Monday, November 28, 2011

Fabulosity Galore

My friend and fellow blogger, Wendy Ewurum, has opened a new virtual bookstore called Fabulosity Galore.

The official announcement reads:

Fabulosity Galore is an online book store and blog created and run by Wendy G. Ewurum, author of Fabulosity Reads (a book review blog).

We are affiliated to a number of booksellers amongst which are and Our affiliations are increasing constantly in a quest to find the best book and accessory deals in the market.

We also aim to make the best effort to prominently feature books which have been reviewed by us at Fabulosity Reads . This is a quest to support our writer friends and favourite books in their promotional and sales endeavours.

Readers are more than welcome to submit their bookish requests and comments to us.

And last but not least: we also welcome news from writers about any promotional activities concerning works/books.

We hope to build incredible and long-lasting relationships with our buyers, retailers, authors and publishers and cannot wait to hear from you or meet your at our store.

I think this might just be an interesting idea. What do you think?

By the way, if you need extra convincing to go look, there's a competition going on for 5 $10 amazon vouchers.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Finding Inspiration

Hi all! Welcome to this year's last installment of GPF. Today I welcome Nutschell to My First Book.

Nutschell (pronounced new-shell and not nut-shell) is a middle grade/ young adult fantasy writer who hails from the Philippines and now lives in sunny Los Angeles. She is an SCBWI-LA Board member, and the founder of the Torrance Children’s Book Writers (which will become the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles starting January, 2012). A Jane-of-all-Trades, Nutschell’s interests include photography, travel, sketching, playing the guitar and drums, playing basketball, badminton, billiards, and singing in the shower. She also practices the Filipino martial art of Escrima, and bakes yummy marshmallow cloud cookies.

Take it away, Nutschell!

As storytellers we are creative by nature. We can build worlds that inspire the imagination, create characters that readers fall in love with, give words to feelings that often go undefined, and weave stories that live on long after we’re gone.

People might think of us as magical beings who can pull stories from thin air and spin them into best-selling novels in three days. But the truth is that we are human beings who live normal lives, and have the same problem with time and money as everyone else.

We write whenever we can, wherever we can—and we also write whatever we can. We dabble in poetry, try our hand essays and screenplays, and fill our notebooks with unfinished novels. 

Sometimes, we encounter the dreaded writer’s block and we run out of things to say. We run out of topics and story ideas, and yet we still continue to write. We make lists just to have something to write. We write notes and letters, type text messages, and tweets all because we can’t stop our fingers from doing what we know we were born to do—write and tell stories. 

In order for our writing to be worth our time, and to be of any importance to the world, however, we must come up with stories that matter not only to us, but to others as well. We have to come up with a story that’s worth writing. 

How do we do this? Where do we get these worthy story ideas? 

The great Judy Blume, at the SCBWI Summer Conference, said, “I write on the day something happens.”

In order to come up with story-worthy ideas, we have to leave the comfort of our desks, break the cycle of our dreary routines, and make something happen. Tasting an exotic new dish, trying out a new scent, listening to music we normally avoid, reading books of different genres, even watching movies made long before our time, are all great ways of inspiring our creative minds.   

Local events happen daily—book signings, street fairs, farmers markets, concerts, lectures, parties, random soccer matches. We can invite friends and family to attend any of these with us. They’ll be happy for a change in scenery, and we might get great ideas just by experiencing something new. 

If there’s nothing going in our neck of the woods, we could create our own event. We can pick up a map of our city and explore areas that seem interesting, or that have some historical significance. We could do an activity we’ve never tried before. A visit to a local psychic might yield some interesting mystery or fantasy story ideas. Going on a hot-air balloon ride, or kayaking might spur an adventure story. Attending a renaissance fairs, wine-tasting events, or taking self-guided tours to a nearby historical site (or even around our neighborhood) might give us ideas for that historical novel we’ve always wanted to write. 

We must always be on the look out for sensory experiences that spark electric ideas. 

