“Whose yer father?” #NaNoWriMo 16.09


This sample is from November 6. I finally get Dan to my home town, Sydney. I’ve never stayed at hotel there but the view is correct 🙂 I have no name yet for the second hand book store owner. ‘Exiter’ is brand name for Dan’s carry-on. There is a Whitney Pier Museum which does have old high school years but not as organized as I present.

One of the thriller tropes I wanted to play with is the hero that women find irresistible. Is there a female who doesn’t throw themselves at James Bond? So here my hero Dan gets this treatment from Stan. Do they click? Find out in Saturday’s sample 🙂22-keyboard

The next day proved be clear and warm. Dan looked out over the harbour from his hotel room. There were some sail boats moving slowly with sea gulls swooping around their masts. Across the harbour he could make out Coxheath. On the boardwalk beneath his window he watched a pair of joggers dodging people, women pushing baby carriages, tourists taking selfies maneuvering to get the sail boats in the background.

Other than the signed and numbered prints of heather over his bed, the room was corporate hotel. They could have at least tied some tartan ribbon around the lamps. The coffee was passable but the packaged creamer was not. He dumped it down the bathtub drain.

The room service menu did offer cod cakes. Would they be like those fish fingers his mother used to fry up. He could taste the orange crust on them. Did they make those anymore. There had to be a Sobey’s to try.

After a quick shower he bundled his dirty clothes and took them with him down to the lobby. At the front desk he handed them over to be laundered, not dry cleaned. All of them smelled of smoke from the fire. Dry cleaning would not take that scent out. The clothes in his Exiter were tolerable.

As boy he hadn’t spent too much time in Sydney. Usually he accompanied his father to pick up photographic supplies. Then he yearned for it as a big city though. As he walked the downtown core he saw that it more a big town than a big city. The entire population of the Sydney could fit into the Eaton’s Centre at one time, with room to spare. There were probably more people living in Toronto’s St Jamestown than lived on the whole of Cape Breton island.

Not as deliberately quaint as the popular tourist spots like Baddeck, the city seemed caught between a decaying past and what? The new buildings he saw lacked anything beyond functionality.

The owner second hand book store suggested he check out the Whitney Pier Museum while he was in town. It was a short drive that passed through where the steel plant one was. He was shocked to see hardly a trace of the towering chimneys that would spew blast furnace dust over the city. That dust was the prime reason they didn’t live in Sydney.

The Museum was in a converted Synagogue. As he walked in a young woman greeted him.

“Whose yer father?” she asked.

“Richard James.” He answered laughing. “I’ve been  on the east coast for over a month and that’s the first time anyone has asked me that.”

“You sound a little disappointed.” she said.

“I guess I am. I half-expected the concierge at the hotel to ask me that or ‘did’ja eat yet?’”

The girl laughed. “You accent is spot on. Richard James? The name is familiar. Don’t tell me …”

“Need a hint?” He tapped his camera.

“Mother of God!” she exclaimed. “The photographer! Man he took pictures of nearly every school kid on the island for years.”

“The one and the same.”

“And those amazing calendars. We have a near full set you know. We’d love to get permission to reprint them. Do you know who owns the rights to them?”

“Hold on I’m just here to look around not do business.”

“Oh right. It’s just that … Stan …” she shouted over her shoulder. “Come out here.”

“I’ll be here for a couple of days.” He said.

A muscular man about 5’5 strode out of the office behind her counter. His shirt and jeans were clearly tailored to show him off to his best advantage. But what sort of advantage did he expect to have here?

“Yes Jeannie.”

“It’s … I forgot to ask your name … he’s Richard James’ son … the calendar guy.”

“Cool.” he shook Dan’s hand.

“Daniel James.”

The man’s hand was solid, firm without exerting pressure. He put his other hand over Dan’s as they shook.

“I am pleased to meet you. Don’t mind Jeannie. She’s been doing a research project on the changing views of our island as seen via the tourist lens, or something like that.”

“The filtered dialectic of the past as posited by the lens to create a distance between reality and idealization?” Dan asked her.

“Mother of God, you said it better than I ever could.”

“You can stop with the localisms Jeannie.” Stan said.

“Hard habit to break. It’s part of the training to give visitors a sense of what has been lost.” Jeannie explained. “Who’s yer fadder” Is one of those expressions that had nearly disappeared. I tell what generation a visitor is from by the way they react to that question.”

“Now days they ask what’s your handle.” Stan said. “Or what are you into.”

“Into?” Dan asked. Was this man flirting with him? “As is top or bottom?”

“Exactly?” Stan said.

“Now you’ve lost me.” Jeannie said.

“Doesn’t matter. I’ve been reading about you in the Post.”

“Me? I haven’t looked at any news for weeks.”

“Not exactly you, but the motel explosion outside of St. Peter’s.”

“You were there?” Jeannie said.

“That’s right and now I’m here.”

“I think he wants to change the subject Jeannie. Are you here at the Museum just to look or to look for something in specific.”

“Owner of book store said you had a collection of high-school year books?”

“That we do.”

“It’s on the second floor. I’ll take …”

“That’s alright Jeannie. I’ll show Mr. James around. You can hold the fort down here.”

“But …”

“I won’t be keeping you form anything?” Dan said. “I’m sure I can manage on my own.”

“Fund raising report can wait.” Stan gestured to the entrance. “Stairs are just to the right.”

The top of the stairs was unlit. Stan leaned across Dan to turn on the light.


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Plot vs. Character #NaNoWriMo 16.08

nano16picThe other day someone asked me me I was working on in my NaNo novel. I said I was writing a scene that introduced a trans-woman character. They were a bit puzzled as I’d also told them I was writing the scenes set in Nova Scotia. Specifically in Sydney in this case.09redleaves02

They were a little surprised that there might be trans-people on the east coast. Which was one of the reasons I wanted to bring that in to the story. They questioned how big a role this character played because being trans was one of those issues that required a narrative justification. They felt it was like Chekov’s gun.

This ‘narrative justification’ is one of the reasons that for too many years and in too many novels queer characters had to backstories about coming out. Regardless of the fact that hetero’s rarely took readers through their first awareness of the opposite sex.redleaves

In reality there is more to the lives of trans, queer folk than how they became who they are. Every minute isn’t spent in rehashing their personal histories. The fact that a character sexuality is irrelevant to wanting a latte is no reason not mention their sexuality. Readers can handle the whole world. if they can’t it’s not the author’s problem.

