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Writing about writing a book – Day 2

Hang about.  Didn’t I read somewhere you need to plan your novel, create an outline setting the plot points, and flesh out the characters?

I’m sure it didn’t say, sit down and start writing!

Time to find a writing pad, and put my thinking cap on.

I make a list, what’s the story going to be about? Who’s going to be in it, at least at the start?

Like a newspaper story, I need a who, what, when, where, and how.

Right now.

 

I pick up the pen.

 

Character number one:

Computer nerd, ok, that’s a little close to the bone, a computer manager who is trying to be everything at once, and failing.  Still me, but with a twist.  Now, add a little mystery to him, and give him a secret, one that will only be revealed after a specific set of circumstance.  Yes, I like that.

We’ll call him Bill, ex-regular army, a badly injured and repatriated soldier who was sent to fight a war in Vietnam, the result of which had made him, at times, unfit to live with.

He had a wife, which brings us to,

Character number two:

Ellen, Bill’s ex-wife, an army brat and a General’s daughter, and the result of one of those romances that met disapproval for so many reasons.  It worked until Bill came back from the war, and from there it slowly disintegrated.  There are two daughters, both by the time the novel begins, old enough to understand the ramifications of a divorce.

Character number three:

The man who is Bill’s immediate superior, the Services Department manager, a rather officious man who blindly follows orders, a man who takes pleasure in making others feel small and insignificant, and worst of all, takes the credit where none is due.

Oops, too much, that is my old boss.  He’ll know immediately I’m parodying him.  Tone it down, just a little, but more or less that’s him.  Last name Benton.  He will play a small role in the story.

Character number four:

Jennifer, the IT Department’s assistant manager, a woman who arrives in a shroud of mystery, and then, in time, to provide Bill with a shoulder to cry on when he and Ellen finally split, and perhaps something else later on.

More on her later as the story unfolds.

So far so good.

What’s the plot?

Huge corporation plotting to take over the world using computers?  No, that’s been done to death.

Huge corporation, OK, let’s stop blaming the corporate world for everything wrong in the world.  Corporations are not bad people, people are the bad people.  That’s a rip off cliché, from guns don’t kill people, people kill people!  There will be guns, and there will be dead people.

There will be people hiding behind a huge corporation, using a part of their computer network to move billions of illegally gained money around.  That’s better.

Now, having got that, our ‘hero’ has to ‘discover’ this network, and the people behind it.

All we need now is to set the ball rolling, a single event that ‘throws a cat among the pigeons’.

Yes, Bill is on holidays, a welcome relief from the problems of work.  He dreams of what he’s going to do for the next two weeks.  The phone rings.  Benton calling, the world is coming to an end, the network is down.  He’s needed.  A few terse words, but he relents.

Pen in hand I begin to write.

 

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Conversations with my cat – 71

This is Chester.

When I come down to the writing room he’s sitting on the table next to the keyboard.

I take this gesture to mean that he’s not trying to be confrontational.

He’d be sitting on the keyboard if that was his intention.

Or, perhaps he’s trying to lull me into a false sense of security.

I try to read his expression, forgetting that cats down have expressions, just a single look.

Contempt.

I sit down and we’re now eye to eye. Could it be that he is doesn’t like the idea of looking up at me? Might that almost suggest that I am the master and he is the cat?

Perhaps I’m just tired and writing too much into it. Maybe he just saw a mouse and wanted to get an overview of where it might have gone.

Plenty of hiding places in this office. Chester knows some off them himself because there are times when I can’t find him.

Then he deigns to speak. “I think it’s time you cleaned this room up.”

It seems it’s a universal request from everyone, grandchildren included.

“Sorry. Not sorry. I’m going for the grumpy grandfather’s study children are forbidden to enter look. Piles of books, shelves overloaded with more books, messy tables, and papers scattered everywhere. And nowhere to sit because seats are places to pile more stuff.”

He looks around.

“Done a good job of it then. How do you find anything?”

“I found you.”

“I wasn’t hiding.”

“Oh, I thought you were.”

I’m sure there was that imperceptible shake of the head in disdain, before he jumps down and leaves.

Dodged a bullet there. I was sure he was going to complain about his food … again!

The first case of PI Walthenson – “A Case of Working With the Jones Brothers”

This case has everything, red herrings, jealous brothers, femme fatales, and at the heart of it all, greed.

Coming soon!

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An excerpt from the book:

 

When Harry took the time to consider his position, a rather uncomfortable position at that, he concluded that he was somehow involved in another case that meant very little to him.

Not that it wasn’t important in some way he was yet to determine, it was just that his curiosity had got the better of him, and it had led to this: sitting in a chair, securely bound, waiting for someone one of his captors had called Doug.

It was not the name that worried him so much, it was the evil laugh that had come after the name was spoken.

Doug what?  Doug the ‘destroyer’, Doug the ‘dangerous’, Doug the ‘deadly’; there was any number of sinister connotations, and perhaps that was the point of the laugh, to make it more frightening than it was.

But there was no doubt about one thing in his mind right then: he’d made a mistake.  A very big. and costly, mistake.  Just how big the cost, no doubt he would soon find out.

