JuNoWriMo Week 1 Update

Week one of JuNoWriMo has come to an end and I am feeling great! It is definitely a challenge and I’ve had to buckle down on writing every day, but my word count is right on track and I’m so happy with my story.

I actually started writing my novel a year ago, for a class I was taking while studying abroad in England. I wrote a bit last summer and a bit last month. But I’ve written more than twice as much over the past seven days than the entire past year. So far JuNoWriMo has been just the motivation I need to get this novel done.

My current word count is 16,550, I wrote about 4,500 of that before June 1st, so technically I’ve written about 12,050 this week (and I haven’t done my writing for today yet). That’s ahead of schedule! As someone who identifies as a chronic procrastination, I am very proud.

My Story:

Sierra White has two days to complete eleven tasks before her twenty-fourth birthday. With the help of a homeless man and a preppy coworker, will Sierra be able to overcome the dark spot on her past and finally finish the list that her dead sister helped write?

Struggles: 

          1) I can already tell that I’m going to have trouble reaching the 50,000 word mark. Not because I’m not writing enough, but because I’m going to run out of story. I’ve already written 75% of what I have plotted, but I’ve only written 33% of my word count! My story only takes place over two days, so it’s really difficult to stretch that word count.

         2) I’ve had a few problems with the plot and timeline. Certain things just working how I planned, but I’ve managed to change my story to make it work for the most part. Some of my problems have stemmed from lack of planning and me not knowing my characters’ back stories well enough. Those are just things I’m going to have to fill in as I go and work out in the revision process.

Triumphs:

Sometimes it’s hard to get myself writing, but an hour later I can’t get myself to stop. I’ve stayed up late writing, not because I need to hit my word count, but because I’m enjoying it. I’m so proud of what I’ve written so far. It’s a first draft for sure, but with a little polishing and a lot of research I really think it can be something great.

I’ve never been able to decide what career path I want to follow, but I’ve known for a very long time that I want to write a book (and get it published!). I am finally making progress toward that goal. And though it’s a long shot, I’ve always been a dreamer, and I can see my dream coming true in the near future!

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The Real World: Northanger Abbey – Scene 7

It is the next day and the eight sit on top on a nearby hill enjoying a picnic.

FRANK CHURCHILL: What a lovely idea Lucy. It is the perfect day for a picnic.

ISABELLA THORPE: Indeed it is a lovely day, but I’m so bored.

MARIANNE: How can you be bored?! The view from here is unmatched. To the left we can see the glorious Abbey and to the right many poetic shades of green fill the trees and grass.

ISABELLA THORPE: Why don’t we do something fun. How about we each ask each other a question, and everyone must answer truthfully.

LUCY STEELE: That doesn’t sound very fun.

ROBERT MARTIN: Perhaps it would be a good way to increase our friendship with one another.

ISABELLA THORPE: Yes Robert, that is exactly what it will do. Who should go first… hmmmmm… George! My question for you is: are you engaged?

Frank shifts uncomfortably

GEORGE WICKHAM: I most certainly am not. Now my turn to ask a question. Miss Lucy Steele, what is you favourite colour.

LUCY STEELE: Ah, well, I suppose it would be blue. I have a lovely blue bonnet. John, how about you next, what is your favourite novel.

JOHN THORPE: I have no time for reading novels. But I am quite fond of The Monk. Robert, how many hours a day do you work the farm.

ROBERT MARTIN: (Surprised by the question) Well, being in charge of a farm is quite a commitment. The cows must be milked in the morning, eggs gathered, animals fed, crops harvested or planted. It requires most of the day-light time. Miss Catherine Morland, may I ask you a question?

CATHERINE: Of course.

ROBERT: What do you miss most from home.

CATHERINE: Oh, that’s a good one. Probably my younger brothers and sisters. Marianne, what is your favourite tree.

MARIANNE: I cannot compare one tree to another. They are all beautiful gifts from nature. Who is to say that an oak tree is better than any other. But I do love a nice oak tree. Frank, I suppose you are the last one left, do you have anyone special back home? A lady perhaps.