So I wanted a character to be trans and to be ordinary at the same time. My queer characters don’t waste much time dwelling on coming out they are too busy dodging bullets. I’m too busy creating characters who are real as opposed to ones that have be ‘narrative justification’ for existing.09redleaves02

The writer who asked me this listened for about two minutes, nodded in agreement, then went about their own writing for the next half-hour. Another confirmation that few people want to know what you’re up to because what they are doing is always more interesting to them.


I’m jumping to November 12 with this sample. In the story it falls a few days after the dust incident I posted yesterday. This is one of the ways plotting works for me because when I wrote on November 3 I did not think that scene was leading anywhere than some stoner jokes. Even as I wrote this I had only vague idea, I took a break for a walk and while I was out the air-born fungus came to me.

As you can tell I haven’t filled in names for every character. The Dr.’s last name is a real name though.

perfect nano sample

Exhausted Dan sat in the gate waiting area. A flight attendant woke him to let him know his flight was boarding.

“Thanks” he said. His throat hurt when swallowed his saliva. This was no ordinary cold. Should he ask for a surgical mask? He stumbled through the narrow aisle to his seat. At least with a window seat he wouldn’t have to get up until Toronto. He was sweating profusely and as the plane took off he was racked with trembling.

“Don’t fly much.” his seat mate said. “I used be terrified too. “Looks like you need a drink? Or have you had one too many already.”

Dan didn’t have the energy to answer him. Would they mind carrying him off when they got to Toronto. He painfully turned his head to look out the window and fell asleep again.

Once again an attendant had to wake him.

“We’re in Toronto, sir?”

Groggily he unbuckled his seat belt and pulled himself over the seats to the aisle. “I’m not feeling so good.” he slurred.

“He’s had too much to drink Shirl.” another of the attendants said.

“Oh no he slept from take off.”

“Did you have a carry on?” The attendant asked. “Is this yours in the the over head?”

He nodded yet but didn’t recall putting it there.

“Get medic.” she said. “This man isn’t well. You just sit there, sir. Someone will help you.”

“Okay.” Dan whispered.

“Is there someone meeting you?”

He fumbled to get his cell phone out. “Jermy Mox ..”

Talking became increasing painful. He turned the phone on and handed it to her.

“Jeremy?” she asked looking over his contacts list.

Two security men came down the aisle and supported him as they took him off the plane.

“Who is he?” One of them asked.

“Daniel James.” the other attendant said. “He has RCMP security clearance.”

“Doesn’t keep them from getting blind drunk.”

While they were helping him off he could hear the attendant with his phone talking on it but couldn’t make out what she was saying.

“Here’s your phone.” she put it in  his jacket pocket. “Mr. Moxham will meet you at the exit.”

“Jeremy Moxham?” one of the security asked.

“Yes.” the attendant answered. “The one and only.”

“Maybe we can get an autograph.”

“Ask the drunk.”

They rolled him down the covered ramp way. Dan sensed going over carpet then bumps to a marble floor. How did he get into a wheel-chair. He tried to wipe the drool off his mouth before Jeremy saw him in this condition. His arms didn’t obey him. Dimly he could see Jeremy. It was as if he was at the end of a long noisy hall that got longer the harder he tried to focus.

He woke is a cool dark room. The bed sheets were tucked so tight around him his arms couldn’t move. His eyes adjusted to the dark. There was light from under a door opposite the foot of the bed. He became aware of something pinching the index finger of his left hand. A sharper pinch annoyed the back of that wrist. He wanted to scratch it but his right arm wouldn’t move. Something was holding it to the bed.

The door opened and a nurse with a face mask and plastic eye visor came in.

“Are you coming to Mr. James?” She turned the lights on.

He automatically shut his eyes but the light that came on was dim. Bright enough to see the room.

“I’m Doctor Bim. You can call me Yvonne.”

Two more similar gowned gloved and masked medical personnel came into the room.

“Yvonne?” his throat was still sore but not hurting as much.

“Oh good you can talk.” she said as one of the others undid the restraints on his arms. “We had to keep you from pulling out the intravenous. I suppose you don’t remember that?”

He flexed his arms as best he could without disturbing the finger clip and needle on his left hand.

“I  vaguely recall being taken off the plane. Jeremy Moxham.”

“Yes Mr Moxham met you at the airport. He rushed you here.”


“You’re in isolation at Sunnybrook. Infectious diseases.”


“Until we were sure what you had come down with. Two of your co-workers have also fallen ill.”

“Sandy?” he didn’t quite understand.

“No Jen C and camera man.”

“Cold Canada! I had no memory of that until you mentioned it.”

One of the medical personnel made notes on a clip board.

“Sandy?” Dr Bim asked.

“She’s my manager at the Depot. So what do we have?”

“I’m waiting on blood tests. You all had very high fevers, swallowing difficulty, motor function impairment.”

“It was that dust!” he sat up then lay back heavily as blood rushed to his head.

“Dust?” she asked.

“Yes. We thought it was grass pollen, something like that.” He was exhausted again. “Can I get some water.”

“Sorry.” one of the m p said. “I’ll get an orderly to bring you something.

“There’s no rush.” Dr Bim said. “You were severely dehydrated. That’s why the intravenous drip. Your kidneys were shutting down. Same with the others.”

An orderly gave him a bottle of water and a straw. He drank enough to wet his throat. “That’s better.”

“Dust?” Dr. Bim asked.

“Talk to asst prod at Q. She can give to all the details. I’m pretty sure Crpl of the RCMP division took samples. There might even some on my shoulder bag. I was wearing it when it happened.”

He quickly told them about the interview with Morrison and exploring the storage dome.

“We got out of there the moment the dust flew.” He said.

“So it was inhaled?” The note taking intern asked.

“Yes. We were giddy for some hours afterward. Stoned.”

“So you experienced visual and sonic distortion?” note taker asked.

“How long did that last.” Dr Bim asked.

“By the time I went to bed. I felt normal in the morning. I felt fine until this morning when I woke up with a sore throat.” As he described the progress of his not feeling well note taker kept track of what he was saying.

