Tag, I’m it!

I’ve been tagged in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which is a huge compliment—and also a relief, as I won’t have to cast about for a post topic and possibly end up discussing the gruesome details about why we just replaced the incontinent toilet in our small master bathroom and why the replacement is stylish and housebroken and everything but does deliver a particularly icy shock to one’s derrière first thing in the morning.

The person you have to thank for this is the brilliant Angela Quarles, whom I met through Six Sentence Sundays.  She not only let me beta her amazing time-travel romance Must Love Breeches but gave me some great feedback on one of my projects as well.  Her book  Beer and Groping in Las Vegas is out on December 19th.

Here are the rules I was given:

—Use this format for your post
—Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
—Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Here goes:

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your WIP?

This is self-indulgent like whoa, but I currently have three projects going, for given values of “going”:

I unearthed an old drawer novel for Six Sentence Sundays almost a year ago—I’ve received some terrific feedback about it and to my surprise, the story has slowly become a WIP instead of a Whatever.    When I started posting pieces, I renamed it Full Metal Librarian—I’d originally called it Daughter Of, which most people assumed was an incomplete sentence instead of a title.

The Pigeon Drop is my main project—I’ve just finished edits. The title is the name of a classic scam—a ‘pigeon’ in this context is a con-artist’s potential victim.

And I’m using Nanowrimo to jumpstart a new project—I always start these things with the working title Pirate Ninja Nuns From Mars until I figure out a better more apt different title, but I’ve already tentatively renamed this one Hard Limits.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Full Metal Librarian was a Nanowrimo-novel that developed from a short story I’d written after a seriously bad day at work. I armed the librarians, privatized and militarized the American Library Association, and rigged the books to explode if you left without checking ’em out (or didn’t bring them back in time). It was cathartic. And then I started imagining a society that would allow that kind of library system to evolve . . .

The Pigeon Drop coalesced from my fascination with classic scams and con artists—including Melvin Weinberg, who ended up working for the FBI after his arrest—an interest in how far rehabilitation goes, a few questions about forgiveness, and a couple timely articles about sickle-cell anemia and the difficulty of finding minority donors.

As for Pirate Nuns/Hard Limits, I’ve had this weird ‘what if’ crime lurking around for a while, though I was too involved with Pigeon to do much with it except scribble the odd note. And then I was talking to my friend Cha Cha about all this stuff that was happening to her all at the same time, and I told her she was a serendipity magnet.* She said, “That sounds like the name of a literate stripper.” And I said, “Ooo! Or a brilliant stripper who helps the police solve crimes and dances to pay the bills.” We laughed . . . but something about that strange character clicked with the odd crime. We’ll see how it goes.

What genre does your book fall under?

Full Metal would be shelved with the science fiction, but there’s a mystery in there, too.

The Pigeon Drop is a caper novel, so it would be shelved in mystery.

Hard Limits is looking like a Police Procedural/Amateur Sleuth cross, but we’ll see.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In Full Metal, I’d like to see the main character, Clyota, played by Gina Carano, the former extreme fighter who starred in Haywire. Chris Hemsworth might do as her reference partner, Charlie, as long as he—or his fans—would be willing to have his hair buzzed. And since I like to dream with an unlimited budget, I think Kevin Spacey would make the perfect Pressman.

In Pigeon. . . possibly Gina Carano for Judith or maybe Mary McCormack (a lot of my female MCs seem to be kick-ass Amazons, which is definitely writing against type). MacRae, a reformed grifter is hard to figure . . . I think Peter Facinelli** would be good in the role,*** though he’s not exactly how I described the character. I’ve always imagined security-specialist Saul as a young Ving Rhames, though LL Cool J would be seriously awesome. I’m not fussed about Blaine, the legendary huckster the rest are trying to save—Morgan Freeman or Danny Glover would be just fine!

Hard Limits . . . Summer Glau^ comes close to how I picture the MC dancer, but that’s all I’ve got so far. I don’t usually cast my characters until their books are done—I usually give ’em their own soundtracks, instead.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Full Metal: In an alternate future, where the police are privatized and librarians are armed, the daughter of a posthumously convicted mass murderer is hunted by an unknown enemy as she tries to find the truth behind her mother’s alleged crimes.

Pigeon Drop: To save the life of their boss and mentor, who needs a bone marrow transplant, a group of ex-cons use their various skills to track down his estranged family before his enemies can do the same.

Hard Limits (so far): a homicide detective acquires an unlikely—and possibly dangerous—consultant when he meets a brilliant exotic dancer who seems to know far too much about the murder of another dancer.   (or, you know, Pirate Ninja Nuns from Mars save the universe from the Mad Monks of Neptune. . . it could go either way).

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

One month.

A year and a half . . .ish.

