Inventions

There is something about being a writer that means dreaming up things that don’t exist, but you really wish did. I thought up years ago that I really wish existed, but they aren’t inventions to put into books. The first is a machine for letting the doctor feel the pain the patient is in and the intensity. I think it would greatly help the medical profession do a better job of diagnosing illnesses. As someone who gets annoyed at doctors, especially when they don’t listen to me, making them feel my pain sounds like a good thing.

But really the invention I thought of that would be useful to me as a writer is a chair. It is a comfortable chair, but it has a piece that closes the writer in. This piece is connected to the writer’s computer. Only when the writer had completed their set word count will the bar open and let them out. There would be an emergency switch for those times when something comes up, like urgent bathroom break or the fire alarm goes off.

One of the hardest obstacles to overcome when writing is putting the butt in chair and staying there. This invention would help with that.

 

A Thief in Search of a Baby

Lydia knew the woman was looking for her. The woman did not look like the type of person who typically paid for Lydia’s services, which meant more work for less pay or the possibility of pro bono work. On the plus side, Lydia didn’t need the money for rent or food, but on the other side, the Houdini Challenge was in a month and she didn’t want to take a job which would interfere with her plans to compete in that.

The bartender kept shaking his head, but the woman persisted. Finally, the woman managed to convince the bartender of her need, or he decided he wasn’t getting paid enough to be harassed, he pointed to the booth where Lydia was sitting. The woman left the bar and approached.

“Lydia Sumerton?” the woman asked once she was standing beside the booth.

“Maybe,” Lydia replied, “Why?”

“My name is Elizabeth James,” the woman moved her hand as if she was wondering whether she should hold it out to shake, “I need your help.”

“I don’t offer help,” Lydia said, “I am paid for my services.”

“Tyler Durand sent me to you,” Elizabeth twisted her fingers, “He said you would help me if I offered to pay you for your services. I don’t have much, but I will pay you what I can.”

Lydia studied Elizabeth for a very long minute as Elizabeth continued to twist her fingers.

“How do you know Tyler Durand?” Lydia asked.

“We went to school together,” Elizabeth answered, “We have kept in touch over the years. When I told him my situation, he suggested I come to you.”

Lydia studied Elizabeth for another minute before nodding toward the vacant side of the booth. Elizabeth sat down quickly as if she was scared Lydia might change her mind.

“What are you looking for exactly?” Lydia took out her notebook, sipped her drink, and waited for Elizabeth to start. Elizabeth hesitated as she took a deep breath and readied herself.

“My baby has been stolen,” Elizabeth said, “And I need to get her back.”

“This sounds like a job for the police,” Lydia said.

“I filed a report and they have been working on it,” Elizabeth said, “But months have gone by without them finding anything. The more time it takes to investigate the case the less time and energy they have to put into it.”

“And you think I can help?” Lydia asked, “I am not in law enforcement or any other profession, which would be useful to your situation. There are plenty of agencies around who can help you.

“I have been to many of them,” Elizabeth said, “And they try, but really they can’t help.”

“So, why me?” Lydia asked.

“Tyler said you are a thief,” Elizabeth answered, “Which means you can go places and get information unavailable to the public. You can find out what happened to my child.”

“I’m an independent contractor with certain moral ambiguity,” Lydia said, “But I don’t think that will help you much.”

“No one else has been able to help me,” Elizabeth’s voice caught in her throat and she took a deep breath before continuing, “I promise to pay you for your time.”

Lydia was quiet and sipped her drink. Elizabeth clasped her upper arms and waited. Occasionally she would let out the breath she was holding. Lydia waved down the server for another drink and did not speak until it arrived.

“Tell me what happened.”

My Latest Novel

For my creative writing course I wrote a novel. I have no memory of where the idea for the story came from. I was looking for something to write on just after News Years and that means going through the documents on my computer until I find one I can continue. The first class of the semester the teacher said we were expected to submit five pieces for critiquing, the same as last semester, but this time we could choose our genre. We could submit poems, short stories, scenes from a script, pieces of a novel, and even pages from a graphic novel. Being a novelist the choice was easy for me and even better I was working on a novel.

The first piece I had finished because it was already written and waiting for me. This worked well because I was sick the first week of classes and having troubles getting anything done. The second piece came easy. Then suddenly I couldn’t concentrate on anything else as my mind was caught up in the story. This caused a slight problem with getting other things done, but I passed all my classes. I finished writing it during reading break and parts of the rest of the semester editing it as I received the comments from my classmates on how I could improve things.

Now thanks to my creative writing course I have a new novel out. A Thief in Search of a Baby is available for sale on Amazon.

Lack of Words

In September I started a two year diploma at the Okanagan College. It has been fun, but there are several English courses required and English courses take a lot of writing. All those essays and other pieces take a lot of words. Two of the English courses have been creative writing, so there have been extra writing connected to those courses.

I have been able to write some that aren’t connected to my courses, but not much. Even the story that I wrote was connected to my creative writing class, as I chose to submit pieces from a novel for the critiquing done in class.

I am hoping that with the summer break my words can be refilled and I can write on other things. I never truly realized that it was possible to suffer from lack of words and hope recovery is fairly short.

