Just Write Cat

One Writer, One Journey

Last Line Blogfest Entry May 1, 2010

Oh my, when did it become May??  Seriously.  A few weeks ago I started a draft of this post, figuring I had weeks – WEEKS – to decide which last line to use.  And then I’m checking the comments on my blog and someone is nice enough to remind me that the Last Line Blogfest is tomorrow!  TOMORROW. 

A heartfelt thank you to Roland over at http://www.rolandyeomans.blogspot.com  for the friendly reminder, and of course a mega-thanks to Lilah Pierce for hosting this blogfest.  Too cool!!

Below is my entry for last line blogfest over at http://lilahpierce.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-first-blogfest.html

Ahem, I cheated a bit in that the set-up is way more than twenty-five lines.  More like fifty.  Sorry – I really wanted feedback on the last line in this scene and didn’t think I could get the flow working in less than fifty lines.

This scene takes place after Joe Cooper, ME, is called out to examine the second murder in as many weeks.  He is speaking with Detective Grace Gutierrez right before he’s about to chat with the kid (a seventeen year old) who found the victim. 

Now, I like the last line.  I think it’s somewhat cheesy, but that’s what I was going for in some ways.  Joe’s a bit of a player, flirts (even at crime scenes), and Grace is attracted to him.  But….if you think the line doesn’t work, please don’t hold back.  (FYI, Rodriguez is Grace’s partner.  Another homicide detective who is rather AR.  He dropped a spot of jelly from a donut on his shirt, hence the reference to him still looking at the spot).

Thanks for reading!

     I walked away from Rodriguez, who was still looking down at his shirt.  I headed over to the kid, and Gutierrez followed.  “Don’t trust me to get at the truth, Gutierrez?  I’m not like your partner, you know.”  I smiled at her, the most unassuming one I could manage.  “Occasionally, I give someone the benefit of the doubt.”

            She laughed, looked at me, started to speak, and then blushed.  She always seemed momentarily taken aback when we looked directly at each other.  And in those moments when I looked directly in her eyes, I could see the beginnings of her guard going down.     

            “I know you’re not Robert.  In fact, you’re so opposite of him and any of the other detectives I work with, it’s strange.”

            “Well, I’m not a cop.”

            “True, but you work with us.  You’re on the same side, but something about the way you conduct your business is different.” 

            “I’ll bite.  Different how?”

            “You’re focused, intent, and yet, also distant.  I know all of us are—hard, somehow.  No  one on the police force could be accused of not caring about a case, about the victim and those left behind.”  She looked off to the side, took a deep breath.  “You put on a good show of not caring, but it’s obvious you do.  Maybe too much.  And yet, I can‘t figure out just what you care about, what motivates you.  Is it catching the killer, helping the victim, or something else entirely?”

            I watched her, enjoying the sound of her voice.  It was soft and lyrical, and I thought I could listen to it for hours. 

            Her breath quickened and she looked at me, her eyes open and wide.  As if she was waiting for me to say or do something.  Not just to answer the questions she had voiced, but to give her answers to larger, more universal questions.  Maybe to explain why anyone cares about anyone else in this world.   

               “I know I’m rambling—sorry.  I’m tired and working this crime is a hell of a way to wake up.” 

                I looked at her for a moment, sensing what she needed to hear, perhaps what she plain needed.  And I wanted to give it to her.  All of it.  The answers about my existence, my life, my pursuits.  I wanted to tell her why I cared about humans, the same humans I hunted when my thirst became too great.  But, as always, I held back.   

            I broke her gaze, looked to the side and cleared my throat.  “You think too much, Gutierrez.” 

            Out of the corner of my eye I saw her body tense, her shoulders go up a fraction of an inch.  She stared at me for a moment, and then turned in the direction of the witness.    

            “And, I would never call you hard.”  I turned back and gave her a sly look.  “You seem plenty soft to me.”

