Tag Archive | NaNoWriMo

Why We Kill Cliff Brooks – A NaNoWriMo Challenge

Fun NaNo graphic for your blog

The following is an account of why we kill Cliff Brooks as told by Drew Patty, a member of the South Bay WriMo.

Cliff Brooks is an actual guy who actually lived in South Bay. He was one of the earliest participants in the NaNoWriMo. In 1999, Cliff, Drew Patty and others were at a write in. Drew’s (then 13 year old) son, Phillip, was also there working on his mini-novel.

Phillip leaned over Cliff’s shoulder and read what he’d written. He burst out laughing. Cliff, who was somewhat offended, complained, “It’s horror, it’s not supposed to be funny.” Phillip insisted that it was hilarious.

Cliff quickly wrote a character named Phillip into the scene and killed him off in an appropriately gruesome fashion. To retaliate, Phillip wrote a scene into his story where Cliff Brooks, President of the United States, turned into a two headed monster and exploded. He shared this story the following week. Since many of the other NaNo’ers liked the idea, they decided to put Cliff into their stories and kill him off.

Thus began the “Kill Cliff Brooks” challenge. Thank you, Drew Patty, for clearing that up!

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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Dellani Oakes is the author of 10 published novels and over 100 more which haven’t been published yet. She’s a Blog Talk Radio host on the Red River Radio Network. She’s also former A.P. English teacher and journalist.

It’s NaNoWriMo Time!

Family Matters coverIt’s NaNoWriMo Time! I feel as if I should put that to Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay and sing it from rooftops. Since I’m not really very inclined to go climbing out on rooftops, perhaps I’ll refrain.

It is, however, NaNoWriMo Time. For those of you not familiar, that’s National Novel Writing Month. It began small, about 20 years ago, in the Bay Area of San Francisco. A group of friends got together and decided to devote the month of November to writing 50,000 word novels. And so the idea grew and spread. Now, NaNoWriMo is a world wide event with people from all walks of life, cultures, languages, participating in this event.

The rules are simple: start your novel November 1 and finish your 50,000 words by November 30. Well, it sounds simple, but it can be quite nerve wracking. Never fails, life will have its way and we get interrupted, confused or uninspired. It happens! The important thing is to keep going, keep trying and Never give up! Never surrender! ~ Captain Jason Nesmith of the Galaxy Quest.

I’ve been sitting on this idea for a NaNo novel for a couple of years. It never felt like the right time. However, my friend, Karen Vaughan, challenged me to write a murder mystery. Since I usually write romantic suspense, this didn’t feel like too big a stretch. However, after my first day of writing, it’s not shaping up quite that way. Sorry, Karen. It that might be left for another time. Still, early days yet. Who knows where it will go?

Since I’d been sitting on it for so long, I started writing as of midnight November 1. The time change gave me an extra hour to kill, so I spent it working on Family Matters, the name of my novel. I got in 5,491 words in those three hours. By the end of the day, about 11:30 PM Eastern time, I had clocked 17,243 words. I didn’t spend the entire day typing, but a good bit of it. As long as the ideas are flowing, I’m typing.

Keep in mind, my children are grown and able to feed, dress and bathe themselves. I don’t have pets or a job outside the home. I am able to devote as much time as I choose to writing. I could never have done this with a full time job and young children. All that said by way of explanation, I’m no way trying to diminish my accomplishment, nor am I trying to brag. I want it clear that everyone has their own pace and some of us type ridiculously fast—at least when the ideas are flowing. If they dam up, I’m screwed. It doesn’t matter how fast you type if the ideas aren’t there!

I will endeavor to update this post with my daily word counts. I might forget from time to time, but I will do my best.

Day      Word Count

1           17,243

2           26,004 (8,761 for the day)

3           33,597 (7,593)








© Dellani Oakes 2015

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The Ignoble Demise of Cliff Brooks

NaNoWriMo is winding to a close.  Some have finished, some struggle to complete their novels before midnight November 30th.  One fun thing in a NaNo novel is to include the death of Cliff Brooks.  It’s become a long standing challenge and a bit of a tradition.  Therefore, I’ve quoted below the death of Cliff Brooks in each of my NaNo novels.  Each is different – and one even made me cry.

