Thursday, July 28, 2011

Round One Done!

Dear Ashley,

I'm done! I'm done! This is me doing the 50,000 Word Happy Dance. I'm so glad to be done (and three whole days early). I still really like the idea, but I also really like the idea that I have for August, and I was starting to get a little itchy about it. I want to start.

However, I need to plot a little bit more, and also write a blog post about Winnie The Pooh for the Quirk Books site, which I'm also really excited about. It doesn't pay, but it is a foot in the door, and if I can be in their peripheral vision on the off chance that they decide to hire someone. Or...I can just have that exposure and put it on a resume. I'd really like to work for them though- I mean, they publish the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies type books. They seem fun.

As for the August CampNaNo, I'll give you more of a description once I start, or at least get past the excitement of having a good start on Comet, but for now I'll tell you that it's called Letters to Myself, and it's about a student/teacher relationship.


And now, I am off to have celebratory half-price margaritas (any reason to go get half-price margaritas is a reason to celebrate) and I'll leave you with a picture.

It's a Ditching Me for Europe present for you. In it's infancy, of course. It just arrived in the mail today. :)


Monday, July 25, 2011

Ticket Happiness


I just bought my ticket to Budapest!

I officially leave from JFK on Friday September 2nd. At this point everything is mostly planned. I just have to find housing for a few days until the school can help with apartment hunting and buy another suitcase and I'm good to go!

Also of equal happiness. It rained all day and because I was suppose to be working outside I ended up getting to go home just a few minutes after I got there. I lost a few hours, but having the night to enjoy the break in our heatwave (finally!) was totally worth it.

I hope that it is cooler in Philly and that your fingers aren't suffering from the unforgiving sun :)


PS I loved your expert! Can't wait to read the whole thing! Have you heard anything back about rain??

Bard in the Yard

Dear Ashley,

Waitressing does kick your butt. I totally understand. Even when it's 104 degrees out and I'm burning my fingers on my bike while I'm out walking dogs, I sometimes think "at least I'm not still waitressing."
Well, that might be an exaggeration. I usually am glad that I'm doing something other than waitressing. This past week filled with extreme heat advisories and air quality warnings did make me want some other job. But it's only supposed to be 86 degrees, today! Yay!

I'm glad we're in agreement on Italy; I figured you'd be happy to go along with it. I so want to go back to Austria, too! I miss it- all of Europe, really, but especially Westendorf.

Third, I love your excerpt! I can't wait read the whole thing all at once. Since you asked so nicely I'll share one of the last scenes of part one of Comet. (Honestly, I'm cheating a little on the word count. But the whole point is that only minor things were changed to create a catastrophic outcome, so I am happily copy/pasting from part one for the same scenes in part two...up until the part where things are different, of course :D )

Anyway, an excerpt:
Aly opened her mouth to argue, but at that moment the door swung open and a man in a business suit stepped in out of the cold.
“Aly?” He asked. “We spoke on the phone. I’m…”
“John, right.” Aly said, reaching out to shake his hand. “This is my mother, Salem. It’s really her place.”
Salem tried not to show that it bothered her that he was here. She didn’t do such a good job.
“I want you to know,” John said smoothly. “That I love this place the way it is, and I don’t want to change it too much. I just want to make a few minor adjustments, you know, to modernize it a little and make it more efficient.”
“Tell me,” Salem said. “What’s your favorite kind of crepe?”
Whatever question John had been expecting, that wasn’t it, and he stumbled a little over his answer. “My favorite kind of crepe? You know, I don’t think that I’ve ever had a crepe.”
“I see,” Salem said stonily.
“Mom,” Aly tried to break in, but Salem held up a hand to silence her.
“So you don’t know how to make crepes then either, I take it?” Salem asked.
John looked nervously around. He could see that he had given her the wrong answer, but there was no going back now. “No ma’am, I’m afraid I don’t. That…uh…that was one of the minor adjustments that I mentioned before.” He tried to put on a winning smile.
“Mmm,” Salem said. “That is just a little more than minor. Crepes are not a minor part of this cafĂ©, you know. They’re really what it’s all about.”
“I’m really sorry about that. I didn’t mean to upset you…” He tried to back his way out of the sticky situation.
“You didn’t upset me. You just confirmed what I already knew.” Salem looked around the place with tears in her eyes before standing and shuffling towards the door. She turned, just before exiting, and told them softly. “The way it is, is gone.”

