Archives for the month of: November, 2012


NaNoWriMo winding down. I’ve been doing edits on what I wrote on the first 22 days – which was when I passed the 50,000 word mark. Going back through that first week when I fighting to get to 2000 words a day and adding to them till they were all over 2200 at least. I put in geographic info I didn’t then have about the lay out of my invented mining town, physical descriptions of characters who became more important after they were first introduced. Seeded info that would become more needed later so that it didn’t suddenly jump out.

your Dad’ll pick you up in 5 minutes

I’ll keep at this tweaking till the end of the month. Past years I pretty much laid the work to rest when I passed that 50,000 mark. So I’m trying something new this year by keeping on pushing to the end of days. I will put it to rest till the spring so that what is there can simmer in my subconscious.


your grandma’ll pick you up in 5 minutes

I’ve been trying to get back into my usual morning flash writing – which has been 90% poetry but that flow hasn’t come as quickly as it has in the past – such is life. In the new year I’m going to tackle, what I’m calling the Bradbury  – Ray Bradbury – and try to write a complete story every week. I’ve been productive with flash fiction so it’s time to push that to the next level to see where that leads to.

one of your parents’ll pick you up in 5 minutes

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

November 28 – Thursday – Toronto Erotica Writers

December 13 – Thursday – hosting – The Beautiful and the Damned

December 16 – Sunday – attending – Plasticine Poetry

sugar plumbing

December 20 – Thursday – feature – Hot-Sauced Words


NaNo sample

Birk and Clancy went their separate ways when they arrived at St Agatha’s hall.

Birk and Jake Malone sat near the back with another of their lane way neighbors Jim McKlusky. Birk had never felt at ease when there were too many people talking at the same time. Seeing all these men not on the colliery site was almost like seeing some of them for the first time. So Digger Johnny didn’t always wear that same denim coverall and canvas coat all the time. He looked like a different person in a clean white shirt and grey trousers, held up by striped suspenders. If it weren’t for the heavy work boots Birk would have taken him for a store clerk.

Two of the union men were going along the aisles and talking to miners quietly.

“Good to see you here tonight b’ys” one of them shook Birk’s hand. “We’re feeling that this time we can make a difference.”
“We’ve heard that before.” Jim McKlusky said. “Birk here might be too young to remember the strike of 1918. What the fluenza didn’t kill starvation nearly did.”

The meeting got started with William Gregory, the union rep, reading off the contract demands, none of which management was will to discuss.

The men in the back row around Birk whispered furtively back and forth with comments about what was being said on stage. Having Alf Landon there added to the seriousness of the situation. No one was pleased to hear that here’d be government support for strike action.

He looked around for Clancy but didn’t spot him. His side of the room was the most restless and resistant to the fact that the strike would commence at midnight that night.

“Lets get some fresh air.” Clancy tapped him on the shoulder.

They went out to the front steps of the hall and there were several other men out there smoking. He and Clancy shared the last of the Manny cigarettes.

“You know what burns me up?” said one of the miners outside the hall. “The fact that we have to meet here in this mick hall.”

“Not as if we have anything over our side of the town.” one of them said. “Fraid they’ll get their boots dusty in Mudtown.”

“Can’t expect to do this at the pluck me either.” another said.

The men laughed. “If’n they did they would dock our pay for the wear and rear on the floor boards.”

“Yeh I know that but it’s not as if we get anything from Rome to keep up appearance like the good Father does.” the first man said.

“Like that niece o’his. Looks good even with that bump on her face.”

“Who you think did that t’her.”

“Maybe she did to herself.” Clancy said.

“Yeh. Tripping in the church on those things they kneel on and hitting face on one of Jesus’s hands.”

The men laughed.

“I know what a smack looks like.” one of the men said. “Gives my missus enough of them.” He added knowingly. “Only way to keep ‘em in line.”

“Shows you care enough for ’em too.” another said.

“So you think she’s … got some bloke from around here?”

