Today, Part 4

Today, I lived so vividly the memories still bounce wordlessly from cell to cell, laughing, dancing, yelling for my attention.  Today, my heart thrummed happily in my chest, each beat reminding me why I love this world and everyone in it so very much.  Today, there was no time for nostalgia or regret–only peace.  Peace and laughter.

I loved today.




NaNoWriMo: Closing In

After a month of nearly nonstop literary self-doubt, I finally breathed a sigh of relief this morning when I realized my screenplay has a beginning, middle, and end.

That’s more than I could say about any of of my previous NaNo novels on 27 November.

I know each character’s backstory.  I know their primary struggle over the course of the story.  And, most importantly, I know where they end up just before the credits roll.  It took a lot of headaches, word sprints, and confusing moments of panic to get here, but who cares about that now?  I’m here.  And this is the closest I have ever come to creating a story people will actually listen to.

Now, I know there are more headaches down the road.  In fact, I probably won’t feel this confident about completing my screenplay until I type “THE END” at the end of my Scrivener document in big, bold letters.  But at least now, I have some type of road map to follow instead of just feeling around aimlessly in the dark.

As of right now, 27 November 2016, this year’s NaNoWriMo has been an overwhelming success.  Will I have a finished project by the end of the month?  Not even close.  But will I know what to do to get to that finished project?  Absolutely.

So I will continue writing these next few days with more fervor and excitement than I have all month.

Happy NaNo-ing, everybody.  We can do it!


NaNoWriMo, Weeks 2 & 3

First of all, I have a totally legitimate excuse for not updating last week.

I have been insanely busy.

And not just normal busy.  Really, really busy.

So this entry is going to be a summary of both this week and last.

My Current Word Count: 38,443 words (slightly above quota, for once!)

Last week, I was having a lot of difficulty getting my head in the right place for writing.  My only writing time was in the late afternoon, and by that point I was often so mentally exhausted or preoccupied with the events of the day that I just couldn’t write that much.  So I decided to start waking up early and writing before I even washed my face in the morning.

Surprisingly enough, this was incredibly effective.  My inner-editor was as tired as I was in the early morning, so I wrote quicker and more freely than usual.  Most days, I’d have my word count goal reached before I even left the house.

Then the super-busy week from Hell came and I was barely getting enough sleep.  I slept in more than I should and I had absolutely no time to make up for it in the afternoons.  As my novel statistics below show, there were several days where I didn’t reach my quota and, as every NaNo participant knows, if you’re behind one day, you’ll be working double-time to get back on track.screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-8-43-00-pm

But I’m glad to say that as of tonight, I have officially met my quota for the first time in days.

I am by no means close to the finish line with this project, but I know I’m on the right track and, despite the setbacks, I consider this session of NaNoWriMo to be the most successful one I’ve participated in so far.



Novel Excerpt: Livy’s Dream

This is an excerpt from the first draft of my novel (which does not yet have a title).  Enjoy.


By: Millie

The man on the opposite side of the compartment had resumed his reading and the woman was still sleeping peacefully away.  Livy settled back, breathing deeply for the first time since she and Elizabeth said their good-by’s.  How nice, she thought.  How sweet.  I rather like it here.

Livy’s eyes began to close and soon she was inches away from sleep, eagerly awaiting.  In the final moments before she drifted away, she remembered something.  It was really important, and it was really urgent, but it slipped from her head before she could properly remember it.

In her dream, her mother was sitting in her tangerine convertible.  Her lips were painted so beautifully—she must have spent hours before the mirror to get them just right—and they smiled brightly as Livy approached the vehicle.  A pair of large sunglasses rested gently on her nose and cloaked any and all evidence of her eyes.  Livy frowned when she couldn’t see them.

“Mama, I can’t see your eyes,” she said, opening the passenger door and climbing into the seat.

Her mother shrugged.  “They’re working fine for me!”

“But I want to see them,” Livy said.  “I haven’t for such a long time.”

Her mother sighed and looked down at the floor of the car.  She stayed there for a long while, her right foot dancing off and on the gas pedal but never pushing it down.

“I don’t have any idea where I’m taking this car,” her mother realized, her lips falling open in shock as she turned to Livy.

“Don’t you have a map?” Livy asked.

Her mother shook her head.  “I was hoping…You would.”

“Nope,” Livy said.  She bit her lip.  “I’m afraid we’re both in trouble.”

Her mother’s lips curved into a delicious grin and she threw her head back in laughter.  “Oh, you funny girl!” she cried.  She reached a hand out to pinch Livy’s shoulder hard.

“Ow!” Livy cried, and her mother withdrew her hand, returning it to the steering wheel.

“Well, I hope you’re ready for a scrumptious adventure,” her mother said.  “Ready?”

Livy nodded vigorously, and her mother stomped on the gas pedal with what looked like incredible force.  The convertible careened forward with a nauseating screech, and soon they were driving up the driveway with enough speed to make the nearby trees look like blurs of green in Livy’s periphery.

“Stop!”  Livy screamed.  They were drawing closer and closer to the house with every second.  “Stop the car!  We’re gonna crash!”

