Bitter Lies

I thought I’d share another story.  This is one of the first short stories I’ve written.

Frank sat in his hotel room, his head in his hands. He felt he was on a slippery slope. What was he doing here? Who was he kidding? A woman like that would never give him a second glance. A fifty year old man with a paunch. He must be so deluded to even think she would. He looked at his watch for at least the tenth time since he’d arrived here. 

 

He stood up, walked to the bathroom and doused his face with cold water. Feeling a little better he went back into the bedroom and moved to the door that led to the balcony. Opening it, he stepped outside. The cool April air refreshed him, calmed his nerve a little. 

 

“What am I doing here?”, he asked himself. Shaking his head, he reflected on the events of last night. Chatting to her online. The beautiful blonde woman who had captured his heart. “What is she going to think when she sees who I really am?” 

 

Frank was a used car salesman. A failed used car salesman. He had made only one sale in the last two months and just got fired. And now here he was kidding himself that a looker like that wouldn’t just turn right around and walk away once she’d clocked him. Shaking his head, he walked back into the hotel room. 

 

To distract himself, he flicked on the television, turning to the news channel. He tried to lose himself in the reports but they were the usual crap of murder and mayhem and only made him more depressed.

 

Finally, he called room service and ordered a double brandy. Maybe a bit of Dutch courage was all he needed. He looked at his watch yet again. She would be here in ten minutes, if she was on time. Frank made a vow to himself there and then never to do this again.

 

There was a knock on the door and a voice shouted “room service.” 

 

That was quick.

 

He opened the door, took the drink, and gave the waiter a dollar tip.

 

Walking back to the bed, he sat and took a long gulp, gasping as the drink burned in his throat. Then the warmth sank to his stomach. God that felt better. 

 

He opened his briefcase and took out the photograph he had printed of the woman he was here to meet. They had been talking to each other for a month before deciding to meet. He had sent a photograph of himself when he was twenty years younger, and much better looking. Her photo showed she was in her thirties, long slim legs that wouldn’t quit. A nice firm bust displayed in a tight t shirt. His mouth watered just looking at her. Why would she even look twice at him? He gulped down the rest of his drink, and then sat there just thinking. Finally he made a decision. He packed away the photograph and left the room. He took the elevator down to the lobby. 

 

Frank rang the bell at the main desk. The receptionist, a pretty brunette, popped up from behind the desk.

 

“Sorry, I was just rearranging some files. How can I help you?”

 

“I had a change of plans” he replied. “I guess I won’t be staying for the night. How much do I owe?”

 

“I’m sorry to hear that” replied the receptionist. “I’ll only charge you half price for the room and for the drink. I’m afraid I won’t be able to do fairer than that.”

 

“That’s okay, I figured I would have to pay something.”

 

“Can I ask what the reason is for your early departure?” enquired the receptionist. “Was there a problem with the room?”

 

“Oh, no, the room was fine. The problem is with me” Frank laughed a little bitterly. “I was just deluding myself about something.”

 

The receptionist gave him a strange look but accepted his offered credit card and put the charge on it. “There you go” she smiled handing the card back. “Have a nice day.”

 

“Thanks, you too” he smiled, putting his credit card away. He turned away and barely glanced at the frumpy looking blonde that walked past him on her way to the reception desk.

 

Sighing to himself, Frank walked out of the hotel to get back to his dull life.

 

*************************

 

The receptionist smile brightly at the blonde who looked in her fifties. “Can I help you?”

 

The woman smiled back. “Yes I’m looking for a Frank Webster. He should be here already.”

 

The receptionists’ smile faltered. “Oh, I’m afraid you just missed him. He just checked out less than a minute ago.”

 

The blonde woman thanked her and turned to walk out of the hotel feeling totally deflated. She reflected on the whole scheme. “Who was I kidding” she asked herself. She figured he must have seen the photo she had finally sent him this morning. The one of how she looked now. If only she hadn’t used that 30 year old photograph of her when she first started chatting. He must have seen the new photograph and been totally disappointed and left.

 

“Boy I was really deluding myself!” she thought as she walked out back to her dull, boring life. 

