An Idea That Grew Into a Story

I met Rob Chilson at a local science fiction group meeting.  He is the soft-spoken author of seven novels and numerous short stories and novellas published in science fiction magazines. Visit his website at www.RobChilson.com to learn a little more about this Oklahoma born author. After one meeting, Rob came to me with an idea for a story.  He thought I would be the perfect collaborator because I was both writer and nurse. It was an idea that grew into a story.

The Spark

We each read a short article in a science magazine about how when you are sick your ‘sick cells’ changed electrical polarity from the ‘well’ state. Two science fiction authors should not have been surprised that we’d read the same article, but we were. When we talked about this discovery we wondered if someday there might be a box that could read and correct the polarity of cells making illness and disease a thing of the past. Rob wondered how that change would impact society. He thought that perhaps we wouldn’t need doctors and nurses any longer. I argued that we would always need someone with a healing touch.  Then we discussed characters, a basic plot, and the type of ending the story would have. I wrote a draft, he revised it, then we sat down and discussed it in detail.

The story that grew out of those discussions was one neither of us would have envisioned without the other.

The White Box was published in Analog, Science Fiction Science Fact magazine in December 1985.  If you’ve seen the magazine you’ll notice my byline changed (divorce and marrying the right guy will do that).  Eventually, I will post the full story in e-book format on my website.  For now, I hope you enjoy this snippet.

THE WHITE HOPE
by
Rob Chilson and Lynette M Burrows

Gloria Bartram took a deep breath when her name was called. It didn’t help. Her heart was beating so hard they wouldn’t need a cardiac monitor or even a stethoscope to know it was racing.

She paused just inside the door and looked them over. Dr. Lapi wasn’t there; she had hoped desperately that he would be. Cathy Tompkins, the Director of Nurses, turned a carefully expressionless glance on her. Dr. Nurbaugh was there, of course. He was the picture of righteous indignation. She returned his glare with what she hoped was a level look of confidence.

Then she faced Arthur Wigginton, Research Hospital’s Administrator. The last time she’d seen him was when he had given all ‘his loyal nurses’ a pep talk at the beginning of the strike. He hadn’t even known her name then. His neatly trimmed, sparse white hair and slight palsy had endeared him to his listeners. He had seemed a sweet old man.

At the moment his blue eyes were as chill as ice and Gloria felt almost as if she faced an executioner. The large walnut desk he sat behind was barren except for a file directly in front of him and a tape recorder to one side. The only visible concession to personal comfort or taste was the high-backed leather chair he sat in.

“Be seated, Ms. Bartram.” His neutral tone did nothing to reassure her. “You know Ms. Tompkins and Dr. Nurbaugh; and this,” he indicated a gentleman seated on the other side of the room, “is Mr. Williams, our legal counsel.” He cleared his throat. “You’ve been summoned here to answer to a charge –”

The lawyer, Williams, stirred. “Not charged,” he said, “not formally charged.”

Wigginton heard him out impatiently, then said, “An informal charge then, of mutinous insubordination. We have a written complaint against you. It alleges,” he emphasized the word slightly with a conciliatory nod toward Williams, “that you wrongfully approved treatment without obtaining appropriate medical orders, and did so with full knowledge that there was a standing order specifically against this electro-neural therapy. This is a very serious charge. One that not only puts your license in jeopardy but also threatens Research. As I understand it, the patient has not regained consciousness since the treatment you administered.”

Gloria nodded. She’d checked on the patient, Debra Sandalescu, just prior to this meeting.

“That is unfortunate,” Wigginton continued. “If the patient or her family conclude that injury has been done, we shall be facing a lawsuit. That must be avoided at all costs, especially in light of Research’s present crisis.” He steepled his fingers together and looked over the tips of them at Gloria. “What have you to say?”

Gloria wet her lips and wished she wasn’t so tired. How could she think straight? She avoided looking at Nurbaugh. “Sir, I did what had to be done to preserve the patient’s life in the absence of her personal physician.”

“She was admitted to the Emergency Room, correct?”

Again, all Gloria could do was nod.

Wigginton laced his fingers together. “Ms. Tompkins, what is standard procedure when a patient is admitted to the emergency room?”

Cathy Tompkins gave Gloria a tight but apologetic smile then turned to the Administrator. “When a patient is admitted to the ER the unit clerk calls the patient’s personal physician while the admitting nurse takes vital signs and begins any stabilizing treatment that is necessary. And according to the records, these procedures were carried out.”

“I received no calls from Research last night,” Dr. Nurbaugh said haughtily. “Not from a unit clerk or anyone else.”

