Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaNo 2013: Day 20

Today's excerpt is an interesting one for me as a medical student. On one hand, I have to go with the plot. On the other, I feel that by writing this, I am furthering a misconception about the concept of brain death. As such, this excerpt will be followed at the end of the post with some information pertaining to said topic.

"And on today's broadcast, we bring you the unusual story that seems to have caught everyone attention. A local man, previously declared brain dead, is now sitting up and talking to his family. This is the latest in the string of incidents that many are calling miracles at St. Christopher's hospital downtown," the anchor reported.

Sophia raised her eyebrow and focused on the story as the picture changed to a scene in front of the hospital.

"The doctors told us he was dead, that his body was only functioning because of the tube down his throat. They took out the tube, and he stopped breathing, for a full five minutes. Then, all of a sudden, he's gasping and sitting up in bed," a younger woman explained, clutching a tissue in her hand.

NaNo Stats:
Days: 20
Words Today: 1721
Total Words: 24,175
Words Remaining: 25,825
Average Words/Day: 1209

Educational Information:

There are two ways in which physicians can declare someone dead. The first is the traditional cardiac death, when the heart stops beating. After all, if the heart isn't beating, blood isn't flowing through the body, and thus your tissues die. Technically speaking, the heart needs to have stopped for a certain period of time before death can be called, as people's hearts stop quite often and this can be reversed, either naturally (someone passes out because their heart stops for 2-3 seconds, then restarts), or by us (CPR, or a pacemaker/defibrillator).

However, the second way in which physicians can declare someone dead is by declaring them brain dead. It's actually a fairly involved process to declare someone brain dead, and requires several tests to be performed by two separate physicians. It is not something that is taken lightly. Basically, the person does not have any signs of consciousness (withdrawing from pain, for instance, or eyes that follow a target), nor can they have some basic reflexes, including the drive to breathe. The final test for someone who is brain dead is removing them from the ventilator that is by definition keeping their body functioning, and, ultimately, their heart stops beating. These people can have bodies that are kept alive by the ventilator and medications, but are dead. They are most often put back on the ventilator after 5 or so minutes, and donate their organs. These organs are generally the most likely to survive being transplanted, and are considered better than organs given by those who die from cardiac death.

Bottom line, brain death = death. It is not possible to recover from it, and people do not make miraculous recoveries from it. It is not akin to a coma, where someone is unresponsive, but still dead.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NaNo 2013: Day 19

Sophia's getting more and more confused now. Things are happening and she's once again struggling to figure out what they all mean. But she'll get there eventually. I think within the next couple days, I'll be writing the reveal of the main plot. Should be interesting.

Excerpt for today:

She took a deep breath and turned to him. "I'm not sure I'm supposed to tell you this, but I've spoken to my Nana."

He raised his eyebrow. "And this is special because...?"

She blew out a frustrated breath. "She's been dead for five*** years. And as far as I can tell, she hasn't been walking the Earth like you during that time. She's been moved on."

He stared at her for a full minute, trying to process the information. "How were you able to do that?"

NaNo Stats:
Days: 19
Words Today: 2045
Total Words: 22,454
Words Remaining: 27,546
Average Words/Day: 1182

Monday, November 18, 2013

NaNo 2013: Day 18

Our new character, Neal, is making quite an impression. Sophia's taken a bit of a liking to him. Hopefully he doesn't do a 360 and betray her.

Today was fairly productive.

"Should I be nervous about getting in a car alone with you? After all, that ruins my escape route..." She fingered her phone in her pocket absently, smiling slightly as she walked with him to his car.

"Now why would I want to put someone as beautiful as you in any danger?" he smiled sweetly and opened the passenger door for her.

She blushed and slid into the car, rubbing her hands together to keep the blood flowing to the tips of her fingers. Despite Michael's many warnings, she could see nothing unusualor dangerous about Neal, and was honestly looking forward to the night ahead.

NaNo Stats:
Days: 18
Words Today: 2870
Total Words: 20,409
Words Remaining: 29,591
Average Words/Day: 1134

Sunday, November 17, 2013

NaNo 2103: Day 17

Keeping the progress going today. I had an interesting twist present itself. A new character. He seems rather interested in Sophia as well. Too bad I don't know much about him. I will have to figure it out as time goes on.

To share him with you now, here's today's excerpt.

Sophia leaned back and shook her head quickly. “Of course not, I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble at your job. But if you could maybe read the report, and let me know for sure, I’d be very grateful. No need for the report to even leave the station.”

He watched her for several seconds before he nodded. “Alright, I’ll do it for you. On one condition.”