FRANK: (coughing to clear his throat) A lady? No one besides my dear aunt. I think we’ve all had quite enough of this game. I feel as if I’ve known you all for years, well done.

The Real World: Northanger Abbey – Scene 6

Marianne sits beside George, flipping through the poetry book from earlier.

Isabella and John sit beside each other whispering and shooting Marianne dirty looks. Lucy sits beside them. There is an empty bottle of wine between them and another bottle that is mostly full.

Robert and Frank play a game of cards at the table.

Catherine sits awkwardly staring at everyone.

Isabella pours some wine into a clean glass.

ISABELLA THORPE: Here Marianne, have some wine.

MARIANNE: Oh, but I usually don’t…

Marianne hesitates, but takes the wine. She takes a small sip and coughs lightly.

MARIANNE: It’s lovely, thank you.

ISABELLA THORPE: Catherine, would you like some?

CATHERINE: No thank you, I’m already drinking tea.

Marianne takes another, larger sip of wine and continues to stare at George. After a few moments Catherine walks to the corner of the room and begins silently reading a book.

ISABELLA THORPE: Miss Steele, I wonder if you would take a turn about the room with me?

LUCY STEELE: Of course.

The ladies begin walking, but when they get to the door they leave. The camera follows them upstairs where they giggle as they gather Catherine’s belongings and carry them into Marianne’s room

LUCY STEELE: I’m so glad I don’t have share a room with that child.

ISABELLA THORPE: And Marianne is just as bad. Swooning all over George as if she’s known him for years.

LUCY STEELE: Well, I believe they will both get the hint. Even Catherine will realize we don’t like her.

ISABELLA THORPE: I wouldn’t be so sure of that. She is quite slow.

Isabella throws her suitcase on the bed where Catherine’s had been and the two walk downstairs giggling.

They re-enter the card-room and Marianne’s glass is now empty and she is reading George a Cowper poem.

MARIANNE: (Dramatically) “…His wonders to perform! He plants his footsteps in the sea! And rides upon the storm!”

ISABELLA THORPE: (Annoyed) Marianne, perhaps you and Catherine would enjoy exploring the abbey a bit? I heard that it was used as a head quarters for a torture facility years ago.

CATHERINE: Really?! How exciting!

ISABELLA THORPE: That is only what I have heard, but perhaps you will find evidence.

Isabella pushes Marianne out of her way and sits beside George. Marianne does not look happy, but she leaves with Catherine.

… Scene 7 to be posted soon!

The Real World: Northanger Abbey – Scene 5

(Continued from Scene 4. The remaining cast members move into the Abbey!)

Downstairs, Marianne Dashwood shuts the large door behind her and squeals with excitement as she looks around the mansion. She does not walk up the stairs, instead she enters the room to the left, a large sitting room with card tables and book cases. She walks to the books self and looks for a few seconds until she finds a thin book of poetry. She keeps it in her hand as she walks around the room.

MARIANNE: Is anyone here! Hello…

She walks back into the front room and looks up the stairs.

MARIANNE: Hello! Is anyone here yet?

The door opens behind her suddenly and she is spooked. George Wickham walks through the door.

GEORGE WICKHAM: Hello Miss…

MARIANNE: Marianne Dashwood.

GEORGE WICKHAM: George Wickham. Good choice (he motions toward the book in Marianne’s hand) William Cowper, is one of my favouties.

MARIANNE: (delighted) Me too!

Catherine, Lucy, and Robert come down the stairs, John is a few steps behind them looking bored.

The door opens again and in walk Isabella Thorpe and Frank Churchill laughing.

FRANK CHURCHILL: Hello everyone. Frank Churchill. And may I introduce you all to the lovely Isabella Thorpe.

JOHN THORPE: Nice to meet you. Have you previously met my sister?

FRANK CHURCHILL: Your sister?

ISABELLA THORPE: John and I are twins.

