Friday, August 29, 2008


I'm kicking around ideas for important secondary characters right now. I've pretty much schmoozed two, but that's mostly because I really liked them in my first draft, and I know them.

Why are sidekicks important? Where would Andy be without Barney? Where would Matt Dillon be without Festus? Holmes without Watson? Snoopy without Charlie Brown, or in this case, Woodstock? Pancakes without syrup? French fries without ketchup? (I need to start dinner.)

Sidekicks, or "heroes helpers", add a bit of sparkle to the story. They have the ability to be interesting without lording their importance—making it unnecessary for my reader to know them as intimately as they know my protags. And sidekicks can shed a little more light on . . . well, just about anything I want them shed it on.

The thing is, this newly morphed book of mine (we've gone from Broken Bones as a working title to Rough Waters) has co-protagonists. A husband and wife. No, this is not a cozy, (wink-wink). I felt the need to make Bond at least as strong as her husband, Chase. So now that she is, she needs her own amazing sidekick. It's a good thing I enjoy developing new characters, isn't it?

This explains my current writer's block (along with an incredibly busy week filled with a lot of "have tos"). Thanks to writing this post today, I have a pretty good idea where I need to spend the next few hours.

You guys are amazing!

Still reading Booked to Die.

And you know what I'll be working on.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reading Spots

This is a light question. But when I thought about it, it brought things to light.

I love getting little glimpses into other peoples homes. Especially those people who've become my friends online. I don't know what my pictures might tell you, but I'll bet you'll see a thing or two that will add to your impression of Peg Brantley.

I just hope you don't barf.

I meandered around my house this afternoon taking pictures of places where I read. The sofa near my desk (fiction), the chaise outside my work area (fiction and non-fiction), the sectional in front of the television in my work area (non-fiction), family room sofa (fiction and non-fiction), and on and on.

The kitchen table can host fiction and non-fiction. Isn't it kind of weird that I read certain things in certain places? I will also review important documents here, and the holidays usually find me addressing Christmas cards on a catch-as-catch-can basis at this table.

George and I sit on these chaise lounges and read. Okay, not year-round (we live in Colorado), but from April (with an afghan) until October (with an afghan). If I'm eating lunch out on this deck, I'm at the table with a book propped open while the fork is going from plate to mouth. Both of these places are predominantly fiction, but the table has encountered non-fiction at other times of the day. Non-fiction for lunch? Not me.

Our courtyard area in the front of our home hosts fiction, non-fiction, and newspapers (for George). My favorite time of day in this reading spot during the hot summer months is afternoon when the shade outdoes the sun.

The living room sofa gets used by each of us at different times. For me, it's definitely a spot for fiction. George has been known to curl up with pillows in the corner window (he's part cat) and the love seat (just off camera to the right) sort of works, but isn't something either one of us can stretch out on. The great thing about this long sofa is that it is also a sweet place for a little slumber.

Speaking of slumber. Everything fiction. Not sure if you can make things out at all on my nightstand, but there's a journal with my next three books to read under it. Right next to my side of the bed is the "current" book. On the opposite wall is a small bookcase loaded with books in my TBR pile. Some of them have been there for years. {sigh}

And finally, the designated Reading Room (fiction and non-fiction). Before we created this room, if one of us became restless during the night, our best option was the guest room. Now, this little getaway is just down the hall. No television, no computer (although my laptop has made an appearance), no telephone, and at one time, no radio (George snuck in that bit of contraband when I wasn't looking and I don't have the heart to make him take it out. It's hidden.) There is a little clock so we can continue to be fairly responsible, but that's the only concession to anything other than the joy of reading.

Here's something weird . . . no fiction at my desk. Very little non-fiction. My desk is mostly work. My writing and perhaps some critiquing. Emails . . .

Oh yeah, and blogging.

Still reading (in fiction spots) Booked to Die.

It's all better with friends.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Death Gifts

The biggest gift we can leave a loved one is our belief in an afterlife. The belief in God settles to our core and makes it easier to go on. It's precious and nothing else comes close.

There's more, though. In the last few months, my sister and I have had to second-guess, and investigate, and dig through papers and . . . well, it's not been anywhere near clear—especially when we're doing it through tears.

We thought our mom was organized. And in comparison, she may have been.

But, oy.

This brief post is to bring your attention to a little book that could make the difference between anguish over your loss for a loved one (or their's for you), and a devastating search that with a few words could have been avoided.