 

Writing Prompts

In my creative writing class the teacher has been giving out multiple writing prompts per class. Usually the writing prompts are meant to illustrate the point of the lesson; like writing from a character sketch while talking about creating characters. But many of them, especially at the beginning of the year, were just to get us writing. I know that this is a first year English course and that many of my classmates are not used to writing. However, I do not need any writing prompts, I already have plenty of random bits sitting around my study. Some of it is sentences that came to my head, but all I have is the one sentence. Other pieces are full paragraphs, It was a scene in my head and so I wrote it out, but at this point in my life there is nothing more in my head to write down. On top of all that I usually have a novel that I am working on.

With all the bits I have sitting around I could probably put together a book of writing prompts. I’ve thought about it, but it isn’t high on my list of projects and thus not likely to happen in any time soon.

 

Essay Writing

According to many people’s thinking all writing is the same, so if you are a writer than writing essays must be easy. Except that there is a vast difference between writing fiction and writing essays. Fiction writing I find much easier than essay writing. With fiction writing, I am making everything up as I go. A few things require research and when the story does the subject it usually something I am interested in. Essays are an argument written down with the evidence provided. This requires serious analysis and thought. And research. Usually the research is a lot of boring reading. Also as an assigned piece of writing so the subject is one I am not as interested in, which makes the whole thing harder.

There are different kinds of writing and they all take different sorts of energy and thought processes. A poem comes from a more emotional place. Stories come from escapism. Essays come from research and deep thought. Technical writing is logic based. Each uses parts of the brain that other do not. So, as I fiction writer I write essays only when necessary and usually in the stressed, adrenaline fueled last hours before it is due.

 

A Good Soundtrack

Sometimes a piece of writing requires a soundtrack. Music which inspire and helps move the story along. The reader may never connect the music to the finished product unless the writer provides that information. I tend to use music in two ways. The first is to keep up the inspiration for a story. I will find music that reminds me of things that have to do with the piece I am writing. So, I will find songs of the sea if I am working on a pirate story, or I will find older country music to help me write on a western. This is where I make a play list and just let to play as I write.

The second way I use music is as inspiration itself. A specific song will give me an idea for a story. This has happened a couple times this year and the result has been a couple short stories. The song Somewhere on a Beach by Dierks Bentley gave me the idea for the story What Happened. The song The Hanging Tree from the movie The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 inspired me to write the short story Innocence Hung. The right song can sometimes be just what a piece needs.

 

Attending Classes

This September I went back to school with the goal of receiving a diploma at the end of two years. Aside from the moments when I am so stressed I can’t concentrate, I enjoy going to classes and learning new things. Though I’m not so good at English courses as non-literal meanings of works tend to escape me. And I’ve never been good at getting homework done since teachers started assigning it back in elementary school.

It has been a few years since I sat in classes and listened to lectures. I forgot how much writing I get done while going to school. During that time at the start of class when everyone else is talking, I will be writing. I know those five minutes don’t seem like enough time to get anything done, but for me that is half a page of handwritten material I wouldn’t have written otherwise. Those half pages add up of the course of a week.

The other time I write is between classes as going home for the hour is useless because I barely get home before I have turn around and come back. And it wastes gas. So, I just find a place to sit and I continue that half page from earlier. Overall going back to school has helped me increase the amount of writing I have been getting done and I am enjoying being a student again.

 

Pirates & Westerns

For some reason I have a fascination with pirates and westerns. They seem to hold an idealized fantasy that I am drawn into. I would never want to live during the time period most westerns are set in and I definitely don’t want to find myself on board a pirate ship. I understand these are not pleasant places to be. However, I keep being drawn to stories about them.

Movie western are my favourite type. I try occasionally to read western stories, but the only ones I really enjoy are Robert B. Parker’s Virgil Cole & Everett Hitch books. I didn’t really enjoy the movie made of the first one though. Most westerns I like. The stories of riding on a journey with gun duels somehow trigger my imagination.

Likewise stepping on board a ship and sailing for parts unknown in search of treasure are great. But with pirates I actually prefer books over movies, though I enjoy both. I fully understand that sailing with pirates was a dangerous and awful thing to endure, but without hardships a story wouldn’t be as exciting.

 

Kill Them Off And Start Over

Sometimes characters quit behaving and decide they don’t want to do anything. This can be a problem when you are trying to get the story finished. But there is a solution if you have tried everything else. You just kill all the current characters off. This doesn’t get the story finished though as it stops things in their tracks, so you put in new characters to finish the story. You pick characters who are willing to talk to you and pick up where the last ones left off.

This solves all of the problems. The characters who are giving you issues are gone as well as fueling the continuation of the story. You get to work with new characters who could be a lot more fun than the original ones. Also the story will get finished, likely will be better than if you stuck to the first set of characters.

So, if you are having problems in your story kill off all your characters and start again with new ones. This should help move the story along. After all the new characters have to figure out what happened to the previous ones and finish what they started.

 

Currently Smashwords is having a summer sale, so all of my books are available for free until July 31, 2016. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bheathermantler If you read them please leave a review on Smashwords, Good Reads, or on a similar place.