#NaNoWriMo – a- gram Sailing past #50,000

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.


“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

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