She smiled and raised her eyebrow. “And what might that be?”

He leaned forward, bracing his hands on the back of the chair. “You go out to dinner with me. Tomorrow night. After I deliver the information, of course.”

NaNo Stats:
Days: 17
Words Today: 1953
Total Words: 17,539
Words Remaining: 32,461
Average Words/Day: 1032

Saturday, November 16, 2013

NaNo 2013: Day 16

Despite having several hours to myself, it took me a really long time to get into the swing of writing. I really think the setting has a lot to do with it, because I tend to be a lot more productive when I'm back in my bedroom than when I'm sitting in the living room with some background noise.

I had to skip over a chapter today, which is almost a first, because I had so many ideas for the following chapter that I didn't want them to flee out of my head. Of course, now I"m going to have to go back and add in a whole chapter, which will be difficult from a formatting perspective, and I'll probably throw something off in the subsequent chapters, but whatever. That's what editing is for, right?

Here's today's excerpt:

Deedee shrugged. “It’s your dream. You can either wake up, or we can risk staying in the dream world and just leave this… place.”

Sophia took a deep breath and imagined being back in her bed. She opened her eyes and frowned at Michael. “I’m not entirely sure how to wake up. I’ve always just… woken up.”

Michael and Deedee exchanged glances, then Michael pulled out a gun, pointing it at Sophia’s heart.

Sophia held up her hands slowly and started to back away, only to bump into one of the large wooden crates being held in the warehouse. “What are you doing?”

Michael shrugged and cocked the gun. Sophia closed her eyes tightly, her heart pounding loudly. A loud bang sounded and Sophia bolted upright in bed. She felt down her body quickly to assess for injuries, then slowly let out a breath. Deedee woke up gracefully, and Michael materialized before her. She glared and slapped him.

“The hell were you doing pointing a gun at me?” Sophia demanded,folding her arms across her chest.

I half did that scene for comic relief, and half because I couldn't figure out another way to have Sophia wake up from a dream without it seeming like she was capable of doing everything on her first try.

NaNo Stats:
Days: 16
Words Today: 2568
Total Words: 15,586
Words Remaining: 34,414
Average Words/Day: 978

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaNo 2013: Day 15

So I had an interview today. I'm not sure how it went. I have a feeling I won't match there. I hope I do, but I have a hunch I won't. Maybe if I start preparing myself now, I won't be devastated come March.

Anyway, I did manage to actually do my word count for today, though it was pretty hard with the kids upstairs running around, and getting a headache, and just overall feeling exhausted. And there's no fluffy couches at my mom's place to chill out on, which makes it really difficult to get into writing. You don't realize how much you rely on certain conditions until you're without them again. Next week's interview should be interesting, since I'll lose about 12 hours to driving, and won't be staying in a hotel, so I'll actually have to play friends with my host. We'll see how it goes.

Here's your excerpt for today. It relates directly to the events in Hidden Souls. I'm not entirely sure how much of this plot I'm going to keep, and how much I'm going to use it to revise HS. We'll see, I suppose.

Sophia heard footsteps coming from around the corner. Without thinking, she jumped behind one of the tall pallets of sand surrounding the outside wall of the warehouse. The lights swung back and forth, the bulbs covered with grime and shining a dull light on the rows of boxes. She could hardly make out her own hand, let alone anything else in the large room. Still, the sound of foot falls got louder as she started to make out a faint whisper. Straining to hear more, she leaned over to look around the pallet.

"We have done everything you've asked," a man said, his voice strained with tension.

"Not everything, I'm afraid. You were to make sure that no one else knew she was here," a soft, feminine voice responded. "I understand that there was a girl here, that she was snooping around in the office upstairs."

NaNo Stats:
Days: 15
Words today: 1766
Total Words: 13,018
Words Remaining: 36,982
Average words per day: 868

On the bright side, the word count in Google Drive seems to match up fairly well with the NaNo validator, so maybe it won't be so difficult to hit my word count on the last day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NaNo 2013: Days 13-14

So I didn't get much of a chance to write yesterday, because I spent half the day on a plane (as it turns out, I can read my book on Google Drive while offline, but they don't allow me to edit it. Which kinda defeats the purpose), and the other half spending time with my mom and sister. And I went to bed fairly early Colorado time, since I had to wake up before dawn on the east coast to catch my plane.

At any rate, I did a bit of catching up today. Not as much as I wanted, but some. It's going to be a real struggle to get this challenge won this year. I'm about halfway toward the goal so far, which means I essentially have to double my word count daily in order to catch up. And with traveling and interviews, that might be a bit of a challenge. We shall see.