Gloria bit her lip to keep from shouting at him. Any outburst from her would only make things worse.

* * * *

Thank you for spending time with me.  I know you have a hundred other things to do. Please know I deeply appreciate your time and I love to hear from you. Did you enjoy this tiny bit of the story? Was the background on an idea that grew into a story, interesting?

 

Friday Fiction Sample: The White Hope

This Friday Fiction Sample: “The White Hope” is brought to you because you’ve been asking me to share some of my fiction.  I have been so busy with revisions, website design, technical problems with shopping carts (DH’s, not mine), and a collection of life’s trials, I have not had the time to learn e-publishing.  However, I thought that today I would share a snippet of a previously published novella that I co-wrote with my friend, science fiction author, Rob Chilson.

About Rob Chilson

Rob is the author of seven novels and numerous short stories and novellas published in science fiction magazines. I met Rob at a local science fiction group meeting. He and his then-roommate, William F Wu, invited me to join their writers’ group.  Shortly after that, Rob came to me with an idea for a story because he knew I was a writer and a nurse. Writing with him taught me a lot about how to tell a story. Visit his website at www.RobChilson.com to learn a little more about this Oklahoma-born author.

Our story, “The White Box,” was published in Analog, Science Fiction Science Fact magazine in December 1985. Analog published the sequel, “The White Hope,” in the November 1986 issue.

Eventually, I will post both in e-book format on my website.  For now, I hope you enjoy this snippet.

* * * *

A box, electricity, and illness reversed. What could possibly go wrong? Read the Friday Fiction Sample: The White Hope by Robert Chilson and Lynette M Burrows. lynettemburrows.comTHE WHITE HOPE
by
Rob Chilson and Lynette M Burrows

Gloria Bartram took a deep breath when her name was called. It didn’t help. Her heart was beating so hard they wouldn’t need a cardiac monitor or even a stethoscope to know it was racing.

She paused just inside the door and looked them over. Dr. Lapi wasn’t there; she had hoped desperately that he would be. Cathy Tompkins, the Director of Nurses, turned a carefully expressionless glance on her. Dr. Nurbaugh was there, of course. He was the picture of righteous indignation. She returned his glare with what she hoped was a level look of confidence.

Then she faced Arthur Wigginton, Research Hospital’s Administrator. The last time she’d seen him was when he had given all ‘his loyal nurses’ a pep talk at the beginning of the strike. He hadn’t even known her name then. His neatly trimmed, sparse white hair and slight palsy had endeared him to his listeners. He had seemed a sweet old man.

At the moment his blue eyes were as chill as ice and Gloria felt almost as if she faced an executioner. The large walnut desk he sat behind was barren except for a file directly in front of him and a tape recorder to one side. The only visible concession to personal comfort or taste was the high-backed leather chair he sat in.

“Be seated, Ms. Bartram.” His neutral tone did nothing to reassure her. “You know Ms. Tompkins and Dr. Nurbaugh; and this,” he indicated a gentleman seated on the other side of the room, “is Mr. Williams, our legal counsel.” He cleared his throat. “You’ve been summoned here to answer to a charge –”

The lawyer, Williams, stirred. “Not charged,” he said, “not formally charged.”

Wigginton heard him out impatiently, then said, “An informal charge then, of mutinous insubordination. We have a written complaint against you. It alleges,” he emphasized the word slightly with a conciliatory nod toward Williams, “that you wrongfully approved treatment without obtaining appropriate medical orders, and did so with full knowledge that there was a standing order specifically against this electro-neural therapy. This is a very serious charge. One that not only puts your license in jeopardy but also threatens Research. As I understand it, the patient has not regained consciousness since the treatment you administered.”

Gloria nodded. She’d checked on the patient, Debra Sandalescu, just prior to this meeting.

“That is unfortunate,” Wigginton continued. “If the patient or her family conclude that injury has been done, we shall be facing a lawsuit. That must be avoided at all costs, especially in light of Research’s present crisis.” He steepled his fingers together and looked over the tips of them at Gloria. “What have you to say?”

Gloria wet her lips and wished she wasn’t so tired. How could she think straight? She avoided looking at Nurbaugh. “Sir, I did what had to be done to preserve the patient’s life in the absence of her personal physician.”

“She was admitted to the Emergency Room, correct?”

Again, all Gloria could do was nod.

Wigginton laced his fingers together. “Ms. Tompkins, what is standard procedure when a patient is admitted to the emergency room?”

Cathy Tompkins gave Gloria a tight but apologetic smile then turned to the Administrator. “When a patient is admitted to the ER the unit clerk calls the patient’s personal physician while the admitting nurse takes vital signs and begins any stabilizing treatment that is necessary. And according to the records, these procedures were carried out.”