From “Wall of Time” 2007 NaNo Novel

A scrawny man in a dirty black leather thong and studded dog collar answered the door. He had a name tattooed on is skinny chest: Cliff Brooks. Cliff escorted Wil into the lobby and told Eboneé she was wanted below. The whore took her time, making sure she was perfectly attired for her new playmate.
(Wil goes to her room pretending to be a customer & “persuades” her to contact her boyfriend who has accepted a contract on Wil.)

Eboneé reluctantly placed the call to Mozzimo. It wasn’t a clear visual, but he could see Wil holding her prisoner. Wil’s smile was lethal, wicked, cold with anger. He took this all very personally. The fact that the Council actually thought they could kill him offended his sensibilities in ways nothing else could. That they had tried to use his friend first, offended him as well. Now they were sending a cocky, arrogant, pervert after him. They were killing his ego, that was about all they had accomplished.

“I’ll be there soon, Ebby,” he told his prostitute girlfriend. “You just keep him happy til I get there.”

“Moz! He’s trying to kill me here!”

“Don’t be stupid, bitch. If he wanted you dead, you already would be. Play nice.” He cut off the transmission.

“Let’s get comfy, shall we?” Wil dragged her to the bed and cuffed her to it, arms and legs splayed indecorously across the dirty red coverlet.

“They’re gonna come asking for me if you don’t let me go soon.”

“Baby, they won’t ask for you for a week. I gave them so much money, I could keep you here as long as I wanted. No one cares. You’re meat.” He dressed quickly and sat on the only chair in the room, facing the door, waiting.

He knew Mozzimo was close. He was probably already in orbit. Moz was sloppy. He hadn’t paid attention to his screen angle. Wil had seen the navigation instruments behind him on the vid screen. He’d been less than five hectares away from Aolani Figure at least thirty minutes for approach, clearance and docking, he’d be through the door in less than an hour.

Eboneé was beginning to like the position she was in. She liked the man who threatened her, finding that she enjoyed getting the pain as well as giving it. If she could distract him, maybe Moz would have a chance and kill him. She could watch. She could really get off on that.

“Hey,” she put on her most coaxing, sultry voice. To Wil she sounded nasal and annoying.

“What?” He didn’t look at her. He could see her in his peripheral vision.

“Why waste your time and money? Come on over here, I’ll give you something to keep you occupied til Moz gets here.”

“No thanks.”

“Oh, come on. I’m all set up and ready for you. You’re so hot, you’re steaming. Take off your clothes and join me. I’ll make it worth your time.” She writhed on the bed and tried to look sexy. It was hard to look really slinky with her arms and legs spreadeagled, but she tried.

Wil laughed, not keeping the dark amusement from his face. “Save it for someone who gives a shit, Ebby.” He said her name in a mocking tone. “I don’t want what you have to offer. I like my women clean.”

“I’m clean!” She screeched.

“Sure you are.” He chuckled. It was a very spooky sound.

Eboneé was crying softly, waiting for Mozzimo to arrive. Wil sensed him before he heard Mozzimo in the hallway. Making no pretense of his arrival, he was coming in hot and fully loaded.

Yelling obscenities and banging on doors as he clumped down the hall, he was disturbing the entire establishment. Cliff came up behind him to find out what the trouble was. Without thinking, Mozzimo spun around and shot him right between the ‘f’ and the ‘B’. Cliff scrabbled at his chest, coughed once and died.

From “Deserted” 2008 NaNo Novel

In this novel, Cliff is head gaffer for a television show that’s being filmed on a desert island.  The show is kind of like “Survivor” meets “Fantasy Island.”  Three women & one man are “deserted” on the island.  The women are given tasks to perform & the prize is a dream date with the man.

Thumping the door open, Jethro found several of the crew members sitting around having a cold beer, watching the scene at the campsite erupt in yet another argument. This time between Genvieve and Claire.

“Dear God, how did I let Barry talk me into this?” He put his head on the table, banging it gently several times.

A cold beer appeared as if by magic. He looked into the friendly face of Cliff Brooks.