Anyway, here's your excerpt for today:

Under the cover of the students rummaging through their bags and the folding desks moving back into place, she glanced at Michael, eyebrow quirked. “You know you’re not supposed to bother me during class.”

He shrugged unapologetically. “You’ve been avoiding Deedee for a full day now. You do have to talk to her at some point, you know. She is your roommate.”

She slung her book bag over her shoulder and shrugged. “Plenty of roommates get along just fine without talking.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “And you know very well that you are not one of those people.”

Uh oh. Looks like there's a bit of trouble in paradise.

NaNo Stats:
Days: 14
Words today: 1173
Total Words: 11,252
Words Remaining: 38,748
Average words per day: 803

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaNo 2013: Day 12

I'm slowly catching up. I cranked out words today, but I can only do so much at a time before I run out of ideas. But I am keeping ahead of the daily goal, so hopefully within the next week or so, I'll manage to get all caught up and hopefully manage to win this year. It would suck to lose on the year that's supposed to be the easiest in med school.

So I mentioned that I hadn't finished editing Hidden Souls prior to starting this one. I haven't decided whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, but more and more things are coming out about Hidden Souls as I write this one. The motivation of the antagonist, primarily. Which is what I was struggling with in the editing. So maybe I'll have a nice plot to work back into Hidden Souls retroactively. Or maybe I'll decide both story lines suck and just trash the whole thing. Who knows.

Here's your teaser for today:

Sophia remained quiet for several moments, before glancing back at Michael. “What did you two talk about?”

Michael tilted his head. “Us two?”

Sophia shrugged, picking at her bedspread absently. “You and Deedee.” At his raised eyebrow, she spread her hands. “Clearly you were talking long enough for you to blurt out something about me being in trouble, and you were convincing enough for her to sprint over here, so I’m just curious what you were talking about initially.”

He chuckled softly. “You’re jealous.”

She glared at him and raised her chin defiantly. “I’m not jealous. I’m just… not used to this whole dynamic with someone else being able to talk to you.”

He tapped her chin with his knuckle and smiled. “Don’t worry. We weren’t talking about you. She was asking about my death. And I gave her the same runaround I gave you.”

She swatted at his hand. “You still haven’t told me how you died. Or your last name, for that matter.”

He shrugged. “Need to know basis, sweets. And right now, you don’t need to know.”

NaNo Stats:
Days: 12
Words today: 2547
Total Words: 10,079 (roughly even with day 6 now)
Words Remaining: 39,921
Average words per day: 839

Also, as an aside, I've been working in google docs for the past week or so, mostly so I could write at work without having to save documents to the hard drive and whatnot. I just copied everything I had into my OpenOffice document, and the word count came out roughly 300 words higher. That does not bode well for validation season.

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaNo 2013: Days... 5-11

Yes. I fail. I know. Last week was just crazy busy. An interview, followed by 4 days of schedule changing shifts. And trying to catch up on sleep. And coming down with a cold. So when I finally finished my rotation on Saturday, I just wanted to zonk out. In fact, I was so exhausted on Friday night that I didn't even eat dinner before I fell asleep around 7. Then I had to be back at work at 7 on Saturday morning to work a 12 hour shift.

On the bright side, I did have a pretty good clinical week. I was called the best medical student in the hospital. Which wasn't a terribly impressive feat, given that it was at like 10 at night, and I'm pretty sure I was the only fourth year working in the hospital. But, I did contribute to saving a man's life, so I guess I deserved it. So, priorities what they were, writing fell to the wayside last week. And then with this cold, thanks to a precious kid I saw in the ED the other night, I just wanted to lay in bed and catch up on whatever I could find on Netflix.

But, I'm back. I managed to sit down and actually crank something out tonight. Not sure how much of it makes sense, but it's a start. I think I'll probably crank out another 1000 words or so before going to bed, assuming I don't fall asleep trying to write them. But I'm still super behind, so it'll be a fun week. On the bright side, I'm almost entirely packed for my trip on Wednesday, and I'll be spending a fair amount of time on airplanes and in airports, so hopefully I'll be able to crank out some serious wordage then. You know, when I don't actually have internet access. One can only hope. This is, of course, assuming that I can access Google Drive offline, or can find some alternative for writing on my iPad. It's really not designed for this type of thing, you know.

Anywho, here's your teaser for today:

A low hum sounded in the distance, and she blinked rapidly, instinctively knowing that something was coming toward her in the dark. Balling her hands into fists, she crouched low and continued to survey the scene. A soft laugh echoed through the room, which grew slowly, steadily more bright, like the pre-dawn sky.

