Day’?s Verse:
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of (R)knowing (S)Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…
Philippians 3:8

Tonight instead of advancing the plot, I went back and filled in back-story. If you want the actual text of what I did, you can read beneath the fold.

Read the details.

In Day 2, I expanded the section where Marion is at home with her family:

Evenings in the O’Grady household tended to be a little crazy. For one thing, Marion arrived home at unpredictable times thanks to the hectic, often extremely demanding nature of her job. The twins, rambunctious after a day at kindergarten and in daycare, often refused to settle down until their mother came home. Amanda, at sixteen, preferred to stay in her room and listen to depressing music, while Teddy, a sophomore at a Seattle Community College, spent evenings out. Marion and Tom preferred not to know what “out” entailed, now that Teddy was legally responsible for his own actions.

Friday afternoon, Rich Gardner had told Marion to go home early—Drake had, apparently, had an exciting flight home, and would come in to the office on Monday. Leaving at 2:30, Marion reflected, felt a little bit like the one time she had skipped class in high school to go see Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in theaters with her two best friends. But this time she had permission. Leaving this early was not sneaking away from work. It wasn’t. It wasn’t! Traffic certainly was light on the 520 bridge in the middle of the day. To her right, rather fierce waves crashed up against the pontoon bridge, sunlight flickering and glittering on the surface. On the left side, in the calmer water, she could see the University of Washington arboretum, with a few canoers out enjoying the sunny day. Several sail boats smoothly sliced through the water farther out. Looking south, Marion noticed that Mt. Rainier was out—a clear sign of really remarkable weather.

In Bellevue, she called Tom. Tom answered in his business voice: “O’Grady Construction, this is Tom O’Grady.”

“Hi, honey. Do we need anything at the store for dinner?”

“Oh, it’s you. Um…” Since he planned dinners and grocery shopped most of the time, her question came as something of a surprise. “Lettuce, tomatoes, canned tuna, an onion… I think canned black olives, too.”

“We have some in the cupboard already,” Marion told him. “You know dear—oops! What a jerk. Somebody just cut in front of me.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving and talking to me at the same time,” her husband suggested with a touch acerbically. He disapproved of cell phones on principle, and their use by drivers specifically.

“It’s fine. They’re from out of state.” She squinted. “Although I’d hardly expect somebody from Montana to be so aggressive…”

“I think that’s all we need,” Tom said, trying to get the conversation back on track. “If we have olives, you don’t need to get more. They’re not exactly wildly popular around the house.”

“They’re in the far back of the middle shelf of the tall cupboard,” Marion clarified firmly. “I know, and I just recently read that women have excellent memories for high-calorie foods. So it’ll definitely be there.”

“OK, then,” her husband reluctantly acceded. “Lettuce, canned tuna, tomatoes, an onion… We could use more ice cream, if the kids want dessert. That’s it.”

“Will do. I love you dear. I’ll be home in half an hour or so.” As she hung up, Marion reflected on how wonderful it was to commute virtually by herself. Of course, school buses and after school traffic would soon start flooding the roads, but until then, she cruised on towards Issaquah unhindered.

They did not have olives, as it turned out. Marion later recalled that the can she was thinking of she had used in enchiladas the day her in-laws came over for dinner. Despite this drawback, dinner went remarkably smoothly; the twins only scattered food a small radius from their seats and Amanda and Teddy—Ted as he preferred now; Marion struggled to make herself switch—seemed to like the meal well enough. The meal was marked with a minimum of complaining, at least.

Later that evening, Marion sat working at the now-cleared dinner table. She loved methodical work; even her hobbies, cross-stitching, crocheting, and gardening, required diligent attention to detail. She often lost herself in a task, becoming absorbed totally in it. Such had been the case now, until she heard an ear-piercing wail from the living room. Glancing up from her oiling, Marion hollered, “Charles! Leave your sister alone!” The little boy froze, his finger an inch from his sister’s arm. Marion transferred her focus back to her work, carefully rubbing every inch of burnished black steel with protective oil. Cleanliness and smooth action were crucial—

In Day 2, I expanded the ending:

Exiting the cockpit, Drake caught the fight attendant’s beaming smile. As he settled into his seat, Drake reflected on the vagaries of life. Here he’d just been thinking about how he wanted a girl in his life, and now this flight attendant—Janice? Jane?—was practically throwing herself at him.