Consider purchasing, for yourself and your loved ones, a book called In the Checklist of Life by Lynn McPhelimy.

And then, most importantly, take the time to fill it out. It could make the world of difference for those who are left to pick up the pieces, and pick up their lives.

Currently reading: Booked to Die by John Dunning.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weaving 101

In Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, Donald Maass has an exercise called Weaving Plot Layers Together.

His exercise tells you to get a single sheet of paper and make three columns. The first one lists all of your characters, the second are all of the things that happen to them, the "narrative threads." This would include their problems, plot layers, subplots, questions that need to be answered, that kind of thing. The third column is a list of your major scene settings.

The exercise, using simple circles and lines randomly drawn on the paper, is designed to help me see more connections between characters and story lines and scenes. I confess the first time I attempted this exercise I lacked any kind of random flare. I didn't let myself go. I was being Data when I should've been Obi-Wan Kenobi.

There is, however, something I want to try. I think all of the circles and lines might make my head hurt, so I want to use 3 x 5 cards. Maybe even shuffle them and see what happens.

Debra Dixon makes a similar comment in her book, GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict when she points out "Each motivation impacts the other. Each goal impacts the other. Whether you paint the relationship between multiple goals with a broad stroke or with subtlety, the result is worth the effort. You'll have a more complex book and a more satisfying read."

Of course, she's talking about an individual character's GMC elements. But I can see where those also play into the subplots and other narrative lines, cross-connecting my characters to create an intriguing tapestry.

Currently reading: The Sign of the Book by John Dunning. My first of his, and I'm liking it quite well.

Obviously, still working my way through Breakout and GMC.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book Review: THE FAITH OF BARACK OBAMA by Stephen Mansfield

Without a doubt, this election stands far and above any presidential election I've witnessed. Beyond politics, it's galvanized discussions in our country about race and religion.

I thought about waiting to post this review until my husband had a chance to read the book as well. Not that his perspective will be different from mine, but it's sure to be deeper.

However, I'm not reviewing perspective, or politics, or religion. I'm reviewing a book. Since, like most people, I bring my emotions and views with me wherever I go, trying to look at this book objectively was difficult at times.

Faith in American politics has seldom taken the stage like it's taking now. Rumors and misconceptions abound about Obama and his faith, and Stephen Mansfield works hard to get as close to the truth as possible given that he isn't, from what I can tell, a confidante of the man.

For the most part, Mansfield succeeds in his goal to present a balanced, insightful view of this Senator from Illinois who has become a household name in a few short years. Unfortunately, I sensed some subtle but decided shading in the portrayal of some of the differences between Obama and McCain.

If you're interested in getting some glimpses into the experiences that may have helped form Barack Obama and his Christian faith, from someone who I believe is really trying to provide an honest portrayal, you need to read The Faith of Barack Obama.

Discussion and discourse about the future of our country, particularly as faith propels the dynamics of change, are welcome and healthy in our society. This book will be a wonderful starting place for those discussions because it's thoughtful and
as balanced as any I've ever read on the subject.


About to start reading: The Sign of the Book by John Dunning.

It's all better with friends.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cliff Hangers

I'm so excited. I just left my male protag hanging on a cliff. Literally. In the middle of a storm.

Ya gotta love it.

What I'm floundering with right now is how to pick up the simultaneous scene at the key moment—and well, what is that key moment. One of the best pieces of advice any author can follow is to come into a scene late and leave early. It keeps the action taut and the pace strong. Obviously this is a key to a suspense novelist.

I'm tempted to just go ahead and write the thing, and then go on a word-whacking expedition. But I'd really rather not. I've whacked enough lately. I believe that if I put enough thought into it (with my internal editor whacking away) I can come upon the most amazing entry spot. Better than tears. Better than anger.

I'm thinking fear. Gut-wrenching and visceral. The core.

Then the question is . . . whose point of view? The rule of thumb is that the POV belongs to the person who, for that scene, has the most to lose. My nature is to test "rules of thumb" so my mental Olympics have popped into high gear. And the medal goes to . . . the Rule of Thumb. It means initiating yet another POV, but it will create such an intensity that the scene will practically write itself.

Leave the scene early (Chase is in trouble).

Come into a scene late (Angela isn't wondering if she's being stalked . . . she knows it).

Who has the most to lose? (While Bond, as the mother, could be justified as the POV character, it is, after all, Angela's life that's being threatened—so Angela it is.)