“I heared she has a past, you know, from Boston. Maybe the good Father had to keep her from going back. Y’ know bring the hand of God to bare.”

“A priest? Nah.”
“Remember Father Peterson. Coached us in hockey one year. Man he wouldn’t hesitate to give any of a good kick in the arse if we didn’t do what we was told. He didn’t care if was orange or mick either. We have more bruises from him than we ever got on the ice.”

“Yeh, but that was b’ys.”

“Doesn’t matter to me now. I just want them at the mine to play fair by us.” the first guy said. “No more playing favorites with the micks. Right Birk.”
“What?” Birk had been listening but not paying heed. From where he and Clancy stood they had a clear view of Lillian sitting by the tea trolly.

“You like getting left in the pit while that Manny O’Dowell gets set up in the rake yard?”
“No!” Getting above ground was the hope of many of the miners. Did matter where they worked or even the work was harder.

“Better get back inside.” Clancy said. “Looks like things is getting to the important stuff.”

“Only important stuff is how much strike pay we can expect when we goes out.”

When they went back in Birk saw that Blackie had arrived. Men were standing to ask questions about the strike or make statements of their particular concerns.

Jim jabbed him the ribs and whispered. “Say something about playing favorites.”

Birk stood. All eyes the room where on him. He feet got hot and he was slightly dizzy. He didn’t recognize his own voice as he spoke and when he finished he didn’t even know what he had said.

“Good on ye, lad. That’ll get those micks in a stir.” Jim said.

There were angry responses from the other side of the room. If there was an answer from any of the speakers to what he said he didn’t hear them. He did hear Seldon from the company store say there’d be no credit if wasn’t working. When Father Patrick forced them to say the Our Father he got up walked out with Blackie and Clancy.


I thought you were going to do the pick up

Scrambled past the 50,000 mark with a week to spare. What am I going to do with all that free time now :-). The semi-structured approach I used paid off well. I got through about half the various plot points I wanted to hit in the story. There are still some major scene yet to be tackled as well – maybe another 50,000 words in fact.

study in white 1

Also there are lots of details skipped in what I have done already – physical descriptions of characters for one thing, and the lay out of the houses and the town. As I wrote the geography of the town filled itself in. Now I need a simple map of some sort to make distances and locations consistent. Who knew, when I started, that I’d need a dock, two churches, street names, railway tracks.

study in white two

I didn’t get to all the big critical scenes scenes I planned out – so I still have the strike riots, the mine collapse to do. Then there’s the emotional scenes to work through – our heroes realize they are more than pals, the female protagonist gets thwarted by one of my heroes & when she finds out they are more than pals that crap hits the fan. So miles to go.

Best part of this unplanned plotting are the scenes that revealed themselves: the coal damp disaster, the burning of the company store, the corporal punishment of my female protagonist. I also discovered the tension between the Catholics and the Orangemen of the town. Political conflict is always more powerful when there is also a religious under-pining.

study in white three

I don’t think I’ll wait till next November to get back it though. But I do want to do the final edits on Lazarus Kiss, my last NaNo novel, to get it smashworded in the new year.

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

November 28 – Thursday – Toronto Erotica Writers

NaNo sample

“I knows one place where we can something to feed our families.” Jim McKlusky said. “We all do! The Pluck Me.”

“The Pluck Me.” the men took up the phrase and left the hall en masse.

“The Pluck Me. The Pluck Me.”

They marched in a ragged mob along Chestnut Avenue to the company store.

Clancy and Birk stood at the rear of the men. McKlusky was pounding on the front door of the company store. Two other men had gone around to the back to make sure the manager, Daniel Seldon, didn’t slip away.

“He ain’ going anywhere.” Birk muttered. “Too much stuff inside. He’d never step away from a profit.”

“Open up, Seldon. Man, we know you’re in there.” McKlusky shouted. “We don’t want to harm you. We know it ain’ your fault wha’s goin’ on but we have families to feed too you know.”

A window on the second floor opened. It was to the left of the front door. A woman’s head stuck out. “Dan’l t’ain’ here.”