“Would you like something to drink?” There, see? She could hardly stay away from him for five minutes. Drake took a beer, although he really preferred champagne, and sipped it manfully. He smiled at her and thanked her, careful not to use her name. Reading the nametag would involve looking at her breasts, and he didn’t want her to think he was a boor—although they certainly were large, round, and firm-looking. There was only one way to tell…

Yes, Drake thought as he finished the beer and settled back again, sometimes this hero business certainly did pay off.

In Day 3, I made Drake have a hard time remembering the stewardess’?s name, and I described a few more sights in Sea-Tac. Then I added a bunch to the scene with Drake and his mother:

As they passed into the gleamingly tiled, freshly remodeled entrance to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Drake took his hesitant leave of Janine/Jane/Joelle. “I see my ride,” he told her, catching sight of his mother’s tan 1999 Buick LeSabre at it pulled around the curve of the passenger pick up area. “Gotta fly. But Jane—”

She paused, half turning, the smile already forming around her full, red lips flattening out into an angry line. “It’s Janine.” The teasing look on her face shifted to irritation, but Drake plunged ahead. At least his best bet had been right, even if he’d used the wrong name in the end. He wouldn’t forget again.

“—Let’s get together some time, OK? I’ll call you.” Even as he said it, Drake’s stomach knotted up and his palms started sweating. Call her? When had he last called a girl? What would Mom say? He swallowed nervously as she shouted something affirmatory back at him even as she walked away. The little piece of paper, inscribed with that precious ten-digit code, felt like a live coal in his palm. Then the LeSabre pulled up and the trunk popped, bringing Drake back to reality.

“How was your flight, dear? Took a while leaving, didn’t it?” Sixty-five years had not been gentle to Geraldine, but then, her propensity for brightly-colored track suits, hair curlers, and dazzling white tennis shoes didn’t help, either. Drake had the fee
ling that although she claimed to play bridge with three other old ladies, they actually sat around and talked about their physical ailments all day. How else could his mother be so well versed, not only in her own multitudinous aches and pains, but also in the almost endless physical imperfections of three other people?

Drake settled into the passenger seat with a huge sigh. “Long. I’m wiped. Let’s go home.”

As his mother pulled out into the stream of traffic airport, Drake finally relaxed. He felt the paper with Joelle’s phone number on it crinkle in his pocket. He retrieved it and smoothed it on his knee.

“What’s that?” his mother asked sharply. She had very good sight for her age, and she wasn’t fond of Drake’s interest in girls. “They’ll just use you and leave you,” she often told him. “You’re better off on your own. Don’t make the same mistake I did—marriage was hell. You don’t want it.” Drake wasn’t so sure. Now he looked out the window, seeing but not seeing the small swaths of evergreen trees crowded along the freeway amidst strip malls and office buildings.

“It’s the number for the flight attendant on my plane,” he told her, honestly. Drake believed in honesty no matter what. Times like these, though, made him wished he didn’t.

“Phoenix Alexander Drake,” his mother said, using the middle name as if he was a recalcitrant child, “You know what trouble that’ll get you in to. You can’t trust stewardesses—”

“Flight attendants, Mom,” Drake corrected. “Stewardess is politically incorrect.”

“I don’t care what you call ’em,” Geraldine replied vehemently, waving one hand for emphasis. “You still can’t trust ’em. Here today, gone tomorrow. They’re flighty.”

“Come on, just because Dad was a pilot…”

“I don’t trust those airline people,” his mother said firmly. “Never have, never will. Don’t go getting mixed up with some girl, some flight attendant. You’ll regret it.” Her tone turned sorrowful. “But then, you never did listen to your dear mother. You just go on, see some girl. You’ll forget about me soon enough.”

“I live with you,” Drake said, starting to feel like the recalcitrant child after all. “How could I forget about you?”

“Oh, you’ll go off, gallivanting around, having good times and not even giving a second thought to your old mother, sitting at home waiting for you. Worrying about you.” She sighed deeply. “I suppose that’s all the thanks I deserve for all these years of washing your dishes, doing your laundry, making your bed…” Another deep, sorrowful sigh.

