A Different Perspective

Pete Harrington stood watching his ten year old son, Jake, kick his soccer ball around on the soccer pitch in the park. He rolled his shirt sleeves up. It was unusually warm for early October, and he hadn’t had time to change out of his suit. After coming home from work, Jake had harangued and harassed him to take him to the park. All Pete had really wanted to do was put his feet up and open a nice cold beer. But since he wasn’t going to get any peace, he’d agreed. At least the beer would wait until later. Sometimes this kid was way too hyperactive for Pete to handle. He could barely keep up with the boy. Had he been that energetic when he’d been Jake’s age? He’d forgotten what it was like to be young. Working all the hours God sends just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table tended to do that to you. It’s typical, he thought to himself. You spend the best years of your life working your ass off trying to make enough money for a comfortable life and then you never have time to do anything with the money you earn. 

 

“Hey dad, wanna kick the ball around with me?” The skinny fair-haired boy looked hopefully at his father. 

 

“No, it’s okay son. You go kick your ball around. Show me what you can do. I’ll sit on that bench over there and watch you.” 

 

The disappointed look Jake shot at him was like a kick in the teeth. But it didn’t stop Pete turning away and trudging to the bench. Someone was already sitting there, an older man, maybe in his late fifties, with salt and pepper hair. Pete nodded to the man before sitting on the other end of the bench. They sat in silence for a moment.

 

“That your kid?” The older man finally asked. 

 

“Yeah, he’s a real soccer nut. Wants to run around with the ball all day long.”

 

“What’s his name?”

 

Pete hesitated, unsure whether he should answer. Why was this stranger so interested in his boy? “His name’s Jake,” he finally said.

 

The old man turned to Pete, and with a low chuckle said, “Relax, I’m no predator. My name’s Darryl by the way.”

 

“I’m Pete. I just wasn’t sure why you’re so interested in my kid. You can’t be too careful these days.”

 

Darryl sighed. “A truer word never spoken. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you uneasy. My wife and I moved here recently. Your son sure has a lot of energy.”

 

Both men watched Jake run full pelt from one end of the pitch to the other, controlling the ball perfectly. Pete sighed. “Yeah, you’re not wrong there. To be honest he gets a bit too much for me sometimes. Tell you the truth, I’d much rather be home right now, nursing a beer. But Jake was very insistent that I take him here. He’s trying out for the school soccer team. So…do you have kids of your own?”

 

Darryl shook his head once, but didn’t say anything.

 

“You didn’t want any?” Despite his initial suspicion, Pete found himself becoming genuinely curious about this stranger.

 

Darryl sat silent for a moment. “We tried. God knows, we tried. At first we tried the natural way, but as the years passed with no success we realized we were going to need some help. We went to a fertility clinic. We tried artificial insemination, IVF, nothing helped. The IVF was the worst. We tried five months in a row. That was the worst part. I had to stick a huge needle in the top of my wife’s butt every night for weeks. It hurt her so much and I hated doing it. It would all have been worth while if it had given us what we both so desperately wanted.” The old man’s eyes took on a faraway look, clearly recalling that painful time. “We tried everything we could, until our funds ran out. Then we just had to accept it wasn’t God’s plan for us to have children. That was the hardest realization I’ve ever had to make.”

 

“I’m sorry to hear that. It must have been a tough thing to go through.” Even as he said it, Pete knew how trite his words must have sounded. But what else could you say? What do you say to anyone who’s going through a tough time? ‘I’m sorry.’ The truth was there was nothing else you could say. “Didn’t you try for adoption?”

 

The older man shook his head. “I was open to the idea. But Muriel? She wouldn’t hear of it. She wanted a child of her own, and that was that. Nothing would change her mind. Well, I’m retired now, and all we have is each other. No kids to visit us, no grandkids to spoil. And everywhere I look all I see is fathers with their children. I love to watch them interact, but it’s like a dagger through the heart at the same time. All those things I’ll never experience. I come out here sometimes because I just have to get out of the house. Muriel’s cold to me these days and the silence gets me down so bad.” He turned his body slightly to face Pete. “Son, I know you probably work too many hours a day. And I know when you get home you’re probably tired and the last thing you feel like doing is running around after Jake. But if you could spend just one day in my shoes, I know you’d see things differently. Because I’d happily trade places with you. Wouldn’t even need to think about it. That boy clearly loves you and he wants your attention and he wants you to interact with him as much as you can. It’s easy for me to say this I know, but appreciate him as much as you can because there are a lot of us out there who can’t have what you have. And believe me, it hurts like hell.” He stood up, nodded to Pete, and slowly walked away. 

 

Pete stared after Darryl for a moment, thinking over what the old man had said. Then he turned to watch Jake dribbling with the ball toward goal. He stood up and walked onto the pitch. “Hey, Jake. How about you go in goal?” 