I hope thirty days. We’ll see.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I wouldn’t presume. It’s far too soon to be thinking about read-alikes.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See the answer to the second question above, but otherwise, I have fantastic friends who encourage and nag and commiserate and inspire, who beta and corral my commas and mail me their Kindle with their notes on it, and give me their awesome stuff to read and send cookies and snort jokes and truly filthy limericks and Librarian LOLS and pigeon tchotkes.

You know who you are.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Full Metal has cybernetic Press Corps, flying cars, a mass murder on a MoonBase, a possible corporate cover-up, armed librarians, a telepathic therapist, and a courtroom scene that owes a lot to Perry Mason.

Pigeon Drop has thieves, hackers, grifters, and muscle pulling several cons to reach their goal—and those are just the good guys.

The only thing I have for Hard Limits so far is the undeniably weird fact that my mother knew someone, off the top of her head, who could answer my questions about pole dancing.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

As I said, Angela Quarles tagged me.  In turn, I’m tagging:

Averil Dean: A good friend and a writer of  of incredible depth and imagination, her blog is a must-see and her next book, Tapestry of Scars (Mira, January 2014), is going to be a must read.

Jalisa Blackman: My First Reader, without whom Pigeon would not have been written past chapter seven. She is a teacher, a writer, a reviewer, and a world-builder extraordinaire.

Laura Maylene Walter: Laura is actually the Current Big Thing.  If you haven’t read her short story collection Living Arrangements, you have a treat in store. If you haven’t read her blog, you’re missing out.

Mike Allegra: Mike writes children’s books, including Sarah Gives Thanks (about Sarah Hale, without whom there would be no official Thanksgiving), which just went into its second printing two months after its release. His blog, Heylookawriterfellow, is a fun time.

Indy Clause: Poet, essayist, freelance editor, guest poster, blogger, all around snarktastic person.

It’s my understanding that you can substitute other written forms (poems, essay, short stories, etc) for ‘book,’ if necessary.

Ladies and gentleman, tag, you’re it!


*Yeah, I’m not sure where that came from, either.

**No, I didn’t know he was in the Twilight movies until I was trying to find his name—I saw him in Loosies earlier this year and thought he was terrific. His sparkling career came as a bit of a shock, to be honest.

*** Or Jeremy Renner, because I know some of y’all were waiting for me to mention him and will make pointed remarks (cough Watson, Cha Cha cough) if I don’t. He’d actually make an excellent Chet Menke—that slimeball—or Eddie Costello, but those roles are probably too small  to interest him now.

^Am I the only one who thinks Ms. Glau resembles a Sigourney Weaver/Tia Carrere hybrid, in the best possible way?


Six Sentence Sunday: Another Introduction

Six Sentence Sunday is open to all writers. Just pick a six sentence passage from anything you’ve written—published, unpublished, whatever—and post it on your blog on Sunday.

Registration for the upcoming Sunday list opens the previous Tuesday evening at 5pm CST. More information is here.

Check out all the talent!


Last week, David McRae, a character from my current WIP shared six sentences about his former partner, Judith.  I was going to back up and describe him through her eyes, but I realized that what he’s thinking describes him far better than what he looks like.*

She’d taken off the cardigan, and it was obvious that some things had remained the same—her arms were as well-muscled as ever and the clinging material of her sleeveless top skimmed contours that were a perfect combination of nature and regular training.  He’d never seriously thought about Jayce as a potential playmate—with one regrettable exception, he’d never risked a workplace romance—but he’d have to be dead not to admire the craftsmanship. 

His gaze lit on the puckered scars on her shoulder and for a moment, he was back in the hospital in his funeral suit, listening to her breathe through a tube.   He had no right to ask her for anything—not after three years of guilty silence.  A decent person wouldn’t even try.

“Does my time start now?” he asked.


*Although she does mention that the world doesn’t know how lucky it was the man hadn’t been issued dimples.  I’m just sayin’

Waiting for the Words . . . Or Vice Versa?

I threw a bag of cat poop in the front seat of my car this morning—by accident, I swear*—which was an interesting start to the day.

But that’s okay, not only because I’d remembered to seal the $#!% bag for once, but because I’m still flying high over the write I had yesterday. It was one of those times—which lately have been few and far between, let me tell you—when the words arrived in a flood and I just tried to sop them up as fast as I could with whatever paper or pixels I had handy.

It didn’t start out that way. In fact, this particular chapter has been kicking my rear for a while, even when it was the Final Moment of a Monster Giant Info Dump Get Everything Over With Before I Lose My Mind How Many Character Arcs Do I Have Please God Don’t Let That Be A Deus Ex Machina Chapter.

You know the one, right?

And I’ve been working through it, reorganizing and back-planting clues and kicking rugs over trap doors and cutting wires all that, hoping this last bit would play nice and be the natural outcome, logically and logistically, of the rest . . . but it’s been looking more like unpainted plywood propped up against a ragged hole in the drywall.  It works, but it isn’t really part of the whole, and I wasn’t sure how to fix it or if I should fix it or tear down that ratzen-fratzen wall again and start over.