 

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Crossed Wires – a short story

“It’s this way.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Alice looked at the map. “Yes,” she snapped. “I do know how to read a map.”

 

“Okay, okay, no need to get tetchy.” Jack turned the wheel hard to the right, steering the old camper van onto a narrow gravel road. “This just doesn’t seem right. I mean, we’re not even on a proper road.”

 

Well, you wanted to get off the beaten track,” his wife reminded him.

 

“Not this far off the track.”

 

The van bounced over potholes hidden by the gravel. 

 

“I hope the suspension on this old crate is up to the job,” he grumbled. “This thing has seen better days.”

 

“Oh quit grumbling,” said Alice. “You’re the one who wanted to go camping.”

 

“Yeah, and you’re the one who booked it. We must have taken a wrong turn. There’s nothing out here.”

 

Alice traced the line of the road on the map with her finger. “It looks like the site is just another mile ahead. If we go two miles without finding it, we’ll turn back.”

 

Jack glanced sideways at his wife. “Is that your way of admitting you’re wrong?”

 

“I’m never wrong,” Alice sniffed. 

 

Jack shook his head. “You women always say that.”

 

“Although, I will admit I may have made one mistake in my life.”

 

“Go on then, I’ll bite. What was that?”

 

“I married you!” Alice winked at him.

 

Jack glared at her for a moment then laughed. “Yeah, yeah, I don’t know how you put up with me.”

 

“Two large gin and tonics every night. Nothing else would do it.”

 

The old van bounced over a particularly large pothole. Jack’s head hit the ceiling. “Ow. Dammit.”

 

Before Alice could say anything, she spotted two buildings ahead. “See? What did I tell you? I’m never wrong.”

 

“We don’t know if that’s the right place, yet,” Jack reminded her.

 

“Of course it is. You just don’t want to admit I’m right.”

 

Moments later it became obvious they’d found the camp site, as tents came into view.

 

“It looks very basic,” Jack commented. “There doesn’t seem to be much of any amenities.”

 

“Well, you wanted to get away from it all,” Alice reminded him.

 

“Yeah, yeah, you said that already. It’s just that I don’t fancy driving along this road at night. Not that there’s anywhere nearby to drive to.” He noticed something and slammed his foot on the brake, throwing them both forward against their seatbelts.

 

“Jack! What do you think you’re doing? Have you lost your mind?”

 

“Something’s not right.” Jack leaned forward, peering at the campsite ahead.

 

“What on earth do you mean?”

 

“Well take a look at those two over there, walking to that tent.”

 

Alice followed the line of his arm as he pointed to the people he meant. They were facing toward her and walking to a large four man tent. They were a man and a woman, walking arm in arm. Alice could clearly see the woman’s breasts, bouncing and unfettered. And she could see the man’s… “Oh! They’re naked!”

 

As the middle-aged couple looked around they could see other people similarly unclothed.

 

Jack turned to his wife. “What was the name of the campsite you booked?”

 

“Back to Basics, “his wife answered in a small voice. 

 

“And where did you find this camp?”

 

“On a camping website. I called the number shown on the site. I said we were looking for a back to basics sort of camp site.”

 

“Well, didn’t they give you any other information?”

 

“Only that it was very secluded and private.”

 

“I can see why.” Jack nodded to the camp.

 

“What do we do now?”

 

“I guess we go in. I don’t see that we have any other choice since there’s nothing else for miles around. Besides it’s going to be dark soon. No wonder this place cost so much.”

 

“I can’t go around naked in public,” his wife shrieked.

 

“We’ll just have to hide out in the van. Like I said, it’ll be dark soon anyway. Nobody will be able to see much. We’ll just stay for tonight and try to get some money back tomorrow. This is some vacation. At least you can’t say you’re never wrong any more.”

 

Alice huffed and folded her arms over her chest. 

 

Jack drove up to the main gate. If nothing else, it’d be something to tell his friends about at the bridge club.

 

Classical Inspiration

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I was listening to some classical music earlier.  I do that a lot these days.  I just can’t get enough of it.  Anyway, as I was listening, a sentence just popped into my mind. 

