This Is Not a Setback

NaNoWriMo Week Two

My goal for week two was to work on closing some of the gaps in the story and make some strides toward completing my draft of the sequel to Once in Love with Lily. The good news: I did just that. I worked my way through the first several chapters and added new material to help form a more cohesive story as well as add some tension where needed. The bad news: I had to murder a few of my darlings. Some of my favorite scenes had to be cut to tighten things up and I ended up with three thousand fewer words this week than I had at the end of last week. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You’re going the wrong way!” It may seem that way, but I assure you, this is not a setback. It’s all part of the process. At least that’s what I’m telling myself!

My goals for this week:

1. To continue editing and adding, but actually make my word count go in the right direction.

2. Research and Development. I can’t give you too many details just yet, or this post would need a spoiler alert. But, I can tell you that Lily is going on location. She’s headed somewhere I’ve never been. So, it looks like I’m going to need some inspiration. YouTube and Pinterest, here I come… Again!

Reporting In

NaNoWriMo Week One 

 During NaNoWriMo, the traditional goal is to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. It’s supposed to be a novel that you start from scratch on day one. I accepted that challenge in 2011 and finished the first draft of my first novel Once in Love with Lily. This year, I began on November 1st with a unique goal. Instead of writing fifty thousand words of a completely new novel, my goal was to complete a workable, readable draft of the sequel to Once in Love with Lilly. I had already written several drafts and I was still waffling on content. So, I had decided to start from scratch one more time and knock it out in thirty days. I kept up with my daily word count and for the first three days, and I was feeling quite pleased with myself until…. I committed the number one NaNoWriMo sin. I re-read what I had written!

Every one knows that if you’re trying to knock out a novel in a month, you don’t have time to read and edit, but in this case, I’m very glad I did. As I looked at my “fresh start” with fresh eyes, I came to a huge realization. My hero was distinctly unlikable. I had become so concerned with creating the hook that agents keep talking about, that I had destroyed one of the beloved characters that had hooked my readers in the first place.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot who I was. I tried to become a plotter who focused on structure and eight point story arcs, when I’m anything but. I have always claimed to write from the heart first and the head second, to be more concerned with meaningful relationships, quality drama, and realistic dialog. I’ve generally found that if you tell a good story, proper structure will naturally evolve.  Ever a victim of self-doubt, I had allowed my own insecurities about my lack of formal training in the craft to cloud my judgment.

Once I had that aha moment, I went back to my original plan for the story and began cut, copy, and paste together all the usable pieces from the subsequent drafts. What I now have is about forty thousand words of a story that still needs a lot of detail, a ton of editing, and a fair amount of restructuring before it’s ready for public consumption. Still, I’m comforted by the fact that it is a much truer version of Lily’s and Tony’s story.

This week I hope to complete several new chapters that will begin to fill in some of the holes in the original plot and find ways to weave some subtle humor into the somewhat serious plot. I’ll keep you posted!

If you are interested in reading the original, Once in Love with Lily is on sale for.99 cents at the Amazon Kindle Store now through November 15th. Click here to view the book trailer.

Lily cover

 

 

Countdown to NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year! NaNoWriMo is less than a week away. This year my goal is to complete the third draft of the sequel to Once in Love with Lily. I’ll try to detail some of my experiences here for those of you who want to share in the journey.

Since it will be a very busy month, I thought I’d better post at least one more chapter of my GH fanfic to hold the Robert and Anna fans over for a while. Enjoy!

Previous chapters are available in the archives or at https://www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson

Chapter 9

THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE

Robert awoke some time later. He presumed he’d been asleep for several hours, but with no windows to the outside world, it was impossible to tell if it was morning or night. He tried to read his watch, but it was pinned under Anna who was still soundly asleep. He tried again to turn his arm just enough to read it, but she stirred and he stopped. As he lie there wondering how long he should wait before waking her, she stirred again. This time, she turned over and before he could react, her arm was around him and her left leg had worked its way between his. Her breath was warm on his neck as she buried her face in it. He lay there for a few minutes, relishing the closeness. He knew he should wake her, but he hated to end the moment. He waited a bit longer then kissed her on the top of the head, and whispered, “Rise and shine, Anna, Love.”

“Mmm. Morning, Robert,” she said. She tilted her face up toward his and in the dim light he could see an awkward smile form as she realized the location of her left knee. “Sorry,” she said. She wiggled her leg free and turned onto her back. “Did you sleep all right?”

“As well as can be expected,” he said inching closer to the wall to afford her some room. “You?”

“Like a baby,” she said.

“Really?”

“Mmm. I always did sleep well in your arms.” She smiled at him again and licked her lips, catching the bottom one in her teeth.

“Oh, boy! Don’t let Duke hear you talking like that. I think he might have a thing or two to say about it.”

“I’m sure he would.”

“Do I detect a hint of sarcasm? Is there trouble in paradise?”

“No. I just… Forget it. I shouldn’t have said it like that.” She turned away from him. “We should probably get out of bed. What time is it?”

“Time for you to tell me what is or isn’t going on with you and Duke.”

“Robert…”

“Come on, Anna,” he said, leaning over to look at her. “Is something wrong?” When she didn’t respond, he leaned his chin on her bare shoulder. “Tell Bobby,” he said in a deliberately pouty voice that made her laugh.

She shook him off playfully. “Stop!” she laughed, “it’s nothing, really. It’s just… things are… different. That’s all.”

“What’s different?”

“I don’t’ know. He’s different.”

“And you think you aren’t?”

“No. I know I am. But I’d like for us to talk about things, you know.”

“About what?”

“I don’t know. Things. Us. Where we’re going. Where we’ve been. A lot has happened in the last twenty years. But every time I try and broach the subject, he shuts me down. He doesn’t want to hear about my life without him. Doesn’t want to talk about his.”

“And why do you suppose that is?”

“I know he was in prison for all of those years, but still, there must be something he can share with me. Some detail. Some thought. Something. Without being open with each other… it’s like we’re always keeping each other at arm’s length. There’s no… intimacy.”

He cleared his throat and looked thoughtful for a moment then spoke. “Don’t be too hard on him.”

“What?”

“Maybe he just isn’t able to talk about all of the things he’s been through.”

“Who’s side are you on?” she said. She moved on to her back again and looked up at him.

“You know I’ll always be on your side, love,” he said laying a hand on her shoulder. “I’m just saying that sometimes a man has… things. Things he can’t talk about. Things he keeps hidden for the good of his family and the people he loves.”

“What kinds of things?” she asked, noting that he seemed to be speaking from personal experience.

“How should I know? We’re talking about Lavery here.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Hey, don’t start. I just think you should cut him some slack. I mean, come on. You’re not exactly the easiest person to live with either, you know?” he said, changing the subject.

“Ha! And why is that?” she said. She turned over to face him.

“Any number of reasons.”

“What? Name one!” she said.

“For one, you’re combative!”

Her mouth fell open. She swatted him and he feigned falling into the wall.

“Ugh!” he laughed. “There! See!

“With you I am!” She laughed too. “You deserve it.”

“Says you!”

“Carry on.”

“Okay. You’re nitpicky. Always straightening things and reorganizing. Not that it stops you from filling the place up with all of your tchotchkes.”

“Ming vases and priceless treasures can hardly be called tchotchkes, Robert.”

“What would you call them?”

“Art,” she said matter-of-factly. Anyway, it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all gone now.”

“It is?”

“Of course it is. I died. Remember?”

