So far, all of my novels have been NaNoWriMo or Camp Nano projects. The healthy competition, the camaraderie, the deadlines, and the achievable daily goals create my perfect writing environment that I haven’t been able to replicate other months of the year. I take that back, I haven’t actually “won” at Camp yet, but then again I haven’t “lost” at NaNoWriMo in November yet either. So I guess I only have my stuff together in November. But Nano, I just can’t quit you, so I keep trying to succeed at Camp in April and July.
The great thing about Camp Nano is that you set your own goals, whether it’s how much you want to write (words, pages, or lines) or for how long you want to write (minutes or hours) in the course of a month. You’d think that’d make it easier to win for me…
This April, I’m setting my goal at 25,000 words to get started on the first draft of my next Jane Austen retelling. My plan is to have three books written, in some draft form at least, before I release the first one. As I’ve mentioned before, the first book is the story of Emma. This next one will be Pride and Prejudice, and finally Persuasion with overlapping characters in each book.
Speaking of Jane Austen, if you’re in the mood for something goofy, I started an Instagram account with colorfully rendered Austen characters and quotes.
Read on for an excerpt from the first book introducing “Mr. Darcy” and “Elizabeth Bennet,” who will be (unless I change my mind) club manager Mike and Dominican-Canadian bartender Sharnita in this story.
Down a short, dark hallway from her father’s office was a spacious but empty office for Mike, the general manager of the club. He was never there. Mike was in charge of the day-to-day operation since Lonnie had essentially retired. Although Mike was always reachable by phone, he let the team run itself. He came in once a week to figure out the schedule and address any issues that had come up, and then he was out again. Who knows where he went. Brit asked her father time and time again why he hadn’t fired Mike, but in the end, he always got things done. Somehow.
Brit settled behind the computer as someone peeked into the doorway. “Oh, I thought you were Mike.”
Glancing up, Brit greeted who she thought was one of the new bartenders Mike had just hired. The gorgeous black girl looked more like someone who could’ve been in a print ad for the club rather than working in it. Brit wondered how Mike had scored her as an employee. “Anything I can help you with…?” Brit paused, wanting to call the girl by name, but she didn’t know her name. She hoped the girl would say no.
“Something came up. I need to ask off for tomorrow night.”
“We’re going to be short-staffed tomorrow with the—” Brit stopped and shook her head. She didn’t know why she was doing Mike’s job for him. “You know what, send Mike a text. I don’t know how the schedule looks.” The schedule, Brit knew, was a mere turn of her head away, posted on the wall immediately to her left.
“Oh OK, good idea.” The girl turned halfway to leave, but then said, “Hey, you’re Brit, right? Brit Byers?”
“You probably get that a lot. Sorry. I’m Sharnita.” Sharnita’s hopeful smile faded without a response from Brit.
“I’m sorry. I’m zoning out. That time of the month, you know?”
Sharnita exhaled in relief. “Yeah, totally.”
“Hey, Sharnita, have you heard of this J.J. Mack guy?”
“Yeah! He’s hella hot. And you know, talented, if you’re into that sort of thing.”
Brit laughed, and Sharnita’s eyes looked pleased.
“I’m going to get him to play here. We have to have him.”
“That’s awesome. I gotta get back, but it was nice meeting you, Brit.” Sharnita waved a hand with manicured long fuchsia nails.
Follow along with me and see if I get anywhere close to my goal this time!