Saturday, November 29, 2008

Novel approaches end II

I'm at about 11,500 with less than 2 days to go. I'd have to skip work tonight and church tomorrow to have any hope of reaching 50k.
Here's a couple scenes I'm particularly fond of to wet yall's whistle...
Thanks to all who have sent words of encouragement my way!


The sun bore down on Oakledge, hot and bright. Some of the campers sought refuge in what shade was available: a bare spot under trees near the creek, the bench on the porch of the hall entrance or inside the darkened building.
For others, swimming was the only remedy. That’s why they stood in near panic on the hot concrete looking over the pool’s edge. Romeo and Rashied had said that they could only go swimming after it was cleaned…but THIS?
Julius’ fears had been confirmed. As he clutched the towel hung over his shoulder he craned his neck at the murky, muck green water in the pool. He couldn’t see the bottom, heck he could barely see down three inches. Small creatures wiggled over the surface making weird moving waves. And with every splash and mighty swing, Rashied’s net pulled out at least two small frogs/toads, which he flung into the grass over the short fence.
“I told you it was too early to be swimmin’” Romeo said from the shed, holding a net himself. “It takes too long to clean out this thing!”
“Come on, I mean what you want to do? They want to swim,” Rashied said exasperated. “We got most of the crap out yeste-day anyhow.”
“Really? That’s what’s this crap, huh?” Romeo declared as he presented a net full of frog eggs, dragonfliers, water-spiders and algae.
‘Oh, God! I ain’t swimmin in that!”
“… the hell?”
“That’s just nassstee!”
Tami’s tomboy tendencies quickly began to fade. The murky green water mocked her, daring her to even step in a toe. And this was one dare she was willing to lose.
She glanced to her left again. Sure enough, Monica and her crew were still looking her up and down. Only the top of Tami’s one piece lightblue suit was visible, as she wore thin yellow gym shorts over it. Yet it was enough to show her figure which left Roderick tripping all over himself and the girls more than a bit jealous.
“Think she all that,” Ramona whispered.
Tami just laughed. Not even worth it, she thought. But then she caught Ramona’s eye. The other girl was not much taller than her, pretty as well, but with a fierce angry brown face. And when she cocked her head and bucked her eyes at Tami, it was then that she decided maybe it was worth hanging around the pool a little while longer.
Tami turned and right way met Roderick’s gaze. She relaxed her posture and softened her tone.
“Hmmph. You going in?”
“Huh, what?” Roderick stammered. “You?”
“I’m not going in by myself.”
“I’ll go in with you,” Roderick laughed. “Me and you girl, we can do this thing!”
“No you won’t,” Tami said. She turned to the Ramona-girls. Sure enough they were fuming. Mission accopmplished, she thought and turned to walk out the gate.
“No, never mind, I think I’ll wait on swimming.”
“Hol on, girl, I swear I’ll get in with you!” Roderick pleaded and walked over to Tami’s side brushing by other boys.
Julius had been half-listening. He focused on the net in Rashied’s hand and how it emerged emptier than the last time. No, it wasn’t the pool at the Y or school. But what could it hurt? The camp wouldn’t let them swim there if it was dangerous he deduced. And as a far as he knew, copperheads weren’t into getting wet.
He dropped his towel and took of his T-shirt. He tipped his head at Romeo, who nodded back cautiously. And then he jumped.
There was mininmal splash when Julius hit the water, but the sudden noised sounded like a dynamite blast. The water was warm and thick, and Julius stretched his toes searching for the bottom. The pool was deeper than he expected. Why, he thought, it looked deep! Still, he took a chance, closed his eyes and let his head submerge under into the cloudy depths.
Julius’ foot reached the bottom soon after. He took a few strokes to get his balance and check for signs of wildlife. No water serpent had bit and no frogs slithered nearby, so all was well.
He pushed his luck and decided to open his eyes. Julius was taken aback by the blackness. No green like the surface, just a deep wide darkness was in front of him. The shock used up most of his air and Julius began to blow bubbles – and was immediately sorry.
The water’s taste thoroughly surprised. It was like slimly, wet dirt mixed with the worst tasting vegetables ever. A gag reflex stuck in his throat, Julius began to panic, and shot his body toward the surface.
He broke through with a huge gasp splashing the icky water on the other campers. With two wild but effective strokes he reached the side of the pool. He dragged himself out, choking and gagging, and wiping his mouth.
“Cool breeze, you alright,?” Romeo said rushing to his side.
Rashied came up next to him and clapped Julius on the back.
“Ugh, bleech,” Julius muttered as he fiercely rubbed his eyes and face. “Tastes…nasty.”
“My bad, shoulda told ya not to drink it,” Rashied said. He grasped Julius shoulders. “See, not that bad though, was it.”
“Uh-uh,” Julius answered blinking.
“Brave man ain’t!” Romeo said standing and looking back at the others.
“Yea, I’ll give you that one, J,” Montel said from outside the fence. The girl standing next him smiled and shook her head.
The sun’s warmth on his back was nothing compared to the proud burning in his chest. He stood slowly, to full height, picking up his towel in the process. He wiped his eyes and looked to the other side of the pool. As kids began plopping into the water behind, he watched Tami and Roderick walking back to the dining hall, laughing the whole way.