“I received no calls from Research last night,” Dr. Nurbaugh said haughtily. “Not from a unit clerk or anyone else.”

Gloria bit her lip to keep from shouting at him. Any outburst from her would only make things worse.

* * * *

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my Friday Fiction Sample: The White Hope. Your visits to my blog and your comments are appreciated so very much.

And the Answer is: Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet

I got tagged. Not once. Not twice, but three times! I am honored by my online friends. Now I HAVE to respond to the 11 Questions Game and the Lucky 7 Meme. And the answer is Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet.

I got tagged. Not once. Not twice, but three times! I am honored by my online friends. Now I HAVE to respond to the 11 Questions Game and the Lucky 7 Meme. And the answer is Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet.I’ve been watching the games of 11 Questions and the Lucky 7 Meme flying around the net lately and having great fun reading everyone’s posts. Being the shy type, I just lurked on those wonderful sites, kind of envious that they were having fun, but relieved I wasn’t tagged. Why relieved? Because I have a bunch of amazingly talented friends and worry that my words are pale compared to theirs. Then it happened.

The awesome Rachel Funk Heller tagged me for the 11 Questions game. Rachel writes mysteries and inspiring blog posts with fantastic metaphors. Be certain to visit her blog. You won’t regret it.

The rules for 11 Questions:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions on your blog. Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

So here are the questions Rachel asked, and my answers.

1. What is your favorite cruciferous vegetable?

Ok. First I had to look up what the heck cruciferous vegetables were. When I did I got a list: Arugula, Brussel sprouts, chard, daikon, mustard greens, turnips, bok choy, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kale, radishes, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, and rutabagas. What?! Are you kidding me? Those are vegetables? Ok. I admit having eaten fourteen of those. And in the right mood, I even liked most of them. But I’m more of a root vegetable girl, give me a sweet potato any time.

2. At what age did you realize Santa Claus, might not be real?

Noooo! Tell me it’s not so! I am a Christmas sap. Naysayers, go away–I will never believe you. Santa, I still believe in you and I always will!

3. Where is the worst place you have ever made whoopee?

Hmmm. Depends upon what you mean by ‘worst.’ And that’s all I’m saying about that. 🙂

4. What is your favorite rodent?

Generally, I keep as far away from rodents as possible. So this was another question I had to do a little research on. Did you know that rodents comprise 40% of all mammals and live on every continent except Antartica? There are more than 2,000 species! Wikipedia has a general information piece that I found interesting. There are all kinds of critters that are classified as rodents that I have had some acquaintance with. Some unfortunate. Some, I recall being quite fond of. So my favorite species of rodent are the cartoon chipmunks: Chip and Dale.
I got tagged. Not once. Not twice, but three times! I am honored by my online friends. Now I HAVE to respond to the 11 Questions Game and the Lucky 7 Meme. And the answer is Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet.
Go here for a sample of the cartoon.

5. List your five favorite letters of the alphabet.

REMWB – my DH’s and son’s initials, who else?

6. If you could be a Spice Girl, which one would you be?

So we’re talking Baby, Posh, Scary, and Ginger. I think I’d have to go with Ginger Spice, because of her hair color and the fact that she’s writing books for children.

7. If you were a superhero, what are your superhero name and your special power?

Oh, my gosh, I have to choose just one superpower? How? Let’s see . . . Speed? Then maybe I’d have a chance to get everything on my to-do list done. . . but would I be able to savor life if I just sped through it? Strength? No, I just don’t run into a whole lot of problems that would be solved by strength. Healing? Now that would be wonderful, except I’d never been able to touch everyone that needs the healing. . . Shape-shifting? Weather-controlling? Aw, man. There are so many to choose from!

I know! I want the power to be able to have whatever power I need at the moment. You can just call me, The All-Powerful Oz Ozette!

8. What is your Drag Queen name? Take the name of your first pet, and the name of the first street you lived on.

My first dog was a cocker spaniel we had when I was a toddler. His name was Buttons. The name of the first street I lived on is harder. I don’t know what that street name was. The first street name I remember living on was Montevideo. So, that makes my Drag Queen name, Buttons Montevideo. Kind of brings a character to mind, doesn’t it? Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

9. Boxers or Briefs?

Hmmm. I’m more interested in what’s inside of them! 🙂 Now, now. Get your mind out of the gutter! I meant the whole person – really, I did.

10. You’ve just made an embarrassing fast dash into an elevator car after you make it and the door closes, you are panting and out of breath, you look up and there is your favorite celebrity of all time: what do you say?

Um, believe it or not, something like this actually happened to me.

