NaNoWriMo Tag

NaNoWriMo Tag

You may have noticed I’ve been somewhat absent this week…relying on pre-written book reviews, links, and blog tour posts to get me through. 🙂 Instead of blogging, I’ve been busy working on my NaNoWriMo novel. (For those of you who haven’t heard about it, November is National Novel Writing Month, and participants around the globe spend the month consuming large quantities of coffee and chocolate, and attempting to write a 50,000 word draft in 30 days.)

Fellow NaNoWriMo participant Trey Schnarr tagged me to do the NaNoWriMo tag, so I thought I’d take a break from my novel and give it a whirl. (Thanks Trey!) Be sure to go visit Trey, and if you’re doing NaNo this year, feel free to add me as a writing buddy.  This tag was created by Kristina Horner.

What was the name of the first novel you attempted with NaNo?
My first try (in 2013) was titled “When the Bough Breaks“. It was a ghost story.

Give us a 1 sentence summary of what you’re writing this year.
A young adult novel involving multiple-world theory as fact, and the ability of some individuals to pass between these worlds.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
This advice wasn’t actually given to me, but I relate to it completely. Sometimes the hardest part is just sitting still and starting. The only way to write is by DOING it, instead of thinking about it.

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard. ~Neil Gaiman

Did you ever take a year off from NaNo? Why?
I haven’t – 2013 was my first try and I have participated each year since.

What’s your biggest inspiration when figuring out what to write?
I keep a notebook with ideas in it and by the time November comes around, I usually have several to choose from. Last year, my novel was based on a dream I’d had a few weeks before. I don’t even know where this year’s idea came from – I’m sure I saw or heard something that triggered it, but characters just popped up in my head, along with a vague idea of where they were and what they were doing.

Read us the first sentence from one of your novels. Ok, I’m going to cheat a bit here and give you a paragraph. I’ve read the first sentence of each of them and realized that alone, they are not very exciting! 🙂 This is from this year’s novel.

I’m afraid of a lot of things. Mostly the same things everyone else is afraid of – spiders, rabid dogs, gypsy curses, cancer. I fear those things but I don’t dwell on them. What I’m most afraid of, what terrifies me every night while I’m lying alone in the dark trying to go to sleep, is the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. And before you ask, no, I don’t live with some monster who beats me, no abusive step-father or evil uncle, no drunken mother coming to wake me so she can blame me for all of her own failings. My father died when I was just six, I barely remember him, and my mother is a kind, loving, normal (almost to the point of dullness) woman. It’s not who is on the stairs that I’m worried about. When I hear the footsteps, my mom is already in bed, asleep. I’ve heard the footsteps every night for almost two weeks now, and when I go into the hall to look, there is no one there.

Why do you love writing?
I love reading, and writing gives me the same kind of opportunity to enjoy a story, but while controlling the outcome.

I don’t know how many other NaNo participants might be reading this, but if you are one, then I tag you!

NaNoWriMo – Coming Soon!

Happy Friday!

I just realized today that despite my good intentions, I have only one month (and a few days) to finish up last year’s unfinished NaNoWriMo novel and come up with an idea and / or outline for this year. This has me panicking a little, and re-evaluating my plans for the next two months! 🙂

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month – and is an event that takes place each November. The goal is to write an entire novel, 50,000 words or more, in one month. Not a finished product, of course, but a rough draft you can spend the next 11 months editing, re-writing, and polishing until it is a passable novel. I’ve tried twice – 18,000 words the first time, and almost 30,000 the second time, but haven’t reached the 50,000-words-in-one-month goal yet.

The first year I joined I had no plan, no outline, and not much of an idea before I sat down to write on November 1st. I have to admit, it was a bit of a mess, and once I got going I had no idea what to do with it.

Last year I was a little more prepared. I had no formal outline, but I did have an idea and I’d spent a lot of time thinking about it before November. I got started easily enough, but had trouble figuring out how to get the story to go where I wanted it to go. I’ve been meaning to finish it since last December, but have only added a few additional paragraphs.

Now November is fast approaching, and I have to decide whether to try again, or work on what I already have started. Part of me says forget it. I always go out of town the last week in November so that really cuts my writing time down to about 3 weeks anyway. Another part of me says go for it! If I outline now I might actually be able to finish this year and although I don’t exactly know why, finishing NaNoWriMo seems like a big deal to me. 🙂

All self-doubt aside, I will probably join in again. There’s something appealing to me about writing alongside strangers and friends from all over the globe, comparing our daily word count, and updating our daily goals. At least for a few weeks I find that motivating!

If anyone else is participating, I’d love to have you add me a writing buddy – my user name is ekehlet.

