Writing about writing a book – Day 5 continues – Those annoying people called characters

Whilst it is always an idea to sit down and write and keep going, not worrying too much about the narrative, there’s always the problem of ideas about characters, and relationships that come back and need to be addressed.

I have issues with Jennifer in that we will need to know something about her, and need a little backstory.

Jennifer is the second most important character in this novel and one that has more talents than what my main character, or anyone else for that matter, thinks she has.  Of course, that is deliberate on her part for a number of reasons that will be introduced at the appropriate time.

But, at the start, all we will have to work with, is the introduction provided by the narrator.

It may go something like this:


Jennifer Pennington Smythe was, as you might expect, very English, very reserved, and very private.  She was the definitive ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and I was guilty, at first, of suspecting she had once been a schoolmistress due to the severity of dress, demeanor, and expression.

HR had sent her to me when I’d requested an IT Specialist, though of what particular discipline it was never divulged, neither by HR nor by her.  She arrived one morning, told me she was to ‘help resolve our technical difficulties’, moved into an office that had been used as a storeroom, and worked hard to prove her worthiness in the role.

My first attempt at conversation was rebuffed, the second met with a very cold stare.  Everyone, including me, learned very quickly that any other topic of conversation than work would be ignored.  At the time it suited me, there was trouble in paradise and I didn’t want anything more on my plate to deal with.


So, what is this trouble?

There are three distinct stages of this relationship between the two most important characters, and it is the actions of one of the protagonists that brings them together.  This particular protagonist, of course, is the main character’s wife, a woman that is on the periphery for the period the novel covers, but a little background will be needed at some point before we reach this part of the narrative.

This now means that I will have to put together a back story for Bill and his ex-wife Ellen, not too much yet but enough to explain the next part of the evolving relationship between Bill and Jennifer.


I’m sure this topic is going to raise it’s head again and again…

In a word: Order

I gave the order to my assistant to order the supplies we needed in order to maintain stock levels.

Oh, yes, the word order is one of my favourites, because it can confuse the hell out of many people in its simplicity and yet complexity.

I gave the order, it’s what happens in the armed forces, and a lot of other places, but mostly we would associate it with organisations that have hierarchical authority.

The military, for one, cut orders, the means of sending one of its minions to another place, or to do a specific job.

Order supplies, well, just about anyone can order something from somewhere, usually on the internet, and sometimes require or are given an order number so it can be tracked.

In order to maintain, in order to get what I want, in order to get elected, this is just another way of using the word, with the aim of achieving something, though I’m sure there’s probably a better way of expressing these sentiments.

Law and order, well, doesn’t everyone want this, and doesn’t it always turn up in an election campaign, and seems to be the first thing sacrificed after the election.  The thing is, no one can guarantee law and order.

There is the law and there is administering it.  There is no order that comes with it, we just hope that order is maintained, and deplore the situation when it isn’t.

Perhaps in order to maintain law and order, we might need more police.

Then, of course, there is alphabetical order, and numerical order, where things can be designated from A to Z, like this challenge, or from 1 to 10, or more.  We can sort words alphabetically, numbers numerically and data items by keys or an index.

This is naturally called a sort order.

Then there is my car, or bike, or washing machine, or mixmaster.  They are currently in good working order, though that might not last.

And lastly, in deference to all those out there who are thinking of becoming dictators, it’s always possible, one day, there will be a new world order.  They might actually be in their own particular order, whose intellect might be (?) of the highest order.

Surely that is one order too many.

In a word: Rabbit

Have you ever heard of someone rabbiting on, you know, endlessly rattling on about nothing?

That’s just one use of the word rabbit.

The most obvious is the animal, a rabbit.  You know, that burrowing, plant-eating, long-eared, short-tailed animal that goes by the name of Bugs Bunny, maybe.

Nearly every child has a stuffed, cuddly one.

Of course, it’s of some significance at the moment because its Easter, and that there are countless chocolate versions of the so-called Easter bunny.

Then there is that 6-foot high invisible rabbit called Harvey, or not necessarily a rabbit, but a pookah.

We use the expression rabbit ears to describe those old interior television antennas.

There’s rabbit stew, rabbit pie, and white rabbit beer.

But my favourite is when the magician pulls the proverbial rabbit out of a hat.  It’s an expression we also use for someone who pulls off an impossible task.

