NaNoWriMo: so far, so good
Caught up on word count – for now
As I warned before this month began, November is National Novel Writing Month, so much of my time is being eaten up in the effort to crank out the words. I started out the month behind on words (to keep pace, I need to produce 1667 words a day), but today I had a good session and caught up to where I should be, and then some, at 8525 words. As usual, my story is focusing on a character, Hannah Montgomery, who teaches at a community college, lives (or used to live) on a sailboat, is engaged to a police detective, Harry O’Malley, and frequently runs across dead bodies whose murders need to be solved. Just to give you a flavor of what I’m working on, here’s an excerpt from the book, the most recent passage I’ve written.
When Hannah got out of the meeting, Harry was still on duty at the station, and she didn’t really care to go home to an empty house, so she headed over to the marina, where she kept her boat, Nice Ketch. Now that she slept nearly all the time at Harry’s house, she seldom stayed on the boat that had once been her home, but she did like to keep an eye on the boat to make sure it didn’t deteriorate. And sometimes, she did need some alone time away from Harry, and Nice Ketch made a pleasant sanctuary.
She climbed up the dock steps and into the cockpit, remembering that not too long ago, she would have needed Harry’s help to do that and to get down the companionway of the boat. She unlocked the hatch, removed the hatch boards, and slid the top of the hatch open, then climbed down the companionway, a ladder leading into the spacious interior of the boat.
Everything was shipshape, as she had left it. Back when she lived on the boat, it would never have been so tidy; especially since she had nobody to please but herself, she wasn’t particularly fussy about housekeeping. But now that the boat wasn’t her primary residence, it could be kept neater, and Harry, amazingly enough, was pretty good at that kind of thing. Jackets and sweaters were now in a hanging locker, not tossed on the settee in the salon. The chart table was bare, no longer the site of Hannah’s laptop and random piles of paperwork. In the galley, everything was neatly stowed, the teakettle no longer parked on top of the stove, ready to be set to boil at a moment’s notice.
It was a chilly day, however, and Hannah decided she could use a nice cup of tea. She got the kettle out of the locker where it was stowed, filled it, and set it on the stove. Then she realized that, as she was no longer living on the boat, she had shut off the valve on the propane tank for safety. She climbed up into the cockpit, opened up the propane tank compartment, and opened the valve. Then she went back below, turned on the switch inside the boat to let the propane flow, let the gas get to the stove, and lit the burner under the kettle. Next, she got out a mug and a tea bag – Earl Grey, one of her favorites, and sat down on the settee.
The cabin was beginning to warm up, and Hannah stood up to take off the heavy cardigan she was wearing. She started to put it in the hanging locker, but then she changed her mind, tossing it on the settee, just like old times. That seemed more like it, she realized. The boat wasn’t merely neat; it was too neat, as if nobody belonged to it anymore. She pulled her laptop out of the large tote that she always carried it in, and she set it on the chart table and booted it up. Might as well check email here, she thought as she settled down in front of it. She found herself smiling, remembering the way she used to work here for hours at a time.
A shout came from above through the open companionway hatch, “Ahoy Nice Ketch!” Hannah recognized the voice of Flash Duran, and she smiled even more. She always looked forward to seeing him – although she had yet to keep her promise to let him take her sailing on his racing yacht. Somehow, that boat looked intimidating, and she hadn’t worked up the courage. “Permission to come aboard?” Flash asked.
“Granted,” Hannah said.
Flash came down the companionway, with a slightly crooked smile beneath his pencil-thin mustache, vivid blue eyes contrasting his unruly, curly dark hair. “I saw your companionway was open, and I figured you were home,” he said. Interesting, Hannah thought, that Flash still viewed Nice Ketch as her home. “Thought I might pay a visit.”
The teakettle began to whistle, and Hannah went over to it and poured boiling water over the tea bag in her mug. “I was just having some tea,” she said. “Would you like some?”
“No thanks,” Flash said. “You got any diet cola?”
“I have no idea,” Hannah said. It had been so long since she’d spent any quality time on the boat, she wasn’t sure of the inventory. She opened the lid of the refrigerator and discovered some shriveled cold cuts, some moldy cheese, a jar of mayonnaise that had seen better days, a couple of bottles of beer and – yes! – one can of diet cola. She handed that to Flash, picked up her tea, and went to the port settee, where the folding table was extended. Flash followed and sat down beside her.