Hello my dears,
I am writing to you as I pack for Camp NaNoWriMo, a virtual writers retreat where aspiring novelists from around the world gather to bash out 50,000 words of fiction in a month.
That's right! I've committed to writing a 112,500-word novel in a month. And to reach my goal, I am going to need all the encouragement I can get!
There are a number of ways you can help me along my way.
Just like sponsoring a marathonner, you can donate on my behalf as I write toward the 112,500-word goal. I'll receive some truly nifty prizes for my fundraising efforts on behalf of The Office of Letters and Light, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that hosts Camp NaNoWriMo. Your donation will help provide free writing resources for even more kids, teens, and adults around the world!
I have a sponsorship page set up here:
Or, there are a number of inspirational items in the online Camp Store (store.lettersandlight.org/merchandise) that will help get me through the month. You could send me a Camp NaNoWriMo Care Package full of campy encouragement, a Camp NaNoWriMo T-shirt declaring my goal for the month, a Campfire Mug to fill with writer fuel, or a poster for my writing nook.
You can find these and other writing supplies at store.lettersandlight.org/merchandise.
Thank you so much for your support as I write my novel.
Wish me luck! (And hope that I don't get poison ivy.)
A month from today is my birthday. To celebrate, I am planning a writing challenge like the one I gave myself four years ago, which was itself inspired by Write Your A$ Off
My fantastic husband has secured a friend's condo up in the mountains for a 48 hour period in June.
I will have my Macbook Air, my notebooks, and not much else. I will write and write until my little fingers fall off. Then I will sit in the hot tub. Then I will write more.
When I underwent this challenge in 2009, I used a fantastic network of support to encourage my writing. If I didn't meet a daily goal, I received a "punishment"
from these friends.
As I set myself a new task this year, I ask for similar support. If you are up for being a cheerleader, giver-of-punishments, or just general rubber-necker, please let me know. I would love to add you to my team!
by Catherine Vibert
by Aerin Rose
The trailer’s lit up like special effects from an old UFO movie, shining lasers through the trees, onto the barn, into the chickens’ pen. The truck’s gone, leaving a flattened circle of mud. I float into the kitchen.
“Hey, Sam. I told Ms. Winston today that extraterrestrials are vegetarians.” The alien’s eyes chime, missing nothing as he skins dinner for the men. Sam points a greenish finger at my arms.
“Don’t worry, it’s just marker.” I pull Sharpies from my backpack. “Ink. See?” The lines on my pink skin are black with silver stitches, reinforced, holding everything together. “Ms. Winston”—fourth social worker since mom left, the only one who’s made me swear to tell her the truth—“said I looked like a Tim Burton character. She might be a keeper.”
The metallic echo of those words zooms around my brain, a lost ship trying to find port. Something that happened . . . couple of years ago? Yeah. The kitchen. Breakfast. Uncle Jasper and my father. “Not like her whore mother.” “No, she’s a keeper.” Oh. After the first night.
I study Sam as he finishes with the blade. His shiny skin has turned dull like snot: we both hate the cutting, the oozing, the fluids. His eyes sing, sounding like a unicorn or church bells. The knife glows, a redneck light saber. I hear the chickens screech and the truck wheels in the gravel.
The truth I will tell Ms. Winston tomorrow is that aliens don’t burst at the seams. They shatter.
The Clarity of Night contest prompt "Elemental" by Jason Evans
The Fire Blessing
by Aerin Rose
Shadows of the fire wards shimmered gold and crimson in the flames of Lillith’s hair. Firebird, salamander, dragon - we’d bonded during the infinite expanses of time I’d spent tangled in bed with Lillith. Now they peered out, one by one, in silent goodbyes. I avoided looking at her as I worked my earthen features into the shapes Yahweh suggested.
"I guess it could have been Undine.” Lillith’s voice was lukewarm.
“The water elemental as mother of humanity?”
“I guess not. Nor Sylph, either.”
“We’ve been through this, Lil. I’m going. Help me with my torso.”
She slid her hands beneath my arms and lifted. Although I’d melted into her heat countless times, that lava skin now felt acidic against mine. As my waist lengthened, ribs grew to support my new frame.