“It wasn’t this morning.” Dr Bim said. “You’ve been asleep for some forty-eight hours.”

“What!” he sat up again.

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GrowOp #NaNoWriMo 16.07


This is from November 4 – I wanted to bring more humour into things. It came to me that this American ex-pat might be up to more than building a pyramid house. I enjoyed his character and wanted to make more use of him.

As with all the samples names are missing, some of the dialogue is a note for what I want to develop in rewrite.19-glass2

“I just remembered something.” David Morrison joined them. “Follow me.” They walked over to one of the domes. “When the RCMP decided to follow up on our fears, they found her bicycle at her cousins. That’s when they concluded she had run away with them.”

He opened the door into the dome.

It was stacked with plastic storage boxes, chairs, sofas, a covered rack of clothing, gardening equipment. He stepped aside to let camera man into the dome to take a shot of the interior.

“It’s back here. Give him a hand with that tarp.” With Jen’s help the camera guy slid the covered rack away from the wall.

Dan coughed with the dust and left the dome when the dust got into his eyes.

“It’s been decades since I moved anything around this far back in here.” David said.

Dan’s eyes began to water as he sneezed repeatedly.

“You alright.” asst asked him.

For a moment he couldn’t see anything. “I’ll be okay.” He blinked his eyes but they didn’t clear up. “I think I better wash my eyes out. That dust has done a number on them.”

She lead him to the remote truck. “I’ll see if they have any water. Will water do?”

“Bottled.” Dan said, “Don’t want to risk the well water.”

She handed him a bottle. He poured some onto a handkerchief and dabbed at his eyes. That didn’t help. It moved the dust motes that where trapped by his eye lids.

“I need to lie somewhere. Or take a shower.”

“You have any sort of drops in your bag?”

“Nope. There are benches along the porch.” He didn’t want to be helped but asst stayed by his side and tried to help him stretch out. “Look I can lie down without help.” He felt to make sure there was nothing for him to hit his head on. Once he felt secure on the bench he opened another bottle of water and poured it liberally over his eyes, forcing them to stay open while he did so. He kept hem closed loosely for the second washing.

“How does that feel?” asst asked.

“Better. The stinging is gone.” He blinked tentatively. Things were clearer. He sat up on the bench. One of the crew handed him a towel. He carefully dried his face and around his eyes.

He could hear coughing and hacking as the others exited the dome.

“Sounds like I’m not the only one.” he said.

“No.” asst said. “We all got out of there thanks to that dust or whatever it is.”

“I hope it isn’t toxic.” He opened his eyes more fully. He took a deep breath. His heart was no longer racing.

“Fuck!” David sat on the bench beside him.

Other asst was placing a wet cloth over Jen’s eyes. “Sorry about that.” David headed back into his house. “I guess there had been some pesticide stored in there. We can get the bike another day.”

“We’ll need to know more about that dust before I’ll handle it.” Jen said. “Plus it’s going to take some professional waste control to clear that dome out.”

“I’m calling it a day.” asst prod said. “This isn’t the way to make up for the time we lost due to the storm. I’ll check with Morrison to see if he’s willing to see us again.” she went into the house.

“”How are you feeling.” Jen asked.

“A bit woozy. Like I’ve had a couple of beers.”

“Same here.”

“My eyes seem fine but …” he stood up slowly. “There that’s better.” He flexed his arms, did a couple of knee bends. “I had to get the blood flowing.” The flower box on the porch rail caught his eye. “Wow! I’ve never noticed that red before. It’s so intense.” He reached out to touch it. “My hands!” he opened and closed his fingers. “Motherfucker.”


“We’re stoned! I bet he has grow op around here. Old hippies are all d.i.y.”

Jen began to laugh. “Stop!” she gasped. “It’s hurting my ribs.”

Dan could hear camera guy laughing below them. asst prod came out of the house. “What’s so funny?”

“Ask the old hippie, you know the ones that never die …”

“Unless it’s to tie dye.” Jen wiped tears from her eyes.

“Stop!” Dan gestured to her. “That’s too cruel but it’s true.”

“Ask what?”

“Ask him if he has a grow up.”

“You want to score some weed now?” asst prod said.

“No.” Dan took a deep breath and braced himself against the porch railing. “Give me a second.”

“You haven’t had a first.” The Jen said sending them both off into more uncontrolled laughter.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you guys. Camera is howling at something down there too.”

“That’s makes sense. We were the ones who went to check out the bike.” Dan took another deep breath and then a swig of water from the bottle on the bench. “I suspect … there was once a grow up … in that storage shed. Not the actual grow but it was used as a drying spot. The dome is placed where it gets the most sun. Dust and pollen collected and when we moved that stuff it was disturbed.”

“Not as disturbed as you were when you thought you were going blind.” Jen laughed.

“Grow op?” asst said.

“You trying to figure out how to fit that into the case?” Dan asked.

“No! I just don’t like wasting time we really don’t have. Do you think he has anything new to offer the investigation?”

“I think I want a snack.” Dan said.

“Does Domino’s deliver out here?” camera called up. “40 hours or it’s free.”

“I get it! I get it!” asst walked down to the remote truck. “You guys are too stoned to work. Can any of you drive?”


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Going Up Stairs #NaNoWriMo 16.06

nano16picMore of the November 3 scene. I let it ramble along to make discoveries. I didn’t know what was in the upstairs room until they went into it. As you can tell I still don’t know the names of either of the camera men or the asst producer for the show. Nor am I decided on their genders or races. This is also the first time I start to develop how Dan feels about his ability. He’s never questioned it until Jen asks him about it. In editing I may this happen sooner as it presents an important avenue to explore if Dan James becomes a continuing series.15-pants

“It wasn’t any worse that their usual set to’s. I had become used to them by then and had learned not to come between them but to take the boys out of the house. Doors were slammed and Paula left the house. Her last words …” he faltered “… were “You’ll never see me again.” We never did.”

“Do you have any of her things? Clothes. Toys. Doc Martins?” Jen asked. “Dan can read photos, so can I to a certain extent. But it helps to be near things she actually handled.”

“Sure.” David got up. “I should have thought of that. The boys took over her room. Some of the furniture is still there. Book shelves. Her desk. It took me a couple of years to dispose of her clothes. Even if she came back they wouldn’t fit her anymore.”