So, here’s what could happen…

You wake up to a perfect summer’s day.  There’s not a cloud in the sky, the water is a virtual millpond, and the motor takes you slowly along.

You’re not far offshore, and there’s a gentle tide going out, so you turn off the engine consider putting down the anchor, but there doesn’t;t seem any need, break out the deck chairs, and you’ve decided to take an afternoon snooze.

Now read on…


When you wake up the shoreline is no longer in sight.

The water is a little more choppy, but nothing to be concerned about.

Towards shore the sky is clear and the sun is just about gone.

You look in the other direction, out to sea, and…

It’s black and forbidding, bolts of lightning on display like a fireworks show, the sort of display best seen from shore, not at sea.

The first gentle nudge of a breeze rocks the boat slightly.

A few minutes later, a rush of air hits you like a ton of bricks, almost touching the boat over to the point of no return.

You try to start the motor, but, given the situation, fate is always on the other side.

It won’t start.

You race to put up a sail, but it has to be tightly reefed in, and as it goes up it flaps violently in the ever-increasing wind gusts.

The weather changed in ten minutes. eleven if you were to not split hairs.

What happens next?

Past conversations with my cat – 78


This is Chester.  He doesn’t like stormy weather, particularly at night.

We’ve been having a lot of hot days with no relief in temperatures.  From mid-morning, the air conditioning had been running until midnight.

But, Chester’s usual hiding place has been in the non-aircoditioned part of the house, so he’s had to come down to join me.

There’s been no rain for weeks and although some days are cloudy all it does is worsen the humidity which at times even the airconditioning can’t relieve.

But when the storms come, after a long dry period, they are intense, and when the lightning strikes the thunder is particularly loud, and the cat jumps.

Never let a scaredy-cat sit on your lap in a storm.  I did.  Once.  Never again.

I put him on the chair next to me and covered him up.  It helps.

An hour later the storm has passed, and he goes back to lying on the floor.

Oops, was that another crack of lightning?

What we would all like to have…


A colourful garden, and the time to look after it.

To be honest, I had expected, when I finally retired, that I would have all the time in the world to build and tend a garden.

Flowers here and there, a few fruit trees, like an orange, a Mandarin, a lemon and lime, perhaps a mango, all that fruit that costs a fortune in the supermarket.

Then, in a corner a small herb garden with the basics, you know, rosemary, thyme, sage, a chili bush, dill, and parsley.

Then, some tomatoes, pumpkins, runner beans, peas, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, maybe lettuce of two.

A good idea.

But, just don’t have the time.

Good thing we have public gardens we can go visit, and think to ourselves if only I had more time, and enthusiasm, my garden could look like that.

Past conversations with my cat – 77


This is Chester.  He’s not happy we’re cleaning the office.

I guess I’m not either.


It’s school holidays and it’s natural that while parents are working grandparents take up the slack as childminders.  The trick is keeping them amused, and away from computers or being planted in front of the TV.

Of course, knowing the level of fear the grandchildren can bring to the cat, he views their arrival with some apprehension, keeping his distance.

Based on previous experiences, he is assuming they will remain out of the office on the computer for one, and on the smartphone for the other, so he slinks down the passage and quickly runs into the office.

Is this going happen often, he asks.

They’re on holidays, it’s here or daycare, and I’d rather it be here.

Then they appear at the doorway.  “OK.  We’re here to clean the room.  Where do we start?”

Chester’s cornered.  He knows it.  I know it, and worse still, they know it.

He disappears under the desk, safe for the moment, but it’s going to be a long morning.

So now I’m off the soapbox, back to the end of June report

Sorry, I just went off my head, just before…

It’s the problem with having the news channel on all day, listening to constant bad news.

That’s why, I suppose, it’s up to us writers to create something good, and with a happy ending.

I’ll be honest, I like happy endings.  You know, where the good guys win and the bad guys lose, emphatically.

My latest book, nearly through the 6th editing, and closer to publication than it was a month ago, has a happy ending, but not before a great deal of angst.

A bit like real life these days.

But there are other stories, with twists and turns, some predictable, others out of left field, but, still remembering that you can’t just pull a twist out of nowhere, it has to have hooks set up previously, but not necessarily discernable by the reader.

Until that moment when they realize, ok, so that’s why that piece of unrelated information was dropped back there in Chapter Three.  Of course, they don’t realize the author went back to Chapter Three much later and added it when he or she decided on this new twist.

