I want to kill someone in public.
I don’t have a particular person. Just someone.
Last weekend I volunteered for my business districts wine walk event. It was a fun event that paired artists and wineries with local businesses. Visitors bought a ticket which guaranteed them ten tastings from the wineries of their choosing and then they walked to the various locations ogled the art, tasted the wine and walked to the next stop. This puts visitors inside local businesses, exposes an audience to new wines and gives everyone a chance to enjoy a fun fall outing. It’s also a large crowd with people going every which way, no one is really paying attention, and half the crowd is a wee bit tipsy. That seems like a great place for a murder!
Could I slip something in their tasting glass? Could I stab them quietly in pop them in a business’s back room while no one was looking? Leave the body in their car apparently “sleeping it off”? Or is it better to kill them and then stick around as a surprise witness. Oh my God! Someone’s killed Kenny! And… surprised face.
It’s a bold move to go for a public murder, which makes it probably unpremeditated. My motivation would have to be strong. Lots of money or a truly horrible victim. And then, perhaps the small town police chief could solve the mystery? And bam, we’ve got a novel plot. Although, in general, I should probably not tell anyone what I think about at these events. I’m going to end up on someone’s list…
I’m not supposed to be writing this. I have a pretty stiff yearly schedule on what I intend to write. And while blogs are on my schedule, I have currently abandoned all sanity and schedules and have started committing time to a project that is NOT on the calendar. I should currently be writing my San Juan Islands #3. Unfortunately, while I had a fantastic idea for the opening, my idea pretty much stopped there. And an inciting incident does not a plot make. But after I stared and stared at the screen and then stared some more, nothing was coming to me. So I started doing a writing exercise to get the creative juices flowing and now… I can’t stop.
I think I’ve fallen in love with my own characters. They keep popping up with more things for themselves to do. And I keep thinking, “What a great idea! I’m sure that will only take me twenty minutes to jot that down.” Note to self: nothing you want to write takes twenty minutes. And now my cushion of time for making my deadline is whittling down and I’m actually starting to worry. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stop writing this and stare at my screen and try and figure out why Tobias is in jail.
Last weekend I participated in a “Literary Corner” at a local arts festival. It was a chance to sell books, meet readers and network with other authors. It’s always so great to see how other authors sell and a chance to learn some pointers. It was also, as it turned out, a chance to sunburn my feet. No one warned me that part of being an author would be having to be cognizant of my sunscreen and footwear choices. So, if you are also in a summer sun situation, here are some sun burn tips.
- Act Fast to Cool It Down
Take a quick dip in a pool or other body of water. But don’t stay in too long and get more burned!
- Moisturize While Skin Is Damp
Use a gentle, but non-oil based, moisturizing. Repeat to keep burned or peeling skin moist over the next few days.
- Decrease the Inflammation
At the first sign of sunburn, taking an anti-inflammatory drug , such as ibuprofen. Aloe vera may also soothe mild burns.
- Replenish Your Fluids
Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. It’s important to rehydrate by drinking extra liquids.
This week I’m going to take part in a live reading event called Noir at the Bar. It’s a fun event that focuses on crime tales and the forties pulp-fiction style. I’m excited to participate, but as usual it throws me into a tizzy of what to read. Short stories come in all shapes and sizes but reading for an audience is quite different. Not every story translates well to an audience that’s slurping their way through cocktails and appetizers. I would, of course, love an audience to hang breathless on my every word, but even when an audience comes specifically to see an author it’s very hard to get that level of studiously quiet audience participation.
Through the variety of readings that I have experienced I’ve developed the theory of “joke” short stories for readings. Not that a reading has to be funny, but that it should be constructed like a joke.
There is the set-up.
A man walks into a bar at the top of a rise building. It’s a swanky place, but there’s a guy in a suit and glasses slumped at the bar.
“I can’t believe this view,” says the man, looking out the window.
“Yeah, but you’ve got to look out for the cross-winds. They’re killer,” says the drunk guy, brushing a curl of dark hair off his forehead.
“What are you talking about?” asks the man.
The drunk guy stumbles off his bar stool. “Here I’ll show you.” He opens the window and steps out, but the winds sweep in and he simply hovers in air and then steps back into the bar.
“Holy cow,” says the man. “I can’t believe that.”
“Give it a try,” says the guy in glasses.
The man steps off the building and plummets to the ground. The bartender looks up from polishing the glasses as the drunk guy sits back down. “Jeez, Superman, you are mean when you drink.”
The story has to have a pay-off or the audience sort of stares at you like cows in a field. It doesn’t have to be a funny pay off, but there has to be some sort of solid finish that gives an audience a feeling of conclusion. Usually, it’s some sort of twist that reveals the truth or that gives the audience the key to understanding the story. I’ll be reading a condensed version of a short story from my Shark Santoyo story. Hopefully, Noir at the Bar enjoys what I’ve selected for them. Wish me luck!
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This past week has been consumed by edits for the second book in my Shark Santoyo Crime Series – Shark’s Bite. There’s nothing like a keen eyed editor to make you realize how many times you use the word “shrug.” Or nod. Or dear God, how many times will my characters smile. So many times. Is there another way to say “smile” without actually using the word “smile”? I may go mad looking up “grin” in the thesaurus.
When I get a manuscript back from an editor I make multiple passes through to make the requested changes and to make any changes to answer questions or fix problems an editor may have pointed out. The first time I make it through the manuscript I think I’m so clever. Then I actually read it and I think, “uh, I wrote that?” The word repetition, the sameness of gestures! And what about scene setting? The third time through I think… “Not bad, except for that one part. That needs work.” Then by the fourth and fifth rounds I’m hunting for typos and hoping like hell I haven’t put any fresh ones in with my changes. Finally, when I think I’ll go blind staring at it and I can’t think of one more thing to change, then back to the editors it goes. Then it comes back and I agree to fix all the terrible typos I managed to miss in the previous five rounds of read-throughs and then, finally, finally, off to layout it goes.
And after all of that, it’s still a fairly sure bet that someone will still find a typo. And that’s when I make this face: