Tag Archive for: The Lost Days


By AB Plum

Once, long ago in a faraway galaxy, I vowed never, ever, under any circumstances would I text.
Keeping that oath proved easy for a long time. I secretly felt a kind of snobbish pride for refusing to follow the herd. Hey, I knew friends who bragged they texted in bed before going to sleep. Some claimed they texted in their sleep. One friend crossed the street without looking either way, stepped in a pothole, and broke her ankle while texting.

Yes, I loudly—indiscreetly—disdained dependence on “electronic pacifiers.” I swallowed judgments about addictive behaviors.

Of course anyone who’s ever sworn such pledges or scorned similar vices—er, I mean, behavior—knows what’s coming.

Just desserts. Punctured pride. Public confession.

Earlier this summer, I chatted face-to-face with a young tekkie about helping me create a video for my Amazon author page. We worked out several details about communicating. I thought I made clear my preference of email rather than by phone or text. I thought she agreed. She left, and I shot off an email with a summary of our agreement.

No return message the next day gave me pause. Day Two, I found four texts from her.

I could’ve called—except she’d told me she hadn’t set up her voice mail and rarely answered her phone because she and her friends texted.
Continuing to email her made little sense.

So, I put my thumbs to keyboard. Human thumbs are amazing digits—necessary for all kinds of tasks requiring dexterity. Some evolutionary biologists suggest our thumbs may have helped the brain develop. I hope not. My thumbs definitely failed to expand that part of my brain required to master those infinitesimally tiny keys on my cell phone.

Cursing and stamping my foot didn’t help. Pep talks about my fast typing skills never sparked—let alone fired—a single neural synapse. Gritted teeth hurt my jaw, but I finally took a deep breath.

After repeated tries—I refuse to specify how many tries constituted repeated—I managed to type Ck email pls. My thumbs throbbed. I pressed SEND, pumped my hand in the air, and vowed, “Never again.”

Seconds later, my tekkie assistant texted, “Cmptr unavbl. bad time to tlk. pls txt me.”

Numbers to set the time of day for another consult, I quickly discovered required far more dexterity than letters of the alphabet. But … there’s a tradeoff. Forget wasting time on spaces. Or paragraphs. Capitals, commas, and spelling? Hang-ups from formal writing. Unnecessary in casual speech—which is what texting really is.

Over the next hour, I texted a total of three short—very short—messages. But my texting efforts came to nothing. My tekkie assistant informed me she was leaving town the next day and couldn’t take on my video project after all. She closed with an emojican I interpreted as relief vs regret.

Okay, I’ve lost my texting virginity, but my texting days are behind me. Honest. Instead, I’m putting my energy into goat yoga.

*********** When she’s not practicing goat yoga or commenting on texting, AB Plum writes dark, gritty psychological thrillers in the heart of Silicon Valley. Since no texting is required for publication of her MisFit Series, Book 2, The Lost Days is scheduled on August 15. 

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Impact of Upcoming Total Solar Eclipse and Goat Yoga

By AB Plum

Have you ever noticed how the perfect plans you make so often fall apart? Go straight to hell in a handbasket? Turn quiet to chaos?

The end of June seemed perfect for two home projects: 
  • installing new carpet in the MBR 
  • painting all the woodwork throughout the house. 

Tricky to get the timing of each job right—painting first, carpet second. Packing and repurposing required a lot of planning and our sweat. But we pulled off both jobs pretty much as planned.

Thought we were home free. Paid contractors. Moved on. 
  • Started making sure we grasped all the details about our trip to Oregon to view the total solar eclipse with our son and DIL. 
  • Confirmed our reservation in Bend—handled totally by our wonderful DIL. 
  • Double checked our airline reservations. 
  • Reconfirmed time of pickup at PDX..

Feeling good. Good enough to think about getting our house back in order after the painting and carpet installation.

Then, wham! The washing machine turned on me. Died three days before July 4.The tea towels and table cloths and napkins started breeding in the laundry room. Opening the door put us at peril. 

My husband’s back also went out the same daymeaning boxes of stacked books sat here, there and everywhere but on the shelves. 

Yes, every appliance store had the stackable units we wanted in stock—somewhere in Outer Mongolia, requiring ten days shipping to Northern Cal. Call after call, online search after online search, confirmed this fact.

In the meantime, the laundry was rumbling against the door trying to erupt from the laundry room and take over our house like lava. 