“That must have been difficult.” She followed him into the house.

G hoisted his camera to follow them. Dan followed G with another camera man behind him. On the wall by the stairs leading up to the second floor was a large framed photograph of a picnickers at a table by a lake over shadowed by a sheer mountain ledge. It was very familiar to him. None of the faces were distinct. The clothes set it in the later 40’s, as did the car parked on the grass.

“You coming up?” G called down to him.

“You see something?” camera 2 asked. He made sure he got a good shot of the photo.

“Not sure.” Dan answered.

The room that had been Paula’s was now a spare bed room either of his sons would use when they visited. Jen ran her hands along the book shelf. Sat at the desk.

“Not much there?” David asked. “It’s been decades and lots of other butts and books have been in and out of this room.

“The desk used to be over there.” Jen said. “She liked it in that corner facing the door and the window.”

“Right.” David said.

She pulled the desk away from the wall to look at the back of it. “This would have faced into the room.” She gently stroked that side of the desk. “Can I?” she sat at it once again and pulled out one of the drawers. It didn’t come out completely. She ran her hand on the underside.

“Paula liked to hide things, didn’t she. She needed her secrets.”

“Don’t we all.” David said. “She became more … introverted after her mother died. That’s one of the reason I remarried.”

“You are right though. There isn’t much here. Too many men have been in this room.” Jen went to the window. “Is that the tree she liked?” A tall maple dominated the view from the window. “I mean the one behind the maple. That maple wasn’t there when she was here.”

“I …I don’t think she had a favourite tree. She was more an indoor child. Now that you mention it I don’t think she had a favourite anything. No dolls or stuffed animals she had to have near her. Same with her clothes. What she wore was never a big thing.”

“Until the Banshees.” Dan said.

“Yes. That last year she became more … I guess the word is ‘aware’ of herself as a woman. I think she knew how much it aggravated her step-mother as well.”

“She wanted the attention.” Jen said. “I doubt if she was that much of a real fan of any band. This one worked. If it hadn’t she might have tried Madonna to get the reactions she wanted.”

“I need a break.” David said and left the room.

“This is a wrap for now.” asst prod said. “Take, say, an hour. I’ll talk with Mr. Morrison and see what’s up.”

The camera crew went downstairs. Asst prod motioned Dan and Jen to stay in the room.

“Do you think we’re getting anything here. I mean neither of you seem to be picking up any vibes or clues. No new information.”

“Perhaps not, but he does confirm the ineffective way the constabulary dealt with things.” Jen said.

“We already know why these children were never found. That isn’t strong enough.”

“So we’re back to stretching things out for 90 minute episodes.” Dan said. “You want me to accuse him of molesting his daughter which forced her to run away.”

“My God.” Jen paled. “You mean she might not be one of the victims after all?”

“That’s certainly something the RCMP would have suspected. They do that in all cases of missing children.”

“Now they do. Did they back in the eighties?” prod asst asked.

“I’d have to see the actual case file. You know the files that the division has been unable to locate. I don’t get that vibe from him.”

“I don’t get it from the house either.” Jen said. “But the minute you suggested that it give me the sort of chill I get when an ugly truth is revealed. All I can say though is that someone was seriously traumatized in this house. Perhaps this room. But the weird shape of this house does things to energy.”

“He’s right about pyramid power?”

“Oh yes. This shape attracts and channels an energy your average house doesn’t.”

“I’m for talking with him some more.” Dan said. “At least to find out who saw her after she left here. Maybe she did go the reserve. She’s the oldest of the children that went missing and was clearly more involved in a world outside of the home and school.”

“I’ll talk with Mr Morrison and see how he feels about going on.”

“I’m going to take a stroll around the grounds.” Jen said. “Do your eyes always work on photographs?”

“No. It took me a few years after I left the force to stop seeing rooms as crime scenes. I don’t know if I want to get back into that head set.”


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Plot vs Story #NaNoWriMo 16.05

nano16picSo far this year’s NaNo has been the fastest. I usually hit 3000 words a day by week four but this year I was doing that by November 4. Dispensing with a social (& sex) life has been helpful. I’ve stuck as much as possible to the same writing routine. Up to 800 words in the morning on my lap top before I head out for a walk & think at 9. Home by 10:30 to write on the desk top until 1:30. green03

Some of those 10:30 starts have to make room for things like laundry, answering the phone. I can manage another 1500 + words then. I force myself to stop around 1:30 to do a bit of reading, meditating until 3. back to writing for another hour. Supper prep at four & some TV. Another hour or so on the lap top after supper. Then I stitch the pieces together on the desk top and decide how many words to declare for the day. green02

I don’t worry about names. I can fill them in on the next level of edits. I’m not overly concerned with time restraints so I may have more happening in one day than is possible. That too can be dealt with in edits.

The one thing that has really liberated my flow has been to more concerned with telling a grand story, than worrying about a tight & somewhat predictable plot. Plot is for writers who want best sellers. Not that I wouldn’t like one but at this point in my writing life telling a story is more fun.

I’ve let things appear – the pyramid house is one of those out of the blue moments. When I live don the east coast a bunch of US draft dodgers did invade Cape Breton, bought land and built geo-dome. Some did A Frames, no one built a pyramid this large. When I started this scene I had no idea of what that house looked like until Dan tuned the corner and saw it.green01

The Morrison backstory flowed just as unexpectedly. I do connect some previous information at the same time about the RCMP and native children. The house itself, and this is not a spoiler, echoes the Tut-mania sideshow the Happy Hippo toured one summer.

This is the most reward way to plot, if that’s what I’m doing – by picking up a causal mention in one scene and weaving it into a later one. It weaves a story. Is it a sweater or a poncho or a rug? Who knows but what ever it is it’s perfect.redleaves

This sample picks up from yesterday’s. Some of the dialogue is sketched in.

“This happened after the boys where born?” Jen asked.

“Earlier. When I remarried. I wanted her to have mother. I didn’t really understand father complexes. She was hostile from the get go.”

“You aren’t my mother!” Jen blurted out.

“Exactly. So when we realized after a week she was gone. Actually gone and not with her cousins we contacted the RCMP. We’d contacted them once before and they were convinced she had run away again. Perhaps with with a couple of the boys who we’re gone from the reservation.”