It was his wife.

“He’s gone up to the big office. He was sent fer at supper time. He ain here.”

“Then let us in mussus.” McKlusky stepped back. “We means no harm to you and yours.”

“I canna let you in. It’d be the end of me. He dinna want this to happen. But he’s got no choice He’s sorry he ever let his brother talk him inta runnin’ the cump store. Swore it was easy money. But it isn’t. It isn’t. We has to pay for everything just like you do. Even if it don’ get bought and goes bad we still has to pay for it.”

Birk had never heard Mrs. Seldon talk for so long.

“In that case we’ll have to ….” he reached along the edge of a piece of the wood that boarded up the windows and gave it a strong heave. It creaked and started to come loose.

The other men joined him and the boards were quickly all torn off. The windows behind were shattered. Three men kicked in the door and they streamed into the shop.

Birk glanced at Clancy to see if they were going to join in the pillaging. Clancy grinned and mutter “Well, guess we might as see what tea they got stashed there, eh? Or you enjoying that lilac leaf tea?”

“I don’t know. Don’t feel right to me.”

He looked up and saw Manny O’Dowell struggle out of store clutching packages of cigarettes.

“If the mick’s are doin’ it I guess we might as well too.”

“Stop! Stop!” Mrs. Seldon was screaming.

Some of the wives hearing the commotion had joined the men in going through the shelves. One of them went to Mrs. Seldon and smacked her.

“You had that comin’ for a long time.” she said to Mrs. S. “Be quiet or we’ll tie you up and leave you. There’s more in the root cellar.” the woman turned to the crowd.

Birk and Clancy pushed their way to the dry goods, beans, flour. Things Birk knew his mother could make use of. With their arms full they made their way back outside. There was a flicker of flame near the rear of the store. The flicker quickly got large.

Men where pushing and shoving each other out of the store.

“Watch this.” Clancy put his arm load of cans down and dashed back into the building.

Flames spurted out of the roof. A baby was crying loudly. Dogs were barking.

Clancy came stumbling out in a billow of smoke. He was clutching two jars of penny candy under one arm and a crate of cigarettes under the other.

“Something for yer sisters. Something for us.”

“You …” Birk had been fearful that Clancy wouldn’t get out of the fire. “You got a nerve Clancy Sinclair. I real nerve.”

He saw a woman dash up the side stairs of the store that lead tot he second floor and into the building. She appeared moment later holding something and trying to shelter it from the flames. Her skirt was caught on the door jam and she couldn’t get it loose.

Without thinking he bolted up the stairs, tore her skirts free and rushed her down the stairs. Sparks showered on them as the roof began to collapse into the building. He could smell his hair burning as it was singed in the heat. There was some applause as he got her safely into the crowd.

She thanked him repeatedly staring into his face. Even darkened by soot he knew it was the priest niece. She insisted on getting his name. He told her. When she was waving the priest over he slipped away.

“Didn’t think you had that in you Birk.”
“Think I’d stand here and watch someone burn up like that?”

They gather the stuff they had taken from the store.
The crowd stood silently and watched the flames destroy the company store. Mrs. Seldon stood to one side sobbing as she rocked her baby.

The fire was still going when they went back to Birk’s house.

“Say nothing of what happened.” Birk said.

“You mean you playing the hero? It was a good thing.”

“I don’t care. There’ll be no end of it once Ma knows.”

In the kitchen they laid out what they had grabbed in their haste. Mrs. MacDonnell sorted through the various cans and stuff they had.

“I don’t know Birk MacDonnell. I didn’t bring you up to be … a… hooligan who’d take advantage of someone like this.”
“But Mrs McD what good would it have been to just let this stuff go up in flames. Ashes don’t do anyone any good.”

