Chapter 1 the rules
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One rule for a ghost
#1 Be as invisible as possible, as much as possible,
as long as possible. When visible, disappear ASAP.
Two rules for cats
#1 you don’t own cats, they own you
#2 cats will find you
Three Rules for daily life
#1 Get up in the morning and breath in and out all day long
#2 Do not dwell on the past or your pain, you did not die that week
#3 Pretend to be the person ‘they’ expect until you can be invisible again.
Four Rules for surviving
#1 Always have your tools.
#2 Always have a plan, another plan, and an exit strategy.
#3 Always expect the worst, prepare for the worst, and pray for the best.
#4 You are the only one who will save yourself... Never quit trying.
Five Rules for Ghostwriting
#1 Read everything your writer ever wrote first.
#2 Authenticity comes from doing your own research, know the details.
#3 Think in their voice for the duration of the ‘read’, you are just a magic pencil.
#4 Write everything in their voice as if you are ‘reading’ from one of their works.
#5 Remember : You are not the writer, You are just another reader.
How to build and break a genius...
Anneliese ‘Annie’ Grace Winters-Dove is a ghostwriter, however, she prefers the term ghost-reader. As part of her ‘socialization therapy’, she began teaching summer classes. Her therapist said she needed to interact with real people; young people, people who still had hope, people her age, people who hadn’t lost everything in a week, people who hadn’t become a monster, people who didn’t live as a ghost. He also said that someday she would feel warm again. She thought he was a liar, she still does.
Growing up a military brat, she could blend in anywhere, but she was painfully shy to be herself. Even at a very young age, she found herself being who the people around her wanted or expected her to be. It was just easier that way, but she was her parents’ daughter. Her daddy, James Dove, was an Air Force Colonel and her personal flight instructor. She had soloed her first plane at 8 and her first helicopter at 9. He was a curious soul and loved research, but ended up doing a lot of things “off the books” before retiring. President Bush himself, had said it was a sad day when they ‘let him go’.
Her mother, Dr. Basha Winters, was a physicist, psychologist, and philanthropist, three Ps that shouldn’t blend, but in Annie’s mom, they did. Basha worked mostly in experimental energy research, when she wasn’t hosting children from war affected areas of the middle east. She wanted to be a light in the world. Basha’s parents, Annie’s grandparents, were a Jewish-Muslim couple. They were killed when Basha was just two years old. She was adopted by Rabbi Winters and his Catholic wife, Elise. Raised by a Messianic Jew and a Catholic, Basha grew up to be a person of great faith as well as a scientist. Curious about her roots, Basha had return to visit both her Jewish and Muslim grandparents in high school, and again, when Annie was 12 and 14, because she believed every child should know where they came from. She wanted Annie to have what she had; a broader world view tempered by unconditional love.
Annie was the perfect blend of James and Basha. Tenacious and tough, but generous and gentle. Born with an eidetic memory, she had started off as a child protege in astronomy, mathematics, and linguistics at 5, then went to Rice University at 15, and everyone thought she was headed to NASA or JPL. But that was only until 9/11, then she was tapped for her other more unique gifts by the government. While still in college, she did things others only watched in movies or read in spy novels. And Annie loved every minute of it. She was so good at physics, astronomy , and statistics, she PhD’d at 19. But she was better profiling, mixing statistical probability with psychology. It was all about the grand puzzle for Annie.
Because Annie also loved helping people, she couldn’t resist someone in need. She just wanted the world to be a better place, one person or one event at a time as her mother taught her. A belief she put into her work, it made her harder working than most. Brown hair and eyes, 5′ 5″, medium build, without makeup, she was pretty, but not pretty enough to be remembered. Her handler had used the term invisible when referring to her appearance in a crowd. It had made her an excellent asset in the field, working in many countries.
Her eidetic memory also allowed Annie to remember everything anyone ever said around her regardless of the language, and whether she spoke the language yet or not. However, her youthful enthusiasm left her vulnerable, she understood evil but ignored it to believe in the best of people, like her mother always had. Her talent with the grand puzzles is why the NSA chose her, her innocence is why HE chose her. It had been a grand adventure until a few days before Christmas and her 22nd birthday, that was the week everything in her world changed, the week her life stopped and she became a true ghost.
One year later she was a reclusive ghostwriter doing every kind of espionage-involved mystery-type novel she had time to ‘read’, and she enjoyed her new life as much as she could for a person with crippling anxiety. Ghostwriting was the most natural thing in the world for Annie to do as a job when she could no longer be around people for more than an hour or two a day. As a natural mimic herself, she could intuitively see what the authors needed their characters to be in any plot situation. Translating fiction into reality was what made her so good at her previous job as an NSA field analyst until that Christmas week.
Ghostwriting Rule # 3 : Do all your own research... and she already had.
After three years as a ghostwriter, Annie taught a Novel Writing Class at a local community college first, and later Novel Writing and Ghostwriting Classes across the country for the National Novelist Guild. But due to her particular condition, she never stayed in one place more than a session. Annie taught her students that as ghostwriters they should just be magical pencils. They were an extensions of their clients’ creativity, reading their thoughts and putting them on to paper in their client’s voice. If they followed the rules she created, she assured them, they should do fine. If only she stuck to her own rules...
A Ghostwriter underground...
Annie was sitting on the bed typing rapidly, she only had a few days left to get the current draft done for her new client. She was excited, in a two week binge before they met, she had read everything the man had written in his 40 plus year career. He was one of her late daddy’s favorite authors and she wanted to make her late father proud. The author’s current ghost writer was a nightmare. Her publisher, Sharon, had actually recommended Annie to his publisher, Walter, after an industry luncheon in which the beleaguered man and his chief editor had ranted for an hour about the miserable state of the new book and the delays and problems with the new ghost writer or’professional writing assistant’, as the incompetent man insisted on being called. The ‘writing assistant’ had the book months behind the publishing deadline and it would not even be out for Christmas season.