“Reservation?” Dan asked.

“Oh yes. I figured you knew that too. Rose was full blood Mic.”

“Hmm.” Dan studied the face closer. “Hard to tell here. None of the other photos I’ve seen show that sort of genetic marker. There’s usually something around the eyes.”

“My genetics are pretty strong. The boys other the other hand look more like their mother.”

“You second wife also native?”

“Oh yes. I have some in my background too. Grandmother who was Blackfoot. I also thought a native mother might be good for her. As it turned out it wasn’t. They fought about everything. The last fight was about her need to change her name. She wanted to become Raven.”

“I wanted to change my name when I was her age too.” Jen said. “I was sick of people calling me Beck. I wanted name that couldn’t be shortened. Thus I became Jen. Now people want to lengthen it.”

“You have any other photos for me?” Dan asked.

“There’s albums full of them. But mostly for after the boys where born. Rose wasn’t fond of pictures where as Candice was.”

“Can you remember if there was there anything going on at that time. In the area I mean.” Dan asked as he looked over the family photos.

“Festivals.” Jen explained. “That sort of thing.”

“Happy Hippo?” Dan stopped at one of the photos. It showed Paula being helped into a ferris wheel seat. The helper was clearly Colin Chamberlain.

David took the album from him to check the photo. “That was in Sydney. Hippo never stopped at small places like this. They’d put up flyers as they drove through but never pitch a tent. This was the summer before anyway. I don’t even remember if they came through that summer.”

“If they had we would have skipped it anyway. We did go back to Sydney though but for a couple of funerals at Eskasoni.”

“The reservation outside of Sydney?”

“Sad but at least they had bodies to bury. Some teens were found dead. Alcohol poisoning we were told. Come to think of it they had been reported missing too but were found in the woods a few weeks later.”

“I sort of recall that myself. We lived in New Waterford. My mom said let that be lesson about drinking.” Dan said.

“Break time.” other asst said.

Dan glanced at his cell. he didn’t realize how much time had passed. He stood and stretched.”

“They are right.” David said. “You forget about the cameras quickly.”

“If it’s a good interview you also forget about the passage of time. How do your sons feel about this?”

“They were cool about it. Seal started to write a book about Paula. The truth about the past made him too uncomfortable and it turned into Gone Sister.”

‘Yes I’ve read some of it. More about a sister who was never there than one who vanished.”

“Yeah. For me that was the one weakness about the book. You never knew anything about her. How she disappeared. Not even what happened after she disappeared. It felt incomplete. But critics loved it. The anti-mystery one of them called it. I found it anti-climactic and told him so.”

“I’ll have to read it for myself.” Dan said. “How much of break do we get?” he asked other asst.

“Half-an-hour. We’re changing set up for another location.”

“I’ll be outside if you need me.” Dan walked around the green-house domes. He contacted W.

“W is there any way we can find information about child deaths in eight-four? I don’t mean just suspicious ones but for any reason? …. It’s just a hunch but maybe missing children aren’t the only ones this killer came in contact with …. And could we find out about native children? Would they be included or are their records kept separate? … Yeah I know too many toes to tread on. I’ll be getting our guys on it too.”

He went back to the porch. This time they were set up out side with a couple of the domes in the background.

“You going to tell people what these are?” Jen asked. “Otherwise they’ll think we’re on the set of some scifi movie.”

“All we need is an eye superimposed over us and it’ll look like we’re on the American dollar.” camera guy said.

“True enough but the proportions are wrong.” David said. “The Eye of God on the dollar only takes up about tenth. My roof is exactly a third. It is the only part of the house that maintains the Egyptian ratio as well. The base isn’t pure. But the house does keep my razor blades sharp.”

Dan looked at the camera guy then Jen for some sort of understanding of what David had just told them.

“What no one here up on their pyramid power?” David laughed. “Beside channelling energy to make plants grow, to keep me from growing older any faster than I am, true pyramids supposedly keep razor blades sharp.”

“How about your piano playing?” Jen asked.

“I don’t … oh I get it you’re pulling my leg.” David giggled. “Good one.”

After a brief dab by the make up guys they were ready to continue.

“You were telling us about the days before Paula vanished?”

“Other than the tiff between stepmother and Paula it was fairly routine. Looking after twins was proving to be more of a challenge than either of us expected. Paula was too young to be of real help. Let’s face it we probably need professional help anyway. The boys were squalling and sleepless. Paula had been so much easier to bring up.”

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The Original of The Species


Another of the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green as a writing prompt. Just reading this one gives me chills. Four more to go – then what?10-hose01

Law 44: Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect

The Original of The Species

I did not

copy your runway walk

paint in your style


maybe I did take a little

you can’t blame me though

consider it flattery

I didn’t do it as well as you did

at least

I don’t think I did

no matter what others say

I didn’t try to do you

better than you do yourself

I never claimed to be the originator

just because I didn’t credit you

with being my inspiration

merely means

I knew everyone would see through me

would see you

not me

the fact that they didn’t

isn’t my fault

I’m not using your name

to get ahead

I’m not denying your influence

to suppress you

I’m denying it because

I have the power to do so

which was one of the best things

you taught me

how to use what power I have

to minimize the obvious influence

of others so my reflection of you

has now becomes the real deal


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Amethyst Court


On day two I slipped quickly back into the my Nano novel by focusing on the main plot – the search for the missing children. As you’ll see I didn’t take time to find names I’d already established. Q. is the company producing the TV show. Baxter is executive producer. I was eager to the story finally onto Cape Breton.

Over the past week I’ve gotten quickly into a good NaNo pace as well. Some days hitting over 3000 words. I’m banking some of those words rather than declaring them all each day so if I have an off day or two I can still add words to my count.


“Paula Morrison. 12 years old. The oldest of the girls to disappear. Father: David, step-mother: Rose.”

Dan nodded as asst read the file to him. He’d gone over it several times already. He kept his eye on the road as they approached the Canso Causeway.

“How much more of this do you want to hear?” asst asked.

“I’ll let you know when I’ve heard enough.”

“She’d been a runaway since the dad remarried two years earlier. Birth mother died breast cancer. Father a local man, birth mother from Whycoak …”


“You say that like a native.” asst repeated the name.