Conversations heard on subway rides could become dialogues in our novels, the smell of a stranger’s sour breath, or her sweet perfume might trigger a memory in our minds that turns into a story, someone’s unconscious habit of twiddling her thumbs could become a character’s quirk. 

Story ideas come from all around us. We gather them from our own memories, events we live through, people we meet or see on the streets, books we read, movies and TV shows we watch, or strong emotions we feel. The more we experience, the deeper our well of ideas become.

So go ahead and seize every opportunity to discover the joys of life. Make something happen—then write.

The best way to come up with story-worthy ideas is to live a story-worthy life.

***My special thanks to the wonderful Mish having me here today, and to you all for stopping by to read my ramblings.

Thanks for such a fitting end to GPF 2011, Nutschell.

So... Have you ever given something new a try just to stimulate your muse?

Then I have another question. Have you enjoyed GPF? Think I should let it continue next year?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oh for the love of lamb!

Sigh. Today is one of those days. I have a rewrite waiting for me at a particularly juicy place. I mean I got to it yesterday and thought that I would write the scene today and have a lovely burst of productivity that will maybe help me to do a few thousand words.

All wonderful in theory except that I forgot it's my cooking turn. So when I remembered this, I went to the fridge and - since it's mouth end - found my options limited to unrecognisable frozen meat that looked like brisket and unrecognisable frozen meat looking like chops.

I chose the latter and got the directive to make a stew so that we could use the sauce on our krummelpap. So I did the preparations, chucked in the meat and checked on the brew regularly.

And found to my dismay that it is in fact neck. Now I love neck when it is well cooked and soft. What I don't like is cooking neck, because it takes as long as it takes to cook.

In other words, it has been on the stove for three hours and counting, with me checking at 15 minute intervals that the brew doesn't cook dry.

Not the most productive way to write. *Sob*

I only hope that the stew looks like this once it's done:

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. friends!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tips for Getting to the NaNoWriMo Finish Line

Hi all! Although I'm no longer doing NaNo, and although I know a lot of you already won, I decided to post this guest post. It's for those of you who have to push hard to get your WiP done on time and really want to win. Just a few more tips. :-) Thank you for sending me this post, Emily.

Tips for Getting to the NaNoWriMo Finish Line

Writing a novel in a month, as NaNoWriMo participants do, is an exciting and exhilarating, but often frustrating, experience. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words. This means that you have to overcome plot difficulties and deal with writer's block in only 720 hours. But remember, this isn’t a job, and you’re not going to be graded. You shouldn’t hold yourself to the same standard you would your thesis in a masters degree program. If you're stuck, the following tips that can get you through it.

Join in Word Wars
Word wars are 5, 10, 15, or 20 minute blocks of time where you type as much as you can as fast as you can. It gets you writing and the challenge with other writers can boost you up. Since NaNoWriMo is about quantity of words and not quality of words, this gets you to stop thinking and start typing.

Kill a Character
This technique can lead to a whole array of complications and things to write about, even if that means spending 10 pages describing the funeral.

Throw in a Dream
If you have a dream sequence, not only can it reveal something to your character (even if it's something like they're allergic to bread), but it can get you past the "I'm stuck" mantra. If you must, turn it into a recurring dream.

Visit the NaNoWriMo Forums
These are a great place to laugh, seek advice and commiserate with the others are participating in the event.

Take a Break
Stop writing. Walk the dog. Stretch. Eat. It sounds silly, but a break can reduce your anxiety and may even lead to the perfect solution to your character's problem.

NaNoWriMo is a time of coffee, sleep deprivation, plot terrors, and, if you work at it, success. If you've always dreamed of writing "that story," now's the time to do it. Get your fingers on the keyboards and start typing. You can do it.

Thanks again for the post, Emily! My questions for all my writing friends: What tricks do you have to finish NaNo?

