Here’s the full prompt: An app mysteriously appears on my phone and does something amazing. What does it do?
The small box appeared on the home screen of my phone on a rainy, desolate Monday. What the hell? I didn’t download anything. Shit. What if it’s a virus? When I had time, I Googled the mysterious app to see if anything of note was available. Nothing. You’d think this would be viral–ha!–if it were malware.
So, I let it sit there for a few days until my curiosity got the best of me. It’s Thursday. If it janks up my phone, I’ll take it in to be reset…or, worst-case scenario, get that iPhone I’ve had my eye on. No big deal, right?
I’d arrived home from work and sat down at my computer. Nothing major going on in the world of Romancelandia. I’d plugged in my portable device so it’d be charged in the event the app FUBARed it.
Just do it. If it’s a virus and fucks up your phone, you get the iPhone. You want one, anyway. Go on. Tap the button. That inner voice chastised me until I unlocked the technology and scrutinized the small, blue square. It seemed like it had a background of moving clouds and it entranced me.
Tap. The. Button.
I sent my husband a text: So, the app that appeared on my phone? I’m going to open it. If you don’t hear from me, it fucked up my phone and I’m going to the store to get it fixed–or a new one. LOL.
A few minutes later, a reply came in: I knew you would open it. Love you.
He knew me so well.
I unplugged from the power source and settled on the couch. The letters W-L-T-W flashed in the blue box, now. Oh, what the hell.
Holding my phone in my left hand, the index finger of my right hovered over the button. Just a light touch–that’s all I needed to do–and then I’d be on my way to get that iPhone. Right?
So. I did it.
I tapped again, a little harder this time. Maybe my screen is screwed…new iPhone time! Nope. Nothing.
To make sure I hadn’t infected my phone with something, I sent a text to my husband. Tried the app. Nothing happened. Phone seems fine. Damn.
He sent back: LOL. No iPhone for you.
After moving the useless app to the trash, I went back to my desk. Open on the desktop was my current manuscript, all sorts of fucked up because I’d had a brainchild while I was writing. I needed to revise it back to the original plan–and fast. A deadline loomed, and I still needed to get the story to my editor.
I took a deep breath and started in on the edits. Again. I’d been working on them for several weeks, and still had to review more than half. I read the first line of chapter six. This isn’t what I originally wrote. I continued reading. None of this is what I originally wrote. What the fuck? I opened the file for chapter one. Where did the track changes go? This is not what I wrote, but it is what I intended. File after file, I opened the chapters of the book.
The planned plot was well-executed and the character development was better than what I normally wrote–that’s what my editor helped the most with. Who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? Even though I wondered when I’d actually created these files, I went with it. I compiled the final document and sent it off to my editor. I opened a new document and started to write the next story in the series, dismissing the state of the first.
Later that night, I typed The End on a full novel. The words had flown from my fingertips, and I followed the planned plot each step along the way. I saved the file in a million places before closing the document.
That was easy. I guess this whole pre-plotting thing works well. I never thought twice about the fact that I had typed 70,000 words in a matter of seven hours. Ten thousand words per hour. 167 words per minute–and that’s only if I hadn’t taken breaks, which I had.
The next day, I opened the file again. I’d planned to do some initial revision because there’s no way in hell I’d kept the timeline, developed the characters, and had an engaging plot. No. Fucking. Way. I was shocked when I read the first chapter. And then, the second. By the time I’d reached The End, I’d laughed, cried, and cheered on the couple on their way to their happily ever after. I looked back at the first chapter in disbelief. Yup. Those were my words. My language patterns. Even the typos were ones I’d typically make. I saved the file again, as I’d made some typo corrections as I read, and closed it–convinced I was in a coma and this was too good to be true.
Several hours later, back at my desk, I send the story to my beta readers. They’re not going to believe this, but hey. Whatever.
The next morning when I checked my email, my editor had sent back my manuscript. The body of her email said, “I don’t know what the fuck you did, but keep it up! Excellent work!”
Puzzled, I opened the attachment. Seriously. It wasn’t that good. My words appeared on the page and as I skimmed through the document, typo corrections and a few incidents of missed punctuation.
I sent an email back to my editor. “So, should I bother having this proofread?”
A few minutes later, my phone rang.
“No. You don’t need a proofread. That’s what I did,” my editor said.
I was silent, trying to process what she’d said.
“You there?” she asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m here. I just don’t understand,” I said. “I was doing revisions–I was on chapter six–and it fucking sucked. I’d gone off on a tangent because the characters decided that’s the way things should be, and I was trying to reconcile what I’d written with the original plot I’d outlined. Then, the day before I sent it to you, the changes were in the file.”
She sighed. “Did you Hemingway a round of self-edits or something? Get shit-faced and not remember doing the changes?”
I shook my head, even though she couldn’t see. “No. I didn’t–even though I really wanted to. Fuck, I’m not kidding. That story sucked ass.” I wondered whether I should tell her about the one I’d finished and had out with beta readers.
“I’m not sure what to tell you, except don’t mess with whatever you did,” she said.
Exasperated, I huffed out a breath. “I didn’t do anything.” And then, the confession tumbled out of my mouth. All of it. About the words magically changing, and the story I wrote in seven hours.
She didn’t say anything. Not for a long time.
Eventually, I spoke up. “Yeah. That was my reaction, too.”
“Shit, I’d write up as many as you can while you’re in the groove. Because what I just read? I had to actually go back because I was so wrapped up in the story–or you would’ve had it a day earlier,” she said.
We chatted for a few minutes before ending the call. I sat down at the computer again and pounded out another book. I finished the 80,000-word story in six hours, and when I checked email, both beta readers had sent feedback: Don’t. Change. A. Thing.
By day, I plotted new stories in my spare time. Under the cover of darkness, my fingers flew over the keyboard. I managed to complete twenty novels in a month’s time. Each week, I’d send my editor–who knew the truth–and my beta readers a new title and I stockpiled finished, ready-to-release novels in a file on my computer. And in my cloud. And on my external hard drive. And in the email account I’d set up just for sending myself files as backup. Two more months of the same happened, giving me a total of sixty full-length novels completed and ready to release into the wild.
How would I do it? How quickly should I let these titles go? Ah, to be a marketing master…
The mysterious app appeared on my phone three months after I’d originally gotten the balls to tap it the first time. I let the box filled with moving, wispy clouds sit on my home screen as I sat down to write the book I’d plotted earlier in the day.
The words wouldn’t come. I struggled with each letter I put on the page. Maybe it was the app…should I open it again?
Check out the magical app everyone else had appear on their phones: