Done (not really)!


Yes! I made 52000-plus words. Iʼm done (not really). The reason there hasnʼt been a post for months is in the past now.

NaNoWriMo 2013 — won.

Morte Saison isnʼt half finished at this point — really just a lot of (nearly random) scenes and sections, not even tied together, and certainly not complete. Thereʼs a ton of work ahead. But this year (even more than last, which topped the utter crap I churned out in 2011), I feel like I have gotten quite a lot accomplished. I am even looking forward to more writing and lots of editing and revising ahead.

Right now, it feels wonderful not to worry about getting in hours of writing time for a day or two (and definitely catch up on unfinished and unwritten letters and blog posts — hey, I still have an entire vacation to write about).

Anyway, year four complete. Iʼll add the little winner icon to the sidebar soon…

(Even better, we have our Christmas tree up and decorated — and all the lights have lit!)

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

…and (unapologetically) Heʼs Back

The cover I quickly hacked out, to accompany my 2012 NaNoWriMo project information, earlier this morning.

Having just signed myself up for NaNoWriMo 2012* and punched out 500 (new) words to post in my novel for 2012 on the National Novel Writing Month website, along with my home-generated cover art (for both the new novel and last yearʼs abortion**), I thought perhaps it was time to stop tentatively pussyfooting and then not adding to the blog.

So hereʼs a post, the first since April (and that one was the first since not-quite-this-long-before-that, as you can read for yourself by clicking the link I just made). Have I continued, as I indicated in my last post, to do nothing much on the writing front for six months? Well… yes… pretty much…

I did churn out some 18,000 words (smartpenned*** in three different notebooks) of my experiences working this spring and summer for USDA APHIS PPQ (again, still trapping for invasive insect pests, particularly in my case the emerald ash borer, again). I am working with those aforementioned 18,000 words, uploaded and decoded/digitalized-into-editable-text, as letters to my brother Stephen and Aunt Alaire.**** So far I have about fifteen of the twenty-five (digitized Scrivener) pages edited and annotated. But only about (hmmm, let me check quickly… ) fifteen hundred words of creative composition (predictably, on Søren and Judah, the latter of whom I am seriously considering renaming a more accurate Yehudah***** or even another name altogether******).

Otherwise, it was all work these past six months, much like last year (go ahead, search out those posts for yourself — the search box over there on the right works fine for just such tasks as this; I am sure the old blog could use the clicks and hits), except that my work region expanded a lot and I found myself on the road and overnight in hotels for about half my working days (more on that soon, maybe even tomorrow). However, the job ended (perhaps, unfortunately, forever for me*******) mid-September, a little over three weeks ago, and I have needed to get seriously writing again.

A few thousand words in correspondence is nothing, really (nor actually are updates to Wakdjunkagaʼs Blog, but I have had thoughts and developments I wanted to post here, for my own interest, presumably few othersʼ). So I have to spend time actually writing, and this comprises just that activity for the late morning today.

That observation puts me over 500 words (a recommended length for most blog posts), so Iʼll desist for now. More, I hope, tomorrow (which would be something almost utterly novel for this year********).

* Thanks for the reminder, Gwen Hernandez.

** I donʼt know what happened to NaNoWriMo information on my genuinely (and unironically) unqualified writing success from 2010

*** For those who clicked that link back to last Christmastime, I have resolved my issues with the Livescribe Echo long since (thanks to intelligent Livescribe support, who had me use Janetʼs Windows laptop — a tale to tell there for the posts ahead — to set up the pen successfully; alas for products created mostly for Windozers and not the Mac world…). The pen has gotten some pretty fierce use for nearly a year now, including the journal junk mentioned above, and I intend to discuss more about it in days ahead, as I attempt to flex and exercise my writing chops before November arrives.

**** Family members, if interested I can e-mail the results out to you all, assuming I donʼt desperately use the results as posts here in future weeks.