“Oh. Right,” he said. He watched her as she raised her arm and ran a hand through her hair. She caught her lip in her teeth again. Her contemplative look told him he’d struck a nerve. Watching her, lying next to her struck something in him too. His tone softened. “And you’re distracting.”

She looked at him, puzzled.

“You are. Always playing with your hair, biting your lip like that… in fact, the general look of you… It’s distracting. I know I could hardly get anything done with you around. The poor guy probably can’t concentrate half of the time.”

“Who are you?” she said. “I can’t believe this. You’re actually defending him.”

“On principle, yes. For the sake of men everywhere I have to say—”

Before he could finish she put a finger to his lips.

“Robert, do you hear that?” Anna asked.

He paused and listened then nodded.

“Someone’s coming,” she said.

“We’d better get up. If the fun is about to start, we don’t want them to catch us off guard.”

Her eyes scanned the dimly lit room, her mind suddenly in overdrive. “Or do we?” she said with a devious smile. “I have an idea.” She quickly stood and reached back for the zipper on her skirt.

He raised his eyebrows at her. “Anna? What? What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m taking my skirt off. Unbutton your shirt, will you?”

“I never thought those words could cause such mixed emotions. Why?” he asked, though he did sit up and oblige her.

“I’m creating a distraction, giving us the element of surprise.”

“You certainly are!” he said.

“Do you still have your gun in your pants?”

“That’s a loaded question,” he snickered.

“Shut up, Robert. Do you?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” She peeled off her camisole and threw it on the floor. “Move over,” she said as she settled in next to him again.

“You want to fill me in on your plan?”

“No time. Trust me?”

“With my life.”

“Then just do as I tell you,” she said.

“Just like old times,” he laughed.

“Come here,” she said, directing him to move onto her as she wrapped her legs around him. She unbuttoned his jeans and tugged his shirt free. Then she slid her hands under the shirt and around his back, making sure that the tails covered her hand on the weapon in his waistband. “Now, kiss me. And make it look convincing,” she said as the lab door began to glide open.

“No problem there,” he assured her.

What happened next would have appeared in slow motion on television, but in reality, took only a matter of seconds. When guards Dale and Roy stepped into the room, they discovered two hostages, one of them half dressed, in a rather delicate position.

“What the…” Roy said. He stood dumbfounded with the breakfast tray in his hands.

“Whoa!” Dale mouthed without making a sound.

“Dale…” his brother whispered.

Dale waved a hand at Roy to keep him quiet. He smiled, seemingly interested in enjoying the show, but his finger still hovered on the trigger of his Heckler & Koch MP5.

As Robert lingered above her slathering her neck and chest with kisses, Anna undulated beneath him making it a point to sound so enthused that she couldn’t possibly have noticed the men enter. Meanwhile, out of the corner of her eye she watched. The moment she saw Dale loosen his grip on his weapon she looked up at Robert and moaned, “Robert, wait. You know I like to be on top.”

Robert took his cue. That was a dance they’d done many times before. With one swift movement the two of them flipped over so that she ended up straddling him.

“Oh! Don’t let me fall!” she squealed, and as he gripped her hips, she pulled the gun from behind him, rotated her upper body toward the men and fired three shots: one to take out Dale, one to maim Roy, and a third to finish him off once he’d dropped the tray and grabbed for his wounded leg.

“Very impressive!” Robert said breathlessly, looking up at her with a look that was complete awe and pure desire all at once.

“Thanks,” she said, her chest still heaving from the adrenaline rush. “Robert?”

“Yeah?”

“You can let go of me now,” she said, smiling down at him.

“I don’t know if I want to,” he said with a wink.

Sorry,” she said. She handed him his gun and patted his cheek as she climbed off.

He watched her re-dress. “A thong? Really?” he said.

“Hmm. Either that or a visible panty line. No thank you.”

“You never cease to amaze me, Anna Devane.”

“Pull yourself together Robert and let’s get the hell out of here,” she said. She slipped on her shoes and put on her jacket. She didn’t look back at him. She couldn’t. If she did, he would surely have noticed the blush in her cheeks.

He cleared his throat. “As you wish, Commissioner!” He stood and gave a quick salute.

“And another thing…”

“What’s that?”

“It was all in the line of duty, but… we probably shouldn’t mention our escape tactics to Duke.”

“You won’t get an argument from me.”

“Good.”

“I wouldn’t want any of his old mob buddies coming after me for infringing on his territory,” he chuckled.

“Very funny!” she said. She crouched down to search Dale and Roy. She found a cell phone, a pocket knife, and a small Glock pistol.

Robert collected his sport coat and joined her.

Anna handed him the knife which he pocketed. She slipped the phone into one jacket pocket and patted the other to be sure her badge was still there. Not that it would do her much good at the moment. “Ready?” she asked.

“When you are,” he said.

“Let’s go find our daughter,” she said. She stepped over the bodies of the downed guards and strode confidently out of the lab, pistol at the ready.

Robert followed, his heart still pounding after everything that had just transpired. He reminded himself to keep his mind in the game—to think about Robin, not Anna. Easier said than done he thought. Good God, how he loved that woman.

At long last…

For my fellow GH fans and friends,

Here is the latest installment. It’s not action packed this time, but I hope you’ll find a few quality Robert and Anna moments, some of the relationship building stuff that we’ve been missing. Enjoy!

Previous chapters are available in the archives or at https://www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson

Endgame Chapter 8  – WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

After wasting several rounds and most of their energy, Robert and Anna sat down, defeated. It was no use. No one was going to hear them scream. No one was going to release them even if they did.

“What the hell do we do now?” said Anna, her irritation readily apparent.

“I don’t know. Yet.” Robert made his way around the chamber opening and closing all of the cabinets.

“Well, we obviously can’t shoot our way out. How many bullets do you have left?”

“Four.” He eyed the supply of chemicals he’d found. “Can we blast our way out?”

“What?”

“I know you can diffuse a bomb, but how are you at building one?” he said.

She sank into the rolling chair near the work station and bent over to check the undersurface for bugs. “If I made a bomb strong enough to blow that door, the blast would kill us both.”

“So much for that.”

“Any other bright ideas?”

“Not at the moment.”

“You wasted half your ammunition firing at a steel door. What did you think—that you had some magic bullets? Good job we weren’t killed by the ricochet.”

“Anna, don’t do that,” he said as took off his sport coat and tossed it on top of a stack of boxes. He shoved a crate into the corner and stepped up on it to examine the mounted camera.

“Don’t do what?”

“The same thing you always do,” he said.

“And what is that, Robert?” she said, moving on to the drawers on either side of the desk.

“You take out your frustrations on the closest target. It’s not gonna do either of us any good to be down each other’s throats.”

“Eeerrrgghh! I know! I know you’re right! I’m just…” She pulled a small bound notebook out from under a pile of file folders and opened it to the first page. “Robert!” she said in a voice that sounded like a mixture of joy and panic.

He was at her side in an instant. “Did you find something?”

“Just this.” She held up the book. “Robin’s journal. She was here, Robert. All of this… this is her research. They kept her here all of this time against her will,” she said, her voice trembling. The thought sickened her, but proof that Robin was alive was almost enough to compensate for it.

He took the journal out of her hand and sat down on the cot on the far side of the room. “She was looking for a cure Polonium Poisoning?” he said, flipping through the pages.

“Apparently.”

“Under the command of Jerry Jacks and his band of merry men. Dammit!” He shook his head.

“Robert, what are we going to do? We can’t just sit here. Our daughter is out there somewhere.”

