Haunting Writing Exercise

Haunting Obsession Lo RezHere, re-posted for your consideration, is a writing exercise I composed this morning in one of my writer’s groups. A bit of metafiction whimsey and proof that while Haunting Obsession has been out for several months, Maxine isn’t done haunting me yet. (Yes, at the  mentioned moment, two men stood just outside our open conference room door and proceeded to have a conversation.)

I stared at the laptop screen; the blank white surface stared back, screaming intimidation.

I glanced at the clock, mulling over the exercise, thinking, Wow, Steve, that’s a bit of a tall order. An evocative scene, using all five senses, simple words, and you want us to read it at the end of the hour? Really?

582152_10151060950622591_1149631412_nBehind me, I felt her lean against my shoulders, her breathy whisper in my ear sending a responsive shiver down my spine. “So, what’cha doing R.J.?”

I turned and looked behind me. There was Maxine Marie, the glamorous Hollywood ghost, the late great shapely gorgeous blonde, grinning for me and only me.

Still, I didn’t appreciate the timing. “Maxine, what are you doing here…now?”

Her bottom lip protruded, and she looked down at her feet. “Oh, look at Mister Serious Author, turning all grumpy-puss. As if I have any control over when I enter your mind.”

Art by Nell Williams.
Art by Nell Williams.

She turned and sat on the table, seated on her shapely bottom between myself and the new woman. Her body phased right through the chair, as ghosts tend to do.

It was fine, I could still see through her to the end of the room. A hint of vanilla lavender perfume drifted toward me. (Vanilla lavender? Sure, why not.)

“So,” said Maxine into the air, her nails tap-tap-tapping a quick rhythm on the tabletop. “You’re supposed to write to the five senses. What can we write about?”

I glared down, her nails, still ticking out their rapid tempo, the rhythm rapidly ratcheting on my last nerve. “Would you stop doing that please?”

She looked down, flashed an abashed grin, and folded her hands in her lap. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

2012, with RJ and "Maxine Marie" from Haunting Obsession.
2012, with RJ and “Maxine Marie” from Haunting Obsession.

“So how many have we covered?” she asked. I started looking over my draft. “Not sure. I wish those two guys out in the hallway would stop talking so we would concentrate on the assignment.”

Maxine nodded. “No kidding. Hey!” She offered a mischievous grin. “Want me to go out and scare them?”

I considered. I knew I should be filled with alarm, the very idea jolting my body so I could describe all sorts of abnormal sensations for this writing exercise, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

Truthfully, the thought of her walking through the wall, appearing between them while donning thick black glasses, hissing a librarian-like “shhhhh……” and then vanishing into thin air gave me the giggles.

Art by Bonnie Wasson.
Art by Bonnie Wasson.

But…I shook my head. “No, better not.”

“Oh, poo. You’re no fun.”

I reached for my blue travel coffee mug and took a sip, the tepid liquid, two hours past its prime, left a bitter aftertaste.

Maxine nodded. “Nicely done, sneaking in the sense of taste.”

I smiled at the compliment. “Thanks!”

I drummed my fingers lightly across the black keys in a repetitive motion, trying to think where else to take this scene.

“Hey, Mister,” she chastised. “Now who’s being annoying?”

I stopped. “Sorry.”

Maxine’s gaze lifted, settling on the clock, which showed quarter ’til.

Lily Monstermeat as Maxine Marie.
Lily Monstermeat as Maxine Marie.

“Think you have enough?”

“Sure. Thanks, Maxine.”

“Don’t mention it. Talk to you soon, RJ.” And she vanished.

Learn more about Maxine Marie and Haunting Obsession at this link.

 

Blue and Skye–A Cross-character Discussion, Part 1 of 2

By E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan. CGI Art by Nell Williams.

Two fictional characters discuss their various trials and tribulations as portrayed in the novels Blue Spirit by Eric Garrison (©2010) [2015 update: Second Edition by Seventh Star Press] and Haunting Blue by R.J. Sullivan (©2010). [2015 update Second Edition by Seventh Star Press]

Clutching a bright blue trade paperback book in her hands, the punkish teenage girl steps through the door of the Café Expresso in Broad Ripple and looks around.

Her gaze falls on the willowy young woman already seated and waving a dark green book back at her.  Breaking into a grin, Fiona “Blue” Shaefer heads over to the table and shakes hands with Skye MacLeod before taking a seat across from her.

Blue: Hi there, Skye! [Blue points to the Blue Spirit paperback in her hands] Thanks for answering my email.

 Skye: How could I refuse?  I mean, I get to talk about myself, right? [laughs]

Waitress: What can I get you?

Blue: Medium Mocha, please, extra syrup.

Skye: [nods at her cup on the table] I’m good, thanks.

Blue: [to Skye] So, it’s been so long since I moved away, I wasn’t sure if you still remembered waiting on me all those times at the Starbucks. It’s been almost a year!