“One of those place names that stuck with me. It’s a Mi’kmaq word means “Head of the Waters.”” He repeated the name. “Feels good to say it too.”

“I suppose. Anyway she died and he remarried several years later. Paula was an only child until Rose had twins.”

“Which was when the runaway business started?”

“Yes. Rose has since passed away. Breast cancer again. Must be something in the water.”

“That’s a different show asst. But I’m sure there’s some report buried somewhere that shows an alarming coincidences of cancer and the water in the area.”

“Un-huh. Her twin brothers Seal and Wolf (brothers, the twins,) no longer live in the area. One is in BC and the other …” she read the file. “Is in Hollywood! Wolf Morrison. The director! From around here!”

“Yep. I’m not the only famous person from the backwaters of Nova Scotia.”

Asst tapped on her smart phone.

“You get reception out here?” Dan asked. “Wow!”


As they drove under Welcome to Cape Breton Dan half-expected to hear his mother say “Turn down the radio so we can hear the waves.”

“Will you look at that. I haven’t seen the causeway since we left here. It was like a mini-adventure to drive across it when we left the island for the mainland. One year there was storm that blew waves over our car. Mom was terrified but Dad kept on going. All he said was roll up the windows.” Dan rolled down the windows to hear the waves.

“You sure that’s wise?” asst took a deep breath. “Don’t want to get lung cancer.”

“Very funny.”

He followed the curve of the causeway to the other side. He pulled the car off at the Souvenir Shop. “You first act here has to be one of shopping.”

“Dan this is not my first time at this rodeo. You know we’ve already pre-interviewed people before you got here. Right?”

“Yes yes but did you drive across the causeway or fly into Sydney on the Q private jet?”

He got out of the car. “Such a great view.”

Memories of that last summer there became clearer as he watched the waves breaking against the rocks that lined the roadway.

The gift shop was the usual clutter of tartan objects. Coffee mugs made in china, tee-shirts from Bangladesh. One wall was devoted to local handicrafts and there was shelf of books about the area.

“Looking for something in particular?” The clerk came over.

“You have something without the Cape Breton tartan of a light house on it?” asst asked.

“Something like this?” The clerk handed asst a roll of toilet paper. The wrapper said: ‘Cape Breton tissue doesn’t take shit from nobody.’

Dan laughed. “Maybe we should get a dozen for the crew.” He pulled out one of the books titled ‘Cabot Trail Mix Trivia.’ “Collected by David Morrison!”

“Let’s see?” asst took the book from him.

“Is this the David Morrison from St. Peter’s.” Dan asked the clerk.

“Could be.” clerk replied. “All of these are by local writers.”

“It is.” asst said. “According to the bio he’s a life long resident of St. Peter’s who had always been fascinated by local history. He is the proud father of Wolf and Seal.” asst flipped back to the inside front cover. “And it’s autographed.”

“Nice.” Dan took the book back. “You have many copies of it?”

“Just these three. We don’t tend to stock a lot of that sort of thing. Books I mean.”

Dan bought all three copies. In the car he read through one of them while the asst drove. It was, as the title said, a collection of anecdotes, jokes, short historical facts about the area. No index and apparently haphazardly arranged.

“Wonder if he’ll sign them again?” asst asked.

She pulled into Amethyst Court, a motel just past the welcome to St.Peter’s sign. The remote truck was parked at the far end of the cabins.

“I never thought I’d say this but thank God for a normal drive.” Dan got out of the car. “I was beginning to think these highways were jinxed.”

“If they were you know it would be part of the show anyway. Baxter expects you at six to go over the next week of shoots. You’ll see Mr. Morrison in the morning. 10 a.m. sharp.”

“Right.” he glanced at his cell for the time. “Give me time to freshen up. Which cabin is mine?”

“Not sure.” asst texted prod coordinator.

Prod co came out of cabin 3. “Took your time. We’ve been here since morning.”

“Dan took his time,” asst said. “A little shy after recent highway to hell events.”

“Highway to heck, is more like it.” Dan said as Prod co gave him a pass card.

“Cabin 10. Baxter is in 9.”

“Yikes.” Dan winced. “Hope he keeps it down. He must be deaf from all that loud TV.”

“Whatever.” prod co said. “I’ve done two series with him and I never knew how he could keep track of everything. Must in the volume.”

Dan grabbed his suitcase, shoulder bag and went to his cabin. It smelled strongly of lavender when he opened the door. He propped the door open with a chair to see if he could air it out. He took his lap top out and put it on the tiny writing desk. He wondered why these desks were now smaller than the TVs. At least the A Court offered free wifi. He tried it but the signal wasn’t as strong as his Lifend connection.

He had email from both this lawyers. The ones dealing with his sister, the other dealing with Sanjay. He made the Skype connection with the Depot.

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Madam Vanya Meets NaNoWriMo 16.02



Here’s the first 1060 words I wrote diving back into Picture Perfect. As you’ll see when I didn’t recall a name I used X X. Deciding that I wasn’t aiming to legit publish had allowed me to ramble more, though even in the ramble I tried to bring in elements that either push the plot forward or reaffirm the direction it is going in.05-redcoat2

Dan pulled off the road way into the dirt lot in front of the store. He made sure his camera was off before he got out of the car. The rusted sign swinging above the door said “Welcome to Flannery’s” over an advert for ‘Nutsy Nougat’ a chocolate bar he’d never heard of before. A dingy card board sign dangling midway behind the glass said “Open.” He peered through the dusty door to see if the sign was right. He tried the handle and bells clanged as door opened. The clang was toneless mental like a cow bell.

Inside was dim until lights were turned on. A young man came from behind a curtain at the back of the store.

“Don’t turn lights on unless we got a customer.” He wore an unbuttoned white shirt with a plain grey tee-shirt under it “Ma won’t let us use any of that motion sensitive stuff. Hope it didn’t scare you too much. Them coming on like that.”

In his arms was a nearly matching grey cat that leapt to the floor and came over to sniff that Dan’s shoes then hopped to the window sill.

“Cod doesn’t take to strangers.” He stepped behind the counter, brushed cart hair off his shirt sleeves.

“Grey is a good choice.”

‘Cod doesn’t shed much.