Our tempers … simmered. We gave in to a rant or two. We lived in a huge metro-area. Yes, July 4th loomed two days away. But …

What was happening? Was it the planets converging for the upcoming eclipse? How the heck does goat yoga fit in here?

Somewhere in between Internet searches for washer/dryer combos that fit in our space and didn’t require additional plumbing and/or electrical updates, a link to a YouTube video distracted my scattered attention. Watching it once, then twice more in the same setting, I laughed enough I finally corralled my “downer.”

Goats in a yoga class did the trick.

Just like in the movies, the next place I called did, in fact, honestly, truthfully, have the washer and dryer we wanted in their local warehouse. Yes, they would, absolutely on the head of the salesman’s first-born son, deliver said purchase to our home on July 4!

Uh-huh. Riiight. Yeah. I swallowed the impulse to demand the salesman’s home address.

July 4. Zoom in on me doing the happy dance when two young men arrived at 8:00 AM, installed the new appliances, gave us a demo, loaded the dead washer and companion dryer on their truck, and left by 9:15.

Whistling, I immediately loaded the washer. While it purred away, I turned on my computer, fired up the goat yoga video, and laughed through three re-runs. 

The solar eclipse was still on track (as if it wouldn’t be), and my husband’s back was better. What more could  I wish for—except my books magically back on the shelves? I’d then have time for goat yoga!

When AB’s not shelving books or washing clothes or watching goat yoga videos, she writes dark, gritty psychological thrillers. Unless the roof falls in, she plans to release in mid-August  The Lost Days, Book 2 in The MisFit Series.

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and All Things Social Media

By AB Plum

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I can write this blog a week ahead of its due date, schedule it, and take off tomorrow for a fun-and-frolic vacation in San Francisco. 

I’m writing the day before the Comey Testimony. (I capitalize testimony b/c it’s almost as if Mr. Comey’s appearance is a TV program or movie or book title).

I am also writing before President Trump tweets about the upcoming testimony or during the testimony itself.

Either the testimony or tweet content could provide enough commentary for dozens of riveting blogs. But. I’m going to take advantage of the scheduling feature on this blog and leave posting the excitement/amazement/disgust/disbelief/etc. following the event to others to wax on about.

I am going to SF without my laptop or any other handheld devices. Except for one. Because I have kids (adults, true) in other cities and a friend watching over the home front, the need to take my cell phone will win out. But … no calling or tweeting or texting except in an emergency.

Admittedly, sending a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge will be tempting, but I hope to resist. My grown kids have walked across the span many times. Some of my relatives, like my house sitter, have never taken a single step on this engineering marvel. 

Here’s my rationale: Even if I send my relatives or the house sitter a picture, they’ll probably all be too busy watching The Testimony. Or the analyses of The Testimony. Or the late-night panning of The Testimony. 

Whatever …. I’ll catch up when I return home. Until then, I’m about to retreat to Luddite Land.

How about you? When was the last time you “unhooked” from your electronic wonders? Do you remember a time when we didn’t text? Didn’t tweet? Didn’t share pictures of our vacations via Facebook?

AB Plum lives off the fast lane in Silicon Valley, where she writes about mayhem and murder in her psychological suspense series, The MisFit. If she doesn’t overstay her vacation, she plans a late summer release of The Lost Days and The In-Between Years, Books 2 and 3 in the series.

Entering a Time Capsule

By AB Plum
Remember those long summer nights as a kid when you lay outside and stared at the stars and moon moving across the velvet sky?

Tracking the moon’s movement, I felt some vague, inexpressible awareness of time passing. Not much, though. My aunt and uncle’s farm in the back hills and hollers of Southern Missouri existed in a time warp. Sunset marked the end of day. Darkness meant night. Morning came with birds twittering just before sunrise.

The Rhythm of Each Day

Daily chores: caring for the animals, tending the huge vegetable garden, preparing meals, cleaning the house, washing clothes, ironing . . . and more filled every day with its own rhythm. 

During “free” time, my aunt and mother would take us kids to wade in the nearby creek—always on the lookout for copperheads. Saturdays, we went “to town” with produce and fresh berry pies with the flakiest-ever crusts baked by my aunt the day before.

Sundays, we attended church, then came home to fry chicken for dinner with half a dozen invited relatives. Of course the day of rest began with caring for the animals. Bringing in the cows for the afternoon milking and closing the chicken house marked the beginning of night’s approach.

This summer life seemed idyllic and lasted until my eleventh birthday when my aunt and uncle moved off the farm to work in the city. By then I’d pretty much stopped lying outside to count the stars or marvel at the moon. I had a better grasp of time and place—though I never imagined setting a book in Finland during summer when the sun never really sets.

