So I mentioned that I’m doing Nanowrimo this year. I’ve done it other years and finished a few times. Unfortunately I don’t have any of those manuscripts, done or not anymore. They perished with my hard drive a few years ago.
I really love nanowrimo. Every time I’ve tried and failed I learned some valuable things about me as a writer.
For instance. Last year I learned that I can’t try to write alternate history based horror that starts in the early epochs of Egyptian history. I am sure if I gave myself a lot of time and had someone to guide me I could write that book really well. However, all by myself without adult supervision I get lost in the research and the tweaking of certain mythological and historical details.
This year I’m trying out some epistolary elements for the first time.
I’m also trying to infuse my own intersectional sensibilities about things like race, identity and growing up poor. I’m putting these things into a horror story.
I’m doing what the best writing advice ever told me to. I’m writing a story I’d like to read.
So far I’m very very excited. I like where I’m going and how I’m getting there. I think with some editing and time later on it may turn into something I wait what…shop around.
Crazy I know.
I also heard this morning that I got accepted into the next issue of Scissors and Spackle. A while back I spotted the name on Duotrope and started poking around there and I really like what they published. Even better they took a story that other editors have liked but not loved enough to publish so yay.
Under the read more bit, a taste of my nanowrimo novella in progress. In this portion my protagonist Lizzy is remembering visiting NOLA as a child while she is getting some ritual scarification done.
“Mama, Mama look what are those?”
I had forgotten my manners and was pointing at the craw fish on another table. Mama slapped my hand and hissed in my ear.
“Who are you pointing at? Those are craw fish. If you behave we will get some but not until my friend gets here. You behave or you wait in the car.”
The waiter must have taken pity on me, I may have been drooling on the table. He brought a plate of sticky looking cookies to our table.
“Ma’am, my Mother would like to welome you to Nina’s. May the children have a couple of pralines while you wait?”
Sweets Mickey and I agreed upon and we stared at Mama wide eyed until she laughed and gave the okay.
Luckily for Mama she did not try to get a cookie for herself, we may have bitten it off. The cookies were pralines and so good we demolished the plate in about two minutes. Once they were gone we were mortified as only very self possessed children can be at what we had done. Mickey almost started to cry.
“Mama we’re sorry did you want some?”
She laughed and shook her head.
“You two see the lady standing over there by that door, why don’t you go tell her thank you and introduce yourselves.”
We wiped our faces and scampered over to Miss Nina who was tall and had skin close to the color of mine but her hair was jet black and swept back by a piece of brightly colored cloth. She smiled and leaned down to peer at us.
“My, two hungry little puppies.”
I squealed, I had been obsessed with accents since meeting Matant Callie and hers charmed me. Mickey was shyer and just smiled at her with his lips pressed together.
“Thank you for the cookies ma’am.”
As usual when it came to hustling, hustling for snacks or money I was our spokesperson.
“What are your names?”
“My name is Lizabet and this is my brother Mickey. We are going from New York to California so we can move into a new house with our Daddy. That is our Mama over there her name is Lily.”
Miss Nina’s eyebrows rose.
“Oh, what a cute accent. Bless me but you two are some pretty babies. My name is Miss Nina. It looks like your Mama has company go on back to your table so you can order.”
Mickey piped up in his squeaky pre pubescent voice.
“It is very nice to meet you Miss Nina.”
Shy though he was, he was also a hugger which I was not. Miss Nina gathered us up and hugged us then sent us on our way with a friendly swat.
We were breathless, at least close to it when we saw Mama’s friend.
To this day I have never seen a more beautiful woman up close other than Mama. She was as tall as Mama but had the deep dark skin. She had skin like Grace Jones, pure beautiful darkness with the most refined features. We were both rendered speechless and when Mama stood to introduce us we cowered around her hips gawking.
“Lucille, these are my kids. Mickey and Lizzy. Kids say hello to Lucille.”
We may have squeaked some greeting, looking at this woman made me feel things I was entirely uncertain about. It was not quite attraction. I did not develop the same instant crush on her as I had on countless other people. I was hot inside with a mix of envy, appreciation and awe.
“Hello Mickey and Lizzy it is very nice to meet you.”
The meal save for the sheer amount of red beans and rice I consumed is a blur. Mickey and I loosened up and chattered like birds as we ate. Towards the end of the meal Miss Nina came out to deliver us meaty slices of sweet potato pie and kisses on our dirty cheeks.
“Miss lady, thank you for bringing your babies to my restaurant. They fill us with joy. Welcome to New Orleans. And hello Lucille, you take some of that pie with you. I think those babies are gonna pass clean out.”
We were food drunk and love drunk. All Mickey and I wanted was a bed. Lucille and Mama boxed up our slices of pie and herded us to the car. We curled up in back and fell almost immediately asleep.
The Veils parted for me that night. The Veils re what keeps this world and the next and the next after that separate. They move and shift as needed and sometimes they part. I am still not sure where exactly we were, at someones house in a big soft bed piled with pillows and two fat house cats.
As Mickey snored next to me I felt something inside me moving, rocking and pulling my soul away from the room.
That first glimpse was awful and I fought it. I didn’t know what it was, at the time it felt like a familiar yet bad dream. I heard things, deep noises off in the paleness of that place and I fought.
I came back kicking and trying to scream, Mickey had jumped out of bed to get Mama who held me tight and rocked me.
“Shh, wake up Lizzy Bat. Come on wake up. Wake up.”
She was crooning while I keened high and hurt. My eyes were open but for a long time all I could see was that cob webby fog over her face.
Another woman came in and spoke to my Mama. I was wrapped tightly in a blanket and the woman put sweet oil on my forehead and temples. She crooned to me in the dark in Creole until I stopped struggling and went back to sleep.
The next morning I asked Mama if I could go sit on the porch by myself and write in my journal.
Mama, Mickey and I are in New Orleans and something awful happened last night. I think it was a bad dream. Or no it wasn’t really a bad dream it was just scary. I saw them, that place and I couldn’t come home. Why couldn’t I come back? How come everything was like on a black and white movie?
I am still so scared Papa. Please don’t let me go back there. Please.
I have to go now, Mama says it’s time to thank our hosts and get back into the car. I will tell you the good things about New Orleans later.
Mama says we get to see Daddy soon. YAY.