Monday, November 21, 2011

I have come to a decision

Some of you might have suspected as much since I've become so quiet about it recently, but today I made my final decision to step out of the NaNoWriMo race.
I still love my draft. Passionately. It's just that I have never been a fast drafter. Doorways took 3 years. WiP2 took more than a year.

The reason for this is in the way my mind works when I write. I don't know if I'm the only person who writes like this, but when I start writing, it's almost as if I write from my subconscious. So when something in the story isn't working, my words will stop completely until I figure out what's wrong. Sadly, because my writing isn't really cerebral as much as intuitive, figuring out the problem requires a considerable amount of waiting until the answer occurs to me.

And that is exactly what happened with Don't Look Back.

I used to be worried about my "writers blocks" all the time, until I realized how vital they were to my creative methods. Now I don't mind them at all. I just forgot how bad they can be on an incredibly tight schedule. Like... say... giving myself a month deadline.

In the mean time I will be working on the WiP2 rewrite for the time being, since I'm still craving some more neutrality on Doorways before I can edit again.

So what about my NaNo buddies? Who's done? Who fell down by the wayside like me? And the non-NaNoers? How are your writing travails going?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Be Inspired to Be You

Hi all! Today I welcome Jenna Quentin to My First Book. Jenna's a health nut, evangelical hippy, who loves the cheese and wine of her adopted country France. She writes for teen and middle grade magazines and random websites. Her current work in progress is a middle grade novel called The Magicless, set in a parallel universe that looks like modern France. She blogs at Meandering in a Field of Words about things from life, movies and books that are inspiring or examples of inspiration. She's on Twitter @JennaQuentin and on facebook as Jenna Quentin.

Take it away, Jenna!

Be Inspired to Be You

We all wanna be J.K. Rowling or Nathan Bransford or somebody. We think of changing kids' lives with the words over which we agonized. We imagine having a grant to support us while we write full-time. We dream of the house we'll buy in the Pyrénées mountains when we sell the film rights. We say we do it because we love it, because it's in our souls, because we'd shrivel up and die if we didn't. But I think we all dream of being writer rock stars or young adult fiction idols.

Like Emerson's transparent eyeball, taking in information without being observed, I try to be very thirsty sponge soaking up everything around me and using it for inspiration. I recently saw this music video by my beautiful Michael Bublé (ok, he's not mine). It spoke to me about my writerly aspirations and believing in myself. 'Cause most days I feel like if I'm not a blazing glorious success, that I should just give up. RRRRR. Wrong answer.

I'm not saying that we should not aim high. But there's a difference between being all we can be and being thinking that we have to be a particular something in order to be at our best. How can we be realistic in our goals, but still shoot for the stars?

I don't know the answer for everyone. But I want to encourage any writers or starving artists or dreamers..."Keep on lovin' what is true, and the world will come to you, you can find it in yourself."

What is your dream? Do you have a song that lifts you up when you need it, that keeps you dreaming and says you can achieve it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNo Day 15: Oh for a sweet distraction

Something dangerous is happening. Well, dangerous to the success of this year's NaNo.

My muse is going all: Well, this is sweet, but let's go looking at Doorways. Or even your western. Remember? The two that are already done but need some polish?

Yeah. My muse is a heinous bitch sometimes.

So here I am, fighting really hard to focus on my NaNo project, but the words are slowing down, because I'm spending half the time reminding myself that I am in fact in draft mode and that I don't have time to do edits on anything.


Anyone have any advice?

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNo Day 14: Setting up a sequel

Hi all! Firstly, I want to thank all of you who were kind enough to vote for Troublemaker during the Rule of Three blogfest. It got second place. *SQUEEE!*

As for NaNo, I've hit the middle patch, which is always fun. You know the one, where it feels like you're sipping yogurt through a tiny straw or as if you're mucking out a mud bath.

Fortunately, I think this isn't a plot based problem (at least not much of one). I set up lots of lovely things to happen for the next 25k. My biggest problem is linking it up, since my characters seem to have this annoying habit of going underground and waiting things out. Smart? Definitely. Exciting? Only for the first few hundred words.