“You shouldn’t have to change for this animal.”
“Adam. His name is Adam. What do you want me to do? Who should go instead?”
The words kindled between us; we both knew Yahweh had asked for the fire elemental. For her. She was the first to turn away.
“I’ve already received the blessings of air and water,” I said. “Now the fire blessing.”
The incandescent salamander appeared in a burst of sparks on my hand. His bright tail gripped as he bit my finger, flint to touchstone, fire scorching my blood.
“I will always love you.” I raised my eyes to hers a final time. “But I can’t forgive you.”
My lover whispered, “Eve,” and I was gone.
(Aerin Rose: With thanks to Fritz.)
by Aerin Rose
“No, it’s me, Kate.” She pulled the lavender nightgown over the old woman’s head.
“Yes, remember? That I’m going back to college?”
“What about my violets?”
“Don’t you worry, I wrote everything down. I marked the watering can at just the right amount.”
“A walk in the gardens at 2PM, the new girl knows that, too.”
“Yes, I’ll tell her to close the blinds at bedtime.”
“Audrey. The necklace.”
“No, ma’am, I’m Kate.” She ran a brush gently through the sparse hair. “Which necklace?”
“I wore white to the ball, of course. Debutantes. Virginal my ass. But to Casino Night, I wore emerald silk, cut low. I had the bosoms for it then. A dyed ostrich feather in my hair. Daddy wanted a deal with the Carruthers. Bought me a 23 carat green tourmaline surrounded with diamonds. Believe you me, Jack Carruthers noticed. I’m pretty sure your mother was conceived that night. She had Jack’s eyes.”
Kate said quietly, “I’m not Audrey.”
“Your mother burns through money like marijuana.”
“She’s not my—What’s this?” Kate frowned at the little envelope that the older woman pushed into her hand.
“The key. For the safe deposit box. I put the necklace away, oh, years ago. Figure it’s worth ninety, a hundred thousand.”
“Mrs. Carruthers, I’m not…”
“She stuck me in this nursing home. Where they don’t even serve Rocky Road. Sell the necklace, dear. To pay for school.”
WARNING: While everything else on this site is as family-friendly as Mr. Snuffleupagus,
this entry is not.I have woefully neglected the Co-Dictators of the Universe, so to appease them, I offer this (hastily written, once-edited) entry to their Story Sharing awesomeness. It shocks even me.
The door sticks, so I jam it hard with my hip, and it opens onto the alley with a light rain of pale green plaster. The usually comforting smell of burned cigarettes and urine is tinged with a sour, acrid tang. Vomit, just in front of the dumpster, which is on my left, the south end of the library. On the north end is access to the street, so I move that way to escape the smell of someone else’s puke.
“Assholes,” I mutter, lighting up. I can’t smoke on the front steps: “it’s bad for the patrons” and Williams nearly pissed herself trying to stay all sweet apple pie while she explained, my first day, that I couldn’t smoke in the stacks. Shit, I have a library degree, does the woman fucking think I’d endanger the only extant copy of 聖教初学要理 in America? She seriously needs to get laid.
(Oh, and for those of you who don’t read Japanese, that title is: A fundamental Catechism of Christian Doctrine. Did I mention it’s the only copy in America? I mean, the volume is a wood-block print made up of Japanese paper with Japanese binding, printed at Nagasaki. I might vomit just thinking about anything happening to it.)
That’s the problem - not people not reading Japanese, or needing to be laid, but people thinking that librarians are all cardigans and bobby socks and don’t smoke. Like, if you’re intelligent enough to read, you’re supposed to think smoking is a cardinal sin, a crime, a waste of your goddamn youthful health. Bullshit.
Librarians aren’t supposed to have tattoos, either, I think, looking fondly at the newest ink, a flower-bedecked swastika. Its vibrancy stands out against the rest of the ink covering my right arm, varying degrees of darkness depending on their age.
