The Other Typist – Suzanne Rindell

“What was justice, after all, but a particular outcome”

The Other TypistSuzanne Rindell

Rose Baker works as a typist for the New YTypist_2634450aork City Police Department in the early 20’s, where she listens to the confessions of criminals as they admit their transgressions.  Rose is proud of her contribution and takes her work seriously.

“What was justice, after all, but a particular outcome”

Rose’s life was orderly, routine and predictable, which is exactly how Rose wanted it while she clung to her Victorian standards of what was acceptable, during a dramatic time of shifting morals.
Odalie, a new typist to the pool, shows Rose a different version of life, and soon an obsession is formed which will be the undoing of many lives.

“The appearance of one’s innocence is a funny house of cards; you start by shifting the smallest thing, and before you know it the whole structure has come crashing down.”

From the beginning, it is hinted that Rose is a rather reluctant narrator, having been put to the task without much choice.  She presents the initial facets of the story as though following a list of instructions.  The facts are bluntly served and she, Rose, presents herself in as woefully drab and two dimensional.  However, this novel offers a slow-burning progression, leaving the characters nothing like they were at the beginning of the book, Rose included.  Her narration changes as the tale unfolds. And unfolds again.  And unfolds again.

“The slope that leads toward insanity has the paradoxical distinction of being both steep and yet undetectable to the person sliding down it.”

I’ll leave no spoilers here, but I would love to hear the thoughts and discussion of others about the tricky ending and how it was understood in the comments section.

Novel Progress – 1982

Another unedited segment of the novel in progress.

 

August 12th, 1982

Chrystal leans on the wall out front of the dry cleaner.  Her shoulder blades touch the brick wall, as well as the sole of her left foot, left knee bent.  Her right foot is straight, and baring most of her body weight.  She bops her head, as though she is listening to music, and purses her lips forward occasionally, while she sucks on her teeth.
  Although overcast, she wears her sunglasses.  A breeze cuts through her thin shirt, and she pulls the labels jacket closer together.  The zipper has broken, so she wraps her right arm around her stomach, keeping the jacket closed, her fingers curled around a few rolled up bills.  Her left arm dangles from the shoulder, the index finger finding and picking at a hangnail she feels on her thumb.  Pulling her sunglasses from her face, she puts them on top of her head while she looks from left to right, scanning the passing pedestrians for familiarity.
  The owner of the dry cleaner can see Chrystal though the front window.  If he can see her, that means the customers can see her too.  She’s not trespassing, but surely that could be considered loitering.  Moving from behind the desk, he goes to the door, the bells making noise.  He takes one step forward, his right foot on the sidewalk, his left foot still in the cocoon of his business and hitches a breath in, opens his mouth and intends to tell her to move on.
Sensing movement, Chrystal turns her head towards the owner.  Nothing is said.  Chrystal gives her head a slight shake, never losing eye contact with the owner, and curls the left side of her lip up, jutting her chin forward.  Closing his mouth, the owner retreats and watches the door until it jangles closed.
   Although still before noon, a steady stream of people pass in both directions in front of her.
   But no one looks at Chrystal for long.  As they approach, they look her up and down quickly, see her stained shirt, the over worn sneakers and quickly look away, worried that addiction might infect their lives via mere proximity.  They see the scabs on her arms, the hollows of her cheeks and wonder why.  Chrystal knows what the judgements are, and the unease she causes people.  She looks down at her thumb and sees that she has picked the skin around the hangnail raw.  A bead of blood has come to the surface.  She touches it with the tip of her index finger and it bursts like a balloon, the blood following the path along her cuticles and pooling on the opposite side.  She turns her hand, fingers curled, palm up, and looks at her fingers.  Soot from last night was still under her nails.  Wiping her thumb on her jeans she shifts her eyes to focus to her right foot.  Lifting her toes inside her shoe, she can see where the sole has come loose from the canvas top just under the ball of her foot.  She rolls the bills in her hand.  There’s that discount shoe store a few blocks down
   “Hey!  I haven’t seen you in a long time.”  A man approached her right.
     She froze for just a moment.  Squeezing the money tighter, she hits play on her twitches.  Her head bops a bit faster.  “Yeah, it’s been awhile,” Chrystal takes a deep breath before she has lifted her head to face the man the voice came from.
   He smiles as she lifts her head, but his eyes stare at her lips, as he licks his own.  His gaze moves up her face hesitantly and reaches her eyes.  She squints at him and pulls her sunglasses back down in front of her eyes.
   “Oh, don’t do that.  I like your eyes.  Where have you been?  I haven’t seen you around?”
“Oh, you know, just busy, Jesus.  Just really busy.”  Chrystal purses her lips forward, her head still bobbing.
“How many times do I have to tell you?  I’m not the guy on the cross.  I’m like the guy with the thunderbolts.  It’s said like ‘Hey Zeus!’  Jesus bends his knees slightly and shakes two thumbs up towards Chrystal, laughing at his own joke.
   “Oh, right.  Sorry, I keep forgetting.  It’s just when you hear it said one way your whole life-”
   “Oh, no, sweetheart, it’s ok.  It happens all the time.”  Jesus puts his hand on Chrystal’s shoulder and gives it a squeeze.  She stops bopping her head instantly, and she looks towards her feet again.  He slides his hand from her shoulder down her arm, his fingers easily able to go all around her bicep.  “You must be a bit chilled out here in that thin jacket.  It’s not summer anymore, you know.  Why don’t you come back to my place with me and you can get warmed up.”
   “Oh, I’m okay.”  Chrystal doesn’t look back up.
   “When was the last time you ate?  Come, and I’ll get you some food.”
   “I really do have to get going home.”
   “Yeah, sure.”  Jesus releases Chrystals arm with a slight push, that forces her shoulder up towards her ear.  Reaching into his pocket, he pulls his hand back out and extends it towards Chrystal as though seeking a handshake.  Chrystal pushes her right hand towards him, opens her hand, thumb holding the bills against her palm, as the man slides his hand across her palm, making the exchange.
   “See ya around,”  Jesus says, shoving his hand, and the money,  into his pants pocket, as he walks past her.
Chrystal repeats his actions and shoves her right hand into her jeans pocket, with the paper Jesus has passed to her.  Looking in the direction he walked to, she waits a moment before pushing herself off of the wall with her left foot and turning down the sidewalk in the opposite direction.
   Her forefinger and thumb rub the paper in her pocket.  Eager to inspect it, she looks over her shoulder to see if she is being followed.  Two blocks further from the exchange, Chrystal ducks into a short alleyway between buildings. Staying close to the wall, her back towards the sidewalk, she walks far enough into the alleyway that shadows fall around her.  Chrystal pulls the folded paper from her pocket and holds it close to her face for a quick inspection.  It’s a receipt from the gas station down the street.  Some of the logo is missing, where Chrystal rubbed it in her pocket.  Inside the paper, is more brown paper folded over the desired contents.  She holds the baggy closer to her eyes, her brows furrow in, she shoves the paper back into her pocket and hurries home to make a full inspection of her deal without the chance of being watched.  
   Chrystal starts to feel pains of hunger, both in her stomachs and her veins.  Climbing the stairs to her apartment door, her legs feel like lead.  Each foot a dead weight at the end of her limbs.  Her shoe scrapped the rise of each step, before slapping down on the run of each stair.  Reaching the top, she turns to the first door on her right, her hands shake, making unlocking her apartment door frustrating.
Leaning on the door for support, the key finds its way home.  She nearly falls into the apartment when she turned the doorknob.
“Hey,” Chrystal says, closing the door behind her.  She fishes the paper out of her pocket and leaning over the single kitchen chair just inside the doorway, she pulls the off the receipt from the brown paper and unfolds it.  Inside is a brown clumpy powder.  “I grabbed some.  Its inside paper, so he must have had to wash it and dry it out.” Chrystal yells out.  Setting the paper and its contents on the chair, she places her left hand on the chair, leaning closer, she runs her finger over the power and lumps, inspecting it closer.  “Babe?” she asks, when she hasn’t heard any response to her arrival.  Standing up straight and looking to her left down the hallway to the bedroom, she hears nothing.  Behind her, is the doorway to the living, and turning around completely, she stands in the entryway taking in the scene before her.
Both twins were on the floor.  Faith lay on her side, diaper and pants missing.  She lay at an angle where Chrystal could not see her face from where she stood.  A dart stain could be seen on the carpet where she had peed.  Charity sat beside her sister, fully clothed, her legs folded towards her chest.  Her left hand rested on Faith’s side.  Both girls were still and silent.
   “What are you guys doing?”  Chrystal asked.  Taking a step further into the room, she looks left.  The TV is on, but the volume is turned down.  News is showing.  Zeke, Chrystal’s boyfriend, is passed out on the couch.  Both arms above his head on the couch cushion.  His left leg stretched and dangling over the arm of the couch, the right spilled off the couch and onto the floor.
   “Char?  What’s Faith doing?”  Chrystal takes another step towards the twins, and Charity looks up at her mom.  She doesn’t say anything, just stares.  Crouching down, Chrystal puts her hand hand on Faith’s side, besides Charity’s hand, and can feel Faith breathing.  “Is Faith sleeping?”  Chrystal asks.  Charity keeps her silence.
Standing up again, Chrystal walks towards the couch.
   “Zeke,” Chrystal says.  She looks down into his face.  His head is laying on its side, and his lips are slightly parted, revealing the hole where his eyetooth once was.  When he doesn’t rouse, Chrystal nudges him with her foot.  “Zeke!” she says sharply.
   Only Zeke’s head moves, and he raises it to survey who had called him.  When his eyes focus, and he sees Chrystal in front of him, he lowers his head back down to the couch.
   “You’re home.  Did you get any on your way?”  Zeke says as his eyes shut again.
   “What’s wrong with Faith?  What happened?” Chrystal asks.
   Zeke lifts his head again, and looks in the direction of Faith laying on the floor.  “She’s fine.  She’s being a baby.”  Zeke begins to sit up, and as he does, he notices that the button and zipper to his jeans are undone.  He quickly does them up, looking sideways at Chrystal as he does so.  ‘Girls must have done that when I was sleeping.” he mumbles, chin close to his chest.
   “She’s two,” Chrystal says.
   Zeke sits up all the way.  “Hey, Faith.  What’s your problem.  What are you doing over there?” he yells over to Faith.
   Chrystal steps back from the couch.  “Where’s Char?”
   “They were just playing, Chrystal.  Nothing happened.”
   “No…” Chrystal starts and walks towards the spot that Charity just sat.  “She was just here.  She was sitting with Faith.”   Chrystal crouches down beside Faith and puts her hands on the floor while she lowers herself to her knees.
   “Faith?  Are you sick?” Chrystal asked.  Faith lay still still, with her back to Chrystal.  “Mommy is home from work.”  Chrystal puts her hand on Faith’s side and rolls the child over.  Faith’s eyes are open, and they focused on Chrystal’s face.
   Zeke stands up from the couch.  “They’re just playing, Chrystal.”  He says as he stretches his arms over his head and yawns theatrically.  He walks heavy footed behind where Chrystal sits and moves past her to the bathroom down the hallway.
Chrystal puts her hand on Faith’s forehead for a moment and then on her own, comparing the two temperatures.  “There’s no fever, sweetie.  Why are you laying on the floor.”  Faith looks at her mother’s face.  Chrystal watches Faith’s eyes as they move from her eyes to to her mouth to nose to hair.  “Are you going to talk to me?”
   Small foot steps come closer to Chrystal and Faith.  They stop when they reach Chrystal.  “Medicine for Fates.  She hurt.” Charity says.
   Chrystal turns to look at her other daughter.  Charity is pale, and her mouth hangs open.  She closes her mouth, but the jaw drops again, like it is unhinged.  Drool hangs in a drop from her chin.  In her hands she holds the brown paper Chrystal had picked up on her way home.
   “Oh my god.  Did you take this, Char?  Zeke, go to the apartment next door and call an ambulance.” Chrystal yells.  She takes her hands off of Faith and reaches out to catch Charity, catching her just as she passes out.  “Did you take this, baby?  Oh, no, why did you do that?” Chrystal yells in Charity’s face.  She holds Charity across her lap, and rolls her to her side when Charity begins to gag.  She vomits on the floor beside her sister.
   “What the fuck are you yelling about?” Zeke says, walking towards the scene.
   “Just go!  Call an ambulance!”
“She just puked, Chrystal.  What are freaking out for?”
“No!  Just fucking- Somethings’s wrong!  Just go call an ambulance!”
   Zeke steps backwards out of the room.
   Chrystal hears the door open to the hallway outside of the apartment and shut behind him.
   She hears the fridge click and hum.
   She hears Charity breathing heavy.
   She hears the heavy door at the bottom of the stairs open, a brief moment of street noise and then hears it slam shut.
   She does not hear knocking on the neighbor’s door.

