“What was I thinking?!”

Dear patient gentle readers,

As you know, Halloween is fast approaching. For some that means ghost stories, horror movies, costumes and candy. For us here at SS & S, the scares come from knowing that the day after Halloween is November 1st.

Why should All Saints Day be a cause for concern, you might well ask. Well, I’ll tell you. November 1st begins a little project called “NaNoWriMo”,  a thirty day, nation-wide writing challenge sponsored by a non-profit group called the Office of Letters and Light.  The goal is for each participant to write “50,000 words of fiction {theoretically, a novel} by midnight, local time, November 30th”.

In 1999, twenty one twenty-somethings in the San Francisco area decided that if they couldn’t start a band, they’d write novels, the better to entice members of the opposite sex.  That first year, of the 21 starters, six crossed the finish line. Since then their crazy idea has turned into a phenomenon. Last year, 2011, the thirteenth for the challenge, 256, 618 officially signed up to participate and 36, 843 of them “won”.

This year, all three writers here at Stilettos, Stoli and Scribbles, C.C. Cedras, K.R. Brorman and myself, have all lost our minds signed up to take the challenge.

I tell you all of this by way of apology in advance if our blog posts  are fewer and farther between than  usual in November. Know that we’ll all be busy scribbling away, at what we hope will turn out to be creative and entertaining prose that we’ll eventually want to share with the world.

You can find out more about NaNoWriMo at the link. In the meantime, since it is after all the season of tricks and treats, here’s what I hope will be a treat – a snippet from my work in progress:

Waiting with the morning crush of office workers at a bank of elevators in the Javits Federal Building, Frankie eyed the Starbucks kiosk across the lobby with longing. She made a bargain with herself that if she didn’t manage to make it onto the next car, she was making a break for it. Just her luck, no sooner had that thought flitted across her mind than the doors directly in front of her opened and she was carried by the momentum of the crowd inside and all the way to the back.

Nearly every button on the panel was lit as the packed car started its ascent. Frankie was jammed in so tightly she couldn’t move for the first couple of floors. Slowly but surely the elevator rid itself of its passengers and she was able to inch herself away from the self-important bureaucrat blathering on his blue-tooth.

She noticed his scent first. From the time she’d discovered boys, Frankie had been fascinated by the way that they smelled, especially the ones vain or confident enough to wear cologne. So distinctly male and so very different from girls. The one on her right smelled like spices. Spices and something else – something – raw. As she stole glances out of the corner of her eye, her attention was continually drawn to his hands with their long, blunt fingers since he couldn’t seem to stop idly slapping his leather gloves against his palm. He was very tall, the leg crossed at the ankle seemed to go on forever and his broad shoulders filled the corner of the car as he leaned against it. He took up a lot of space and the other passengers seemed to instinctively give him a wide berth. Thick, dark hair fell over the upturned collar of his shearling-lined suede peacoat. “Gucci, unless I miss my guess,” she thought. Frankie spent almost as much time perusing GQ as she did Vogue.

His hair was brushed back away from his face and coupled with the firm set of his jaw and his long straight nose, it gave him an imposing profile. Frankie found herself unable to stop licking her lips.

She thought he glanced in her direction once or twice, but she couldn’t be sure since she couldn’t see his eyes behind the green tint of his aviator shades. It suddenly felt very important to know if that crooked smile, really more of a smirk, was for her or if he just naturally thought wicked thoughts.

When the doors opened on the 23rd floor, the man pushed off of the fake wooden veneer of the wall and stepped out.

Frankie let go of a breath and told herself to “get a grip” as the doors closed one more time. As she stepped out on 24, the evil little voice in her head reminded her who she was going to meet and to focus on the task at hand.

Palmer Ross was one of the lucky few. As a result of his recent higher profile, he had an actual office. It didn’t have a window, but at least it wasn’t a cubicle. He shared a secretary with five other Special Agents in Charge on this floor. As Frankie approached her desk, the woman gave her a smile and announced her arrival without being asked. A moment later, Palmer’s door opened and he came out to greet her, his shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows, as if he’d already been there for hours.

“Hey Kitten! There you are.” He kissed her cheek. “Damn, I was hoping you were gonna stop for coffee on your way up.”

Frankie’s face flushed. “Palmer, please don’t call me Kitten,” she spoke quietly, unwilling to embarrass him even if he felt no such compunction. “Especially not here. It’s demeaning.”

Ignoring her, he ushered her into his office with an insistent hand at the small of her back. “C’mon in Kitten, I wanna give you some more background on this guy. Did you do your homework?”

As his door closed, the secretary rolled her eyes at another agent who just shook his head and kept walking.

Thirty minutes later, Palmer escorted Frankie back down to the 23rd floor and through a series of warren-like hallways to a non-descript door next to what appeared to be a large window. Palmer nodded to the agent standing at the door who nodded back before he left, and raised the blinds on the one-way glass. The subject of today’s “interview” was already seated inside the room and impatiently checking his watch.

“Doesn’t look like much, does he?”

“Holy crap,” Frankie gasped. It was the man from the elevator.