But I’m stubborn, and I had some unexpected time, and banging my forehead against solid, subconscious surfaces has started to feel perhaps just a little too good to me, so I tried again.

But before I tried again, I checked my blogfeeds and saw that Janet Reid had posted a video of Elizabeth Gilbert, she of Eat, Pray, Love.**  Since I rarely pass up an excuse for twenty minutes of not-writing, especially when sanctioned by Ms. Reid, I watched it:

I thought about all this for a few minutes.

Then I opened up the Problem Chapter, copied it to a new document, squinted at the light fixture and said, “Okay, I’m here.  Where the hell are you?” and waded back into the fray.

Not so many sentences later, a character stepped up to tell me he’d better have a  reason for saying something so stupid and the next wondered why she wasn’t pissed off at him for saying it, if he was gonna say it.  Someone else mentioned that they wouldn’t know what they were talking about, yet, and another one just whined about what I was about to do to her in the next chapter.***  Which is when the the guy who had been giving me absolute fits just cleared his throat, folded his arms, and grinned at me, waiting for me to get it.

And I got it.  I GOT IT.

I don’t know if creativity is on the inside or the outside, or if I challenged a muse, a genius, the voices in my head, or the ceiling.  And who to praise or blame if this book works . . . or doesn’t.

All I know is, I showed up and I did my job and the words were there.  And after I saved the document—in four different places, including my First Reader’s Inbox—and powered down, I said, “Whew!  Thanks.  Tomorrow at nine good for you?”

I might have heard a quiet sigh of exasperated fondness.

But you know, that light fixture has been giving me sass from day one.


*I was juggling my purse—or, as the rest of the family calls it, What On Earth Do You Have In Here? (answer: all of the stuff all of you need and don’t want to carry)—a six-pack of diet Pepsi bottles, and the plastic bag of fresh kitty litter scoopings. On the way to the garbage can, I decided to sling my stuff in the car so I wouldn’t drop anything . . .

**Which I’ll confess I haven’t read yet.   I get stubborn with Must-Reads, but I will be picking it up once I’m sure I won’t automatically see Julia Roberts when I read it.  I really have no problems with Ms. Roberts, except in this role, and it’s not her fault that she’s so incredibly unlike me that I had a total suspension of disbelief fail the moment I saw the poster.  I blame a society that makes it an act of incredible bravery for a woman who is not Hollywood Perfect to be seen eating ice cream in public, but I digress . . .

***That actually meant I was on the right track, since I never liked her anyway and she deserves it.

Six Sentence Sunday: Something a Little Different

Six Sentence Sunday is open to all writers. Just pick a six sentence passage from anything you’ve written—published, unpublished, whatever—and post it on your blog on Sunday.

Registration for the upcoming Sunday list opens the previous Tuesday evening at 5pm CST. More information is here.

Check out all the talent!


For the past thirty-four weeks—holy cow—I’ve been sharing six sentence chunks of my first drawer novel.  Thank you all for your patience!

Today, I thought I’d shake things up by offering six from my current WIP, The Pigeon Drop, and introduce one Judith Thompson, as observed through the puzzled eyes of her former partner, David McRae. 


It wouldn’t have surprised him if she’d been running a dojo, working personal security, or bouncing at a high-class bar.  Or some kind of law enforcement, as long as it was three-initialed or invisible—even if her record hadn’t been expunged, any agency running covert ops would take one look at her skill set and shred her files.

But there she was, finding books, answering questions, fixing the photocopier.  Eating a brown bag lunch, for God’s sake.  Wearing a beige cardigan . . . not that she’d ever had much use for fashion, but the color was pushing it. And she was smiling at people he’d be hard pressed not to slap upside the head. 

After a morning’s observation, he’d been more than half-convinced that the Jayce Thompson he knew had completely disappeared into this quiet, normal life that didn’t seem to be a cover or a con.

And That’s Why There’s No Post Today: A Panic in Pictures

I was minding my own business last night, working on chapter twenty-seven:*

Ducks in a Row

When things sort of got out of hand:**

Duck Parade

And I realized that everything was happening in this single and extremely long chapter because my timeline, she is like this:

Whatever Clock

And I might be suffering from just a tad of this:

Brain Fail

Though, in my defense, writing, I’ve found, is a lot like this:***


But luckily, I’ve been able to carefully and painstakingly locate a possible fix:^

Ouchie in a Haystack

Which I’m hoping will get me, if not this:

Book of Awesome

At least one of these:^^

Stuffed Pigeon

Instead of one of these:^^^


And that’s why there’s no real post today. I’m hoping you’ll forgive me because, well:

Sideways Cuteness

See you tomorrow.


*Yes, I know they aren’t pigeons.  There’s only so much I can do . . .

**Still not pigeons.  I know.

***Squirrels are almost pigeons, right?

^And I’ve used elephants before, once or twice.

^^There you go.

^^^I have no idea what this is, so I’m calling it a pigeon.  This might explain a few things about my WIP.