Charity shivers in Chrystal’s lap.    Hoisting her up so her head right arms draped over her shoulder, Chrystal attempts to stand but loses her balance as she leans forward, before she can stand upright.  Charity slides off of her shoulder and out of her grip, and lands on top of Faith.  Using her hand to push off the floor, Chrystal stands up, and crouches down to pick up Charity once again.  Faith starts to cry as the weight of her sister is lifted from her.  Using a bent knee, and one arm, Chrystal holds up Charity, while trying to coax Faith into a standing position.
   “Come on, baby.  We have to go and get help.”
   Hanging on to Chrystal’s hand with both of her own hands, Faith allows for Chrystal to drag her onto her feet, but refuses to let go once upright.
The threesome make small heavy steps towards the door.  Chrystal rips her hand out of Faith’s grip in order to turn the doorknob to exit the apartment, and who then insists on holding it again with both hands once the door is open.
Without a hand to knock with, Chrystal kicks the neighbors door with the side of her foot.
“What the fuck!” can be heard from the other side of the door.  “Who the fuck is banging on my door?”  The deadbolt is retracted, and the door open.  Brenda, the neighbor stands in her doorway in a housecoat and slippers, one hand on the door frame, the other still on the door, ready to slam it closed at any moment.  “Oh, no, Chrystal.  Don’t be kicking in my door with those kids in tow and expect me to take care of them at a drop of a hat.”  Brenda steps back to close the door.
“Zeke.  He called an ambulance?”  Chrystal asks.  Her voice is shrill and wavers.
   “How the fuck should I know?”  Brenda glares at Chrystal through the space between the door and the frame, her eyes narrowed under a lowered brow.  Brenda pauses and reviews the three in front of her.  Her lips, which were raised as high as they could go, while the corners were turned down, relax.  “Where’s the girl’s bottoms?”  Brenda says, quieter.  Faith, at the sound of the question and still holding Chrystal’s hand, takes a step back behind Chrystal, forcing Chrystal to lean to the side awkwardly.  Chrystal tries to redistribute the weight of Charity on her shoulder, but the dead weight doesn’t budge.  Vomit is drips from Charity’s mouth, down Chrystal’s arm, and landing in lumpy drops on the floor.  “What did he do?”
   “Please, Brenda.  She needs an ambulance.”  Chrystal begs.  She stares into the space to the left of Brenda’s face.
   Brenda nods her head and steps back into her apartment and disappears from view, leaving the door open.
   Chrystal lets out a sob, taking in a deep breath, her chest heaving.  It shakes her and Charity.   “Brenda, please.”
   Brenda reappears with a thin wool blanket.  Shutting the door behind her, Brenda holds the blanket it out in front of her with both hands.  She crouches slightly and she scoops Faith up in her arms, covering her lower half with the blanket. “Ambulance doesn’t come to this area too quick.  I’ll drive you there.”   She hustles her way further down the hallway to the stairwell leading to the resident parking area.  Chrystal follows.

