Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dear Working Stiffs

(Note from Annette--Please welcome my dear friend and debut author, Donnell Ann Bell, to Working Stiffs today. I've had the honor of being one of her critique buddies for several years and can vouch that her first novel, THE PAST CAME HUNTING is riveting and a true page-turner. I can also attest that Drake Maxwell is one creepy SOB.) 

Dear Working Stiffs: 

Sorry to bother you, but this is it.  I’ve finally snapped, and when I get this obsessed I contact my friend Annette.  I explained the situation to her, and she suggested I come to you.  She said and I quote:  Working Stiffs has a couch you can use.  (All right, maybe it wasn’t a direct quote… but close to it.)  So… if you wouldn’t mind, put on those funny reading glasses, get out your notepads and please diagnose my condition. 

I recently released my first published novel, THE PAST CAME HUNTING from Bell Bridge Books.  Now, it’s no secret I’m close to this book. I’ve spent a few years with it, after all.  I love my protagonist, a woman by the name of Melanie Norris who, because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong guy, she spent nine months in prison.  I also love my male protagonist, Lieutenant Joe Crandall.  He’s not the nicest guy in the beginning, but he grew on me, and I think maybe Annette even liked him in the end.  But this is my therapy session so we’ll ask her afterward and not before ;)

But here’s my problem and where you come in.  I despise my antagonist Drake Maxwell.  He’s one sociopathic, scary dude, and if Melanie was real and she could talk, she’d tell you there’s no reasoning with him. 

So imagine when he takes over my dreams, and I end up in the car with him and not Melanie.  Seriously, it’s me (the author) in the car with Drake Maxwell (my made up bad guy) and he and I are off to rob a convenience store.  Now by the time we get there, I’m deeply concerned.  I mean, shouldn’t I be able to delete him or something, the way I might erase a scene from my computer?

But nope, I’m not waking up.  I’m trapped, and for the record, I’ve read the book and I know what happens.  Melanie goes to prison.  No way, no how am I repeating… er… fiction.

I also have to complain about the lack of smooth transitions in this dream because the next thing I know, Drake and I are speeding away from the convenience store, and after that I’m playing bridge with my longtime friends.  I’m also not playing all that well.  I mean, could you play bridge very well if you’d just robbed a convenience store with A FICTIONAL CHARACTER?  But I digress.  The doorbell rings, I answer and it’s two uniformed police officers with a warrant for my arrest. 

Knowing the jig is up, I sigh, go to my typewriter (Yes, a TYPEWRITER--talk about a nightmare) and type out my confession. As the police lead me away, I wave goodbye to my husband who mumbles something about dinner, and then I wake up. 

So Working Stiffs, analyze that one.  Do you agree that I’ve snapped?  Have your characters ever taken over your dreams?  Even if you’re not board certified, I won’t hold that against you. After that dream, I’m certifiable enough for all of us.  Please tell me I’m not alone. Characters included or not, what was the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?  I’ll give away a copy of THE PAST CAME HUNTING to one commenter who at least makes an effort to restore my sanity. 

Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart finalist.  Her debut novel THE PAST CAME HUNTING was released by Bell Bridge Books on September 19th.  To learn more about Bell Bridge, check out or you can find her at


Ramona said...

Welcome, Donnell, and congratulations on the book! It's wonderful to have wonderful critique partners, isn't it?

I have had some weird dreams but never a character from a story in progress. I wonder if that means I'm not involved enough? Hmm. I'll bet a lot of authors dream their work.

Now about despising that Drake dude. He sounds like bad news, but after reading your dream, especially the part about being hauled off to jail and your husband MUMBLES SOMETHING ABOUT DINNER, I don't think it's Drake who'd make me lose my nut. But that's just me. :)

Annette said...

Good to have you here, Donnell. While I've never had a character from something I've written pop into my dreams, I have written stuff BASED on my dreams. BUT I think I can top you. I did have a character suddenly appear in the backseat of my car while I was driving so he could whisper in my ear what his purpose was in the book I was writing. I'd decided he wasn't really doing anything and was going to cut him from the story. He had to do SOMETHING to save his skin. And showing up in my car was his way of doing just that.

And that's a story I can only tell other writers for fear someone will send the men with the white coats after me.

Joyce said...

Glad to have you back here, Donnell!

I'd say I don't dream, but supposedly that's not true--I just don't remember any of them. So, I'm not much help, am I?

Jenna said...

I dream about my characters all the time. A lot of people do. Some people actually write their books based on their dreams, which - if you ask me - is a whole lot crazier than what you're doing, but to each their own, right?

Congrats on the release!

Donnell said...

Good morning, Working Stiffs, and, Annette, thanks for the nice welcome and calling my bad guy one creepy SOB :) I think so, too, at least Melanie does. But there were times when I worked on him, I actually related to him -- I think because I tried to get in his head. I know how actors feel now when they say... what's my motivation.

Ramona, I know you're involved enough in your work. Annette raves about you! (She's never mentioned she dreams about you, though.)

Ah, Joyce, putting on my own doctor glasses here and a Swiss accent... Exactly, my dear, why... don't you remember your dreams ;)

Gosh, Jenna, yep, I've had your kind of dream, which is why I keep a journal by my bed... But to take over the part of my character Melanie was completely out of the ordinary for me.

Thanks for the help, ya'll. Boy, I can't wait to see the size of this psychiatric bill :)

Susan M. Boyer said...

Donnell, I think this is a symptom of new-release-stress syndrom. :)

I don't think I dream about my characters. If I do, I don't remember the dreams.

Congratulations on the first of many releases!

Barbara White Daille said...

Donnell - this doesn't happen to me often, just once in a while.

But no, I don't think you've snapped--I thinks it's one of the hazards of being a writer.


Barbara White Daille said...

Oh, and forgot to say LOL at the typewriter/nightmare.


Donnell said...

Oh, Dr. Susan Boyer. Finally! A diagnosis. There may be help for me!

Yes, Barbara, I hope you'll come visit me in the institution, and yes, a typewriter. Sheesh!

Jamie Lee Scott said...

I wish I couldn't relate. And usually it's my most loathed character who slips into my dreams. Why on earth can't it be the hunky hero. But when writing my latest screenplay, I did get to spend my dream with a seriously flawed cop, who was a good guy.

Donnell said...

Wow, Jamie, hurray! I'm not alone. Your character has showed up in your dream? Cool. Well, not that it was the bad guy, but knowing I'm not off my proverbial rocker! Thanks for being brave and letting me know I'm not alone!

Mary Marvella said...

Interesting. My bad guys do hang while I'm writing about them. One told me he'd had enough and proceeded to tell me his backstory and why he wasn't really evil. He just wanted someone to love him.

Though he needed killing,I almost wanted him to escape and get help. Nah, I let him go out with the cops and the heroine shooting him.

Donnell said...

So there, Mary. :) How funny that he talked to you. I don't think I'd ever want to have a conversation with Drake Maxwell. Obviously I did in my dream, and what do I have for it? A typewriter Thanks!

Donnell said...

Thanks, Annette and Working Stiffs for letting me share my warped imagination with you! Happy Writing!

Dale Mayer said...

Hi Donnell,

Restore your sanity???? Not happening...I'm as crazy as you are. we can be nuts together!

And the best way to work your way back from the edge? Get lost in a new story. :P