Finally, I'll leave you with some pictures from last night. We went over to Clark Park to see some Shakespeare in the Park. 

I was a little surprised by the turnout, honestly. I wasn't sure how many people would be excited to come see Much Ado About Nothing. It was really well done, though. I was impressed!

Off on my dog route now,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Work and Literary (or close to it) binges!

God I’m horrible at keeping up on this, but at least you can empathize with me on how much waitressing kicks your behind!
First things first - I loved the pictures from Bastille Day! I wish I could have been there with you to totally nerd out without judgment because quite frankly you are the only person who doesn’t look at me as though I have twelve heads when I have one of my (frequent) nerd moments :)
Secondly (and much more important!) Italy… To quote one of my best friends “sold!”
I’m actually thinking about a trip to Italy during my winter break at CEU as a birthday/Christmas present to myself because it’s too expensive to come back to the states and mostly because I want to go to Italy. I’m also considering heading back to Austria, but as of right now I’m undecided…
Let me give you another reason why this is perfect and you have to make Ben intern and go with him.
It happens to be right up at the top of our bucket list with ‘buy a castle in Ireland and convert it into a used book store’ – backpacking through Europe! 6 weeks with both of us in Europe before I settle into my mandatory internship and you have to get a job – basically a nice break from real life!
Perfect, yes?
Ok now on to my much less exciting life. I saw Harry Potter and cried like one of my closest friends had died then came home and restarted the series because I felt that the end of an era needed to go out with a bang – well really more of a binge, but who’s keeping track?
I also pounded out another section of Somewhere Under Bolts of Steel. Mostly its crap, but there was one passage I really liked so I’ll leave it here for you to read feel free to reciprocate with a passage (or two!) of the sections you like from comet – I’d love to read them!!
            There are monsters in the dark.
And like the best kind they don’t hide in the closet or under the bed, but in the recess of your mind. There they grow bigger and sprout extra heads and eyes and colors. And they torture you, slowly, because if you can’t see them you can’t fight them and you end up just thinking happy thoughts and hope that a little bit of light will cause the monsters to retreat.
I sat perched on my mother’s vanity, cross legged like the Indian I was dressed to be. My mother hummed absently as she braided my hair and I rummaged through her jewelry. Not her nice jewelry, the ruby ring and silver locket I really longed for where in Daddy’s study, but the other stiff that she wore when we left the house.
Suddenly the jewelry box was a treasure chest made of wood and filled with gold and I didn’t want to be an Indian princess anymore I wanted to be a pirate. I had been told a story a few weeks back about a boy who never grew old and the pirate who chased him – he had a hook for a hand, but I couldn’t remember his name.   
            “Arrg,” I tested my new self in the mirror and then giggled and looked around at my mother. I wanted her to laugh with me, to share my joke, but she just kept humming as he wrapped the hair band around my right braid. So I tried again, this time a little louder.
            Still nothing. I continued playing with her necklaces running their cool surface over my fingers as she finished my hair. When she was finished we looked at each other in the glass. Rather, I looked at her, but even at five I had the feeling that only one of us was really seeing.
            I tried to bring her back to me, I wanted to know the name of my pirate, I wanted her to play with me, I wanted her to smile.
            “Mom? Mom? Mommy!”
            She blinked and her eyes found mine. For a minute she just stared at my reflection as of wondering how I’d gotten stuck on the other side, but then she smiled and the smile went all the way to her grey eyes and I sighed in relief because she knew me.
            “Yes, my Livy?”
            “I want to play pirates.”
            “I thought you wanted to play Indians.”
            “No. Pirates. Arrg!”
            She looked confused, like she’d missed part of a conversation and she waited expectantly for me to fill her in.
            I sighed dramatically angry that I had to explain myself, she was my mother shouldn’t she just know?
            I pointed to the jewelry box.
            “This is the treasure and we have to hide it so that we can find it and have lots of pretty things.”
            “Ok.” She stood, picked me up from the vanity, set me on the ground, placed one hand on her hip and the other on her cheek deep in thought. “Where shall we hide it?”
            Excited I grabbed the box and started running.
            “Come on mom!”
            I was down the stairs, through the front door, and back into the kitchen before she even had time to move. I had made it to the dining room and was spinning in circles looking for the perfect spot when she swung me up on her hip, took the box from my hand, and brought me into the pantry. She set the box on a shelf between the laundry detergent and the box full of little white sheets that I got to add to the dryer sometimes. Then she placed the mop and the broom criss-cross in front of our treasure.
            “X marks the spot” she said.
            “X marks the spot” I repeated and then laughed happy at out game, happy that she was playing.
            “Why do you want to be Captain Hook?” My mother asked as we walked hand in hand back towards the living room.
            Oh, that was his name.
            “Because I like gold.”
I rolled my eyes towards the ceiling. What a silly question why else would I want to be a pirate?
“I like gold too, but I like flying better.”
I was confused, flying? “Huh?”
My mother gave me half a smile and pulled on my braid, “I just thought you might like to be Peter.”
“But he’s a boy.”
“So is Captain Hook.”
“But he has the treasure.”
“Yes, but Peter has a great friend, Tinkerbelle, and she can help him fly wherever he wants to go."
Oh yeah, “Any place?”
“Could he come here?”
“If he wanted to.”
“Does he like treasure?”
“Of course, everybody likes treasure.”
“Ok, if he comes to visit he can play pirates too.”
My mother laughed. Or at least I think she laughed, she didn’t make any sounds but simply shook for a few seconds then bent down to kiss my forehead. When she got close I saw that her cheeks were pink and her eyes bright and I thought – she looks like me.
“That’s very nice of you. Maybe when we’re done playing he’ll take us on a trip.”
I asked as I started to the corner of the room where my toy box sat open and ready for the recruitment of some dolls to help me find my gold.
“Anywhere” she whispered. And when I turned back to show her our helpers she was gone.
            Back in the present I try desperately to cling to the good part of that memory, the light. Her rosy cheeks, our smiles, the X in the closet marking our treasure, but I always come back to the end of it. And isn’t that how it usually goes? No matter how good the beginning whatever happens at the end is what sears into your mind, branded there, marking you as used goods.
            Story of my life.
            With the light extinguished I fiddle with the gold bracelet on my wrist and I’m dragged back into my memories.
            I’m once again a five year old pirate and I’m about to run away.
            I don’t have many memories before this one, no stand out moments that were worthy of early recall, so I don’t know if it was the first time I thought about it. I only know that it seemed easier, somehow, to run then to stay.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Better Than Being on a Bagel