            She snorted.  “Guess I was overreaching with you, Cooper.  What was I thinking?”  She smiled, not very convincingly.  “So the kid’s name is Ernest Smith, a.k.a Skinny Ernie.  Seems he was headed over to his grandmother’s so he could help out around her house.  He wanted to get an early start since he has to work later today.  I will give Robert credit for something.  I think the kid did see more than he’s letting on.”

            “You know I prefer to question witnesses my own way.”

            “Sure, I know.”  She turned to walk away, then looked back.  “Hey, Cooper—”

            “Yes.”

            “He seems like a good kid.  Okay?”

            “Sure, Grace.” The maternal instinct looked good on her.  “By the way, if you know where I live, why haven’t you ever come knocking?”  The embarrassed and possibly caught reliving a sordid-sexual-fantasy-involving-a-forensic-pathologist didn’t look too bad on her, either.

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Now This is a Contest April 13, 2010

Filed under: Write,Writing Contests,You Can't Do It Alone — justwritecat @ 2:27 am
Tags: , ,

Over at Sarah with a Chance (love that title), you can enter a fantabulous contest.  Check out the details on her blog  And let me offer congrats to her – her book is going to be published in 2012.  Yay for her – and yay for us, because it gives unpublished writers hope!

So, I think I have a contest/blogfest problem.  Like, maybe an addiction.  I enter one, and for a few minutes – maybe even a couple of days – the excitement and anxiousness all mingle together and fill my body with this warm, heady feeling.  And then, it goes away.  And I need another fix.  Is there some kind of support group I can join?  Maybe a five-step program (because ten or twelve steps is way too many).

No?

Damn.  Well, guess if you can’t beat an addiction…you try and justify it.  So here goes.

Entering contests and blogfests is fun and a great way to waste your time  improve your craft.  You work on a query/logline/scene and revise until it can be revised no more (on your own).  You enter.  You wait for feedback (if you’re lucky).  And then, you either a) find out what you thought was your best is not or b) find out you’re not the hack you thought you were.  I’ve been really, really fortunate.  The feedback I’ve received on recent entries has been incredible.  Helpful, yes – but the positive remarks also gave me a much-needed shot of confidence. 

And even when you enter a contest – and do not come out the winner – you don’t lose, either.  If you really worked on your entry, then your query/logline/scene is the better for it.  It’s amazing what happens when you do ‘micro-revisions’ – when you work on one scene or even part of a scene.  Every sentence, every word is scrutinized in a way not often done during larger revisions.  Yes, when doing any size revision you should pay attention to every single word – but sometimes it takes focusing on a small section of your novel to really get what that means.  To feel the pacing of your scene, the flow of your writing. 

Recent blogfests – Opening Scene, Murder Scene, Bar Scene.  Recent contests – First 250 words, logline and opening paragraph. 

Results – comments from readers that help me fine-tune each scene or make larger changes if needed.  And that logline contest?  Whew, working on loglines is hard.  But – while I didn’t win – the agent contacted me and said I’d made his top list.  He extended an offer to read my query, and if he passes – to let me know why.  Now, I consider that a win-win situation. 

Hmmm….maybe I’m not wasting my time using my time wisely after all.

 

Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies…Oh, My! Part One October 28, 2009

The first in a three-part commentary on Mythical Creatures.

Before I get into this, let me state that I love vampires.   Unequivocally, unabashedly, eternally.  And yes, I realize they’re not real.  Let’s move on.

Vampires

My first novel, completed this year, is about vampires.  A tale of longing and hunger; of lust and regret.  My story introduces medical examiner Joe Cooper-a vampire with an insatiable appetite for booze, blood and women.  And a hunger for justice.  He represents many of the qualities I’ve always admired in (fictional) vampires.  Inhuman abilities-check.  Rugged good looks-oh, yeah.  A thirst for human blood-absolutely.  He’s dangerous when he has to be; charming when he wants to be.  He also has (forgive the pun) a heart.  Because one other thing that’s always drawn me to certain fictional vampires is their sense of loss.  Of what might be, of what can never be.  I’m a sucker for a sad story.  