Novel Pieces – The Other Half

Another segment of my current novel project.
This section has not been edited.

June 18th, 1980

  At 8:57, the ambulance returns to the hospital and the on duty paramedics bring a woman in through the emergency doors on a stretcher.  The woman is laying on her side, with a distended belly far beyond what seems possible.  

  In their haste get the proper help for the woman, the paramedics moved too quickly through the doorway, catching the corner of the stretcher on the automatic door and nearly tipping over.  The woman lay silent and motionless through the commotion on the stretcher, made no motion to catch herself from a potential fall, even as her body slid on the stretcher.  She remained as she was, curled around her belly as though it were a pillow.  Her thighs closely follow the curve of her belly until her knees, where her calves are tighly folded back.  The heels of her feet touch her bottom.  Her arms wrapped tightly around the belly, each hand gripping the lower part of it’s sister arm.  

  Straightening the stretcher, the EMTs are quickly met by the triage nurse just past the threshold of the hospital emergency door.  

  “What’s the status?” she says.  The nurse goes to the right side of the stretcher and helps push it along.

  “Call said probably overdose.  We prepped the Narcan, but delayed dose.  Vital’s are stable and Sats are at 93%.” the attending EMT reports to the nurse.   He refers to the clipboard in his hand, while continuing to push the stretcher forward, waiting to hear which direction the patient needs to go.   

  “Is she responsive?” the nurse fires back, snapping her fingers in front of the woman’s face.  The woman opens her eyes, stares blankly at the fingers before her eyes, but makes no other movement. Her shirt has risen at her back, exposing the skin of her back.  The nurse reaches across the woman and lifts the back of her shirt further.  A bluish tint and patches of red angry sores can be seen.  

  “It may not have been an overdose this time, but she’s been using for a while and it’s just a matter of time.” The nurse says, pulling the woman’s shirt back down at the back.  “Pulse?” The nurse asks.

“Sluggish”

  “Take her to the intake room for more assesment.”  The nurse reaches for the woman’s wrist to check her pulse and is taken a back by the size of her stomach.  “Fuck! What is she pregnant with? When is she due?”

  “No idea.  There was no one with her when we rolled up.  Dispatch says a male made the call, but he didn’t stick around.”  the EMT reports to the nurse.  

  “Stop moving.” The nurse tells the EMT’s, and the stretcher slows to a stop in the hallway infront of the doorway of the intake room.  “When are you due, honey?” she says to the woman on the stretcher.    Not waiting for a response, of which there was none, the nurse puts her hand on the top of the woman’s stomach, slipping them under the woman’s arms and adds a bit of pressure.  “She’s contracting.”  The nurse leaves her hand on her stomach while she consults the second hand on her watch.  

  A second nurse comes out of the intake room, and stands beside the triage nurse waiting for directions.  With a head nod from the triage nurse, the EMT reaches across the stretcher and hands over the clipboard to second nurse.  

  “We need to take her to treatment room 2.  Strap a contraction monitor on her and prep for a possible emergency C section”  The triage nurse takes her hand from the woman’s stomach and turns her attention to the intake nurse.  “She doesn’t seem to be responsive so she may be in shock.  Or still high.  Either way, get that baby needs out.”  

  “Has a doctor been assigned?”

  “Dr. Franklin is covering that block.  I’ll divert his inflow to Dr. Dylon until this is sorted out.”  the woman was wheeled away by the intake nurse, the EMT returned to his collegue at the door of the emergency department and the triage nurse returned to intake to review the next case.

 

***

 

  “Is she allowed to be with them?” the Charlotte asks.

  “Yes, sadly.  There’s nothing we can do to stop her from seeing her babies.  Especially since somehow neither one of them seem to show signs of addiction.”. Merlinda, the head nurse in the maternity ward, kept her eyes on her work,  moving around clip boards, flipping through charts for compliance, focusing on maintaining the flow of the maternity ward.

  “Neither of them?  There’s more than one?” Charlotte asks.  She pulled the chart out from the pile she was monitoring, and flipped through again, looking to cover up her missed detail.

  “Yeah.  Twins.”

  “Oh, I didn’t see that in her chart.”

  The head nurse sighs.  “It’s in there.  We aren’t supposed to stay with the mother when we give them their baby to visit.  The mothers need time to bond and take ownership of the baby before they are released from the hospital.”

  “But, she’s a drug addict.  What if she doesn’t know what to do?  What if she hurts the babies?” Charlotte says.

 “We haven’t heard from child services yet.  We’ve done our part by reporting it, but until then we follow procedure.”   Charlotte frowns at hearing this.  “If it makes you feel better, linger around for a bit, claim the mother needs extra help seeing as it’s twins.”

  Charlotte turns to leave the nurses station and is about to head to the nursery.  

