The Writer's Desk

Writing, publishing & marketing notes from Jamie DeBree & her alter egos

Writer’s Log: Dec. 3, 2017 – Words, Yes. NaNo, No.

Weekly Word Counts
MMM: 1,452
TL: 498
TPR: 0
Poetry: 0
The Dry Rain (editing): 0

National Novel Writing Month ended last week, after I’d already thrown in the proverbial towel a week before. I used to be willing to do whatever it took to win, but these days, my health is just too important to me to stay up all night or skip workouts and such, and that’s pretty much the only times I can trim out of my day to write.

Could I have “won” if I’d really wanted to? Sure. A little more discipline and motivation would have gotten it done. But these days, I’m more concerned with just writing something every day, and I’m doing much better with that than I was at the beginning of the month. My goal at the moment is 500 words per day, and I’m doing pretty well at hitting close to that most nights.

Now that it’s December, I want to add a weekly poem to that goal, and also an hour or two of editing on the weekends. I have at least two drafts that just need a little editing before I release them, and will have a few more ready by January. A set time for editing would be really helpful, and I think I know how I can pull it off. Just a little finagling of the weekly household chores.

I feel a lot better about my writing than I have in several years, and that feels good. I feel like I’m progressing as a writer,and ready to start releasing stories into the wild again. Which is a great mental place to be in, but it does make me impatient to start publishing again.

Soon, I hope.

In case you have a few minutes to linger, here’s an excerpt from one of the drafts I’ve been working on – The Matter of Misty Mardeaux (unedited):

It was dark, windy and sputtering rain when Jane finally arrived in Rattlesnake Falls. The bus stop was a gas station-slash-mechanic shop that was closed, of course, and there were no street lights to speak of – just the odd porch light that someone had left on.

From her limited view, the town consisted of one main road and a smattering of small houses and trailers spread out on either side. There were a couple of larger buildings on the main street, larger being a relative term.

“Is someone picking you up?” the bus driver asked, concern in his voice. “No hotels or anything around here, and I don’t see anyone waiting.”

Jane shook her head. “I don’t know anyone here, but I have a house. The town’s not that big – I should be able to find it. Thanks though.”

He gave her a dubious look, but nodded and opened the door. As soon as she stepped clear, the doors closed and the bus trundled off into the night, leaving Jane alone in the dark.

She’d need a warmer coat, she thought as she looked one way, and then the other, trying to decide which way to go. The wind went right through her, giving new meaning to the phrase “bone-chilling”. Raindrops stung against her skin, propelled by the wind and who knows what else in this godforsaken part of the country. She was pretty sure she couldn’t get farther away from her southern home if she tried.

There were lights in the windows of a building up the street in addition to the porch light, and she decided to take a chance and knock on the door. Maybe the only person still up would be able to point her in the right direction for the mansion. She suspected getting lost out here might also mean getting eaten by something with large teeth. If she didn’t freeze to death first.

Why had her family decided to build a house all the way out here, she wondered as she forged up the street against the wind. Why not buy land in the south, or somewhere warm and…populated?

She jumped as something hissed and ran out in front of her – something larger than any cat she’d ever seen. It had a bushy ringed tail and black across its face…could that really be a live raccoon? She’d never actually seen one except on TV. Did they really live so close to where people were?

Stepping up on the lit porch with a sigh of relief, Jane noticed a sign beside the door. US Post Office – Hours six am to four pm, It was well past four…going on eight, actually, but the lights were still on in the back, and whoever worked here would surely know where Jane needed to go.

She knocked firmly, surprised when the door swung open at the pressure.

Crossing the threshold, she closed the door behind her, thankful to be out of that wind even if she was technically trespassing.

“Hello?” She peered into the alcove that held a bunch of post office boxes in the wall, and then over the counter toward the lighted part of the building. “Is anyone here?”

“Coming!” An older but still strong female voice replied, and as Jane waited at the counter, a woman who appeared older than she would have thought moved slowly into view. Catching sight of Jane, she smiled.

“Sorry about the wait – I don’t move as fast as I used to. That’s why I left the door open. Bus driver radio’d ahead and said he was dropping a stranger off tonight. Thought you might be lost.”

“You know the bus driver? And how did he know I was a stranger?”

The older woman laughed. “Because everyone knows everyone around here, Dear. If you plan on sticking around, you will too, soon enough. Now are you visiting someone, or just passing through?”

“Um, neither, actually. I’m Jane Hal–uh–Mardeaux. If you could tell me how to get to the Mardeaux estate, I’d be grateful. I just inherited it, apparently, but the lawyer didn’t give me an address. Just said it was just outside of town.”

The woman looked skeptical. “There hasn’t been anyone in that old house for over a decade, Dear. And it’s a few miles out of town. You could walk, but it would take awhile and there’s no telling what shape it’s in. Might be better to stay here for the night and go out tomorrow morning. I have a guest room you can use, if you’d like.”

Cold, tired, and not at all looking forward to going out in that stinging rain again, Jane wondered if it would be bad manners to accept right away, or if she should refuse and hope the woman tried to talk her into it again. She’d never been good at those social games women played, but right now, she really did kind of just want a warm bed to sleep in.

Her hostess smiled. “I’m Diane Riley, by the way. I run the post office – as you probably guessed, and my son has a camp just up the mountain. Come in through the door there beside the counter. I’ve already got the bed made up and a kettle heating on the stove. Do you prefer tea, cocoa or hot cider? We’ll get you warmed up in no time.”

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