***** Any opinions, folks? You may Leave a Reply below.

****** “David,” anyone? Suggestions?

******* Funding shotcomings, donʼt you know.

******** Donʼt believe me? Check back over this yearʼs postings… (The calendar to the right will work for that.) Not much there…

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Winner (Kind of, Partially, Not Really IMHO)

Although I struggled to write anything, and although a good part of what I did write was, um, “garp,” my NaNaWriMo 2011 experience has ended happily and, officially, successfully. Just check that meter to the right (which I will delete in a few more days) or, more permanently, that NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner’s Badge toward the bottom of the second column.

Or this…

My Official Certificate

I wasted most of my time most of the days this past month (without exaggeration — I really did, just as I slipped through the first months of 2011 fruitlessly), but with blushing and partial success I made some important progress on the horror story (including a detailed calendar of events for James Arkham and others in 1993-94). Unfortunately, just like my efforts last year on Slaves to the Lesser Moon, the taleʼs not done. How utterly like me.

I would feel a lot more successful if I believed that every word really counted (this year) and that I might (someday… ever) finish these long items.

Yes, faithful readers (who may actually remember other comments I have made on my partial success this year), much of what I wrote may never actually get used,* but 51916 sleazy words later,** the month of November draws to a close. Now I have weeks of completion and revision ahead of me. But first, I think I may take a little vacation/digression/diversion for the writing topic that was drawing my attention when the month began and kept distracting me throughout these past twenty-eight days — Søren and Judah.***

And yes, a gentle and (for me, at least) enjoyable review of the excellent time The Lovely One and I enjoyed in Budapest. I think that starts tomorrow…

See you then (so to speak).

* “May,” ha! Probably will not get used.

** NaNoWriMoʼs count (52174), which may include chapter numbers and titles and suchlike, runs a bit higher than the count I was keeping in Scrivener. I feared the goal count was higher than I might end up with after compilation, so I kept going (necessarily, not just worriedly). And I need to keep going.

*** My first big project, commencing today and tomorrow, is going to be finishing the dictation of handwritten text for that first of the interlocking Sepharad stories (and the part of story #2 that I have already handwritten). Dragon Dictate and my microphones have had it too easy (as have I) for far too long. (Besides, one of the two versions I have composed of our first days on vacation — along with most of our Alaska trip, 2010, too — is handwritten and in need of dictation into digital reality, as well.)

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Thanksgiving Aftermath

Wow. Nearly the entire month of November has slipped away without even a breath of a post here. I wish I could say that I have been writing diligently for NaNoWriMo, but even though my word-count (now illustrated in the bright new, but sadly belated widget to the right) is pretty close to the norm, I have mostly just wasted my time (still) this month. (And I know full well that a good slew of what I have written and counted toward that total is worthless and I will probably never use it. Sad to say, but bitterly true.)

The box set iTunes is frustrating me about right now.

Anyway, The Lovely One is busily decorating for Christmas today (as per annum), my crapulous iMacʼs optical drive repeatedly refuses to acknowledge or read the final three disks from The Jimi Hendrix Experience Winterland box set (does anyone else think Apple does that — makes their hardware/software refuse to load CDs — deliberately to drive iTunes users to buy/download from that damnable store?*),and I have been raking (yet again — umpteenth time, again) to clear the oak leaves, originating across the street, from our yard. I only got the eastern side and half the back yard raked (and another mostly full truckload of leaves delivered to the dump site) before concluding the windʼs just too strong (damn southerly gale) to keep at it longer — much to your delight/misery, readers.

However, updating my word count with NaNoWriMo today reminded me to see about widgets they provide, and finding many, I placed one into the sidebars. And that procedure made me realize that I havenʼt written a word since the first of the month for good old Wakʼs Blog. So here are a few words.

I do have some parts of a travelogue on our Budapest trip completed, and I will upload those, or words very like those, as a post or two over the next few days, along with some pictures. Otherwise, having not eaten more than some soda crackers — a few with cheese — today, I had better keep this short to be able to help Janet make supper from the leftovers we snatched home from her mother yesterday. (Yum — both for the original Thanksgiving feast and the cold and/or reheated leftovers today and whenever after.)

