NANOWRIMO Supplementary – Day 5

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I’ve managed to come back from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (where I’m deeply immersed in another story) for long enough to continue writing the last few chapters of the NaNoWriMo project.

Today, I wrapped up Chapter 33 and went through the aftermath of the latest attack on the main character, with a little assistance from a new operative, and one I’m beginning to like more than I should.

I’m hoping this is not a bit-part player whose going to steal every scene she’s in.

Then it’s onto chapter 34 where we get to sit down and discuss what happened and why.  Sometimes we tend to overlook the obvious, and not realise that what seems too good to be true generally is.

And where the title of the book gets justified.

There’s more than one betrayal going on here, and it’s going to be a hard pill for one of the characters to swallow.

In a word: Ghost

Have you seen one?  I haven’t.  Yet.

I’ve stayed in a few places where ghosts were purported to be roaming the passages at night, but apparently not the night I was staying.

And that’s something else that I have a problem with, why is it ghosts only come out at night, or is that just the perception I have hot from reading up on the subject.

Maybe my view of ghosts is somewhat stilted, after all, I think my first introduction to ghosts was watching The Centerville Ghost, a movie I saw on t.v. when I was very young.

You have to admit Hollywood’s perception of ghosts is quite interesting.

 

But…

Do you think they are real?  Do I think they are real?

I think I would have to be presented with some fairly solid evidence they exist, but perhaps not to the point of meeting one.

There are, it seems countless examples of ethereal forces, you know, wind blowing where there’s no wind or draught outside, room temperatures dropping for no apparent reason, knocking, rattling of chains, strange noises like low moaning.

 

And yet…

There are hotels you can stay in such as the Chelsea Hotel in New York, where it’s possible to run into Sid Vicious.

Sorry, not staying there any time soon.

Then there’s the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles where it’s possible to run into Marylin Monroe, who lived in room 229.

That could be an interesting encounter.

Another is the Westin St Francis in San Francisco where the actress Virginia Rappe died while attending a party held in Fatty Arbuckle’s room, Arbuckle’s room, who was later accused of assaulting and murdering her, and whose career tanked after the incident.

Her ghost is seen moving about the hotel tearing her hair out.  It seems all of the spectral activity occurs on the 12th floor.

 

Good to know if I decide to stay there.  I wonder if they have a 13th floor?

Perhaps in too old to be running the gamut of paranormal experiences, the old heart is not as strong as it used to be.

Writing about writing a book – Day 5

6:30 am, can’t sleep.  Too many notes to self!

Time to read 101 things you need to be a writer, and 101 items to consider when writing a book.

You need:

Pen, check.  Paper, check.  Enthusiasm, not the greatest at this hour, but check.  Writing software, I’ve got Scrivener, what have you got?  Word?  So have I, so I see you, and raise it with Y-Writer.  Not sure how to use either yet, but some proficiency with Word.  Still using pen, paper, and typewriter.  Till I run out of ribbons … do they actually make ribbons anymore?

Writing the book:

The plot, well that will evolve as I’m writing, like the reader I don’t want to know the end yet.  Well, I have an idea how it will end, but that could change.

Characters, yes, they are works in progress.

Oh, while I remember, Bill has a past which he doesn’t remember, the events so traumatic, he knows something happened, spent time in the hospital, but was not sure what it was.  It will come back, triggered by another traumatic event.  It will also fuel dreams or nightmares.

And we need a master criminal, and he is going to be a character called Colonel Davenport.  A career soldier turned disillusioned and finds a way to make a living out of the war.  A very good living.  Led a group, some of whom still exist as his henchmen, the sort who kill without conscience.

Outline, isn’t that written after the book is complete?  No?  Ok, then the story so far:

1 – Bill is on holidays

2 – Benton calls, emergency, the network is down – Company name Transworld (PK, boring)

3 – Other problems – a dead body for one (Richardson, the Accountant), departmental members unavailable

4 – Police – introduce a new character, Chief Inspector Gator

5 – Arrival at work, meeting with Managers, discuss the situation – new character Aitchison – he is involved somehow ??  The first suggestion is, there is a network within a network

6 – Locating the problem – Introduce Giles the IT officer, Bill meets with Gator, speak about files on servers gone missing (ok, a bit of geek speak here)

7 – Introduce Jennifer, explore their relationship – more geek speak with added humor

8 – Lunch – then Aitchison calls, and everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

So far so good.

 

8:00 am, coffee in hand, to the writing room (well, desk anyway!)

A little more profiling on Bill, now with the last name Chandler.  Still not sure if I want to keep up the first person narrative, but I’ll worry about that later …

 

Looking at the mess constituting my room and my life, slob may have been an appropriate description.  I considered myself old, overweight though not necessarily fat, hair greying at the edges, and few wrinkles around the eyes, there were no real plusses in my description.

Some said I had a kindly face, but perhaps I had the look of a paternalistic grandfather.  There were several men in the office who were the same age and had grandchildren.  And some who had children at a time when they should be planning for retirement, not parenthood.

World-weary and perpetually tired, I’d passed mid-life crisis, wondering what it was that affected other men my age.  I’d never had the desire for fast cars and even faster women.  I had trouble keeping up with Ellen.

I used to think I’d missed a lot in half a lifetime.

Now, I didn’t know what to think.

Did I deserve pity?  No.

Did I deserve sympathy?  No!