A recommendation perhaps not to write by the seat of your pants, just the flying.


I’ve finished one story, with 47 episodes.

Another is sitting at 33.

One that I’m particularly enjoying writing is at Episode 55, but I have 6 already planned, which is unusual for me, but it’s how excited I am about it.  I even know basically how it’s going to finish.

Another, my foray into WWII is going along, not quite as quickly as I hoped, but there’s a lot of research required, and thankfully there seems to be enough information about what I need to know about that period about on the internet and in books.

IT’s a part of writing that makes it difficult sometimes because you want to write, but it has to be plausible, and sometimes I’m ferreting about for a week, sometimes two, just to get the facts straight.

I’m also cognizant of the fact NANOWRIMO is coming, and it will sneak up on me.  To do it requires a plan of sorts because 50,000+ words don’t just write themselves, especially over a period of 30 consecutive days.  It requires discipline to write about 2,000 words a day.

Other than that, I have two other books to finish editing and two others that need finishing.


Maybe I should give up social media for a few months……….

It’s the end of June

And we’re all still here, in one piece, but oddly enough it feels like someone or something is picking us off, one by one.  You know, 100 green bottles standing on a wall…

I wanted to start this by reporting on my writing progress…


I’m watching the world go to hell in a handbasket.  It’s not necessarily it’s leaders, those so-called wise men and women in government who are supposed to know what to do when there’s a crisis.  They can’t know everything.

They can try and get the best advice possible and pass it on.

And, it seems, a lot of them do.

There’s the odd maniac out there that has different ideas, mainly because their very instinct is to ask ‘what’s in it for me’?  It happens, and it will always happen, and sadly, a few million people have to die in order for them to realize their ambitions.

Fortunately, we don’t have many of them here.  We have leaders that make decisions that no one likes but begrudgingly follow.

Except for those few, and there’s always a few who think they are smarter, wiser, and better than all of us doing the right thing.

And they blame everyone else or play the persecution card when they perpetrate what can only be described as murder, because they disregard commonsense, go against all the proper things that they should be doing, get the virus, and then pass it on.

We have one such outbreak, a bad one, here, and it was started by selfish, stupid people.

There’s no other way of putting it.

To be honest, I’m all for public executions in the town square, but I’ve been told that’s a little harsh on one hand, and on the other, some would like to be the executioner.

But would it stop the stupid people?  No.

So, the bottom line is, it will come back, a few million more will get it, and those it didn’t kill before, it will kill them this time.  Why?  Because the longer we leave it out there, happily transmitting, it is mutating, as any ghastly virus does.

OK, I’m stepping off the soapbox now.

I’ve just been reminded that the COVID 19 virus doesn’t exist and it’s a Democratic hoax, that deep state (whoever they are – probably also Democrats) want you to think there’s a virus so they can control us.  Funny thing is, their not in power, so whose doing the controlling?

Are we going around in circles here?

It’s going away, it’s gone, it’ll be gone in a few weeks…  What will?  The Democratic hoax, deep state, a virus that doesn’t exist?

Hell, I’m just confused now.

But this just in … they’ve found a way to travel through time.

If they have I want to be first in line, so I can go back to when Russia and America hated each other, there was a cold, cold war going on, China made shoddy goods and we never heard from them or about them, and the British owned all the oil wells in Arabia.

In a word: well

At first, you would think this word has something to do with your health.

You’d be right.  “Are you well?” or “Are you well enough?”

Of course, it can cause some confusion, because how do you measure degrees of wellness.

Reasonably well, very well, not well, or just well.  Not a good descriptive word for the state of your health, maybe.

How about what if the team played well.  Not health this time, but a standard.

There’s ordinary, mediocre, as a team, brilliantly, and then there’s well.

It seems it can be used to describe an outcome.

Well, well.

Hang on, that’s something else again.

What about, then, we use the word to describe a hole in the ground with water at the bottom.

Or not if it is a drought.

A lot of people get water from a well, in fact in the olden days that was a common sight in a village.

What about those environment destroyers, oilmen.  They have oil wells, don’t they?

And when I went to school, there were ink wells on every desk.

Messy too, because I was once the ink monitor.

But if the well’s dried up?

It becomes a metaphor for a whole new bunch of stuff.

OR what about a stairwell?

And at the complexity of it all, for such a small word, tears well up in my eyes.