 

Jake stared at his father in surprise for a moment. Then he grinned. “Sure, pop!” 

 

“And afterward, we’ll go get some ice-cream and rent a movie. Whatever you want to see.”

 

It was funny how he’d never noticed before how a child’s smile of joy could light up your heart. What else had he missed out on? He resolved then and there to never again take his son for granted. It had taken a chance encounter with a complete stranger to give him a whole new perspective on life.

 

When the words just flow!

Yes.  It’s me.  Again.  Two blogs in one day.  Aren’t you lot lucky! 😉

I’ve just finished a writing marathon and had to share.  I’ve no idea how long I wrote for but I wrote sixteen pages.  By hand.  So I have no idea what the word count is yet.  But I do know my hand needs a rest.  Feel free to insert whatever rude joke comes to mind.  I’m no prude. 😉

The words just flowed.  I couldn’t stop.  The weird thing is I don’t know what I’m going to write or what’s going to happen next until I come to write it.  I had a hunch about one thing that turned about to be correct, but even then there was an unexpected twist that I didn’t foresee.  My mind must be a strange place lol.  It doesn’t seem to matter what I predict is going to happen, it never works out the way I think it will.  Although, there is a semblance of a plot emerging.  This story is big.  It’s sprawling.  It’s epic.  And it’s as scary as hell because I am writing a big sprawling epic without any kind of outline or without any clear definition of where the story is going.  That also makes this story incredibly exciting and fun to write.  It’s so unpredictable.  Who knows what will happen next?  Okay, I’m rambling now.  My brain is fried after this marathon writing session.  It feels good though.  Happy writing everyone! 

When Characters Revolt!

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs about how I’m stalled on my first novel, Psychic Witness.  Something is just off with the story.  I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, something was just not working.  I couldn’t get the voice of my main character, Toby Manning.  The story is in first person so a good strong voice is obviously vital for the story to work.  But whatever I tried, I just couldn’t seem to get his personality or his voice right.

Yet there is another character, Lori Marshall.  I created her originally as a plot device to bring Toby into conflict with his antagonist sooner rather than later.  But she wasn’t happy with that.  Oh no!  She forced her way into the story more, becoming a vital part of the plot.  Then she started making eyes at Toby’s best friend, Pete Hannity.  Now I think she’s making a play for becoming the main character herself!  What next?  Lori Marshall for President?   Lori Marshall to take over the world?  The thing is, the idea of her becoming the main character is starting to make sense.  I don’t think Toby is right for the role.  Maybe I can find a bit part for him!  I can see how I can make the changes.  Right from the start Lori stood out.  The story comes alive when she’s on the page.  I definitely have her voice and personality much stronger than Toby.  Sorry Toby, you’re getting downsized!

All this will have to go on the backburner though as i have a new project I’m working on and the way this one is going I’ll have it finished in a month or two.  Psychic Witness: delayed, not denied!

When Magic Happens

I’ve written a couple of blogs already about how I’m stalled out on my novel, Psychic Witness, and how I bought five notepads with the intentions of writing some short stories with the intention of kickstarting my writing again.  Well, I seem to have started a major project.  My first short story looked to be a futuristic heist-gone-wrong type of tale.  Only it seems to have expanded into something much longer and more complex.  In short, I seem to have a full blown novel on my hands. 

There’s something very strange and magical going on with this story.  While I’m writing, it’s as if there’s a little voice whispering in my ear telling me what to write.  The words just flow.  I never have to stop to think what to write next.  Not only that, I can’t plan ahead!  Whatever I think is going to happen when I next get to write is always completely wrong.  Every time I sit down to write, something completely unexpected happens.  Something that never even crossed my mind when I was thinking what to write later.  This story is so organic it’s almost alive. 

One time I wrote about one of the two characters getting captured.  I thought he was the main character who was going to feature the most.  The second character is more subservient, more used to being told what to do than think for himself.  Now he’s thrust into the limelight, having to fend for himself in a dark mysterious forest.  I never saw that coming before I sat and wrote it.

Today the unexpected happened again.  I’d been thinking about what was going to happen to my secondary, now primary character, Raygon..  Where would he end up.  I’d imagined several scenarios.  So this afternoon, I finally had time to sit and write.  I had him wander through the forest until he was exhausted and collapsed to rest.  He’d just drifted to sleep.  The name Ryda popped into my head from nowhere.  The next thing I knew, I was writing about an encounter Raygon has with what I can only describe as a magical being.  She looks like a teenage girl.  She’s childlike and petulant.  And so vivid.  It’s almost spooky how this story is evolving.  Now I seem to be writing a fantasy story.  I sense this tale has only just begun and there is a lot more to come.  I don’t know what’s coming next and I’m not even going to try to guess because I’ll probably be wrong.  I’ll just let this story unfold as it wants.  I’ve never written this way before but it’s just so much fun!

Below is a snippet from todays writing, introducing Ryda.  it’s my first draft so it’ll be rough but I just wanted to share her with you all.  I know she’ll be back in this story.  I don’t know how, but I’m sure I won’t be able to keep her away.

 

 

A childish giggle dragged Raygon from slumber’s beckoning embrace.  He lifted his head and looked around.  Nobody was in sight.  “Hello?  Is someone there?”

The giggle came again, sounding just to his left.  The giggle had a mischievous quality that chilled him.  Was this a ghost?    All thoughts of sleep fled as he tried to make sense of the situation.  He stood, his body tense, ready for fight or flight.  “Who’s there?”  He unholstered his blaster, gripping it tight.

The giggle sounded again, from his right this time.  He turned, blaster held up.  “Who are you?  Show yourself.”

“Why?”  The voice had a sulky petulant quality.

“Because I want to see you.”

“Why?”

“Because I need to know if you’re a friend or an enemy.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m alone and afraid.”:

“Why?”

“Because…Look, don’t you ever say anything other than why?”

“Sometimes.”

The change in dialogue threw him a little.  “That’s better.  Now, who are you?”

“Ryda.”

“That’s a pretty name.  Why can’t I see you?”

“Because.”

“Do you ever speak more than one word at a time?”

“Sometimes.”

“Can I please see you?”

“Maybe.”

“Does my weapon scare you?  I’ll put it away.”  He holstered his blaster.  “See?  you’re safge now.”

The phantom voice giggled again.  “I’m not scared.  That toy can’t harm me.”

“So you can speak more than word at a time.  May I please see you now?”

The air in front of him shimmered like a heat haze.  A figure slowly coalesced into view.  At first just the outline, then the features appeared until a small human girl appeared, no more than four feet tall.  She had soft delicate features, a heart-shaped face framed by vibrant red hair that fell to her shoulders.  She was waif like in appearance, had a waif-like body and she wore a short green tunic that left most of her legs bare.  She looked roughly like a sixteen year old girl, but she felt considerably older.  Her eyes sparkled and her lips quirked as if she was ready to giggle again.  “Is this better?”

Raygon nodded.  “Much.  It’s nice to be able to see the person you’re talking to.  What are you doing here?  Are you alone?”

“The forest is my home.  I’ve been following you for hours.  You are noisy.”

“Why did you wait so long to contact me?”

“You amused me.”  She giggled again.  “I get so few visitors these days.  Nobody ever comes here any more.  How did you get here?”

 

That’s all I’m sharing for now.  I hope you enjoyed it!

 

 

 

 

 

Writing By The Seat Of your Pants

A strange thing is happening with my latest writing.  When I wrote my novel, Psychic Witness, I pretty much mapped it out so I knew what was going to happen.  There were a few surprises, but nothing major.  I was in control and I knew what was going to happen next.  I’ve been stuck in editing hell for a while now.  I haven’t touched the manuscript in weeks.  I’ve missed writing so much but I can’t bring myself to touch this story right now.  I don’t know what the problem is.  I think it’s something with my main character.  I just can’t seem to get into his head.  I’m thinking right story, wrong character?

As I wrote in my last blog, I bought a set of five notepads on Friday with the intention of writing some short stories to blast through my block and get me writing again.  Well, that very night two names popped into my head from nowhere.  I wasn’t even thinking about writing.  In fact I was watching an episode of Doctor Who!  I grabbed one of the notepads intending to just write the names down so I wouldn’t forget them.  Then a scene came fully developed into my mind of two men standing in front of a steel door that led to some sort of vault.  One of the men had used a pass card to try to get into the vault.  But it hadn’t worked and in fact it set off an alarm. 

Naturally I started writing.  What came out was an intense chase scene that ended with them jumping off a ledge to fall fifty feet into a lake to escape their pursuers. That’s how I left it that night as it was late and I was tired.  The next day I continued writing and the pair’s dash to safety continued only to end with one of them being captured.  The other escaped into a forest.  The strange thing is I don’t know what is going to happen next until I pick up a pen and actually start to write.  I had no idea one of them was going to get caught until it happened.  It wasn’t something I’d considered.  I don’t think I can even plan ahead because whatever I think is going to happen probably won’t even be close when I come to write it.  It’s almost like reading the story.  I have no idea what’s going to happen until I actually write it!  This short story is also threatening to grow into a full blown novel.  I sense there is a lot more to this story to come.

Has this happened to you?  Is this how you write?  As someone who usually plots an outline, even just a vague list of plot points, this style of writing is very liberating and even exciting.  It’s also a bit scary.  What if the story just runs up against a brick wall?  What if I write the characters into a situation that I have no idea how to get them out of?  At this moment I have no idea who these two men are.  Are they good guys or bad guys?  What were they after in the vault? All I know is the story that I thought was going to be a sort of futuristic heist tale seems to be heading into the fantasy realm.  Not something I have any experience of writing.  Though I do enjoy a good fantasy story.

The main thing though, is I have rediscovered the joy of writing.  I no longer look at the computer and think I should get back to writing.  I AM writing and it feels great!

Unblocking The Muse

I’ve been stuck in editing hell for too long and it sapped my will to write.  Yesterday I bought five notepads from Staples for a dollar each.  Last night I started writing a new short story.  It felt so good to finally be writing again.  I have no idea where this story is going or even why things are happening yet.  I’m enjoying the ride.  It’s a bit like reading a story.  I get to find out what’s going to happen as I write.  With my novel I plotted every detail of the story so I knew everything that was going to happen.  Writing without any kind of plot or idea where you’re going is kind of scary, because what if I write myself into a corner and have to go back and rewrite?  Yet it’s lso liberating, because I’m finding my writing is more fluid, more organic. 

Last night these two characters came to my mind with a situation.  So I grabbed one of the books and started to write. 

For anyone who’s stuck on a story and has writers block, sometimes simply starting a short story can unblock you.  The most important thing is to keep writing.  It worked for me.  Later I’ll return to this world I’ve just created and see what happens next.  That’s the best thing about being a writer.  Creating a world and seeing what happens next.

I’m Getting My Mojo Back

I created this blog mainly to promote my work-in-progress, Psychic Witness.  I’m stuck in editing hell at the moment.  It’s a slog and I keep going off the boil.  I have to admit it’s been a while since I did anything with it.  Then this afternoon, while browsing through Twitter looking at things completely unrelated to writing, I came on a tweet that shared a link to a writer’s blog.  I read that blog.  Then I read another blog.  They were mainly about creating tension and how to create a great antagonist.  Talk about a kick up the butt!  Just reading those two blogs filled me with inspiration and suddenly writing is sexy again!  Now I can’t wait to boot up my laptop and open my work-in-progress.  I have some new ideas on how to ratchet up the suspense.  Things happen for a reason.  I think I was meant to read that blog today.

I know most of my blogs lately have been about health and about shakes that lower your blood sugar.  I’m still working with that and still having success.  But my focus on this blog is going to shift back to what I created this account for.  My writing.  And for interacting with other writers.  Because sometimes we lose our passion and when we do, we need our fellow writers to help us steer us back on track.

So, to you other writers out there on WordPress.  How do you keep the magic alive?

Blog Hop – What I’m working on now – TheNext Big Thing

What is the working title of your book?

My book is called Psychic Witness.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It came from an idea that’s been rattling around in my brain for years, about a movie I’d love to see on the big screen.  But if you want it, I guess you have to write it yourself.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s hard to classify my story.  It’s not a horror.  And it’s not really urban fantasy as there are no paranormal creatures roaming my fictional world.  I’ve been calling it a supernatural suspense.  Is that even a genre?  Maybe I’ve created a new sub genre!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My wife and I discussed this as I was in the early stages of brainstorming the story.  The only actor we could really agree on was we’d love Tom Hanks to play the antagonist, Frank Sweeney.  So if you ever read this blog, Tom…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Oh, that’s a toughie.  I haven’t really gotten this far yet.  Off the top of my head, “When Toby Manning has a brush with death, he witnesses something that sets him on a collision course with a serial killer.”  Still doesn’t really sum up the essence of my story, but it’s a start.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m going to try my hardest to go the traditional route.  I’d love to see my book on the shelves of my local Barnes and Noble one day.  If it doesn’t work out, I’ll consider my options.  I just want to see my book out there.  After I’ve made it as good as I possibly can, of course.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Honestly, about two years.  That’s because I wasn’t disciplined enough to sit and write every day.  Sometimes I’d go weeks without writing anything, especially if I was stuck on a scene.  It’s something I’m working on.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s hard to say.  I’m not aware of many books that deal with the subject of out-of-body experiences.  One that comes to mind is Nobody True, by James Herbert.  I’m not ready to compare myself to him, though!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have to give huge credit to my wife.  For years this story was just an idea for a movie I’d like to see.  She’s the one who prompted me to write the book and she’s been my source of inspiration, as well as my cheerleader, ever since.  Without her, this story might well have never been written!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I try to keep the out-of-body scenes as true to the myth of astral projection as I can.  I also inject some humor in the story.  I’ve always liked a story that can make me laugh, even in the suspense genre.

Here’s a link to a friend’s blog who is also taking part in the Next Big Thing series. She’s a talented writer.

http://allthethingsaroundme.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/blog-hop/