Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Quiet Friday Morning

Crime Scene Tape
Usually, on this blog, I write about my publishing and writing experiences. But something happened this past Friday that put our cul-de-sac in our subdivision in the local news, and not for a good reason.

I never heard the gunshot. And the presence of police cruisers and an ambulance in our cul-de-sac normally didn't raise any undue concern.

But the yellow crime scene tape promised a different story, one that would involve someone I knew.

The ambulance slipped away, sans sirens and flashing lights.

For the first time, a murder had occurred on our street. Supposedly, a young man had shot and killed his girlfriend. (I'm only saying this because although there's been an arrest, the young man has not yet gone to trial.)

My husband knew the suspect, and we both knew another man who also lived in the house where the shooting took place a few doors down from us. This is the closest I've been to knowing someone who's been directly or indirectly involved in a murder.

The police had put crime scene tape up at the end of our street. This was where the reporters had set up cameras and interviewed neighbors, including a woman who claimed the suspect had sped through the stop sign. I can believe it.

Our driveway wasn't blocked, but police had put up crime scene tape across the street close to the crime scene, using mail boxes to tie the tape around. I counted four or five police cruisers on our end of the cul-de-sac, with one cruiser at the end of our street. Occasionally, another cruiser joined the latter, effectively cutting off access to our street.

We'd experienced the same thing last summer when the SWAT team had been summoned the next street over.

Quiet neighborhood? Yeah, right. Since I've lived here, we've had a field set on fire, a break-in next door, a break-in in a local church, and a self-inflicted gun shooting. Before that? My husband told me a fire had broken out in the woods nearby, and a bullet had nearly hit his daughter during deer hunting season.

But this was the first time we'd experienced a murder.

That day was the first time I met a homicide detective working a case. We gave him some information we had, but I'll say no more here. If it helps the investigation, so much the better.

Now I know what the back interior of a CSU vehicle looks like (at least here), and I watched crime scene investigators, homicide detectives, and the deputy coroner as they worked the crime scene.

Eight hours later, they took down the yellow tape.

Crime scene investigation fascinates me, but I prefer to watch it on a station like the Justice Network. Because when it hits close to home, it has a profound effect, not only on the victim and suspect and their friends and family, but also on those who live in the area.

Before the murder, I wondered how many people even knew this street existed. Now we do, in infamy. Yes, the memory will fade as other people resume their lives. But for those of us involved in some way, however small, the memory will linger much longer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mission: "Accomplished"

The other day, I accomplished something which I thought I would never do. I completed the sequel to Death Sword. Granted, my original plan went through several changes, and I finally had to concede to the fact that what I wanted to accomplish (a 3-book series) wasn't going to happen. So, Serpent Fire and Devil Inside were merged into one book. At this point, I think I'll continue using the Serpent Fire title.

Not that I ever meant to write a sequel or a series. Originally, Death Sword was a stand-alone. I'd finished the book and had started writing another one, when Samael, the antagonist from Death Sword began grumbling he wanted to tell his story. Our conversation went something like this:

Samael: "I want to tell my side of the story."

Me: "I'm done with Death Sword. I've moved on to another book."

Samael: "But you made me look like the bad guy."

Me: "Um, because you were? Now move along. I have too  many characters running around in my head, and you need to leave."

Samael: "No."

Samael was stubborn, and he continued to nag at me, so I decided fine, I would do a little more research about him, and maybe that would make him happy. Not that I hadn't researched him before, but I had some new material I'd acquired recently, and not only did I find something about him I hadn't seen before, it was something that convinced me that yes, I had to continue the story.

Now, I won't go into details about how Serpent Fire became my bete noire. I rewrote it twice, and finally ended up merging it with Devil Inside, a book that, in my humble opinion, was a bit more "together." Either way, not all is lost. I'm using material from SF in another book.

This new version of SF/DI will go through another round of revisions, but I hope to submit it this year, along with the novella, Hell on Earth, a spin-off of Exterminating Angel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Cold Feet

Well, it's started again. Cold feet syndrome. Every time I enter a screenplay contest, or submit a manuscript to my agent, editor, or beta reader, I can't help but be bombarded by worries that range from "What if they hate it?" to "Maybe I'm not as good a writer as people say." Most writers will understand this anxiety, although there are those who believe their first draft is perfect and how dare anyone ask them to improve it. I'm not one of them.

I think part of it is I'm struggling with my current manuscript, Serpent Fire, the sequel to Death Sword. Yeah, I blame Samael. Death Sword was meant to be a standalone, and he kept complaining he wanted to tell his story, which became quite detailed, enough for two more books, the third one being Devil Inside. However, even though I know the story arcs for both books, and the overall story arc, have even created a story bible, truth is, I'll probably have to combine both books. Maybe. Anyway, I'm resorting to the index card technique to help me get an overall view of the story.

My goal this year is to write two to four novels, a challenge I'm doing with a fellow author and friend. I plan to write the next two angelic assassin books, although I'd like to write three, and that would complete the series, the first one which I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2015.

On an unrelated note, I got a new laptop, and was able to hook up my old laptop's HD to it, and recover my files. Yay!

Oh, yeah, and about those cold feet? My agent's supposed to call me tomorrow. I'm bracing myself for the publishers' rejections.