It worked

I’m a little obsessed with plotting.  And there are LOTS of ways to do it.  Some people don’t need to do it at all–I’m jealous. But for me?  I need all the help I can get to keep words and ideas moving for a 70,000+ book.

After all these years of writing, I still like to read about the CRAFT of writing off and on, just to keep me on my toes.  And hopefully, my writing will keep getting better.  I still have flaws, and I know it.  So does my writers club:)  For new ideas, I recommend Story Empire: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/08/28/nutshell-catch-point-no-return/   Staci Troilo is writing about plotting on that site right now–a method I’ve never heard of–the Nutshell Method. 

For a long time now, I’ve divided my books into four parts with a plot point twist at the end of each one.  Once I know those twists, I write plot points for every chapter in the book.  And that’s worked for me, but I wanted MORE.  I use a character wheel to develop important characters in the story, and that works really well, too.  But…surely, there was something else to make my mysteries sharper?  stronger?  So I came with a list of questions to answer BEFORE I started work on my plot points.  And boy, am I happy with what I came up with.  I think I finally have a good balance.  At least, for me.  And mysteries.  You might be able to fiddle with the questions for other genres, but since I don’t write those…well,…you’re on your own.

Anyway, I’m playing with an idea for a new cozy mystery.  The premise popped in my head and wouldn’t leave.  Kept bugging me.  But that’s ALL that came to mind.  So…syymied…I turned to my list of questions.  Suddenly, suspects and witnesses filled my head, the victim ended up as the dead body she deserved to be, and my series characters flexed their muscles and showed their true selves.

If you’re writing a mystery and would like to try the questions, here they are:

  1. Who is killed (at least, the first person) or what is the crime?
  2. Who commits it? And how?  (step by step so no holes or confusion)
  3. WHY Is it committed?
  4. Who are the suspects and why? (At least two, more’s better)
  5. Any witnesses? Does someone see something that looks suspicious?  Any innocent bystanders?
  6. What’s the ending? (I always know this before I write)
  7. Any special clue or red herring? Any alibis or fake alibis?  Accusations?  False arrests?
  8. A subplot (something going on with a character other than the crime)
  9. A smaller subplot.

These questions helped me.  Doesn’t mean they’ll work for you.  But whatever method you like, happy writing!

Lots of Research

D.P. Reisig wrote a story about Abraham Lincoln as a lawyer for the anthology MURDER THEY WROTE.  She’d been researching Lincoln for a long time since she’s going to write a novel about another case he had before going into politics.  And since I knew she’d read book after book about him, I thought I’d ask her some questions about some of the details in her story.

Please welcome D.P. Reisig to my blog.

  • The short story you contributed to the anthology MURDER THEY WROTE was about Abraham Lincoln as a lawyer, defending his friend’s son on a murder charge. What drew you to Abraham Lincoln?

The fact that he grew up here in Indiana and we used to have the Lincoln Museum here in Fort Wayne drew me to him. The more I learned about him as a person the more I respected who he was and what he went through to become a national leader. He had to conquer a lot of personal demons and that makes him interesting as a character. He didn’t give up.

  • Was Lincoln REALLY honest Abe? In your story, you show him as a master of “shenanigans.”  What sort of things did he pull in a courtroom?  Can you give us an example or two?

He was more intelligent than a lot of the people around him. When he believed he was right, which was usually, he would do what he had to do to win. He was not above trickery. Where the honest part comes in is that he didn’t sell out his moral beliefs. He was always fighting to do right as he saw it. He was not greedy or corrupt. He did what he honestly thought was best for people and society. He was very devoted to the idea of this democracy. Some examples of things he did as a lawyer was: in the case of a sixty-year old woman accused of killing her husband when the husband attacked her, he didn’t think he could win the case, but he believed the woman had been abused and acted in self-defense, so he helped her escape. Another example, he purposely wore old-fashioned, worn out clothes in the courtroom so the jury would see him as one of them. He went through a “disrobing” act, taking off his jacket, vest, and tie and standing before them in shirt sleeves and looking homely.

 

  • Lincoln mentions that he’d rather be home with his wife, “chasing him with a butcher knife.” Did that really happen?  How unstable was his wife?