In the mean while, a new character appeared, who annoys the crap out of all three my guys. So, since I am such a benevolent and loving creator, I will probably write her into a sequel featuring at least two of them. *Cue evil chuckle.*

Anyway: Meet Agent Sylvia Regatti.

So that's pretty much my NaNo news for now. How are things going for you? 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tips for After NaNoWriMo

It's that time of the year again, November, when thousands upon thousands of aspiring writers bang away at their keyboards, aiming to write 50,000 words for the challenge that is NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. That’s about 1,666 words a day – the devil’s number.

"Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you're allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. "
~ Charles Bukowski

(Humor me. Change the word drinking to writing.)

So, go ahead, grab the tail of devil, slam down a proverbial shot or two (for those of you who inspire to be as prolific as Bukowski) and get writing. Personally, I think NaNoWriMo is a great way to get those creative juices flowing. But you have to remember, once the buzz has worn off, and NaNoWriMo ends, the real work begins.

It’s time to sober up, to take those beer goggles off and ask yourself: is this manuscript as good looking as I think it is?

If you’re honest with yourself, you know it’s time for a little writing rehab. That baby is one hot mess. She needs to be cleaned up.

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Rather than going for the hair of the dog in December, there is only one way to cure a word hangover: take a little break, if not for you, for your manuscript. Once your head is clear, it’s time to edit, to polish, and then edit again. You may even want to call in some support for early feedback – beta readers, the AA of writers. And then it’s time to edit and to polish and edit again.

Please, don’t fall of the wagon! If you query too early or decide to self-publish, say in December, your manuscript will find itself on that embarrassing road called Rejection, or worse, stumbling down the walk of shame!

I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. But I have done it in the past and I was proud of my accomplishment. I also scrapped most of what I’d written, keeping only what worked. In my case, it was about 50%. But 50% of something was better than nothing. For me, the purpose of the challenge wasn’t to complete a finished manuscript in record time. No, simply put, I signed up for NaNoWriMo to accomplish three things: to improve my craft, to join a network and support like minded individuals, and, most importantly, to write.

For those of you who are doing the challenge this year, I’m raising a glass of champagne in your honor –  writing 50,000 words is no easy task. Cheers and good luck! And, most of all, have fun!

It is time to get drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk; get drunk without stopping! On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish.” -Charles Baudelaire

If this post has left you thirsty for more NaNoWriMo inspiration, check out the following links.

1) Chuck, at Terrible Minds, has written a list of NaNoWriMo do’s and don’t’s. You’ll leave his post ready, and I quote, to rock NaNoWriMo’s face off.

2) Get inspired. Check out this YouTube video, I am the very model of a NaNoWriMo individual, complete with a chorus of singing animal puppets. It’s ridiculously awesome! (And, yes, that was an adverb.)

3) Stay positive! Ignore the naysayers!

 Thanks for having me, Misha. Meet you at the bar for happy hour in December???

Sounds great! Just say when and where. ;-) Thanks for the great advice, Samantha!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNo Day 8: An unforeseen windfall

Yep, I just got a call that I have to go be an extra at a movie set tomorrow, so I'm heading over to crash at a friend's house for the night. Tomorrow might be a long working day, so I might be away from my computer.

So basically, I'll possibly hit 20k sometime today or tomorrow. Maybe. I just won't be able to update much.

What's news at your end of the world?

Oh and, if you haven't yet, please please please go check out the final entries for the  Rule of Three Blogfest. We all need your votes. You have until Friday to vote.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNo Day 7: News

I got great news today! Not NaNo related, but writing related, so it totally counts.

I have been shortlisted for the Rule of Three Blogfests top entries.

*SQUEE* I can't tell you how happy I was to get the news. There is something deeply gratifying to know that what I wrote was enjoyed by others. :-)

If I do say so myself, the entries that made it to the short list as some great reads and the entrants need YOU!

