Camp NaNoWrimo, Week Two

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This week was so much better. Now that I’ve started writing Absence instead of forcing myself to edit, I’m flying through the words. Last night I hit 10K words and I’m planning on spending the weekend getting back on track. It’s such a relief, especially after not completing the April session of Camp, and I’m really enjoying writing it.

My very first NaNoWriMo was that was from the start. I loved the characters, partially because one of them was a character from my journal, and even though the story was terrible I had fun and showed myself that I could really write a whole novel in a month. I have every confidence that I’ll be able to finish in November. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.

I also started putting Absence on Wattpad and, unsurprisingly, it hasn’t gotten many reads. I don’t think I was really expecting anything else, as the majority of people who hang out on Wattpad are teens, but it’s there.

Now, back to Emily and Hunter!

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The Absence of Intellect – One

One

Thoughts crashed into one another inside Hunter Chambers’ head as he stared out the window of his office. It was getting harder and harder for him to focus, and it seemed like the more he tried, the more the threads retreated from him. He was the director of Apogee Labs, held a PhD. in biochemical engineering as well as one in organic chemistry, and at the moment he was having trouble remembering the difference between valence and covalence. He wasn’t even certain that one of those terms was an actual word but it didn’t make much of a difference. The meaning of them slipped through his fingers as he tried to grasp them.

“Good afternoon, Dr. Chambers,” a young man said as he walked through the door. He was wearing a dark blue suit with a skinny tie, yet somehow still seemed to look casual. Hunter, on the other hand, was wearing a black suit with a gray pinstriped shirt but his lack of a tie or the use of his top button somehow made him feel conservative next to his assistant.

“Good afternoon, Dale,” he said, suddenly annoyed with himself for being able to remember the kid’s name but knowing at the same time that he was going to have to look up the security code to his alarm system when he went home so he wouldn’t set it off. Again. “Is there a problem?”

“No, just dropping off the quarterly reports.” He handed a thick binder to Hunter, who flipped through them. He was dismayed to realize that he couldn’t simply scan them in an instant anymore, and he wondered how much longer he could keep this up. “Kimberly in payroll wanted you to stop by when you get a minute. Something about approving the latest round of raises.”

“Sure,” Hunter said, tossing the binder on his desk and hoping his frustration didn’t show through. “I’ll call her after lunch. I doubt it’s really important enough for me to go down to HR. Anything else?”

“Dr. Ashton is making friends in the pharmaceutical lab again,” Dale said, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. “Drs. Peltier and Foreman refuse to go into the lab, and the techs are giving it a wide berth now too. Nothing for you to worry about, though. The best thing to do with that situation is just let her have her own corner of the lab.” Hunter didn’t answer and Dale shrugged. “If you need anything else, let me know. I’m going to lunch in thirty.”

“Thanks,” Hunter said absently. When Dale had departed, he jumped up from his chair. Of course, he thought. Dr. Ashton. Not wanting to give himself time to forget what he intended to talk to her about, Hunter hurried out of his office and to the elevator without a word to anyone on the way.

The pharmaceutical development lab was four levels down from his office, and he paced around the elevator as he rode down, repeating the same words over and over so he wouldn’t look like a fool in front of her when he got there. This was too important to screw up.

“Good afternoon, Dr. Chambers,” two women in white lab coats said, looking up from a tablet as he passed. Hunter raised a hand to them, afraid that if he spoke to them he’d lose what he wanted to talk to Dr. Ashton about, and they went back to their work. The people around the lab were used to him being somewhat reserved, and if anyone had noticed his slow decline they hadn’t mentioned it to him.

Unlike the majority of the doctors who were used to his occasional presence, some of the newer assistants in the pharmaceutical lab had never met him in person before and they seemed awed by him. It normally would have made him feel good about himself but today it just served to annoy him. He looked around, and when he didn’t see Dr. Ashton he motioned to one of the assistants.

“Yes, Dr. Chambers? Is there something I can do for you?” Hunter looked over the young man’s badge. Even if dementia hadn’t been creeping up on him, he wouldn’t have known his name, and it probably would have disappeared just as quickly as it did then.

