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It’s NaNoWriMo time, National Novel Writing Month. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s the special time of year when writers loosen an already tenuous grasp on reality by telling ourselves that we can write a book in a month. We say goodbye to family, friends, and basic hygiene to obsess on word count and whether or not we’re keeping up with our writing buddies. Oh, and we write.

Fact is, we’re delusional but not insane. We know in our hearts that what we have at the end of that month might be fifty thousand more words, but it won’t be a book. We still have to do the hard part—edit, expose our baby to others, edit some more. But here’s the thing… They say everyone has a book in them. So anyone can write that book. But then comes the hard part. The next book. And the one after that.

That’s where NaNo can help. And you can help. If you know someone who’s taking part, the best thing you can do (other than sneaking up to their door with offerings of chocolate and caffeine and possibly select pharmaceuticals) is leave them alone unless there’s blood, smoke, or LOTS of water. And really, when you think about the personal hygiene lapses and sleep deprivation, that’s probably for the best.

Me? I’m working on the final book of my Null City series during November’s NaNoWriMo sprint and won’t be able to do much posting this month. I’ve hooked up the caffeine IV drip, donned my lucky pink velour tracksuit that shall never appear in public, and laid in enough espresso beans to make it through the zombie apocalypse or the end of the month (whichever comes first).

So instead of regular blog posts, I’ll be posting some updates from my work in progress, End-o-Line. Comments welcome.


 

NULL CITY: You have to understand that everyone in Null City is a normal human. Most of them just didn’t start out that way. Imagine you’re some superhero with special gifts or abilities that are, frankly, damn awkward. Let’s say, for example, that you are the Man of Steel, but you don’t dare have sex with the Plucky Girl Reporter because your LittleMan of Steel would probably split her in two. (And we’re not even going to discuss the havoc your Swimmers of Steel could wreck on Woman of Pasta…)

The point is that when you think about it, most people with special powers would be lining up to get rid of them and get their normal lives back. That’s where Null City comes in. After one day there, those with extra gifts turn into their closest human counterparts. Dragons, for example, might become realtors. Or imps become baristas. (Of course, those imps are now ex-PhD candidates in literature or classics who claim to be experts on third-world coffee blends and obscure world music groups. But hey — there is only so close to human that hellspawn can get…)

 

Excerpt from End-o-Line, Book Five in the Null City series.

Now under attack, the City is unable to maintain its nonmagic null field, and its residents are beginning to revert to their natural forms.

ISEULT:

Iseult set the bowls of food and water onto the dock where Puff danced around underfoot, his worried yips mixing with his excitement. She picked up the wriggling ball of white fluff, automatically scratching his ears until he groaned in helpless bliss. With a final pat, she batted away his paws reaching for her face and put him down.

He raced her for the boat but she sent him back. “Sorry my little Puff-dragon. Not this time.” As she pulled on the oars and felt the familiar satisfying burn across her arms and shoulders, she peered up through her veil at the tiny dog on the dock. “Stay, Puff. Be a good dog. At least… be good.”

They called it their lake, but it was really little more than a large pond with a small manmade island in the middle. When their art finally started to sell and the commissions came in, they bought the property. Arturo always said he was going to make a little maze on the island, a labyrinth to trap her. There was so much they were going to do, so many plans, especially when their daughter was born…

Now Jenny was grown, her goodbyes said. When her husband died in the Metro Station bombings, Jenny took the children to their father’s family in Seattle, along with all the Protection they had left from the old days. Now she was off somewhere, training with the Voluntarys. They’d spoken briefly at Solstice, but there had been more than distance between them. Iseult was fiercely glad that Jenny hadn’t tried to see them, that she could never see them again. She closed her eyes and offered an ancient prayer for her little ones.

And now it was too late… far too late for her and for Arturo.

He was still asleep when she tied the boat to the small dock. The sun was just peeking through the pearly mist as she knelt by him. Already, his olive skin showed mottled markings, and he shifted uncomfortably over the edges of the bed that had fit the night before. She removed her clothes and moved against him, closing her eyes to capture the familiarity of their long years together.

“Don’t open your eyes, my love…”

His long mouth smiled as his arms enfolded her, and they made their true magic again. She pulled off her veil to see their shapes reflected in the still water around them. I should have painted this. I’d have used quick strokes, him in shiny flashes of green and gold, and me in pinks and marbles. But the sun sent a first streak across the top of the water and there was no time. No more time.

She looked at his mouth, open in ecstasy, and there it was—the first drop gleaming from a curved fang. She pressed her heart against it until she felt it pierce and cried out. His eyes flew open and he stared at her face.

The rising sun gilded the new sculpture to a greenish iridescence in the morning dew. The dragon’s head was thrown back in an anguished eternally silenced bellow, his stone limbs still entwined with those of the golden figure whose lethal face lay hidden against his neck, her head of writhing snakes forever stilled.

On the dock, Puff whined and laid down, resting his fluffy head against tiny cloven hooves.


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