Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Here is another excerpt from my novel which is a work in progress.  This si a fictional race report from teh world championships....

I awoke at 4:15 AM when the alarm went off feeling pretty well rested and ready to go.  I was a bit excited but strangely calm at the same time. Today was the day I would become an Ironman. All I had been training for had been leading up to this one day.  I had practiced my pre-race rituals so that I performed them like I was on autopilot.  I ate got dressed used the restroom, drank and did some stretching to get loosened up.  Linda woke up and I helped her into the bathroom.  We agreed that there was no need for her to fight the crowds to get to the start and she would watch the coverage via TV and try to get close to the finish when she knew I was getting close.  Ellen and Tim from FitBit were going to help in that regard as well.
Once I was ready I gave Linda one last kiss and she wished me good luck.  I told her I loved her and was out the door heading down to the start area by 6:00.  I knew the first 2 waves of professionals and elites were going off at 6:30 and 6:35 and then it was the mass start at 7:00 for the rest of us.  As I headed towards the start the noise and enthusiasm started to infect me.  I was getting really excited andkeyed up.  I had to calm myself a few times to keep from getting too carried away.
I headed to the line of Port-a-potties for my PRP and hoped that it would be enough.  Just after I emerged the gun went off and the first wave of elites were away.  Five minutes later the second wave was off with the gun as well. My stomach was starting to have butterflies and with 10 minutes to the start as everyone was getting in the water I had to make a last dash to the port-a-potties.  I took care of business and entered the water just as they were counting down the last 30 seconds to the start.  Unfortunately this meant I was near the back of the group, not where I had hoped to be starting.  I would have to make the best of the situation and headed towards the outside of the course.  Just as I got into position the gun went off and it was a mass of flailing arms and kicking legs looking like a school of piranha at feeding time. The race had begun.
I stayed to the outside and started pacing myself for the distance.  I had swum much farther than this distance several times in the last few weeks so I knew I could do it, but I had to keep myself in check.  I wanted to go fast and get it done, but I knew if I pushed too hard I would pay for it on the bike and the run.  I was getting into a nice rhythm, catching the person’s draft in front of me when I got kicked in the face.  They knocked my goggles of and I had salt water in my eyes.  I stopped to wipe my eyes and put my goggles back on.  At the same time I assessed where I was and saw that I was heading too far out, away from the buoys.  I quickly got back to the task at hand.  I attacked a bit harder, looking for a draft, but leery of another kick to the face.
Fortunately I did find another swimmer going at the right pace.  I locked onto their feet and let them pull me around the course.  Before I knew it we were making the turn at the halfway point and heading back towards the beach.  I had found a strong swimmer who followed a good line and managed to steer us away from the other groups of swimmers.  I noticed that someone had latched onto my wake shortly after the turn and I pulled them into shore as the athlete in front of me was pulling me. Almost before I knew it we were back to shore and heading out of the water.  As usual when transitioning from the water to the land it took me a moment or to to get my legs back under me.  I always felt very heavy when I first came out of the water and it takes me several steps before I’m steady on my feet.  This was all the guy in front of me needed to pull away.  I had wanted to thank him for the pull but he was gone before I could.
As I ran into transition I mentally went through my checklist of what I needed to do In order to head out on the bike.  I had been practicing my transition to get it down to a science.  I had my cap and goggles in hand as I reached my rack and they quickly went into the 5 gallon bucket.  I then sat on the edge of the bucket, dried my feet and took the time to put on my socks and cycling shoes.
I was being fast but efficient in the transition.  I had a plan and I had to stick to it.  Included in the plan was making sure that I was hydrated and fueled for the entire race.  This meant I needed to take the extra seconds to eat and drink now while it was still early so I wouldn’t pay for it later.  I also put on my Garmin so I could track distance and splits. I added my hat, sunglasses and race belt and I was ready to go.  I grabbed my bike and headed towards the mount line and the exit of the transition area.
There were other athletes also heading towards the mount line pushing their bikes and it was a bit confusing right around the line.  I crossed the line and tried to do a running start to mount my bike as I watched others do.  Now its not a good idea to try too many new things on race day as there is usually some type of a learning curve.  This maneuver is one of those things.  Just as I planted my left foot to try and spring onto my bike, the cleat slipped and I ended up falling.  No harm except I was embarrassed and almost got run over by the guy behind me.  I quickly got back up, mounted from a standing start, clipped in and off I went, face red and heart beating too fast from the adrenaline of embarrassment.
Having pre-ridden the bike course earlier in the week I pretty much knew what to expect except the winds today weren’t as strong or gusty as they had been.  It was nice that I wasn’t having to fight to keep going straight.  I knew I would lose some positions as I climbed up to Hawi and the turn around point.  I was keeping within my limits as far as riding ability, going by feel more than anything.  I was also being faithful to my fueling and fluid plan as I had a reminder set to go off every half and hour for me to eat and drink and every time it went off I was eating and drinking.  Looking at my Garmin at the turnaround I noticed that I had been biking for 3 hours and 32 minutes.  Not a bad time for the halfway point of the bike.  If I could keep up the pace, then I would finish the bike right around 7 hours. Add that to my swim of just over an hour and I would have over 8 hours to finish the run.  I was feeling good.
