Coffee for WriMos: Day One

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 2, 2014

Welcome to the table at Carrot Ranch. The coffee is hot and you can pull up a chair. It’s November in the year 2014 and this is the month known fondly as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

You write, I write, we all write. That’s the idea.

Each day I’ll post my thoughts or encouragements and welcome yours in return. I’ll post snippets from my daily writing. My project is historical fiction based on a real incident that occurred at Rock Creek Pony Express Station in 1861. History has tried to glorify or vilify the men involved. But I’m telling you, they missed the story by overlooking the women. It’s a new perspective on an old west enigma.

Thought for Day One:

“We start with a blank: a world of possibility.” ~ From Maps of the Imagination by Peter Tutchi

Dare to fill in the blank. Start. Sure, novels have beginnings, but no one says the writer has to start there. Sometimes we have to jump in at a different point to better understand the beginning, to understand the the possibilities. Don’t let the blank page scare you away. You are the one commissioned to fill it. Go write!

Excerpt from Rock Creek WIP. NaNoWriMo Day One: 1,738 words (here’s a few):

Cover 3 Photo by CMThe black cat with the white chest and boots had not pestered her doorstep for at least two weeks. She wasn’t sure where the cat came from, but with all the passing wagons maybe someone left it behind. She had once seen a long-haired orange and white tabby at the Ney Ranch and heard Cob joke that the Neys were now breeding a herd of ginger long-hairs. Maybe her Mr. Boots got lonely and went to live with the Ney herd.

Mr. Boots. Maybe he’d transform into a dashing dance partner. He looked formal, cloaked in black with a snowy white shirt. But his boots were white. She imagined the other dancers snickering at his white leather boots until she walked into the ballroom dressed in her black silk with dazzling stars. She’d dare to don white slippers. Mr. Boots would bow and ask for her hand in this dance. He’d lead her across the marble dance floor and she’d blush as the musicians began a slow waltz. The violin-player winks at her as they waltzed past. It’s Cob and her vision faded. She wouldn’t want to see what he’d do to the dancer in white boots.

Above the gurgling and the soft murmur of distant voices, Sarah heard a meow. She smiled and looked into the darkness, easily spotting the moonlight on the white patches of the cat. “Mr. Boots! There you are.”

The cat sat in the pale road and meowed again. Sarah knelt on the bridge and softly called, “Here, Boots. Come Mr. Boots.” The cat stood, stretched each front leg forward with white paws flexed, then turned and trotted across the empty campground away from Sarah.

“Mr. Boots…come back…” The cat stopped and turned around. Sarah stepped across the bridge and onto the hard-packed road. At least it was neither dusty nor muddy, a rare instance. The cat trotted up the road toward the hill where the east ranch sat with its new barn and bunkhouse.

When Sarah topped the hill she could see several men stooped on log stools circling a low fire in the yard. They had backs to her and she hesitated. Maybe they wouldn’t see her. Mr. Boots looked at her one more time before dashing into the big open barn. Sarah reasoned that she could easily slip through the stick fence and try to swoop up the cat. Cob had warned her against letting it inside her cabin but if he wasn’t going to come around then how would he know. It was a fine evening and she didn’t want to be alone again.

A few horses nickered softly as Sarah bent through the fence, lifting one leg at a time, careful not to snag her skirt. Two curious horses stepped toward her and she darted past them to the barn door. Thinking the company men were all enjoying a rest around the campfire she was surprised to walk into the barn and nearly trip over a man’s leg hidden by shadows. She sucked in air and panicked. Mr. Boots meowed and hopped over a discarded harness before disappearing into a back stall.

“Are we under an Indian attack?” The man slowly stood up aided by a walking stick, his leg held stiff and one arm hung motionless at his side. Yet he was as tall as Cob, thinner though.

“No. No Indians. I was following Mr. Boots.” Sarah stood in the doorway, folding her hands across her skirts.

“Well thank the great Lord. I thought you was an Indian come to attack me.”