Dear Ashley,

I'm on a roll! And, if my mom was here she'd reply "That's better than being on a bagel." Why? I'm not really sure. I guess 'cause there's a hole you can fall through.

Anyway, I really am on a roll. I wrote 4,000 words yesterday, bringing my total count up slightly over 31,000 words. And the best part: it was decent. Not fantastic, but I had one good line roughly every thousand words. Which, I think, shows improvement. Five years ago when I wrote the first 50,000 words of The Smell of Rain there was one line in it that I liked.

Now I've got maybe six lines that I like in 31,000 words. Go me!!

I have a few minutes before I have to get ready for work, so I think I'll quickly tell you about Italy. Then I have to go pick up a dog and bring him to his groomer, do my walks, and then go get him and bring him home. I'm a little annoyed at the last minute-ness of this; it felt like she made the appointment and then yesterday emailed my boss and was like "oh btw, can you do this? thanks." It makes me feel a little more like a Nanny than I'd ever wanted to feel.

Whatever. Focus. Italy:
Ben's been working at Liberty Bellows, the accordion shop here in Phila, apprenticing as an accordion technician, right? Right. He really enjoys it, he has a passion for accordions, and he's getting really good at it. Apparently ALL the really high end accordions are made in one place: Castelfidardo, Italy. If you google it, it looks like a really cute little city.

There was an article in the New York Times recently, about how all of the people who build these things are getting old, and they have a hard time getting young people interested in learning the trade. But there is most definitely still a market, because China is mass producing crap accordions, and if even a small fraction of the people who buy those continue with the instrument, then eventually they'll want a nice one, and they'll come to Castelfidardo looking for one.

Borsini, one of the accordion makers, offers a six week intensive internship at their establishment. Ben wants to go do that, and then possibly stay on there, or at another of the accordion building places and hone his skills. Because there are no teaching jobs in New York, and there won't be in a year when he's done with Teach For America, either.

So he came home the one day was like "I've been thinking about Italy..."
And I was like "SOLD!"
As you know, my obsession with Italy may be even more intense than his obsession with accordions.
We're still talking, and the Italian economy may crash harder than ours did soon, so we're waiting to see what happens with that, but there is a possibility that this time next year, I may be off on my way to teach English or something in Italy.

