Beginning, Middle, and End Blogfest

So, I heard about the “Beginning, Middle, and End Blogfest” from Amanda Rudd and thought I would try it out, for the heck of it.

Essentially, the premise is to post the first, middle, and last paragraphs of a current WIP.  Mine, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is a hard-boiled mystery I call Someone’s Watching.  The basic premise is that Evelyn Locke, who has been stalked for months, goes missing one night and her best friend Raye hires a PI (Sean) to try and find her.

1st Paragraph:

Evelyn pulled off her apron as she pushed open the back door of the diner, folding it haphazardly over her arm.  It had begun raining, a steady drizzle that would freeze into slippery black puddles before long.  The back parking lot was unlit, the muffled rumblings from a big rig parked at the diesel pump echoing eerily.  She hurried to her car, unlocking it and sliding into the seat before she wiped the rain off her face.  Adjusting the mirror, she turned on the engine.  Before she could shift into reverse, it gave a whining cough and died.

Middle-ish paragraph

Sean went after him, the cold ground tearing at his feet as he went, icy air rushing through his lungs.  He didn’t think about the absurdity of the chase, but plowed on, barely dodging outdoor furniture and children’s toys.  The man was getting farther ahead of him, and the suburban complex was ending soon, coming to an outlet road occupied only by a dumpster.  Sean tried to clear the last fence, but slipped on a bit of ice that still clung to the upper railing and fell four feet to the ground, dropping his gun in the process.  He landed hard on his bad shoulder, somehow managing not to shoot himself at the same time, and swore loudly.  Cradling his arm to his chest and trying to ignore the pain, he pushed himself up and looked around in time to see the man disappear behind the dumpster, where a dilapidated Chevy truck was parked.  It roared to life and reversed quickly, the tires squealing and fishtailing, and bolted out of the outlet and towards the main road.  The man was gone.

Later Paragraph (because an end one would give it all away)

Under the light above the bed, he could see Raye, still asleep, and Sean, sitting with his back to the door, watching her intently.  He sat perfectly still, silent, his head cocked slightly to the side.  Vinny could see the side of his face from where he stood; it was stony and lined, stoic in the way that he always seemed to be.  As he watched, Raye exhaled heavily in her sleep and shifted slightly, one red curl falling into her face.  Sean leaned forward and pushed it away gently, tucking it behind her ear and then pulling back.  Vinny swallowed hard and looked away, unsure of what to say, or of whether he should say anything at all.

And there you have it!  Currently, it’s at about 50 chapters, mostly because I write very short chapters.  I can’t say offhand what the final word count is, though I estimate between 80-90K.  These bits don’t really capture the whole scope of the novel (it’s pretty involved) but I thought they were good.

Let me know what you think!

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Mystery Writing, or Why I May Be On An FBI Watchlist

I love mysteries.  Reading them, writing them.  My current work in progress is a mystery/suspense novel tentatively titled Someone’s Watching.

To many humans, a mystery is irresistible.  It must be solved.

Captain Picard, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (4, 14)

SW is currently undergoing edits, the first of which is the method by which my victim is kidnapped.  I wanted her car to stall at an opportune (for the bad guy) moment, so he could nab her.  Thing is, I know almost nothing about cars — I can change a flat tire, pump gas, and check the oil, but that’s about it.

So, off to Bing I went in search of information.

I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details, but essentially the search ended with me contemplating whether or not to look for “how to sabotage someone’s car” and Devin, my other half, convincing me not to.

See, Devin thinks I’m on a watchlist.  He’s pretty sure that if I don’t publish my book soon and justify all the creepy knowledge I have, one day we’ll open the door to a pair of black-suited men asking me just why I needed to know so much about arms dealing and citizen militias.

In the course of my mystery writing, most of my knowledge about crime, how to commit crimes, how to cover up crimes, and so on has come from internet searches.  I now know how to make meth, crack cocaine, molotov cocktails, and chloroform, how to get a fake ID, how to make a hidden camera, where wiretapping is and isn’t illegal, how to fake a suicide, how to dispose of a human body, how to get blood stains out of carpet, what common weeds are poisonous…

Occasionally, I wonder about myself.  Devin has said that if I ever went off the deep end, I’d be a sociopath and never get caught.  Maybe this is kind of why Doctorow called writing “a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

Sometimes, I wonder about the details of all this.  I have the facts, but no concrete, first-hand detail.  What does chloroform really smell like?  Would those doctored papers get me an ID?  That’s my mystery.

For the sake of my health and freedom, I won’t go looking for concrete detail, but it will always sit in the back of my mind.  The mystery writer part of me will heave a small, dejected sigh when reason reminds it that with a real molotov cocktail I run the risk of blowing off my hand and burning down the house.

Such is life.

By the way, I ended up pleading with my Facebook friends for help sabotaging my victim’s car.  Decided on bleach, which will ruin the gas lines and the tank.  Bleach is an ingredient in chloroform, so it fits perfectly 😉

Resources for mystery writers:

Mystery Writers of America

Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers (Lee Lofland)

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating (Steven K. Brown)

D.P. Lyle, M.D., mystery/thriller writer

NaNoWriMo Genre Lounge: Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense