Tag Archive for: A B Plum

Bubblegum + Paper Bags Lead to . . .

By AB Plum

Bubblegum + Paper Bags Lead to . . .

Last week with several deadlines looming and promo tasks lurking, I screwed up.

Uh-huh, right in the middle of a frustrated, stressed-out, hair-pulling cycle, I got distracted.

By bubblegum.

None of my characters chews bubblegum. Why not? I asked myself. As a kid, I’d loved the sweet, caries-inducing rubber glob I could chew until my jaws ached. 

Against strict parental mandates, I’d slap down my few pennies, inhale the indescribable scent of sugary fruit, pop the pink ball in my mouth, and chew away—lost in a world where I imagined blowing a twenty-inch bubble.  

Surely, even a properly raised eleven-year-old Danish boy—my main character with a dark soul—might discover bubblegum? 

TO Dos wailed. I shoved the question in the back of my mind and went to work scheduling my blog posts. I had two due within a week of each other.

Then, don’t ask me how, I got distracted again. Who invented the paper sack? How could John Pavlos of MoMA, consider that mundane thing “the smartphone of the 19th century”? 

What? Before texting, did people pass written messages back and forth on those smooth, brown surfaces? Did kids hold paper bags, attached with string, against their ears and talk to each other from yards away? Smartphone of the 19th century?

But you can see how I screwed-up, right? Posted one blog a week early.

Not a history-changing screw-up like Napoleon marching into Russia without adequate winter provisions.

Not a mistake like the sinking of the Titanic—on a different scale than Napoleon’s blunder—but an unforgettable snafu by someone in charge of planning for enough lifeboats.

My screw-up only led to my own embarrassment unlike the poor Tampa patient years ago whose surgeon removed the wrong leg and left the poor guy in worse shape than he started.

The public aware of my mistake was minuscule compared to the Super Bowl audience witnessing the ‘wardrobe malfunction’ on live TV in 2004. (Not to mention all the re-runs).

When I reexamine the above list and consider all the screw-ups we’ve seen in the past few chaotic weeks of political transition, I think I’ll change my mind.

My screw-up really falls into the category of messing up.

Messing up vs screwing up.

Uh-huh. I can live with messing up. I’ll depict screw-ups in my fiction (some of which carries a definite autobiographical note).

For now, I’ll forget that none of my characters chews bubblegum or uses brown paper bags. No more distractions.

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

How about you? Made any mistakes lately?

AB Plum lives and writes just off the fast lane in Silicon Valley. Unless she gets totally distracted, she plans to release on March 17 The Lost Days, Book 2 in The MisFit Series, her dark psychological thriller about the childhood of a psychopath.

EXCERPT from The Lost Days
The sun’s eerie summer glow disoriented me as much as the headache hammering my skull. Or maybe my confusion came from the man seated next to me, his foot placed at the top of my foster brother’s spine. I gritted my teeth. Dimitri lay crumpled face down in the space behind the driver’s seat. His legs were folded under him like a penitent waiting for absolution.
The man in the front seat turned and flashed a mouthful of piano-white teeth. His piercing blue eyes glittered. I stared. His copper-colored hair glowed in the golden evening light.
He laughed as if I’d said something funny. “For a boy who killed his mother three months ago, you have a face that borders on transparent.”
“You-you’re not American.”
“And you’re not Finnish—despite your mother.”
Involuntarily, I snorted.
Nostrils flaring, he cuffed my right temple with his knuckles. “I already know what you think of your mother.”
My ears rang. Involuntarily, my fingers flexed and twitched as if I’d been electrocuted. I wanted to hit him. Smash his face. Kick his Finnish teeth down his throat.
“We are going to see,” he said, “just how tough you are.”


By A B Plum

What’s the big deal about alternate facts?


Now, before you send me “hate mail” rubbing my nose in the error of my ways, let me attempt one view on my response. (Misguided, shallow, inane, naïve, etc., etc., etc., though that view may be). 

Read on. Please.

We writers of fiction deal with alternate facts every day. Alternate facts have provided the drama, the comedy, the romance in fiction since . . . forever.

Take the story of Adam and Eve. Is it a fact that a serpent tempted Eve to succumb to that apple? Have you ever met a snake—other than maybe a two-legged one—who communicated with you? Tempted you to do anything but scream and run the other direction?

In the story of David and Goliath, is it a fact—or thinly veiled political propaganda, aka an alternate fact—that helped establish David’s rep as a formidable foe in battle?

Snow White ends up in a glass coffin waiting for her true Prince to waken her with a kiss. How many of us believe a talking mirror landed her there? C’mon, that’s just a bit of a jump from a speaking serpent.

How about the superheroes of comics? Is a guy who “leaps tall buildings at a single bound” a symbol of symbol against evil—even if he wears a red cape, tights, and funny boots? Certainly, he’s a product of several writers’ gluing together disparate alternate facts (a mild-mannered newspaper reporter steps into a phone booth and shoots into the sky—not to be confused with a bird or a plane).

Wonder Woman came on the American scene from ancient Greece in December 1941—a time of prolific alternate facts spouted by dictators in Germany, Italy, Japan, and the politicos in the U.S. Here comes Wonder Woman, another alternate fact embodied as an emblem of hope during the very real good-vs-evil-battle raging across the civilized world.

The term alternate fact will, I suspect, become a buzzword and a meme. The phrase may even get included in the 2017 list of new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary. We’ll undoubtedly see/hear thousands of rebuttals, defenses, satires, gibberish, and rationale about the political impact of alternate facts ad nauseam.

Personally, I like the discussion.

At the same time, I wonder why the big deal? Readers, movie fans, TV viewers, video-game aficionados, Wall Street movers and shakers, and all the rest of us come up against alternate facts every day. Every day. Often they’re even passed off as facts.
We don’t need a writer to point out, tongue in cheek, that some of us have more critical genes than others. Or may it’s more synapses synapsing. Or whatever.

Those of us who write fiction certainly know about trying to persuade fans that alternate facts are the truth. Readers let us know pretty quickly when we underestimate their intelligence. Many of them go so far as refusing to buy our next books. Ouch.

Bring on the alternate facts. I imagine them galvanizing us across party lines and ideological platforms. We’ve already seen the demonstrations and discounted the fake news accounts that no one showed up.

Fake news, like alternate facts, fools no one.

The fact is, people—not just readers of fiction—dislike being underestimated.

We can clearly see that army of snakes slinking through the underbrush from miles away.

And if we can’t see ’em, we can smell them. 

Here are the straight facts:  AB Plum works and writes dark, psychological thrillers in Silicon Valley. The Lost Days, her second book in The MisFit Series should hit the shelves in mid-March.