The day started to cool off and Tami took that as a sign she really didn’t need to go swimming in slime. But there was something she was still dying to do. She tucked the T-shirt into her shorts as she walked purposely out the cabin door. She moistened her lips and felt the hot air drying them off instantly. Her bare feet squished in her damp tennis shoes and she kept her steady pace down the hill. She could feel it calling to her, whispering in the air.
Tami arrived at the bottom of the hill onto the gravelly main driveway of Oakledge. She turned her head slightly to the left and right, deciding it was safe to proceed and started walking again. The calling became louder, the force’s pull on her stronger. Tisha and Cleo, walking by in the opposite direction, managed to break her trance.
“Hulllo,” Cleo sung.
“We’re going to see who wants to do some double-dutch, you wanna?” Tisha added.
“Not right now,” Tami said quickly barely looking their way and her trance resumed.
The girls shrugged and walked toward the hall. Tami kept heading down and away from the building.
To the creek.

Tami was mesmerized as she looked at the still, glistening water. She slowly bent down and gently poked at it with her finger, as if she touching a living creature, a strangers puppy while although cute it didn’t know her so she had to be careful not to spook it. As she had hoped, it was cool to the touch, spared from the sun’s searing rays by the canopy of leaves on the side away from the drive. She immediately found a dry rock and sat down. With a preschooler’s earnest, she whipped off her sneakers. She stood back up and took a step. The creek bed was full of rocks, and woody debris, but Tami remained steady. She gracefully navigated the trail of stones, sizes and textures constantly changing. In few feet and the water rose just over the tops of her round, pudgy feet. She watched it run slowly over the apple-red polish on her nails and smiled.
Tami looked to her left and was made a startling discovery. The line of trees opened here, the stretch split by what looked like a spot where rocks had fallen from the opposite ledge. The result was a short clearing, a trail of smooth rocks that lead up into the trees. Tami immediately began climbing, slowly making her way up the first rock steps. She made it to the top, a giant rock slab and sat down.
It was perfect. She looked out on the creek and the rest of the camp beyond it. The campers cries and laughs were dim. She could see them, playing by the hall, in the driveway, sitting on the porch.
She could see them, but she was hidden away in her private stony paradise.
Or so she thought. She turned her head back toward the end of the creek to see Roderick and that kid with the baseball cap lumbering in her direction.

“Knew that was homegirl,” Roderick snickered back to Julius who was slowly maneuvering his way over the slippery rocks. Every step seemed precarious and he’d had enough swimming for a day. Roderick moved with determined steps, no care for treacherous terrain, Julius thought. He seemed hell bent on reaching that outcrop and that girl he’d called “superfine.”
Tami was slipping on her last shoe when the Roderick’s face reappeared. She looked the dark, lanky kid over. He was not unattractive and he had a likeable air about him. But his smile. She stared at the perfectly white teeth, set against the black skin. Roderick’s smile was both disarming and alluring. It was congenial and creepy all in one toothy expanse. Combined with his manical cackle, you wanted to laugh with him and get away from him. Tami folded her knees to her chest and closed her eyes.
“What’s up, sexy,” Roderick said madly and plopped down on the rock beside Tami. He misjudged his seat and slipped, almost sliding down into the creek. He stopped his slide, recovering his footing, and just laughed. Julius stood near the creek bed and just shook his head.
Tami opened one eye.
“Sure you wanna sit here,” she asked slyly.
“Just wanted to see why you up here all by yourself,” Roderick replied, entering full flirt mode. “And keep you company.”
“Company?” Tami giggle-snorted. “That’s what you call you being?”
“Rod, quit bothering her, man,” Julius called up to them. He was now standing a few feet away at the base of the outcrop. To Tami it seemed he had established a buffer zone of some kind, as if he was trying to give her and Roderick privacy while still being in the picture. Probably why she’d forgotten he was there, she thought.
“Ya’ll not botherin’ me,” Tami sighed.
All three noticed the inclusionary “ya’ll.” Roderick looked at Julius who looked at Tami who looked straight ahead. Julius’ attention quickly returned to a compelling rock structure in the creek. Roderick, sighed quietly, and turned back to Tami locking his eyes on her heaving chest.
“What’s your shirt say?”
Tami turned and looked quizzically at him.
“There,” he said pointing and coming within a fingertip of touching her chest. “Whatsit say?”
Tami grinned. She tugged slowly on her shirt, a flirtatious move that made it easier to see the writing on her shirt -- and other things.
“Super chick?”
Tami shrugged, leaning back on her elbows to give Roderick a clearer view.
“Think it’s sheek, ain’t it,’ Julius chimed in from below. “Think that’s French.”
“Oh, see that’s more like what I was thinkin’,” Roderick laughed.
Tami raised an eyebrow at him.
“You know it girl, you know what you like! Make me wanna sing some Rick James!”
Roderick jumped up on the rock and an air guitar instantly appeared in his hands. He began to strum it wildly: “Boooom, boom, boom, buh-bump, buh-bump! Boooom, boom, boom, buh-bump, buh-bump!”
The he started to sing -- loudly.
“She’s a very kinky girl, the kind you don’t take home to mama!”
Tami rolled her eyes.
“She’s a super freak, super freak, she’s soooper freaky, ya’ll!”
Roderick ended the verse with a wild shriek and cackled. Tami couldn’t stifle her laugh. Julius just stared in utter amazement at Roderick, who bolstered by his audience’s response, sang the chorus louder and louder while adding pelvic thrusts and wagging his tongue.
“Super freak, super freak!” “That’s what you are aint, Tam,” he cackled. “You like that don’t you,” he said accentuating his hip movements.
Tami laughed loudly, clapping her hands and throwing her head back. Julius cracked up as well, but then he noticed that the commotion caused those nearby to look over at the creek. He felt a wave of embarrassment rush through his body, and suddenly he wanted to run over and pull the plug on Roderick’s performance. But he paused. Smiled, and then just kept laughing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Novel approaches end