His mother, and his grandmother, the wisest person he had ever known, had once told him never to eavesdrop.

At the time he couldn’t help himself and instead of minding his own business, listening to a one-sided conversation which ended with a time and a place.  The very nature of the person receiving the call was, at the very least, sinister, and, because of the cryptic conversation, there appeared to be, or at least to Harry, criminal activity involved.

For several days he had wrestled with the thought of whether he should go.  Stay on the fringe, keep out of sight, observe and report to the police if it was a crime.  Instead, he had willingly gone down the rabbit hole.

Now, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, several heat lamps hanging over his head, he was perspiring, and if perspiration could be used as a measure of fear, then Harry’s fear was at the highest level.

Another runnel of sweat rolled into his left eye, and, having his hands tied, literally, it made it impossible to clear it.  The burning sensation momentarily took his mind off his predicament.  He cursed and then shook his head trying to prevent a re-occurrence.  It was to no avail.

Let the stinging sensation be a reminder of what was right and what was wrong.

It was obvious that it was the right place and the right time, but in considering his current perilous situation, it definitely was the wrong place to be, at the worst possible time.

 

It was meant to be his escape, an escape from the generations of lawyers, what were to Harry, dry, dusty men who had been in business since George Washington said to the first Walthenson to step foot on American soil, ‘Why don’t you become a lawyer?” when asked what he could do for the great man.

Or so it was handed down as lore, though Harry didn’t think Washington meant it literally, the Walthenson’s, then as now, were not shy of taking advice.

Except, of course, when it came to Harry.

He was, Harry’s father was prone to saying, the exception to every rule.  Harry guessed his father was referring to the fact his son wanted to be a Private Detective rather than a dry, dusty lawyer.  Just the clothes were enough to turn Harry off the profession.

So, with a little of the money Harry inherited from one of his aunts, he leased an office in Gramercy Park and had it renovated to look like the Sam Spade detective agency, you know the one, Spade and Archer, and The Maltese Falcon.

There’s a movie and a book by Dashiell Hammett if you’re interested.

So, there it was, painted on the opaque glass inset of the front door, ‘Harold Walthenson, Private Detective’.

There was enough money to hire an assistant, and it took a week before the right person came along, or, more to the point, didn’t just see his business plan as something sinister.  Ellen, a tall cool woman in a long black dress, or so the words of a song in his head told him, fitted in perfectly.

She’d seen the movie, but she said with a grin, Harry was no Humphrey Bogart.

Of course not, he said, he didn’t smoke.

Three months on the job, and it had been a few calls, no ‘real’ cases, nothing but missing animals, and other miscellaneous items.  What he really wanted was a missing person.  Or perhaps a beguiling, sophisticated woman who was as deadly as she was charming, looking for an errant husband, perhaps one that she had already ‘dispatched’.

Or for a tall, dark and handsome foreigner who spoke in riddles and in heavily accented English, a spy, or perhaps an assassin, in town to take out the mayor.  The man was such an imbecile Harry had considered doing it himself.

Now, in a back room of a disused warehouse, that wishful thinking might be just about to come to a very abrupt end, with none of the romanticized trappings of the business befalling him.  No beguiling women, no sinister criminals, no stupid policemen.

Just a nasty little man whose only concern was how quickly or how slowly Harry’s end was going to be.

© Charles Heath 2019

 

“Echoes From The Past”, buried, but not deep enough

On special, now only $0.99 for the next few weeks.

 

What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

Christmas is just around the corner, a time to be with family. For Will Mason, an orphan since he was fourteen, it is a time for reflection on what his life could have been, and what it could be.

Until a chance encounter brings back to life the reasons for his twenty years of self-imposed exile from a life only normal people could have. From that moment Will’s life slowly starts to unravel and it’s obvious to him it’s time to move on.

This time, however, there is more at stake.

Will has broken his number one rule, don’t get involved.

With his nemesis, Eddie Jamieson, suddenly within reach, and a blossoming relationship with an office colleague, Maria, about to change everything, Will has to make a choice. Quietly leave, or finally, make a stand.

But as Will soon discovers, when other people are involved there is going to be terrible consequences no matter what choice he makes.

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Writing about writing a book – Day 6 continues – will it ever end?

Having finished a first draft of the words to fit the last plotline, while this is still bouncing around in my head, I need to keep the plot going.

That means I have to find a way to make Bill more interesting.  I’m not saying getting shot is just another ordinary event on another boring day at the office, but it needs something to lift into the reader’s consciousness, and want to see where he’s going to go with it.

Revenge is not on the cards because he has no idea who was shooting at him, or the fact at this time, it seems they, whoever they are, were out to assassinate Aitchison.

Why you ask.

There will be a reason, so sit back and relax, we’re not there yet.

 

Bill wakes up in the hospital and finds Jennifer there.  He remembers what has happened and realizes how lucky he is to survive.

After a period of recovery, Bill is questioned by Gator, the detective also now in charge of the shooting investigation, as, he tells Bill, there seems to be a connection between the two (obviously because it concerns the company Bill works for).