  “Charlotte,” the head nurse calls out.  Charlotte stops and turns her head to look back at the head nurse.  “You can’t save them all.”

 

  Charlotte heads to the nursery to check on the babies.  Charlotte often visits the nursery, even when not part of her normal rounds.  She makes a point to introduce herself to each baby that comes into the ward.  As she enters, she greets the babies she has already met.  She pauses at each bassinette, says the babies name and gives a small nod and a smile.  She sees the new guests in the far corner of the room, and her smile widens.  

  “Them babies are a bloody miracle, if you ask me.   The mother isn’t… the mother is lucky.”

  “And we’re lucky to get to see those babies.” Charlotte says to the nurse working the nursery this morning.  She walks towards the new babies.  Both are in the same bassinette, wrapped in identical white blankets.  

  “Oh, I remember being so young on the maternity ward like you.  I was so excited to see each wee baby that came in.  Was so proud to be a part of their young little lives.”

  “I hope I’m always this excited.  I can’t imagine that seeing brand new babies would get weary.”  Charlotte sees the name on the bassinette says Baby Girl LastName.  “These babies have no names?”

  “The mother hasn’t given one.  She hasn’t said much of anything from what I hear.”

  Charlotte leans down at the babies.  One is swaddled tightly and remains still and asleep.  The second one has started to stir and struggles to turn her head to face her sister.  “Shh shh,” Charolotte says as she scoops up the small fussy bundle. The baby grizzles and attempts to nuzzle into Charlotte.  

  “They both need to be fed and bathed.  You can take them to their mother now.  See if she wants to take part today.”  

The babies are bottle fed.   How do hospitals bath babies?  

  Charlottes returns the small bundle close to her sister, and rolls the bassinette out of the room.

  The room is dark and quiet when she rolls the babies inside.   

  “Ms LastName?  I’ve brought your babies for you.  It’s time for them to feed and I thought you might like to bath them.  I’ll stay and give you a hand.”

  “You can just leave them over there,” the mother’s voice is heard through the darkness.

  A small noise comes from the bassinette.  Charlotte smiles with hope that the baby recognizes her mother’s voice.  

  “I didn’t know they were awake.”  the mother says.  

  “Let’s get some light in here so we can see what we are doing.”  Charlotte brings the bassinette to a stop at the foot of the bed and moves to the window opposite from the door to open the curtains.  She parts them slightly, letting enough task light in, so as not to startle the fresh eyes of the babies.  

  “Do you have to do that?” the mother says.  She squints at the bright light, sitting up at the head of the bed, pillows propping her up into a sitting position, her feet stretched out towards the foot of the bed.  She sees the basinette at the foot of the bed, and pulls her feet towards her, tucking her feet under her as though something was about to nibble on her toes.   The swelling of having recently given birth made her wince in pain.  

  Charlotte continued on her mission, and returned to the basinette.

“Would you like to hold them while I get the bottles out?”  Charlottes asks.  One baby is still asleep, the other has her eyes open slightly, opening and closing her mouth.  A small noise escapes her.  Charlotte puts her left hand on the baby’s swaddled feet, and lifts them up slightly.  Using her right arm, she quickly slids her right hand under the newborns bottom and up towards the head, which she craddles in her hand, the bottom supported by her forearm.   LIfting the baby up, she crosses her arms and adjusts the baby so that the head is now craddled in the crook of her left arm.  

“Uh, no, that’s alright.  I’m tired.  You can feed them.”  The mother moves her body towards the end of the bed, and rolls to her side turning away from Charlotte.  

“Ms. LastName, the babies need to spend time with their mother.  This is how they learn to trust you.”  Charlotte walks with the baby to the side of the bed the mother faces, and lays the baby down infront of the mother.  She stays close until the mother finally puts a hand on the baby’s tummy.  She gets the idea that the mother might push the baby off the bed.  
“Why don’t you sit up again, and feed this baby, while I feed the other one.”  scooping the baby up again just as she did a minute ago, Charlotte stands at the side of the bed, waiting.  

  With reluctance, the mother sits  up again in the bed, as she was when Charlotte first entered.  Leaning across the bed, Charlotte places the baby in the mother’s arms, ensure the head was well supported and in a feed position.  

  “Now what?” the mother asks.  

  Charlotte fetches the warmed bottle from the shelf under the bassinette and holds it out to the mother to grab.  The mother looks at the bottle, but makes no move to take it.  Leaning across the bed again, Charlotte turns the bottle and gentle rubs the nipple across the babies lips.  The baby latches on and turns her head slightly towards her mother.  

  “Hold the bottle here.  Just a little at a time.  Their stomachs are so tiny right now.”  Charlotte returns to the bassinette, and scoops up the second baby.  The head rested in her palm, while the baby’s body ran the length of her forearm.  Grabbing the second bottle, Charlotte takes a set in the armchair close to bed.  Quickly getting her in position, the young nurse tries to wake the still sleeping baby by rubbing the nipple of the bottle across her lips, just as she had done for her sister.  Without opening her eyes, the baby latches on to the nipple and lazily draws formula from it.  Charlotte looks down at the face of the baby she is holding.  The baby has opened her eyes to tiny slits.  With a sigh, the baby starts to pull from the bottle with more vigor, her eyes opening wider, to take in Charlotte’s face.  