AS I shifted into a higher gear for the descent down from Hawi I noticed that I was having trouble getting into my highest gear. Seems my spill at the beginning of the leg had done some damage and bent my derailleur in.  I played with the shifter a few times trying to get it to shift into my highest gear but it just wouldn’t go.  I knew I was losing time and ground by not having this gear so I made the decision to pull off and see if I could do anything with it.  I signaled I was stopping and pulled to the right.  I quickly stopped and dismounted.  I looked and didn’t see anything wrong so I just pulled on the derailleur to try and bring it out enough to shift, but I was being careful to not pull it too hard where I would be dropping the chain.  I jumped back on the bike and pedaled off hoping it had worked.
I shifted down and then back up and it finally did shift into the highest gear.  I got low on the bars into my most aero position and just pedaled trying to make up a little of the time I had lost.  Would it make much of a difference in my overall time?  Probably not, but it was more to keep my head in the game.  The committee was starting to warm up as I was starting to feel the effort on the bike and they were telling me to slow down, take it easy.  I had lots of time.  I just kept on it and even tried to pick up may cadence a bit.  Looking at my Garmin I was blasting along at 23.5 mph on the mostly flat course.  I knew this was good for a short bit, but was unsustainable in the long run.  After about 10 minutes I eased back to 22 mph and it almost felt like I was coasting.
I neared the 9th of the 11 aid stations on the bike route and realized it was time to eat and drink.  The problem was I couldn’t face another Gu gel.  I had been having one every half and hour on the bike and the thought of another turned my stomach.  I decided it made sense to stop in the aid station and see what else that had.  Fortunately they had bananas and  Bonk breaker bars which I decided to try.  I only ate half of a banana and half of a bar and drank some water.  I also decided I should use the restroom.  It had been hours since the start and I did have to go.  Fortunately there was no line and I was in and out feeling greatly relieved.  The fact that I had to go I thought was a good sign that my hydration and fueling was working.
I got back on my bike and into the home stretch of the bike course.  Only 20 or so mile to go and then it was time for the run.  As I finished up the bike and entered Transition for the second time, I noticed on my Garmin that I had done the bike in 6 hours and 49 minutes.  That was a good time for me and left me lots of time for the run if I needed it.  My T2 transition went off with out a hitch and it was with a surge of energy that I ran out through the cheering crowds in town before heading out onto Ali’I drive.  My plan was to do a 5 minute run one minute walk pattern until I had to reduce to 3 to 1 and then to 1 to 1 if necessary.  My complete failure on the run back in Texas was haunting me as I went through the first couple of walk/run cycles.  I was now out of town and the crowds were pretty much gone.  The committee in my head started talking it up.
They were pretty quiet at first, but as I got out onto Ali’i drive and there were other athletes running by me every time I slowed to walk, they started trying to goad me on and to break from my plan.  I knew it was a good plan and that if I stuck to it I would be successful, but in the quiet of my mind, the committee started getting traction.  I started to doubt myself and started trying to push beyond the 5 to 1 run to walk ratio. I quickly got a hold of myself talked myself through the plan.  It was a solid plan. It would work, I just had to see it through.
To keep the committee quiet I started trying to think of other things than the task at hand.  I thought about Linda and how I was really doing this in support of her fight.  I thought about all of the good people who helped me to get to this moment and I was momentarily overcome be emotion.  I even stumbled in my running as the wave of gratitude and appreciation washed over me.  Those two thoughts helped to restore my resolve to see this through strong, to follow the plan and just get it done.
By this point I was already past mile 18 of the run.  It had worked.  I had pushed to and through the usual wall and now it was all downhill.  Just over 8 miles to go and I knew I could do it.  I still felt OK, but realized that I was on the verge of cramping. Thinking back I realized that I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since I started the run.  I wasn’t following the whole plan.  Fortunately there was an aid station just ahead and I run to it and got my hands on another banana and 2 Gu.  I forced myself to eat it all and to wash it down with a glass of water and some chicken broth.
I walked out of the aid station with a banana and another cup of broth in my hand.  I slowly ate and drank this over the next mile and I started to feel better.  I was back to a point where running at least for short stretches, was again possible.  I passed mile 20 maintaining a 2 to 1 run to walk ratio and I actually started to feel better.  The nutrients and minerals were getting into my system and recharging me at least a bit.  I knew better than to push any harder, though.
At the aid station at mile 23 I again had some broth and a couple of Gu.  I had to force it down but I knew I needed it to finish strong. Then all I had was a 5k left to the finish line.  I was now reentering town and the crowds were still there and were still cheering just as loudly as before.  They helped to reenergize me as well and I actually picked up my pace.  I was determined to run the rest of the way to the finish, even if it was a slow jog.  I passed the marker for 26 miles and was in the finish stretch.  There, ahead was the finish line.  Just beyond I saw a sight that took my breath away.  Linda was there in a wheel chair with the folks from FitBit.  I ran for all I was worth to the line and into her arms.  I was just so over come with emotion as I crossed the line I heard the announcer say Anthony Franklin, you are an Ironman. 
Tears were streaming down my face as the emotions washed over me.  Linda was crying I was crying the FitBit folks were congratulating me.  It was amazing.  The tired ness I had felt just minutes before was gone.  We cleared out of the finish area and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  Several of the news crews who had interviewed me the day before wanted to get a few words now as well.  At first I was reluctant, but then I realized I had to share this achievement with the world. I talked for a few minutes, about what I don’t remember.  I don’t even know if I was even coherent.  We then headed back to the hotel for Linda to rest and for me to eat and rest as well.
I had done it.