I was at a World Science Fiction convention in Atlanta. The convention hotel had an open atrium that was maybe 100 stories tall (okay, my acrophobia is showing – would you believe 30 stories?). Glass elevators overlooking the atrium ran up and down on three sides. There was no alternative except the stairs. And 20 some flights of steps were no joke. So I took the elevators and tried to pretend there were solid walls.

It was my first convention where I was a published author and a member of SFWA (the Science Fiction Writers of America). I knew there was a strong possibility that I’d meet famous authors, so I’d prepared.  I planned on saying hello, introducing myself as an author, complementing the famed one’s clothing or hair or making a cogent comment about something the famed one had said on the panel, and casually mention a title or two by that author.

Well, I thought I’d prepared.

One day running late for an event, I breathlessly catch the elevator and stand as far from the glass wall as possible. A man stands, in front of the glass, in his swim trunks with a towel draped around his neck. He reads my name badge that proudly displays, member SFWA on it. He reaches out to shake my hand and says, “Hi, Lynette. I’m Alan Dean Foster. Welcome to SFWA.” I don’t even know what I said. I probably sputtered something all fangirl and inane like, “Oh, thank you, so much! I just love all your books,” while inside I was screaming Alan Dean Foster knows this is my first year in SFWA – how does he know that – what do I say – oh, my gosh – he’s in his swim trunks – what do I say?  Great trunks?  Ack!  ALAN DEAN FOSTER – what do I say??? I only hope I wasn’t opening and closing my mouth like a fish blowing bubbles! In my next life, I want to be all refined and cool, able to quote memorable passages and say something divine and intelligent.

11. What is your favorite Halloween costume of all time?

This one’s hard! I’ve had some fun costumes, but I think my son’s first Halloween costume has to be my all time favorite. He was 8 months old, a chubby, happy baby in a little blue sweatsuit with a sweatband around his head and carrying a sweat sock (clean!) for treats. It will always be my favorite.

Thanks, Rachel Funk Heller, that was fun!

I tag:
Indy Quinlen
Reetta Raitanen
Lynn Kelley
Louise Behiel
Debra Kristi
Karen McFarland
Shannon Esposito
Diane Capri
Jennette Marie Powell
Samantha Warren
Prudence MacLeod

Here are your questions:

  1. 1. What book or series can you read over and over again without getting bored?
    2. What TV show character do you hate and why?
    3. If you were a superhero, what are your superhero name and your special power?
    4. What is your favorite earworm (a song that gets stuck in your head)?
    5. If you could be any character of the opposite sex in any story, who would you be and why?
    6. What was the worst job you’ve ever had and why?
    7. What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up?
    8. What mode of transportation (horse, automobile, bus, train, boat, airplane, space plane, etc.) would you never want to use and why?
    9. What job/occupation would you never want to try?
    10. If you could tweet a warning or encouragement to one person in history, what would you tweet to whom and why?
    11. Tell us about one thing on your bucket list.

You don’t have to be tagged to play. In fact, if you would answer one of these questions in the comments, I’d be delighted to get to know you better.

I got tagged. Not once. Not twice, but three times! I am honored by my online friends. Now I HAVE to respond to the 11 Questions Game and the Lucky 7 Meme. And the answer is Happy Rodents and a Lucky Snippet.

My dear friends, Pat O’Dea Rosin and Ginger Calem, tagged me for the Lucky Seven Meme. These two are mighty bloggers, too. Please visit their blogs. You’ll learn about Irish castles and a young girl’s donation to Locks of Love and a whole lot more. 

The rules for The Lucky 7 Meme:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
  4. Tag 7 authors, and let them know.

Ok, here’s my snippet from my WIP:

Paladina

“You go to Obelia to look for what? Because of the first client who was nearly killed, or for the mountain men, or for something else?”

Rena looked at Ahkim who smiled slightly and pretended an interest elsewhere. She leaned forward. “You and Jace are my family, Leandre, but I need answers.”

“What if the one you seek cannot be found?”

Rena glanced down at her hands resting on the table, then up, meeting Leandre’s look. “I must do this,” she said.

So that’s my snippet, I hope you enjoyed it. Now I tag the following authors:

Holly Messinger
Jan Gephardt
Karen McFarland
Indy Quinlen
Reetta Raitanen
Pat O’Dea Rosin
Louise Behiel

None of the folks I’ve tagged are obligated to play these games. You’re all busy authors, I know. But I’ll be tickled if you decide to join in the fun, and I know you’ll have fun, too.

Thanks to everyone who stops by and reads my blog. I appreciate your readership more than you know. And I so love it when you take the time to comment!