“Are you ******* kidding me?”

I didn’t react, I just waited to see what would happen next.  A brief conversation exchange went on in my head.

This happens to me fairly often.  Don’t worry, I’m not really crazy.  I don’t think I am, anyway.

I’m a writer. 

Ask any writer and they’ll probably tell you the same thing happens to them.

I hope.

Anyway, what often happens is a sentence, or a piece of description, or, like today, a fragment of conversation will just pop into my head, often when I’m distracted by something entirely unconnected to writing.  The most annoying time it happens is when I’m in the shower.  You might be surprised by how often that happens.  It must be something about the water hitting your head, maybe invigorating the brain.

The snippets usually relate to something I’m working on.  Or sometimes they’ll inspire a whole new story.  Which can be really annoying when you’re already working on something and you suddenly have this sexy new idea knocking on your brain, demanding to be let out.

So far the story seems to center around a young man who’s having a bad week.  He went on two job interviews, missing out on both.  His girlfriend just left him.  He’s behind on the rent and the landlord is making threatening noises about eviction.  So he decides to wallow in misery by playing a depressing piece of classical music.  I googled the most depressing classical music and one piece that came up a lot is Bach’s Come, Sweet Death.  Not only is the title ideal, the music itself definitely fits the bill.  But, hey, if anyone knows of a more depressing piece of classical music then please feel free to suggest it!  So the idea is a rough and ready heavy metal fan who died has been sent to be a guardian angel for someone who’s a classical music buff.  Should be an interesting mix…

I’ve already blogged about how listening to classical music helped me with my editing last week, even leading to a huge breakthrough on chapter one, something that had been bothering me for a long time.  It seems classical music can also inspire me in my general writing and story ideas.

Classical music: It’s not just for listening to.  Apparently.

A Taste For Classical

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Okay, so I now have another obsession.  Like I don’t already have enough, what with writing, Doctor Who and football.  But several days ago I was browsing on YouTube, looking for something fun to listen to.  I saw something about popular classical music and decided to listen,  I was in the mood for something different.  So I listened to pieces such as 1812 Overture, Moonlight Sonata, William Tell Overture and several others.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to them.  So I decided to take this new interest one step further and seek out individual composers to hear what else they had.  After all, when you go to a foreign country you don’t just stay at the resort, do you?  If you want a true flavour of the country you go off the beaten track.  You take the road less traveled.  Well, just listening to the popular classics is a bit like staying at the resort.  It’s fun, but you can’t help wondering what else you’re missing.

So I did a search on Mozart and spent a couple of hours listening to various pieces he’d created.  I don’t think I heard a single piece I didn’t enjoy.  The following night I tried out Tchaikovski and spent another hour wallowing in the most beautiful sounds ever created.  The next night I checked out Chopin.  And the next night I butted heads with Beethoven.  Those are my top four composers so far.  I also listened to Haydn, Brahms and Bach.  Everything is so good, but those top four I mentioned are my firm favourites.  So far.  I just can’t stop listening to it!

I’ve even taken to listening to classical music at night before I fall asleep.  It’s so relaxing.  Last night I listened to Tchaikovski’s The Nutcracker.  It was wonderful. 

Here’s one of my absolute favourite classical pieces…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmEJLoawItU

The music is just amazing.  And I love watching the conductor.  He really gives it everything he’s got.  And he visibly slumps with exhaustion when it’s over.  I remember first hearing this piece when watching Torville and Dean win Olympic gold in 1984.  Has it really been thirty years?  It seems appropriate then that I should develop a taste for classical music on such a great anniversary.  I actually watched their performance on the anniversary of their win.  I didn’t even know at the time of watching it WAS the anniversary.  Synchronisity at its finest.

Last night was another first.  I decided to dust off my work in progress, Psychic Witness, and settle in for some serious editing.  While listening to classical music.  It really seemed to help as the editing just flowed.  For once.  I’m actually starting to believe I can get this novel finished and out there for people to read.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from any other classical music fans out there. Maybe you can point me to composers and music I don’t even know of yet.   

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?