Great news! I finished the first draft of my second Kennedy Stern novel last week, and just in time too, because we got official word on Sunday that we're moving Thursday. As in tomorrow. My husband has been waiting for weeks to hear from a church in a small town in rural Alaska that needs a pastor. Well, Sunday we got the official invitation, so we're packing up and moving tomorrow! Wish us luck!
I've really enjoyed hearing everyone's views on Ko's roommate Chun-Hee. Here's another snippet from page 24 in honor of June 24 that shows not necessarily a different side of her, but perhaps a fuller one. The recruits have just been ordered to do a midnight marathon.
“Easy.” Chun-Hee’s voice from behind made Ko slow down. “You start off too fast, you drop out before the halfway point.”
“How long do we run?” Ko paced herself beside Chun-Hee without waiting for an invitation.
“You run until he blows the whistle or you pass out.”
Ko looked to the horizon. No sign of dawn. As her eyes adjusted, she saw the outlines of those ahead, several dozen young men and women. Most were clumped together in a mobile mass, their heads jostling up and down in rhythm. A few sprinted even faster up the trail. Chun-Hee and Ko were the only ones this far back. Their pace felt dangerously lagging, and any minute Ko expected Ryuk to sneak up on them from behind and throw them out of the Academy. The recruit in the lead, a girl with long hair tied up in high ponytail, curved around the bend and disappeared.
“How often do they make you run like this?” Ko asked.
Chun-Hee wasn’t even breathing hard. “Whenever they feel like it.”
They were headed uphill now. Ko stumbled once, by Chun-Hee didn’t slow down or look over her shoulder. By the time Ko caught up, she didn’t try to keep up any conversation. She lost track of time but eventually they passed a few stragglers struggling to keep up.
“See what I mean?” Chun-Hee breathed in and out a few more times before adding, “You need to pace.”
By that point, Ko couldn’t have responded even if she had something intelligent to say. Her legs stung, not just her quad muscles on top, but her inner thighs and buttocks as well. Her calves shrieked their protest each time they pummeled the rocky terrain. Her lungs were like balloons inflated twice their normal size. She expected them to burst at any moment.
“Gotta time your breathing,” Chun-Hee advised. “Count by fours.” She exaggerated her own breaths so Ko could observe. Inhale four strides. Exhale four strides. One. Two. Three. Four. Over and over again up the trail.
It took several clumsy minutes before Ko really got into the right rhythm, but when she finally managed to she found it was helpful. They had passed at least six or seven other recruits by now. Ko wondered when the trail would end. When she started to fall behind, Chun-Hee snapped, “Keep going. Whistle hasn’t blown yet.”
Blog Love: Huge thanks to K L Schwengel for hosting the WIPpet Wednesday blog hop, where authors post snippets from their current Works In Progress.
Random Fact: I've never been much of a runner, but I once managed three miles when I was thirteen or so and training like crazy for gymnastics.