“We don’t seem to have a lot of options right now, do we? We’re gonna have to wait until someone opens that door and then… then we can make a move.”

“How long do you think until someone comes back?”

“I don’t know.”

“What if they don’t come back?”

“They will.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Because… Look, you said you saw Faison and Obrecht on the boat, right?”

“Yes.”

“So Faison knows you’re here.”

“Yes.”

“And what’s the one thing in this world that he wants more than anything else?”

“Me,” she said.

“Exactly.”

“So you think he’ll come back to claim me?”

“Or someone will. At the very least, they’ll bring you food and water. Keep you alive.”

She chose to ignore the fact that he didn’t include himself in that statement. “And then what?” she said. “We have four bullets. They have automatic weapons. The odds aren’t exactly working in our favor.”

He read the exasperation in her face. He reached out and pulled her rolling chair closer to him. He looked deep into her eyes. “Listen, this is us. You and me. We just need to put our heads together. We’ll come up with something.”

She leaned in and allowed her forehead to touch his. She smiled, thinking their heads were quite literally together.

He gave a slight chuckle, knowing that was exactly what she was thinking.

“Okay?” he said.

“Okay,” she answered. “I guess we have time, don’t we?” she said with a slight smile.

“So it would seem,” he said.

They began to run escape scenarios by one another, shooting down one plan after another for one reason or another. Robert could feel Anna’s frustration growing again. Truth be told, he was no less irked than she was, but one of them had to keep a cool head.

After about an hour of fruitless discussion, Anna decided to change the subject. “Robert?”

“What, love.”

“Luke ran off after Jerry because he was looking for a cure for Polonium Poisoning. Jerry held Robin hostage so she could develop the cure. I can make sense of that. But how do you think Faison and Obrecht fit in to this whole thing?”

“Obrecht ran the clinic where Robin was held to start with.”

“Yes, but is there more? How is she connected to Faison? What is his part in all of it?”

“I don’t know, but I intend to find out, one way or another. And when I do…”

There was no need to finish that statement. She knew exactly what he was thinking. She was thinking it too.

“There’s something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about,” she continued.

“What’s that?”

“You said that you figured out that I was here because of a message from Britt Westborne.”

“Right. When she said that her mother might have brought her baby here, I figured it was—”

“How did you know that Obrecht was her mother?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, how did you know that Obrecht was Britt’s mother? I only found out a few weeks ago, but you were…”

“In a coma. Yeah. Don’t remind me.”

“So? Did I tell you that at the clinic?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“What do you know?” She stood and started to pace about.

“What?”

“Or more precisely, what else do you know?”

“Anna, you’re not making any sense here.”

“Robert, I don’t think I told you about their relationship, so if I didn’t tell you, you must have got the information somehow. The question is what other information do you have, how did you get it, and how do we retrieve it?”

“Three,” he said matter-of-factly.

“What?”

“That’s three questions,” he smirked.

“Oh, shut up,” she said. She rolled her eyes, but he saw the playful grin that snuck across her face.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, intrigued. He watched her pace a while longer, obviously deep in though. He was in awe of her mind at work. He always had been. And there was nothing sexier than the gleam that she got in her eye when she was in throws of concocting a plan or solving a mystery.

“What if…” she said, still moving from one side of the room to the other. Her fingers formed a steeple in front of her lips just under her nose. “That’s it!” She crossed the room and sat down in front of him again. Turned sideways in the chair she crossed her legs.

He did his best to ignore them.

“Robert,” she started in again, leaning in toward him, “you said you saw Obrecht and Robin at the clinic before you lost consciousness.”

“Yeah.” He cleared his throat and sat up straighter.

“What if you heard them talking and somehow retained the information?”

“Subconsciously?”

“Yes. What if you heard something about what they were planning that you just don’t remember?”

“So, what do you want to do now, hypnotize me?”

“It’s not a bad idea.”

“It’s a terrible idea! Since when do you possess the skills to—”

“I’ve learned a lot of things since the last time we were together.”

“I’ll just bet you have!”

She caught the wicked twinkle in his eye. “Ah, watch it, Robert.”

“Anna, this is…”

“Come on. It can’t hurt to try, can it?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because…”

“Robert!”

“Anna, it doesn’t make any difference why I know what I know, all right?”

“But if you heard Obrecht say something, anything—”

“I was unconscious.”

“Yes, but if you—”

“Anna, drop it!” he said sternly.

“Couldn’t we just try it? Alex and I—”

“No.”

“Don’t you trust me?”

“Of course I trust you.”

“Come on, Robert,” she said with a curious smile, “what don’t you want me to find in that head of yours?”

“What? Nothing. Look, I’ve been reenacting Sleeping Beauty for the better part of a year, Anna. I’d rather not take any chances, all right?”

She considered his request and nodded, then stood and walked away again.

“I’m sorry,” he said, recognizing her disappointment.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said still facing away from him with her arms folded.

He stood and approached her. “Anna,” he whispered as he folded his arms around her from behind, “it’s gonna be all right. You’ll see.” He didn’t have to see her face to guess that tears were welling up in her big brown eyes.

She nodded again. “I know,” she said.

“We’ll figure it out, love.”

“I know,” she said again. She wiggled out of his grip and turn to face him. “I’m just so frustrated, you know?” Her lower lip quivered and the tears threatened to fall even as anger burned behind them. “Damn it, Robert!” She shoved at him.

She wasn’t angry at him. He knew that. She would much rather have been laying into Faison, but in his absence, Robert was the stand in.

“That man has destroyed every chance we’ve ever had at happiness and now he’s doing the same thing to Robin and her family!”

Her fists came at him, one after the other, pummeling him like a human punching bag. If he’d been stronger, he’d have let her have at it for a while longer, but currently that wasn’t an option. He rushed in to scoop her up into his embrace again before she could swing again. She didn’t fight him. Instead, she crumbled into him, sliding her arms under his and wrapping them up over his shoulders. She clung to him, soaking his shirt with salt water as he swayed slowly and shushed her softly.

“We were so close,” she murmured. “So close. She was here,” she cried. “I just want to hold my baby, Robert.”

“And you will. I promise. Come here.” He let go and took her hand, leading her over to the cot. They sat side by side, backs to the wall. He put an arm around her as she rested her head on his shoulder. “Now, look at it this way. A week ago you thought she was gone. Now you know they have her, but you know she’s alive, right?”

“Right,” she said, taking his free hand. She squeezed his fingers between hers. She sniffed. “She’s alive.” She wiped her eyes with the other hand as she sat up. “Do you think that we should—”

His face stopped her midsentence. His head rested on the cement block wall behind them. His eyes were closed. The dark bags around them spoke volumes. He lifted his head when she fell silent.

“Do I think we should what, love?”

“Ah… Do you think we should try to get some sleep? I mean, the circumstances aren’t ideal, but I am rather tired,” she said, knowing he wouldn’t admit that he was exhausted, but he would sleep if he thought she needed to.

“You are? How’s your head? You don’t think it’s a concussion, do you?”

“No. It’s fine. I’m fine. It’s just been a stressful day. Maybe if we get some rest we’ll be able to think more rationally about this whole thing.”

“You’re probably right about that.”

“Okay. So, you take the cot,” she said, getting to her feet.

“Where are you going sleep?”

“I can sleep in the chair.” She found an electrical pannel on the opposite wall and turned off the overhead lamps, leaving them in the soft glow of emergency lighting.

“Or we can both sleep here,” he suggested, patting the mattress next to him.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Robert.”