The store was larger than it appeared from the outside. It could have been a 7/11 from the layout right down to a coffee island in the middle of the floor near the front window. Only this one had a couple of comfy chairs like a coffee shop.

“Bottled water at the back. That’s usually what people’re looking for when they stop here. But we’re prepared. Coffee fresh this morning. Columbian we roast and decaf none of the flavoured nonsense. Coffee only. We’re not Starbucks.” The man laughed. “Maw bakes the cookies and scones. Fresh. Daily.”

“You’re certainly fixed for any tourist that do show up.”

“Locals like us. We’re the closest thing to a coffee shop that isn’t Timmies in these parts. Self-serve for the coffee.”

Dan had stopped for directions only but he couldn’t resist the man’s invitation. “Smells good.” He said as he filled a large take out cup.

The man went one to one of the coolers. “Whole milk or cream? Can’t help you if you’re lactose intolerant.”

“Cream’ll be fine.” Dan stirred the cream into the coffee and put on a lid. “I’ll take one of those scones.”

“We got cranberry lemon or broccoli cheddar.”


“Oh yeah, just because we’re not city doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s selling.” The man held Dan’s gaze. “You’re with that TV film crew that’s been talking to people around here?”

“Yes. Dan James” he reached out to shake the man’s hand.

“Trey AuCoin.”

“Not Flannery?”

“Nah. That was the sign when we bought the place two years ago. Didn’t aim to rewrite history. We figured it would better to fit in some. We call ourselves Flannery’s General Store and Cafe.”

“So you’re not from here?”

“Nope. Price was right and so far we’ve managed to break even.”

“You know the area well?”

“Lost are you?”

“No. As long my g.p.s works I’m safe. I was looking for the Nova Pentecostal Centre.”

“You mean The Slytherins.” Danny laughed. “Oh man those people are strange.”


“That’s what some around here call it. The snakes and all. From Harry Potter?”

“I see. It may be part of the show we’re doing. Thought I’d check it out before hand though. Research you might say.”

“Then you already know about them and the snakes.”

“Yes. X.X. at the Circus Museum told me about them.”

“Yours is that TV show about the missing children, right?”

“Yes.” Dan took out his cell to check the time.

“Weird about that psychic that got killed. I’m surprised they’re still going forward with it.”

“Too much invested plus she wasn’t a major on air personality. No footage to reshoot.” Dan went to the door.

“You think it might be connected?”

“With Slytherins?”

“No! Maybe the guy responsible for those kids might not want to be caught all these years later. Like those ghost hauntings shows there’s always something you don’t tell us. Maybe she was in contact with the killer.”

“Any thing is possible.” Dan opened the door. “Good coffee.”

“You didn’t let me tell you how to find Nova Pentecostal.”

“Right. The coffee was so good I forgot.”

“You just follow this street and turn left when you get Caledonia. It’s on the left about ten minutes down the road.”

“Thanks again.”

A sign in a field across from the church made it easy to find. There was one car in the parking lot and he pulled in close to it. He checked to make sure his camera was on. “Interview with Joyce Hadley.” he said to mark the start of the recording.

The silence was the first thing he noticed when he got out of the car. Not even the whisper of wind from the field across the road.

The gravel crunch echoed as he walked to the church. The church looks more like a suburban strip mall than anything else. Siding that needed repair along the roof line. Stains mottled the wall that faced the roadway.

The dingy curtains behind one of the windows parted then closed as he approached the double glass doors he assumed were the entrance. They open out before he touched them.

A heavy set, tall woman greeted him.

“Welcome brother.” she tucked in a stray stress into the bun of red hair at the back of her head. The bun seemed ready to explode in the sun. “I was expecting you.”

“You were?” No one knew he was coming to New Pentecostal. Even he didn’t, until he deiced to visit it that morning.


“Madam Vanya or Joyce Hadley?” he asked.

“Once upon a time. It’s Joyce Hadley. The Reverend Joyce Hadley to be pretentious.” she laughed. “When I was Madam Vanya my gift was a parlour trick. It became real once I stopped playing with it.”


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Give Generously

Give Generouslysamp

Another of the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green as a writing prompt.


Law 43: Work on the Heart and Mind of Others

you can make a difference

in the lives of these children

dogs  endangered species  bees

ice shelf

you can make a difference

the overfishing of the sea

the destruction of the rain forest

the testing of make up on animals

only you can help

we know you want to

if only to stop

seeing these high definition

close ups of tears on cheeks

skin taut over fragile bones

acres of swamps

replaced with sugar cane fields

birds slicked with oil


look it’s babies

for fuck sake

innocent little kittens

going hungry

so skinny

even the human babies

starving won’t eat them

only you can help

these photographers need work

these administrators need

your funds to administrate

we don’t want you to rescue anyone

we have skilled professionals

who studied in universities

to learn how to teach these unfortunates

what they need to change

to become suitable candidates for rescue

that education doesn’t come for free

you won’t have to touch anything

other than key pad in a donation

only you can help

only you


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NaNoWriMo 16.01

01-fenceIt’s actually October 24 as I start this blog post. Part of my Nano prep is getting as many blog posts ready as I can so I can focus on my Nano word count during November. Some of my weekly posts aren’t time sensitive so I can have them done in advance. Others, like my Nano progress posts are time relative, except for this first post. The sample here is from last year’s Nano novel, which is still in progress.

My target this year is to average 2500 words a day for a total of 75,000, which I’ve nearly hit every year so far. The total includes notes & outline as I add to those notes & change that outline. Not that I outline a lot. I do one more in hindsight to keep track of what I’ve covered already. Also keep track of what needs to be resolved for this particular story line.

I’ll be leaving lots of unresolved threads as I intend Picture perfect to be the first of the adventures my hero gets caught up in.

This I’m opting not to load up on loads of new music. I want to save $ for Capturing Fire for one thing & also maybe have some for the Nano winner tee. This year postage is more than the cost of the tee 😦 – which more than doubles the cost of the tee & when one adds in difference between US & Canadian currency pushes that cost even higher. At least there’s no shipping charges on the donations.