I am an IRONMAN.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Since I had friends as well as family members who are dealing with diabetes it has become important to me to support the Diabetes Foundation.  One great way to do that is through their Tour De Cure cycling events.  I was looking at their website and saw that they had an event coming up next spring as I was planning out my events I wanted to ride in the next year.  It fit in nicely with the other events I wanted to do, so I decided it was one I was going to do.  They had 4 distances and although I haven’t been riding as much as I would like, I figured by the time the event rolled around I would be in shape to do the 30 mile distance. So I signed up and then completely failed to train for it as I should have.
Not only didn’t I train as much as I should have, I let my eating get out of control and ended up gaining weight going into the event. Not a lot, but I shouldn’t have gained any.  With those two strikes against me , the third strike was that I hadn’t ridden or even driven the course ahead of time so I really didn’t know what I was in for in terms of the difficulty of climbing the hills.
It didn’t help that the day turned out to be one of the warmest days so far this year.  It was my mind outpacing my fitness that got me into trouble.  I get these unrealistic expectations of what I can do while reading race and ride reports from much fitter riders.  In my mind I can struggle through a 100 mile ride with minimal climbing or I can suffer up a challenging hill with the rest of them.  Of course, until I get my weight under control and put in many more miles and hours on my bike, that isn’t really the case.  Its great to visualize where you wan to be, but you have to take reality into account as well.
The day started well.  I was chomping at the bit to get riding.  It drove me a little crazy that we weren’t starting our ride until 10:00 am.  This was so that more of the riders were finishing closer together and to help manage the finish area.  Unfortunately for me this meant waiting until the day warmed up.  A Lot!  Most of my rides happen in the nice early morning cool of the day, before sunrise, even.  Waiting to start until 10:00 meant that on average the temp would be 20 degrees warmer than I normally rode in.
I still figured this would be OK, I would just need to make sure and keep hydrated.  Little did I realize how much hydration that would mean.
I got to the M Resort, which was the Start/Finish line for the event about 8:30.  As I said I am terrible at waiting for things to start.  Normally I’m a fairly patient person, but when it comes to getting out and riding in events, I get nervous and anxious for the start.  There was no early packet pickup the day before the event, so once I got there I unloaded the bike in the parking garage and rode over to pick up my packet.
Check in was effortless and easy since I had met the fundraising goal ahead of time on line, it was a simple matter of signing the waiver and picking up my t-shirt and rider number.  Once I got them, I headed back to the van for any last minute adjustments and to get out of the sun.
I put the t-shirt in the van, pumped up the tires to the correct pressure and grabbed one of the powerades I had brought along.  This went into my bottle cage.  I opened the other one and took a nice long pull.  I figured I would need it.  I locked up the car and headed back over to the start area to check it out and make a trip to the Port-a-potty. Once I was done, I headed over to the bike mechanic area. 
Derrick from my LBS had told me when I picked up the bike earlier in the week that he was going to be there at the start to help with any mechanical issues.  I just wanted to say ‘Hi’ and to let him know that so far (after just a couple of rides) the new wheels were performing well.  My only issue to date had been a couple of pinch flats.
Derrick saw me rolling his way. “Those are some sexy wheels,” he said admiring his handiwork.
“Yes, they are and they are doing well.  My only issue is I think I need wider tires as I’ve had a couple of pinch flats.”
“No way.  Are you sure you had them pumped up to the right pressure?”
“Checked them before every ride,” I told a bit of a white lie. “I think its just a matter fo hitting some small rocks just the wrong way with all of the weight on here.”
“OK, but I’m not convinced,” he said.  Then another person needed his attention.
“Thanks again.  I’ll let you know how they do.”
“You do that and you might need to bring them back in after a couple of hundred miles to re-tighten the spokes, but I do put a pretty good preload on them so maybe not.”  With that he turned away to help someone else.
I realized that it was probably my own fault I ended up with the flats, but to be on the safe side, I would get the larger tires which seemed to be more forgiving of pressure variations.
Looking at my phone I still had over a half an hour until the start of our wave.  I rode back to the van and got another drink of the powerade, then made one more trip to relieve myself.  The nerves were starting to key up and I just wanted to get riding.
It was quickly approaching 10:00 and I needed to line up for the start.  I rolled across the parking area, marveling at how easily my bike rolled on the new wheels and Continental Gatorskins.  I had been leery of them after getting a couple of recent pinch flats, but felt confident that with the proper inflation all would be well.
