Guest Bloggers

Writing for the Road, on the Road

presmaxsonAllow me to introduce Pres Maxson, author of Bender at the Bon Parisien. If you haven’t read my review, see it here, I highly recommend this wonderful mystery and the eclectic group of characters within. Find Pres on Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads and go read his book. It’s pretty freaking fantastic.

Travel is a big part of writing. I know that’s a pretty sweeping statement, but it’s true — at least for me. As a reader, I enjoy the escape of a book and being transported to another place or time. Good writers suspend my reality and take me there.

There is also a relationship between travel and inspiration. I don’t think that’s too difficult to see. New cities inspire new stories. This happens to me all the time.

Case in point, I was on a flight last year on the way home from Las Vegas. I’d usually be asleep, but I tried an exercise instead. I made a short, challenging list of everything I wanted to put in a story, and then I wrote it. So first, I’ll give you the list of ideas that I wanted to include.

A main character (me)

A boat

A cat bite

Yahtzee

The captain’s feline pet buried her fangs in my leg. It sucked. I leapt from my writing spot in my dimly lit quarters and yelped. Thankfully, none of the sailors heard me. They would have been relentless with their jests.

Creaks and groans from the belly of our ship had been distracting me from my writing anyway. My lantern was low on oil, and the back and forth of ocean motion was killing me.

This crossing hadn’t been enjoyable. As King George’s royal scribe, I’d been drafting letter after letter for colonial governors at his majesty’s request. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being nauseated below decks on a trans-Atlantic voyage. I grabbed the cat by the back of her neck and took her to the stairs.

“You call yourself a man!?” she screeched.

I know cats can’t talk, so I didn’t answer. She didn’t deserve a response anyway. I climbed and opened the hatch with my free hand. Sunlight immediately stung my eyes. I heaved the cat on to the deck but heard voices before I could get the door shut.

Two sailors argued nearby. I paused.

“Yahtzee!” one shouted after the roll of the dice.

It must be a slow day on deck.

“That’s not a yahtzee! One of your dice is a four. You need them all to have the same number!”

“No I don’t! ‘Yahtzee’ just means I’m excited. It’s kind of like saying ‘yippee!’”

My eyes finally adjusted to the light, and curiosity drew me further up. The two men were off-duty lookouts. They saw me at the top of the stairs.

“Well look who it is! Come up from the dungeons for once, have you?!”

“Yeah,” I answered.

“Do you want to play yahtzee?”

“Well, you can’t!” the other sailor quickly jabbed. “There’s only room for one other player, and I think it should be this cat.”

The feline looked back in my direction, smiling. “They prefer me to you,” she said.

“It’s your roll, pussycat,” the first sailor said.

The cat grabbed the dice. I grimaced, and turned back downstairs. When I get back on land, I thought, I am never speaking to another cat again.

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