for me, anyway. I don’t think for most people, either.

The NaNoWriMo website tracks the amount of words you write each day. It gives you a goal, a mark to reach to make sure you are on the right track. I convinced myself I need to write 1667 words a day if I was going to finish Nov. 30.

And I have done great, staying with 100 words or so of reaching my goal each day. I figured if I stayed within those boundaries, I would be fine. The first couple days of the challenge, I timed how long it takes me to write that many words in one sitting. (It came out to be an average of 2 hours.)

But then something happened yesterday I didn’t expect. My editor called and asked me if I had any stories for this month’s Hiawatha Today. She had forgotten to remind me that they are publishing a week early this month and next because of the holidays.

So, instead of panicking, I went home after work and thought about what articles I could reasonably finish by 10:00 this morning. It took me until bedtime, but I got them done and sent. Unfortunately, I forgot all about posting my word count. This morning I realized I had dropped the ball.

I’m sure it didn’t make any difference, and it was really just a personal goal, but it stung a little. My perfect record was tarnished. And it put me behind. But it’s still better than missing my deadline for the Hiawatha Today. After all, I’m getting paid for that.

I’m doing my best to make up the word count today so I won’t have to stress too much at the end of the month. I have a feeling that would be overwhelming, and anything can happen in the next 21 days. Steady as she goes…

Here is an except from my novel, The Edge of Eternity:

Eddie picked up the notebook and brushed it off. He opened it to the first age and saw Nancy’s name scribbled at the top. Something really bad must have happened for her to drop her book, Eddie thought to himself. He looked around, and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

He got on his bike and rode back to Nancy’s house, hoping he could shed some light on her disappearance. But no one answered the door. He thought about leaving the notebook, but without an explanation, they might wonder.

He took it home with him, intending on dropping it by later.  Eddie ate an early dinner because he was going to have to collect for the paper after he delivered them all. He went to the corner and waited for truck, which was late.

The street was empty, except for Mrs. Nielsen, who was walking her dog.  “Hi, Mrs. Nielsen,” he said as she walked by.

“Hello, Eddie. How’s your mother. I haven’t see her at the PTA lately. Is she doing all right?”

Eddie nodded. “Her sewing business is picking up, with the holiday coming and all. I’ll tell her you asked about her.”

“Yes …. you do that,” she replied coyly. “Please tell her I said we miss her at the meetings.”

Eddie snickered and shook his head as she walked away. He didn’t tell her the real reason his mom was staying away. His mom thought all those snobs were hypocrites.

Dave drove up in the truck and threw the papers off the truck. “Here ya go, Eddie! See you tomorrow morning, bright and early!”

Eddie waved, as Dave got back in the truck and sped off.  Eddie folded his newspapers and stuffed them in his bag. He slung the bag over his shoulder and hopped on his bike, situating his full bag so it sat on the handlebars.

He went up and down the blocks, throwing the papers onto his customers’ porches. After doing it a few hundred times, he was getting pretty good at it.  As he was nearing the bottom of the bag, Eddie thought about skipping his fee-collecting and waiting for another day. But then his dad’s voice popped into his head: “Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

He stopped at his house to drop the newspaper bag off, and picked up his fee book and money pouch.  “Take your flashlight!” his mother reminded him and he grabbed it off the kitchen counter.

Eddie decided not to take his bike. It would only be in the way.  He went to the first house, ready with his canned greeting. “Hello, I’m collecting for the paper.”

Most everyone had their money ready, and Eddie usually didn’t have to make change, but when he did, he made sure he counted it out right. He had to turn in the money at the end of the month and if it was off, he had to cover it; an incentive for making correct change.

And most of his customers were all right. Except for Brody. He hated going to Brody’s house. It smelled like stale smoke. Brody had yellow teeth and smelled like B.O. He also paid in pennies. He always insisted that Eddie stand inside the door to wait until he counted out all one-hundred and fifty pennies. His cat would rub up against his leg, and when Eddie bent down to pet it, Brody got mad and told him, “Don’t touch my cat,” and he’d go back to counting his pennies.