FRANK CHURCHILL: Oh, I see! Quite a resemblance! Alas, no I have only just met her a moment ago. Our carriages arrived at precisely the same moment.

GEORGE WICKHAM: Well, I suppose we all ought to find our rooms.

… What will happen next on “The Real World: Northanger Abbey”!? Stay tuned to find out!

The Real World Northanger Abbey: Scene 4

Catherine and Lucy gaze around the large front room of the abbey, suitcases in hand. There are doors on either side of them and a large staircase in front of them. The walls are decorated with a few expensive paintings and the head of a deer. The floor is covered by a large rug and large windows allow light to fill the room. The ladies cautiously start climbing the stairs.

On the second floor Lucy walks ahead of Catherine, opening each door that they walk past. She stops at the third door and steps inside.

LUCY STEELE: This will do nicely.

The room is very large, with two massive beds and a fireplace. Lucy takes the larger of the two beds, and drops her suitcase on the floor. She sits on the bed. Catherine sets her suitcase on her bed and flops down ungracefully beside it.

They hear the door open downstairs and they both quickly head for the stairs. Downstairs they meet Robert Martin and John Thorpe.

ROBERT MARTIN: G-g-good afternoon ladies, Robert Martin.

LUCY: Miss Lucy Steele.

CATHERINE: Miss Catherine Morland.

The ladies curtsy and the men remove their hats and bow their heads slightly.

JOHN THORPE: John Thorpe, pleased to meet you both. (Wink)

Lucy does not appear to be impressed with either gentleman. Catherine rocks on her feet nervously, still smiling widely.

ROBERT MARTIN: I suppose we’d better claim a bedroom before the others arrive.

JOHN THORPE: Certainly.

The four of them climb the stairs again. Robert stops in the first room he comes to and sets his bag down, but John continues on. Robert grabs his bag and follows after John. John walks into the last room and shuts the door. Robert stands in the hallway looking confused. He returns to the first room begins unpacking. Catherine follows him.

CATHERINE: So, where are you from?

ROBERT MARTIN: A lovely town called Highbury. I live on a farm with my mother and sisters. And where are you from, miss… what was it again?

CATHERINE: Morland. Catherine Morland. I live in the little village of Fullerton. This is the first time I’ve left home. It’s quite exciting really.

ROBERT MARTIN: It definitely is. This is an odd experiment if you ask me.

CATHERINE: Yes, I have a few theories myself.

ROBERT MARTIN: Really?

CATHERINE:Well, perhaps… (She looks around cautiously and turns her back to the camera and whispers loudly) Perhaps they’ve put us all here so they can kill us and hide our bodies in the garden.

Robert Stops in the middle of folding a pair of trousers and looks at her astonished.

CATHERINE: Or perhaps not.

…Scene 5 to be posted shortly! Four more of Austen’s characters will move into Northanger Abbey, and the fun will begin!

The Real World Northanger Abbey – Scene 3

3. EXT. Northanger Abbey – Day

The Abbey is a huge mansion, built of stone, with a lovely garden in front and a long walk-way leading to the entrance. A carriage drawn by two horses arrives and Catherine Morland steps out, holding one rather abused suitcase. She is wide-eyed and looks up at the Abbey with a smile that quickly falters a bit.

CATHERINE: (to herself) Well, it certainly is very large.

She treks up the path, stopping at the large wooden door when she hears another carriage coming up the path. She turns to see Lucy Steele stepping out of a carriage. Lucy nods approvingly at the Abbey and walks up the path to greet Catherine.

LUCY: (Standing in awkward silence for a few seconds) I suppose there is no one to introduce us.

They both look directly into the camera, but the camera-man prompts them to ignore him.

CATHERINE: Miss Catherine Morland.

Catherine curtseys and smiles eagerly at Lucy. Lucy does not look impressed, but she smiles politely.

LUCY: Miss Lucy Steele.

CATHERINE: Would you like to share a room with me? They told me two people to a room.

Lucy hesitates and looks around nervously, trying to think of an excuse to refuse Catherine politely. She sighs.