I have a Nano playlist that’ll consist of Chopin Complete Works Volume 1 (5 hours); Roxy Music/Brian Ferry (5 hours); Aphex Twin/Dance Music/Circus Music (over 8 hours) – that’ll do for starters 🙂 There’s lots more where this came from. I’ll play these on shuffle so my imagination never knows what’ll come next.

During the last week of October I look over last years work, see where I left things off, make notes on what needs to be followed up on. I already have ideas for some major scenes – i.e. the snake handlers church. I intend to push to the end of this story line which after two years is already at the 120,000 word mark. Then I can get out the chainsaw to get in shape for blogging.

This year I plan to blog fresh slabs on Saturday & Tuesday along with a bit of my griping about the process. I’ll also be getting out to some write-in’s if there’s some close enough to me. 20 min walk or 20 min via TTC is as far as I’m willing to travel. I’ll also be hosting Sunday write-ins for members of Nano Misfits. 01-chairSo stay tuned for for the rest of the month. The sample here is a random clip from last year. As always these are very rough drafts with minimal copy editing.nano16picDan pulled up two of Teresa’s photos. The one of her with Hank, and the one of his sister Linda, with Kevin. They had been taken with Teresa’s camera. he could remember that little Kodak of hers. For a crap camera it took okay pictures. The pictures had been taken within a short time of each other around the same location. The post T. & H. were leaning against was to the left of L. & K. Shadows made it mid-afternoon.

None of them looked as if they were dressed for a date. Minimal make up on the girls. Sloppy clothes on the guys. Maybe they didn’t dressed up for afternoon dates. Maybe it wasn’t a date.

He cropped each of the pictures so they only showed the couples from the waist up. With Hank’s dick bulge out of the picture it was clear to Dan that this was no nineteen year old as Teresa was convinced he was. Funny how a thing like that could add years.

He went into the family photos and found one with Linda and the man she had introduced to the family as Kevin. He was clearly not the man with Linda in Teresa’s picture.

Once he was satisfied with the cropped pictures he emailed them to Linda with the subject line: “Remember when” The body of the email said: ‘Met up with T. this past week. She has lots of vivid memories of you and me from when we in Stellerton. Here’s a couple of pictures she had of you and her with various boy toys. Let me know what memories they call up for you.”

He’d let her tell him who the the various men were. It was possible he had the years mixed up. But she was wearing the same blouse and pedal pushers in both pics, merely with different men on her arm.

Dan’s cell buzzed.

It was Sandy, “There’s someone down here to see you.”


“You might say that.” another voice answered.

“Jeremy! I’ll right down.”

Jeremy and daughter were talking with H.

Daughter {didn’t remember her name when I first wrote this} dashed over and after moving her Reporter camera to one side hugged him.

“Time you got something more lady like.” he said.

“That is a sexist remark.” daughter said.

“Then let me rephrase it – time you got some more sophisticated.” Dan reached past her to shake hands with Jeremy.

“How’s east coast life?” he asked.

“Wet and windy.” Dan replied.

“That was quite a storm. I guess you were in the middle of it.”

“I hope you got some good pics!” daughter said.

“What do you think.” Dan said.

“Show me. Show me.” she demanded.

“Well? There’s nothing duller than someone’s travel photos.” Dan said.

“Indulge us,”Jeremy touched Dan on the biceps.

“Twist my arm why don’t you. I do have a slide show of my storm pics.” He went over to the store showroom computer and loaded shots from his cloud. The pictures appeared on all the TVs on display and the one in the front window.

“This is the car I was driving. Built for speed.”

“Built for looks.” Jeremy said.

“These are some quick grabs as I stopped to decide which way to here. These are the cloudy horizon … the first drops … the lightening … the nearly total dark before the storm really hit … the windshield wipers losing the battle … a short video of the rain on the roof and on the wind shield …”

‘Weren’t you scared at all?” daughter asked.

“Oh yeah. Here’s where I pulled off at the Grille in Port E. … my red beer … my excellent burger … the sudden power loss … on the porch ….”

“You can’t see across the street.” Jeremy said.

“Too true.”

“Another little film of the SUV … I love the way it emerges from the rain but never seems to separate from it either … Lorenz Haydn my rescuer … my room at his b’n’b … ”

“How did you get those pictures driving in the rain?” daughter asked. “You can’t drive and aim a camera at the same time. Can you?”

“Nope. I was using my Talk2C attachment.”

“Talk2C?” Jeremy asked.

“Voice command for cameras. We’ve been developing it with Lifend.” He took a small box out of his shoulder bag. “Put the camera on this stand, plug in the cable. The stand can turn some and adjust a little up and down too. Not as good as hand held but as you see good enough. Or even wearing it around your neck. The microphone picks up limited voice commands. up down zoom shoot video stop.

Sucks a lot of power though but we’re working on that. An adapter for plugging it in to direct source.”

The slide show had progressed to the video him and Lorenz careening down the slope on Moose Trail.

“I did have to hold both myself and the camera steady for that.”

“That’s flipping amazing.” Sandy said.

“That one calls for Imax.” daughter said.

“You don’t look much worse for wear after your downhill surfing.” Jeremy said.

“Hey,” someone who had come in from the street said. “What movie is that from. I’ve been watching it outside.”

“Not a movie, yet.” Dan said. “Just the latest in home video technology.”

“You selling that here?” the man asked.

“Lifend.” Dan said. “You’ll have to go to our high end mall shop I’m afraid.”

“Figures. What the fuck, it’ll be in the next android phone anyway for a tenth of the price.” He left the Depot.

“Even at a tenth most people couldn’t afford it.” Sandy said.

“Daddy and I were wondering if you might be free for supper.”

“Un ho.” Dan said. “I knew there was a real reason for you two to show up here.”

“There’s something I’d like to talk over with anyway.” Jeremy said.

“I don’t like the sound of that.” Dan smiled. “I was looking forward to a night of nothing in my own little house. Busy day tomorrow and then I’m heading back to Moncton on a six o’clock flight.”

“We could order in to your little house. Couldn’t we Daddy.” Daughter said.

Dan hesitated. Peter was moved in for his house sitting duties. Explaining that to the Moxham’s would requite more tact than he could muster at short notice.

“Unless you have other real plans.” Jeremey said.

“All right. Let’s see …” He checked the time on his cell. “Say 6:30. That gives me time to get home first and make sure the cobwebs have been cleared out.”

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