Bill cannot remember much of the detail of the earlier network outage and situation, but the import of Gator’s investigation is centered on the deaths of Halligan, Aitchison, and the attempts of both him and Jennifer.  I think we can safely say Jennifer was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Gator also reveals there are still problems with the computer systems at Transworld, a question of missing files, and a security breach.  He also advises Bill of Wiesenthal’s arrival and temporary management role.

(OK, a new character, Wiesenthal, he needs to be slightly sinister, and there for reasons that are not explained straight away.)

On the mend, and with time on his hands, Bill will have two new events to think about.

Firstly, and certainly not unwelcome, but a bit of a surprise is the continual presence of Jennifer.  He discovers that Jennifer has the same feelings for him and he has for her.

Secondly, and probably the more important of the two, and cause for concern, is the return of some of his memories in relation to service in the army during various engagements overseas, and one in particular.  Worse, he cannot understand why now, of all times, these particular memories should be returning.

He knew something bad had happened to him back then but was thankful that his mind had managed to keep it at bay for as long as it had.

But the nightmares become real, and the first of many plays out in his mind like a movie, where everything and everyone is in a surreal theatre production.  There he finally remembers what his mind has blocked for so long – that he was in a camp of sorts as a prisoner, and its something to do with his days in the Army.

In light of these memories returning, a Brigadier General pays a visit and explains the missing parts of his service life.  Why he did so Bill couldn’t immediately understand but didn’t question it.  Then Ellen conveniently visits him, laments his misfortune, and goes over the reasons for not telling him about his past (now that he’s remembered it) and wished him well for the future.

Before he leaves the hospital, Gator returns to tie up loose ends, that all that appeared to be sinister was not, and could be explained rationally.  It marked the end of his investigation, albeit a little too convenient Bill thinks but again says nothing.

He finally goes home with Jennifer.

Another dream – of the beginning of a lifelong friendship with ‘Brainless’ a fellow soldier, and someone he has known off and on since Army days, but who also had not alerted him to what he now remembered, also no doubt for a very good reason.

And the remembrance of the word Starburst – but he has no idea of its significance.

Well, that’s a lot to deal with, and will keep me writing long into the night.

And more people.

This story is starting to have a list of credits as long as the end of a movie!

NANOWRIMO Supplementary – Day 6

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There is something bittersweet about writing those fateful last two words on your manuscript, ‘The End’.

That’s because it’s not.  Oh, no.  It’s just the beginning.

However daunting the next phase of the writing process is, it’s a huge sigh of relief to finally finish the NaNoWriMo project for this year.

Then ending only changed a dozen times, the most recent version yesterday, when finally in possession of all the facts, we make discoveries that we really wished we hadn’t.

Certainly, the story lives up to the tentative book title ‘Betrayed’ though I’m not sure if I might use ‘Betrayal’ instead.  But a decision on that is a long way off.

Now it’s time to park the manuscript, at the moment running to over 80,000 words, more than I actually intended, and let it simmer in the back of my mind until the first edit next year sometime.

Having parked two or three other projects so I could concentrate on this, now I can go back and continue with my episodic stories, and, at last, find myself able to progress at least one.

But, let me say this, it’s a hell of a way to write a novel in a short space of time.

“One Last Look”, nothing is what it seems

A single event can have enormous consequences.

A single event driven by fate, after Ben told his wife Charlotte he would be late home one night, he left early, and by chance discovers his wife having dinner in their favourite restaurant with another man.

A single event where it could be said Ben was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Who was this man?  Why was she having dinner with him?

A simple truth to explain the single event was all Ben required.  Instead, Charlotte told him a lie.

A single event that forces Ben to question everything he thought he knew about his wife, and the people who are around her.

After a near-death experience and forced retirement into a world he is unfamiliar with, Ben finds himself once again drawn back into that life of lies, violence, and intrigue.

From London to a small village in Tuscany, little by little Ben discovers who the woman he married is, and the real reason why fate had brought them together.

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onelastlookcoverfinal2

In a word: Land

 

And, yes, the simple description for this word is that area of the earth that isn’t covered by water.

It could also describe that little patch that my house is built on, and is generally covered by the expression, house and land as a package.

After all, a piece of land is not much used to you unless there’s a dwelling on it, or, on rare occasions, under it.  Does that mean then that land in this instance only as what you can see?

OK, now it’s getting confusing.

What if I wanted to live off the land.  A small patch will not do, in this case, is need a large area, perhaps thousands if hectares.

It is said that the Australian aborigines have lived off the land for thousands of years, with a nomadic lifestyle.

No small patch of land for them.

Now, what if I come down out of the sky. Oddly enough this means I have to land, even if I come back to earth over later.  It’s still a landing.

Now it’s getting interesting.

So what if you wanted to refer to where you live?  That would be your homeland or motherland, and it describes a country.

So it’s my patch, my country, any area where there isn’t water.  What about describing a country, say the land of the long white cloud, or the land of the rising sun?

And just to add to the confusion

I can land a fish

Make land, after being all at sea, and,

Best of all, land that much desired job.

Wow.

I’m beginning to think it’s another one of those ‘four-letter words’