“You look like a man who needs a beer and then needs to get laid.”

Jethro’s laugh sounded rather hysterical. “Oh, that would solve all my problems,” he remarked sarcastically. “Can you imagine how much worse it would get if I took one of them to bed?”

“I’ll take Brittaney off your hands any time,” he winked. “I bet we’d even find someone for Genvieve, then you’d have Claire all to yourself.”

“Is it that obvious?”

“Dude, after last night, it is obvious as hell that you love that girl.”

“Guys, you need to see this,” one of the women said, pointing at the screen.

Genvieve had Claire by the hair and was screaming in her face. She had a knife in her hand and was threatening her with it.

“Oh, shit!” Beer forgotten, all the men were out of the trailer, pounding down the beach.

The woman followed in a dune buggy. She picked them up and drove to the campsite. Claire was fighting off Genvieve while Brittaney tried to take the knife from her. Wild eyed and screaming hysterically, Genvieve fought like a wildcat, trying to stab Claire.

“You bitch! You slut! Whore! You stole him from me! He was mine! Mine!”

“Stop it, Genvieve!” Brittaney screamed, making another grab for the knife.

“I’ll kill you and then he’ll be mine!” The knife descended, slowed slightly by Brittaney.

Genvieve still held Claire’s hair, but turned on Brittaney, knife wielded dangerously toward her. “I’ll get you too,” she threatened. “Don’t get in my way!”

She lunged at Brittaney, who jumped out of the way with a scream. Tripping over a piece of driftwood, she sprawled on the ground. Genvieve let go of Claire, turning on Brittaney.

“Genvieve, no!” Claire tried to stop her, but fell over the same branch which was partially buried in the sand.

Cliff dove from the dune buggy before it came to a complete stop. He hit Genvieve with a flying tackle, knocking her several feet from the others. Jethro took them to the safety of the dune buggy as Genvieve grappled with Cliff. For a moment it looked as if he were winning, but his hand slipped as he tried to block her blow. Sunlight flashed on the blade as it fell toward his body, plunging up to the hilt in his lower abdomen.

“No!” Brittaney screamed, tearing herself away from Jethro’s slack hands. She flung herself on the sand, cradling Cliff’s head on her lap, yanking off her T-shirt to staunch the flow of blood around the blade. “No! Cliff! No!”

The woman from the crew whipped out a walkie-talkie, calling desperately for help. Moments later, several of the men from the guard house came roaring up the beach in a Jeep. One carried a sophisticated first aid kit. He stabilized the knife, applying pressure to the wound. He worked feverishly several minutes as they waited for the launch to arrive. The boat raced toward the beach, slewing dangerously against the dock as the captain killed the motor and crewmen jumped off to secure it.

They brought a stretcher and carried him rapidly to the boat. Brittaney followed, strangely calm. She sat next to him, holding his hand as the boat took off. Two more security men took Genvieve into custody. She went calmly, not even protesting when they cuffed her.

Jethro and the others looked on in stunned silence. He couldn’t believe that Genvieve would so something so crazy over him. Or maybe it was the money. Either way, it was completely insane. Horrified, he flopped on the beach, holding head. It took him a couple of minutes to remember that Claire had been the object of the original attack. Standing slowly, he went to her side.

She was staring at the pool of Cliff’s blood on the sand. Pale and shaking, she wasn’t responding to the people around her. The security men were trying to get a statement, but she wouldn’t talk. Silent tears ran down her pale face. Jethro took her in his arms. She turned to him, face buried in his chest as she cried piteously.

“Shh, it’s okay now, it’s over.”

“No, it’s not okay. Cliff could die! And Brittaney, she really likes him. She told me he used to come visit her in the evenings after the rest of us were settled for the night. They were becoming really good friends.”

“Oh, Christ,” Jethro said quietly. “No wonder he said that.”

“Said what?” She was calmer now.

They walked to the gazebo and sat together in the shade. The woman with the dune buggy brought cold drinks for the three of them.

“He offered to take her off my hands so you and I could be together.” He smiled shyly.

“What a nice man,” she smiled.

The walkie-talkie crackled. The woman pulled it off her belt, speaking into it.