Dream. Come. True.
I could write one of those travel memoirs that are like crack to me. And when you finish in Budapest, you could come to Castelfidardo for awhile if you wanted :)

Brainstorm! That might be the answer! The Borsini internship provides Ben with a place to stay and food and such, and I wasn't really keen on finding a hostel by myself. That's it. You're coming to Italy with us.

Off to the dog groomer now (woot.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Dear Ashley,

Bastille Day at Eastern State Penitentiary was...interesting. There were pirates:

His sign said something to the effect of "I'm in here for touching someone else's booty"
There were people in French costumes:

There was a guillotine!
And, of course, Marie Antoinette and her army of...storm troopers. When she appeared to the sound of Gaga's Born This Way the whole thing went a bit odd. However, what we were all there for was her screaming "Let them eat Tastycake!" which was the cue for the people up there with her to catapult shovels full of tastycake onto the crowd. You can see the video on my facebook page. I've forgotten where I saved it, or I'd upload it here.
Overall, it was a fun afternoon. Afterwards, I met Ben for dinner at a place that he won a gift certificate to at work. It's called Monsu, and the food is authentic Sicilian, and totally kick ass! I went home and fell asleep in a food coma.
Speaking of Sicilian, next time I blog I have to make time and space to tell you about our thoughts about Italy. Until then, I'll leave you with a leftover, and slightly blurry, picture from the fourth of July- the city lit up red, white and blue.
Oh, crap. Nevermind. I deleted those too. Sorry to tease!




One word - jealous! That sounds amazing. I can't wait until I'm in a city where there is actual historical significance. Well at least historical happenings being recognized :)

I wish I had lots of exciting things to post, but alas just boring stories from working at a baseball camp and lots of ideas but not a great word count for NaNo.

And so this will be a short post. Can't wait to see pictures/video's!!


P.S. I was asked to upload a photo for my CEU student ID card which means it will actually be a decent photograph and not a 'surprise time to take the picture you'll be using for the next four years of your life' photograph.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Caught Up!


Finally, I am caught up. I'm at 21, 5..and 68. I think. something like that, anyway. In the ballpark of where I should be.

I'm sorry you had to work all weekend couldn't have some quality writing time. That's lame. But, at the same time, money is good.
Haha, side note: We bought a radio/iPod dock that Ben has been patiently waiting for the UPS man to deliver all afternoon, since we missed him yesterday, and now it's here! He's unpacking the box singing "radiooo, radiooo." It's amusing :)

Anyway, back to your novel. I'm glad you like it! I'm sure it's awesome, and I can't wait to read it. I've always liked that idea, in all its various forms, and I hope you can make lots of progress on it. As for another year of academia, I kind of miss it, too. I miss having things to do more than anything. I have a hard time getting motivated otherwise and without something that NEEDS to be done I'm just like " doesn't matter if I do it tomorrow..."

This is why I need NaNo to get any writing done.

I'm so excited for this weekend, I'm sure there will be a good blog post in it. There is a Bastille Day celebration in Philly that I heard about a couple of weeks ago, and I was intending to go and hopefully score some crepes. I haven't had any since Paris, and I want some. Parisian crepes would be the best of course, but I'll settle for French-American crepes.
Anyway, I googled this festival, and apparently there is a whole reenactment where people storm the Bastille (Eastern State Penitentiary) and "Marie Antoinette" is dragged out to a real, working guillotine built for the day and she screams "Let them eat Tastycake!" (because Tastycake is Philly's claim to fame, along with cheesesteaks, water ice {redundant, much?} and tater tots) and then....the best part...they throw Tastycakes off the towers of the penitentiary, onto the crowd.

Isn't it fabulous?! It might require a video blog because I'm sure pictures can't do it justice. I can't wait :)

Oooh, the iPod dock is working!
Happy Writing,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Work and More Work = No Writing


I hope that you had an excellent weekend and got all got up on your word count!

I worked 10am - 11pm Saturday, but I had the same plan as you, to get caught up on writing Sunday. Unfortunately I got called into work and in all the time I was there I had one table. Yes, one. Ridiculous. But a job is a job and I'm lucky to have one so I'm trying to keep the complaining to a minimum (even only I only had one table all night right at the end so I was the last one cleaning up!).

On a more productive note today has taught me that I should start putting some scrap paper into my apron for the shorts I want to work on for Glimmer and the competition you sent me a few weeks back as well as any potential brilliant moments for NaNo.