  “Have you chosen names yet?”

  The mother has been staring off at the wall behind Charlotte.  At hearing Charlotte’s voice, she turns to look at her.  “No,” she says.  

  “What names have you been thinking about?”  Charlotte asks.

  “I didn’t think of any names.”  the mother says.  The baby the mother is holding lets out a small cry, and releases her latch on the bottle.  The mother looks down at the baby and frowns.  

 “Just give her a moment.  She might have an air bubble that needs to come up.  The mother looks that the wall behind Charlotte again.  She holds the baby in the same position in one arm.  The bottle is in her left air, she keeps it suspended in air.  

  “It helps the nurses if a name is chosen.  As well as speeds up paperwork for you later on.”  Charlotte looks at the mother, who’s eyes have unfoccused.  

  “Huh?  Well, they don’t have names.”

  “I had thought of two names when I first laid eyes on them.”  The mother looked at Charlotte while she spoke but turned her atttention back to the wall, still holding the bottle in mid air.  The baby in her arms had fallen asleep.  “Would you like to hear them?” Charlotte proded.

  “Sure,” the mother said, her mouth loose and open.  Her eyes unfoccused again.

  Charlotte looked down at the baby in her arms.  The baby’s eyes were open, although she didn’t seem to be staring at Charlotte.  It was more observing.  “Charity and Faith.” Charlotte said without looking up.  

  When there was no response from the mother after a moment, Charlotte returned her gaze to the mother, who’s eyes were closed.  The bottle she had been holding in the air was now laying on the bed, with the hand that had been holding it lying lifeless at the end of her arm, palm up.  Fearing that that mother might drop the baby, Charlotte quickly got to her feet, placed the baby she had been holding in the bassinette, and went to fetch the second baby.  

  “Ms LastName?  Ms LastName!  Open your eyes.  Are you alright?”  Charlotte said sharply as removed the baby from the mother’s arms.  

  The mother flinched as she came to, and saw Charlotte was trying to take something from her.  

  “Hey, that’s mine” the mother said.  She pulled the baby closer to her chest with both arms.  Charlotte stopped and let the mother take her baby.  The mother looked down at the bundle in her arms.  The commotion had woken the baby in the mother’s arms, and she let out a cry.  Startled by the noise, the mother pulled the bundle from her chest to look at it.  The mother’s face morphed from one of alarm to one of annoyance.

  “Oh.  Here.” the mother said, holding the baby out for Charlotte to take.  

  Charlotte took the baby, and swiftly pulled the baby’s head close to her neck, letting it peer over her shoulder and gently patted the back.  “Shh shh… it’s alright.  I just startled your mom.  It’s alright.” Charlotte cooed to the baby and rocked back and forth slightly.  

  When the baby had settled down, Charlotte placed her beside her sister in the bassinette.  Both girls closed their eyes, faces towards each other, and their chests rose and fell in unism.  

  “Those are church names.”

  “Hmm?” Charlotte turned to face the mother again.  

  “Those names.  Charity and Faith.  Those are church names.  I don’t know what religion you are selling, but I’m not buying it.”  

  “I’m not selling anything, Ms. LastName.  Sometimes when I see little ones, names just happen to pop into my head.”  Charlotte picked up the bottle she had used to feed back on the shelf under the bassinette.    

  “I don’t know what I’m going to name them, but it’s not going to be any church name like that.”  

  Charlotte moved to the side of the mother’s bed again, and picked up the bottle the mother had dropped.  A large dark stain was on the blanket from the formula that had leaked out.  “Charity so she remembers that not all gifts are material, and some gifts don’t seem like gifts at all.  Faith to remember that life is full of lessons, but sometimes the lesson isn’t for us.”  Charlotte returned the second bottle to the bassinette shelf.  

  The door to the room suddenly opened, and a man walked through the threshold.  He paused in the doorway when he saw Charlotte.  

  Charlotte felt the air change in the room, and suddenly needed to leave quickly.  “I’ll send someone to get you a fresh blanket.” she said as she wheeled the bassinette out the door.

  “And don’t say I’m the mom, either.  I haven’t decided on that either.”  the mother said to Charlotte’s back as she exited the room.  

Writing Strategy

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January is the time of new beginnings, new trials, new adventures, new pursuits.  I’ve decided it’s time I approach my writing in a different way.  It’s time to show it the respect it deserves.
When hit with an idea for a story, the best one I’ve ever had, the best one the world will ever read, I pull out my notebook and write feverishly.  My fingers fail at keeping up with the prose that are oozing from my brain.  This is creation at it’s prime: raw, energetic, and unplanned.  Editing will take care of plot holes and flat characters later, right?
There is no plan, just creativity.  Planning might squash this delicate flower instead of letting it bloom.  Surely, creativity is the opposite of planning!
  Somewhere along the way, the words slow down, an errand or chore suddenly needs to be done, and the characters I have created go off to do something boring.

  And sometimes, I just have the overwhelming urge to take a nap.