“Go ahead. This is Barbara.”

“This is Pablo,” the voice on the other end sounded tense. “We just go word from the captain. Cliff died. They tried to revive him at the hospital, but he’d lost too much blood. The constable is coming now for Miss Genvieve. Can you meet us at the house?”

From “The Ninja Tattoo” NaNo Novel 2009

Teague snuggled up with Vivica, dozing fitfully. He kept waking up, thinking he heard things outside, but determined it was the sounds of the storm.

Eventually, he fell into a deeper sleep, his dreams troubled and chaotic. The war dreams were back full of explosions and gunfire. He couldn’t wake up, even though he knew it was a nightmare. Calling out, he sat up in bed. Vivica sat beside him, hair tangled, face puffy with sleep.

“Cliff! Oh, my God!”

“Teague? Baby, what’s wrong?”

“Where’s Cliff? Did you see him?”

“Teague. There’s no one here but us. Tell me what’s wrong?”

She didn’t know if he was asleep or awake, hardly wanting to touch him for fear she’d set him off. He was obviously having a nightmare, but what it was about, she didn’t know.

“God!” He held his head, shaking all over. “It was so real! I swear, I thought I’d put that behind me.” He flopped down on his back, staring at the ceiling.

“Tell me about it,” she said calmly, quietly. “It helps to talk.”

She cuddled up close, putting her head on his chest. His body vibrated, his heart racing. His hands fluttered against her shoulder and hair, finally coming to rest.

“Start with who Cliff is.”

“Was,” he corrected softly. “My battle buddy and best friend since sixth grade.”

“Was he killed in the war?”

He nodded, biting his lip so he wouldn’t start to cry. Men didn’t cry, right? They were tough, cold, hard …. Despite his efforts, the tears rolled down the sides of his face, trickling into his ears. He didn’t acknowledge them, hardly noticing.

“I keep seeing it over and over in my mind. Every time I close my eyes ….”

“Tell me what happened. I’m a good listener.”

“It was horrible ….”

“Too horrible to share with me? Teague, I saw my brother kill a man with a baseball bat. Anything you tell me, I promise I can handle. I may be the one person you know who you can tell.”

His arms tightened around her and he kissed her forehead. She was right. As damaged as he was, so she was too. They healed one another, filling in the gaps and holes of their tattered souls. Swallowing a huge lump in his throat, he told her about Cliff.

“We were on patrol. Routine, really, we did them every day. Only you can’t let it get routine or people die.”

She nodded, not speaking. She listened to his heart slow, playing with the hair on his chest as he spoke more to himself than to her.

“He was joking, cutting up, talking about this new woman sargent, really hot and sexy, who had just been transferred in. Word was she was supposed to assigned to us as a journalist. He was trying to figure out the best way to ask her out. His girl back home had dumped him and he was hoping to get lucky. It was stupid, a dumb mistake ….”

A shuddering sigh made her head bounce. Vivica turned toward him, gazing at his face in the half-light of the room.

“Whose mistake? Yours?”

He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose to purge the memory, shake the feelings, stop the tears that kept flowing.

“No. Cliff turned his back, just for a second ….”

“What happened?” She leaned up on her folded arms, staring into his face.

“It was just a kid. He couldn’t have been more than 12. Cliff was talking to him earlier, gave him a candy bar. He turned around, laughing and suddenly the boy shot him in the back of the head. His face exploded all over me.”

“Oh, Teague! Baby, how awful! I’m so sorry ….”

“I stayed by Cliff, calling for a medic, but he was already dead. The townspeople flocked around the kid, dragging him away. They took him to the mayor, who shot him on the spot. No trial, no explanation. He killed him, Viv. I found out later that was his boy. He killed his own son! For murdering a stranger.”

NaNoWriMo is in Full Swing – Are You In?

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo again and loving it. The first part of the novel came fast and furious, but the muse is now being stubborn. I have had to cut and restart a couple times. I know technically that’s not something they encourage, but I knew I wouldn’t ever finish if I didn’t redirect and fix it. It’s going more in the right direction now -WHEW! Below is an excerpt of my story, a crime/ romance blend.