Eddie avoided his house until the very last, even though it meant that he had to zig-zag across the streets.  He walked up the rickety porch and rang the doorbell. When Brody didn’t answer, he pounded on the door. The porch light was on, which meant in most circles, that someone was home.  He pounded the door one more time, and when no one answered, he left. He would have to come back another day.

As he was walking away from the house, he turned and saw that there was a light on in Brody’s basement. It was a tiny window, but maybe Brody was working in his basement.  Eddie didn’t want to have to come back.

He stuck his collection schedule in his back pocket and walked over to the window and got on his knees to peek in the tiny window.

“What the heck?” he whispered to himself.

What he saw made his skin crawl. Brody was standing inside a red circle, wearing a black robe with a hood, holding a candle, reading something out of an old book. Nancy was tied to a chair in front of him; her mouth covered with tape.

To be continued…

 

In My Father’s Footsteps

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NaNoWriMo: Day 4

I’m up to 5,068 words in my latest endeavor of writing a novel in 30 days.   Three things I’ve discovered so far:

  • Classical music is the best music to listen to when I’m writing
  • I have to rid myself of distractions if I expect myself to write creatively
  • It’s not about the numbers; it’s all about the content

I never thought of myself as one who likes to listen to classical music, but I happened upon a Classical Music for Focus station on Amazon Prime Music and instantly fell in love with it.  Most of it anyway. Some of those old guys can get pretty crazy on the piano.

Facebook is the worst distraction for me.  I am reminded of the scene in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” where the kids are watching TV and the grouchy old babysitter comes in and turns it off. “TV rots your brains.”

That’s the same feeling I get when I look up and realize I’ve spent on hour surfing my friends statuses, instead of working on something productive.

Fifty-thousand words sounds like a lot. And it is! But when you break it down, 1,667 words is not that much to write in a day. Besides, focusing on the story, rather than if I meet my goal that day, is the most important aspect to reaching my goal.

With that being said, what I like most about tracking my words, is that it motivates me to keep moving forward. It also forces me to rid myself of distractions (even though I do need a little down time now and then. Writer’s Block is a bitch.)

Here is another excerpt of my novel, so far.

Edge of Eternity

Nancy

Nancy woke up to the sound of her little sisters arguing.

“MOM!” one of the twins screamed at the top of her lungs. Frustrated, Nancy moaned and pulled the covers over her head. She heard the girls run down the hall, slamming the door behind them.

“Oh my God! Shut up!” Nancy screamed as she threw the covers off . “Why?” she shouted to no one in particular.

“Why do I have to share a room with such brats?” It was a rhetorical question, but a serious one.

She begged her mother for her own room, citing several legitimate reasons. “I’m five years older than they are …. They’re slobs …. They keep me up all night ….”

And that was just the beginning.

Her mother was sympathetic, but told her it was out of the question. “I need the extra room for my office. Now that I’m doing more work from home, I need the space.”

Nancy stumbled to her dresser and pulled her clothes out for the day. Her notebook was not in the same place she left it, under her clothes. her sisters had a bad habit of getting into her things.

“You brats!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. She grabbed her notebook and ran down the hall to her mother’s room. She pushed the door open and held up her notebook.

“They’ve been snooping again!”

The twins came up behind her and ran to their mom for protection. “No, we weren’t,” they chimed in unison.

Her mother looked at them sternly. “I should hope not, especially after the talk we just had.”

Nancy growled under her breath and stomped out of the room. She knew it was pointless; the twins always got what they wanted.

She got dressed and skipped breakfast, still frustrated with her mother’s inability to solve the growing problem with her sisters.

Her best friend, Kathy, was waiting for her at the corner; the same corner where they had met every morning before school since they were in 2nd grade. It was exactly half-way to school for both of them. Kathy lived four blocks over on Carson Avenue. 

“What took you so long?” Kathy asked, a look of concern shadowing her face.

Nancy frowned and shook her head. “Sorry, the twins were in my stuff again. I have to find a better hiding place.”

Kathy nodded sympathetically and changed the subject.

“Are you still going to Donna’s party tomorrow night?”

Before Nancy had a chance to answer, she felt a swish beside her and instinctively moved over just as Eddie Salaman whizzed by on his Schwinn.