I hope everyone felt appropriately thankful yesterday, and that those who went shopping all night/today enjoyed themselves (my beloved and I might venture into a store by tomorrow or Sunday). And now I must try to create a Christmas-gift suggestion list for my family, to get in the old e-mail ASAP.

Merry weekend, all!

* Personally, for every time a CD wonʼt load, I schedule not buying anything from the iTunes store. Itʼs around 576 albums I wonʼt buy from Apple right now…

And, yes, any suggestions on how to make the optical drive actually work (and not just kick a valid CD back out) would be gratefully appreciated. ASAP.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

…and weʼre off!

Supposedly, as the picture-title indicates, writer at work (maybe) with presumed thinking cap on…

Itʼs the first of November. This fact shocked me this morning.

Strangely, even though I was admittedly aware that yesterday was Halloween (no matter that here in Our Town the powers-that-be always see fit to have the kids go around trick-or-treating on any day near the end of October that isnʼt actually Halloween — this year on Sunday), I had an actual moment of light-bulb-over-head, smack-the-noggin awareness of the date at about 10:00 AM (while reading the TLS from about a month ago, the issue with John Speke on the cover) that, “Good grief, todayʼs November 1.” Followed about five minutes later by, “NaNoWriMo starts.”

I hadnʼt even registered my novel yet.


And I still had to rake leaves and mow the yard, too. That was my plan for Tuesday/today (after all, itʼs crystalline-clear blue skies and 70° today; itʼs going to rain and the temperatureʼs going to drop a couple dozen degrees tomorrow).

So I did. (Rake and mow, that is.) The job(s) took me until 1:30. I hadnʼt even turned on the computer for the day yet. Once I did, and once I checked e-mail and Facebook newsfeed, reading several articles and such that popped up in one place or another, and dealt with a few practical matters of household finance, it was 4:15.

Surely too late to start a novel this year. Surely…

But I pressed on, logged into NaNoWriMo and set up my novel. Even though I had spent most of yesterday (including half-dreams part of last night) brain-writing Søren-and-Judah stuff (and realizing I have a big travelogue on Budapest to write, if only for my brother Stephen, to whom I owe a letter, too), I registered my eastern Iowa horror novel, giving it the title Quetzal County, Iowa. (I know, really lame, but then no one ever came through, when I was posting stuff last year for that story, with any usable title suggestions. Of course, nobody but me really knows whatʼs going on in the story, either…) I also updated my “Author Profile” a bit haphazardly and without much effort (although I did add a picture this year — thatʼs me on our Danube Cruise in Budapest last Thursday*).

And then I set up a new Scrivener project just for the NaNoWriMo 50,000 words I intend to add to the story. Right now itʼs got two “chapters” or folders — one for Arkhamʼs Diary, the other for “Symonds Stuff.” (I also spent a while refamiliarizing myself with my characters — notice I now recall their names).

Then I hacked out a thousand words (actually 1005, according to the Scrivener Project Targets, of which I was reminded by a timely blog post from Scrivener guru Gwen Hernandez, also undertaking her own NaNoWriMo novel, today — one of the items or activities that kept me from being productive, writing, until after 4:30). An actual thousand words…

Whether I end up using them or not.

And so I have begun…

* Although you will have to click the link to my NaNoWriMo information to see the picture I am talking about.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


Itʼs quite chilly in Iowa today. I have hauled out my fingerless gloves for the first time since mid-April, and although the wrists and palms of each hand are cozy enough, my fingertips feel cold tapping away at the keys.

Everything is indicating the full arrival of fall. I raked leaves five different days (and hauled away ten truckbed-loads). Furthermore, I am going to have to rake again soon, although our back yard trees and bushes have not let go of their photosynthesis machines yet. I may as well be looking ahead at the last lawn-mowing of the year…

I have also been receiving notifications about the imminence of NaNoWriMo 2011. And, although I have been utterly worthless as a writer this year — probably penning (often literally there) only ten or twenty thousand words outside the wretchedly few blog posts I have uploaded* —, I am intending to use November to (I hope!) finish the Mantorville (Iowa horror) novel. If I actually finish it, that will be considerably more than 100,000 new words (and I do mean “new” — above and beyond what I have already written and posted here).