“I’m looking for Dr. Ashton.”

“She’s in there,” the assistant said, pointing to a door at the far end of the room. “She sort of lives in there.”

“Thanks,” Hunter said. He went to the door and put a hand on the knob, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. Talking to her could change his life, all he had to do was explain what he needed. He pulled the door open, still holding his breath, and was immediately hit in the face by a wave of electronic music so loud that he was surprised that he hadn’t heard it when he stepped out of the elevator. He glanced back and saw one of the other doctors look up from his computer with a scowl. Now I see what Dale meant about her ‘making friends.’ Not wanting to draw more attention to himself than he had to, Hunter braved the dubstep and went into the room.

Dr. Emily Ashton was standing in front of a computer at the far end of what looked like a cobbled-together version of the main lab, her arms folded over her chest. She didn’t seem bothered in the least by the music and didn’t show any sign she had heard her boss come into the room. It annoyed him and he clapped his hands to get her attention. Emily jumped at the sharp sound and turned to see him.

“Turn that off,” he said, raising his voice so she could hear him. It made him sound like he was shouting at her and her eyes widened.

“Dr. Chambers!” Emily reached down to her smart watch and turned the dial so the music fell to an almost inaudible level. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I don’t know how you could have with that music,” he said, not intending to sound quite as brusque as it came out. Emily turned slightly pink and tapped her watch to turn it off. Hunter felt a little guilty about his tone. He wanted – no, needed – her help and he wasn’t going to get it if he kept snapping at her.

“What can I help you with?”

“How are you coming along with that…that new…” The words wouldn’t come to him and he wished he could look it up on his phone without feeling like an idiot. “…memory medication you’re working on?” He spoke the last part with what felt like resignation and was relieved to see Emily’s face light up.

“The cholinesterase inhibitor? Really well, as a matter of fact!” She motioned for him to come closer to the computer. “I’ve managed to isolate the part of the compound that results in the gastrointestinal side effects, and it seems to have improved prevention of the breakdown of acetylcholine significantly. I’ve almost figured out how to create a combination medication that adds in memantine which will result in a significant savings to suppliers.”

“I see,” Hunter said, though he had only understood about half of what she was saying. “Impressive. When do you think you’ll have something ready for clinical trials?”

“Soon, I hope,” Emily said. “Maybe six months? Now that I’ve been banished from the main lab, I can focus on my work.”

“Six months,” Hunter said, hoping he didn’t sound as dejected as he felt. Emily nodded.

“Maybe less if I can get approval to go straight to clinical trials.” She raised an eyebrow at him and he looked at her, trying to figure out why. “Approval? You know, from someone higher up?” Hunter felt like he was on the verge of a panic attack. He’d fully intended to come ask for her help but now that he was there he couldn’t even make small talk. Emily sighed and shrugged. “It was worth a try.”

“Dr. Ashton—”

“Want to see something really cool?” She grinned and tapped a few keys on the keyboard and a completely different screen came up. Just as her words hadn’t before, the images meant nothing to him, but Emily seemed to expect him to understand. He didn’t have to spend long trying to pretend he did, though, she was obviously bursting to tell someone. “I’m working on something now that could change the treatment of dementia forever.”

“Really?” She suddenly had Hunter’s full attention. “Tell me more.”

“I call it a neural bridge,” she said, clicking from one screen to another that had a 3D model of cells on it. When she clicked again, an animation started. “It acts as, well, a bridge that mimics the connections between cells that have deteriorated or been lost entirely. Theoretically, it could reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia and retain most if not all memory function indefinitely.”

“That’s amazing,” Hunter said. “Can you really do this?”

“First I need funding so I can get the equipment to create a dedicated lab. No one seems to care if I use this room, I could work through it here.” She leaned on the desk and folded her arms over her chest again. “You’re the only one I’ve told about it. I have a feeling my colleagues would have a field day if—”

“I’ll get you funding,” Hunter said, not letting her finish. Emily looked at him, surprised. “Make a list of the equipment you need and give it to me.” She opened her mouth to speak just as his phone rang, and he held up a finger. “What is it?”