I never thought I'd be looking forward to another year of academics, but I am. I think its because it feels like I'm moving forward and being in Oneonta this summer has made me feel like I've hit a brick wall especially cause all my closest friends aren't here. You're in Penn, Lins in in Binghamton, and Gina is in Rochester so I'm kind of going crazy...

But on the bright side, not having anybody around to distract me has given me time to really work on NaNo and even though I'm behind on my word count I (wait for it) still like it!! Shocking, yes?!

Hope you have a productive week three!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Distracted by a Literary Atrocity

Dear Ashley,

I had every intention of using this time between work and leaving for Long Island for my cousin's graduation party this weekend, to be working on my word count. I got distracted by an article however, about a simplified version of The Great Gatsby, aimed at "intermediate' readers. So I had to blog about it, because it's absolutely ridiculous. Changing the wording of Gatsby renders it useless as a teaching tool.

Link to the article, and my response can be found on my blog, HERE.

So...I didn't get any writing done today. I'm at 11,1--something words, which was good for yesterday. I won't get anything done tomorrow, as I'm not even taking the computer with me. It's just an overnight for the party tomorrow, and it would just make the bag heavy. So Sunday will be my day to catch up and write 5,000ish words.

In other news, it rained today, and finally broke the humidity that we've been having all week. I was out in the city, having just finished walking my dogs when it started. I made it to The Book Corner, which we will go to when you visit because it's a 3 large rooms PACKED with books, all for less than $3 a piece. It's heaven. But I took shelter there for the first rain storm, then I went next door to the main branch of the Phila Free Library and got myself a library card, now that I finally have  PA license. The library was huge and grand, and if you were there for any kind of reference book, or classic literature, the best place ever.
I was disappointed with their mainstream newer fiction, just a few shelves of it. There were about ten shelves full of holds though, so I have a feeling the newer, popular stuff is just constantly checked out. It's okay. I'm making it my goal this winter to burrow through as much of the classics section as I can.

When I finally left, there were huge black clouds over Center City, and I decided to make a run for Rittenhouse Square, where I exchange client payments for my paycheck. I got to the very edge of it before it started downpouring again, and got soaked while chaining up my bike and running for the Barnes and Noble. It didn't stop raining when I needed to be on the other side of the square to meet my boss, so I went awning hopping around the edge, and got drenched. My poor pretzel was so soggy.

Torrential downpours like that are fun, though. Once you resign yourself to the fact that you're soaked through, six inch puddles in the ruts in the road are super fun to ride your bike through. Makes you feel like a little kid again.

I'm hoping Ben gets home would be great. I want to be on the road by seven. Hope you have a better weekend for writing than I will...or...just a good weekend :)


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I'm Feeling an Extended Trip

I keep waiting to get an email telling me that you’ve written back, but this is not facebook!

Anyway, I’m not anywhere near the words limit, but I am really happy with the thousand words I did manage to add. I figure I’ll take a long camping trip and use July and August both to finish this story which I’ve renamed “Somewhere Under Bolts of Steel.” When I decided to modernize Moral Sense I kept thinking to myself that slavery in the story was about community and so I decided to use a homeless community. Hovels? Check. Limited food? Check. Inconsistent work? Check. Home without the walls? Check.

But despite having a decent plot line, my characters are fighting me every step of the way. Each sentence is taking an abnormally long time to come together and even though my brain knows that NaNo is about the word count my fingers keep deleting instead of marching forward.    

When I first saw the Dark Night I was at the drive-in and there was a thunder storm in progress. It was awesome!!! Definitely one of, if not my favorite, super hero movies.

I hope that you get a full night’s sleep and that in the morning you totally forget that its week two and you zoom forward with the new perfect bundle of plot which by the way I’m super excited to hear about!

Lots of luck,

One-Fifth done!

Dear Ashley,

I just dragged my novel across the 10,000 word mark. Literally, dragged. Kicking and screaming. Oh wait...that was me, not the novel.
We're now entering the notorious Week Two Doldrums, and I'm feeling them already. It's like the Santa Ana can smell them coming. Yesterday I had one of those fantastic aha! moments, where the plot all came together in a neat, and surprisingly profound, little bundle and it felt great! The greatness is not transferring into the novel though, and there is lots of repetitiveness and long, rambling sentences blatantly fishing for word count. Oh, well. That's the point of NaNo, right?

I hope you had a chance to catch up on your word count. I totally understand the wanting to be at work for the hours and money, and not wanting to be there at the same time. I'm getting a little tired of walking dogs, and would like a real job now. I'll look, but there's still nothing.