“Wise words Clancy. Rest assured those ashes aren’t going to do any one any good when word gets back to the coal company what was done.”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“Best wash off that soot before you go to bed. Yer almost as black as ya are after coming from the pits.” She smiled and rubbed Birk’s forehead.

study in white four

Not enough hours in the day during November. Just passed the 40,000 word mark in my NaNo project – I’m happy with the way things are flowing and that I’m getting words down without being overly concerned with getting the right words on the first draft. In some spots I knew what emotional content I wanted so stated it baldly. I had make it more subtle in rewrite.

not the little pink sock

The same with inserting my research material. I have lots of facts and info on coal mining in the mid 1920‘s but rather than going to it constantly as I spew word I can put in correct terminology later. I  remind myself I’m not writing a how-to-manual either or a historical thesis on social life of the time – this is fiction.

I haven’t been able to find a way to fit in all my research – some of it would, I think, take over or call for more attention that my story needs – there had been an influx of blacks from the Caribbean imported to work in the coal mines – there is a great story there and I think even alluding to it would be unfair to their story.

little pink sock?

I’m also enjoying how scenes write themselves. When the miners went on strike they, at one point, rioted and looted & burnt down the company stores. My male protagonist gets caught up in this and we see events for his pov. In a later scene my female pov becomes an observer of the fire – but I wanted her to become more active but how? – well why not a burning building with a baby inside.

oh little pink sock – where are you?

melodrama that fits the writing of that era – she rescues the baby but gets snagged on the stairs trying to get out – my male protagonist steps up and frees her – information I didn’t have when I started the looting of the store. Now I can go back to his pov to add that rescue.

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

November 28 – Thursday – Toronto Erotica Writers

NaNo sample

It was night when they came to the surface with the rest of their level’s day shift. Birk headed straight to the wash up room after he hung his work clothes on their hook and pulled them up to the ceiling.

This was when he moved as fast as he could. The first in got the cleanest water. At first he wasn’t sure where the blood in the bowl was from then he recalled the dust up with Clancy. Showed him this little guy can’t be dealt with that way.

He glanced up at Clancy who was opposite him splashing water onto himself. He was trying to wash the grime out of his red hair.

“Yer hair will be black fer’ver m’son.”

“Only those don’t know how to wash have that problem.” Clancy replied.

“Get a move on,” one of the waiting miners shouted. “Some of us got dust to wash outta our arse hair too, you know.”

The miners laughed.

Birk dried himself quickly and got back into into his overalls and shirt. He could smell the clean of the shirt. His body ached for that big bed. Ah yes that almost made the day bearable now that he had that all to himself. Something to look forward too. No snoring Geo to deal with ever again.

“Same time tomorrow, soft arse.” Birk gave Clancy one last shove. “Keep pissin’ on them hands too or ya won’t last the week.”

Jake was at the exit gate waiting for him. Birk couldn’t wait to to tell him about the new guy he was breaking in.

When he got home he tugged off his work boots and socks. Tossed the socks and his face rag into a bucket and poured water over them. He’d scrub them out in the backyard later.

Blackie was home sitting at the kitchen table.

“Gotta another new guy. Why do I always get’ em. Manny got that sweet job in the yard. When’s the union gonna do something for me beside taking dues. I shoudda had that spot, you know. That Red Mac never liked me much.”

“My fault b’y.” Blackie nodded his head. “Should a been a mick. Not yer fault he takes his direction from the priest. Manny was the priest’s pet. You know that. Probably told Red Mac the devil would get him if he didn’t do right by Manny.”

“What about right by me. I’s been there longer ‘n him, too. But I showed that new guy his place fast enough.”

His mother came in from the backyard with some carrots from their garden.

“Jus look at these.” She held up a some stunted roots. “Soil here’s so bad nothing grows. I tires every year and its the same.”

Maddy followed her in with some daisies.

“Thank you little miss.” Birk reached for them.

“They’s for Geo.” she hid them behind her back.

“I should a guessed. How long for we eat?”
“When they get here. Sheila bringing a fish stew she made to thank me for the cake I baked.” His mother wiped at the table.

“I’ll be above.” Birk went to the stairs. “How’s Sal?”
“Still the same. Sat up for a spell though to look out the window. Weather’ll be fine soon to take her outside for awhile. Sunshine’ll fix her up fast.”