“Sorry!” he yelled, glancing back to see who it was he nearly sideswiped. He nearly collided with a stop sign, swerving just in time, but careened over the curb, hitting the pavement extra hard, instead.

Kathy broke out in laughter. “Serves him right,” she said, adjusting her glasses. “He should watch where he’s going.” When Nancy didn’t say anything, she added, “You know he likes you, right?”

To be continued —

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National Novel Writing Month

When I first heard about NaNoWriMo a few years ago, I was intrigued. but not ready to commit to 50,000 words in a month.

Well, after thoughtful contemplation, I am ready to take on the challenge. I have create an outline in my head, and though I know from experience, it doesn’t always look the same where you get to the end, I have a general idea of where it will go.

I chose the title, “The Edge of Eternity” from one of my dad’s stories on my blog, In My Father’s Footsteps.  He wrote about his maternal grandmother (my great-grandmother) nearly getting struck by lightning when she was a little girl. (It killed her pet pig.) He called it her “Edge of Eternity” story.  He didn’t elaborate, but I imagine sitting in a tree and seeing your cherished pet getting struck by lightning is a frightening experience.  Being that close to death certainly makes you think of the “what ifs.”

My “Edge of Eternity” is nothing like that; I just loved the phrase. My story will be filled with mystery and magic, and twists and turns, and you’ll leave it wanting more. That’s the plan, anyway.

A short synopsis:  A boy who saves a girl, only to wind up in limbo-somewhere, but nowhere-on the edge of eternity. The trouble is, he doesn’t even know it.

Totally Stephen King-style.

I will share  few excerpts here and there, but you’ll have to wait until Nov. 30 to read it in its entirety.

The Edge of Eternity, by Cynthia Petersen

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Edge of Eternity

Eddie

Eddie made it to his desk right as the bell rang. Mr. Piper looked up from his papers and glanced at the clock, and then shot Eddie a scowl. “That’s twice this week, Eddie”

Eddie nodded and took out his notebook.

Mr. Piper cleared his throat and pushed the chair back from the desk and walked around to the front. He sat on the edge of the desk. “Class, I just finished correcting the papers from your last assignment and I’m a little disappoint.”

He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, then put them back on. “I think we should start thinking about study buddies.”

There was a groan from much of his 6th grade class.

“Now, now … it’s not that bad. I think pairing those who are struggling with students who understand the material will be beneficial for everyone. I’ll start making the list and let you know who you’ll be partnering with after lunch.”

He stood up and put his glasses on, grabbing a social studies book off his desk.
“Please turn to page 33….”

“Psst….” he heard behind him. Eddie looked up at Mr. Piper, who was droning on about South American countries.

He turned half-way around. “What?” he whispered.

“I hope I don’t get Smelly Shelly,” his friend Robbie whispered back. “That would be my luck.”

Robbie had created nicknames for all his classmates, except his own.  Eddie had been known as “Eddie Spaghetti” since 2nd grade. It was Robbie’s “thing.”

Eddie felt a little sorry for Shelly. It wasn’t her fault her mom used a lot of garlic.

When it was time for lunch, Eddie grabbed his sack lunch and headed down to the cafeteria. He saw Nancy McAllister, the prettiest girl in his class, talking to her friend Kathy. He caught her eye and smiled, but she quickly turned away.

Feeling a little defeated, he sulked all the way to the cafeteria. Robbie and Charlie already had a table and he sat down across from them on the bench.

“What’s up, Buttercup?” Robbie asked him, chomping down in the middle of his PB & J.

“”Nothin’. What’s up with you?” he said, knowing what was coming next.

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(My) Top 10 List of the Best Horror Movies Ever

It’s Halloween, and to celebrate the holiday, I would like to share my favorite horror flicks of all time!

10. Salem’s Lot

This is where all the vampire movies stemmed from, I’m pretty sure. Don’t get me wrong.  The original black and white “Dracula” movie was pretty awesome, but adding color and a plot really helped get the vampire movie motif moving.

9. Nightmare on Elm Street

So many sequels….but still so scary.

8. Friday the 13th

What can I say? It’s a classic. But only the original. The sequels and the constant machete scenes kind of “killed” it. (lol)

7. Halloween

The music still creeps me out.