They called everyone to the starting area and introduced several of the red riders and had them all move to the front to lead us out.  The red riders are all riders who have diabetes and are participating in the ride.  There were about 15 red riders in our wave.
The MC was really trying to get us pumped up with the yell of “Go Red Rider!” which we were supposed to say whenever we passed a red rider on the course.  They weren’t hard to identify with their red (obviously) jerseys. Little did I know at this point, but I would be seeing a lot of a certain red jersey for most of the ride.
It was finally time to do the final count down.  Five, Four, Three , Two , One… Go Red RIDERS! And we were off.
I was at my accustomed place near the rear of the field and was riding along with the group at a comfortable pace.  The first part of the ride was a gentle downhill followed by a slight uphill.  I was cruising along and came up to the back of what turned out to be the last red rider in our wave.  My thinking was he was going a bit slow, but I felt comfortable matching his pace so I started following him through the first few miles of the ride.  I hoped he didn’t think I was stalking him or anything, but I was letting him set my pace for me.  I knew that if left to my own devices I would be riding harder right now and I though that I would pay for it later if I was, so I stuck with him.
 At least until the first steeper downhill.  I noticed, looking ahead, that we would be going back uphill so I decided to let my bike roll.  I had the advantage of the much greater gravity assist, as it were, and actually got up to a fairly good clip.  Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to sustain me through the uphill and I was downshifting and ended up much slower heading towards the light.
I barely made the light and then was able to coast for a bit as there was another gentle downhill.  This was followed by a much steeper climb and there was no way I was riding up it.  I stuck it out as best I could but eventually I dismounted and walked up the hill.  There were several other riders also walking up the hill.  The walking wasn’t too bad, but it left me just as out of breath as riding did.  Add to that a tightening of the muscles of my lower back as I was pushing my bike and it was the start of my undoing.
I made it up the hill OK, having stopped a couple of times to try and stretch my back and catch my breath.  As I got to the top, The last red Rider caught up to me towards the top of the hill.
“Are you OK?” he asked.
“Yes,” I gasped.  “Just not used to such steep hills.”
“”We’re almost at the top.  You want to rest for a minute?”
“No I’m good, its my back that is giving me fits – its very tight,” I wheezed. With that I got on my bike and continued on along the flat and slight downhill to follow.  Then we came to the steepest hill of the day and there was no way I was riding up it.
I had gotten bit ahead of the red rider on the downhill and he quickly caught me on the climb.
“Go on ahead, I’ll get there,” I told him.
“No rider left behind,” he said back.
I stopped about halfway up the hill for a bit of a rest.
“You want to have a seat there?” he asked me indicating the curb ahead.
Knowing that if I sat down I would have trouble getting back up, I said “No, I just need to lean on my bike and try to stretch out my back.  I’ll be good to go in a minute.  By the way, my name’s Anthony.”
“Juan. “
“I didn’t realize these hills would be this steep.” I offered as way of explanation for my apparent unpreparedness for this ride. “I’ve been doing some climbing but much more gentle grades.”
“I never do a ride without previewing the course either on my bike or at least driving it in a car so I know what to expect,” Juan told me.
“I had looked at the elevation profile online, but it certainly didn’t look this steep.”  After a minute or two more, I said,” Let’s get going.”
Truth be told I could have used a few more minutes of rest.  It was very hot out there reaching 90 or so and I was sweating up a storm.  I had drunk half of the powerade I had with me and we weren’t a quarter of the way through the ride yet.
As we set off there was another short downhill and I let the bike run free, quickly breaking away from Juan and getting up to a quarter mile ahead of him.  Of course there was another bit of uphill and he quickly caught me as I once again dismounted and had to walk for a bit.
We rested at the top and I could tell he was wanting to get rolling, so we mounted after the briefest of rests.  It was just enough for me to drink almost all of my powerade and get rolling.  That was a mistake as we had another gentle incline and I started to get a hitch in my side.  It took me back to my grade school days and one particular day when I went home for lunch.
I had forgotten some homework at home.  This was in the era before cellphones and constant communication.  I didn’t need the homework until after lunchtime so I decided that I could make it home and back during the lunch period.  Now we actually lived just under a mile from the school.  I wasn’t any type of athlete but I figured I could try to make it by running both ways.  Sure I was a husky lad back then in the 5th grade or so, but I wasn’t obese by any means.
As I ran along I started getting a cramp in my side, what we would call a stitch.  My best guess now was I was getting a cramp from drinking too much water.  If I slowed down and walked I was OK, but if I tried jogging the stitch came back.
