Did you ever wonder if you had what
it takes to write a novel?
I never doubted for a moment that I could write one until the day that I sat down to put pen to paper. Yep, it was so long ago, that I didn't actually have a computer! I wrote one chapter about people I'd never met, living in places I'd never been. Then writer's block set in. A week later, I couldn't even remember why I'd wanted to write about them in the first place. I walked away for 20 years, laboring under the assumption that I just couldn't do it.
One day, some new characters fell into my head. I tried my best to shake them but they permeated my every waking thought and wouldn't go away. They felt cozy and lived in a town like the one that I'd grown up in. I found myself wondering how they'd respond to certain situations and caved to the urge to try writing again. If nothing else, it seemed plausible that chronicling their story would silence the voices in my head.
The result was Bystander: A Tale of
the End of the World as SHE Knew It!
The story centers around Ellie Richardson, a city-savvy freelance writer who relocates to a rural town called Bystander. Her life hasn't been easy, but she's received her fair share of journalism accolades over the years. In her own words, the reader learns of the tragic loss of her husband to cancer and her bold mission to rebuild a life for herself after his death. Using her life savings, she begins a new venture to build an online business that is centered around eco-friendly, country living.
Full of herself and possibly something else, Ellie leaps to more than a few faulty conclusions about the rural residents of Bystander, but still manages to make some good friends to ease the transition into a new lifestyle. When she meets a good-looking pastor from the local church, romance blooms. Just as things are starting to look up, widespread terrorist attacks throw the nation into turmoil. It is up to Ellie to come up with an answer to the question: What do you do when your whole world turns upside down again and again? If your name is Ellie Richardson, you rise to the occasion and meet it head on!
There wasn’t enough electricity being generated by the solar panels to power an automatic toothbrush.
Now, I understood why they advise widows not to make quick decisions. It was as though I’d received a partial lobotomy when David passed away and was, just now, getting the excised brain matter re-installed. An emotional coma had somehow morphed into a mid-life crisis. How humiliating!
What had made me think that I knew enough about green lifestyles, country living and alternative energy? There had to be some way to rectify the situation and still save face in town. Fueled by Anna Tarlick and her brother-in-law, the story of my predicament would probably go viral.
I forced those thoughts aside and decided that I needed a cup of tea. I pulled out a box of my favorite, Bengal Spice. Today, definitely called for an oversized mug. I pushed the faucet lever up to fill my little red tea kettle… No water. The pump required electricity.
It didn’t really matter, as there was bottled water in the fridge. Opening the door, I peered into the darkness to find the spring water. After cracking the seal, one bottle almost filled the kettle. I turned a knob on the stove and heard nothing. The familiar tick-ticking sound of the ignition was absent. The fancy propane stove was equipped with an electrical safety start and wouldn’t light.
I blinked twice as unwanted tears threatened to spill over. Giving up, I snatched up the bottle of wine from last night. It made perfect sense for me to skip the glass. After all, there was no way to wash it. Swigging directly from the bottle at 7:12 am, I sat in my beautifully dysfunctional home and let the tears come.
By 8:15, I was feeling much better…almost mellow, in fact. Deciding to address what could be easily corrected, I zoomed around the house, unplugging everything. It was somewhat surprising to discover how many things were actually draining power. The refrigerator and two deep freezers were some of the obvious ones. Not so obvious were the television and DVD player, the alarm clock, the microwave clock and the computer speakers. Merciless in my attack, I unplugged every single cord from every single outlet. When I’d finished, the battery bank finally began to recharge.
The wine had started to wear off by then and I began to search for a more permanent solution. After consulting the checkbook, it was ascertained that there was enough money to address a portion of the energy dilemma. A good sized generator and some additional solar panels would allow me to keep the batteries better charged.
I sniffed my armpits to confirm that I could, indeed, go out in public without an electricity powered shower. Jumping into the Explorer, the 50 minute drive to Baldwin began. I even remembered to plug my phone into the car charger.
If the goal had been to exorcise the characters from my head, then the effort failed. When the finishing touches were put on Bystander, new characters began to squawk in my brain. Beginning the process anew, Christmas in Bystander & Other Village Tales was born featuring new characters and a much darker storyline. It seems that while I’ve finally managed to write a novel, I haven’t yet learned how to stop. I truly hope that I never do!
While I'm at it… here’s a shameless plug for my newest novel, A Slice of Heaven which was released on Amazon.com this week.
One lucky reader who comments on my blog will be randomly selected to win a $15 Amazon e-gift card and a paperback of Bystander. Good luck!