Currently reading: The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Briefing Rooms to Legal Briefs

This is the briefing room. Each shift meets here for about ten minutes to cover new information.

Hierarchy exits here as anywhere else. Rookies sit up front while the officers who have been around the longest hang out at the back of the room. I can picture it, can't you? Pity the new recruit who didn't get the memo. Ouch.

Crime Lab
From fingerprint analysis, to computer forensics, to photo enhancement, the people who work in the crime lab can make very little, in terms of evidence, go a very long way. The Lakewood crime lab handles just about everything short of DNA, which goes to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The CBI is almost within shouting distance and that makes it very convenient.

Moving from patrol to investigations means your days are far less regimented. Whatever else is required of you during the day, interviews, court appearances, carting around civilians who are writing books, you still need to get your work done. Flexibility and discipline are as much keywords for this segment of law enforcement as they are for writers. Detectives Michelle Wagner and Michelle Current knew they needed to go to the DA's office that day. They didn't know they'd be spending the morning with a bloodhound.

For the curious, Detective Wagner's case involves a stalker, Detective Current's case, an assault.

The District Attorney's office has an Intake area. This is where detectives meet with attorneys to determine whether or not they have a case, and if so, what charges need to be filed. In most instances, the detectives and attorneys agree. If they don't, and the detective has strong feelings about either upping the charges or lowering them, he or she will plead their case. Together, they work to make sure all of the possible angles are covered—and then some.

Random Thoughts

Personalities come into play as much, or more, in law enforcement as anywhere else. Officers, detectives, investigators, attorneys, judges . . . all of them have to figure out a way to work together and do their jobs, even if they clash.

If your name is Michelle and you want to be a detective in Major Crimes, try and get on board in Lakewood. They have three Michelle's that I could count.

When I was riding in the car with Detectives Current and Wagner, I was amazed to see the details they noticed. Or rather, to miss the details they noticed. Years of training and keen awareness made even a drive down a city street very different than for the normal Joe.

Whenever my dad sees a cop in uniform, he makes a point of trying to personally thank them. They get up every day and put on clothes that to some, make them a target, but they do it anyway. Their presence, and willingness to risk their lives for me is what allows me to live the kind of life I choose. One where I don't have to always look over my shoulder, or feel I need to seek justice on my own.

My thanks and deep appreciation to the people who allowed me to share a part of their day with them. My goal was to get a feel for people and place, and try and pick up a couple of details. If I've made any errors in this series of posts, rest assured they are entirely my own, and not the fault of anyone with whom I spent time.

You also have my thanks and deep appreciation for the jobs you do.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cop Walks

This handsome fellow is Detective Sergeant Creighton Bates. He heads up the Major Crimes/Domestic Violence Unit. I hate to embarrass him, but he is as close to my male protagonist, Chase Waters, as a guy is gonna get. In fact, one of my critique partners just couldn't believe he was a Creighton and not a Chase. What can I say? I wrote him well.

Sergeant Bates is demonstrating his preferred interview technique with a suspect. Up close and personal, there is no table acting as a protective barrier. The rooms are small, soundproof, and wired for both sound and sight. The basic layout consists of one table and two chairs, which can obviously be altered depending on need or personal style. At about head-height, near the door, is a large red button that can be pressed if things get out of hand. Somehow I think the response time would be pretty impressive, don't you?

(Note: There is something called "Interview School" where new detectives go through training. The psychology of the physical layout of the interview room is only one part of the course. Somehow I think that from now on, I'll be as incapacitated talking to a detective at a cocktail party as I would be a shrink.)

There was an actual interview going on while I was there. A separate equipment room, where detectives witness all of the interviews as they are recorded to DVD, is just down the corridor. (Two-way mirrors are history. Technology reigns.) A juvenile was being questioned about some extensive vandalism he and some buddies had caused. His mother sat on one side of him, his father on the other. In that small room, their pain and disappointment covered them like heavy, hot, wet blankets. Dad had a notepad and pen in front of him. He fiddled with the pen as if it were magic and could come to life, with a little urging, to impart the secret formula that would protect his son and end this nightmare. My heart went out to him when I learned he hadn't made one note. To their credit, and their son's, the boy was coming clean. I saw Mom and Dad leaving later . . . alone. Praying for that family.

