Please join me in welcoming Carole Wyatt,
writing as Morgan K Wyatt.Her latest book, Unexpected Cougar, is set for release today from Secret Craving Publishing! (It was co-written with her husband.)
How is your memory? If you can remember former high school classmates who keep befriending you on Facebook, then it’s good. Do you wonder if the realtor who keeps sending you friend requests is the same girl who started the rumor about you being a boy who dressed as a girl? If you have hard time remembering details about your own life, imagine juggling the minutiae of dozens of lives. Mothers do this, teachers too, but writers live constantly in this mental labyrinth of vanishing names and facts.
As a mother, teacher, and a writer, I was determined to hang onto more information. As I age, I worried my memory might be the first to go. My daughter gave me the dubious assurance that my memory left long ago. I suspected as much, but could have done without her confirmation. I have consulted books, attended seminars, and searched the Internet for surefire answers to improve my memory.
My first mistake was working outside my area of expertise. As a teacher, I’ve spent a great deal of time with pencil and paper. My first attempt at organization was a Palm Pilot. I immediately lost the stylus making it ineffective. The paper calendar works for me. I augment it with the purse calendar and white board in my office. My nod to technology in this department is I use my Google account to interface with my cell that warns me of upcoming events and appointments. It would be nice if it would notify me of shoe sales when I walked by DSW too.
I do manage to show up for appointments on my own now. My previous system was questionable and it involved family members. My extended family uses the same doctor, dentist, hairdresser, etc. My sister might go in for her appointment, and be reminded mine was in two days. Unfortunately, relatives could not help me with my writing.
My total no tech system works the best for me. I have a binder with various dividers for each story where I notes names of characters, occupations, back story, where the story takes places. This is very important when engaging in a series and you have to keep referring back to a minute detail that the readers will remember. I used to keep this information in a folder on the computer. Only problem was I could not remember the name of the folder, and opened dozens with similar names. If I didn’t waste enough time doing that, I’d go back through the 45,000 words trying to find the section of the book I needed. I’ve found if I knew what happened in that section, I could put a line of text in the search box to locate the chapter.
Sometimes simple systems are the best. I decided to file everything alphabetically as opposed to grouping by function. This makes it easier to lay my hands on important documents. If I don’t file immediately I forget why I cut something out of the paper or saved a particular article.
Remembering people’s names is a major issue for me. I heard once that the ability to remember names and spell is carried on the same gene. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it. I used to rely on my daughter’s superior memory while in public. When I saw a smiling woman heading my way, I’d asked my daughter who it was. She’d tell it was someone I hadn’t seen for years I wondered why the woman could still recognize me, or that my daughter remembered her.
The inability to remember names or details I use as a complicating factor in my stories. In my newest release, Unexpected Cougar by Secret Cravings Publishing, the main character Elise fails to recognize her nemesis until it’s almost too late. Sure, she looks familiar and there is something about her she’s supposed to remember. What could it be?
As for names, I try to associate one thing with the person when we first meet. Maybe she has teal blue eyes, loves Elvis, or has the same name as my mother. I shake their hand and say their name at least three times in conversation. Chunking information works better for me than just a name. When it doesn’t, I fall back on an old friend’s trick; she calls everyone beautiful or handsome. No one ever complains about her not using his or her actual name.
What helps you remember needed information? I am always open for methods that work.
His eyes twinkled at her in the dim light, or did she imagine it?
“Nope, I am walking you out to your car. Men look out for the more delicate sex. Although, despite you’re feminine appearance, I bet you’re a tough female, a regular Captain Janeway.”
“Who?” She scanned the parking lot for her car, which wasn’t hard since all the cars were gone, except for a few belonging to employees. She walked toward her green compact sedan with
keeping pace. He rattled the change in his pocket a sure sign of nervousness.
What did he have to be nervous about? Jackson
“Captain Janeway commanded the Starship Voyager on the ill-fated Star Trek spin-off. Still, her character was a strong, attractive, smart woman—uhm forget I said anything.” He stammered to an abrupt stop.
Elise hip bumped him playfully and acted surprised. “Oops, sorry. I know who Janeway is. I especially liked her Native American first officer, Chakotay.
“Really? I never met a woman who had actually heard of the show. Is this yours?” He nodded in the direction of the green less than beautiful car.
“Untrustworthy as it is.”
She found herself drawn to the slightly nerdy bartender, and they were at her car. If he were a date, she’d expect a kiss. If a guy tried to French her, plastering her against her car, she definitely wouldn’t go out with him again. If he pursed up his lips reminiscent of a second grader, she’s pass on him too. A firm, light touch of the lips solicited a second date, unless he’d triggered one of her taboo areas during the evening. This included rhapsodizing about the wonders of his mother, complaining bitterly about his ex, and every other woman who passed through his life, or expecting sexual favors as a nightcap.
A press on the keychain fob unlocked the car, turning on the interior light and highlighting the backseat complete with all the bachelorette gear for a friend’s party. Maybe
notice the cake in the shape of male genitalia. At five times the real size, it
was hard to miss. Jackson
covered his mouth in sudden coughing fit and turned his head slightly away. He hadn’t
missed it. Jackson
“Are you a baker by trade?” he asked in a choked voice.
“Argh, I prayed you didn’t see that. A business associate in my building is getting married. Shirley, a sixty-plus widow, picked out all the goodies. I’m the lucky one who gets to haul it all around. If they knew how unreliable my car has been lately, they might have picked someone else.” She put her hand on the door only to find his hand there already.
“Allow me.” He opened the door. “What’s wrong with your car?”
“Starter.” She slid in, turned the key, and listened to the car grind and not start. “It takes a while for it to catch. I know I should get a new one, but…”
“What?” He braced his arms against the roof of her car and leaned in to talk to her. “Why aren’t you fixing it? It’s not safe for you to be out on your own and not be able to get your car started, especially in a dark parking lot.”
Same lecture her father gave her a few days before. She sighed and muttered “Thanks, Dad.”
He spun away from her to better curse under his breath, holding his head with both hands. Getting out of her car, she walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him from the back, an extremely bold move on her part. “I’m sorry
nothing like my father, with the exception he’s a nice guy. You’re a nice guy.
He has brown hair. You have brown hair. He has—oh, I’m babbling.” Jackson
“Jack, I can’t get the credit card machine to work,” a disembodied female voice called out.
She not only heard his sigh, she felt it. He backed off, dug out his wallet, and pawed thought the contents until he produced a battered business card and handed it to her.
“The guy who owns this garage is a friend and a former co-worker. He’ll give you a free estimate and do honest work. Try starting the car again. I don’t want to leave without it running.”
back at the figure at the door. Jackson
“Okay.” She hopped into the car and cranked the engine again, hoping it would start.
She didn’t need her wonky car holding up business. This time it caught. Backing out, she waved at
this be the last time she saw him? Probably not if she continued to use the
restaurant to meet her dates, the thought of him watching her soldier through
inappropriate pairings would make her even more self-conscious. Why didn’t she
ask him out? Maybe she read the signs wrong. It might horrify the guy. The
thought of even more masculine rejection tightened her lips and steeled her
determination to give dating a break. Jackson