“Mom, please, don’t say that.” Drake put his hand over hers. “I won’t call Jane. Here, see? I’m throwing it away.” He started to roll down his window, but his mother screeched, “Wait!”


“Don’t litter. How many times have I told you not to litter?”

“I just wanted to show how serious I was about not calling her.”

“The car garbage is fine,” Geraldine replied, “Especially if you rip it into little bits first.” So Drake ripped the paper into little bits and stowed them in their non-littering car garbage bag. They drove the rest of the way in silence, Drake looking out the window in a tired daze, wondering what he would have said to Jasmine if he’d called her after all.

In Day 3, I also described Emily’s commute more:

9:05 on Monday morning wasn’t exactly Emily Pennyworth’s favorite time of day. In fact, she could hardly think of a time she preferred less, except perhaps 10:00 on a Friday night when she was still at work. But with Light Box 2007 just released and the whole world snapping up every available copy, Emily’s job had just suddenly gotten much more interesting.

At least she’d had a decent commute in this morning; although it was a long ride from her micro-apartment in downtown Seattle to her job at Titan Software in Redmond, she took it easy. The crisp fall air, the colorful leaves, and bright sun shining off last night’s puddles, all invigorated her. These sunny days, so rare in the increasingly rainy autumn and wintertime, made her glow with happiness at living in such a beautiful place. She felt sorry for those car drivers locked inside their big metal boxes, idling behind another SUV. She often outpaced traffic on places her trail paralleled the road.

Besides, there weren’t really any serious hills on the Burke-Gilman Trail, or the Sammamish River Trail, which she joined later in Kenmore. She particularly liked riding through the University of Washington, seeing all the students on their bicycles riding much more desperately than she. She imagined them late for class or a date, struggling up the hills, trying not to sweat and to arrive looking like they hadn’t hurried.

Then, too, she loved riding along Lake Washington, looking at the outrageously-shaped millionaires’ homes. Did having lots of money somehow make a person want an octagonal house? Or one with all sorts of odd roof projections sticking out here and there? Perhaps, she speculated, the lot size forced creativity. But even small lot sizes couldn’t explain the extremity of some of those homes. Still, she enjoyed looking, and wondering what their insides were like. How would you buy furniture for some of those? Emily figured that, even working at a seemingly rising software company, she probably would never find out what a multi-million-dollar house felt like.

Walking through the rows of gray cubes, she paused to read new Dilbert cartoons posted by their inmates. Despite the company’s apparent efforts to be employee-friendly—Nerf toys often littered the floor in the break room, and they received free pop and coffee—the atmosphere in the depths of the cubicles often felt oppressive. Emily was grateful that her cube area, at least, was close to a window. Sometimes, at the right time of year, she even got a little bit of sunlight on her desk. When that happened, she would sit and marvel at this strange, natural invader into her world of plastic and metal.

She waved to Frank as she passed by his cubicle. He usually arrived before her, despite living twenty miles away and commuting by bike as well. She also admired Frank for his diligence—he had helped her, above and beyond the call of duty, with some of the trickier points of ensuring Light Box 2007’s total security. With Frank’s input, Emily felt particularly sure that nobody would be able to hack into their new operating system.

Arriving at her cube, Emily immediately powered her computer on, then went about settling in. When it had booted up, she opened her email and groaned. “Another 69 emails this morning,” she called to Andy, her next-door cube mate. He, too, always arrived bright and early, pumped up by his breakfast of a half-dozen shots of espresso.

In Day 3, I also expanded on the NUNS security system at the entrance. I also added a section where Drake and Marion meet Emily Pennyworth (although they don’t know it) on their way to the DOT:

A pair of bicycle police officers rode smoothly by and a child hopping in puddles with her mother in tow waved at them.

Just then, Drake noticed a young woman struggling with her bicycle. She seemed to be flipping it upside down for some reason. How odd. She was small, but looked fit, had blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, and Drake saw a big messenger bag and a helmet on the sidewalk beside her. Her jacket looked waterproof, and Drake noticed reflective strips on the sleeves.

“Do you need any help?” He asked, stopping Marion with a hand on her arm. Marion shot him an annoyed look, as if saying, This girl certainly knows more about whatever she’s doing than you do. Leave her alone.

