Camp NaNoWriMo, Week 3

Once upon a time I had an idea for a project. It didn’t pan out. Then I started writing a novella-thing, and it’s taken on a life of its own. That’s the way a NaNo month goes, and certainly the way mine has gone. Big surprise, my work never quite wants to go as planned. It’s obnoxious that way.

This week has been epic. I’m not only caught up, I’m way ahead of schedule. There have been a couple of days where I haven’t gotten much written, but I have made up for it on other days. And! I had a 5K day! 5034 Sunday, which was nothing short of a miracle. I’m hoping to get another 5K day this weekend, and I only have 9K left before I make my goal! I’m so excited!

My story won’t be complete at 30K, it seems. I’m obviously going to keep writing until the end of the month even after I win and see exactly how much I can do before I have to slide under the pile of edits again and work on a different project, and work on major plotting for yet another project. It’s too much for one woman to deal with at one time when I’m also running, working, and trying to watch every bad horror movie known to man. Netflix has a lot of them. I’m going to have to really work at it.

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The Absence of Intellect – Two

Two

“Thank you,” Emily said to the young man who had set up her new computer. He nodded and left her alone in her newly outfitted lab. It was hard to believe that in just over three weeks she had everything she needed to start work on the neural bridge. She hadn’t asked for the computer but it had come anyway and she wasn’t about to complain. She’d been dreaming of this moment for years and it was finally happening.

Before she’d come to work at Apogee Labs, she had been a neurologist, and the idea had come to her then. She’d been working on the theory in her spare time, and on the biochemistry end whenever she could. It had been moving at a snail’s pace but now that she had the equipment and the director’s blessing, she could really do it. Not only that, but it would make development of the new cholinesterase inhibitor go ten times faster.

She was just sitting down to sign into the intranet when her cell phone rang and she glanced over at it. Her stomach turned. There was no name, but she’d seen enough numbers from the hospital to know one on sight. Afraid to pick it up, but even more afraid not to, Emily grabbed her phone and hit the talk button.

“This is Emily Ashton.”

“Good afternoon Dr. Ashton, this is Amie Declan from the billing department at St. Cecilia’s. I’m calling because our most recent invoice for Mrs. Amell’s continuing care was returned to us and we need payment for last month’s charges.” The woman’s tone was businesslike and Emily assumed this was because she had to deal with collecting money from people all day, but she was in too good of a mood to care.

“Yes, I just moved. I thought I’d forwarded my mail but apparently I hadn’t. I can stop by the hospital later and pay. Or can I just set up online payments through my bank?” Emily held her phone between her ear and shoulder as she entered her password into the computer.

“I can set up a bank draft, yes. You’ll have to come by the hospital, but I leave today at three o’clock. I’ll be back tomorrow at nine, though.” She could hear the woman typing on the other end of the line and sat back in her chair.

“No, no, I can come today. I’d rather get things taken care of so there’s no lapse in Melissa’s care.” Emily looked at her smart watch and saw that it was one o’clock already. She doubted anyone in the lab would care if she left early, especially if she was planning to come back. “Give me about an hour and I’ll be there.”

“Of course. And you don’t need to worry about Mrs. Amell’s care. You’ve never been late with a payment before,” Amie said. “I’ll see you in a little while.” She hung up and Emily leaned back in her chair with a sigh. She’d been so preoccupied with the move to her new place that she hadn’t even noticed that the bill hadn’t arrived.

I have to be more careful, she thought. I can’t let anything happen to Melissa.

“Dr. Ashton?” The voice from behind her made Emily jump, and she sat up so fast that she nearly slid off her chair. She scrambled to her feet and turned to see Hunter standing just behind her.

“Dr. Chambers,” she said, exhaling with relief. “You have to stop sneaking up on me.”

“Sorry. I just came down to see if you got everything you needed.” He looked around the room at the brand new machines, some of which had only just come out of their boxes. “I took the liberty of ordering you the new computer. A project like this requires much more computing power than the ones we have now.”

“The ones we have now are pretty great,” Emily said with a smile. “This one is on another level, though. I really appreciate it.”

“Good, I’m glad. You can get started as soon as possible, then.” He picked up a ball of clear tape and held it up, and Emily coughed into her hand.

“I have a bad habit of fidgeting when I watch people setting things up,” she said. “The IT guy was having problems and I started rolling tape around in my hands to keep my mouth shut. It’s hard for me not to just lean over and telling him to just let me do it.” She held out a hand to take the ball but Hunter tossed it into the trash instead.

