If this was a cycling race, I’d be the one attempting the break-away from the back of the pack, trying to catch that large peloton of riders behind the leaders.
35,000 words this month is kind of my benchmark. It won’t make me a winner in NaNo, but that’s how many I need to personally feel like a winner. That would put my novel-in-progress at a little over 60,000—and within striking distance for a finished draft by year-end.
Fellow NaNo’ers: If you’re stuck in the back of the pack but still fighting, I’m with you and I feel your pain! If you’re cruising your way to the finish line, hurray! And if you pulled to the side of the race course and quit? Get back on that writing bike and pedal through NaNovember and on into December. Because writers don’t quit!
Alberto worked as a coyote, smuggling illegals across the Mexican border into the United States.
Rumor has known for years that her brother made his living smuggling, but she also suspects he has ties to the Sinaloan Cartel. It’s true. Alberto injured a Cartel member in a bar fight a few years ago, and the man later died.
To protect his father and repay his debt, Alberto switched from smuggling human cargo to smuggling drugs. He is now in over his head, and desperately wants out from under the Cartel, but he’s worried they will hard his father and uncle if he refuses to work for them.
In the book, we learn a lot about human smuggling into the United States from Mexico and Central America. Here’s an excerpt:
Alberto Vargas sat among the group of border hoppers gathering in the shade on the Mexican side of fence, wondering which of them would be the first to die.
A dusty thermometer on the cantina wall read 103 degrees.
Pathetic. When he was little, the demarcation between los Estados Unidos and Mexico had been a simple stone marker by the side of the road and a single sentry who waved you through from his seat in the shade. But since 9/11 everything had changed. Now, more than ever, Mexicans had to sneak across the border under cover of darkness, across the most rugged and least populated areas. The coyote smugglers met them on the other side, well past the "taco checks" and the border patrol rifles, to hide them in stash houses in Tucson or Phoenix.
A man with his wife and toddler rested on pads under a flatbed truck, waiting out the afternoon heat. The man stretched out and smoked. The little girl babbled a counting song and played with the fingers of his free hand.
"How far did your man tell you to walk?" Alberto asked the father in Spanish.
"Hasta media noche," the father replied. "We follow the railroad tracks to the big Highway 10. El pollero said he would meet us on the other side of the road at midnight."
Polleros. Chicken herders. Alberto shook his head. The smugglers always told first-timers they would meet them on the other side. Forty miles on the other side. That part was left out.
"You don't want to do this," Alberto said to the father. "Your family will suffer."
The man's face split into a smile. "It will be worth it when I am rich."
"At least buy more water," Alberto pressed. "Two gallons each."
The father pulled his pockets inside out and shrugged. No spare pesos for more than the gallon apiece his pollero had given him.
Of course he didn't. He and the other border crossers had each paid a partial fee to the coyote up-front, and the rest of the negotiated amount was held by a "respondent" and paid when the crosser was delivered safely to Tucson, or Phoenix, LA or El Paso, wherever had been agreed upon.
When Alberto had been a coyote, he made this run two or three times a year, and even he couldn't survive on a single gallon of water. But it wasn't his job to take care of this naïve father and his young family.
Often these trees are strewn with women’s garments as a warning to stay out of a certain Cartel’s traffic territory. These trees are seen on major smuggling routes in National Forest, on private land, and many other places just inside Mexico before the border.
A coyote will make $3,000 to $4,000 a head on Mexican illegals, and $10,000 for a Central American fare. He will bring a few to a dozen people per trip, and may make a trip a month or more.
But the rape tree warnings are more likely made by Cartel members marking their drug smuggling routes. That’s where the big business comes in.
An official estimated that cartels send a stunning $64 billion worth of drugs into the U.S. every year.
Mexico’s former Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna dropped that number at a recent conference in Juarez.
Would a border wall stem that drug flow? I don’t know.
But I do believe that illegal immigrants will continue to come into the United States from all of the countries to our south unless something is done to ease the extreme poverty in those nations. I don’t think a wall will stop the people.
I know many of you would like for me to put this suspense novel to bed, and get back to writing on the Ancient Magic series book two. While I think you’ll love Crescent Moon Crossing and these characters, I’m also looking forward to writing the second paranormal book, and use all those beautiful Scotland locations we scouted during our trip this summer.
So cheer me across the NaNo finish line on November 30.
Here’s to a new book release in January. AND the start of a whole new novel in February!
Until then, good reading!