I was experiencing the same thing on my bike.  If I started pedaling quickly on the uphill, my side started hurting and I knew that I had drunk too much too fast. The catch 22 was that if I got off and walked, it was my back that was hurting me.  Fortunately that uphill was relatively short and we were into a nice downhill, at the bottom of which was the aid station.
Again by virtue of the downhill and my rolling along so much faster under the gravity assist, I beat Juan into the aid station by a minute or two.  I dismounted and slowly walked my bike along, looking for refreshment as well as shade.  I was boiling in the sun.
I did grab a couple of small cups of water and a half of a banana, but not finding a convenient seat nor shade, I just got right back on my bike and pushed on.  In retrospect, that wasn’t a very smart move.
There was a bit of relatively flat road just out of the aid station, but it quickly rose again.  The lack of rest had me once again pushing up the hill even through it wasn’t as steep as some of the others.  I knew that this was to be the highest point of the ride so I was eager to push up it and head down.  I actually had to stop twice up the hill before making it to the top.  It became very apparent that I should have taken a much longer rest at the aid station.  I quickly drained half of my remaining  powerade and was getting quite warm.
I had been fighting with the committee in my head on every one of the hills.  They kept telling me that I was in no kind of shape to be doing this.  That I was too unprepared.  That I was holding others up and being selfish.  It was getting harder and harder to disagree with them.
Fortunately it was time for a fairly long downhill and I felt good on the way down, except I wasn’t really cooling off.  The heat was really starting to affect me.  Add to that the need to stop a few time on the way down due to stops signs and traffic lights and by the time we hit the bottom and made the turn to start climbing back towards the M, I was done. The committee had wore me down as much as the heat and hills had, if not more so.
I made it a few blocks into the climb but had to pull over and rest.  Juan was right there waiting with me as was the SAG vehicle.  One of the advantages of being the last riders on the course is that the SAG vehicle wasn’t far away.
“I’m done. I’m way too hot and I’m feeling just a bit faint.” I said as I got off and was determined to not go any farther.
“Why don’t you grab the rest of your hydration and have a seat in the air conditioning in the SAG wagon,” Juan suggested.  He really didn’t want me to quit.
“No, I’m done.  I know my body and there is no more left in the tank,” I replied. The committee had convinced me.
“Are you sure.  I have your bike, go sit in the A/C and see if it helps.”
At that point the driver of the SAG was there asking if we were OK.
“I’m done.  I’m too hot and don’t have anything left.”
“OK, come and get in the truck and relax,” the driver said as he grabbed my bike and put it into the back of the pickup.  It was a bit of a struggle getting up into the cab as it sat pretty high, but sitting in the A/C felt wonderful.
We sat there for a few minutes and Juan came back over and asked how I was.
“Better, but I’m done.  Thank you.”
“I’ll see you at the finish line,” he said and headed out on his bike.
Now I had thought that they were going to run me back to the M and then head back out onto the course, but that wasn’t the case. With me along for the ride we continued following the back of the pack of riders.
“Does it make you nervous when we follow you,” Ted, the driver, asked.
“No not really nervous, I just feel bad for holding everyone up being so slow.”
About that time Juan had pulled over for another as we had come upon a father and daughter who were on the side of the road.  It seems that he was suffering from the heat as well.  Their bikes went into the bed of the truck and they joined me in the back seat of the cab. No I was actually feeling much better and seeing that there was only a couple of miles to go back to the M was thinking that I should get out and ride it.
The committee quickly overrode that idea saying that I would look ridiculous if I made that decision and then didn’t make it.  Unfortunately I listened to them for the second time.
About this time 3 or 4 rider passed us which was a surprise as we had thought we were at the back of the field.  We surmised that they must have made a wrong turn, or had topped somewhere out of sight along the way and we passed them.  Ray got on the radio and asked if someone could sweep the course to make sure no one else was left behind.
We continued on behind the riders until the sweep vehicle caught up to us as we were nearing the M.  At this point Ted peeled off and headed towards the start area while the other vehicle brought up the rear of the field.
As we pulled into the start area, I jumped out and they handed down my bike.  I got on it and rode over to the tent area where I spotted Linda and her friend Kim.  They had come out to greet me on my completion of the ride and were going through all of the vendor tents.
I snuck up on her and surprised her being there so soon.
“Good Job honey,” she said.
“No, I didn’t make it the whole way.  I had to SAG out.  I was just too warm.” I told her.
“But you did the best you could.  How far did you go?”
“Just over half way.”

