It’s May 1, which means that yes, my birthday is in four days, but also that Camp NaNoWriMo ended at midnight last night.

Camp NaNoWriMo is an offshoot of NaNoWriMo where you set your own word count goal. It’s a way to keep everyone writing throughout the year. In the past, I’ve used it to continue on with things like On The Border and also its companion novel, After You. But I wanted to take a break from Cassidy Sundance entirely (even though she’s still technically in my Camp NaNo story.

I set a goal of 20,000 words, which is on par with what my goal to write every month is.

I made it just over 12,000. Granted, if you include my Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reviews into that and my handful of articles for Octopus Thrower, I would have been well over 25,000.

But it’s 12,000 words more for Day After Day than I had before April 1.

“Freddy’s Story” as I dubbed it for the longest time, has been something I’ve held close to my chest for a while. It’s my fictionalized version of my Caribou Coffee shop. I always thought it was a little tacky, but I wanted to challenge myself this Camp and I did just that.

Freddy calls to me in ways I never realized. While I buried myself in Cassidy’s storyline for three years now (including the After You section), everything else went on a back burner. Sitting in my old coffee shop Sunday morning with my friend Steve, I took the place in. No longer does it look like a Caribou Coffee. No longer does it have that warm, cozy feeling, but I could still picture it. I could see Freddy sitting in what becomes his “usual spot” and I could almost imagine all of the Old Guys in the front corner, arguing up a storm over something political, no longer hanging at the Panera down the street, now back where they belong.

That place still has a hold over me. I don’t think I can write a memoir like I wanted (though excerpts may get posted here from time to time because some of my stories are hilarious), but if I could channel my life and love of that place into something, Freddy is the best way to go.

There’s a fun excerpt from one of the opening chapters over here. But I can’t leave you with just that, so also have this!

Elvis Presley described him: this was a one-sided love affair, and he wasn’t looking for one. But was this love?

Freddy watched through bored eyes while Nick flipped to the next slide of the presentation, oblivious to the disinterest radiating from his left. How did he know what love was? He did not have familial love; it had been so long since his parents died and since he had enjoyed any mention of his sister that he could not even draw from that side of the argument. His longest relationship was Nick, though that was strictly business and no strings attached, which still sounded sketchy as he thought about his phrasing. His longest romantic relationship had been 136 days (why he counted by the day still confused him) just after graduation with his Master’s in Business Administration. He had forsaken the woman whose name he could not recall for success and never did he look back.

Falling for someone was foreign. That kind of risk did not compute in his mind. The numbers never added up. Why did this time feel different? And why did the infatuation have to be an already-wed woman with two children?

“You’re up shit creek.”

Nick’s words slipped through. April retreated from the shop, drinks and children in tow.

“I was just thinking that,” Freddy murmured in an offhand tone before he could filter himself. Then, he found his mind. “Wait, why am I up shit creek?”

“As a friend, Freddy. I say this as a friend—lay off the coffee. If this is your brain on drugs, I don’t ever need to see it again.” Nick shook his head. “These figures from the headquarters in Brazil. They’re complete and utter shit! Did you not notice that?”

“Oh, sure I did. But that’s all they gave me, so I used it. You know they won’t give us anything else, and if they actually got around to giving us something different, it would be three months from now when the figures would have changed already and we wouldn’t care,” Freddy said.

“Fire them all. Please.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, a nervous habit from many years ago that thankfully never rubbed off on Freddy. “In fact, fly me down there and I’ll fire them myself.”

All thoughts of April vacated his mind as his work overcame him once more. How could this be love, really?

Side-note: My A to Z is still going. Currently playing #5634/6792 – “Tampico” by Stan Kenton and June Christy.
Nope, I lied. Once this post was done, I’m up to #5644 – “Teardrop” by Massive Attack. “Teardrops From My Eyes” should be next.