This post was supposed to be full of pictures from the 4th in Phila, but honestly, the party on the parkway wasn't all that great. We assumed that vendors meant local artisans and the like, but it was a strange collection of big businesses like PNC Bank, and Verizon, and lots of local home repair people. Places that it would make much more sense to go into their air conditioned stores to do business and not a million degree tent on the side of the road.


So I took a break for dinner and then we watched The Dark Knight, which I had never seen before. Good movie! I didn't even get much crocheting done because I was too busy both biting my nails in suspense and trying like hell not to bite them.

Anyway, I've now completely lost my train of thought from earlier, so I'm going to go read and try to sleep, since my coughing has prevented doing much of that.
Hope you had a happy 4th, and good luck in week two!!!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Days behind....


Happy 4th!!

I'm sorry to hear that you're not feeling well :( Hopefully a night on the town will make you feel better or at least bring you to some fried dough you won't feel guilty about because you'll be walking the whole night! I'll probably be in the park watching the so-so fireworks hear in Oneonta. I'm already being all reminiscent about last summer though when today I was on a beach in Antalya, slightly homesick, and today I'm at home, slightly Turkey sick or maybe just beach sick :p

Anyway, on to NaNo, I still only have the excerpt you've read. I've been working all the time - not that I'm complaining I need the hours! - but still writing after a day of waitressing not so much. I'm off today though so I'm hoping to get a couple thousand words churned out!


P.S. Love your cover and still a perfect tag line! And the crayons idea is brilliant - can't wait to see pictures :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sick Again...and Tired

Dear Ashley,

I love the excerpt! Moral Sense has always been a great idea, and you really have a knack for killer first and last lines. This excerpt is case in point.

Today I'm trying to have a productive day, but mostly I'm just tired. Last week I had a sore throat that I thought was just a sore throat. Then it turned into what I thought was allergies. The past couple of nights I've been up all night coughing, and I think Ben's right; I'm sick with something. So I went out and got some Robitussin today, and hopefully that will help me sleep.

My word count right now is around 3,600 and my goal for the day is 6000. More would be better, since tomorrow is the 4th and I think we're going to the big city-wide celebration on the parkway...I'm not sure exactly what it will be like, but we've heard that they shut down both sides of Ben Franklin Parkway for about 8 blocks and it's lined with food, vendors, and live music, ending with fireworks at night. Pictures to follow, I'm sure.

I also want to work on some crocheting. I'm making Rosa (my favorite almost-two year old) a blanket made up of six big crocheted Crayola crayons for her birthday. That way she can learn colors, letters and have texture, all while playing on the floor. I forget who designed this pattern, but she was a genius. I'll try to post a picture as soon I'm done with the red crayon that I'm currently working on.

I suppose I should stop procrastinating and get back to that word count. They won't write themselves, unfortunately.

Happy 4th!


PS- An Edit! I made it to 5,174 which is 173 words ahead for today. If I can get more later, great, if not, I'm still pleased. To celebrate I went and messed around on Picnik to design a cover for my novel this month. Ta-da! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ashley's First 1000 Words for Camp NaNo

First things first. I love it! It flows really well from the little bit I got to read back in November. Really nice of them to let us have a redo this year though if I remember correctly we started the 50,000 words in july a few years back :)
Also it's good to know that the DMV is horrible everywhere and not just in NY. I'm hoping that its not something I have to deal with in Budapest, though I doubt that its called the DMV or that I'll have any reason to go there, but you never know...
Anyway here are the first 1007 words for my reboot of Moral Sense (title change to be determined)! I think I'm done for the night even though it will mean that I'm behind starting on day 1 (only 600 wordsthough :p)...
~ Ashley
I wake smothered by an old dream in a new bed.
It’s the same story, same sad fucking story, but a different man to share it with. This one doesn’t bother to wake up at my tossing and turning either, doesn’t hear my screams. He sleeps peacefully in an alcohol cocoon while I’m left to struggle with the start of a hangover and the cold sweat of nightmares.
I slide out of bed, careful despite the deep breaths and low snores of an intense sleep emitting from the man beside me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you can never be too careful and though this one was better than the last, gentler, I still don’t need a repeat of last night, a round two – alright three – to confuse me into staying ‘just a little while’.
I tiptoe to my jeans and slide them on without attempting to find the threadbare cotton panties I usually ware under them. I slip on a grey, nondescript, sweatshirt and stuff my lacy bra which looks nice on, but actually conceals a torture chamber of poking wires, inside my giant purse. I pick up my sneakers and edge towards the door when I see his pants, ass up, wallet screaming at me to be noticed and before I can think about it I bend down, clear the wallet of its burden and stuff some cash in my pocket.
I open the door and step out of the motel room without looking back.