“I just got a
flat,” she told him, her bright blue eyes meeting his straightforwardly. “I’m going to be really late now—”

“Well, maybe I can help,” Drake said, kneeling next to her. “Which wheel is flat?”

“Of course, it’s the rear tire,” she told him, and sure enough it definitely looked like it had no air in it. “The harder one.”

“Naturally, it would be,” Drake agreed, although he wasn’t sure why the back wheel would be worse. “OK, do you have any tools or anything?” Drake said, glancing around as if bike repair tools would magically appear on the sidewalk next to them.

The girl gave him a somewhat pitying look, but patiently replied, “Right here,” and displayed a couple of odd-looking pieces of plastic, hooked on one end and tapering to a flat, narrow curve at the other end.

“What are those?”

“They’re for taking the tire off,” the girl told him. She started rummaging around in the voluminous bag, and Drake caught a glimpse of a bike lock, some batteries, a pair of jeans, and a banana. “If you could just take the wheel off, I’ll find my spare tube…”

“Er, take the wheel off?” Marion’s exasperated sigh didn’t help the situation. Drake shot her a nasty look. “How bout if I look for the, er, tube, and you take the wheel off.”

“Nope, got it,” the girl said, displaying a small square green box. “I’ll take care of the wheel. Just stand back, OK?”

Drake stood back and watched as she twiddled a couple thingies on either side of the wheel. Drake moved in a little closer to see what she was doing. It looked like she was twisting the axle of the wheel or something… Almost magically the girl stood there with the wheel in hand. “Excuse me,” she told him, stepping around the bike. “I need a little room here.”

“Sorry.” Again he stepped back, directly onto Marion’s foot. She said nothing, but her silence was very pointed indeed. “Sorry,” Drake apologized again. This wasn’t going quite as well as he hoped. Then he looked down and noticed the girl had the wheel disassembled.

“Could you just hold this?” she asked, handing him a small bike pump. “I’ll need some help putting in some air in a minute.” Reluctantly, because the pump was rather dirty from having been attached to the girl’s bike, Drake accepted it. He examined it for a while, playing with making the air hiss out of the end.

“Can I have that now?” The girl already had the wheel reassembled. Her dainty, slightly greasy hand stretched out for the pump, and Drake’s fingers brushed hers as he handed it to her. He felt a thrill of excitement at the contact. Then the girl fitted the pump onto the wheel and asked, “Would you be able to just put some air in here? I usually can’t get enough pressure in.”

So Drake, thankful he could help a little bit, pumped air into the wheel until it seemed hard. After a while, the girl said it sounded like the pump wasn’t putting more air in, so she took the wheel and pump back, detached them with a twist of her wrist, and looked up at Drake.

“Thanks for your help,” she said, smiling kindly. “I think I can get it from here.”

“No problem,” Drake said. “Glad we could help.” He brushed his hands off, failing to notice that he had smeared grease on his pants in the process, and continued to the Department of Transportation, gathering Marion with a glance.

“Here you know everything about flying a plane with a laptop computer,” Marion marveled when they were out of the girl’s earshot, “but you don’t even know how to change a bike tire. Amazing.” She shook her head, and Drake thought that she might be chuckling. But Marion wouldn’t laugh at his expense, so it couldn’t be that.

They reached the Washington State Department of Transportation offices without any further excitement.

“I just don’t understand it,” the Department of Transportation manager told Drake and Marion. “Everything is perfect. We’ve checked all the lines; the lights are getting plenty of power. It might be a power surge of some sort…”

Or: My NaNoWriMo profile.

KF quality

5 thoughts on “Action Novel: Day 5

  1. Not sure about this stuff; while it would be important to a character-driven novel, in this context it seems like it’s just increasing the time between Drake’s testosterone-filled escapades, especially the overbearing-mother parts.

  2. This from the same person who just said it needed fewer distinct scenes! By expanding these, I’ve made the shorter, choppier scenes their own sections. This is the “romance novel” aspect of my “action novel written like a romance novel.”

  3. Any way we can access a copy of the novel at this stage in WORD document form? Also, regarding the Seattle Space Needle scene where the far end of the banner falls faster than the end Nix is holding… isn’t Nix’s weight probably greater on his end than the weight of attachments on the other end? The idea of an airfoil of some kind is fun, but I think there needs to be some more physics tucked in.

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