  I promise myself I will get back to it quickly, and somehow it just doesn’t happen well enough.  I’ve lost the vigor for that paper world, and wonder why I was so excited in the first place.
  Late last year, I came across author, Randy Ingermanson, and his Snowball Method technique.  The book was a fast read and quite humorous.  In those pages was a scientific method to planning and writing a novel with results.
Having a novel already in the works, I didn’t start with step one of his process, but I did take the time to work on other steps, such as character sketches, deciding the target audience and creating a map of timelines.  Just using those three steps put my novel in a new exciting direction, with new scenes, characters and conflicts.  Having a plan hasn’t squashed my creativity, it means that if the words do start to slow down, my plan reminds me why each scene is so vital to the overall story.
I’m a big advocate of Todoist.  I have been using this program for years (I have reached Grandmaster status), but have just recently started using it for my writing as well.  I have created a project for each piece that I am currently working on, and included list items with checkpoints, research that may need to be done, and due dates for word counts.  Seeing my writing goals along side my daytime work goals helps remind me to push a bit harder to get everything completed, and ensures that I schedule time to do so.
During my scheduled writing time, sometimes Facebook or emails steal my attention, which is where using the Pomodoro technique works for me.  There are a bunch of apps for this technique, but I recommend using one that actually stops you from using certain sites of apps while during productive interval.  Using this method allows me to focus on my writing without distractions, and takes some pressure off, knowing that I have a break coming up in just 25 minutes.  Usually when I use this app, I finish the first interval, grab a coffee during my first break, and by the second interval in, I have my writer’s groove on, and I don’t need to take a break for while.  It really is something to motivate me to get started.
My last tip to give your writing strategy a jump start is to join a writing group.  The writing group I belong to has monthly writing exercises, offers encouragement, has contests and events, all in the spirit of working on our craft.  This writing group helped me move onto the path I am currently working on, as well as helped me learn new techniques and styles to try.

I’d be interested in hearing other methods writers use to get their projects off the ground.  Please leave your own tips in the comment section!

The Year of the Flood – Book Review

“What am I living for and
what am I dying for
are the same question.”
Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

 

I came across this book and will fully admit I bought it soley because of who it was written by.  I did not know at the time that this was part of a series written by Atwood, and started it without having read the book before it.

I can’t tell you much about the plot of this book.  The plot barely moves, and the little movement it does have is more sideways than forward.  That is not what makes this such a good read.  Atwood is able to isolate the reader in a world where multiple time frames, multiple narrators, multiple points of view were all seamlessly pulled together.  Atwood is clear in her writing style and does not pander to the potential readers questions by adding in more details than are needed.  She allows the story to unfold before the reader, without diluting it with extra information.  The intentions and motivations of the characters are not spelled out in detail, but instead left to the reader to sort out for themselves.  This is an excellent example of what good writing looks like.

An elevator, a promise and a pickpocket

  “Yes, I sent those files to them last week…  I don’t know, I didn’t hear back.  I assumed so though since they called for a meeting.”
  The elevator door opens, and Glenn steps inside, mobile phone pressed tightly  to his right ear.  His right hand tightly grips the phone, with his index finger reaching around the top of the phone to touch to top of his right ear.  Each time he finishes speaking, his finger gently traces his ear, a  habit since he was a child.
Glenn surveys the other attendees on the elevator, pulls his shoulders up straighter before turning around to face the elevator door which had just closed behind him.
   To Glenn’s rear left, is a man in his late twenties.  The young man leans into the rail which runs along the back of the elevator with his right arm.   A slouchy toque holds back his hair as much as it covers his head.  A combination of aviator sunglasses, a thick well trimmed beard and a scarf wrapped triplicate around his neck do much to obscure his face.
   To Glenn’s left, a woman in her forties, whose head was no higher than Glenn’s shoulder.  The dusty rose business suit she wore missed it’s prime decade.  She takes a small step further to the right, closer to the elevator’s control panel as Glenn enters.  She looks to floor as Glenn turns around and stands beside her.
   Glenn pulls the phone away from his ear briefly, looks in the direction of the control panel.  “I’m going to floor 11.”
   “It’s already-” she says
   Glenn replaces the phone to his ear, index finger on its mark and returns to his phone conversation.   “No, no, it will be fine.  The proposal makes good business sense.  Why else would they have called a meeting?  Yeah, ok, the financials are a bit weak, but it will work.”
   The woman pushes the button for floor eleven, despite the fact that it has already lit up.
   “Listen, I’m on the elevator now so I may lose signal.  Yeah, I have that, hang on.”  Glenn reaches into his pocket for his wallet and shuffles through some cards stored inside.  “The guy I met is named John, however that’s not the person I’m meeting today.  I can’t remember his name.  He sounded young so it’s probably John’s assistant.  Here it is.  The number is 905 385 2354.  Of course we’re partners on this.  I’ll bring you along.  I promise.”  Replacing the cards, Glenn folds his wallet shut with a snap and reaches to return it to his left pants pocket.  “I’ll do some snooping around the office and see if there’s something I can send as a gift and follow up to the meeting.  Nothing wrong with greasing the wheels a little bit.  I’ll call once I’m back in my office.”  Glenn ends the call on his phone and puts the phone is his right pants pocket and crosses his arms in front of him.
   The elevator reaches floor seven and the door opens when it comes to a stop.  The dusty rose woman steps around Glenn and exits the elevator.  As the elevator doors close again, the metallic surface reveals Glenn’s reflection.  Using the reflection, Glenn straightens his tie, squares his shoulders and lets out a long breath.  He widens his stance and puts his hands in his pants pocket.  His right hand curls around the cell phone inside, and his left hand jingles the set of keys in the left pocket.  He moves his hand around in the left pocket, pulls the keys out, and switches them to his right hand.  His left hand goes back into the left pocket and searches some more.  Not finding the desired item, Glenn does the same thing to his right pocket; moves the keys back to his left hand, removes the cell phone from his right pocket and hands it to his left hand, moving with more speed but the same result.  His wallet is gone.
   “I just fucking had it” Glenn mutters to himself.  Turning to his right, he sees there is no one there.  He swivels his back to the left and sees the young man just behind him looking towards the floor.  He turns his whole body to face the young man.
   “Did you see my wallet?”  Glenn asks the young man.
   The young man looks up at Glenn and removes his glasses.  He opens his mouth as though to speak.
   “You’re the only one here and I literally just had it moment ago but now it’s mysteriously gone.”  Glenn says, taking a small step towards the young man.  “Did you take it, man?  Seriously dumb seeing as you have no escape route.”
   The young man, mouth still open, does not change his posture.  Glenn looks him up and down, sees the tears in the man’s jeans and continues.  “On your way to your social worker, are you?  Not sure how you’ll get your monthly hand out when I tell them you’re a pickpocket on top of being a lazy, self-entitled, drain on society.”
   The young man continues to lean on the elevator rail.  A small smile forms on his lips at the same time his brow furrows.  “Look down” he says.
   “What?”
  “Look down” the young man repeats and tips his head in the direction of something on the floor of the elevator.  Glenn’s reflexes have him look down at the floor to spot his wallet mere inches from his left foot.
   The elevator reaches floor eleven as Glenn stoops to retrieve his missing wallet.  The elevator doors open up.  The young man stands up straight, and steps towards Glenn.
   “Jason” the young man says, walking past Glenn towards the elevator door.
   “I don’t care what your name is, bud.” Glenn says, standing up and turning to face the young man.
   “That’s the name of the person you are meeting right now.  And I’m not his assistant.  I’m the owner.  John is new.  I’ll see you in there.“  The young man says and exits the elevator. 