Last year, I wrote 110,000 words on the planetary fantasy, but it remains incomplete. I havenʼt added word one since the end of 2010.

But back to more positive thoughts. Mantorville and the cesspool of evil behind the incarceration of former teacher Arkham**

I know that the story will fall into three (possibly four) sections. Only the first is the more-or-less formal record of the treatment sessions between Dr. Symonds and legally insane murderer Arkham. Part Two, probably, is the Arkham diary that I had finally gotten introduced toward the end of what is available so far. Part Three… well, some things are about to happen that will, after some delay, turn the tale into Dr. Symondsʼs story (and I may just interweave the diary selections through that portion, which I intend him to be dictating into a cell phone or mini-digital-recorder in more or less present time, early 21st Century). That fourth part? I may need one more major character to resolve the whole thing…

And a whole bunch of people have got to get killed off. (It is a horror story, after all.)

Scrivener is ready to go, announcing on Facebook today that their 2011 NaNoWriMo versions are available. So, having used that wonderful software for last yearʼs (still incomplete) “novel,” I guess/hope I had better be ready and willing as well.

* Incredibly, even without regular posts, the blog has been receving more than a hundred hits a day (mostly folks seeking images to use, just as I borrowed the NaNoWriMo official logo to the left and above).

** Anyone remember his first name? I donʼt without re-reading.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Planetary Romance, 4

Yep. More of the November novel. You get three parts right in a row. I am so far past this section of the story now, it seems funny to me, as in the old days when I started posting bits of “Mantorville.” Therefore, I will get you all a little closer to the end of Chapter One.

The door was open. I hadnʼt locked it when I came griefstricken into our place. There were lots of nights it remained unlocked. It wasnʼt like, even with the college in town, that Pashitakua was a hive of criminal activity. Small Wisconsin towns are pretty quiet places.

Birch slammed it open and shut and charged right up the stairs to our place, bursting through the door, while I was still registering the bell.

His neurasthenic, skimpily-bearded face was aghast or terrified. Or something. Whatever was going on, that was more emotion than I had ever seen him express. “Terry! Mʼman. You wonʼt believe whatʼs happened to me.”

“Dude. Whatʼs going on?” Terry asked instantly. I didnʼt care.

“Valjeanʼs gone nuts, man.” I had learned some time ago that his pet name for Dr. Fairchild put a (mispronounced) literary pun on her first and middle names. “Plumb crazy. Nuts.”

Which probably just meant that his month of work building whatever contraption she had required was clearly the waste of time that every one of her projects was. I got up, carefully, slowly, to find the refrigerator and grab one more Keystone. Maybe, when I located it, I might ask the bearded wonder if he wanted something. And I wondered, just how many cases of beer had we bought last time? If Terry and I both had just drunk twelve-plus, that meant one dead boxful. Didnʼt it?

I barely heard them talking as I drifted the twenty steps through the kitchen. I did hear Birch selfishly plop himself in the chair I had vacated. Nothing for him, then.

“Short meeting.” Terry observed thickly. “Whatʼd she do? Terminate your assistantship? Again?”

“She wants me to test the machine, man.”



“Test the machine. Whaddaya mean…?” Obviously Terry hadnʼt understood whatever Birch meant as closely as Birch had assumed.

“Test the machine. Test the machine! She wants me to be her first live test on the machine.”

“What machine?” I wondered as I tried to stride manfully back in the living room without either hitting the kitchen doorway or the sofa or the big chair. Or spill my fresh beer. I had forgotten already that Birch had taken my seat. I tottered to a stop behind the sofa.

“Donʼt tell him,” Birch snapped. “Not a word.”

“Tell him about what?” Terry was puzzled. He had, after all, drunk more than I had.

