Friday, April 4, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart
I've long been a fan of NaNoWriMo.  In fact, my first Carina release was my first NaNoWriMo novel!  (After much revision, of course.)  However, I've not succeeded the past two years at hitting 50K in Nov.  This past year, it was Evil Day Job stress.  I usually take off 9+ days of vacation in November to make sure I have plenty of time to write, but I couldn't take that many days off last year.  On top of that, I ended up making a business trip mid month, and it totally messed up my schedule.

That's where Camp NaNoWriMo comes in.  For this challenge, you can set whatever goal you want.  Do you need to edit instead of draft?  Great.  Do you need to write 10K in April... or 50K?  Either is fine. 

For my goal, I've chosen to finish my current paranormal romance.  I have about 30K or so, and I expect another 30-40K will be needed.  I'd LOVE to finish it in April, no matter how long it ends up being.

Plus we get a "cabin" of 11 people and a Twitter-like area to converse.  Much easier to keep it short than the forums (where it's super easy to get distracted with all the wonderful crazy fun stuff).  So far, I'm really enjoying this trip to camp.

Have you ever participated in CampNaNoWriMo or some other writing challenge?  In honor of Camp NaNoWriMo, I'll share a little of the new project.  First draft and subject to heavy revision later!

~ * ~

The worst part of hammering down for a living was killing time until she could pick up the next load and keep on burning the miles.

Hunching her shoulders against the raucous catcalls from the all-male tables of other drivers, Kalona Nox made her way outside. She valued her intestines too much to eat that slop at the usual truck-stop diner. Besides, if she had to listen to one more whistle or “hey, baby, I’ll give you something to ride,” she was going to hurt somebody.

Most of the time, she drove the same routes, rarely speaking to any of the other drivers. When they saw her week after week, doing her job just like them, they eventually accepted her. She’d even made a few friends. She might never call them up and meet them at a movie, but if she was broken down alongside the road, she would have had a few drivers to call who would’ve stopped to help her get rolling again.

But sometimes the job ended. Not her fault. Nobody’s fault. Money was tight everywhere in the country. Gas prices were sky high, driving the price of everything else through the roof. Competition for loads was as cut-throat as any pirate battle on the open seas, and when a driver didn’t want a company looking too deeply into her past, she couldn’t be choosy. Her CDL license was solid, but only to a certain point.

In fact, she hadn’t existed as Kalona until five years ago.

Outside, she paused and took some deep breaths, sorting through the various scents of this town. Gas, asphalt, concrete, people, sure, but she could smell green and trees too. Liberty was pretty much like any other of the countless towns she’d driven through. Part of the sprawling Kansas City suburbia on the Missouri side of the river, it was big enough that no one noticed her, without the overwhelming crush of humanity like the heart of downtown. In fact, cows mooed off in the distance beneath the constant rumble of the freeways. The air was sweet and fine with the burst of spring color. Not too cold but not too hot for her leather jacket either. The black leather gloves were too much, but she was used to them.

Funny what you could get used to out of necessity. Even the constant silence of being alone.

Walking down the sidewalk, she kept her senses on full alert. New towns were always tricky, but for a woman alone doing a man’s job, she had to be especially careful. No one followed her from the truck stop. It wouldn’t be dark for another two hours and no one lingered in the side alleys, waiting to jump out at her. But her muscles still vibrated with tension. Her body wanted a good fight. The beast inside her was hungry.

Desperately hungry. Hungry enough to kill.

Mindless activity like a cross-country haul helped a little, but now, her best option was exertion. Usually a nice long stroll through the outskirts of town would be just the ticket. Except not this time. The longer she walked, the more the air felt like it was charged with energy, an undercurrent of something she couldn’t quite smell or explain. Any minute lightning was going to tear apart the sky, even though not a single storm cloud darkened the horizon. Her palms itched, and she rubbed her hands against her jeans. Sweat made the leather unpleasantly damp, but she didn’t dare take them off. Not until she must.

By the time she found another non-fast-food restaurant, sweat trickled down her back and dampened her brow. Her thighs ached pleasantly from the exercise, but heavy expectation still hung in the air. She breathed deeply again, trying to pinpoint the sensation that made her so anxious and restless. Beneath the chemical odors of concrete and car exhaust, the green intensified, as if she’d just ground a clump of herbs beneath her boot. It reminded her of Thanksgiving for some reason, like hot roasted turkey coming out of the oven. Sage.


The low voice made her jump. Embarrassed she’d been caught so unawares, she edged her right hand toward the small of her back as if she had a weapon stowed in her waistband. She didn’t, but it might make strangers hesitate before jumping her. She didn’t need a weapon to protect herself, but she didn’t need the suspicious questions dogging her heels as she hurried out of town, either. Her next load was still up in the air, and she’d rather not leave until she had a trailer behind her rig.

However, this stranger wasn’t going to jump anyone. An elderly American Indian man sat on the bench outside the restaurant. Steel gray hair hung down past his shoulders. His face looked like an old buffalo hide laid out in the sun to dry. His clothes weren’t dirty, but they were old and faded, his long-sleeved plaid shirt threadbare on the elbows. His boots were dusty, the leather thin and worn as if he’d walked all the way from California. One eye was a rheumy unfocused gray, but the other eye…

That eye caught her in a snare and she couldn’t look away.

Darkness swirled, sucking her in and urging her closer. Everything narrowed down to that lone eye, tunneling toward a black hole she’d never escape. Her scalp prickled, skin burned down her spine, and her shoulders ached as though she battered against a maelstrom threatening to dash her into the swirling sea of his eye. The itching on her palms burst into flame and her hair swirled into her face as if wind gusted around her legs. Too late to save him. To late to save anyone. If it gets free…

She jerked her gaze away and something wrenched deep inside her, as if a hook had been buried deep and tore out a huge chunk of her soul. Absently, she rubbed her fist against her chest, trying to ease the ache. I didn’t let it out. No one got hurt. This time.

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