Yes, apparently his wife, Molly, he called her, did chase him down the street with a butcher knife, but Lincoln realized how bad this looked and took the knife away from her and made her go back inside. There have been several books written about Mary Lincoln and scholars might differ as to how unstable they thought she was. Mary was likely bipolar. She and Abe developed an understanding between them, and they could help each other through their dark periods. Her deepest misfortune came after his death when she no longer had him to defend her and cater to her moods.

 

  • You also mention his first love, a sweet young girl. What happened to her?  How did Lincoln end up with Mary Todd Lincoln?

Ann Rutledge was much like Lincoln. An intelligent young girl who liked to read. Her father ran the tavern in New Salem, where Lincoln moved after leaving Indiana. She was engaged to another man who left for the east coast on a trip and never returned. For Lincoln, Ann was safe because she was engaged. He flirted with her and found himself falling in love. When this other man stopped corresponding with Ann, the two of them became unofficially engaged. They were about to make it a formal engagement, when this other man wrote that he was returning to claim Ann, then Ann became ill with typhoid fever that was running through the area and died that same month. Lincoln saw her for the last time the day before she died. He went out with a few women before settling on Mary Todd, but none of these were very serious. Mary Todd wanted to marry an important man and set her cap on Lincoln. Lincoln broke their engagement because he got cold feet, then felt guilty and they started dating quietly and soon married.

 

  • You’re working on a novel with Lincoln as the protagonist. Can you tell us a little about that?

This will be another historical mystery based on a real crime that was never officially solved, though four men claimed to have killed the victim and openly bragged about it. I like working as closely with history as I can. The story deals heavily with mob violence. In frontier Illinois and Missouri, mob violence was the rule. Certain judges set the precedent that individuals should not go against the wishes of the mob, and if they did, they could be charged. This was a subject that concerned Lincoln very much. He saw mob violence as a huge danger to democracy and freedom. He felt it threatened to shake the foundations of this country and perhaps even destroy the nation. Lincoln gave several speeches against mob violence.

 

  • You gave us hints that Lincoln’s childhood was not the best. What was his father like?

Lincoln did not get along well with his father at all. Some would say he even hated him. When his father was dying, Lincoln declined to go see him, even though he was asked to come. Lincoln said it would solve nothing, that there was no purpose in it. Lincoln’s father thought he was lazy because he preferred reading and studying to physical labor. His father loaned him out to other men as paid labor then took all the proceeds. His father’s eyesight began to fail him in older age and he grew more bitter and mean. His father was very jaded by life.

 

  • Do you have any favorite books about Lincoln? Research books, included?

That’s a tough one. I enjoy them all because they all offer a different prospective on the man. It is difficult to assume that any one source is correct in capturing the man. Each book shows you just that one person’s judgment of Lincoln and who he was. My favorite account of Lincoln is actually a movie, Lincoln (2012) with Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. When I watched it for the first time, it fit perfectly with who I felt he was from having read all the research material. I thought it was the closest you could come to truly meeting him in this day and age. Honor’s Voice by Douglas Wilson is good, and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Abraham Lincoln by William Herndon, his law partner. My favorite books are often locally written accounts by people who knew him or whose ancestors knew him. They are often more colorful and show how he was interpreted by the common man.

 

 

  • What are some of your other passions besides writing?

I have a lot of passions, which makes it harder to dedicate myself to just one thing. I love traveling, gardening, painting, cats, movies, antiques, entertaining. To name a few. I work as a nurse practitioner, so I spend a lot of time studying different medical topics.

 

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Author photo with David

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Snippet

I have Lux 2 finished. I’m just waiting for a good time to load it onto Amazon. First, I loaded the short fiction for Muddy River: Survival. Muddy River’s the series that I write because it’s quick and FUN. Then I finished the anthology I shared with 6 fellow authors. I’m inordinately proud of that. Every story they sent me was topnotch. On Sept. 22, my 5th Jazzi Zanders mystery becomes available. I have a soft spot for Jazzi and her crew. They remind me a bit of my own family. And maybe sometime after that, I can publish Lux: Heirlooms To Die For. I can hardly wait to get feedback on that. Lux let me spread my wings and try a few new things.