Livy looked frantically over at her mother, who was wielding the steering wheel with a malicious smile and paying no heed to her daughter’s concerned words.  Livy turned back to the ever-approaching house, her heart pounding and eyes watering.  “No!  Stop!  Stop the car!  Mama, stop the car!  Stop!”

Livy gasped as she opened her eyes, lifting her head from the train seat.  Clair was looking down at her with an expression of worry and Fabian was still reading his newspaper.  “Are you alright?” he asked.

Livy blinked slowly, sitting up.  “Y—Yes, I’m fine,” she said.  Her heart was still beating rapidly in her chest.  “Just a nightmare.”

Clair nodded and turned back to look at the sleeping woman.  Livy turned away and looked out the window, watching the fields of grey stone and silver water rush past.  So much for the trees.

Before she could stop herself she was crying again, her fingers running over the spot on her shoulder where her mother had so harshly pinched her in her dream.


Novel-Writing 101: Getting Through the “Crazy Phase”

So—you’re writing a novel.  You have a magnificent idea.  A magnificent plot.  Magnificent characters.  Maybe you even have a magnificent first draft (though first drafts can rarely be called “magnificent”).  Yet despite the fact that you’ve been working on this novel…

A month?

Six months?

A year?

Two years?

You still feel as if it’s going nowhere.

You are not alone in the slightest.  Every writer I’ve ever talked to has been in this predicament in one way or another at some point in their careers.  This is what I call the “crazy phase” of writing.  This is the phase that culls the weak from the herd, so to speak.  This is the phase where you stare at the ceiling for hours on end, obsessing over plot holes and lapses in character development and wondering if you’ve always been this bad at writing.

Then, ultimately, you do the absolute worst thing: you give up on your novel.

No.  Do not do this.  It’s not worth it, I promise you!  Part of writing a novel is pushing through the “crazy phase” and proving that you are strong enough to do it!  And I have some tips to help you do just that.


#1: Marry Your Novel

Yes, you heard me right.  Say “I do” to that ginormous mess of words, page numbers, and headaches.  You MUST be committed to your novel in order to finish it.  Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be chained to your novel for the rest of your days (divorce is always an option, after all), but once you have committed yourself to a project, try your best to stick with it.  By metaphorically “marrying” your novel, you will hopefully think twice when the next tantalizing, juicy “plot bunny” (a persistent new novel idea that has nothing to do with the novel you’re writing) threatens to distract you.


#2: Turn Off the TV

Depending on how addicted you are to technology, this could be either the easiest or most difficult step.  Television is wonderful.  It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and it allows you to temporarily escape from reality.  Unfortunately, it is also incredibly addictive.  How many times have you logged into Netflix with the intent of watching just one episode and ended up spending 6 hours paralyzed in front of the screen?  Don’t lie to me, you know you’ve done it.  You cannot successfully write a novel if you regularly squander your weekends and free time watching The Office for the 5,000th time.  My advice is to cut out the television cold turkey.  The first week or so will be rough, but after a while you will get used to it, and I promise you: writing will be much easier.


#3: Take Inventory

I don’t know about you, but I am a very messy writer.  My work for just one novel can be scattered throughout 30 word processing documents, 5 notebooks, and dozens of random scraps of paper.  That is not an exaggeration.  When I start to feel overwhelmed and hopeless, I transcribe all my traditional writing into my computer, and then compile everything into one single word document.  Then, I organize everything by character, in chronological order.  After that, I read through all of it and take notes on what I have already written.  I read through the notes and take more notes on what I still need to write in order for the plot to make sense.  Is it time consuming?  Oh, yes.  But is it worth it?  Absolutely!  I understand this method might not work for everybody, but if you think it will work for you, I absolutely recommend giving it a shot.

At the very least, write down what still needs to happen in order for your novel to make sense.  I believe every writer needs to do that, no matter how organized they are.


#4: WRITE!

Magnificent idea?  Check.

Magnificent plot?  Check.

Magnificent characters?  Check.

The beginnings of a rough draft?  Check.

Commitment?  Check.

No technological distractions?  Check.

A list of what you still need to write?  Check.

Well, I’ve got some good news for you: you’re ready to write!  Put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and create a masterpiece!  Remember: only you can tell your story.


So, what are you waiting for?



Last Man Left On Earth

By: Millie

“Noma, this is Markson.  Do you copy?”

Static.  Buzz.

“Copy that, Markson.  How are you feeling?”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.

“I feel dizzy.”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.

“Dizzy how?”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.

“Just sort of foggy, like waking up from a dream.”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.

“Interesting analysis.  Any pain?”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.

“Not as of yet.  Should I be expecting any?”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.

“We haven’t tested this on any other human subject, we have no way of knowing.”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.

“I know that.  Don’t you have any extra information?…You’re not the one on a dead planet.”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.  Sigh.

“Our animal subjects have displayed signs of anxiety and irritability at about the five minute mark.  How long has it been in your system?”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.  Sigh.  Bite.

“About…Three and a half minutes.”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.  Sigh.  Bite.  Blink.