“Fairchildʼs theory?” I asked. “Didja build a machine to test her time breakthrough?” I wanted to say “temporal” but the word eluded my consciousness, and my mouth would probably have never been up to that many syllables anyway. I also wanted to laugh, like I was too cool for their nonprogress at physics.

Birch cut me short. “Whatʼs he know, Terry? It sounds like he knows. What did you tell him!”

“About what?” Terry was looking seriously confused now. “His girl dumped him tonight.”

Thanks, Ter, I thought. Just the guy I did not want to know all about my stuff. But clearly Terryʼs mind was wandering down some drunken corridors of its own, far from our little discussion just minutes earlier. He was back on my personal problems. And now that he had brought it all up again, so was I.

Big warm tears were building up in my eyes, but I didnʼt want to cry, not in front of Birch.

“The redhead? About time. Sheʼs got another guy back in her hometown. Has had all year.”

I wanted to punch him. How could he be so right? I glowered wetly over him, one hand still on the sofa. “How did you know, Birch?”

“Bah. Everyone knows, Hunter. She told people. Besides, it was obvious from the start of the year.” He was right, although I hated to admit it. Somehow I had known from the first day we had seen each other after summerʼs end that something was different, wrong. I knew but hadnʼt wanted to explore the intuition. Still it enraged me that this jerk knew, but fume as I might, I had no clever quip to impact what I felt was his smug satisfaction.

Then he gave me the opening I had forgotten: “What do you know about the device?”

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

The Nature of the Genre

Okay, so desperation held me snug in its fevered grip for yesterdayʼs post. I hadnʼt anything else, so you all got to discover what I have been writing this past week since November 1.

The “novel” is a planetary romance, a term that was new to me when I encountered it about a decade back, but which describes adventure stories set on science-fantasy planets in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughsʼs Barsoom books. (The link is probably worth a click and read, because the Wikipedians are sure to explain the whole issue much more clearly and less ambiguously than I.) There have been a lot of these kinds of stories, imitators and enthusiasts for the Burroughsian adventures using the notion of an Earthperson (invariably male, however) somehow transported to another world where he rises quickly to the top as the most heroic, stoic, enduring person on the planet. Oh, yes, generally (which indicates invariably) there is a beautiful princess with whom he falls in love and eventually (after one or more volumes in the series) marries to assume the leadership of the new world.

Burroughs experimented with psychic/astral projection (the method John Carter, the great original in this kind of hero, used unintentionally to become transported from a death cave in Arizona to Mars), as well spacecraft (Venus), mining submarines (Pellucidar), and any other method the author had time to utilize. Michael Moorcock (writing as “Edward P. Bradbury,” which was nearly the name I chose for my hero in Slaves to the Lesser Moon as a nodding allusion) made use of matter transmission (which, to tell the truth, well before Star Trek, was always my preferred imaginary means of transportation/travel; I think John Brunner, who wrote some excellent planetary romances of his own, in a slightly different variety, introduced me to the notion) gone awry, as did (without the awry) Robert E. Howard in his one and only venture into the genre. Alien spacecraft have abducted more than just Tarl Cabot of Gor (in John Normanʼs series that started fairly well, although I am not impressed today on my attmepting a reread as background/research/stuff-to-avoid, and degenerated fast, well, after about five years or so, into repetitive softcore interplanetary porn of the S/M variety — Lange [“Norman” is a pen name, alluding to Burroughsʼs own “Normal/Norman Bean” for his first book] seemed to enjoy somewhat too much humiliating proud earthly feminists [this was the early Seventies] into willing and endlessly submissive Gorean slavegirls — at which I gave up after about ten, of now nearly thirty, volumes, so maybe itʼs gotten better these days; he is still writing them). The great emulator (although not a hideously bad writer), Lin Carter, used both astral projection, in his case adopting the theosophical nonsense directly and in detail for the Green Star books, and more mechanical means (Jandar of Callisto, who fell down a mystical well in Cambodia). And there are many more (for instance, Mike Resnick, in those days precociously “Michael,” and his Ganymede books, whose transportation-to-other-planet technique I have forgotten — and not rereread).