Skye: It’s good to see you again, without a counter between us this time.  Wow, you’re not a kid anymore, are you?

Blue: N-no… [nods at copy of Haunting Blue in Skye’s hands] I guess you could say I’ve grown up a bit. I’ve been through a lot since the last time I was in ‘The Ripple’.   I always think of you at Starbucks, it’s weird to see you here in the Café Expresso.

Skye: Well, I still go to the Broad Ripple Starbucks sometimes, but after they fired me up in Nora, I just kind of prefer independent coffee shops.

Blue: And the coffee you have there…is that…uh…just coffee?

Skye: [rolls her eyes] You know, I’m not always boozing it up, kiddo. Just unleaded coffee today for me!  I, uh, kinda had to promise Annabelle I’d cut back.  Being a Vampire Noble in the game is awesome, but it doesn’t, like, pay the bills, you know?

Blue: Yeah, I hear you there.  So… [looks around the room] If I understood what you wrote, you have a little guardian fairy named Minnie you have to be tipsy to interact with. Is she around now? Or can you tell?

Skye: [shrugs] I see her more without alcohol these days, but she’s also more independent of me, too.   I haven’t seen her today.  She’s becoming much more her own person.  It’s good for her, but kind of sad, since I’d gotten used to always having her around, watching out for me.  So, I’m going through two separate types of withdrawal, sort of.  Three, really… [sighs] But I have Annabelle and my gamer friends to help me get by.

Blue: Oh, yes, Annabelle. [fans herself with paperback] I read all about you two. Only boy I can attract is the small town computer nerd but you…you land a firefighter. Every girl’s dream. Well…sorta.

Skye: [smiles and sighs] Actually, I adore nerdy guys.  Stuart was the biggest nerd.  Annabelle… well, she’s a bit like you, kiddo; adorable but a lot tougher than she looks.

[Waitress deposits Blue’s coffee, looks back and forth between Blue and Skye, winks at Blue, and returns to the counter]

Blue: (turning pink) Well, uh, thank you, Skye. And I’m not a prude, but it is a little weird. For months, all you used to talk about was Stuart this and Stuart that. Then he goes off with another woman, so you turn around bring in your own other woman. I’d call that sweet revenge if I thought you did it on purpose.

Skye: Stuart really betrayed me, Blue.  He was the love of my life, then he sold me out.  Blamed me for the fire in our apartment. Meanwhile, Annabelle saved my life.  She was there for me when I’d lost everything.  And, well… we can’t help who we fall for, right?

Blue: Don’t I know it? I would never thought I’d fall for a guy who plays Dungeons and Dragons. Speaking of roleplaying, tell me more about the Live Action Roleplaying game you’re into. I never played myself. Never really wanted to, then when I moved to Perionne and of course Chip talked me into it. But that was paper and dice. The live action vampire roleplaying thing seems like a whole other level, with costumes and the improv in character thing. Do players really take staying “in character” as seriously as you say in your book?

Skye: Oh definitely!  Some people hate to break character, like, ever. I have a lot of fun with it, it’s good to get to be someone else for a while. And, for most of us, our pretend lives are a lot more glamorous than our actual lives.   It’s like living in a story, and some days, you just don’t want the fantasy to end.  Which, I know is funny coming from a girl who sees fairies.  [laughs]

Blue: So… speaking of Fairies, I guess Indy has its own gnome-like Scottish Fairy who calls himself the “Transit King”?  What’s up with that?

Skye: [laughs] I know, right?  He’s actually pretty formidable, even if he seems to be a batty little old bum on the surface.  He’s older than dirt and claims dominion over the bus system.   I wonder if IndyGo knows about him?   He’s mostly friendly, though I get the feeling you wouldn’t to tick him off!

 Blue: Well, I didn’t see him on the bus on the way up, but then again, I try not to look very closely at the other passengers. It can get you in trouble.  Speaking of colorful characters, tell me about this fella Leslie?  The huge costume designer guy with the great vampire fashion sense—does he just make people look great for roleplaying vampires or can he work similar miracles for a prom or something?

Skye: [laughs] Oh yes, he’s larger than life!  He wouldn’t turn you away, doll, not if I introduced you first.  He specializes in costumes, nothing all that durable.  But I guess a prom’s all about costumes, isn’t it?   So… does this mean prom is close for you?  So, I’m guessing you’re going with Chip?

Blue: No, I just meant any kind of party. [trails off] I don’t know, a big costume party would be great about now. Just dress up like someone else and…forget about everything for a few hours. Yeah, that would be nice.

Click here to read Part 2 posted on Eric Garrison’s Blog

Blue Spirit and other works by E. Chris Garrison can be found at Silly Hat Books.

See more 3D graphic art by Nell Williams at www.nellwilliams.com