Book Launch Party Dos and Don’ts

Recently, I hosted a book launch party for Amanda Morrison’s first children’s book “Go to Sleep, Leona!”  Having never hosted a book launch party, I was a out of element on what exactly needed to be done to make this effective.  I thought about all the other product launches I have been a part of, and googled the rest.

Things I did right:

  • Quaint venue – I used a small, locally owned venue.  The owner was on site at the time of the launch and I feel this made things more comfortable for the guests.  The venue I chose also doubles as a gallery for local artists.  
  • Good, simple food – The owner of this location has amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, and she served these throughout the launch with simple veggies and dip.   So easy and simple.
  • Entertainment – I had a local musician play though out the launch.  It gave people something to look at besides myself.  I felt having the entertainment encouraged people to stay longer and mingle.  

Things I did wrong

  • There was no speech made.
  • I didn’t do a reading.
  • Not enough contacts to broaden my reader base for my newsletter.

All of these could have been solved with just one thing: Help.

Had I had someone to keep me on schedule, I would have been able to say the speech I had actually wrote, do the reading I pictured and wanted to do.  If I had someone to take care of book sales, I would have been able to get away from the desk more and mingle to encourage newsletter sign up.  If I had an MC, I would have had someone to help keep me with keeping the event on schedule and the reading and speech would have happened.  

The best thing I feel I did, however was wait to see the final sales count until well after the event, and when things calmed down, so as not to dampen or inflate my head anymore.  After the event, I went and celebrated the launch with friends and family, without knowing what the final count was.  I was able to celebrate the accomplishment of the product itself, and not numbers.  It made my night more enjoyable I feel.  

Below are some great articles I feel helped in the planning stages:

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2013/06/12-tips-for-book-launch-parties/

http://blog.bookbaby.com/2012/03/how-to-throw-a-book-launch-party-that-isnt-a-waste-of-time/

Cavern of Dreams Publishing at Lynden Park Mall

Cavern of Dreams Publishing and its authors are very excited to be returning to the Lynden Park Mall this fall – just in time for your Christmas season shopping!
Stop by our table; we have a large selection of children’s books – some written in both english and french, YA novels, adult novels and memoirs! With new releases in all genres, there is something to interest any reader! As an added bonus you can get your copies personally signed by the authors on site!
This is also the final day for our fundraiser supporting Nova Vita – purchases of “I Thee Fled” and “Picking Up The Pieces” will donate $5 to the organization!

Amanda Morrison will be present at this event with her first book ‘Go to Sleep, Leona!’
Stop by the booth to chat with her and get your copy signed

Five Words to Eliminate

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Thing, That, Many, Most Adverbs, and words you don’t use.   To review simple changes to take your writing to the next step, read the rest of the article at this site for great tips on how to make your writing better.

Next Step Editing

“I don’t want to just  make your writing better, I want to make you a better writer.” – Sandra Peoples

http://www.nextstepediting.com/