An Evil Reptilian Alien Come to Earth to Subvert All That Is Good and (actually, rather than merely assertively through constant and tendentious repetition of malevolent falsehoods) Decent — or, in words he might vaguely understand, A Lying Lizard Monster

For my story, I am using a newly developed time machine, arising from novel equations to solve unexpected results from the CERN accelerator, partly built from stolen parts deriving via intermediates from Fermilab in Illinios, that creates out of the time-transported item a “gap” in the Einsteinian fabric of spacetime. All carefully invented and manipulating pseudoscientific jargon to create a proper sense of verisimilitude, and all just the excuse to get my hero out of Pashitakua,Wisconsin, and magically onto another planet (still Tsyriel — I am accepting any improvements). The earthly beginning to such stories is just frame stuff, and the writer needs to leave it behind as quickly as possible, in my own case in less than 10,000 words (because as I hit that number on Friday evening, Hunter, my hero, was already arrived).

The faraway planet is always barbarously magnificent and gorgeous, all stemming again from Burroughsʼs rather florid and overly vivid (Percival) Lowellian vision of a dying civilization amidst canals and dead sea bottoms (and I must assume ochre “greensward,” as I remain convinced that A Princess of Mars was my introduction to that word). The local folks, in order to permit a love story to develop, as it always does in every single planetary romance I have read or heard of, are amazingly human (even if, like on Barsoom, even the mammalians lay eggs, even after fertilization from an earthman/human — and I did intend all those repeated “evens”). I hope you understand why I say “amazingly” human. Sometimes, to make things a tad more logical, the humanoids are the ancestors or cousin races to our earthly species (thatʼs one neat route around actual evolution), or as on Gor, all earthly humans kidnapped by flying saucers to the Counter-Earth. One way or another, there must be astonishingly lovely, utterly beautiful Princesses in Distress to Save! Culture on this otherworld is both scientifically more advanced (Burroughsʼs Martians have flying battleships, radium rifles that shoot hundreds of miles, terraforming, and immortality…) and simultaneously much more like the middle ages or what Howard directed into “heroic fantasy,” the genre to which my Søren and Judah tales belong ( — but the Barsoomians solve all their disagreements with long and short swords in personal combat and prefer riding their six-legged thoats to the airships).

As I said to introduce my bit of the story for yesterday, “I went a different route…” I intend (right now) not to have any mammals on my Tsyriel, but I also plan to include the traditional love-story element. (Got ya guessing? No, even as an Iowan thoroughly angered/outraged/activated at the power of Steve (“Iʼm a Screaming Jerk”) Thinks-Heʼs-a King and hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-state money and influence groups to pseudopunish our state supreme court justices by dumping three of them in the last election, I donʼt plan a homoerotic relationship in my novel, although that might be an available and lucrative market for writers less scrupulous than I.) I intend birdpeople (probably as baddies) and reptilian humanoids (probably as the main species) among other strange and wonderful (they always have to be) aliens.

The one big name in the planetary romance genre, and in whose favor I feel that term was coined, is Jack Vance, about whom more to come… Someday. Right now I have up to five thousand words (or more) of my novel to write.

Oh, yeah. Steve King of the Vermin really is the evil, nasty crap that wonʼt wipe off your shoe after you have walked in a park after dark, no matter how much you scrape and wipe. Talk about fantastically, hypothetically needing Second Amendment solutions to obviously bad government… (and the King of Vile is so willingly devoted to misreading/ignoring the first clause of that Amendment!)