Chapter One
There’s a difference between the sound of glass breaking and the shattering of crystal.
Glass has one sound, a quick intake of breath, a few blinks, and it’s over. There is no echo, no memory. The lines, straight or crooked, still appear clear, clean. Look into a broken mirror. It’s still you looking back, perhaps you are a little distorted, your face a little off kilter. No big deal, right? You just look like you’re holding a secret, a little mysterious, and for a few minutes you make an impression before fading into the background. Just like the glass.  
Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.
How many glasses have you broken when you were doing dishes, drinking too much, unpacking?
Crystal does not fade into the background, it doesn’t distort – it destroys. Fragments that cannot be repaired, that have lost all connection to one another. Like they were never related, like they never shared the same space, the same purpose. Like everything you knew and everything you believed yourself to be could just splinter into a thousand directions and every once in a while you find a piece, a sliver, and you wonder ‘what part of me was this?’ An ear, a fingernail, a heart?
Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about, the difference between glass and crystal, when my mother’s rare and expensive crystal vase flew past my right ear and disintegrated just out of my line of sight. Kind of like her life. And I wondered, fleetingly, if I could put back together that piece of her.
            Upstairs, I try to take deep breaths.
In all actuality I’m gasping for air, which is good because I’m too focused on the whole getting air to my brain thing that I don’t cry.
My father is not an alcoholic, he doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t sleep with prostitutes, doesn’t ever actually hit me. Honestly, he rarely raises his voice. He lives in his sphere and I live in mine and for the most part we get along. Hard to do when you’re a nineteen year old only child living in a single parent home in a town the size of a New York City block.
I know what you’re thinking – shattered crystal vase...
Sometimes. Well sometimes he has rages. I don’t know how else to explain it. One minute he’s fine and the next he’s throwing priceless items ninety miles an hour into a brick wall.
It used to be that he’d tell me that I kept his mind quiet, the anger away, that I was his peaceful Sunday morning. As I get older those moments have become rare, but I hold onto them.  
I want him to have peace.
When I’m being kind to the memory of my mother I like to think that she named me to be exactly what he needed. Olivia, of the olive tree. A peace offering. A second chance.
Not that she needed an offering. Legend has it they were the perfect couple.
Soul mates.
They look happy enough in the photographs. In fact, their wedding photo still sits on my father’s dresser. The photo is beautiful, but if they weren’t in traditional wedding attire I wouldn’t guess it was taken on the happiest day of their lives.
First off, they’re not smiling. Their gazes are locked in a silent conversation captured for eternity. My father looks pleased, satisfied. My mother has a gleam in her eyes – tears maybe – but her facial expression is unsure, the moment before the deer in the headlights. Daddy says he was telling a joke and it took her a minute, that if the camera had gone off a few seconds in the future she would have been laughing.
But I don’t remember her laugh, let alone the face she made right before words no longer expressed emotion. So I just nod, jealous of his memories.
In moments like these though, when I’m in a locked room and he’s trying to salvage shards of crystal, that I wonder if it wasn’t confusion on her face, but a sudden understanding of the man she married.
            In the morning we’ll both pretend like nothing happened. We’ll have toast and coffee. He’ll go to the office and I’ll drive twenty minutes to intro psychology and our lives will resume.
But tonight.
Tonight, I’ll hear him sobbing through the doorway, chanting her name like a mantra, and I’ll know that olive branch or just plain Livy I wasn’t enough to bring him, or her, peace.   

Camp NaNo Excerpt Day 1

Dear Ashley,

I just spent the last several hours in the Department of Transportation trying to get my license and residency changed. There were close to 50 million people there and it took about 3 and a half HOURS. Okay, the first part is an exaggeration, the second is most definitely not. I'm a little frazzled. BUT I am now a resident of the state of Pennsylvania, for whatever that's worth.