“I can’t blame you, I feel the same way when I watch someone fumbling around.” He went to one of the machines and studied it. Emily watched him, trying not to be obvious. She had a crush on Hunter that had started when she finally got the opportunity to meet him, and she’d never thought she’d be so close to him. She joined him at the table that held all her equipment, fully aware that she was close enough to reach over and touch his hand. She’d never dare, of course, but it could be done if she wanted to. Instead she smiled up at Hunter.

“Isn’t it great? I had no idea they were making them so small now. The one I saw at the CDC was much bigger, but that was years ago.” She looked over at the computer, which had rebooted itself and was working on updating the program.

“You worked at the CDC?”

“No, just toured the headquarters as part of a conference. Working with viruses and infectious diseases never interested me much. Pharmaceutical research is much more interesting.” She folded her arms over her chest to remove the temptation to get closer. “I guess I’d rather be the one to solve the problems, not discover them.”

“I see. We’re lucky to have you, then.” Hunter went to her computer, which was displaying a login screen.

“You want to be the first to log in? I’d consider it an honor,” Emily said. Hunter smiled and leaned over the desk. She expected to see his fingers fly over the keyboard but instead he frowned. It looked as if he was trying to remember something, and after a painful few moments he straightened.

“This is your lab,” he said. “You should do it.”

“Oh. Sure.” Emily typed in her login credentials, then looked over her shoulder at Hunter. “I can’t believe you got the funding for this so quickly. I couldn’t even get anyone to take me seriously a couple of years ago,” she said, then grinned up at him. “You really are a genius.” Emily expected Hunter to make some sort of joke, but his expression darkened instead.

“It’s none of your business where I got it,” he snapped. “Just do your job.”

“Yes, sir,” Emily said, her smile disappearing. She’d thought they were getting along well but he’d thrown that idea in the trash with the tape ball. “I’ll get started transferring my files.” Hunter didn’t reply to this, only turned and went to the door, slamming it behind him as he left. Emily winced, then stood in the middle of the room trying to figure out what she’d done. She wasn’t expecting them to be best friends, but she hadn’t expected him to be rude either.

She sighed and shook her head, then sat down in front of her computer. The molecular mapping software opened and she started to type in the specifications for the structure she wanted to simulate, then glanced over at her phone. When she saw that it was 1:30, she jumped out of her chair.

“Dammit!” She grabbed her backpack from the coat peg beside the door and slung it over her shoulder, then headed out the door. It took her a minute or so to realize that she was still wearing her lab coat and she ran back to the lab to pull it off and hang it on the peg. Then she hurried down the hallway as fast as her heels would let her. No one seemed interested in the fact that she was leaving and she couldn’t bring herself to care.

Figuring out her boss’ mood swings was not a priority at the moment, getting to the hospital was. She skipped the elevator and went for the stairs, wondering if it was worth going back to work after she took care of her business. It wasn’t as if anyone would miss her.

Training Journal – Back on the Horse

The hardest thing about running (and being active in general) is making it a habit, especially if you didn’t grow up learning the importance of exercise. For me, I have a terrible tendency to let a small thing completely derail me and it’s hard to get going again.

I was doing great running, cross-training, and eating healthy but then I got strep throat and my pain medication stopped working, and everything spiraled down. Every time I wanted to get up and run I felt guilty for not going and I promised myself I’d start up again my next day off. Or the next. Or the next.

As much fun as I had at the Hell’s Half Acre 25K, my time was atrocious compared to the HMSA Masters 25K last year. It impressed upon me the importance of hitting my training hard again if I am going to make it to the marathon. Then I talked myself into being a slug and didn’t run for almost 2 weeks.

Today I decided it was enough. I had a headache when I woke up so I didn’t go to the gym for spin or swim, and was disappointed in myself. I reminded myself that the Trinity River Run’s Skyline Challenge is in October and I have to kick myself in the butt. Now. So I ate something, had a little caffeine, and went to run.

Then I got to the park.

It was 97 freaking degrees out and felt like I’d stepped into a furnace. I could have gone home. I wanted to go home. Instead I went to the gym and ran 3 miles on the indoor track. It definitely felt like I’ve been slacking but it also felt good.

Tomorrow morning I am going to get up and go for a run with my friend Amanda. Even if I’m slow I have to start somewhere. Never give up, never surrender.

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!

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!

Romance Fiction and More