“Me? Oh, no. I live here. I mean, I live across the creek.” Sarah silently cursed her fumbling tongue. When she imagined speaking to people, her words flowed like smooth cream, as effortlessly as Cob spoke to others. But when she opened her mouth words splattered.

“Mr. Boots?” The man leaned into his stick as though it pained him to stand.

The man had the slightest flicker of a smile that Sarah wasn’t sure if he was jesting with her or not. Most people were serious so she decided to be as proper as possible although he just caught her sneaking into the company barn by stealth of night. “Mr. Boots is a cat, Sir.”

The man chuckled and his smile spread to his eyes. Even in the moonlight Sarah wasn’t certain if they were blue or gray and his hair was long, tucked behind his ears with curls that girls tried to get with hot irons. Was his hair red or was it a trick of moonlight? “Miss Boots, you mean.”

“Miss?” Sarah didn’t say that Mr. Boots was a dashing dance partner destined for ballrooms. Miss Boots?

“If you’ll go to that middle stall, the one past the harnesses needing repair, you’ll find understanding.”


How did your first day go?

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  1. dawn rae

    I haven’t nano’d a single word yet today. But I did do my blog posts that I wanted to do before I nano’d. So that’s a step in the right direction. I Nano primarily (so far) to help train myself to write daily.

    I LOVE your Nanoing. And thanks for the coffee. I needed it.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Dawn! Thanks for sharing a cup! Last year, I did my tasks first and then felt free to let loose nanoing. This year I’m trying the reverse. It is great training for coming to the blank page daily. Find your bliss on the page, just write. No judgement, no edits, just flow.

  2. Susan Budig

    Charli, I love the amazing, impressive writing platform you’ve built and are building for yourself.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Susan! 🙂

  3. Annecdotist

    Let’s check if I’ve got this right, Charli? In the month you’ve taken on an extra writing challenge, you up your blogging schedule and decide to post every day? AND you’re serving coffee? I salute you!
    BTW, 1200 words, but I’m not actually doing NaNo

    • Charli Mills

      Uh, yeah…ha, ha! And you are welcome to post your writing results daily, too WriMo or NoMo! 🙂

  4. TanGental

    I’m with Anne. You’ve set yourself an enormous challenge and I’m sure we will all benefit. The extract is tremendous.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Geoff! We’ll all keep writing it forward.

  5. Sarah Brentyn

    I see Anne and Geoff’s comments and raise them a “Gah!”

    Really? Most people disappear in November when they’re participating in NaNoWriMo. Or, if they are super organized like Dawn up there ^^^, they prepare beforehand to lessen the load.

    But you… You’re adding more. I don’t know why I’m surprised but I think it’s wonderful. Best of luck and have fun this month. I am so looking forward to your book!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, but my children “never call” and I only have to keep my husband entertained. NaNoWriMo is like party-time to me. Woohoo! Free write! It’s revision that kicks my butt! Thanks!

  6. Lisa Reiter

    Kneeling at the alter..! Big respect. Go Charli Go!

    • Charli Mills

      Free writing is my love. This is what I quit my 9 to 5 for! Thanks for the cheers!

  7. Let's CUT the Crap!

    Good, strong writing and I love the story so far. <3 :star:

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks! I’ve been thinking of Sarah’s story and had some surprises already in writing yesterday. I like those moments. Like your recent break-thru! Feels good! 🙂

  8. Sherri

    Wow Charli! You are amazing! Here I am saying I’m going to be taking some time off to complete my first draft and you are doing NaNo and blogging daily and your weekly flash challenge! How???? I can definitely see how blogging keeps the creative juices flowing along with the writing off line. I might not be taking off that time now, at least not in the way I first envisioned. So long as I write every morning first thing (2,500 today!!) then I’m okay. Maybe I just need to keep doing that. We’ll see. Yikes, having said I’ll take the time off. But I need the challenge…Love the imagined dashing dance partner in Mr Boots. I’ll be writing right along with you…keep the coffee hot and put the kettle on for a cuppa while you’re at it…I’ll be right over 🙂

  9. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!


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