The only person who could get me out of the rut was myself.  For years I’d traded on Ellen’s good nature.  She deserved better, left me, and was now happier in the arms of a man who I wanted to believe treated her far better than I.  She had told me so herself, and judging by her manner, it had to be true.  Only recently had she got her smile back, the one that lit her face up, one that infectiously spread happiness to anyone near her.

There were reasons why I became the person I was now.  Some might say they were valid.  In the cold, hard light of dawn, I could see it was time I stopped using my past as a crutch and got on with the business of living.

Perhaps today would be the first day of the rest of my life.

 

OK, Jennifer is there, and things are about to change.

 

 

© Charles Heath 2016 – 2019

Light at the end of the tunnel

It’s a long-standing joke that the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an express train coming right at you.

Metaphorically speaking this is quite often true if you are a pessimist, but since I’ve converted to being an optimist, a bit like changing religions, l think I’ve seen the ‘light’.

It’s a lot like coming up from the bottom of a deep pool, breaking the surface and taking that first long gulp of air.

Along with that elated feeling that you’re not going to drown.

What’s this got to do with anything, you ask?

Perhaps nothing.

As an allegory, it represents, to me, a time when l finally got over a period of self-doubt, a period where a series of events started to make me question why l wanted to be a writer.

I mean, why put yourself through rejections, sometimes scathing criticism, and then have the people whom you thought were your friends suddenly start questioning your choices after initially wholeheartedly supporting them.

Are we only successful or supportable if we are earning a sufficient wage?

Or sold a million copies?

Is this why so many people don’t give up their day job and then find themselves plying the ‘other’ trade into the dark hours of the night, only to find themselves being criticized for other but no less disparaging reasons?

It seems like a no-win situation, but these are the times when your mettle is tested severely.  But, in the end, it is worth it when the book is finished and published, even if it is only on Amazon.

You can sit back and say with pride; l did that.

That metaphorical light, you may ask.

When you make that first sale.

Conversations with my cat – 70

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This is Chester.  He’s checking the outside temperature.

And the heat goes on with no relief in sight.

Chester has taken to spreading out on the cool tiles floor, trying to get some sleep.

He tells me its too hot for the mice to come out.

I believe him.

I was going to chat about the so-called climate emergency, but here’s the thing. It’s been this hot before, endless days of relentless heat, days where the temperature hits 40 degrees centigrade in the shade.

It happened when we came to Queensland for a holiday 30 odd years ago, and long before Chester was thought of.

The first day it rained. After that it was nearly two weeks of very hot days.

We live in the tropics. You could expect more rain, but rain is a fickle thing.

We have bushfires everywhere, and Chester can’t sit at the doorways because of the pervading smoke permeating in the atmosphere.

I should be writing he says, but instead I’m on a settee in the living room, under a slowly rotating fan.

He jumps up and joins me, the sitting on my lap, not exactly the coolest spot to be. He’s getting the effects of the fan, I’m not and I’m guessing that’s the point.

I tell him he can go for a run outside, something I’ve never let him do.

He sees it for the gesture it is and climbs down, back to the cool floor. I get a long cold stare, and then he leaves me in peace.

No work today, for either of us. I can do without the verbal sparring.

Perhaps there will be a cool change tomorrow.

In a word: Brevity

Now, brevity is something that I have not been able to fully wrap my head around.

The dictionary explains Brevity as

‘concise and exact use of words in writing and speech’

So…

I remember working with a writer a long time ago who explained certain authors styles, and for James A Michener of Hawaii fame, he said Michener wrote sentences instead of words, paragraphs instead of sentences, pages instead of paragraphs and chapters instead of pages.

It was a little harsh considering I’d just read the book and had liked it, despite its length and the time it took.

But some time later I realized he was not criticizing Michener, but trying to tell me, in his, what I came to discover, interesting way, that I should strive to write more compactly.

I then came across a book by Brian Callison which was exactly that, the concise version, a story that fitted into about 200 pages.

That too was a good book and it took me a day to read it, and by his use of that economy of words, it read quickly.

Of course, I have tried over the years to emulate both styles, and to a certain degree, failing, because I think I have created my own style which is somewhere in between.

Still, when editing, it is always in the back of my mind that I should be

Using words instead of sentences

Using sentences instead of paragraphs

Using paragraphs instead of pages, and

Using pages instead of chapters.

The chapters, he said, with an air of amusement, will always take care of themselves.

 

Past conversations with my cat – 31

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This is Chester. He doesn’t like being on the end of a berating.

In a moment of extreme pique, as can happen when dealing with an obstinate and sometimes utterly obdurate cat, you can sometimes forget who is the master and who is living on borrowed time.

It’s like dealing with a spoilt child, but unlike a child, you cannot get down to their level and instead of speaking down to them, you can reach them on their level.

With a cat it’s different.

You are enraged, you see red, you are prone to becoming something other than who you really are, going from calm and urbane, to this red-faced infuriated gibbering idiot.

Over something so simple that you can only describe the circumstances as inexplicable.

And yet above it all, this wretched animal remains quite calm and looks at you with those innocent eyes and a face that tells you that whatever the problem is, he didn’t do it.

Those claw marks on the curtains didn’t get there by themselves, did they?

And it’s not as if the humans are likely to climb up the curtains, is it?

What’s the point?

It’s off to the vet to have the claws cut. Then we’ll see what happens.

I’m also wondering if we really need curtains. I hear shutters are in vogue.

Damn cat!