“Sorry to bother you, Dr. Chambers, but we’ve got a problem,” Dale said. “The power’s out on the entire third level and the generator’s not working. Dr. Evens says we’ve got about three, maybe four hours before the frozen things start getting unfrozen.”

“Is that the technical term?” He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. “Never mind. I’m on my way. I’ve got to go,” he said to Emily. “We’ll talk more later. Just get me that list.” She nodded, looking slightly dazed, and he left before she could say anything else.

As he went up the stairs rather than the elevator, Hunter’s mind wasn’t on the power outage. If Emily’s theory was sound, there was a chance he could not only stop his dementia from worsening, he could reverse the damage and be himself again. He realized that his hands were shaking and clenched his fists to stop it.

She’d get her equipment, even if he had to pay for it himself.

Training Journal – Hell’s Half Acre

img_3853Some people go out partying on Saturday nights. My friends and I run long distances. 25K, to be exact. That’s 15.5 miles imperial. Chris, Becca, Stephanie and I ran the 25K, while Helen ran the 50K after running a 5K earlier for a total of just over 34 miles. Helen is a certified badass with the awards to prove it.

Most of the people I know thought I was crazy. 15.5 miles at 10:00 PM in the middle of summer? Madness! There’s nothing I love more than a challenge though, so I packed up my gear bag and hit the tollway.

The weather was actually fantastic. There was a nice breeze near the river, there was no sun in my face, and the temperature got cooler as I ran instead of hotter. Couple that with an almost completely flat course, add plentiful fluids and nutrition, and I had an awesome time.

The course was a 5K loop, which meant I had to run it 5 times, but it honestly didn’t feel boring or tedious. In fact, when I was finishing my 5th loop I was looking at all the little things I’d gotten used to seeing with a bit of sadness. It felt good to be running and when I crossed the finish line just after Stephanie and just before 2:00 AM, I felt incredibly accomplished.

I chatted with Stephanie for a while, then we walked to our cars and I started to get lightheaded. It was a little odd because I’d been hydrating regularly, eating my gels at the right times, and was eating a banana at the time. I sat on the curb and Stephanie sat with me until I felt better.

I got home a little after 3:30 and took a long, fantastic bath, ate some tacos and went to bed after hanging my new medal on the rack. I ended up getting to sleep at almost 5:00 AM and woke up at 9:30 to take my medication but couldn’t get back to sleep. My afternoon nap was blissful.img_3842

All in all, the Hell’s Half Acre 25K was an amazing time. It was the longest race I’ve done since last December’s 30K and I’m looking forward to starting my marathon training this week. Working from the bottom up to 20 miles again will feel just as good as this, if not better.

As an aside, I love the shirt they gave us. I have this great t-shirt from Lola’s Saloon that has a low v-neck that I adore, but it’s starting to unravel a little and I was hoping for a new one to pop up. This one looks like it has potential to be my new fave! It has a nice deep neck and is kind of soft. Plus, it tells the world that I did fifteen freaking miles! I don’t know if I’ll ever do the 50K, but I also said I’d never do a marathon and here we are.

I think I’m done racing until September. I’ve got the Labor Day 10K then and the CALF 15K, and I’m hoping to be in better shape than my last few races. Back to cross training!

Camp NaNoWrimo, Week One

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This week was an abject failure. I’m not ashamed to say it, we’ve all lived the struggle. Nothing seemed right this week and it was all just kind of off because of the holiday, craziness at work. Historically, when I get stressed I start writing fanfiction as a way to de-stress. Since my current two fandoms are Gotham and The Flash, nothing felt right again. I tried a writing prompt, big ol’ goose egg.

Then, inspiration struck.

As I posted yesterday, I started writing something that has so far flowed from my fingertips beautifully. I went to the Camp site, changed my project to a novella with a goal of 30K, and started The Absence of Intellect.