OK, so I was going to wait to update when I hit the 10K mark, but that seems a bit far off. I'm near 8500 words now. Yes time is running out but the NaNo organizers suggest that people just keep writing even if they aren't going to make the 50K goal.
So I'm plugging away, when I can. This is a very humbling experience as it reveals a lot about one's work habits (I can procrastinate with the best of em), knowledge and memory (mine seems to be fading fast)!
Here's the intro to the story's other main character. Again, typos, grammar, etc. ahead.

Tamalia’s boots clicked and scratched across the concrete in harmony with the jingle of her chain belt. She looked at the well-traveled bus with its peeling Premium Coach Lines logo and rusty bumpers. She thought back to the raggedy flier with the rageddy picture of a raggedy looking camp.
And I hope I brought my tennis shoes, she thought.
“I hope you brought your tennis shoes, Miss Thing,” said the tall thick African American woman walking beside her. Tamalia cocked her head up at her mother – and smirked.
“Should be in here,” Tamalia said and slighted raised the pink canvas duffle bag at her side for her mother to see.
“I saw you put them sandals in there, Tami, but I didn’t…”
“Ma,” Tami interrupted, “I put those in there, too. I got what I need.”
And if not, no big whoop, Tami thought.
“Come on then,” her mother, Regina, acquiesced. “They gonna leave your butt.”
“Not if they know better,” Tamalia said with mock disgust.
“You ain’t never lied,” Regina cooed with her husky voice.
The two looked at each other and giggled.
The thin man was pushing on some bags in the luggage compartment, huffing and puffing with every bend and twist. He put his hands on hips and turned to see Regina and Tamalia. He was struck immediately by the older woman’s height, curly afro and thick-rimmed glasses. Then he glanced over at the 15-year-old gliding up beside her with the a shorter, moister-looking afro and tight pink polo shirt.
“Let me get that for you,” he blurted reaching for Tami’s bag before she had a chance to offer it.
Tami gracefully handed the duffle over. Out the corner of her eye, she saw her mother staring at the young man with her hands on her hips and shaking her head.
“Uh, hmm, where’s a …” the man hemmed and hawed, moving sporadically up and down the length of the bus, cradling the duffle in his arms like a newborn. He finally settled on a spot, snatching an ugly yellow suitcase out. He was nestling the duffle into its holy manger when a smooth voice shouted from behind.
“Wait! Oh, snap. Could I get my Walkman?” Tami asked.
Without hesistation, the young man removed the dufflebag and proffered it to her. She reached in and pulled out the gray/blue rectangle and carefully unwrapped the tangle of black headphone cords. With a smile, she thanked the thin man, who nodded and quickly returned it back to the bus.
“Raash,” a darker brown man called to him from the front of the bus. “You done man? We gots to get rollin’!”
The thin man reached down for the yellow suitcase and almost angrily laid it on top of Tami’s duffle bag.
Walking over to the bus he saw the older man and another smiling at him. He glanced back at the two females. Looked back the guys and whistled softly.
“Maaan, you see, whoo, trying to get a brother in trouble already!”
Tami smiled inwardly and pretended to be completely concerned with attaching her Walkman to her waist. She also surveyed the small group of kids mingling about. And, it seemed, every way she turned she ended up catching the eye of some boy.
Again, she smiled.
“Try to have fun without being too wild,” her mother said to the sky. “And don’t be thinking about them boys, either.”
Again, Tami looked up, amazed at her mother’s perceptiveness. She thought it was a little weird, but loved it.
“Hmm, tell them not to be thinking about me!” she said twisting her full lips.
“Yes, well some things can’t be helped can they?” Regina whispered.
They cracked up again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Comic-Man becomes ... NOVEL-Man!