“What? We’ve occupied smaller spaces than this. Remember Beirut?” he said with a wry smile.

“I do,” she laughed. And I also remember that we damn near lost our mark because you couldn’t keep your hands off me.”

“Hmm. Well, I was younger then and much more flexible. And Lavery wasn’t part of the equation.”

She eyed him skeptically.

“Your virtue is safe tonight, my dear. Scout’s honor,” he said, raising his right hand.

She smiled at him. “Fine, but you take the wall,” she said, slipping off her heels and hanging her jacket on the back of the chair.

He removed his shoes too and lay down on top of the blanket, turning on to his side.

She positioned herself next to him facing away but was not surprised, nor bothered by his arms encircling her waist.

After a few minutes he heard her giggle. “What?” he said.

She covered her face with her hand, still laughing. “This just reminds me of that bloody train ride, that’s all.”

“The honeymoon train to hell?”

“Yes! Trying to fit into the upper berth. God, it was awful!”

He gave a small chuckle. “At least this time we don’t have to deal with motion sickness.”

“Thank God!” she said with a sigh. “Robert?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you ever wonder what might have happened with us? You know… if Faison hadn’t happened. Again. Do you think we could have made it work the second time?”

“I don’t know, Anna,” he said quietly. “I know that when we said our vows, I meant them.”

“Me too. Every word.”

“We had our share of trouble. God only knows. But we certainly had a lot of good times, didn’t we?”

“The best.”

“Those memories of you and me… Robin… they got me through some pretty dark moments.”

“Sometimes they’re the only thing that get me through the day—memories of Robin,” she quickly clarified.

“Name one,” he said.

“What?”

“A favorite memory.”

“Right now?”

“Why not?”

“All right…” She thought for a second. “The day I we told her we were her parents.”

“Good one.”

“Your turn.”

“Ah, the day I gave her the puppy.” He laughed. “You were fit to be tied. You and Duke.”

“No we weren’t!”

“Were too. You covered it well, though. Next.”

“Robin’s dance recital.”

“Ooh… and the delayed-gratification dress. That’s high on my list too. How about our second wedding? I think Robin was as happy as we were. Go again,” he prompted her.

She smiled. “Robin’s wedding. Having you there to walk her down the aisle.”

“And after the wedding,” he chided.

“Robert!”

“You were drunk on champagne and I was drunk on you. Intoxicated by the radiant beauty of the mother of the bride,” he went on.

“I thought we agreed never to talk about that,” she said in a hushed tone.

“Who’s going to hear it?”

They both had to laugh at that. Neither spoke again for quite some time, each lost in thought. Finally she broke the silence. “Thank you,” she said.

“For what?”

“For the trip down memory lane. It was nice.” She yawned and stretched. Her hand came to rest on his, their fingers intertwining.

“My pleasure,” he said. “Sleep now, love. Tomorrow we can get back to work. Find a way out of this mess.”

“And we find our daughter… and take her home… to Port Charles,” she said sleepily.

“Damn right.”

“To Patrick and Emma…”

“To Patrick and Emma,” he repeated. He felt her inhale deeply and let it out. Her body relaxed against his. He kissed the back of her head and whispered good night. He allowed himself to relax too, but before drifted off to sleep, he made a promise—a promise to himself, to Anna, and to Robin and Emma. This time, he would reunite mother and daughter. Faison would not win again. Robert would die before he would let him win again.

Think First and Blow On It

Kids… I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!

This phrase has been uttered by parents and grandparents for generations. As a middle school teacher, I confess, I find myself wondering the same thing. Several times a day! There are lots of theories out there as to what the problem might be. They don’t get enough exercise. They play too many video games. They’re too dependent on electronics. I admit there is some validity to these claims. I subbed for a six grade math class last year and got so frustrated that I literally wrestled a kid’s calculator out of her hand when she tried to use it to multiply 2×2. And just last week I overheard a student in the hallway with his mother. She was helping him to dial the combination on his locker. When it opened, he turned to her amazed and said, “Oh, I had the combination wrong! I thought I just lacked the upper arm strength to open it!” So, that kid obviously could have benefitted from a little physical activity or strength some kind of strength training. But, I maintain that the biggest problem with today’s youth is the complete lack of accountability and common sense. Folks, I hate to break it to you, but it may have started with us.

As a society, we no longer appear to value these assets. We have made it too simple to do something stupid and either blame someone else, or claim that we didn’t know any better. Law makers vindicate people who spill scalding hot coffee themselves and then sue and virtually everything has a disclaimer— everything except my crazy Aunt Earlene. Have you noticed this? The directions to my new vacuum cleaner read: 1. “Do not pick up anything smoking or burning” and 2. “Do not immerse in water.” Why is this necessary? I tell you why. Because someone somewhere once turned to his/her spouse one day and said, “Honey, the pool filter’s out again. Why don’t you take that new Dyson out there and see if you can clean that thing out!”

Have you ever wondered why the little packet of silicon in your new shoe box reads “Do not eat?” Some brilliant individual thought their sketchers were supposed to come with a snack and now we must warn the others!

My sister sent me a picture from the Laundromat where the washers bore this sign: “High Speed Spins – Do not put a person in this washer.” It’s a good thing that label was posted. I’m a multi-tasker. I was totally going to save time by washing my kids and my laundry at the same time.

How about the warning on the flushable toilet brush cautions, “do not use for personal hygiene”? Apparently Swiffer brand wet wipes should also include this warning, because my principal’s kids did exactly that when he accidentally left the box on the back of the toilet last year. They did develop a bit of “irritation”, but being a rational man, instead of suing the company, he recommended that his children pay closer attention the “home care” label next time.

My personal favorite was a warning for a fuel Tank Cap: “Never use a lit match or open flame to check fuel level.” Now, I have never considered doing that. But then, I have one of those fancy new automobiles with the little needle thingy on the dash board to indicate the fuel level. Should we really have to tell people this stuff? For that matter, should A&W really need to advertise: Contents under pressure. Cap may blow off causing eye or other serious injury. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I can see that happening as a result of a “double dog dare” in the middle school lunch room. “Dude, I bet you can’t shake that until the lid blows off!” Still, I ask you, is it really the root beer’s fault that middle school kids are crazy? Shouldn’t we expect our kids to know better than that? I don’t think one has to be a scientist to know that gasoline is flammable and soda explodes when you shake it? My six year old knows better. I dropped a bottle of Sprite on the way in from the grocery store the other day and she said to me, hand on her hip, “Mom, I seriously would not open that if I were you!”

Some of these are extreme cases, but my point is, if we want to find out what’s the matter with kids, we have to start by looking at ourselves. Why should we expect America’s youth to be problem solvers or to use common sense when we don’t expect most adults to either? People, it’s time to raise the bar. If you have a youngster in your life, talk to them. Monitor them so they don’t turn play time into an episode of Myth Busters gone wrong. But more importantly, help them learn about safety and making smart choices. Teach them to be responsible for their own mistakes and learn from them. If you take your toddler to Mc Donald’s and he burns his little tongue on his Happy Meal. Don’t just whip out your phone and google a lawyer. Teach him to think first and blow on it!

