Category Archives: Jace Killan

Jace lives in Arizona with his wife and five children. In addition to writing he enjoys music, photography, and anything outdoors. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Utah State University and is the Chief Financial Officer of a biotech company.

The Art of Miscommunication

A few years ago, at the family cabin, my wife chastised one of the kids for running past a wooden stake, topped with a pink ribbon.

“Get over here. The neighbors put up those stakes because they were tired of people going into their yard.”

This surprised me, as I knew my dad had surveyed the property in an effort to divide the lot. The stakes were commissioned by him, not the neighbor.

“Where’d you hear that?” I asked.

“Your mom.”

My mom hadn’t communicated with my dad about the survey. So my mom, in an effort to understand reality, assigned a narrative that made sense to her, along with a motive. She didn’t know about the stakes, so obviously it came from the neighbors who shared her border. But why would they do such a thing? Because they were sick and tired of her grandkids disturbing the pine needles on their property, obviously.

Had she just called the neighbors, or mentioned it to her husband, the miscommunication could have been avoided, instead the narrative she created was passed around to my wife, then my kids and i’m sure others in my extended family still think the neighbors are a bunch of pricks because of it.

Two parts in the example above, create and build tension.

  1. Using point of view, we can develop a perception of reality unique to our characters. The disparity between these perceptions are where we breed tension, with each character reacting according to their perception to a situation.
  2. Having our characters assign motive to others without understanding their perception of reality.

In Les Miserables, Fantine hates Jean Valjean because he fired her. He hadn’t, that was her perception. She was fired by a female supervisor who’d discovered her illegitimate child. The supervisor brought up the situation to Valjean, omitting some detail, and Valjean invited her to do what she thought best.

Later, after Fantine plummeted into poverty and sin, all for the noble cause of caring for her daughter, she confronts Valjean with anger, matching the hatred he must hold for her. Only, he doesn’t even know who she is and tries to help her as he would anyone in her situation. The tension explodes, becoming another inciting event for Valjean when he understands Fantine’s perception of reality, he’d fired her, his motive, he despised her for her sins. His perception of reality was quite different. Anyone could find redemption. She’d made a mistake and should hardly have to pay for it the rest of her life. In fact, God could use that mistake to bring about a wonderful miracle that was Cosette.

Later in the story of Valjean we find another miscommunication between Javert and Valjean. Javert expects to be shot for spying on the revolutionaries. Valjean volunteers to shoot Javert, not because he wanted to be free of the old prison guard, but because he wanted to save Javert’s life. This blew Javert’s mind and he vowed to continue to hunt Valjean down, which he does later, but when it comes time to arrest Valjean, his perception of reality has changed so drastically, he chooses to not live in his newfound reality and kills himself after letting Valjean go.

As a reader we can bask in the tension created by conflicting perceptions of realities from two or more characters that we’ve come to know through their point of views.

Jace KillanI live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I hold an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page and learn more at www.jacekillan.com.

A Passing Therapist

30484017-368-k42724“Martin,” I hear the voice say. “Martin.”

I raise my head from the desk.

“I’m here to help.” A man stands in my office doorway, but with my lights, off he’s just a backlit silhouette, his face shrouded in shadow.

“I came as quick as I could,” he says.

“Come in.” I blink hard to dismiss the blur in my eyes. “Turn on the light?”

With a flash my vision returns. I squint, allowing my eyes to adjust to the brightness. I see an older gentleman, dressed in a brilliant white suit.

“Please, take a seat,” I say.

He does.

He’s a slender man with glasses and a trimmed mustache; the only indication of his age is his grey hair. He tilts his head back and looks down his nose at me in an uncomfortable stare.

“What’s with the outfit?” I ask, trying to lighten the mood.

He offers a slight smile. “I just came from a funeral for one of my clients, a sweet gal—decided to take her life.” He shook his head unapprovingly.

“Aren’t you supposed to wear black to a funeral?”

“Most do.” He leans forward in his chair. “Well let’s get down to business, Martin. Tell me what’s troubling you?”