Currently, I’ve only got about 2000 words but I think I can get this finished by the end of the month! And as an added bonus, you’ll end up reading a complete novella for free. Everybody wins!

I also slapped together a little banner for Absence so the posts don’t look so plain. Please don’t make fun of it, I made it in about an hour and I am definitely not a graphic designer.

Onward!

Something New – The Absence of Intellect

Every now and again I need something to take my mind off a novel. As I’m sure any writer will tell you, the blank page can be terrifying. So can the prospect of editing, and if I was going to get anything done at all, I decided I needed to take a tiny break.

Enter The Absence of Intellect.

A while back I was doing the Yeah Write challenges, and while they weren’t chronological, there was a cohesive story to them. I’m going to do something similar here, only with an actual structure. I don’t know that I’ll ever make it into a book, but it’ll be something I can do to relax and hopefully you’ll like it as well.

I plan on releasing a new chapter/bit every Thursday, starting next week. It’s going to be a love story, of course, and SFW (though probably not a sweet romance). I’ll collect the chapters on a separate page as I post them so you can read the whole thing at once, if you like, and I may post it on Wattpad too.

That’s all the news I have for you today!

Training Journal – Happy Independence Day!

 

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In the spirit of the goofy Snapchat pictures from yesterday, here’s one from last year. His beard is much more epic now. Today I decided to break with my tradition of the last few years and do a 10K instead of my usual 5K. I feel like I’ve progressed past the point of doing 5Ks anymore, unless that’s the only option (Christmas Day 5K, part two of the NYE Double). As Charlotte said “it takes us longer to get there than to actually run the race.”

I’ve really gotten into running in different cities and there was a 10K in The Colony, so I decided it was time to expand my horizons. I also decided it was time to expand my husband’s horizons and was super excited when he agreed to do the 1 mile fun run!

You see, my husband is disabled. For the last couple of years, extended physical activity has caused him pain due to degenerative disc disease in his back that is compressing his sciatic nerve. He’s on a ton of medication, and as I’m sure you can understand, it takes a toll on his mental health. I was hoping that getting him out and doing a 1 mile walk would make him feel as good about himself as running does for me. I am happy to say that it was a success! I stood at the finish line and watched him come over it while I waited for the 10K to start, and saw him get his medal. I’m so proud of him!img_3832

As for my own race, I was woefully underprepared for it. Since my arthritis has gotten worse in my hands, I’ve been trying to find a new medication and now that I’ve got the pain under control, I’m finally able to start running again. Unfortunately, it’s been since the Military Miles half marathon since I’ve gone running, or even to the gym.

Much like my last two races, it was hot. Extremely hot, and the sun was in my face. Oh, and I found out when we got there that I was out of sunscreen. I won’t be surprised if I have a sunburn. Ugh. In spite of the heat, the course was nice. We went around the lake and through some trails, and even though I had to go extremely slowly once I got hot I enjoyed the run. The medal doesn’t hurt either, and it’s super cute and petite. I’d love to do this race again next year when I’m a little better prepared, and maybe Eli could do the 5K. I’ve already got him halfway convinced to do the 5K on Thanksgiving while I do the 10K.

img_3827I’m so glad he and I could share the experience! He put his medal on the Saints Row IV cardboard standee we have in our place, and I put mine on the rack. Next stop is the Hell’s Half Acre 25K on Saturday, which blessedly takes place at 10:00 PM. It’ll still be hot, but as Eli pointed out, it’ll be getting cooler as I go on instead of hotter, and there won’t be any evil sun to shine in my face. I’ll keep you updated, of course!

Interview With Gabi Grace

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I was interviewed by Gabi Grace about Drowned History for her blog! Head over there and read it to hear about how my husband and I got back together after 14 years apart, and the most romantic thing that was ever done for me.

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Not gonna lie, it’s pretty sweet. My husband is a total keeper. He even does silly Snapchats with me.

Drowned History is only $1.99 for Kindle, $8.99 in paperback, or FREE with Kindle Unlimited! Get your copy today here.

What’s that? You want proof of the silly snaps? All right, but don’t tell him I showed you.

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