“Any pain?”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.  Sigh.  Bite.  Blink.  Wince.

“You already asked me that.”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.  Sigh.  Bite.  Blink.  Wince.  Grasp.

“I know.  With this medication, things…Happen…Very quickly.”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.  Sigh.  Bite.  Blink.  Wince.  Grasp.  Clench.

“Well, I’m fine…Wait…I…”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.  Sigh.  Bite.  Blink.  Wince.  Grasp.  Clench.  Hit.

“What is it?  …  Markson, what happened?  …  Markson, this is Noma.  Do you copy?  …  Markson, this is Noma.  Do you copy?”

Static.  Buzz.  Click.  Pop.  Spark.  Step.  Crunch.  Coo.  Whistle.  Sigh.  Bite.  Blink.  Wince.  Grasp.  Clench.  Hit.  Stuck.

“Markson, this is Noma.  Do you copy?”

STahTIc.  Buzzzzclick.  POP.  SsssssspAURk.  Step-crUnscH.  WhistlesighbiteblinkwincegraspclenchHITsssssssstuck NO.

“Markson, this is Noma.  Do you copy?”

StaticbuzzclickpopsparkstepcrunchcoowhistlesighbiteblinkwincegraspclenchhitstuckNO gone.




“Markson, this is Noma.  Do you copy?”












Marlena, Your Majesty: Part 1

By: Millie

It was the glow of the lamp that softened her resolve.  Or maybe it was the sheets.  Yes, it was the sheets, those impossibly soft, warm crimson sheets.  They glowed under the lamp’s light, just as she did.

It wasn’t a bedroom, really.  It wasn’t even really a room.  Clothes lay haphazardly on the floor, having been recently discarded.  They formed pathways and misshapen piles of fabric where tired feet had sloppily sauntered through them in the journey to get to the bed.  Burnt-out stubs of candles were fused to the night stand, leaving hard, yellow wax over the mahogany wood.  At least fifteen glasses, all of different sizes, sat on the table in the middle of the room.  They each contained varying amounts of water.  Crumpled sheets of paper decorated the floor alongside the wrinkled clothes, lines of smudged ink still visible through the crinkles.  To the side of the room, a beige fainting couch sat, hardly disturbed aside from a large and rather noticeable coffee stain in the middle of the cushion.

No, it wasn’t a room.  Anyone who entered could see it wasn’t a room at all.  The sheets were too tangled, the scent too warm.  It was too familiar, too personal.  It wasn’t a room—it was a home.

Her quivering toes dug into the mattress at the foot of the bed.  Her legs, soft and luminous under the warm lamplight, shook at the knees, which she clutched with surprisingly muscular arms.  Her hands were knotted into each other, so tight her knuckles shone white.  Her chest heaved and her lip shook.








And then…

The woman’s eyes closed, she took a deep breath, and quietly muttered a question into the air, which hung before her for a moment.  She waited, smiled, and solemnly nodded.  When she looked up, tears fell from her eyes.

The door before her had fourteen locks on it, but she knew, just this once, they wouldn’t be enough.  She heard them click, one by one, all fourteen of them.  Then the door opened.

“It’s been a while.”

She couldn’t see his face, but the deep baritone of his voice gave him away.  The lamp beside her flickered out, leaving the room in darkness.  “You don’t have to do that, you know,” she whispered.

She heard the floorboards groan as he took a step forward.  “I’m trying to be nice,” he said softly.  “That’s the best I can do.”  She felt the hot palms of his hands rest on her cold feet, and she shuddered.  “I’m sorry they did this to you.”

“I’m sorry they made you do it.”

The air hung with nothing but darkness until the lamp fluttered back to life, and all she could see was his face.  “I’m not going to let them get away with this,” he said, and she could see in his eyes that he was telling the truth.

“Thank you,” she said.  Her chapped lips curved into a forced half-smile.

He stepped back.  “Now get up,” he instructed.

She did as he said, quietly moving from her perch on the bed and anxiously standing before him on weak legs, fear ever-present in her eyes.  Biting his lip and staring at her with a glassy glare of regret, he slowly pulled a syringe from his belt, removing the cap and gesturing for her arm.  Her head snapped up, a new, almost feral look in her eyes.  “No,” she pleaded.  “No, not again.”

Turning abruptly, she started towards the door, nervous sweat gleaming on her forehead.  He raced after her and had swiftly captured her wrist in his grasp before she had even made it past the threshold.

“Please,” she begged.  “It’s bad enough as it is, don’t make it worse.”

He winced at her words as he deliberately rolled up her sleeve, but didn’t reply.  Pulling her closer to him, he quickly plunged the needle into her forearm.  “I’m sorry,” he said as she let out a sharp cry of pain.  He pushed down on the syringe until the deep purple liquid was completely dispensed.  He withdrew the needle, carelessly dropping it to the floor.  “It’s protocol.”

She felt her eyes grow heavy.  She lurched forward, holding onto his arms for support, carefully calculating his expression.  He was sad.  Sad and…Afraid?  Anxious?  No.



He wasn’t…




He was never afraid.

He was…







I’m sorry

It’s protocol