As if by command, I shift my gaze from his face to the papers on my mahogany desk. “What do you mean?”

“Obviously, something is bothering you. As a therapist, it’s my job to help with this sort of thing. Have you been depressed?”

I slouch in my chair, the leather’s high-pitch moan expressing resistance. “I guess so.”

“Good. Honesty is the first step, you know. Have you been stressed?”

Many thoughts are muddled in my mind; I try to dissect them, isolate them, but as I do they fade away. I look around my office at the stacks of files in disarray, strewn across my desk and on the floor. In the corner lay a hoard of fast-food wrappers, mingled with junk mail and empty beer cans—traces of my discretions discarded—or collected.

“Yeah. I’ve been stressed,” I admit.

“About what?”

“It’s this damn lawsuit.” Emotion swells in my gut. My jaw clenches and I look at the ground, at anything but him.

“Go on.”

“It’s not my fault,” I say, louder than I expected. “I was cheated, but I’m the one being sued. I’m on the hook for everything—for nothing.” My voice cracks a little.

“I’m not following you.”

I stand from my seat and slam my fist onto a stack of papers. “I didn’t do anything wrong, but they’re taking everything away from me.” In a burst of rage I fling the stack on my desk, scattering documents across the room, a blanket of white covering the office floor.

He looks away, ignoring my action. He waits a moment before returning his gaze into my eyes. “What do you mean by everything?”

“Everything, you moron. I’ve lost the house, the cars, the boat, the land, the business.” I raise a finger each time I name a possession. “I lost everything.”

“So now you have nothing?”

“Are you patronizing me?” I sit down and cross my arms.

“What about your family?”

I think for a moment, trying to summon their image from the back of my mind but it doesn’t come.

He points to a picture on the wall. “Where’s your wife?”

As I stare at the photograph, a longing grows within me. A youthful man embraces a pretty woman, sitting on a park bench, surrounded by fall foliage, while two small children smile and a dog sits guard. That isn’t me. Not anymore.

The therapist persists like a conscience, “where are your son and daughter?”

They’re usually in the house playing, being loud and bothering me but I hear nothing. I’ve been so busy, so engrossed in my task; for a moment I’ve forgotten. I focus on the faces in the photograph and I remember. “They’re out of town with my sister.”

“Did you lose them?”

“I just told you that they’re out of town with my sister?”

“I’m only referring to what you said about losing everything. Did you lose your family too?” He sits in his chair, almost expressionless, too calm, too peaceful, looking down on me, judging me.

“I don’t know, maybe.”

I wait for a reply but there is nothing, only silence—no sound of breathing, no clock ticking. I look at the timepiece; it is still. Batteries must’ve died. The therapist remains silent. I have to fill the void with something, anything.

“Cathy and I have been struggling for awhile now. It’s this lawsuit. It’s destroyed us; it’s destroyed me.” There. An admission, maybe he’ll ease up.

But he doesn’t. His eyes continue to peer, to condemn. So I let it out. “Okay. I’ve probably lost all of them, is that what you want to hear? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t care. She was probably only in it for the money and that’s all gone. And the kids never liked me anyways.” It’s his turn to talk.

“It sounds to me like you’re saddened because of your loss of everything, but everything to you means everything material. It appears you’re trying to minimize the pain of what you’ve really lost.”

“Now you’re not making sense.” I cross my arms.

“Perhaps not.” He leans forward in his chair, looking–peering–into my soul. “So what are you going to do about the depression?”

“Do? What can I do? Aren’t you here to help me? Give me some pills, some advice. Tell me what to do.”

“I don’t prescribe medicine. I’m only here to help you realize as gently as possible.”

“Realize what?” I ask but I don’t mean to. I’m not sure why I continue to play his games.

“You’ve lost everything.”

“I know!” I stand, slamming both hands down hard on the desktop. “Haven’t you been listening to me?”

He doesn’t flinch. “You’ve lost Cathy.”

It hits me like cold water. He’s not really a therapist. He’s here for something else.

“Are you her attorney? Does she want a divorce?”