See, the winner is appointed by vote, so we need to get as many voters as possible to go read the six entries and pick the one they liked most. So if you need a break from your frenzied writing endeavors, please head over and give the six finalists' entries a read. I promise you it's worth it. Click here to find the links and the polls. Votes stay open until 11:59 P.M. GMT on 11 November.

Now... To NaNo. I finally reached my 4k goal on Saturday and followed that up by a nice rest on Sunday. What can I say? I'm a hedonist.

The rest was worth it. I reached 15k a few minutes ago after one seriously intense scene. I did 1500 words in about half the time I did before.

So what happened, you may ask?

I'm not going to tell you, but it does involve something similar to this...

Intrigued? Good. ;-) See you tomorrow for another update?

What about you? Reach any NaNo and non-NaNo goals since Saturday?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaNo Day 5: The Stuff Just Got Real

Not for me, though. Just my characters. I'm over the 11k line.

So yeah, for me it's still going well. For the doctor and the fed... Not so much.

And... things just got really complicated for Aleria.

Rule of Three Blogfest: Troublemaker

Part 1: Laine Masterson

Blue… Red… Blue… Red… My SUV’s strobes bring a grim festivity to the scene. Smashed guitars lie next to upturned amplifiers buzzing the sky for help.

Too late for the victim.  

Bile rises to my mouth as I throw a glance at the corpse hanging in a nearby tree. This doesn’t happen in Renaissance.  

“Probably did it in a meth rage,” one of my deputies mumble on the way to the victim.
“Or a ritual,” another mutters. “You know how they are.”
“Looks like a piñata.”  

I rub my arms to settle my hackles and walk away. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but the person hanging from the tree beaten beyond recognition is as far from a candy-stuffed paper animal as I could think. Except for the blood stained baseball bats strewn about.  

“See if you can get prints on those.” Is it wrong that my blood is buzzing? It’s been years since I quit the NYPD, came home… I shake it off and stare up at the mangled person. The remains of the green and blue mohawk marking the victim as one of them.

Blood drips down from his tight fist. What’s he holding?

“Laine?” Mr. Piñata - Jack Flynn - sounds hesitant now. “What can I do?”
“Find the caller yet?”
“Nope. I’ll go round up the rest of the punks and see if we can scare out a quick confession.”

I frown at Jack, hunting for a nice way to cut him down. Policing isn’t about taking anything for granted. It’s about finding truth and justice. If it existed.  

This isn’t New York. I forget that sometimes. I’ll see everyone at church tomorrow.  

A bitter bark of laughter draws us both around to where one deputy is sidling away from a girl about my son’s age. Dried tears and mascara warp her face. Smudged black lips jump from laughter to crying until sobs win out. “We’re different, so we’re evil?”  

Jack looks ready to speak, but I silence him with a single look. Shut up or be suspended without pay.

I choose to avoid the topic altogether. “Let’s move away from the scene.”  
The girl combs her fingers through her bright pink hair. “Ray was a good person.”

Jack snorts before sauntering to where the medical examiner is unloading his pick-up.   

“Ray?” I run my thoughts through the families I know in town. 
“Sean Drummond.”
Shit. His parents sit two rows in front of me. “Were you here when it happened?”
Her pink bob weaves as she nods. “We all were. It was supposed to be a concert.” She wipes her nose on the back of her mittened hand. “A fun night out.”
“What happened?”
“They came out of nowhere and started beating people. Most of us ran, but Ray…”
My heart contracts at that word. They. Would I know them? “They?”
The girl snarls as she stares up at the victim. “Yes. They. The jocks. The town’s little angels.”

Part 2: Keith Masterson

Where is it? Not under my unmade bed, not in any of my shoes lying around unused. I pick up my clothes and shake them.


No chain. No class ring.  

Wait… maybe it’s being washed with my clothes. Maybe it’s being sucked into the washing machine’s innards or to that place where socks go.  