OK, so it's been a little over a week since I embarked on this little trip. And where are we on the road to 50K words? Ta daa -- a whopping 4,650!!
Yea, most folks are in the 25K-30K range by now.
So why am I posting here when I should be writing? Good question!!!

Here's some opening grafs for you to peruse; spolier --- typos and grammar issues ahead! :)

Julius flung the fraying mustard-yellow suitcase into the bus luggage compartment and quickly returned to the curb, trying to blend back in with the crowd. He almost made it.
“Uh, hey, m’man, can you get that in there a little farther?”
Julius’ shoulders drooped and his head rolled forward under the weight of the words. He turned reluctantly to face his accuser, a thin young man with wild curly hair and a sketch of a mustache on his light-brown face. His big smile compelled Julius to step back toward the bus.
“Got a few more people comin’. Gonna need the space,” the man said, still smiling. Julius smiled back and immediately wished he could wipe it off his face.
He reached out his right arm and used the tips of his bony fingers to move the suitcase up and back. It seemed to glow among the rest of the backpacks, duffle bags and he had to turn away. As he did he looked around at the rest of the campers’ traveling gear. Much more suited to the trip he thought, but then his eyes settled on a set of white plastic Giant Eagle shopping bags, with clothes showing throwing the stretching plastic.
Maybe I should be chill and count my blessings, he thought.
He readjusted his black and gold Pirate baseball cap for the 20th time, then stuffed his hands in the pockets of his red Members Only jacket and walked back to the curb. Knew you weren’t going to need no coat, he berated himself, then remembered it wouldn’t fit the suitcase so he had to come up with some way to bring it. Julius was still debating the decision with himself, a full trial session going on his head, when his mother tapped him in the chest.
“Did you get your brother and sisters’ on there also,” she asked him. Although, Juanita Carol Crawford didn’t really ask her kids anything and Julius answered with that in mind.
“Yes, ma, I did theirs first.” The Pirate cap required another adjustment.
Juanita stood eye-to-eye with her oldest son, now 15. She looked at his face and saw the worry. Yes, he was now getter taller than her and soon would be in high school, but she couldn’t help but still see a timid eighth-grader hiding beneath the brim of the oversized baseball cap. She wanted to reassure him. She wanted to pop him and say “get it together.” As usual, she tried to do both.
“When ya’ll get there, find out if you and your brother can be together, in the same bunk or whatever,” Juanita strategized. “They might split ya’ll up by ages, so it might not work. If not, try to stay together. The girls will probably be together anyway.”
Orders received, Julius looked up and scanned the crowd. He saw his sisters, Latisha and Cleo, nodding their heads furiously and laughing with three other girls. Then Cleo shrieked as their brother Antony came up from behind clapped her on the back.
“Oww, dang, whachyoudoin’,” she wailed. She balled up a small powerful fist and rapped Antony in his frail chest. The 10-year-old bellowed, “Dang, what was that for! Always gotta be hittin somebody,” he muttered as he turned to walk toward Julius and their mother.
Julius watched the exchange. He watched the other girls, one light-skinned with jetblack permed hair, the other a honey brown with short hair, big hoop earrings and glistening full lups. Both had beautiful smiles.
“J?” “J?”
His mother’s voice snapped him out of his daydream.
“Pay attention while you’re gone, alright?” she pleaded.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaNoWriMo update

So, I banged out the premise/structure/plot for a story yesterday...and then decided to scrap the whole thing and write about something else. This is not starting off well! (ha!)
I'm much more invested in the new idea so I think I should be able to write it fairly easily. The NaNo site tracks your word count and lets you upload excerpts of your work, but I may just post some things here. If so, feedback of any kind would be great, although the spirit of NaNo is to really do all your editing and polishing in December.

Also keep checking back here for word on a new Internet comic venture that I and my crew at DZC are planning.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hi ho a deerio, NaNoWriMo we will go...

Folks, I know it's been a while (that means you Mr. Campbell (smile)) but I am still among the living -- it's my spirit that feels dead.
Yes, Mr. Upbeat has been getting beat up lately. Need something to cheer me up.
Let's see new president, cool.
Oh and I've taken up the challenge with National Novel Writing Month to complete a 50,000 word story by Nov. 30. Hmm, now whether this leads me into deeper depths of despair remains to be seen.

Wish me luck peeps!