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Planetary Romance, 1

Okay, I have nothing else to put up today, so here is the beginning of my November NaNoWriMo novel, Slaves to the Lesser Moon. I am going to write on the planetary romance genre tomorrow, but briefly, in such stories an earthman finds himself translated/transported (I do prefer the Shakespeherian initial choice) to a bizarre and barbaric other planet (Mars, Venus, the interior of the earth, one of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, or a planet elsewhere in the galaxy or universe). Usually, this hero is already stalwart, steely-eyed, resourceful, a trained fencer, slim-hipped (a favorite Burroughsian description) an altogether male-perfect. With thanks to my nephew Ryan, I went a different way…

At some point in the long, drunken evening which would be my last on this earth, I stood at the window of our apartment, unstable and wobbly, and looked out across our small collegiate town but dimly lit in this ecological age, the sulphur streetlights reflecting from the hard winter snow, and gazed upon the distant stars. Would I be happier now if I had realized then that I was looking upon my destiny? But no glimmer of the future or the past echoed in the aching chambers of my thoughts. Then I turned back from the dark, swigged my beer and collapsed into tears.

That evening was no party but a wake. Only a few hours before, my world had collapsed, and drink what I might, I couldnʼt avoid the dreadful weight of that disaster.

I had staggered home to our cheapjack apartment, where Terry was just hanging out, a couple of dead soldiers on the coffee table in front of his overweight carcass, the current Keystone sitting by his head on the back cushion as he texted furiously, the TV blaring another overly loud car commercial. I stalked over to the fridge and hauled out my own can of the cheapest beer in the supermarket, popped it and plopped on the worn-out overstuffed chair.

“Whassup, bro? You were gonna be out all night, you said,” Terry never even shifted his eyes from his phone, both fingers still punching away madly. I muted the tube.

“She dumped me,” I coughed, the words themselves choking my throat.

“Jen?” I nodded mutely, sucking down a huge gulp of salty sour brew. One eye rotated my way and caught my repeat of the labored nod behind another big swallow. “Jen? Jen dumped you, dude? … Kidding? Right?”

“Nope. No joke.” And I finished the can, pitching it toward his on the table. Rising to fetch another, I snarled, “Itʼs over, dude. Done.”

“Jen? She dumped you?”

I just flipped him off with the hand on the fridge door as I reached within.

“Really?” My roomie was always remarkably slow about human relations. “Jen?” An ex-frat boy, he still kept up on his dues. “Dumped you?” A campus legend suggested that, freshman year, heʼd continued seeing a girl through first semester whoʼd dumped him at Boom Night second week in September. “Dude!” And she kept telling him every time heʼd show up. “That girl didnʼt know a good thing when she had one.” But she kept letting him take her out, too. “I feel for you, dude.” Until he finally figured it out.

I was back in the chair, sucking out my second third of the next can with its successor in my other hand. “Thanks, man.”

He was still texting. “Wanna talk about it?”

“Not particularly.” And I finished that can. Sent it to join the three musketeers on the table, sending one of them to the carpet.

“Sure.” He nodded as I popped the third. I took the first drink slower, smaller, too. Then I started telling him all about it.

Jen was a year younger than us, a junior that January. Iʼd met her in class, spring of her freshman year, Geology, which we were both taking to get a required science credit out of the way. She was an art major, which suited my English/Lit, and the prof had let us team for fieldwork assignments (everyone teamed with one or two — he assigned so many rocks to find no one person could ever do it all alone). Sheʼd been the one to notice me, and the one to make the first move, striking up a conversation in the Union where weʼd both gone for lunch, along with half the student body, right after class. Having queued for the burgers and fries, Iʼd grabbed a table for myself off in the northwest corner, no windows, but no bothersome jerks either, and sheʼd followed from the salad bar, sat herself down without asking and said, “Youʼre in Geology, right?”

She had the brightest red hair anyone had ever seen — natural, not dyed, it looked — so there was no missing her in class. Iʼd spotted her toward the front as I made my way to the back. Besides she was hot, maybe a little heavy, but if sheʼd put on her freshman fifteen, she had to have been a stick in high school. Besides, I looked like a generic soph slob that spring, unshaved, hair gone pretty long, same clothes three days in a row, still getting used to living off campus in an overpriced flat with three other equally clueless guys I barely knew (one of whom was Terry). It was a miracle a girl this goodlooking even spoke to me. And her she was sitting at my isolated table, giving me those girl looks that say she thinks you might have possibilities.