Let me also say that I adore the Twilight Series.  Just like many others out there, I quickly found myself caught up in the story of Bella and Edward.  I felt like a teenager again, except only the good parts.  And while many have said that her vampires weren’t fierce enough, or that the love story wasn’t graphic enough – hey, it was intended for a young adult audience.  Just because those of us who are…um…not young adults, also fell in love with the story, does not mean we should judge it as if it was meant for us.  Don’t judge it at all.  Just enjoy the story.  Because it’s a great one.

But…my novel is for a more mature audience, and as such, brings vampires back to the darker side of their existence.  In other words, Joe ain’t a vegetarian.  And he likes sex.  Nothing smutty, mind you.  But I did worry about sending the first draft to my mom to read. 

I’ve heard the complaints – “if I have to see another vampire on t.v. or read about another vamp book, I’m gonna hurl” (or something to that effect).  O.k. – so you don’t like vampires.  Or maybe you’re just tired of them, you want something else to entertain you.  Fine, but you’ve got to admit that vampires are one type of mythical creature that’s not going anywhere.  There’s an allure there…the vampire mythos speaks to us (women and men, both).  For different reasons, and in different ways, but still–the appeal remains relatively constant. 

And there are so many ways for writers to explore this legend–to sculpt their characters and build their worlds in ways that reflect that which they find the most alluring/seductive/frightening.  Writers write about vampires to appease the multitude of readers out there who are clamoring for this genre.  But we also write about vampires to satisfy our own creative selves. 

Urban, paranormal, supernatural – call it what you will, but this genre of fantasy fiction is popular.  And for good reason. And while vampires are but one of the many creatures that can be given life in such fiction, to me–they’re the most beguiling.

My thoughts on Werewolves and Zombies later this week…

Happy Writing!

Cat

 

Books on Writing August 12, 2009

Filed under: Writing — justwritecat @ 5:34 pm
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Recently finished Stephen King’s On Writing….fantastic!  In his usual way, King captures your attention from page one, line one.  This is like no other book on writing I have read, freshly presented and reads like a story.  Which in many ways, it is.  The first part of the book focuses on King’s life to date, which I found fascinating.  I’ve always been a fan of his work, ever since I would sneak his books out of my Dad’s ‘locked’ briefcase.  My Dad hated that…but not because I was reading stuff that would scare the crud out of me.  My Dad was a s-l-o-w reader and hated the thought of someone else reading his book before he was done.  Well, I had little patience for that!  How can anyone wait weeks, months (I did mention he was a slow reader, right?) to get her eager little paws on the newest Stephen King Scriller (thriller with maximum scare)??  Yep, I invented that wordfolks.  You read it here first.  Scriller.  Sorry, back to King’s book.  Learning more about his upbringing and adventures was great.  Helps you get a glimpse of when and maybe how his creative juices started to flow. 

Second part of the book – thoughts on writing.  Not a strict how-to guide by any means, which is great.  There are enough superb books that walk you through dialogue, plot, scene formation…this book simply tells you how to write.  Meaning, some ways that have worked for Mr. King.  And really, if it works for Stephen King – why wouldn’t you try it?

I tried one suggestion right away.  Instead of a five day write week, I moved to a six day write week.  He writes every day, every day.  He gives beginning writers some wiggle room – you can take a day off if need be.  Moving to six days really kept me more focused.  I didn’t have to spend the first day or two (after my usual two day break) to get back into character(s).  My day “off” – maybe not writing scenes, but certainly still thinking about and jotting notes on the story. 

Moral of this post – you may want to pick up King’s book.  Nothing too scary in this one, so you won’t lose sleep.  But you will gain insight.  And that’s never a bad thing.