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Let's Go Camping

No, I'm not inviting you to go out and experience nature with me (a good thing since I am not in any way nature girl).  This month is another round of Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month--the official month is November) and I have decided at the last minute to participate (at the moment my goal for the month is 25,000 but it could go up depending on how the month goes).  My book is called Protecting Lincoln and it is an alternate history of the assassination of President Lincoln in which Booth and his co-conspirators were caught before they could carry out the plan.  It is also a little bit steampunk (should be interesting since I've never read any steampunk novels).  Here is the official (as in the one I put on the Camp NaNo website) synopsis:
Charlotte Sommerville is an agent of a super secret government agency created during the Civil War as a way to protect the president from domestic threats. While working undercover in the house of Mary Surratt, she overhears a conspiracy to kill President Lincoln, and she alerts her superiors, saving the president's life. Almost a year later, she finds herself in the company of Lt. John Francis Jefferson, her new partner--the most attractive man she has ever met, on her way to New York City, where a group of Confederate Sympathizers have come together to overthrow the government.

And here is the excerpt that I posted to the site:

Charlotte Sommerville hugged the wall, hoping that neither man in the room could see her.  From the moment they entered the house, she knew something was going on.  Her employer, Mrs. Surratt, shepherded the two men, Wood—a man Charlotte found extremely suspicious as he always wore a false mustache—and David, into a small room just off of the parlor before leaving in search of her son, John, who was friends with the men.

She waited all of two minutes before entering the room and for the last twenty minutes she stood there waiting for them to say something incriminating.  Unfortunately, they still hadn’t said a thing.  It was as if someone had pulled out their vocal chords, making speech impossible.  Just as she was about to give up and return to her post in the kitchen, where she was supposed to be cleaning up the dishes left over from the guests’ late supper, a door on the other side of the room opened up to reveal a third man.  The actor.  Charlotte could not stand him—there was something about his eyes that made her extremely nervous whenever he was around.

All of her instincts shouted at her that the moment she had been waiting for since the beginning of the war was finally here.  Even after General Lee surrendered a few days earlier, she knew that it was just the beginning, and watching the men now, she was all but certain that tonight was the night.

When she realized that they were speaking, she inched further into the room while still trying to stay in the shadow of the wall, but no matter how close she got, she still could not hear what was being said.  Reaching into her pocket, she pull out a small object and placed it into her ear.  The effect was immediate.  She could hear the slightest pin drop, but the only thing she was concerned with was the men.

“…in place.”

“Good.  I’ve paid the stable boy to keep a horse outside of the theater, so that once the show is over, I can get out of there as fast as possible.”

“Your route is set?”

“Does this look like my first rodeo?  Of course it is.  If all goes according to plan—and it will—I’ll be safe in Richmond by morning.  My only concern is that you are all set.”

“I’m set.  I’ll be leaving for Seward’s home in an hour.  I’ll probably be done with him before you’ve managed to even get near the president.”

Charlotte gasped.  This was even bigger than she thought it would be.  She had hoped that she was wrong, but obviously these men were going after the president.  She made her way out of the room and at the door, she checked to make sure that no one was on the other side.  Once she was certain that she was on her own, she escaped into the hallway, picking up the bucket of sudsy water she left there before entering the room—it was her cover for being out of the kitchen when she should have been working.  Willing herself not to appear rushed, she took the bucket outside into the yard, dumping it, but instead of going back into the house like she normally would have, she let herself out the gate and made her way down the block, trying to put as much distance between her and the house as she could before reaching into her pocket for her communicator, which she placed over her ear, taking the audio aid out at the same time.  She listened for the click of the cogs that told her it was engaged before speaking softly.

“President threatened. I repeat the president has been threatened.”

She waited for the response, wishing that it wouldn’t take so long for her words to be transmitted over the telegraph lines.  It would only take a few minutes for her words to be translated into Morse Code, sent along the wires, received by her superior’s device, and translated back into English, but the waiting was killing her.  Finally, almost ten minutes later and five blocks further away from the boarding house, she received a reply.

“Are you certain?” The device’s tinny voice asked her.  Before she could answer, more words were coming.

“From whom did the threats come?”

“The actor.  John Wilkes Booth.”


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