Anyway, Lux is still in the back of my mind, so I thought I’d share a bit of her story with you, so here’s a snippet to entice you:

Tyson, called.  Unusual during the day.  He was always busy at the community center where he worked, handing out lunches or driving people to free clinics, even tutoring them if needed.  “What’s up?” I asked.

“I only have a minute.  I’m at work, but I don’t have any plans tonight, and Mom and Dad are going to the monthly get-together for our condos, so I was wondering if you’d like to offer me a free supper.  I’d like to talk to you about something.”

Hmm.  Curious.  He’d turned his life around since moving to Summit City.  As far as I knew, everything was going smoothly for him now.  He didn’t intend to tell me any more at the moment, though.  He was going to make me wait.  “Keon works tonight, so I’d love company.  What are you in the mood for?”

“I never turn down a steak.”

My mouth watered.  I hadn’t had a ribeye for a long time.  “Does six work for you?”

“See you then.  And thanks, Lux.”…….

I was covering the steaks with foil to let them rest when Tyson beeped at the gate for me to let him in.  A few minutes later, he walked into the kitchen.

He sniffed the air and grinned.  “I smell garlic and beef.  No wonder you’re my favorite sister-in-law.”

“You say that to whichever sister-in-law you happen to be with.”  I moved the steak platter to the kitchen island and dished the spinach into a bowl.

He plopped onto one of the stools and reached for the bread.  I watched him smear it with butter.  “I hope I’m good company,” he told me when I joined him.  “Mom and Dad hit me with crappy news today.  That’s why I called you.”

I frowned.  “Are they all right?  They only retired and moved here a short while ago.”

“They’re fine, but they won’t be for long.  Dad’s mom fell and broke her hip.  Or else her hip gave and she fell.  No one knows for sure.  But whatever, Dad’s having her come to live with them.”

“Permanently?”  A knot formed in my stomach.  I’d heard horror stories about the boys’ grandma for years. 

Gloomy, Tyson nodded.  “I’m moving out.  I know a guy who rents a big apartment over a shop close to the community center.  That’s how we met.  At a nearby bar.  He’s been looking for a roommate, so I called and asked him if he’d found one yet.  His place has two big bedrooms and a big kitchen.  He’s happy to split the costs with me.”

My brain was trying to keep up with all of his news.  “But your parents loved having you in the basement of their condo.”

“I loved it, too, but I’m not staying in the same place as Grandma.  Dad isn’t too happy I’m leaving, and Mom’s broken up, but none of us liked that woman.  I’m not even sure Dad does, but you know how he is.”

I nodded.  Mr. Johnson is a generous, loving man.  How he got that way with the mother he had is beyond me.  I’d met his mother once when she came to stay for a holiday.  She was sourer than a lemon.  Bitter, too, always complaining.  Maybe that’s why Mr. Johnson married the most upbeat, positive woman he’d ever met.  Gabbie took after her mother. 

I shook my head.  “I feel sorry for your mom.”

“We’re all going to have to invite her over a lot.  Dad’s mother never has anything good to say to her.”

Or to anyone.  Keon wasn’t going to be thrilled to hear this news.  “Have you told your brothers and sister?”

He shook his head.  “You’re the first to know.  As soon as they told me, I called about the apartment and then came here for sympathy and food.”  He gave me his best poor me look.  “I thought I could count on you to call the others.”

“You just don’t want to be the bearer of bad news.”

His lips lifted into a naughty grin.  “That, too, but I really can use the time to start packing.  Grandma’s coming as soon as she’s released from the hospital.  I’m moving as soon as I can.”

“Can’t blame you.  I’ll pass on the word after you leave.  I’ll wait to tell Keon until he gets home.  I don’t want to ruin his night.”

“Smart decision.”  He used another slice of bread to clean the last of the juices off his plate.  Then his gaze shifted to the coconut cream cake I’d bought.  “Is that for me?”

Laughing, I got up to get dessert plates.  “Want coffee with it?”

“With cream and sugar.”  Tyson loved his sweets. 

We made small talk while he enjoyed the cake, and I sent a big slice home with him.  After he left, I called Cornelius, Terrance, and Gabbie to tell them the news.  They all took it badly.

Interruptions? Bring them on!