LUCY: Sure. Lets go

The enter the abbey.

…Stay tuned! Scene 4 will be posted shortly! More of Austen’s beloved – and despised – characters will move into Northanger Abbey! Who will make friends, who will make enemies, and will anyone find a husband!?

The Real World: Northanger Abbey (Scene 2)

(This is Scene 2 of a project I am working on: a story in which a reality television show is produced in England in 1800, based on the MTV reality show “The Real World”. Eight of Jane Austen’s beloved – and despised – characters will live  in Northanger Abbey!)

2. EXT. OUTSIDE OF NORTHANGER ABBEY – DAY

It is a sunny day and we see CATHERINE MORLAND seated on a chair looking into a video camera suspiciously. MARK stands  behind the camera with SIMON next to him.

SIMON: Just ignore the blinking red light.

Catherine straightens her body and glares into the lens.

View shifts to the Camera Catherine is looking into.

SIMON: Please, tell me about yourself.

CATHERINE: (Nervously) My name is Miss Catherine Morland. I am from Fullerton, where I live with my Mother, Father, and ten brothers and sisters. I’m quite excited to be at this fascinating Abbey and to meet my new companions. I’m certain they will all be lovely.

CUT TO

FRANK CHURCHILL: Good afternoon, Frank Churchill. (removing his hat and bowing his head slightly) I hail from beautiful Enscombe, in Scotland, where I live with my aunt and uncle. I believe that we will all have a marvelous time here at Northanger Abbey. It is quite lovely here.

CUT TO

MARIANNE DASHWOOD: Miss Marianne Dashwood. (Dramatically flipping her hair and smiling) I love everything a lady should love: poetry, nature, art. (Pausing to hear a question) This place? Well it’s quite dreary, but I expect to have many happy days walking through these gardens. And perhaps I may find myself a husband while I’m here.

CUT TO

JOHN THORPE: Mr. Thrope, Mr. John Thorpe.I hail from the glorious city of Bath, where I’ve spent my youth attending all of the best events. Am I engaged? Well, I have won the hearts of many fine young ladies. But alas, I am still looking for a suitable partner. (Wink)

CUT TO

ISABELLA THROPE: Isabella Thorpe. I assume you have already talked to my twin brother, John? Well, I assure you, he is of the best character… well, second best I should say. (She stares lustily at the interviewer, he gestures to the camera and she shifts slightly and raises an eyebrow at the camera.) I expect that during my time here I will win the friendship of all the ladies of the house, and the affection of all the men.

Cut TO

LUCY STEELE: You may call me Miss Lucy Steele. Are you quite sure that … thing… is functioning properly? (Reaching forward to touch the camera, but stopping an inch short.) Nevermind, … I think this will be an interesting experience. Though I cannot see why the government would be interested in placing a bunch of young men and women into an old abbey. What are they researching exactly?

CUT TO

ROBERT MARTIN: (With a slight stutter) H-h-hello, Robert Martin h-here. I live on a Abbey-Mill f-f-farm with my mother and sisters. My f-father passed away a few months back, so now it’s up to me manage the f-farm. I’m great-f-full to be here, it was quite nice of you all to offer to watch over my mum and sisters while I’m away.

Cut To

GEORGE WICKHAM: George Wickham, pleasure to meet you. I come from the gorgeous Pemberly Estate… ah, actually not anymore. I was raised there by my loving god father, but can never return because his son has cast me out forever because of… a dispute. But never mind  I’m quite certain that I will be comfortable here at Northanger Abbey.

CUT

…Stay Tuned for Scene 3 where the cast members will move into Northanger Abbey and meet each other!

The Real World: Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen character mash-up)

This is a class project I’m working on: bringing together the modern idea of reality television and transplanting into England in 1800! “The Real World” is a long-running MTV reality show in which 7 or 8 strangers are chosen to live together in a house for several weeks. In my story, 8 of Jane Austen’s characters will live together in Northanger Abbey! Here is scene 1, scene 2 should be posted by tomorrow! Hope you enjoy!

