Welcome to November, NaNoWriMo Style!
It’s that time of year again. You know, the time of year when men go without shaving their beards and all the writers you know try to write an entire novel in one month while still having a life and prepping for Thanksgiving (in the U.S.). Yep. We’re all crazy here. NaNoWriMo crazy.
But it’s a good kind of crazy!
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
For one month, NaNoWriMo participants make huge sacrifices — I’m talking Y-U-U-U-G-E! They go without sleep, without exercise, without doing housework (that’s a BIG sacrifice right there, folks!), without cooking, and, sometimes, without even getting out of their pajamas. All for what?
Why, for the hope of writing at least 50,000 words toward a novel in 30 days or less, that’s what!
So, in honor of the craziness that is NaNoWriMo, I have started a new project. The working title is 23/Singularity and it’s set in a post-genetic-accident, post-apocalyptic world. The genre is YA Science Fiction.
A massive global human extinction event has ravaged the planet. As far as the inhabitants of the tiny community of Elk Valley know, they are the only survivors. A genetic scientist named Tara Sparks watched the event unfolding and scrambled to try to come up with a cure. She retreated to an isolated valley in the wilds of Montana with her closest family and a set of trusted friends to ride out the worst of the event in safety while she worked in her lab. Many years later, generations of children have been born and raised in Elk Valley. The little colony has almost given up hope of ever finding other survivors, until the day young Twylite Sparks sets off in search of others.
“It wasn’t always this way,” Twylite Sparks told the boy, casting a glance at him out of the corner of her eye to see if he was paying attention. “There was a whole diff’rent world before this one. But Olmah, she saw it comin’, she sure did. She saw it comin’ and she prepared. Knew just what to do.”
“How did she know, Twy?” The boy sat next to her on the adobe bench outside the greenhouse, at the top of the small rise that marked the edge of the living area and the beginning of the farming area of the small community. He twirled a leaf by the stem, watching it curl and spin at the ends of his small fingers. One of his feet was drawn up on the bench, the other dangling, not quite touching the dirt. His chin rested on his knee.
Twylite looked down at the top of his auburn head and smiled. She enjoyed telling this story as much as he enjoyed hearing it, judging from how often he asked her to repeat it. “Well, you see, back in the ole days, Olmah was a scientist. She worked in what they called ‘genetics’ in some big, fancy lab’ratory at a university. She watched them other scientists gettin’ ‘hold of people’s D an’ A. She watched them ‘sperimenting on it to find special cures for people. She watched when the government started keepin’ records. She knew they was up to no good.”
“Twylite Marie Sparks, watch your grammar!”
The voice came from right behind Twylite, who jumped and spun around quickly. She hadn’t heard anyone approach. The old woman must have been in the greenhouse.
“Olmah! Sorry, Olmah!”
The old woman’s gray eyes sparkled as she smiled at the girl. “It’s ‘were.’ They ‘were’ up to no good.” She tilted her head back slightly and raised one gray eyebrow. “Just because we’re living through the end of the world, does not mean that youngsters like yourself can be any less meticulous in their use of language. In fact, you cannot afford to let your grammar slide one bit! You are the ones who will preserve our language and our knowledge for future generations. It is your solemn duty, Twylite.”
Olmah turned her intense gaze upon the boy. “So, Quintile?”
“Your mother wants you in the kitchen. Run along, now.”
The boy jumped to his feet and scurried down the green, grassy hill toward the large, central, communal kitchen. The old woman leaned on her walking stick for a moment, watching him go. A smile played across her lips. “He reminds me so much of your grandfather at that age.”
Twylite swallowed hard. It had only been a few months since her grandfather’s burial. She still missed him every day. He had been her closest confidant and best defender against her mother’s random outbursts of wrath. But now he was gone. She blinked rapidly and looked away, hoping to hide her tears from the gaze of the old woman.
Olmah lowered herself slowly onto the bench beside the girl and sat quietly, her hands resting on her walking stick in front of her.
“Olmah?” Twylite began, after a few minutes.
“Do you think there’s anybody left out there? Anybody at all? Or do you think we’re all alone?”
The old woman lifted her eyes and looked out into the distance, across the rooftops of the homes below. She was quiet for so long that Twylite thought she might have to repeat her question but, just as the girl drew breath to speak again, Olmah answered.
“I don’t know. That’s my honest answer. My heart wants to believe that there are others who survived, but I don’t know if my heart should be trusted. It hasn’t always been right, you know.” She turned toward the girl and reached a gnarled hand out to pat her knee. “But I certainly hope there are others, dear. I certainly hope there are.”
I want to hear from you!
Writers, have you jumped on the NaNoWriMo “crazy train” again this year? Why? What’s your new project? Are you excited about it?
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