The Novelist’s Approach to Writing Soaps

Soap : a serial drama, on television or radio, that features related story lines dealing with the lives of multiple characters. The stories in these series typically focus heavily on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama. (Wikipedia)

There has been much speculation about the cause of decline in soap ratings. Some say that it’s due to women working outside the home. Others blame the presence of internet, or the rise in popularity of reality TV. But this raises a few questions for me. I ran home from school every day and watched with the help of a VCR. Working women can still watch with the aid of DVR. Why aren’t they? And if young people are watching reality TV for the melodrama it delivers, then why are soaps, which by definition deliver melodrama, unable to cash in on this? My theory: a decline in quality of writing. Some may assume that you can only attract younger viewers with fast-paced, non-stop action. I respectfully disagree. Action alone does not good drama make. Viewers, young or old, are not stupid. They have high standards for entertainment and recognize a good story when they see it. If you pick up a novel and the author doesn’t deliver, you put it down. If you turn on a show and the writer doesn’t deliver, you turn it off. Good writing is good writing, no matter what form comes in. Here are three key elements to good writing that apply to novels and TV serial dramas alike.

Characterization

In addition to a good story line, you need believable, consistent characters. They need to be people we can relate to on some level and identify with. Sometimes, we love them and sometimes we love to hate them, but we need care about them. We want to root for them. And perhaps most importantly, we want to know what to expect from them. That doesn’t mean that the story has to be predictable. In fact, in most cases, we don’t want that. But, each character has a history and a personality that should dictate their words and actions in any given scene. Yes, we expect them to change and grow over-time, but if they behave in a manner that is uncharacteristic, then there should be a reason for it and that reason should be made clear to the audience.

Relationship Building

The audience will not be invested in what happens to your characters if they’re not invested in the relationship between the characters. If you want your audience to feel for a man who lost his wife, they need some explanation of the relationship. They need some kind of evidence that he actually cared for her. This could come in the form of a flashback that shows them a piece of the couple’s history. It could be by way of a discussion the man has with his potential love interest about his past. You need to evoke those emotions from the audience by showing them what he felt for her, not just telling them he loved her. They need to see it to believe it.

An audience will feel the gut-wrenching pain of a mother who has lost her daughter when they’ve watched her act as a mother to that child and seen the relationship develop over time. They will cry with her when they remember the good and bad times that they celebrated or survived together. They are less likely to weep for an aunt who loses the niece she’s been raising if said aunt and niece only appeared in one scene together throughout the entire story line. If you want the audience to buy into the emotion, the relationship building cannot take place completely off of the canvas. It takes away from the drama. (Face it. Nothing that takes place off camera is emotionally satisfying. You can’t tell me that Julie Chen’s recap of the HOH competition is as exciting as watching it live!)

Proper Use of Flashbacks

I am a fan of a good flashback. I use them in my writing. I enjoy a good flashback on television. But the operative word here is good. Flashback should serve a very specific purpose. That purpose is to provide the audience with information that they did not have before without taking away from the original story or disrupting the flow of the action. Flashbacks should not be used to recap information that the audience has already seen. Nor should they be used to explain a part of the mystery that the audience is capable of figuring out on their own. If you’ve done your job well, the audience will be involved and interested enough to follow along. Taking the time to explain what they already know is a waste of time and assumes something about their intelligence.

I’m not naïve. I do understand that writing for a show that runs five days a week fifty-two weeks a year is different than writing a single manuscript in that same amount of time. The fast pace of soap production must present its own problems that a novelist can’t even begin to understand. But I have always seen soaps as the world’s longest series of romance/mystery/action-adventure novels all rolled into one exquisite, dramatic presentation. (For those of us who watched the alien and demon possession story lines of the 90’s, you can throw sci-fi into that mix too.) A serial drama, in print or on screen, has to grab and keep the audience’s attention. You have to deliver not only on the action, but with the characters, and avoid over-explaining or playing down to your audience. A very wise editor once told me, if the writing isn’t up to snuff, a reader may not know what is wrong, but they will know that something is wrong. That something will turn them off. Soap writers, if your viewers know something is wrong, they are likely to turn your show off.

These are just my two cents, though I have a feeling, based on my twitter feed, some other fans might agree. If you do, or you don’t, please feel free to comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts. This brings me to one final piece of advice for the soap scribes out there. When reviews come in, some are good. Some are bad. Authors have to choose which pieces of criticism to ignore and which ones to learn from. Writers, you are under scrutiny. Everyone has opinion and a voice in today’s social media circus. That doesn’t mean that you have to pay attention to all of them, nor are you obligated to respond or defend yourself. Sometimes you just have to brush off the negative stuff. (You’ll never make everyone happy when it comes to who should be sleeping with whom.) But, if you find that there is a common thread to the critiques, you may want to take some time to reflect. We all have room to grow. It’s a necessary part of life and professional development.

 

Don’t Do This to Me – Endgame Ch 7

“I never thought I’d step foot on this bloody island again,” Robert mumbled to himself as he entered the Cassadine compound, closing the door quietly behind him. He moved stealthily through the maze of darkened hallways, listening carefully for any signs of life. He made his way to the top floor with the idea of checking rooms from top to bottom. Each time he came to a new room, he flung the door open, gun drawn, prepared for anything. He found nothing. Every room was tidy—empty.

He entered the deserted kitchen. After a quick sweep he paused to catch his breath. “Damn!” he grumbled, beginning to feel discouraged. But as he leaned on the counter near the stove, he found a glimmer of hope radiating off of the back burner on the electric stove. It was still slightly warm. Not hot, but definitely not cold. It had been used recently, probably within the last half hour. That gave him all of the encouragement he needed to keep moving. Even if Obrecht and company had already left, he might find a clue as to where they’d gone next. He briefly considered going back upstairs to check the rooms more thoroughly, then decided against it. He’d check downstairs first. With a cryogenic chamber, a lab and God knows what else, that area was a treasure trove of evil genius.

Cautiously Robert side-stepped his way down the stairs into the basement of the compound prepared to engage at any moment. All was relatively quiet except for two armed guards who sat playing cards outside of a large steel door in the antechamber of the lab. He wouldn’t be able to take on both of them at once. Robert needed a diversion. It would have to be simple. Time was of the essence and he had virtually nothing in the way of supplies. He moved quickly in the opposite direction toward the cryogenic chamber, plotting as he went.

* * *

“What’s that?” one guard said to the other, detecting a strange beeping sound.

“I don’t know. Sounds like it’s coming from Area C. I thought we were supposed to be here alone.”

“Yeah. Mr. Jacks said the others were all evacuating, but…”

“So, what do we do now?”

“What do you mean, ‘what do we do now’? We go check it out! He said there was a possibility that we’d have more visitors. That’s why we’re here, right?”

“I guess so.”

“So…”

“So… what?”

“Go check it out, little brother!”

“You go check it out.”

“I said it first.”

“Let’s both go.”

“No way. One of us has to stay here and guard the lab the make sure the woman doesn’t escape.”

Robert listened to the argument echoing through empty halls. He chuckled to himself. It was almost too easy. “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb,” he smiled.

“What’s the matter? You scared, Roy-boy? Geez, come on!”

“Fine!” Roy snapped. “You know what? You suck Dale!” He headed off in the direction of the beep, glancing back several times.

Dale just gave him a disgusted look and shooed him off with a few flicks of the wrist.

When Roy came around the corner, Robert was waiting for him. One quick chop and Roy was down without a sound. Robert pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned off the alarm. “That came in rather handy,” he said, rather pleased with himself.

Had he waited long enough, the other brother might have come looking and Robert could have taken him out the same way, but he was getting impatient. Not only that, if his intel was accurate, the lab would be thumbprint protected. Robert was banking on the fact that all of the guards had access, but he would need to take one out in close proximity to the entrance. He left Roy there in a heap and made his way back toward the lab.