Birk went up to his room. Before he went in he looked in on Sal. She was propped up with a couple of pillows stroking the hair of a rag doll his mother had made for her.

“How’s my sweet sister today.” He said gently as he sat on the end of the bed.

“Don’t” Sal flushed in alarm. “Don’t get that dirt on dolly.”

“I …” Birk stood and walked out of the room.

He splayed on his bed and stared at the ceiling. At least his room didn’t want to be rid of him like his sisters did, like his new workmate did.

He drifted off to sleep to be wakened by loud laugher from below. His brother had arrived with his new wife. Same old Sheila but new all the same. He went down to the kitchen.

Someone with his back to Birk was talking to Blackie. The someone turned around. It was Clancy.

“Good, great news come rejoicing.” His mother said happily. “Yer brother has found someone to board here. Say hello to Clancy Sinclair.”

“We’ve met.” Birk said. “Board here? Where?”
“My room,” Goe said. “Thas a big bed. Yer used to sharing it.”

“Yeah with me brother not some soft arse who thinks I’m no better than a rat.”

little pink sock happiness

Just passing 28000 words in my NaNo project and finally sex happens. Because the story is set in early 1920’s, in small mining town with a strong Roman Catholic population the sexuality is repressed – something to be done with both partners looking in opposite directions, slightly ashamed of their needs and then praying for forgiveness when it’s over -

Yoda crapped here

I have built up to 2100 words a day and hope to get that up to 2200 by the beginning of next week. Even as I write I sense areas where I can add more description, explanation, but I really want to the basic story down and then go back to add those elements.

I am also a ‘seat-of-the-pants’ writer – I certainly know my story arc but haven’t detailed too much of how to get there. So far each scene I’ve started has taken me in interesting directions, adding shades to the story I hadn’t thought of at first.

in the pink

In the morning I write a 200 word spew to start the scene, then do some reading, come back and generate another 1000 or so words, then go for a walk to let what I’ve written so far simmer, come home for lunch & a coffee, then jump back in for another 1000 or more words.

If I have time after supper I go back into the previous day’s rough draft to clean up typos and do a tiny bit of polish. I keep a list of character names handy at all time because I don’t try to remember all those names all the time. The list also contains words that my dyslexic typing always screws up.

Irish missed

I’m happy with how things have been coming along. Sticking to two p.o.v makes things easier for me. I know there’s been a few pov slips already but I’m not worrying till I get to the edits next summer – why next summer? Because I want to get my last NaNo novel ready for smashwords in the new year first.

NaNo Sample

In the kitchen Lillian was relieved to see that her uncle had cut wood for her. Most mornings he left that work to her. He had even started a fire in the stove. He sat at the small pine table on the one chair in the room.

“Thank you Father Pat for getting the fire going.” She had learned quickly that her uncle expected gratitude for every thing he did around the house.

“It is my pleasure to be of service.”

She pumped water into the kettle and set it on the stove.

“Tea will be ready shortly.” she told him. “Would you like the Ceylon or the English?”

“The Ceylon I think. Yes, it’s definitely a morning for the Ceylon.”

Lillian put the iron skillet on the stove and greased it lightly. It was quickly warm enough for the one egg and one piece of bacon that her uncle ate every morning with one thick piece of bread. She was to prepare his before she could eat anything. She wasn’t allow the bacon.

The kettle whistled and she poured the water into the tea pot. She was allowed to have a cup of tea with him though. He felt eating in the morning together would be unseemly. Too much what properly married Catholics would do.

She served him his breakfast.

“Now you remember that today is when the union men are coming to speak with me.”
“Yes Unc … I mean Father Pat. Annie and I baked two pies last night.”

“Apple and rhubarb.”
“Yes, as you asked. I also made some of the chicken soup you like.”

“Not too meaty I hope.”


“Good. We want them to know the Lord is bountiful but also that we aren’t foolish with his bounty.” He wiped the last of the egg yolk up with a crust of the bread.