We talked. Looked over the Geology syllabus, noted the tons of fieldwork indicated and agreed to partner if Dugan approved (and of course he had). I asked her out a weekend later, and that was it. We were an item, a couple. After three semesters I had a college girlfriend.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Counting Words

near Viroqua, WI, which was almost where I put my imaginary college

I am not sure if anyone clicked on the NaNoWriMo site link I added to yesterdayʼs post about the middle of the afternoon, Iowa time, Thursday. To create it, I learned some things about this little self-challenge into which I have entered, pretty witlessly. And having spent most of yesterday (which is still today as I write) working on the November novel rather than much of anything else (although Daniel has one final comment from early yesterday morning, and I got involved in learning who “Snookie” was/is at the end of the afternoon on Facebook — thanks for the info, Joe), and having to poke out at least a couple hundred words for todayʼs post, I figure Iʼll just talk even more (than I already have and undoubtedly in future will) about the NaNoWriMo project.

First, I hoped you liked my little map yesterday, locating Pashitakua (and therefore McKennal College) right at the point that Iowaʼs northern boundary intersects the Misssissippi. I used Google Earth to check, and there is nothing at that location in Wisconsin, except a few real peopleʼs river houses (or so it appears in the satellite view). If I donʼt get Hunter (so far thatʼs all heʼs been called in the story) off this planet and onto Tsyriel soon, I shall have to invent a road that leads into Pashitakua from the east to intersect the actual north-south river road. (Amusing myself as I type, or rather while walking around the house not actually typing, I began to imagine intersecting the Pashitakua world with Quetzl County!**) McKennal College has taken on many newly invented buildings on campus, if not any pseudoreality. The science building (an important location, the last place Hunter will ever be on this earth) is Miller/Norton Hall, an old, decrepit brick structure. Then there are also the Ferrin Library and Kula Language Building, the Old Aud, an education building and maybe another one or two I have let slip my mind (all mentioned only once or twice except Miller/Norton).

the atmosphere shown here seems almost more Quetzal County than my storyʼs version of Southwestern Wisconsin

The story itself has progressed nicely, topping 7500 words shortly before I began this. That means I actually hacked out not quite 4000 words Thursday* because when I entered 5000 on Wednesday on the NaNoWriMo site, I believed I would accomplish more that day than I did, so I felt I had to catch up today/Thursday. My actual daily total should run about 1700 words to get to 50,000 by monthʼs end, but I really canʼt afford to believe I will write every day (in fact, just yesterday morning, I made arrangements that will guarantee I donʼt). Weekends are Janet-time, and Thanksgiving is also a family event at which any writing device, high tech or low, might be less than welcome (or at least more than my usual rude). So I really want to produce between 2500 and 5000 daily and be done with the challenge. (And that would be in about ten to fifteen more days. But donʼt count those weekends, folks.)

However, just as I have said that much, I realize that The Lovely One is due home any minute, so I guess I will keep this to seventy-five percent my intended normal length (thank goodness, you think). Sheʼll be off again for a birthday dinner at the Maquoketa Country Club with and for her friend Lin, so Iʼll cut these words then to a post and forge the necessary links and (I hope) be done in time to enjoy my appropriately favorite TV show, The Big Bang Theory.

* Actual daily writing total for November 4, according to the Project Target built into Scrivener was 3688, and I had put myself about a hundred words over the claimed 7500.

** Not literally, of course, because imaginary Quetzal County, including Bear River Falls and Mantorville and so many other little towns, lies between Jackson and Dubuque Counties, much further south than Pashitakuaʼs location in Wisconsin. But it might amuse me (like the names of those McKennal College buildings) to have someone be a McKennal grad, or have someone visit there to do some research, as Lovecraft had so many do, to their dire regret, at Miskatonic University in Arkham.

(Both pictures are links to the websites from which they originated, by the way. Please click.)

Anyoneʼs help on any of my current names for anyone and anything in Slaves to the Lesser Moon, even that tentative title of the novel, would be appreciated…

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.