Alex (my fault, I didn't get his card) is the master of cold cases. I learned from Sergeant Bates that Alex is a retired detective. One who has achieved a level of respect within the department that he should be proud of, and because of that respect, has been asked to come back and become the go-to guy for cold cases. Think Michael Connelly's character, Harry Boche. When we were on the hunt with Georgia, Alex was thoughtful. He drew on his experience in the field to come up with probable, and improbable scenarios. This is one guy who may look like a friendly TV actor (or your next door neighbor), but who has seen more things in his lifetime than any of us will ever see.

Alex, not only do you have the respect of the team around you, but the respect of those us who don't have a clue.

Random Impressions:

Cold case detectives are a rare blend of cop. Their knowledge of how things used to operate is invaluable, but they also have to be aware of the newest advances in forensic science and technology. One without the other would be less effective.

The scope of training extends beyond anything I actively considered. Sure, I knew they had to employ a bit of psychology here and there. They should know a bit of first aid. They should know the law. But the list goes on. And the "bits" of knowledge get expanded. These men and women keep our society from disintegrating and losing value. From someone who takes the life of someone else, to a juvenile who popped car windows, to a husband who uses his wife for batting practice, to a motorist who flies through a red light. These are the people who help the rest of us appreciate a quality of life we wouldn't otherwise have.

After all, who ya gonna call?

Currently reading: I have absolutely got to just sit down and get this book read!

It's all better with friends.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The House of Cops

If you're in the backseat (without a badge) and you enter this portal, the world as you've known it is at an end. You have entered the Cave of No Return.

The light in here is the same 24/7/52. It doesn't really matter if your world came to an end at 2 pm or 2 am. It will never look the same again.

You are now in the system, and your life is screwed. Get used to it.

Now would be a good time to tell you how grateful I am that this was all new information for me. I have never run much in the way of legal risk. I'm boring. Dull. Blah, blah, and more blah. I can think of a few stories to tell about my youth, but trust me, I'm the only one who would care. As a Good Girl, the Other Side has always held a certain intrigue. Know what I mean?

It would also be a good time to tell you I have two warring viewpoints about this whole front-line arrest thing.

The first and most innate viewpoint says that if there's smoke, there's fire. If someone is inside the cave, they must have done something wrong, even if it's not the thing they're in there for. Sorry, but that's a script that goes back to my early days. It's also probably why I've been excused by defense attorneys on every jury for which I've ever been seated. It's an ingrained-can't-get-over-it core belief. Of course, I could have been excused because I used to work in what was once considered to be a very conservative industry. Now, many of that industry's honchos are going on trial. Full circle or something, I'm here and they're there. The Good Girl reigns.

The second viewpoint is that I've learned sometimes a person is targeted because they fit a certain profile. Profiles exist because well . . . they seem to be right more than wrong. But still, they can be wrong. If a person in power is seeking a quick closure over the truth, justice sometimes doesn't get a second look. Expediency prevails.

I'm a writer. And being a writer makes it hard to admit that what I just said is irrelevant, but it is. All viewpoints aside, guilty or innocent, if you go through this portal, your life will never be the same.

This is the holding cell. There's a drain in the floor so they can clean it periodically. When I was there it didn't smell. I imagine it gets pretty rank. Come to think of it, I imagine the back seats of patrol cars can also get pretty rank.

Take a close look. On the shelf area in front of each stool is an eye, and that is where handcuffs are attached. (You can click on the picture to enlarge.) When a bad guy is arrested, they come into a very secure area. Potential for an "incident" is minimized, and for the safety of everyone, this is a very good idea. You can't really tell from the picture, but there is a heavy pane of plastic between where the arrested person sits and the booking officer. At a salad bar, this would be a "sneeze-guard." At the holding cell? Think spit. An officer enters data into a computer obtaining information via a microphone in the plastic pane.

The ink and paper days of fingerprinting are history. I remember doing this with my girl scout troop. They rolled my fingers through this black ink, rolled them again onto some paper, and then handed me a tissue. Even though I was innocent (I was a girl scout after all) I felt like I must've done something wrong. Now, fingerprints are scanned, including palms. And something else called the lateral palm print, which is the side of your hand that touches the paper when you write. I'd never heard of that before, but I can sure see where it could corroborate testimony from a handwriting expert.

Here's where I come clean. One of my all-time favorite television shows growing up was the Andy Griffith Show. I loved Mayberry and Sheriff Andy Taylor. Take a look at the siren on this car. I can see Barney and Gomer getting into so much trouble . . . This patrol car is stored, covered, in a garage for the department and used for special occasions like parades.