Just outside the entrance to the antechamber, Robert paused again. Taking a chance that Dale was as dull as he appeared, he cleared his throat and spoke, “Dale, come quickly. Roy has been injured!”

“Mr. Jacks, Is that you?” came Dale’s response, followed by footsteps as he rushed across the floor.

Seconds later Dale was surprised by Robert and met with a fate not unlike that of his little brother. “Works every time,” Robert muttered. He dragged Dale’s limp form to the lab door and stopped for a breather, slightly distressed that he was so out of shape.  With no time to waste, he didn’t dwell on it. He took hold of Dale’s arm and with a yank, pressed his thumb to the keypad.

“Ha ha! Still got it,” he smirked as the keypad recognized the print.

Robert peaked in as the door  squeaked open and was horrified.  “Anna!”  He rushed to her side as she lay motionless on the floor. “Anna!”

There was no response.

He put a hand on her cheek. “Anna, come on baby, don’t do this to me.” He moved his hand to her neck and was relieved to find a pulse. He leaned closer and felt her breath on his cheek. “Thank God!” he whispered. She had no noticeable wounds at first glance. Robert put his arms around her and pulled her close, cradling her limp body.  “Anna! Anna, can you hear me? Anna, sweetheart, I need you to wake up now. We need to get you out of here before those goons come around.” He patted her face. “Anna, come on.”

She began to stir, slight moaning sounds coming from her throat.

“Anna,” Robert said, getting more excited.

“No,” she whispered.

“Yes. Come on, Anna. It’s me.”

“Robert?” she questioned before opening her eyes.

“Yeah baby. I’m here. But we need to go.”

“My head.”

“You’ve got a nasty bump,” he said, after further examination. “Do you know what happened?”

“Where are we?” she said. She glanced around, blinking to regain focus as she opened her eyes.

“Cassadine Island.”

“What? Oh. The boat,” Anna said, still trying to get her bearings. She struggled to sit up.

Robert let go, but stayed by her side, prepared to grab hold again if needed.

“Robert, what are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in hospital. God, are you all right?”

“I’m fine. I’m more worried about you.”

“You found me. How did you find me?”

“You left me you a clue, didn’t you?”

“I did?”

“Your phone. Outside Steinmauer.”

“Oh. Right. I kicked it under the bench. I didn’t know if anyone would find it.”

“How did they get you?”

“Chloroform , I think. From behind. I didn’t know who it was, but…

“Obrecht.”

“Yeah. I saw her on the boat. With Faison!” She gulped as she said his name. “She broke him out.”

“I know.”

“She drugged me and broke him out,” she continued, sounding aggravated.

“Any news on Robin?”

Anna shook her head. “I tried to make a break for it when we docked and something… someone… hit me. That’s all I remember. How did you even know to look for me?”

“That’s a long story. We can talk about that later. We need to get out of here first. Before Chip and Dale wake up.” He glanced quickly over his shoulder at the open door. The coast was still clear. “Listen, Anna, can you walk?”

“Of course I can. Help me up?”

He stood and took hold of her under the arms, hoisting her up. Once she was on her feet, he pulled her into his embrace.

She let him hold her for a minute, relishing the sense security before forcing the end of the moment. “Robert…”

“Hmm?”

“Let go, then.”

“Right,” he said. He backed away cautiously.

She took all of three steps before the room started to spin and she collapsed into his arms again.

“Whoa. Looks like we’d better take it slow,” he smiled. He managed to get her over to the small bed in the corner.

“I’m all right. I’m just a little dizzy. That’s all.”

“Okay. Give it a minute and we’ll try again,” he said, his arms still wound around her as they sat.

Anna nodded and rested her head on Robert’s shoulder. “I can’t believe you found me,” she said again.

“Of course I found you. Robert said. “You know I’d move Heaven and Earth before I’d let anything happen to you.” He felt her nod again. He held her bit longer, and then said, “Okay, love. We’ve got to try this again. Are you ready?”

“I think so.”

“Okay. Here we go.” He rose slowly, bringing her with him. “Hold on to Bobby now,” he said in a playful voice.

“Yes dear,” she said. Her tone was sarcastic, but her lips curled up with the tiniest smile.

Suddenly a voice boomed out, “Well, well, well… Look what we have here. Two super spies for the price of one! I hate to spoil your plans, but you two are not going anywhere!”

Jerry Jacks maniacal laughter reverberated through the halls as the lab door slid shut, leaving a startled Robert and Anna staring after him in disbelief.

 

** All previous chapters are available in the archives or at www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson **

5 Reasons for Writing Fan Fiction

Fan fiction is a term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. It can be based on a book, a video game, a soap opera, or other pop culture phenomenon. If you google your favorite show, you will no doubt find some stories written by other fans out there. Some of it is written by amateurs just looking to have a good time or voice their opinions about what should have been. Some comes from writers or aspiring writers. From time to time, the value of writing fanfic vs. original fiction can be called into question. Some members writing community don’t consider it to be “real” writing. While it can never be published in book form or sold for profit, I would venture to say that it is absolutely “real” writing and I can think of at least five good reasons to do it.

Reason #1

Character development and consistency is very important when writing original fiction. With fanfic, the characters are already developed, but consistency is still the key. Staying true to the characters that people know and love is tough and must be taken seriously. To really do it right, you’ll need to examine their vocabulary, imitate typical speech patterns, describe their mannerisms etc. Both the actions and the dialogue need to be spot on. If your portrayal of a legacy character is not up to snuff, you’ll anger the fans you’re supposed to be writing for and they can get rather rowdy. They will keep you on your toes, but it’s good practice.

Reason #2

If you’re a fluffy romance novelist considering trying your hand at murder mystery or vice versa, writing fanfic may be the perfect way to test out a new genre. It’s a great way to try out new techniques in smaller chunks of serial fiction. That way you can see what works best for you and what’s best received by readers as you go instead of experimenting with a novel sized piece. You can apply what you’ve learned to the novel later on.

Reason #3

Fanfic readers are avid fans who are constantly looking for more to read. They get excited when a new chapter comes out. Many will read it almost immediately and review or comment on your work. They will be brutally honest, but that’s a good thing. This feedback can be very valuable. Of course, you have to weigh the responses and see which pieces are valuable and which pieces you should just let go. That’s good practice for when the reviews of your novel start rolling in. With any luck, however, you’ll be able to take some of the critiques and use them in your original writing.

Reason #4

If you write good fanfic, chances are you will build a fan base that will want to check out your book once it’s published. Some serious writers may tell you that they don’t want to be known for this fanfic. If you’re looking to go down in history with Shakespeare or Tolstoy, you may not think this is for you. But most of the time the goal is to write and enjoyable piece of fiction that people will buy.  I once read that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally marketed to the Twilight fanfic audience.  You tell me. How did that work out for E.L. James?

Reason #5

It’s fun!  Most of us became writers because we love stories. We love creating. It’s fun. It’s an escape. Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of a writing project, I get so mired down in the technique and the structure that I lose sight of the reason that I started to begin with. So, if you find yourself stressed over the current project, take a break and write something a little more frivolous. Again, that is not to say that fanfic should not be taken seriously, but it’s not what’s paying the bills, so you can afford to relax just a little bit. Enjoy your favorite characters. Rewrite their stories to make them what you always hoped they would be. Throw them into a wild love triangle or a new super spy mystery.  Just have fun!

