Indie Author Answers #39: Plotting and Pantsing

It’s my birthday!!! Hooray for me.

Anyway, on to the show. Our tip this week is about the myth that plotting robs you of creativity. It doesn’t. Listen in the find out why.

And now, your TPV fix:


15: Megan


As she popped the trunk of her car to stow the laundry basket, an unusual sight gave Megan pause: a black Sedan parked across the street, a few houses down from hers. Strange because she had seen this car three times this week, with its deeply tinted windows and two little antennas poking out of the trunk. The antennas had caught her attention. An odd picture.

She drove to the Laundromat and lugged the basket of clothes from the car to the entrance. Each time she made this journey, she mentally kicked herself for not buying a washer and dryer for her own house. She had the hookups in her basement. Each trip here was a waste of money.

Short on clean clothes, she was wearing her plain grey sweats and a navy blue long-sleeve University of Colorado t-shirt with her black Columbia jacket and Ugg boots. No jewelry at all or fancy hairdo, either, just back in a ponytail. Not normally one to make too much fuss over appearance, she would have put forth a little more effort, were it not laundry day. As she pushed the basket against the door to open it, she entered to find Brian standing in front of the dryer sheet dispenser.

Figures. I have to run into him for the first time out in public when I’m wearing pajamas and almost no makeup.

At first, she just glided by him, with no intention of acknowledging his existence. Maybe she could quickly get her change, sneak off to a washer in the back, and continue reading her book. This meeting should be left to a better day.

While standing at the change machine, she realized she was being self-conscious, and it would not be such a tragedy to say hello to him. After all, they did have a class together and she chatted with random classmates all the time. For weeks now, she had watched him come in the class late, disheveled and frazzled in that inelegant and endearing way, and now she had the opportunity to meet this boy. A little flirting might just give her a nice attitude boost. What could it hurt?

Before she had a chance to decide on what she wanted to do, he appeared next to her, holding out his wallet. “Do you need some change? I don’t think that machine takes tens.”

She looked down at the bill in her hand, indeed a ten. She thought she had grabbed a five. “My hero,” she said.




A couple hours later, she arrived at home with clean laundry and a silly grin on her face. She acknowledged to herself that she had gone overboard, and perhaps even bordered on seduction. Once she got started, it became too much of a challenge to apply the brakes. The competitive part of her thought it possible to win at flirting: to get the upper hand and control the flavor of the conversation.

When she exited her car, she saw that she was not wearing her wedding ring. She wondered if he would have still approached, had she worn it. The sad truth was that the days when she did not wear it were more commonplace lately than days when she did wear it. She hardly even felt married anymore. The phone calls from Chris had grown more random and stressful, because he persistently brought up her tryst with Sigma Nu Clay, which usually spurred a new round of fighting. Other times, they had nothing to talk about because he spoke about his locations and activities with such tight lips as to make the conversations worthless. Like being married to a secret agent.

Agent Walker. Megan had not thought of that name nor been stung by that paranoia in at least a week or two. She noticed the absence of the black Sedan on her street, and made a connection between Walker and the car. A car with blacked-out windows and miniature antennas might not seem peculiar in everyday life, but given what she knew… she had no way of knowing exactly to whom that car belonged, or its purpose, but it spooked her just the same. The pleasant feeling she had from the laundromat faded.

Are they watching me, or watching my house?

In the house, she passed Wiles on her way to her bedroom. He was pacing the living room, furiously smoking a cigarette (which she used to forbid inside the house, but she had long since given up that fight) while talking on his phone. The conversation did not appear to be going well, because he gesticulated wildly and raised his voice at whoever was on the other end of the call.

She went to her room, dumped the clean clothes from the basket onto her bed, and began to fold them by type. With her door cracked, she could see Wiles make brief appearances through the opening every few seconds as he paced. She did not intend to snoop, but he talked so loudly she had no choice.

“I’ve been sitting on about two hundred elbows of green for a month. That’s not like yellow or white that I can just tuck away in a drawer somewhere. That’s a large amount of product taking up a large amount of space, and it’s just sitting there. No, it’s just not selling. I might as well be growing this shit, with as much real estate as it’s taking up. I’m out a lot of money until I can move this stuff.”

Elbows? Green? Is he talking about marijuana? What does he mean ‘sitting on’?

She edged closer to the door to eavesdrop. “Okay, you’re right,” he said. “No, Charlie’s done. He got picked up on a DUI in Denver last week. Even if he gets off on that, I can’t have him around anymore. He’ll have probation and piss tests and shit. I can’t have him close to me… no, I’ve got to get someone else out there. Me? I can’t hang out on the Hill all day, slinging quarter-bags… what do you want me to do?”

Wiles listened to whoever spoke on the other end of the phone. His pacing slowed, and he came to a stop with his back to Megan’s door.

“Okay, but if I do that, I’ll need someone else to help out Britton with selling dust.”

At this angle, she got a full view of him, which now gave her a clear look at the gun sticking out of his waistband. She gasped. And the weapon was not a trivial thing, like some pea-shooter revolver. The gun looked like one of those hand-cannons from the movies. The kind that could punch fist-sized holes in walls, or people.

What is going on here? What kind of gangster shit is Derek Wiles into? What kind of gangster shit is going on in my own house?

A million thoughts ran through Megan’s mind, but she did not have any time to process them all, because the next thing Wiles said snapped her back into reality.

“I need a little more time. I can fix this; I know I can. Actually, you know what? I got a guy, he’s another college kid. His name is Connelly. Brian. It just hit me, but thinking about it, it’s perfect. He’s just been selling green for a while, but I think I can get him to switch. I know how.”

Could he be talking about my Brian? Maybe it’s not him.

“Yeah, I could see that. I’m prepared for that. He did say no to me before, but I don’t think there’s gonna be any problem this time.” Wiles placed a hand on the butt of the pistol to reposition it in his waistband. “This guy Connelly is a natural. I’ll find a way to make it work. I don’t want you to worry about this because I’m going to make it right, and there won’t be any problems for you, I promise. I just got to talk to him… yeah, I know, I’ll take care of it. It’s not going to be a problem. We’ll try the carrot first, then the stick if I have to.”

Wiles then removed the pistol from his waistband, pointed at the floor with his finger on the trigger. “Yeah, I know,” he said as he walked out of Megan’s view. “I said don’t worry, I’ll make sure he’s onboard.”