It’s my dinner break so I have 20 more minutes than when I sneak a usual cigarette break. And anyway, I’m not hungry lately, not for food. I light up again, concentrating on the sky changing colors so I can pretend I’m meditating instead of just being lazy. I name the kaleidoscope hues: mauve (from Latin, the color of the mallow), amber (from Arabic ʼanbar, ambergris), violet (from Latin viola, a violet, not the musical instrument, whose origins are Old Provençal, from viula).
What a crappy week. Leaving my diamond nose stud at Carl’s and knowing that he’ll hock it because he hocks everything to pay for his disgusting habit and it doesn’t even matter how many times I deep throated him. Bastard.
The sky’s going from mauve to indigo, and I’m getting skeeved by these deep shadows that look like they’re vomiting black on the graffiti.
And the dissertation committee asked the most inane questions about my theories on 3D imaging and rare manuscripts. What will it cost? Who the fuck cares? Those cocksuckers have no imagination. This is why God made rich patrons who want their name on a library building even though they use books to wipe their asses.
As I pull out my third cigarette (and last, I swear silently to my mother, but I am skipping dinner and I need satisfaction somehow), I notice a little pile of grey lint. No, not lint, some kind of finch. Bombycillidae, maybe? Unlucky guy is dead, his eyes squeezed like someone’s popping a zit. Which reminds me of my dead Uncle Ernie, God rest his soul, the giant zit in the powder blue suit. I close my eyes and cross myself.
After my 10-second memorial for Uncle Ernie, I reach for my cell phone to call and check in on Gooney, my little sister. That’s when I notice another pile of grey lint, two inches north, with its eyes oozing pus. Puzzled, I look around for a cat, or raccoon, or some natural predator of finches. (This is why I’m a vegan.)
Checking again, I realize there’s another finch, nestled up next to the second one. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think so. Where the hell are they coming from? The roof? I jump up, bouncing on the balls of my feet to try to see a shadow, an arm, or something.
“Okay, whoever you are, that’s just sick. What’s your problem, you son of a bitch?”
When I stop bobbing, I notice a fourth finch, several inches from the others, with blood smeared on its stomach. I reach for the mace that I keep in my bra (cleverly hidden since both the canister and my underwire are black). It’s there, but I still pull the chain from my waist, and move toward the door.
I hear a muffled sound, like someone trying to pretend they’re not throwing away a tampon wrapper in the bathroom. Another bird is in line with the others, only this one seems to be slightly alive, choking a quiet death croak, begging to be put out of its misery.
Shit, why is the door shaking, I think, as I try to fit the key into the door, and I realize it’s my hands shaking. Shit, shit, shit. Another bird thuds against the ground, but this time I don’t even look, don’t even breathe, just turn the key in the lock and pull, pull.
The door sticks.
<b>by Aerin Rose</b><i></i><br />
Twenty-two hours from San Francisco to Kathmandu. Four hours until the layover in Hong Kong. Caelin will have finished grading papers by then. She arches her back, stretching, then wiggles her toes, and catches the eye of the flight attendant.<br />
“More, please.” She indicates the travel-sized wineglass. The remaining ruby droplets glisten in the spotlight of her reading lamp. The attendant nods from the galley.<br />
“You realize that’s basically grape juice?” Chloe peers around the headrest as her business class bed reverts to its upright position.<br />
“It’s a second growth Bordeaux and you know it, O Queen Food Critic,” Caelin retorts. “How’d you sleep?”<br />
“Not well. Looks like fourteen bottles of questionable Bordeaux didn’t help you sleep, either.” <br />
“Excited?” <br />
“And nervous. What if she hates us?”<br />
“Sweetheart.” Caelin strokes her wife’s cheek as Chloe unfolds the passport she’s been clutching. A little girl with dark eyes and copper skin gazes at them, unsmiling and unafraid. “She liked us well enough before. Any kid will hate her parents at some point. Let’s just focus on getting her home.” <br />
The flight attendant materializes with the bottle of Château Cos-d'Estournel 1989, which streams like scarlet silk into the stemware.<br />
“Like the orphanage is going to let her come home when you show up drunk,” Chloe teases, leaning close. Caelin smiles into her spouse’s black curls. Points of light play on the surface of her wine, casting images against the back of the seat in a rosy haze. <i><br />