6. Poltergeist

I had nightmares for months after watching this.

5. Carrie

In my opinion, Stephen King is one of the best story tellers of all time. And while his stories may not always adapt well to the big screen, I’d say they do pretty well (Think It, Cujo, The Silver Bullet, Thinner, The Dark Tower and countless others.) For those who don’t know, “Carrie” was Stephen’s first book made into a movie.  I didn’t get to see it when it came out at the Iowa Theater downtown. (It was rated R, no one under 17 allowed and they carded everyone!) And I can see why. The prom scene was one of the best horror scenes of all-time. It’s right up there with the Poseidon Adventure’s New Year’s Eve scene, when the ship turned over. Scary stuff…

4. Child’s Play

An evil doll that comes to life and kills people who get in his way? What could be scarier? Bride of Chuckie was pretty good, too.

3. Dolls

More evil dolls come to life ….

2. Dolly Dearest

Beginning to see a pattern? I wonder if other people have nightmares about their dolls or toys coming alive ….

1. American Gothic

Rod Steiger and Yvonne DeCarlo at their scary best! I think what was so scary about this movie was that I had some neighbors just like them.

And there you have it; just a few of my favorite horror films, and certainly ones that made an impression on me.

Have a frightful Halloween!

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The Witchless Kitten

Illustration by Scott Dolash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past weekend, I was feeling a little creative and wrote a short story for my grandchildren in honor of one of my favorite holidays. The above illustration was done by my friend, and local artist, Scott Dolash.

The Witcheless Kitten

Once there was a kitten, who lived with his mother and brothers and sisters in a witch’s house. He was a very nice kitten and could catch mice better than any other cats around.

He had many, many brothers and sisters, who all grew up to become witch cats.
When the kittens were old enough to leave home, the witch’s friends came by to visit and to pick out a kitten. Soon, all of his brothers and sisters found homes with all the witch’s friends, except for him.

“He’s a funny color,” he heard one of the witches say.

“And he’s so tiny,” said another.

It was true; he was more brown, than black (all the witches wanted black cats), and he was the runt of the litter. But he was fast! He wished he could tell them that, but all he could do was meow quietly, as they walked by.

He was very sad. His mother and his mistress witch tried to cheer him up by telling him to be patient. “Someone will come by soon. You’ll see.”

But days passed, and the kitten began to give up hope of ever finding a witch of his own.

Then one day while he was outside playing in the yard, a little girl walked by. She stopped to pet him. “What a nice kitty you are!” she exclaimed.

The kitten liked that! He started purring and rubbing up against her leg. And when she bent down to pick him up, he didn’t try to get away like the other kittens did. He liked being held.

When the witch came outside to see what he was doing, the little girl became frightened and started to run away, but the witch smiled and called out for her to stay and chat.

“You don’t have to be afraid. I am a good witch,” she told her.

The little girl stayed and told the witch she lived on the other side of the hill. “Can I please come back and play with the kitten?”

“Of course, come anytime,” she told her. The little girl gave the kitten a hug and waved goodbye as she walked over the hill.

That night, the kitten told his mother all about how the little girl held him and how much he liked it.

“But she is not a witch, and we are witch cats,” he said sadly. “How I wish she was a witch, then I could go home with her!”

His mother smiled. “You really liked her, didn’t you? Well, it doesn’t matter to me if she is a witch or not. All that matters is that you are happy. If she comes back tomorrow, and you still want to go home with her, I won’t mind. I will miss you, but it will mean more to me that you are happy.”

The kitten was very excited and waited all day for the little girl to come by. It became late and the little girl didn’t come. He became very sad.

All of a sudden, he heard the little girl singing. He ran to the edge of the yard and saw her come over the hill. She smiled and ran to the kitten when she saw him sitting in the yard. She scooped him up in her arms and hugged him. He purred happily.

The witch looked out her window and saw the little girl holding the kitten. She went outside and told her, “The kitten likes you. You can take him home if you promise to take good care of him.”

“Oh yes, I will! Thank you!” she told the witch as she held the kitten close and skipped home.

That night, as the little girl snuggled with the kitten, he thought about his brothers and sisters and hoped they were happy with their witches. Because he was just as happy without one.

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