 

1. Interior – Boardroom – Day

Several suited men sit around a boardroom table, with two men standing in front of them presenting a plan – SIMON and MARK. Simon is in his mid thirties, short and already balding, but with a kind face. Mark is tall, handsome, and confident. The Calendar on the wall reads “June 2113”. Simon and Mark are presenting using a hologram version of Power Point.

SIMON: We’ll recruit from the local population and tell them nothing of our plan.

MAN IN SUIT 1: Then what will you tell them?

MARK: They will be led to believe they have been chosen for a government research program.

MAN IN SUIT 2: And why England? The weather will be dreadful.

SIMON: The rain will actually be to our benefit sir. They will be confined to the Abbey on rainy days and this should increase tension.

MAN IN SUIT 2: Very nice. What about funding?

MARK:The main expense will be fuel for the time warp. We will need to take at least two trips to ship the crew and materials.

The men look seriously at one another for a moment. Finally, MAN IN SUIT 1 nods.

MAN IN SUIT 1: (smiling) It looks like you’ve got yourself a deal. You better find some drama in sleepy old Regency England.

…Stay Tuned to see which of Austen’s characters are chosen to live in Northanger Abbey (unsupervised!). There will surely be plenty of drama to come!

Three Summers Back (Short Story)

So, it was three years ago. The summer before my senior year of college. And I was just so ready to get on with my life and get out of that damn town. I got a job at this little deli. It was like hell on Earth. I was working with these kids right out of high school and they were bossy as hell.

Dalia was the worst. She’d only been working there for two weeks, but you would have thought she was my boss. Then there was Martin. Whitest kid you ever saw, but acted like he was straight outta the projects. Just turned eighteen, but he had a different girl every week. Don’t think one of them was ever over fifteen years old. He would just say the most inappropriate shit. Funny as hell. He asked me if I was a virgin on my first day, then winked at me and said I wasn’t his type anyway. I thought he was gay for about two weeks.

And Connor, of course. He had the dirty job. Cleaned the bathrooms, swept, kept the kitchen clean. Only worked a few hours a day, but every time I saw him I smiled a little too big. I was not the flirting type, but between Connor and Martin you would’ve thought I was the type of girl to date a different guy every night. But I never liked Martin that way, and Connor was just… so awkward.

I did like him, I really did. He wouldn’t believe me if I told him that now, but he believed it back then. If I could go back and change how that all went – I don’t know. We did have fun. But when I left on that last day, he just looked at me like I’d ripped up his heart like an old receipt.

It’s kind of a long story.

The Dirt (A Very Short Story)

I haven’t published any fiction in a while, so I may be a bit rusty. I’m going to try to post at least one fiction piece per month. We’ll see how that goes… Anyway, this was just something I was experimenting with, it might be awful – but there is just something I kind of like about it. Hope it’s somewhat enjoyable (I swear, I’m not crazy):

            So, I was walking through the forest the other day and I just couldn’t stop looking at the dirt. It was one of those moments in life when you see something totally mundane, something that you see all the time, but this time it’s just super interesting for some reason.

            What is dirt? What is it really? Bits of all things dead? Bits of all things living? Or is it some strange combination of the two? Can you imagine if all things were a combination of dead and alive? This is the point where I started imagining people going about their days, just like everything is normal, but with dead bodies everywhere.

            Your grandpa dies in bed of a heart attack, and you just leave him there. Maybe someone chokes to death at dinner, and you never need to find anyone else to fill their chair. Road kill remains in the road, half eaten by vultures, or whatever. Dead bodies floating in rivers, filling up convalescent homes and hospitals. And the living just go about their day as if there aren’t rotting corpses in every corner.

            A crazy thought, I know. But looking down at the dirt, it sort of occurred to me that we kind of already do that. The dead are underground or burned to ashes, but they’re still somewhere. We can’t make them disappear; we can just pretend they aren’t there. That’s what the dirt is really made of: the things we want to ignore.