I did manage to write almost a thousand words today in spite of my completely unproductive afternoon. So without further ado, I present, an excerpt:

The sky was starting to turn pink on the edges as Salem walked up to the train station. Stepping inside, she pulled out the wallet again and took out the license. The picture on it looked familiar, and she wandered into the bathroom, looking for a mirror. Salem studied the face on the license and the face in the mirror. They looked the same. Her name was Salem McCarthy. And her address…!
            There it was in crisp black letters. There was money in the wallet as well. She could take a cab there, and find out what had happened to her, who she was, where she was supposed to go from here.
A train came clattering into the station and Salem turned to watch it for a moment. As car after car slid by, something tugged at the back of her dark and clouded mind. A nagging feeling that she was missing some vital piece of information and that it had to do with trains. Salem had an overwhelming desire to ask one of the people getting off the train why she was here, but decided that was a silly idea; they’d only just arrived, how would they know? She settled for asking a man at the counter.
“Excuse me,” she said. “When trains leave here, where do they go?”
He stared at her, then returned his gaze to his cup of coffee. “Ha ha,” he said in a tone that indicated he wasn’t the least bit amused. “Go on, get out of here.”
Salem was confused. “But sir…”
“Did your friends put you up to this? It’s too early in the morning for stupid games. Trains go everywhere, and unless you’re going to buy a ticket, I suggest you move along, out of the way of paying customers.”
“I’m sorry,” Salem said. “My friends didn’t put me up to anything. It’s early, and that was a poorly phrased question, forgive me. It’s just…I feel like I’m supposed to have been here, but I can’t remember why. I can’t remember anything, actually. My wallet told me what my name is.”
The man was staring again, wondering if this was all an elaborate joke, or if she was telling the truth. He took a fortifying sip of coffee and then asked, “What was it that you meant to ask?”
“Where did the trains that came through last night go? I have a vague feeling that I should have been on one of them.”
“How did you lose your memory?”
“I…don’t remember. I don’t remember anything before the car accident that I saw this morning.”
“You saw a car accident?” He was waking up more without the help of caffeine the longer this girl spoke to him. “Did you report it?”
She looked worried. “No. I didn’t think to. It had already happened, and I didn’t know what to do.”
He eyed her disheveled and dirty appearance. “Kid, I think you were in that accident.”
Her eyes widened in shock. “Me?”
He nodded. “It would explain the memory loss, and, well, you’re kind of beat up looking. How do you feel?”
“Fine. Just confused.” Salem thought for a moment. “Maybe a little sore. Here,” she said, pointing to her neck.
“Where did you see the accident?”
“I don’t know. On the road.” Salem said.
“What road?” He tried to be as patient as possible.
“The road that leads here. I followed it after I saw the accident until I got here.” Salem told him, wishing she could be more helpful.
“About how long did you walk?”
She sighed, frustrated. “I don’t know. It was dark when I saw the accident and light by the time I got here. It could have been five minutes or five hours.”
“Okay, wait right here. I’m going to call it in.”
Salem stood patiently in front of the man’s window, while he dialed the police and told them all the information that he knew. A few minutes later, he hung up and turned back to Salem.
“Someone else already called it in. You should stay here until someone can come and take a look at you, make sure that you’re all right. They can help you figure out who you are and help you get where you need to be.”
“Oh I’m all right. If you can just tell me where the trains last night went…”
“Really, miss, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Please, I’m fine. Where did the trains go?”
He sighed, and against his better judgment peered at the schedule on the wall above him. “New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston…”
“Boston!” Salem cried. “That rings a bell! Thank you for your help, you’ve been very kind!”
“Wait!” he called after her, but she had already disappeared into the growing crowd. “And Baltimore.”

Several miles down the road, police were gathered at the scene of a car accident.
“Will he be all right, you think?” One officer called to the paramedics who were loading the business man into the ambulance.
“I think so. Doesn’t seem too serious. He’ll live, if nothing else.”
The officer nodded. “Good, good.”
Another officer approached. “What about this one?” He asked the first man, nodded at the tangled wreckage of Salem’s car.
“I don’t know how they got out alive. Can’t be too far.”
“Trying to get away?”
“Could be,” he replied to his partner. “Maybe just dazed and confused.”
“Laroquette!” a third officer jogged up to the pair, addressing the man who had just spoken.
“What have you got?” Laroquette replied.
“Just got a call from an employee at the train station. Says he has a girl there that might have been in  this accident. She doesn’t remember anything, except that she saw an accident on this road. Nothing before that.”
Laroquette turned to his partner. “There’s your answer. Amnesia.” He turned back to the messenger. “We’re going to the train station.”
“Very good, Sir.”
The three men turned and walked away. From the floor of Salem’s car came the muffled ring of a cellular phone.

Good luck! Can't wait to read yours!