Or maybe I lost it somewhere outside. My stomach turns at the ground that covers. I’d been everywhere this week and I can’t remember when the ring wasn’t hanging around my neck.  


Mom is so going to kill me.  

The front door slams shut, hitting me like a thunder clap. Of course she’d show up now. The ring has to wait. There’s no way I’m going to tell her I’d lost Dad’s class ring. What do I do? Go greet her? No. That will tip her off that something's up.

I fling myself onto my bed and grab some book next to it. It’s barely open before she appears by my door. I take one look at her tired eyes and muddy boots and my heart stutters.

“Who died?” Her frown makes me want to bite my tongue off. A hundred ways to introduce the topic and I fall into the worst one. Shit she makes me nervous when she stares.

“How did you know someone died?”  

Because I’d spoken to Brad minutes ago and news traveled fast in a shithole like Renaissance. Because she’d been out working since yesterday morning, adding the tally to about 50 hours. Because she looked like hell.

I put the book aside. “Murders always hit you hardest.”  

Maybe I should just dig my tongue out with a spoon.

She didn’t miss that mistake either. “How did you know it’s murder?”


“Do you know who did this?”  

Shit. Just what I was worried about. Do I or don’t I finger Brad and the boys? Damn it I have to keep cool. “Mom! This is Renaissance.”  

She blinks a few times. “Right.” Rubs the spot between her brows. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to go all cop on you.”  

Mom never goes cop. She is cop. 

“It’s ok. Will you make it to the game?”  

Mom’s mouth turns down and her eyes go distant on me. What’s on her mind?


“I don’t know. I’m hoping to solve this thing fast. The last thing this town needs is another unsolved tragedy.”

A waste of space like Sean Drummond was hardly tragic, but I keep that thought very far from my face.  

“Had any friends over while I was gone?”  

Her eyes burn mine and my palms sweat. She isn’t asking for no reason. She’s asking for my alibi. This is my last chance. Either I finger my team or I cover for them. Whatever I decide, I have to stick with it no matter what. Not much of a choice. Captains watch out for their teams.  

Can Mom notice my heart drumming in my throat?

“Yeah, I had the guys over for pizza. Hope you don’t mind.”
“When was this?”
“Last night.”
Her face brightens a little. “What about I grill us some steaks?”
I want to throw up, but I summon a reply to her smile. “Sounds great. If you’re not too tired.”  

She shakes her head and kicks off her shoes before slipping away.  

When the banging of pans reaches me, I shut the door and pull my cell from my jeans.  
Come on man… we rattle some cages. Straighten them out. No biggie.  
Yeah. Right.

Oh. I remember where I lost the ring.

Part 3: Molly Parker

Laine Masterson is a local legend. She might even be able to bring the jocks down.

Able. Yes.



She analyzes me from my black hair to the edge of the table between us. “Thank you for coming in, Molly.”
Her office is weird. Neat. No pictures. No belongings except for the bubbling percolator filling the air with a promise of coffee. “Please call me M. I’m not a Molly.”
“M, then.” She reaches for her legal pad, clicks her pen and pins the Masterson stare on me. 

I will not flinch.

“You said that the jocks killed Ray. Did you see them?”
Here we go. Excuse fishing. “They wore masks.” 
“Hear them?”

“Yeah, but their voices were muffled.” I lie back into my chair to get comfortable for the legal runaround. “But I know it was them.” 
Laine’s brows deepen the one prominent line on her face. “How?” 
“Since the Movement started, the jocks tried to get us in line.” 

She doodles something. “Movement?”
“It’s what we call ourselves. Anyone else would call us punks.” 
Her eyes turn back to me. “What do you mean ‘get us in line’?” 
“They’d jump us. Harass us. Spread rumors.” 
“Did you report it?” 

How I hate those four words. “In the beginning.”
“Why not after?” 
“The first few times I tried, I was told we provoke people. So it’s always our fault.” 

The scratching of pen to paper puts me on edge. Come on insulation.

