For those in the crowd who may not know, CampNaNoWriMo started April 1st and runs the duration of the month. While the pace isn’t quite as frantic as the big event in November, you set your own goal and work at your own pace on as few or many projects as you’d like, it’s still a challenge. The idea is to set writing goals every day and follow through with those. I normally relish a good challenge, and normally find a few friends to throw in with me and share a cabin. This year, there are three of us in the cabin. Only one of us has logged words and I think her total is less than a thousand. We all had a goal of 50K in 30 days. I don’t think it bears saying, we are just a tad behind. At this pace, we’ll need to log almost 3,000 words per day to ever achieve this.
We’re gonna need more coffee, Brodie!
So, what is it exactly that’s kept me from my writing goals? I have a new project I’m working on, a military romcom. The characters are fresh and vibrant, and a hoot to work with and talk to. But that isn’t translating into words for the last few days, probably because there’s a wagon load of things vying for my time lately…and, something is amiss in the romance world as a whole. It’s distracting and distressing, to be quite honest.
Things vying for my time…
Spring cleaning. I am a meticulous fall/spring cleaner. It doesn’t just stop there, however. I have a tidy list of chores I insist be done daily, weekly, and monthly around my house in order to keep things in order. I like order. I need order. Order keeps me sane. Spring or fall cleaning is this tidy list on steroids. Right now, I’m butt deep in the tidy list on steroids. Today was window day. That meant every curtain came off the rod and will be washed. I have winter curtains and summer curtains. While the winter curtains are currently being run through the laundry to go into a storage container for the next six months, after the screens from the windows are removed and washed off and the actual windows washed and the sills cleaned, the summer curtains are going on the rods. This can be quite an undertaking. Other examples of the spring-cleaning chores include steam cleaning mattresses, moving and cleaning under all the furniture, even if I have to enlist help to do so, and cleaning all the antique glassware on display in my quilting room AKA the dining area. I also clean out every single drawer, dresser, cabinet and closet during the seasonal cleaning. April and October are busy months around here!
Backyard homesteading. My husband and I have turned our backyard into what is referred to as a “backyard homestead.” We make use of every single square inch in one way or other. We have chickens and gardens and berry brambles, oh my! This will be our second summer living in this house and we had a lot of heavy lifting this spring on projects we didn’t get to last summer because he was still stationed on the coast. We recently increased our chicken count from four to eight and plan to add a rooster in the mix in a few weeks. This required a chicken house upgrade from the portable chicken tractor, although the new pullets have to stay in the smaller house a while as the older hens peck them. They need to grow a bit so they can defend themselves if need be. Berry brambles require berry fences. These run the entire length of one side of our property to accommodate honeyberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Running fence is no joke, folks! I started an asparagus bed this year. Did you know it takes three years for asparagus plants to mature to the point you can eat from them? Wow! I planted a green variety and a purple variety. And now I’m waiting! I could bore you to tears talking about everything going on outside the house, but I won’t.
Upgrades. My new attic stairs are still sitting on the sunporch awaiting installation. Gravy! Our carriage house still needs a new electrical box so I and all my creative things can move up there and get out of our dining room and living room, AKA the quilting room and office.
Yes, there are lots of things vying for my time.
What is amiss in the romance world…
Actually, this is probably true for many genres, maybe even publishing industry wide. I’m sick to death of the politics of it all. Is there a thing on the planet that politics doesn’t touch and thereby taint? Several posts lately in the social media zones have me scratching my head and walking away. In fact, I had a story entered into a contest and just yesterday emailed a committee member to ask to be withdrawn from consideration. Why? The political overtones associated with it. In fact, I’ve decided I’ll not be participating in the vetting process of any press right now so long as the current climate hangs over the creative process of so many. I’ll be striking out on my own, with a friend, and taking care of things myself. I once worked for a small press. I know how to do this on my own. I can do this on my own. And I will do this on my own. And maybe knowing the pressure of playing the game isn’t upon me anymore has contributed to me taking a pause and a breath. I don’t have a case of writer’s block, merely a case of writer’s contemplation, and silent meditation as to where my stories might take me now that I don’t have to worry about the parameters set about by so many houses jockeying for new voices and which none of which are the same. I can write romance suspense/thriller/women’s fiction/contemporary with a military flair, if I want to.
I’m sure as soon as I get the spring cleaning done, things will get back to normal. I have a problem with being able to concentrate on words when my environment is amok. Right now, it’s definitely amok. When things are in order, my thinking will be in order, and the words will also be in order. Will I make 50K in 30 day? Probably not, but what I do manage will be good words not meant to impress anyone other than my readers. Not an agent, not an editor, not an obscure judge in a contest tainted by politics. I do this for me. I do this for my readers. I’d do well to remember that.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share a bit of this military romcom thing I’m working on, or not…I used to share quite often. I think I need to get back in the habit.
From The Mommy Mission (working title):
“Not husband material,” Dev grumbled, backing out of his drive and turning toward Johnson’s Crossing proper, whatever that actually meant. With a population of less than ten thousand, proper pretty much meant the strip of road lined with a smattering of blue-collar businesses, a couple of fast food joints, a church, and the volunteer fire department. “If I’m not husband material, I guess that means I’m not daddy material, either? Does that mean my caveman instinct to keep the tribe alive is faulty? Wishful thinking? Lord have mercy, that woman is nothing but chaos to my system. Why do I keep her around? Working together is one thing, but maybe anything outside of work needs to end. Effective as soon as possible.”