“Who’s there?” she demanded, her voice sounding hoarse and unused.

“Come now, don’t you remember me?” a distorted voice called out.

Sophia looked around for the source of the voice, but the space was empty. Walls began to form around her, trapping her in an enclosed area with no hope of escape. “Where am I?”

NaNo Stats:
Days: 11
Words today: 1754
Total Words: 7432
Words Remaining: 42,468
Average words per day: 684

Monday, November 4, 2013

NaNo 2013: Days 3-4

My excuse for not posting yesterday is I didn't do a whole lot of writing. No real excuse for that part, but it was enough reason not to justify a whole new blog post.

Anyway, I'm really starting to like Deedee as a character. She's fascinating me. I've mostly got her having discussions with Sophia, and much of those will likely be cut whenever I get around to editing this beast. I'm still slightly behind, but I did do an impressive amount of words today, so I think I can catch up fairly quickly. Especially since I'll be travelling a good portion of this month and will thus have a lot of down time. Anyway, excerpt for today:

She clenched her fists at her side and continued to stare at the ceiling. “Of course I'm hurt!” she said, a little louder than she intended. Clearing her throat, she dropped her voice back down to a whisper. “I barely understand what is happening to me, and the one person I thought I could turn to no matter what was actually trying to subdue me, to push me out of the way for her own gains.”

Short one today, but I don't want to give away major plot points quite yet.

Days: 4
Words today: 2411
Total Words: 5778
Words Remaining: 44,222
Average words per day: 1444

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNo 2013: Day 2

I'm trying to decide how lucky it is that the second day of NaNo falls on a Saturday this year. It means that I have a bit more time to catch up on how much I didn't write yesterday, but then again, I'm on an elective with a really odd schedule (I didn't have work Monday, had conferences on Wednesday, work Thursday and Friday, off today, then tomorrow I work a 12, then have Monday and Tuesday off, conferences on Wednesday, a shift on Thursday, an EMS ride on Friday, and a 12 on Saturday). But, after that I'm essentially done for the month, other than interviews, which means I should have plenty of time to write. It'll be a tiny bit of a challenge after the 13th, since I'm flying to Colorado and don't have room for my laptop, which means I'll be making use of my incredibly cheap bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. And by incredibly cheap, I mean that it would probably break if I dropped it.

Anyway, here's your teaser for today:

Deedee smiled. "Dreams. They act as the intersection of reality and something else, almost as if the soul transcends the physical plane to some other spiritual plane."

Sophia raised her eyebrow. "That sounds very metaphysical for someone interested in the neurotransmitters in the brain. Are you sure you're really interested in the neuroscience aspect of things?"

Deedee chuckled. "It does sound a bit strange, but I don't know, I've always been fascinated by dreams. The electrical activity in the brain during dreams is very similar to the awake state--I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that the mind is really experiences something elsewhere through a connection with something that we haven't quite found yet."

Interesting person this Deedee is turning out to be.

Stats for today:
Days: 2
Words today: 2228
Total Words: 3367
Words Remaining: 46633
Average words per day: 1683

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNo 2013: Day 1

Today is the official first day of NaNo. And surprisingly, when I went to access the site, it wasn't crashing on me. That's definitely a good sign. I got off to a bit of a weird start this month, because I had to work in the middle of the day, and then when I actually started writing, I realized I hadn't named one of my primary characters, which kept distracting me from just writing the scenes anyway. So yeah, not my finest moments.

Still, I managed to get up to 1139 words by midnight. Shouldn't be too hard to catch up tomorrow, since I have the first several scenes planned out. Still don't have a major conflict yet. I'm toying around with a couple ideas, and I think it'll be interesting to see where things go from here. I've also come up with a working title for this work. As you may remember, it's a sequel to Hidden Souls, so I'm calling it Reclaiming Souls. It'll probably change, but that's what I've got for now.

I'm going to go back to my practice from a few years ago and actually leave a teaser here everyday. They'll be short, but will all be from something I've written that day. Here's the first one for you:

“Did you live at home before?” Sophia asked, resuming her seat at her desk.

“Oh, no. My brothers are older—they're both grad students here. I lived in their basement. A step up from living with my parents, but not quite spreading my wings just yet. Their sloppiness finally drove me crazy though. There's only so many moldy pizza boxes I can pick up in a week without dying to get out of there.”

As if on cue, two men wandered through the door, each carrying a stack of boxes. “Oh, good, we found you. Stumbled into one of your neighbor's rooms by accident. She was rather accommodating, though.”

NaNo Stats:
Words today: 1139
Total Words: 1139
Words Remaining: 48861
Days: 1
Average words per day: 1139