“Some of my deputies say you guys are troublemakers.”

Why the fuck am I even talking to her?

“No shit. We’re trying to land their football team in jail.”
“My son is the football captain.” 
Ah. There it is. I pull the numbness on like a jacket. Now it doesn’t hurt as much to speak. “Well then. I see I’ve wasted your time.” 

Laine shakes her head and pours me a cup of coffee. She pushes the mug across the table with a sugar pot. No milk. “So this attack on Ray was unprovoked?”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“The time before this, we fought back. We got them good.” I add an extra spoon of sugar to compensate for the lack of milk. “They got us better. Ray was our source of strength.” 
“He told you to fight back?” 
“The night he was killed, why didn’t he run?”
“He tried to reason with them. To get this madness to stop.” 

If I was alone I’d cry. Because of loss. Because of anger. Because this is a game I’m going to lose.

I sip my coffee instead. It goes rancid in my mouth as memories of that night taunt me. The crack of Ray’s bones against wood. Ray’s blood speckling the killers with every hit he takes. Their howling shouts as they hit him some more. His pleads for mercy provoking them to lynch him.

Laine’s cell phone goes off yanking me back to now. She takes the call. “Describe it.”

Her rage rolls over me as she disconnects. She shoots out of her chair and hurls the phone across the room.  The shattered pieces tinkle to the floor as she draws her anger into herself.

It’s like watching the creation of a black hole.

“We identified one of the killers.”

So they’d done their job for once. So will the defence attorneys. Justice will miss the court date.

I will not cry.
So I laugh.  

Part 4: Laine Masterson 

Everything jars me. Every breath drums against my chest. Air burns my lungs. My heart beats quake through my body. All I can think of is the ring lying in an evidence bag. In the morgue. Like a message from the dead. What are you going to do? 

What am I going to do?  

My merciful mind flings me back to an easier time. To the perfume of warmed chocolate and fresh cookies. Keith with doe eyes and crumbs on his chin. “No mom, I didn’t steal any cookies.”  

I never notice the bustle in the offices anymore. I notice it now that it stops in consternation and shock.   

Maybe I should have told the staff that Jack would be bringing Keith in. But then, this is Renaissance. News could have reached Keith before Jack did.  

Keith. My son.  

I got him arrested.  

Guilt slams into me like a bullet to the head.    

Keith frowns as Jack leads him into my office. “Mom?”
“Sit down. Jack? Please bring us some bagels.”
Jack doesn’t bat an eyelash as he leaves.  

He should have. I shouldn’t be here, drowning in a conflict-of-interest soup.  


Keith’s prodding settles me a little. He always does it when I space out on him. I glance his way, knowing that I’m at the edge of disaster. If he really did have something to do with this… Do I really want to know?   

I close my eyes, unable to face him as I drop the bad news on his head. “Your father’s class ring was found in Sean Drummond’s hand.”  

A deep gust of breath rushes out of him. I open my eyes in time to see him putting his facial expression back together. “Oh?”  

What do I do? How do I react? “I have evidence putting you at the crime scene and all you say is ‘oh’?”  

He shifts forward in his chair, his face greying. “What sort of evidence? Only the ring?”  

The homicide detective in me snaps back before I do. She pipes up before I know to stop her. “DNA.”  

Any remorse I might have felt for the lie vanishes as I watch his grey skin turn a waxy white.  

“Impossible what? Impossible you weren’t there or impossible you’re too slick to leave evidence?” Det. Masterson’s on a roll.
Keith rubs both his hands down his face. “Mom! Could you be my mother for just a second?”  

So helpless. Like the boy he once was, left at home when I got called. All that time that we could have spent together… The least I can do now is have his mother present too.

I kneel down in front of him, grasping his knees and looking up into his terrified eyes.  

“Tell me you didn’t kill Sean.”

I wish with all that I am I didn’t spot his convulsive swallow.   

“I didn’t kill him.”  

No mom, I didn’t steal any cookies.