Dev knew within reason there was some famous saying about men and women never truly being able to be just friends. Oscar Wilde he believed said something to the effect. As Dev recalled, from a literature class long ago and far away, there could be passion, enmity, worship and love. Nowhere was there mention of friendship.
Yes indeed, things needed to change.
The stifling, humid air blasting through the windows he’d rolled down rather than turn on the AC for the short ride didn’t seem to have a single answer drifting on it to his current questions or the dozens of them which had been rolling around his mind all afternoon. He hadn’t come up with a single answer to any one of them ever since Bobbi had informed him he wasn’t fit to be a husband. The voice floating out of the radio didn’t have a viable answer, either, it would seem. If the current track were his life, Williams was probably at least partly right. Dev and Bobbi were definitely thick as thieves and spent a considerable amount of their time together getting over the closest thing either of them had to real relationships and exes which amounted to all the dates gone wrong. Maybe they did deserve each other, in the worst possible way. Misery surely did love company.
“There is something seriously wrong with me.” Dev reached down and turned the radio off. “Maybe outside of work activities involving her do need to cease. For real. Not just in theory. Maybe our friendship, if there ever was one because seriously who can argue with Oscar, has run its course and we’re just hanging on for posterity sake at this point. Williams is right. We bicker and bitch all the time. Who needs that? She does need a husband. And I need… I’m not sure what I need, but I need something more than a woman friend. I’m not sure how much more, but definitely more.”
That was all he’d admit to, even to himself. Dev wanted to be cautious at this point. He didn’t want to get ahead of himself and just go off and admit he might be done wandering the pastures.
A few minutes later when Dev walked through the front door of The Decompression Stop, he was reminded of another observation old Oscar astutely proclaimed of life.
“I can resist everything except temptation,” he muttered.
He stood stark still and watched the very bane of his current existence straddle the lap of a Navy corpsman Dev recognized. Bobbi grinned from ear to ear before running her fingertips down the man’s arm. Lacing her fingers with his, she raised his arm to her lips before darting her tongue out and licking what Dev assumed was salt from his wrist. She then downed what appeared to be a double shot of Patron. Her lips puckered for all of two seconds before she wrapped her lips around a lemon wedge the corpsman held between his teeth. With a wink, she pulled it from his mouth and bit down, spraying juice across the man’s chin.
“God have mercy,” Dev forced over a dry, tight throat on a raspy breath.
His heart stuttered an erratic pattern and his stomach fell to his knees as he wondered when it was exactly Bobbi had sprouted from a tomboyish little girl straight as a stick right out of boot camp to a fully bloomed woman, curvy in all the right places. It wasn’t like he’d never seen her in civilian gear before, but normally that equated to a pair of faded out jeans possibly complete with a rip in the knee, her scuffed up ropers, and a t-shirt sporting some rural logo or other. At least, that had been his experience thus far when they hung here in the club. Dev didn’t even know she owned anything but those three items and beach wear, until now. In a stunning turn of events, there she was across some dude’s lap in a glossy black micro-mini, a slinky, glittery, strappy top which barely covered her assets, and some toeless platform type footwear Dev didn’t have a clue the proper fashion name of. Even her beach wear geared more toward diving covered more than the scraps of fabric she donned now.
The changes didn’t stop at her clothing choices, either. Bobbi’s normally well-groomed, straight, chin length bob was curly and poofy and bounced around her face as she laughed. Like some deranged halo it beckoned every horn dog within a mile radius of the place. And was that make-up? Actually, no kidding, like she’d gone to the make-up counter and gotten a makeover make-up? Was Bobbi actually wearing lipstick the color of a ripe strawberry? Not to mention, the toes peeking out the ends of those outrageous shoes sported a shade to match that of her painted lips. Mascara? Eyeliner? She’d successfully checked all the boxes. There were gold hoops dangling from her ears. Dev had never even noticed her ears were pierced. “It’s going to be a long night.”
A low, long whistle just over Dev’s left ear brought him out of his startling reverie of the woman whom up until ten minutes ago he thought he knew inside and out. Clearly, he did not. He turned his head to find none other than Sergeant Williams, who was far too young to even be entertaining the notion of looking at Bobbi, at least as far as Dev was concerned.
“Let me hear you whistle again, Sergeant,” Dev growled. “In case you didn’t look closely enough, that’s Staff Sergeant O’Brien.” For good measure he slapped the back of the young man’s head.
“No shit?” Williams looked as though he’d won the lottery before catching on that he was about to win a weekend pass back to the barracks and staid the wide smile that had been erupting. He bit his bottom lip and swallowed then cleared his throat dramatically. “Oh my,” he said as if he were reading from a scripted conversation, and not well, either. “I cannot believe that’s Staff Sergeant O’Brien. Having a good time in an off-base establishment. What a disgrace. Gunny. Sir. Someone really should stop her.”
“You’re a piece of work, you know that?”
Have a stellar week, sugars! Happy writing. Happy reading. Happy cleaning.