Time Is All About Perception

In my novels, time often presents a challenge. What details get left out may be as important as those left in the story. What happened in the past plays a big part in the present time of the story. Ideally, scenes give sensory clues to the passage of real time. In The Lost Days, the two young boys can’t rely on the sun and moon rising to mark how long they’ve been lost.

The challenge was to convey the sense of time dragging without writing scenes that went on and on and on with nothing happening. Time didn’t stop, but it certainly crawled. That crawling passage of time increased, I hope, the tension of a struggle to survive in a hostile environment.

Ironically, I drew on memories of those long, endless, and happy days on that isolated farm. I recalled time was more fluid, but spotting a copperhead slinking off the creek bank could send my heart racing and time flying.

Reading Bends Time

For me, storytelling and reading bend time. I can escape from the here and now just as I did watching the night sky, long, long ago.

What speeds up your day? Do you read to slow down the frenzy? What unexpected circumstance affect your perception of time?

AB Plum lives and writes in Silicon Valley, where time runs at a break-neck pace. Her latest book The Lost Years becomes available on Amazon on March 17–which will be here before she blinks.

in the past plays a big part in 

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.

Gratitude Inspired by a Psychopath

By AB Plum

Some time ago, The Stiletto Gang Bloggers gave two thumbs up to the idea of choosing a subject to blog about every month. We also agreed that if the idea didn’t grab us, we could write about something that did.

In the past, I’ve written on and off-topic. This month’s theme, “gratitude” really grabs me. So thanks, Bethany, for the reminder . . . and challenge.

Challenge, because I’ve scheduled Book 2, The Lost Days in my psychological thriller MisFit Series for release the day after Thanksgiving. I am, from time to time questioning my sanity on this decision as well as the decision to write the whole dark, disturbing series.

Focus on gratitude gives me pause to rethink. 

Eleven-year-old Michael Romanov, the character at the center of the series, is a psychopath. We all have childhoods, right?

Michael feels no sense of attunement with anyone . . . except, perhaps, a thread-thin regard for his only friend, Dimitri. Dimitri is the one person with whom Michael has ever experienced any familiarity. Their real affinity is their differentness not just from their peers but from the human tribe.

Michael claims his mother rejected him at birth. How is that possible? What could he have done to deserve her refusal to express affection toward him? Praise him? Touch him? 

Ultimately, gratitude boils down to social connection. Michael feels only resentment toward his bullying brother. His father’s too frequent business trips allow no time for bonding—if his father even cared.

Uber-smart and handsome. Michael has no visible physical deformities. He lives a life of privilege. Yet he finds nothing for which to feel grateful since no one acts on his behalf. No one offers him protection from his brother’s intimidation or his mother’s neglect. He is a misfit. An outcast by those who should include him in their circle.

Although this character is a creation of my imagination, I’ve met people with varying degrees of his alienation and lack of gratitude. Like you, I’ve read about young men (almost always men) with dark hearts who kill innocents—often children. Regret doesn’t come up on their radar.

When I meet these people or read about them, I am grateful for a mother who taught me to read early. Who did her best to encourage my curiosity. To protect me if I followed that curiosity to extremes. To love me with all my imperfections.

Michael’s mother is the antithesis of mine, but in the case of psychopaths, I don’t think ‘blame-the-mother’ peels back all the layers of the onion. In Michael’s case, I know as the author that brain damage plays a significant part in his inability to retrieve emotional memories—the basis for learning from mistakes. Additionally, he teeters on the edge of pubertya period when the brain becomes a huge chemical cauldron.

Nature and nurture (none in his case) intermingle to wire his brain differently. No surprise he feels no empathic connection with others.

So, I am grateful after writing these six books to realize there exist humans whose full stories I will never know fully. Mostly, I am thankful for a healthy brain. I give thanks every day for friends and families and memories and stories that keep me from jumping that divide Michael crosses.

Here’s an excerpt from The Lost Years:
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 Dimitri’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. Without the baseball cap, 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.”
Scary comic books, nineteenth century American literature (especially Poe, Hawthorne, and James), plus every genre in-between have influenced AB’s writing. Teaching adolescent boys and working with high-testosterone Silicon Valley tekkies opened up new insights into neuroanatomy and behavioral psychology. She lives in the shadow of Google, writes and walks daily. She participates in a brain-building aerobic dance class three times a week.
This link takes you to The Early Years on Amazon.