“I’m still proud of you,” She said.  I was full of mixed emotions.  I was mad at myself for giving in and for feeling the least bit of pride in the compliment she had given me.  I didn’t feel like I deserved any credit.  In my mind it was a n utter fail.  I had been so sure I could do this with no problem and then to not make it but half way – it was an Epic Fail.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It starts tomorrow...

The NaNoWriMo event for 2013 kicks off tomorrow (actually midnight tonight) and I can't wait.  I have been chomping at the bit to start writing but have stayed my hand to keep with the spirit of the event.  I have decided on a topic and even loosely planned out some plot points to make throughout.

And a title:  A Quarter Ton to Kona.

I hope it will be an inspirational fictional biography of someone who later in life decides to become and athlete, overcome very stiff odds and obstacles in order to complete an Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Of course as with any good story he may or not make it to Kona.  He will have some big obstacles to overcome and hopefully will make it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What should I write about????

This is a question that has been worrying me for the last few weeks.  I thought I had it nailed down, until another thought struck me that just sounded so much better.  Right now my plan is to write on this new subject for my novel for NaNoWriMo.  the dilemma has me thinking though, what do author's do who produce multiple books per year, to get inspiration.

I would think they would try to stay on topics that interest them and about which they have some knowledge, but I'm finding, through research, that isn't necessarily the case.  I've read many tips and how to's that authors have put out that insist they start with a very vague notion of a topic or even just with a character and let the novel flow where it may from there.

Others have posted that they put together fairly detailed outlines and plots points and scene descriptions from which they build the story.  I guess what I'm really finding is there is no one right or wrong way to go about this creative process. Its a fairly organic and messy process, this creation and it often follows its own form regardless of how the author tries to shape it.

For this project I have a fairly loose plot with a few main points I want to introduce and make sure are included, but I'm not necessarily stuck on making sure any one point is included in the final story.  I'm going to put in what seems to fit and leave out the rest.  I know there will be many other things that will occur as the story is written that I can't even think of today.

My goal for the month is to create a first draft of what I hope to be an inspirational story with its roots in reality but still a fantasy.

Monday, October 7, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo????  No?  neither had I until about 10 months ago when I stumbled across it when looking at information about writing a novel.  I was looking for inspiration and found this site: .  Here was an organization dedicated to helping individuals write a novel or novels.

Their main focus to an annual event called the National Novel Writing Month, which occurs each November and has as its goal the writing of a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month.  How cool!

Anyway I am going to participate in the event this year and I urge anyone else who ever thought about writing a novel to check it out as well.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Arturo’s Story - part 1

The bag felt heavy in his hand.  This was a great responsibility and he knew he had better not screw this up.
“Si, Jose.  I can do it.  Don’t worry about me.” He said with a sureness he didn’t really feel.

“I know you won’t fail me.” Was Jose’s response.