I was also shown the armory. Cars and special weapons are signed out from a carefully controlled checkpoint.

Communication: Patrol cars are not only equipped with radios I can understand (they used to sound like nothing but static-squawk to me) but computer screens where they can be assigned calls as well as run license plates, etc. Cops select their favorite car and plug in their personal ID key to retrieve the car keys. Easy to see who's in what vehicle.

The detectives use a dry-erase board to sign in and out. I thought at fist that was kind of odd until I realized their time and commitments are much more fluid.

Random Thoughts:

From the time an arrest is made until the suspect is handed off to someone else, the tension must be high. There's always a chance something could go wrong. As a cop, you're not only responsible for making sure you follow the rules to facilitate the legal aspects, but you're responsible for the safety of someone who is probably not on your Most Favored list.

Humor would become a cover. A way to cope. A way to get through dealing with the dark side without swinging at someone or going completely numb. And your best friends would become the people you worked with. People who would know what you felt without having to explain.

The word "cop." When I was a kid it was "policeman" or nothing. "Cop" was a disparaging term. My parents would have seriously grounded me if I dissed a policeman by calling him a cop. Times have changed. The attitude behind the word has changed. At least for me. There's a tough kind of respect behind those three little letters.

Currently reading: Deadly Beautiful It's not moving at nearly as quick a pace as I'd hoped. In fact, it's kind of bogged down. Drat.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, August 8, 2008

On the Trail of a Killer

A man who lived alone is the victim of a brutal stabbing. It took a few days before he was found. You have part of the picture . . . and the smell.

The passionate anger associated with this type of murder indicates the victim probably knew the killer—and probably knew them well.

You should have seen my husband's face when I told him I'd spent the morning helping to track a killer. If he were an electronic device, he would've begun to collapse because he almost came unplugged.

For heaven's sake. I was standing right in front of him, not a ding or dent to be seen. Truth is, I was more exhausted from the hour commute than from watching Georgia do her bloodhound thing. And to think, he wants me to take a weapons class? Hmmm . . .

But when I told him the murder had happened about eighteen months ago? He relaxed . . . a little.

I spent the day with some of Lakewood Colorado's finest. Detectives of the Major Crimes/Domestic Violence Unit. Because the day was filled with information, I'm breaking it down a bit to keep my posts shorter.

Georgia is actually a "county mounty" because of her special skills. She's a cadaver dog. Her Jefferson County Sheriff's Department handler has been doing this kind of thing for a long time. Although it probably wasn't the first four-foot drop he took to try and find evidence, I was content to watch from the street. A four-foot drop down meant a four-foot leap up. Not a pretty picture.

The reason for the search was to look for any evidence left by the killer fleeing the crime scene. Natural escape routes don't usually include leaping over backyard fences. Easier, faster options are more routinely used. Joining the search team of Al and Georgia was a cold case detective, the original lead detective, a third detective, their sergeant, and a uniformed patrolman (to add credibility should they have to go marching through someone's yard) and of course, the tag-along day-wrecker (moi) who was trying hard not to get in the way or be too mouthy with her thoughts and questions. Both of which would've immediately pegged me as someone who watches entirely too much TV.

Georgia was able to get a scent over a thirty-foot swath. Even more impressive, these dogs have been known to get a scent up to five years after the fact. Their wonderful, floppy ears act as scent-funnels. The way this particular bloodhound has been trained to alert is to simply lie down.

Unfortunately, if there's additional evidence out there, it's still waiting to be found. Georgia didn't alert. But a lot of speculative area has been eliminated. This murder stands a good chance of resulting in an arrest because these guys aren't giving up any time soon.

Random Impressions:

Some cases get to be more personal than others. This particular murder represents the first one this detective worked as lead. She'd done plenty of others, but this one . . . well, you get the idea. I can imagine the questions and self-doubt this professional has endured. And the simple answer is . . . these things happen. Way too often.

Detectives, as cynical as their jobs must make them, are also among the most optimistic people on earth. They have to have a strong belief that something is gonna break their way. They'll get lucky. Someone will talk. A piece of evidence will surface. The killer will screw up—and they'll be there when it happens.

The thought struck me that the blood these human beings deal with isn't on television or a movie screen or in the pages of a book. It's for real. It's huge. I think it must be redder and smellier and more significant than anything I can imagine.

Still reading Deadly Beautiful.

It's all better with friends.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Books about Writing

I have an embarrassing amount of books on the craft of writing. Some of their pages have never seen the light of day. Or my desk lamp.