The original idea came from something that actually happened to me. The character of Teague has my perspective & point of view in the incident that sparked this story. Of course, I’ve added to and embellished, but the basic thread here is real. I don’t know what the bikers were doing, if it was a strange and oddly convenient coincidence, but it’s something that stuck with me.

Teague McMurtry has recently left the Army. At 24, he’s seen more blood and death than most men his age. Quite by accident, he gets involved in something strange, mysterious and deadly. Is the beautiful Vivica really what she claims, the innocent sister of a psychotic mastermind? Or is she drawing him into something dangerous and deadly? An excerpt from “The Ninja Tattoo” is below.

Early morning sun set the sky on fire, glistening off the water, momentarily blinding him. He flipped down the visor then dug his sunglasses out of the glove compartment, sliding them up his nose with one hand. He’d chosen the scenic route to work just so he could enjoy the sunrise. It wasn’t often he got out this early. The river looked like molten silver shot with gold strands. The sky was a cheerful blend of rose, lavender, azure, peach and plum. The sun peeping over the horizon was tinged with red, indicating the start of another scorcher. Hot weather was not unusual in Florida, but wasn’t the norm for this late in the year.

Teague McMurtry waved to the few pedestrians out at this hour. He knew some of them slightly, since many of them were his neighbors. Working the odd hours he did, he rarely saw anyone. However, since moving a month ago to his small house on Riverside Drive, his neighbors had made a point of coming over to introduce themselves. It was by far the friendliest neighborhood he had ever lived in.

The road was empty as he drove south toward his job site in Oak Hill. He had an estimate to do down there and had to be in New Smyrna by 10:00, leaving him plenty of time in between. By the time he got to the police station in Edgewater, only a few blocks from his home, he had joined a convoy of sorts. In the lead was a bronze Ford pickup. Directly in front of Teague was a guy on a motorcycle. Behind him was another motorcycle, a red Jeep and, he thought, a third bike behind the Jeep. It seemed odd since the road had been so empty before. He couldn’t quite remember noticing when he came upon these others, but figured they all had the same idea, keeping out of school traffic on US-1.

The pickup was going the speed limit, which was a little frustrating. In fact, the driver went 25, then 20, 30 and 15. Teague wanted to lay on his horn, but didn’t want to startle the biker, so he kept his frustration to himself. The biker didn’t look any happier with the truck than he was. From time to time, he glanced behind him, trying to see around Teague’s white Dodge Ram. Apparently, the motorcycles were traveling together and somehow Teague had gotten in between them.

At the turnoff for 442, the guy ahead of Teague gestured with his left arm, motioning as if he were turning. Teague slowed, anticipating the right turn, but the biker sped up, his black and white Ninja, following the truck as it continued past the intersection. Instead, the red Jeep, followed by another biker, turned right and headed up 442. This left the truck, Teague and two bikers. It seemed strange to him and he began to wonder what was going on. His overactive imagination clicked into high gear and he started imagining scenarios.

“Maybe the guy in the truck is with them and he’s giving directions to the guy on the white Ninja?”

He thought that over, wondering how they were communicating. The guy ahead of him was probably about his age with short, sandy brown hair. He had on a T-shirt, baggies, skater shoes and sunglasses. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and he didn’t have a cellphone out. So that was probably not the case. The biker behind Teague was also on a Ninja, this one bright blue, He wore a white helmet with a dark visor. He was wearing clothing similar to the man ahead of him. What characterized them both was the fact they were heavily tattooed. What Teague had first taken as a tan or sunburn, on closer inspection, revealed itself to be elaborate tattoos on neck, arms and legs.

The road turned right, coming to a end at US-1. Stopping for the light, the man ahead of Teague leaned back on his bike, glancing at the guy behind him. He motioned to himself, indicating he was going right. Gesturing at the rider behind Teague, he pointed left. The other man nodded, giving the lead biker a thumbs up. The light changed and the fellow on the white Ninja followed the truck while the man on the blue one followed Teague. Feeling a bit paranoid, he moved over to the right lane, anticipating that the biker would go around him. It didn’t even occur to him that the other man would stay behind him, but he did. He didn’t ride Teague’s bumper, rather stayed at least two car lengths back, shadowing him. If Teague changed lanes, so did the biker.

The hairs on his neck stood at attention. Something was decidedly weird. This man’s behavior negated everything Teague had ever seen bikers do. They generally crowded until they could pass, then buzzed around the other vehicles way too fast, disappearing suddenly as they sped up. Approaching the subdivision near Oak Hill, Teague signaled his turn. The biker looked ready to follow, but continued down the highway. As Teague checked in at the security gate, the biker slowed, making a U turn, he continued back up US-1. Once he was cleared, Teague drove to the house whose yard he was landscaping. He tried to put the bikers out of his mind, but their odd behavior was so out of the ordinary, he couldn’t.

In the Midst of Madness

Finding time to write is something every author deals with. Some of us have more time to devote to it than others, but still find that life intrudes. I just spent the month of November taking the National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. While it’s invigorating to test my writing abilities, it also tests my patience.

For those of you who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, I’ll explain. The participants make the personal commitment to write a 50,000 word novel beginning November 1st and ending November 30th at midnight. There are no money prizes, no one reads the novel but you, it doesn’t even have to be perfect, it just has to be done. For this, you get a caffeine addiction, sleep deprivation, frazzled nerves, numb fingers, a nifty little logo to put on your web site, a printable certificate and the satisfaction of knowing that despite everything, you persevered!

It’s amazing how quickly life intrudes when I set a goal like this for myself. Everyone in the household becomes “needy”, particularly my twelve year old son. Things he could do for himself suddenly take on far more importance, meaning that Mom has to get up and take care of it. The phone becomes my enemy. I can go for weeks at a time when the phone won’t ring, but once the November challenge begins, it rings all the time. I’m not being paranoid, I kept track! The week before NaNo began, I had a total of five phone calls in a week – one of which was for me. As of November 1st, I had at least that many a day – and most of them for me.

Meals are another thing that interfere. Deciding what to fix becomes a major decision that I usually leave to the last minute. Grocery shopping becomes a task that eats into my writing time, irritating me further. When I get home, the actual preparation is the most annoying because it’s accompanied by complaints about the meal.

NaNoWriMo is not the only time that these things are problematic, I simply use that as an example. During any given day, the precious moments I have to get the ideas out of my head and into written form, are limited. I don’t know about other authors, but my family fails to recognize that what I am doing is actually “work”. To them, it’s Mom sitting at the computer – again. Old hat, since ninety percent of my free time is at the computer. If I’m not writing, I’m reading what I wrote and editing it with a mixture of brutality and care. The words, “I’m working”, don’t make much of an impression on three hungry boys.

Somehow, in the midst of all this madness, I find enough time to get things done. The precious words get faithfully added to the text even as my eyes cross and my head hits the keyboard. Life, though it interferes, is what I draw from to fill my books with lively conversation, anecdotes and action. So, though I may resent the interruptions, I welcome them, because it shows me that I am a part of life, not set apart – and that is truly a writer’s richest resource.

I Did It Again!

This November gave me another opportunity to sharpen my writing skills by participating in the National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge.  Those who participate agree to write a complete novel, 50,000 words or more, in the month of November.  For more details, look at www.nanowritmo.org

Sounds easy?  Think again.  Finding the time to write each day is harder than it seems.  Life interrupts and writing has to wait.  Whether it’s a job, kids, meals, bathroom breaks or spousal demands, life will always intrude.

Last year, a friend of mine told me about NaNoWriMo and I thought it would be fun to participate.  I signed up for free and on November first, I started to write.  I hammered away at the keys wondering if there was any way I could finish.  I did it and wrote over 65,000 words.  This year, I finished a little earlier than I did last year, and I hit the 88,000 word mark!  Not bad, considering how many times I went back and cut the manuscript because the story was going in the wrong direction. 

As always, it’s a lot of fun.  If you have ever considered writing a novel but didn’t think you had what it takes to do it, try NaNoWriMo and see if you do.  It costs you nothing, winning is easy and you get to put a fun graphic on your blog. 

Fun NaNo graphic for your blog

Fun NaNo graphic for your blog