With that Arturo quickly left the room and headed towards the front door.  He was acutely aware of his surroundings.  The smell of the burritos and rice that was cooking, the sounds of laughter from the other room, the dimly lit hallway with little shafts of light from holes in the shades highlighting the dust motes swirling lazily in the heat.

He opened the door, glad to be away from that presence, but knowing that he had a great task ahead.
The boards creaked as he descended the stairs and he almost jumped at the noise.  He was trying to blend into his surroundings, to avoid drawing attention to himself.  That was his special talent.  He could walk through a crowd without being noticed – that is as long as he belonged there.

He remembered trying to use his special talent over in the rich neighborhood, among the socialites.  It had failed him miserably and he had drawn too much attention to himself. So much, in fact, that he caught a charge for the blunt he’d had on him that day. It was an important lesson – keep to the streets where he belonged.

That’s where he was today – where he belonged. 

The only problem was that he wasn’t himself.  The package he held made him nervous and that made him stand out in the crowd. His talent was failing him.

“Get ahold of yourself” he thought. “Calm down and go with the flow. This is a day like any other day.  You are just cruising through from point A to Point B. Relax.”

His internal mantra was working.  He was starting to relax and as he did he faded from people’s consciousness.  If you had asked anyone he passed, they couldn't tell you if he was there or not.

“Three more blocks.  Just three more blocks and I can be done with this mess.”

He desperately wanted to be done, to know that his mother would be OK.  She didn’t even know she was in danger, but she was.  That was the threat, the power Jose had over him.  If he failed to deliver the package, then his mother would be hurt.

The next block was the hardest to get through.  It was his old block, but now it was enemy turf. He had lived here a couple of years ago, but that was before he met Jose and started working for him.  He had been so young and dumb and full of himself then.

Halfway down the block he saw her.  She was just getting out of the car and had her back towards him, but he knew it was her – Angela.  She had been his first major crush and they had hooked up but that was before she met Rodrigo.  He had been crushed when she dumped him, but thought he was over it.

Apparently not as his heart suddenly ached for what might have been.  This in turn blew his cool and started making him nervous.  He might as well have started shouting and flashing lights as he stood out from his surroundings.

People started to notice him – the guy doing the yard work on the corner, the kids playing basketball halfway down the block and lastly Angela turned and saw him.  She knew he was working for Jose.  She knew he was the enemy.  What would she do?

She gave a quick glance to the car and then turned away not saying a word as he passed.

He looked at the car and saw the reason for her glance. Sitting in the drivers seat, on his cell phone was Rodrigo.  He was preoccupied with the call and not looking in Arturo’s direction.  Trying to regain his calm, Arturo maintained his pace and started his mantra again, more fervently to himself.

“you can do this.  No big deal. Nothing to see …”

He heard the door open he had just walked past.

“ain’t no way he’d be fool enough” he heard Rodrigo say but he stopped mid sentence. “Hey. Fool,” he shouted and grabbed Arturo’s arm.

Not expecting the touch Arturo jumped and lost his hold on the package.

He desperately tried to grab it as it fell, but all he succeeded in doing was knocking it into the street by the back of Rodrigo’s car.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Load

It was a struggle, but he was going to keep going.  Sure he heard the voice in his head that said he was too big, that it was too hard, that he would never make it, but he wasn't going to believe that voice.  Giving up was not an option.  He paused at the top of the first flight of stairs and caught his breath. Only for a moment and then he was off again.

He could smell the fumes now, the smell overpowering even the stench of the trash and rotting food. As he climbed stair by stair he looked up to see if he could tell how far he had to go.  He missed the next stair and fell to his knees, gashing them on the metal edge of the stair and nearly dropping  Leah in the process.  Blood began to drip down his shins from the cuts but there was no time to assess the damage.

He resettled his burden and pushed himself to stand up and move forward.  Three more steps and he was at the next landing.  There was a door, the paint long faded and covered in filth.  Was this the exit?  He didn't know.  His hand reached out for the handle, but even before he touched it he knew, this wasn't the way out.  He was still far below the street level.  He tried the door anyway and the noises from beyond were deafening.

Quickly he closed the door and started up the next flight.  His legs were starting to burn and he was feeling weaker by the second.  One step at a time.  Left foot. Right foot.  Left Foot.  he made it to the next landing and had to rest, just for a few precious seconds.  He stood there his breath coming in gasps.  he couldn't get enough air into his lungs.  The fumes didn't help, nor the mucus collecting in his throat as his nose ran down his face.

His shoulders and arms were burning now as well, holding his load.  He tried to see if she were still alive but in the dim light he couldn't be sure.  He knew there was no way he was leaving her behind and with marginally renewed strength, started moving forward once again.