A Final Word of Advice:

If you are writing fanfic to hone your craft with hopes of publishing your own original work someday, have fun, but make it good. I know I just finished telling you that it is a non-threatening way to experiment. I stand by that, but make sure that even in those experimental phases you are putting out the best product you can. Don’t forget to focus on mechanics too. Just because people are pop-culture fans and not literary critics, it doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a well-written story with good grammar. Too many errors will leave a lasting impression, and it won’t be a good one.  So spend some time editing.  Remember that once you put it out there, you can never really take it back. You don’t want to go down as the one who had a great story but mutilated the English language.

So there you have it. As far as I’m concerned, whether it’s original or not, it’s all good practice. You can’t publish your version of your favorite soap opera, but you can tap into the existing fan base for exposure and feedback. You can improve your technique by taking risks you wouldn’t take on your own.  Just remember, as in all writing, respect your characters. Respect their history, but don’t be afraid to take them somewhere they’ve never been. Go somewhere you’ve never gone.  Grow.  Get creative. Get busy. Get writing!

 

 

Not This Time – Endgame Ch 6

By the time they arrived at Steinmauer, Robert was wishing he had given Agent Tom Jacobs the famed WSB chop and left him prostrate on the floor at the clinic. His incessant chatter was getting on his last nerve. Unfortunately, Robert knew he needed Jacobs at the moment, or at least he needed his badge. His own status as self-proclaimed Agent of the World, who’d only recently come out of a coma, did not exactly give him jurisdiction here and he wasn’t about to waste a second waiting on his connections at various agencies to process the necessary paperwork.

Robert rolled his eyes as Jacobs attempted to give him a final warning about following his lead. “I know it may not be the way you’re used to doing things, but—” Jacobs was saying. But Robert was out of the car and half way to the door before the agent could finish his rant on protocol.

By the time Jacobs caught up with him, Robert was already at the front desk, preparing to launch a full scale verbal attack. Jacobs put a hand on Robert’s shoulder and stepped in front of him, flashing his credentials. It nearly killed him, but Robert forced himself to hang back and allow the young one to speak to the guards first. Only after his presence was explained, did he step up to speak again.

“I understand that a few days ago Ms. Devane arrived here with a request to visit Cesar Faison.”

“Yes, sir. She had clearance from one Frisco Jones at the WSB.”

“Right. You were on duty at the time?”

The young man, Schaub, nodded sheepishly.

“What else can you tell me about that visit?”

He cleared his throat. “Well, she—”

The older of the two men cut in. “You mean other than the fact that she somehow managed to tamper with our security system, take out two of my men, and usher the criminal out of here?” he growled in a Germanic accent. He glared at Robert, obviously irritated by his line of questioning.

“Listen, I know all of that.”

“Mister… Scorpio… is it? It has been all over the news. Worldwide coverage. I do not see the point in rehashing what we have told all of the authorities already.”

“I understand what it looks like, Mr. Zeller,” Robert said, eying the man’s name badge. “But I’ve had a lot of experience with this woman, and my gut tells me that things are not as cut and dry as they appear to be.” He glanced around Zeller to look at young Schaub again. “Now, I need you to tell me everything that you remember about that visit, and don’t leave anything out.”

Both guards looked toward Agent Jacobs who nodded in silent support of Robert.

The young guard cleared his throat again and started in. His voice was shaky. His English, though grammatically accurate, sounded strained. He seemed to struggle with stringing the words together. “She was admitted at nine-forty.  I processed her credentials and she entered the visitation area. Mr. Faison was brought in—”

“Hold on a minute,” Robert interrupted. “Tommy Boy,” Robert said to Jacobs, “What time does your report say she entered?”

Jacobs consulted his notes. “Nine thirty-two, sir.”

“How do you explain that?” he asked Schaub.

“Yes, sir. That was the first time.”

“What do you mean, the first time?”

“Sh-sh-she entered and was searched at nine thirty-two, but while I was verifying her credentials, she received a phone call. There was no service.” He looked sideways at his superior, who showed no signs of surprise at this admission. “So, she exited to take the call and returned at nine forty. At that time, I processed her and the visit began.”

“What time did she receive this call?”

“I don’t know exactly, sir.”

“Approximately… what time did she receive this call?” Robert asked, his temper starting to flare.

“Maybe it was two minutes after she arrived.”

“Which would be about what? Nine thirty-four?”

“I believe so, sir.”

“Let me make sure I have this right,” Robert said. “She left to take a call and returned six minutes later?”

“Yes, sir.”

“When she returned, how did she look to you?”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, I mean… did she look nervous? Was her hair mussed? Did she look… different? In any way?”

“No, sir. She looked just the same.”

“And when you searched her again—”

“I did not search again.”

“What do you mean you didn’t search her again?”

“I had already done that.”

“She left and came back six minutes later, and you didn’t think that you needed to search her again?”

The senior guard broke in again. “What are you implying, Mr. Scorpio?”

“What am I implying? I’ll tell you what I’m implying. I’m implying that a hell of lot can happen in six minutes and —”

“Ms. Devane was—as far as we knew—a trustworthy officer of the law! Our procedure is none of your concern, Mr. Scorpio,” Zeller reminded him.

“That’s exactly my point!” Robert shouted.

What is your point?” Zeller asked.

Robert looked at Jacobs, who’d been watching the entire exchange, and then back at the guards. “What if the woman who entered the second time was not really Anna Devane?”

“That is absurd.” Zeller grumbled.

“Is it?” Robert said.

“Yes,” Zeller nodded.

Robert shook his head. “I don’t think so. You see, from the footage that I saw—now it was only from behind, mind you—but from the footage that I saw, the woman who left here with Faison did not look like Anna Devane.”

“Her face was identical,” Schaub countered.

“That may be,” Robert said. “I’ve seen some pretty convincing disguises in my time, but some things can’t be imitated.”

The men regarded him, still skeptical.

Robert continued. “Anna Devane is one of a kind. This woman… she didn’t act like Anna. She didn’t hold a gun like Anna, she didn’t walk like Anna, and she sure as hell didn’t wear a skirt like Anna,” he said with a bit of a snicker. When no one responded he added, “And she was taller!”

“She was?” Jacobs finally said.

“Yes!” Robert answered.

“And just who do you propose this imposter was?” asked Zeller.

“I haven’t figured that out yet.”

“Unbelievable,” Zeller shook his head.

“Humor me,” Robert said, looking at him with one eyebrow raised ever so slightly.

Zeller folded his arms in protest, but allowed Robert to continue with his questions.

“So, after this woman entered—the second time—what happened then?”

“I returned her weapon,” Schaub said.

“Why the hell would you do that?”

“Ms. Devane was authorized to carry. Faison is considered a dangerous criminal.”

“Tell me something I don’t know!” Robert barked.

“Within minutes our system issued a virus alert and several terminals began to shut down.”

“A virus? I thought you said the system was hacked?” Robert asked.

Jacobs looked confused. “I… ah…”

“It was a virus,” the guard went on, “introduced into our mainframe forcing a system shutdown. In the chaos, she waited long enough for the shutdown to affect the cameras, most of them. Then she took out our men in the room with the butt of her pistol, stole a keycard and—”

“All right, I’ve heard enough,” Robert said. “Jacobs, what the hell kind of investigation are your people running here? If I were you I’d get some men to trace the source of that virus. If the two issues are actually connected, you might actually get some answers.”

“Of course,” Jacobs answered, already commandeering the desk phone.