I can say the same thing about my cookbooks, but that's another story.

I've only read two books about writing cover to cover. bird by bird by Anne Lamott is a delightful, easy read. It's not so much on the craft of writing, but the life of a writer. One of my favorite novelists, Lamott continued to entertain me with bird. And she gave me permission to write an awful first draft. I'll always love her for that.

The other one I read cover to cover is Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. This woman had the courage to write an entire book about what to many is the dry topic of punctuation. A topic, by the way, that in writerly circles is not quite so dry, and has brought more than one set of writers and their editors to blows. Truss brought humor to the table and kept my wandering brain on task.

I've had skips and starts (and stops) with Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern (my very first writing book and recommended to me by Lisa Samson who writes so much like Anne Lamott it's unbelievable), Stein on Writing by Sol Stein (as I remember one interesting thing in this book, I remember a second, and a third), Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and don't let me forget Walter Mosley's This Year You Write Your Novel.

Right now, I'm slowly working my way through Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (I recommend you get the workbook as well) and Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon.

The intriguing thing with all of these books is that they're like reading the Bible. Different things pop out at me at different times. Something that had been vague and nebulous six months ago becomes solid and an aha! in a nanosecond.

I subscribe to The Writer magazine. The cool thing with this little fellow is that reading the bits and pieces I'm interested in within its covers creates such an itch in me I have to get back to bichoking. That alone is worth the subscription price.

I hope I've touched on one or two of your favorites, and maybe helped you make a decision on another one. What's important to remember is that these are only tools. They won't write a novel on their own. I know. Believe me, I know.

Still reading Deadly Beautiful.

It's all better with friends.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What's in a Name?

Memorable names can go a long way in helping to create memorable characters.

I know this because I've messed up with names more than once. My male protagonist once had an imminently forgettable name. Are you ready for this? Hold on tight . . . Robert Johnson. The only worse name I can think of would have been John Smith.

And to think I did that on purpose. Sheesh.

I wanted him to by Everyone's Man. I figured a common name would make him easier for readers to identify with. Maybe, but if we're just talking about his name? It would be in a very forgettable way.

Chalk up one more piece of learning when it dawned on me that it was okay to change the name of someone I'd created in the first place. Believe it or not, I had this little box in the back of my head that said it would be rude to move on without his permission. Oy. I finally got the okay when I learned that other writer's characters go through name changes on a regular basis.

When I changed his name, he finally started to differentiate himself from all the other characters. His new name? Chase Waters. (OT--I love that someone placed a little towel under these pups for cushioning.)

And for an even stronger name? My female protag went from Vicky to Bond. I love that name. She's now strong and smart and even though she struggles, I no longer want to shake her and tell her to get over it. Her name stands out in a crowd and rather than hate it like she did when she was in fifth grade, she loves it now.

There are baby name books and phone books and year books and online sources. When I'm stuck I just grab a pad and start scribbling until I find something I like.

Names are important. They're as much a part of the picture I'm painting as the plot and the setting.

Still reading Deadly Beautiful.

It's all better with friends.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bogged Down

This morning I started developing a deliciously wicked character. I knew there was a chance he would pop my plot, but his wild absurdities fell over me like a cloak I couldn't shake off. He stood there, wearing an evil smirk and holding an enormous pin, the better with which to pop plots.

And he succeeded.

So now I have a confession to make. Part of my plan to analyze my manuscript (I didn't know it at the time) was to hold on to as much as possible. Twist it and make it work. Flip it and make it work. Punch it up and make it work. Look like I knew what I was doing and . . . well, it didn't work.

Broken Bones is morphing. The premise is still there (black market body parts) but the plot line is shifting. It could be a bit darker (darker than black market body parts? yep.) and it continues to deviate into more of something a student of Donald Maass might write. I can only hope. From my keyboard to God's inbox.

It dawned on me a few minutes ago that I'm looking at a major overhaul, and I'm not sure where to start. I'm like that mule in the picture. "I'm stuck. I'm not going anywhere and you can't make me. Can't you see all of this mud? What in the world was I thinking letting you lead me into this?"

My co-protagonists are waiting patiently while I do some scheming with the dastardly Volisus Lawes. Isn't that a perfectly grizzly name?

Currently reading: Deadly Beautiful by Sam Baker. I just started it today, and it's showing great promise. Look for it on sale August 19th.

Working on: Getting the mud out of my eyes.

It's all better with friends.