As he struggled up this flight he noticed that the air was slightly fresher, a little cooler.  he almost felt a breeze on his face.  looking up to the next landing he saw a sliver of light coming from under the door.  This had to be it, this had to be the exit he had been fighting to find.  5 more steps.  He struggled his legs getting wobbly and weak.  It was all he could do to make it up the last stair.

He pushed on the door and it moved slightly then hit something.  It wouldn't open any further.  He tried again, pushing with what little strength he had left and it moved another inch.  He collapsed on the floor, still cradling Leah.  His breath was coming in gasps.  in the sliver of light from the door he looked at his love.  He face was ashen.

He refused to admit what was obvious, the falling debris had done too much damage.  she was gone.  He still hoped for a miracle but it wasn't to be.  The last 3 hours of digging and climbing hadn't been enough.

An anguished cry broke from his lips as the truth of the situation filtered into his exhausted brain.  his love was gone.  he hadn't saved her.  he heard a pounding on the door and voices yelling.  His cry had alerted the mob outside.  More noise and the door was flung open blinding him with the intense light.

Looking up he thought he was looking at an angel as a young woman with wild hair was framed in the doorway with blinding light behind her.

That was the last thing he saw.  The blast from from the second bomb incinerated him, Leah and the woman in less than a tenth of a second.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The chore

"Man I just can't shake this feeling.  I need to do something, but I just don't know what."

"Was it work related?  Was it something for your family?  Does it have to do with your trip?" Mani asked, trying to be helpful.

"I just don't know," was John's muttered reply as he lost himself in thought once more.

He knew there was something he had to do, something he had to create and it felt very important. No time to worry about it though, the truck had arrived and it was time to work.

As they opened the rear doors to start unloading the trailer, there was a thunderous crash as the rear most crate came crashing to the ground.  It was followed by the tinkling of broken glass from inside the crate.

"aww Shit!  Why the hell didn't they stack it right?" roared Mani.

"'who knows.  I'm just glad it didn't hit me!  Hey Dumbshit, who loaded this trailer?"

"Your mama!" yelled George in his pathetic attempt at humor.  No real answer was forthcoming and it really didn't matter.  They would have to clean up the mess created by someone else as usual and face the bosses' wrath for the broken equipment.

" it?" asked Mani.  John had missed it lost in his own thoughts.

"Do you think they will do it?" he asked again noticing John hadn't been paying attention.

"Do what?"

"Announce who gets promoted to the next level today," was Mani's exasperated reply.  He sometimes wondered why he tried at all.  Most conversations with John were predominately one sided on his part.

The promotion.  John had successfully blocked it from his mind for the last few minutes, but now it was back.  The idea that he could, somehow move up to the next level filled his every waking moment since it had been announced last week.  His longing to move up, to improve his life was almost too much.  He wanted it so bad it hurt.

Before the announcement he never even dreamed that something like this was possible.  He had been happy with his station.  Now, it wasn't enough.  He had to have more.  More power. More privilege. More money. More of everything.

As they removed and stacked the last box from the truck, Mr. James pulled up in his jeep and was yelling at them before he even got out.

“Why isn’t that put away yet?  I don’t pay you to stand around looking pretty, I pay you to work.  Get those boxes stowed in the locker and get this mess cleaned up.  Who broke this one?  Do you have any idea how much that is worth?  That is a years’ wage smashed on the ground…”

Mr. James went on and on, but having heard it all before, John once again tuned out everything but his own thoughts on the promotion as he went about his work, moving and stacking the crates.

He fantasized how he would buy his new bride everything her heart desired.  New furniture, new clothes, flowers everyday.  He would spend his free time hunting the biggest game and bring her the finest skins.  He could see himself stalking his prey and driving home his blade.

Wait, something had changed.

John came back to the present and noticed everyone had stopped what they were doing and were staring at him.  Looking down he realized he had acted out his fantasy of hunting.  At his feet lay Mr, James with a knife in his throat.

At that moment his life changed.  All hope of advancement was gone.  All he could do was to run. So run he did.

He ran out of the compound and into the wilderness. He could hear the guards raising the alarm, but he was intent on nothing but escape.  He was just about to make the jump into the river when the bullet found him.  I pierced his back, dead center and smashed through his spine, exiting from his breast in a spray of blood.

He crashed to the ground. Aware of the commotion as the guards ran over to him, but unable to move as his lifeblood poured from his chest and soaked into the ground.

His last fleeting thought was regret that he would never see his wife again.