With Jacobs distracted, Robert took the opportunity to slip out for some fresh air. He sat down on the aluminum bench just outside the door and let out a sigh that was combination of exhaustion and frustration. Truth be told, he was nowhere near ready to be out of hospital, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him. As long as Faison was on the loose, Anna wasn’t safe.

“Six minutes,” Robert mumbled. He still wasn’t sure what had occurred during those six minutes, but Anna had clearly been compromised. He stood up and began to pace slowly in front of the bench, his fingers occasionally stroking his face over his upper lip as he thought. At one point, he wandered a few feet away, consulting the reach and angle of the security cameras. When he returned to bench and sat down again he noticed a strange sound. It was an intermittent buzz of sorts and for a moment, he thought he could feel the vibration. He checked his cell phone out of habit. That wasn’t it. The sound continued for a few more seconds and then stopped. He glanced around and saw nothing at first. But when it happened again, he followed the sound more carefully until he found it. There, on the ground, wedged between the building and the foot of the bench, was a phone in a white plastic case.

“Anna!” Robert grunted as he practically dove for it. He pried it out and looked at the display. The screen was cracked, but it was still legible. It read: Duke Lavery. Slide to answer. Robert quickly answered before it could disconnect. “Duke!”

“Robert!”

“Yeah.”

“Robert is that you?”

“Yeah, Duke it’s me. What’s going on?”

“That’s what I’d like to know. Have you seen Anna?”

“Well, she came see me at the clinic…” Robert trailed off, unsure as to how much Duke knew.

“Have you seen the news? The reports are saying that she’s broken Faison out of prison.”

“Listen, Duke, about that…”

“Do you have any idea what happened or where they could have gone?”

“Not yet, but I’m working on it.”

“Where are you? I can come and help you.”

Anna’s comment about sending an amateur to do a professionals job replayed in his head. “No!” Robert shouted. “Ah, what I mean is, it I could really use your help there. I need someone in Port Charles to keep me apprised of the situation there. In case Anna calls. I need you to stay put and call me the moment you hear anything.”

“Robert, Faison is incredibly dangerous! Do you honestly expect me to just sit around and wait while he does God knows what with Anna—”

“Lavery, please, let the professionals handle this.” There was a long pause. “I will update you as soon as I have something concrete,” Robert added.

“Fine. See that you do,” Duke said curtly, his pride damaged. He hung up without another word.

Robert took a deep breath, relieved that he had managed to dissuade Duke. He took a few seconds to regain his bearings and then looked at the phone again, hoping to find a clue of some kind. Aside from the large crack across the screen, the case was also scratched up. It had obviously been dropped or thrown. Was that before or after the escape? Had there been a scuffle? Was she hurt, or had she hurt them? Robert hit the button on the phone, hoping it would contain some clue.

He slid his thumb across the screen to unlock it. Faced with a passcode screen, he paused momentarily, then tried four numbers. One-zero-one-two. He was granted access and greeted with a low battery warning. He dismissed it, thinking it was a miracle it had any power left at all. He scanned the long list of received calls. Most of them were from Interpol and other law enforcement agencies. Several were from Duke. Eventually, he scrolled far enough to find two calls received at nine thirty four two days earlier, from Dr. Brit Westbourne, the second of which included a voicemail. Robert pressed play and listened with bated breath.

“Commissioner, it’s me again. Our call got lost. As I said before, my mother recently made contact. We have reason to believe that she has my son and she’s holding my son on Cassadine Island. Nicholas and I are on our way there now. Please call me when you get this message.”

“Her mother. That’s it! Obrecht!” Robert said. Faison’s partner in crime. Why hadn’t he thought about her before? Hostages, kidnappings, medical procedures, she would stop at nothing for that freak! She had to be involved. And if Britt was right, they were hiding out on Cassadine Island.

Robert stood and slipped the phone into his pocket. He didn’t even consider going back in for Jacobs. Why bother. Interpol still believed Anna was responsible for this mess. Robert knew better. With no time to lose, he headed for the car that had dropped him and Jacobs off earlier. If his instincts were right that madman had taken her again, and he wasn’t about to let him get away with it. Not this time!

Ready or not, Robert forced himself to break into a slow jog. “Hang in there, Anna, sweetheart. The cavalry is coming!”

** All previous chapters are available in the archives or at www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson **

 

 

 

The Tour That Never Took Off

Friends and followers,

I was asked to take part in the a blog tour several weeks ago, but due to finals week, a class trip, and moving classrooms, my tour was delayed. Below is the report on my night life, now that my day job is no longer getting in the way.

1. What are you working on?

I’m currently working on my second novel. It is the sequel to Once in Love with Lily. The working title is Forever, Tony. For all of those who read the original and wondered, “What happens now?”, you’ll have to read it to find out. But I can tell you that there is much more to Lily and Tony’s story. Happily ever after would be far too simple. There are still many twists, turns, and secrets to be revealed.

And yes, for my GH friends, now that summer has arrived I hope to have more time for Endgame as well. I know you have been waiting “patiently” for the continuation.  https://www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson

2. How is your work different from other pieces in its genre?

According to the reports, the difference between my romantic fiction and typical novels of the genre is that Lily is far less predictable and much more realistic than others. Some say that it is a fairy tale, yet down to earth. Others have said that it “depicts how love actually happens”. Locations are also real and identifiable, so world travelers may experience nostalgia for areas of Paris, London, and New York, yet those who’ve never been can live vicariously.

  1. Why do you write what you write?

I write what I write out of an obsession for celebrity bios and soap operas. I love the idea of the show-business life. I’ve often said I think I should have lived in New York the 1950’s so that I could have enjoyed Broadway during the heyday of Lerner and Lowe and Rogers and Hammerstein. But, alas, I was born in 1975, and I fell in love with daytime television in the late eighties, when Gloria Monty was the queen of General Hospital and the tag line for soaps was “Love in the Afternoon!” The result: I’ve melded those two worlds together and created a love story that I would enjoy watching unfold like a daytime drama (without the aliens or prosthetic masks, or D.I.D. storylines).

4. Describe your process.

When I began the adventure, I had no process whatsoever. I didn’t even realize that there was a process. I never studied writing. I never knew that I wanted to be a writer. (Yes, some people have said that they hate me for this!) But now I can’t imagine not writing. For one thing, the creative outlet allows for the stories in my head to have a place to go.

If I had to classify myself, I’d say that I’m a pantser, not a plotter. I never plan out anything beyond a basic outline. I don’t even write lesson plans on a regular basis (Don’t tell my principal I said that! I do plan. I just don’t always write it down!) I’m certainly not going to plot out an entire novel.  I do have a beginning and an ending point in mind, but the stuff that comes in between is just the characters telling their story. There is a natural ebb and flow in the action, but I don’t focus on the plot arc too much at all.  When the first draft is complete, I then revisit those things and begin to add reinforcement to the general structure. I don’t over intellectualize, first of all, because I didn’t study the craft the same way others have. Second, because I believe that the quality of the story is as much about the way it makes me or the readers feel as it is about the plot outline.

A Note of Appreciation

Many thanks to Eric Ralph for encouraging me to participate in the tour and forgiving my untimeliness. If you haven’t experienced Eric’s work yet, visit http://ericmralph.com/ By his own proclamation, he writes strange, funny things and funny, strange things. He’s always good for a laugh, a pun, or an 80’s reference. His first novel is a remarkable piece of religious satire called And God said… An Absurd Tale of Love, Power, and Paperwork –the story of what happens when God retires, gets married, and moves to Jamaica.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C334PIA