“Martin, I’m a therapist but not the kind you might think. Cathy’s thought about a divorce, but that doesn’t really matter now.” His gaze shifts away from mine for the first time since we’ve been talking. He’s looking at my desk.

“Why?” I ask. “Because of the lawsuit? Am I going to prison? Are you with the FBI?”

He shakes his head, seemingly surprised with the inquisition. “Unfortunately Martin, your depression will be your prison.”

“If you’re really a therapist, then help me. Please, help me.” The emotion in my voice surprises me. I struggle to hold back tears. He was right. My depression has me bound.

“I’m trying to help you, son.” His eyes look at my desk again. I follow his gaze, looking at my side. Turning my head a little, wiping the tears from my eyes, I see a pistol resting on the desk. I look back at the therapist who offers a soft smile as he nods his head.

“You want to know what I’m going to do about my depression? Maybe I should kill myself and break free from the prison.” I reach for the gun, its handle moist. I look at my hand covered in blood and notice the crimson puddle on my desk, spilling onto the floor.

“Martin,” he says, “I’m trying to help you realize that you already did.”

Jace KillanI live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I hold an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page and learn more at www.jacekillan.com.

Back it Up

gibberishA few months ago, the fam had gone out of town, which meant I could get some serious writing done. I was zipping along when all of the sudden my words turned to what you see to the left.

I closed it down, opened it back up and nothing changed. Frantic, I called my IT guy and he walked me through a few things to try—still no good. I sent it to a couple other folks, tried a slew of suggested remedies, but nothing worked—It was gone.

Turns out the last time I had saved the file was about a month earlier. Also turns out I’d been really rocking on this project for the last month and so my previous version looked about 150 pages shy.

“Jesus Saves. You Should Too.”

I received this advice from a friend. He was right. It would have taken just a couple seconds to save the file—essentially sparing me a month’s worth of rework. I write on a laptop, so I never really shut down the computer. I did save it. I saved it often. But I never made a backup copy. I just saved on top of the old version making a new one.

I’m told that the file had grown so large (to about 4MB) that Word couldn’t handle it and wigged out and this had something to do with RAM.

Word sucks by the way, but it is part of my writing process. I haven’t been able to make Scrivener part of my process yet.

So now I save. I save everyday. Multiple times a day. In multiple versions. I saved a file today with 916 at the end, indicating to me that it is the version done in September 2016. I put a letter after 916 so I can go right on through the alphabet with different versions.

Now while this was extremely painful, and many of you probably winced at the thought, let me assure you that I got through it. After a night of depression, I awoke, determined to redo it. I spent the next two days writing. In the end, I caught up to where I was before my misfortune.

The new version was shorter by about 20 pages. And it was better. Only by the time I finished, I was spent on the project and my pantser mind went on to other things. I have yet to circle back to finish the dang thing.

Moral of the story:

  1. Safe often. Save in different names and locations. Email it. Flash drive it. Google Drive it.
  2. A rewrite can be a good thing.

Jace KillanI live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I hold an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page and learn more at www.jacekillan.com.

A few double nickels

Memo

Wear your ears. We can’t stress this enough. Yes they’re uncomfortable, but necessary. No, don’t just put a hat on—people will notice. And if people notice, that could be the end of our operation. Not to mention that we’ve spent good money acquiring those ears. So wear them proud as the earthlings do. – Management.

Like Mom Used to Make

The day is drab, confining me indoors with my paper and a warm, delicious bowl of soup. After a few minutes I toss the paper—it too is drab. Oh, but the soup is wonderful. I’ve had a hankering to taste mom’s recipe for a while now. I fish out my favorite bite—the eyeball.

Tumor

It’s just a bump, a lump rather—a benign fatty mass. That’s what the nurse said. But it itches sometimes. Problem is I can’t scratch it, it being on my back.

I rub it on the door jamb, satisfying and then suddenly painful. I lift my shirt and situate a mirror. It’s sprouted a nose.

 

Jace KillanI live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I hold an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page and learn more at www.jacekillan.com.