“This is very good bread, Lillian. You have learned very quickly. I’ll never forget that first loaf.” He laughed as she blushed. “I’m still using it as a door stop at the church.”

“God finds a use for everything.” She forced a laugh. It was all she could do not to run from the room to cry.

As he got up she took his plate for her own use. Once he was gone she sat at the table with her egg on a thin slice of bread. She held her breath till she heard the gate swing shut. This meant he was gone. She looked down at the yellow yolk of the egg and screamed. She beat the table with the palms of her hands.

She stopped abruptly and ate her breakfast.


Keeping on top of my Nano project has called for sacrifice but one of things I wasn’t willing to cut was The Beautiful and The Damned on Thursday night.

David Bateman hosted the show. As always he brought humor, opinions and a wealth of information – this time about our dead celeb of the month Andy Warhol. Great trivia questions but sadly none of which were answered correctly by me shouting out JoeDallesandro for every one.

cold kitten one

First feature, Lara Bozabalian, is a writer I always enjoy immensely. Her set consisted of pieces from her up coming book Tourist. As the title implies we travelled from elephant riots in India to hunting wildlife in British Columbia, to Michigan teens to Beethoven out for a walk. Vivid nature imagery was balanced by strong emotional moments “a telephone wire of nervousness ran between us’ and sensuousness: “at the piano my shoulder learned by rote the smell of your skin.” Speaking of skin her first book of verse ‘The Cartographer’s Skin’ has now sold out two print runs.

cold kitten two

Second feature Cathy Petch, hot from her recent slam victories, gave us an energized set that went from vulgar raunch “like leather cocks in classic porn” to deeply personal reflections on Mike Tyson. Funny, touching and always compelling Cathy gives good poetry saw, “solid gold dancing all the while.” I love the shift of emotional tugs in her Tyson piece, we go from admiring his struggles with lisping, being manipulated by coaches and finally we are distanced by his violence towards those weaker than him.

cold kitten three

Unfortunately I had to scoot before hearing this month’s music feature – the damned NaNo had me on the run. I had a session with first year med students at Women’s College Friday morning which meant early rising to be there and no time for writing in the morning.

As much as I love being a part of making future doctors and getting paid for the opportunity I really wanted to be stacking up those words. Sure I could write in transit but it’s hard enough to read standing up on the TTC let along flip open a keyboard and type :-)

I made up for lost time at the writing session at the Red Rocket Friday afternoon – piling up over 2200 words.

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo


NaNo sample


Even though the chill of spring was over Lillian shivered under the heavy woolen cover. It wasn’t even a blanket as far as she was concerned. It kept the heat in but she felt cold. The sheets between her and the wool wasn’t thick enough to keep the coarse fiber from chafing her feet.  The cover was like everything in her uncle’s house. Coarse. Homemade. She tried to picture the paritoner who had made this and brought it as gift to her uncle. It was meant to be a rug. Under it she tugged her mother’s shawl tighter around her shoulder. It smelled of comfort, of the life she had left behind to come here to this clumsy backwater coal mining town.

Lillian pushed the stiff cover off her and swung her feet to the floor. They recoiled from the cold. She should have left the rug where it was but pulling it over her in the night was the only way she could think of to keep warm. Her uncle had offered one of the quilts but she had refused. The tattered rag patterned comforters looked even more home made than the rug.

Lillian put on her slippers and wrapped her dressing gown around her. The dark blue silk was embroider with small pink flowers along the hem with larger ones on the pockets and lapels. It was one of the few things her uncle had let her keep when she arrived. He felt her Boston clothes were too good, too indulgent for someone living his house. He didn’t want anything to be a distraction for his parishioners.

“Such gaudy goods are a sign of a lack of faith. The Lord wants us plain when we stand before him not gussied up like a peacock.” He had said as he went through her trunk shoving all her pretty clothes into a burlap sack. “They’ll be in the attic till you are fit to leave us. Your father thinks he’s made a man of himself but he never knew the meaning of decorum.”

