Photo of the month

Hard at work in the writing sanctuary, our intrepid novelist knocks out a few more words to his work in progress, "The Gate." The 50,000-word writing marathon is part of National Novel Writing Month, which you can read more about in this month's newsletter. Photo by Glenn.

November 2003

Halloween is the one time of year when it is permissible to commit assault with a deadly weapon. Glenn tackles the annual defacing of the pumpkin. Photo by Roni.

What a scary soul is this! What the mouse sees... Photo by Glenn.

...And what we see. Gives you sort of a different impression, no? Photo by Glenn.

Glenn assists Ben... er, Grim... with his face prior to making the rounds of the neighborhood. Photo by Roni.

The Grim Reaper prepares to terrorize the town on Halloween Night. The cool thing about this costume is that it covers the wearer's mouth and delays the consumption of various sugary substances. Photo by Roni.

Unmasked! Grim... er, Ben... sorts through his Halloween haul. Most of this got converted into a pack of Pokemon cards. Photo by Glenn.

Homework time for the Gehlke clan's youngest member. Ben is working on fractions, geometry and long division these days. Photo by Glenn.

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Another year, another 50,000 words

November 24, 2003

In last month's newsletter we regaled you with 4,603 words about our vacation to Seattle. (And that is counting only the section that dealt with the vacation!) This month's missive will be considerably shorter, thanks in part to it having been a rather uneventful six weeks and the fact that we are conserving our writing powers for the home stretch of National Novel Writing Month.

You see, during National Novel Writing Month — or NaNoWriMo, as it is known affectionately by those who participate — the goal is to draft a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Specifically, the month of November. This is the third year that we have volunteered for this insanity, so being old hands at it you might think we have perfected our technique, found more efficient methods of reaching our goal than staring glassy-eyed at a computer monitor for hours on end grinding out page upon page of purple prose. Of course, you would be wrong. NaNoWriMo is more than an enjoyable pastime; it is an obsession, a life unto itself. Word count is everything, but pause even a moment during your writing session to add a little quality to your quantity and you will quickly discover why so few people who participate in NaNoWriMo actually finish by the deadline.

Roni's and Glenn's approaches differ markedly. Roni does not write every day, but when she does it is usually in 10,000-word spurts on her laptop. This is not to say that her muse doesn't strike more often, only that she has a tough time making the time every day after taking into account her work with the chamber of commerce, articles for the newspaper, and shuttling Ben to and from school and appointments. Her work in progress is titled "Maggie May Revisited." It is actually the same book she started last year during NaNoWriMo, but she is expanding it and trying to add another 50,000 words within the 30-day contest period.

Glenn has been going about his book the old-fashioned way, slugging out a few hundred words each day in an effort to meet the goal by month's end. Most of his writing has come late at night after work, with occasional early afternoon sessions to help bolster the word count. As of this writing he is closing in on the goal, with about 42,000 words in the can. His novel, titled "The Gate," is about a 30-something cable installer who stumbles into the middle of criminal activity when he is asked to fill in for an AWOL construction worker at a new housing development.

You can track our writing progress, or lack thereof, by visiting and clicking on the Authors & Novels heading. Just do a search for us under "Gehlke" to find out our latest word count.

In the past we have talked about the strange changing of seasons that is uniquely California. Most places enjoy spring, summer, fall and winter. Here along the Delta we get spring, summer, summerfall, and fallwinter. In other words, our summer lasts until winter begins, usually around early to mid-November, when the temperature nosedives and the fog and rain return. This year, fallwinter began on Halloween. Just a few days before then we were turning on our car air conditioners and wearing tee-shirts and shorts as we sweltered in 90-degree summer-like weather. But on the morning of the last day of the month came the rain and blustery temperatures. Naturally the first rain of the season came on the day we were supposed to take Ben trick-or-treating.

Fortunately the clouds parted before evening, and Ben was able to make his candy run without tromping through puddles. Despite being a Friday night, the Halloween crowd in our neighborhood was pretty thin. We managed to give away most of our chocolates and hard candies. Ben's take was a little less than in years past, but it didn't faze him much as we have a deal going where he can turn in his goodies for a toy at the end of the night. He prefers the Pokemon cards he picked out, and we have less fear of the dentist the next time he's in the chair.

Speaking of the dentist, ours has been seeing a lot of us since September, when Glenn suffered a broken tooth the day before our Seattle vacation. Fortunately it didn't bother him for the trip, but it did require a crown. Anyone who has had one of these knows how much fun it is. Ben also went in for a cleaning and had his first cavity, although fortunately it is on a baby tooth that the dentist says will come out soon, so it is going unfilled for now. Cleanings, drillings and fillings. We love our dentist and he loves us. So much so that he plans to yank Glenn's last remaining and partially bone impacted wisdom tooth sometime in January. The dentist says Glenn would be "wiser" to have it out now than wait until he's in his forties when his jawbone will be more brittle. Such fun do we look forward to in the new year.

As we slide on toward Thanksgiving and prepare for the holiday season, we have been seeing a lot of new stores popping up in neighboring towns. Antioch has become a shopping Mecca with the opening of the Slatten Ranch strip mall that includes a Bed Bath & Beyond, Cost Plus, Target/Greatland, and our very own Barnes & Noble, where we visited last weekend with everyone else in east Contra Costa County. So nice not to have to drive all the way to Concord for a big chain bookstore anymore. Sometime next weekend we'll eat something that resembles a Thanksgiving dinner and put up the old plastic Christmas tree. Then we'll all sit down at our keyboards and hack out that last thousand or so words of our NaNoWriMo novels. It's not the stuff of exciting monthly newsletters, but it's where we're at for now.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and peace be with you during the holiday shopping season. (In case you're counting, that's 1,020 words.)

Glenn, Roni and Ben (...and that's four more!)
This page was last updated on Monday, December 22, 2003 at 00:54 hrs.

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