They were desperately hoping for a New Year release, but the publisher was despairing even that was impossible. The author and editor were demanding he be fired, but the contract was flawed and all the publishing company could do was wait to reassign him, once the book was published. It would be the worst book in a 40 year collection of works. However, there was a loophole, if another ghostwriter from an outside publisher re-wrote the entire book and got it published before the New Years Deadline, then they could pay his fees and be free of the saboteur and the contract would be voided. Walt had begged the favor from Sharon, so she had called Annie who had just finished a modern western and forensic mystery.
Annie had flown to Colorado from Lake Fork, Texas and spent an afternoon cruising through the Rockies in one of her new client’s classic cars. Autumn had run late and mild in the Rockies this year. Warm November sunshine brought the promise of December snows. As former NSA, Annie had been sent to offices all over the world to analyze and solve problems post 9/11, and actually Annie knew several of the same people as her new client. Some people’s habits were singular, and without dropping a single name, they had discovered just how overlapped their associates were. For example, how many basque ex-patriots, ruined a perfectly good espresso by putting a drop of clove oil in it or dipped his cigars in clove oil, only one. It was truly a small world they lived in. Both had cringed as they had laughed about it over coffees, watching the traffic and golden aspens.
Under the clapping golden flags of fall, Annie learned why he was gun shy about taking on a new ghost writer. His late son had been the best co-writer he’d had. His son’s surprise death from a heart attack had deeply hurt the author who has stopped publishing for over a year. This work was to be his return to the public. But the ghostwriter assigned to assist the elderly novelist was the most unprofessional Annie had ever heard of; constantly arguing the plot, and even altering the story to suit himself against the author’s wishes.
Pops, as he insisted she call him, was bitter and frustrated, so he’s had given her one week only to impress him, for their old acquaintances’ sake. She listened to his recorded words and read his shakily scribbled notes for three key chapters and then amazed him. It was like his son’s ghost had come to help him in the form of the petite doe-eyed woman. She had also sent a copy of the chapters to their mutual publisher friends. Sharon and Walt had beamed and said the work read as totally authentic. The editor was over the moon to have Annie on board and begged for a promise to meet the New Years release date. Annie just smiled at them over Skye and told them she was only writing the words between Pop’s ideas in his voice. The next day, Sharon booked a long-term hotel in the outskirts of Denver, Annie settled in, and began to ‘read’ the new novel into existence.
Rule #1 for a ghost: Be as invisible as possible.
A month later, Annie had almost finished ‘reading’ his latest novel into existence as she thought of her work. She loved being his magic pencil. It was an amazing concept and would be one of his best novels to date. Annie had easily recognized the inconsistencies the previous ghostwriter had inserted in as an attempt to discredit the aging author. She knew exactly who the other ghostwriter was after the third chapter, so she tossed his entire copy and started fresh.
The ghostwriter, or ‘professional writer’s assistant’ fancied himself the next Clancy or Cussler... He wasn’t. They both had taken turns teaching college courses for the National Novelist’s Guild and had crossed paths too many times in the last four years for her not to recognize his style. She did it for the students, he did it for the co-eds. She wanted to slap the thirty-ish boy-man and tell him to go back to writing sports porn for men’s adult magazines or get a steady girlfriend or both.
Once, she had actually wished he would drive his Kawasaki under a truck after overhearing his latest conquest crying in the women’s lavatory. Ms. Dove, as her students called her, taken the distraught girl to the course advisers and insisted the girl to be transferred into her class from his. She had also warned the faculty adviser about his taste for young co-eds. When they didn’t listen, Annie anonymously left a note on all student dating boards about his philandering past, and then prayed for nothing worse to happen. However, later that summer, two different girls had a screaming match outside his evening class, this time involving the police. The university discovered he had had ‘inappropriate contact’ with more than half his female students and he was dismissed for the remainder of the summer session. Annie had told the Novelist Guild representative she would no longer teach on the same campus as him and why. She had no tolerance for predatory men and that began her real problems with him.
Edward had confronted her at the next convention during the volunteer teacher coordination meeting. He had yelled at her that she was a know-it-all busy-body, and she had calmly recited the schools and numbers of students he had seduced, before calling him a rapist and predator in front of a hundred of their fellow writers/teachers. The meeting had gone into lock-down and over the next 2 hours, over a dozen other writers admitted having the same experience teaching on other campuses with him. The guild president had no choice but to dismiss him from his teaching duties and from the novelist guild for violating their code of ethics. It had ruined him and Annie had shown no regrets as she boldly faced him down with the truth and consequences of his selfish actions in front of their peers.
No one from the writer’s guild knew that she had thrown up from the stress after she got back to her hotel room or that she had gone home to Texas and locked herself in her house for a solid month, suffering a relapse of her PTSD-related agoraphobia. A former friend of hers from the NSA had visited the man and ‘politely informed’ him that if he did not cease to threaten her, he would find himself in a Central American prison with no passport. The phone calls and email threats had stopped the next day and she had not seen or heard from or of him until now.
Working rapidly as she could, she hoped she had prevented the damage he had tried to cause to a great writer’s reputation and legacy. It was almost like making the book the best it could be was as much for the man’s sex victims as it was for the author. It felt like revenge as she wrote the story to the potential of the author’s notes and words. She had told Sharon and Walt to leave her name out of contracts. She was doing it for personal reasons, not the money, and she told Walt to send her check to a Support Hotline for Victims of Sexual Assault. She knew as soon as the bastard read it, he would know which other ghostwriter had replaced him. She hoped he choked on his worthless word vomit!
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