Her tears only made him impatient with her. Now here she was dressing in rough, colorless, shapeless pinafores, coarse linen shifts that gave her no shape. She wondered if he was more concerned with her being a temptation to him than a lure of satan to his parishioners.

Her room didn’t even have a mirror. She hadn’t seen her face clearly since she arrived three months ago. There were no mirrors in the priest’s house and certainly none in the small church.

She splashed cold water on her face. Her hands were red and chafed from the housework she was now responsible for. Learning here what her uncle said her father and mother had failed to teach her. How to be a woman who could serve others, not a wonton who only served her own pleasures.

She sat at her dressing table to brush her hair staring at the space on the wall where a mirror had once been. She knew that by the discolored, and water-mottled rose wallpaper around a clean rectangle of red roses.

throne a-hunting

Day 6 and I still feel like I’m scrambling. Getting the word count up there though, which is what matters for NaNoWriMo. People I haven’t heard from for months call to take me out to lunch, I get selected for a focus group ($ is $) – hard to say no – plus still cleaning up after the electrical work in the house – next up furnace cleaning & duct cleaning – thar’s plasta dust in them thar ducts now.

throne de-throned

I’ve only covered two of my thirty plot points – which is a good thing as each one took more than two days to explore – this is when I enjoy my writing the most – when the story unfolds itself and moves in directions I wasn’t expecting – plus I see places for expansion on what I’ve already done – sweet.

I even managed one section with a conversation between five characters – kept it brief enough and I think it is fairly understandable too. My major story substructure has kept everything moving forward – the impending, or is it, miner’s strike -

throne dappled by sunlight

Instant research has been great as well – what kind of china might the priest have in his house – found correct period dinnerware and even a pattern to name. What can I call his parish without naming a real Cape Breton parish. Gaelic swear words – why thank you google there’s a page of them – are they period – who knows but it doesn’t matter either.

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

andy one handy

November 8, Thursday – attending The Beautiful and the Damned

NaNo sample

a sample from NaNoWriMo day 2:

After the third load Birk got his lunch pail from the niche by one of the support stavings. He hunched with his back against the wall and opened it up.

Clancy leaned gingerly against the wall, his legs stretched out as far as he could in the space they had. He rubbed at his back

“Being big’s not so good eh?” Birk said. “Some never gets to stand up straight after a few months down here.” He took a swallow of his tea. Didn’t taste right without a bit of sugar. He rinsed his mouth with it and spat it out. Cleaning his palate as best as he could before biting into his lunch. Bread with some grease drippings spread on it. Today he had a piece of the wedding cake. His sisters had already licked the icing off it so it. The bit of sweetness left almost cut through the taste of the coal in his mouth. The cake was as tasteless as the bread. He wondered if he could dissolve it his tea to sweeten that some.

“Done?” he shut his pail.


“Back to it then b’y.”


“That all ya got ta say?”

“Not much of a talker.”

“Couldn’t shut Manny. Talk the head off a rat given the chance.”

“Yeh, well, its bad enough t’work with one let alone wanna to talk to one while I’m eatin.”

Birk twisted around.

“I’m a rat, eh? Monkeys bad enough.” He swung at Clancy and slipped on the uneven ground at the same time.

Clancy was on top of him batting at his ribs then ears.

“You half-size rat giving me orders all day. Think l’m going to put wid that.”

Birk got one knee into Clancy’s stomach and pushed him off. The tunnel wasn’t tall or wide enough for either of them to stand and take punches. They wrestled each other to his knees. Head butting when possible.

Birk could taste blood in his mouth.

“Yer a tough guy for a rat you know.” Clancy had his forearm under Birk’s chin. “Smell worse than one, too.”

Gasping Birk hit Clancy as hard as he could in the side.

“Christ, breakin m’ribs.” he rolled off.

“Ya stay there for now laddie.” Birk leaned against the wall. “I got work to do. This way yer not underfoot.”