Help me Choose – What to Write?

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo (username is ekehlet if anyone wants to be writing buddies this year!) for a couple of years, but I have not yet managed to finish. I also have a handful of other partially written drafts and I go back and forth between them. I try to work on all of them a bit here and there, but I have decided that it would be a good idea to actually complete a rough draft of something I already have started before beginning a brand-new writing project this November! I’ve narrowed my choices down to two, and I’m hoping to get some feedback.

Below are short excerpts from a cozy mystery and a ghost story / paranormal thriller. I started working on the cozy several years ago, but still only have 7 chapters written. I know who did it, so a little time spent outlining what I think needs to happen should get me to the end. The other story is my NaNoWriMo attempt from 2014. It started out as a retelling of a bad dream I had one night (I think too much pizza the previous evening may have been involved), but took on a life of its own. The more I wrote, the more it wandered off in unexpected directions. It is a lot closer to being a complete rough draft than the cozy mystery, but I can’t quite figure out how to get it there.

If you have the time to give these a quick read, I would really appreciate your opinion. Assuming either is a genre you would read, do either of the excerpts sound like something that would interest you enough to read more? If so, leave me a comment to let me know which one!

Continue reading

Short Story – Second Chance

Thought I’d post of a few of the things I’ve been working on now and then, and I’d love any feedback you might like to share!

This first piece is a short-short story I wrote for an online competition. It feels a little rushed, but I was limited to 750 words (harder than it sounded!).

Here was the prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following line of dialogue: “If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”

And here’s my story. Hope you enjoy it.

Second Chance by Erika Kehlet

“If you can guess what I have in my pocket, you can have it.”

The voice seemed to originate inside my head. I couldn’t even see a face underneath the hood of the figure before me.

“Who are you?”, I asked. “I don’t know that I want to guess what might be in your pocket.”

“Guess.”, came the voice again.

I looked around. The room we were in was round, and its gray walls were bare save for two doors, one white and one black, which stood opposite each other. I had already tried them both and knew that they were locked. The only light was what emanated from around each door. The floor was hidden beneath a carpet of fog, and there was a small round table in the center of the room. I couldn’t remember how I got here, and I didn’t know how to get out.

“Where are we?”, I asked the figure. “How did I get here? I don’t remember coming in. I remember leaving my office. I was going across the street to meet a friend for coffee. I don’t remember what happened next!” There was no answer. “Who are you? Why the cloak? Why don’t you want me to see your face?”

The figure remained silent and motionless. I wanted to shake him, to make him answer me, but I was afraid to move any closer. I sighed. There didn’t seem to be anything else I could do.

“Ok,” I said, “I’ll play along.”

“Guess what I have in my pocket.”, the voice in my head repeated.

“I don’t know what you have in your pocket,” I said. “Is it a coin?”

“Guess again.”, came the voice.

“Is it a phone?”, I tried hopefully. Mine had no reception here.

“Guess again.”

“How am I supposed to guess what you have in your pocket?” I shouted at the hooded figure. “I don’t know what you have in there, but I wish it was a key, so I could open a door and get out of here. Is it a key?”

The figure reached one hand inside the cloak and brought out a small rusty key. He laid it on the table in front of me. “Which door does it open?”, I whispered, wanting to reach for the key but afraid he would take it back and leave me trapped here.

I heard the voice speak one last word, and then my companion simply faded away. “Choose.”, it said, and I was alone.

I snatched up the key and hurried to the white door. It fit in the lock. I could open this door, but what would I find on the other side? Would it be better than where I was now? There was bright light coming into this room from the small gap around the door. I tried to see through but the space was too small, so I pressed my ear up to the door. It felt warm against my face. I could hear a faint humming coming from the other side. It was soothing, and familiar. My heartbeat slowed to its normal rate, and I felt calm for the first time since finding myself in this room. I felt fresh air coming in around the door along with the light. It smelled of lavender, roses, and fresh baked bread. I closed my eyes and inhaled, and then I was five again, running into the warm kitchen with a scraped knee, only to have my mother wrap her comforting arms around me and make everything alright. I felt safe, and started to turn the key. Then I hesitated. I had to choose, and might not get a second chance. I had to check the other door. I pulled myself away and crossed the room.

The key fit the lock of the black door as well. This door was cool to the touch. I smelled oil, rubber, and exhaust fumes coming in from the other side, and I didn’t need to press my ear against the door to hear the noise. I heard horns honking, whistles blowing, and a siren in the distance. I heard what sounded like people running. There was shouting, but I couldn’t make out the words. Then there came a woman’s sob, another shout, someone calling my name. I glanced across at the white door one last time, turned the key in the lock, and slipped through the door.