Birk went back the face he was working on. Each blow of his pick axe was a blow into the grinning face of Clancy. No one pushed him around. At eighteen he’d been in the mine for five years now. He knew what he was doing and how not to take anything from anyone. If you took it yer were on the losing side.

He could hear Clancy raking away the scree. The need to prove he was the top man here was as important as making sure they got enough coal loaded.

They worked the rest of the shift without speaking. Eating their supper in separate nooks in the shaft.


no cananowrimo logo yet

Come Home Muffy

The first few days of NaNo have been a struggle to stay on top of things. One can clear the decks but someday they refuse to stay cleared. Thursday has always been a hectic day for me anyway but why can’t NaNo start on a Monday every year – much better.

I prepared for NaNo a little differently this year – I created 30 separate pages, one for each day of November. I also made a list of 30 story points/scenes I wanted to explore for the novel and put one each of those pages. Already day 1’s story point took two days and over 3400 words, so I have a spare story point already for next year :-)

east end wild life park

The story points are sort of in chronological order but that structuring can wait till I’m done. With the last novel I found the sequence changed once I was done. Writing out of sequence doesn’t bother me – if the point I have slated for day 23 fired up in my fevered brain on day 12 then I’m going to do it.

The word count I post on Facebook and on NaNo is never the actual count – I round it down and ‘bank’ the rest of the words. Once I build up a buffer of 3400 words I won’t feel so panicked if I miss a day.

Muffy Was here

Last year I mentored a couple of new to NaNo-ites. I enjoyed that a lot but this year I decided to try ‘hosting’ a writing session in my neighborhood. There was nothing in the east end last year nighttime or daytime. I picked the Red Rocket – five minutes from my house & even closer to Greenwood Subway station. I opted for Friday 1:30 – 3:30. Had to pull myself away from the keyboard to get there but was glad I did, got to meet some east end NaNo-ites. made a good start on my day 3 story point.

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

andy one handy

November 8, Thursday – attending The Beautiful and the Damned

NaNo sample

Knowing his way Birk moved quickly over the uneven surface to the crease where he was working. He could hear Clancy stumbling behind him. that’d teach the big mouth who was the big man.

“Watch yer head here.” He muttered as they came to the final turn. He ducked down and then up avoiding the staving joist that was holding the ceiling.


“Y’d think y’d never been in the dark before.” Birk chuckled as he heard Clancy bump the rafter.

“Never so deep.” Clancy was trying to catch his breath.

“Better get used to it quick like, as yer going t’be spending most yer awake time in the dark, just like your sleep time. Day light’ll not be your pal again.” He stored his lunch can behind the upright paling that helped to support the weight of the ceiling.


Birk stopped and Clancy stumbled into him.

“Watch it.” Birk pushed him back. “Tight nuf in here ya know. Here’s yer rake. You know how to handle one.”
“Christ yeh. I rake, pile and when pile is big nuf we shovel in into the cart, when the cart is full we get it to the line to dump it into the shuttle.”

“Trick is to keep up wid me boy.”

Birk tied his face rag around his mouth and nose, tuned his headlamp on and starting hammering with his pick axe at his crease. As the shards and chunks of coal loosened he pushed them behind him for Clancy to rake away.

After a few minutes his shoulder muscles loosened and his mind stopped thinking about anything except what he was doing, how fast he was doing it. Steadily he deepened the vein as he followed it along. He could feel the change in vibration in his pick as hit different types of rock, sulfur, granite, different strata of the vein, even different harness of the coal itself. He had no sense of time but of quantity. Once he felt he had dislodged enough coal to fill the hopper he wriggled out to help Clancy push the cart to the main line. Before they dumped into the shuttle he relived himself on the coal.

Clancy was about to do the same. Birk took Clancy’s free hand and peered at in the light of his headlamp. The skin on the hand was rubbed raw, bleeding along the thumb.

“Just as I thought soft. Piss on it.”
“What?” Clancy tired to pull away.

“Yeh it’ll help toughen the skin faster. Took me a week before m’hands could take it.” He watched as Clancy rubbed his hands in his own urine.


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