I write almost every day.  I start my morning with coffee and yakking with HH, then head into my office.  Sorting through e-mails, blogs, and twitter helps jumpstart my brain, and then I get down to the business of putting words on my computer screen.  My grandson in Indy calls nearly every morning at 10:30 when he’s taking his dog on its walk.  No matter what I’m doing, if I’m in the middle of revising or writing a scene, I stop to talk to him.  My daughter often calls in the afternoon.  I stop again.  My grandson in California, in the marines, calls at odd times.  And my sister calls a few times most days.  Those are just the regulars.  And I look forward to every one of their calls.

I’m not one of those people who can sit down and write 10,000 words in one day.  Well, I don’t think I am.  It’s never happened.  I write a scene, and then my mind wanders.  I fiddle with something else until the next scene comes to life for me.  I know what each scene needs to do because I outline every single one of them before I start a book.  But I still need to noodle how I want to present it.  A phone call is a perfect distraction to jerk my mind in a new direction and let the characters decide how to get where they need to be.

Some days, when the phone rings more often than usual, I might get more distracted than  I want to, but life has to be about balance.  And as much as I love writing, I love friends and family just as much.  They all have to make room for each other.

When I first started writing, and the kids were little, my husband worked second trick. There was always someone underfoot, even if I went to the basement and hid in a corner to write.  Maybe that’s why I can’t plough through words for hours at a time.  Distractions were part of my writing rhythm.  I worked around them.  Now that the kids have grown and moved out, my husband’s retired.  Now he’s the one who pops in and out of my office enough to keep me entertained.  On off days, when he leaves for an entire day, I have trouble getting any work done.  The house feels too quiet.  I get up and wander to the kitchen over and over again to get more coffee, a glass of juice, to look out at my birdfeeders.  I need distractions to function at top capacity.

What about you?  Do you pound out lots of words in one day or do you dribble them out like I do?  What works best for you?  And whatever your method, happy writing!

 

 

Inspiration

When I first thought of asking authors I admire to join me in an anthology, I asked a few of my close writing friends if they’d try to write a mystery for me.  And I got blank stares.  Okay.  Totally fair.  Because not one of them has ever written a mystery.  I got it.  But I really wanted them to write a story for me.  So I thought of an idea.

“What if we use the game Clue to inspire us?”

The game itself is copyrighted.  But I didn’t really want to base it on the game or movie.  I just wanted to help my friends get ideas for mysteries.

“What if we each choose a room?  A weapon?  And a color?  And use those in our stories somehow.”

I ended up picking Miss Peacock with a wrench in the kitchen as loose inspiration for my story.  Miss Peacock became Earnestine Peabody, a nosy busybody who’s trying to dig up dirt on the volunteer decorators who are working on a grand, old house in River Bluffs to sell so that the profits go to charities.  Jazzi, Ansel, and Jerod sign up to renovate the kitchen, dining room, and half bath to help support the food banks in their town.  And as it happened, Earnestine was killed in the kitchen but stuffed in a hall closet, but that’s all right, because the game was only supposed to inspire us, not to be taken too seriously.

Which was a good thing.  Because my fellow writers went in all kinds of directions with the stories they wrote.  Mr. Plum evolved into a plum room in an attic, haunted by two ghosts, when Kathleen Palm sent me her psychological horror mystery.  I can’t say much more without giving away the plot.  Julia Donner, not content with one murder weapon, chose two for her humorous Regency mystery.  The poor victim had a bell pull wrapped around his neck and then he was whacked with a candlestick to finish the job.  And C.S. Boyack couldn’t find a weapon to his liking, so chose his own.  Had to.  A knife, revolver, wrench, rope, candlestick, or lead pipe wouldn’t harm Jason Fogg when he transformed. Mae Clair chose the hall, but put that hall in a castle for her medieval whodunnit.  And Rachel Sherwood Roberts made the conservatory the pivot point of her literary mystery.  D.P. Reisig decided against the regular weapons, too, and introduced one I’ve never heard of, a slung-shot, but it definitely sounded deadly.

So, even though we used Clue to get our little grey cells working,–and really, that’s all we needed it for–we all went in our own directions once it sparked ideas.  It served its purpose.  So from this day on, I’ll enjoy it as a game, a movie, and now as inspiration.

 

 

Mystery Musings

Humor.  It’s such a great antidote.  That’s why I was so happy that C.S. Boyack and Julia Donner wrote two humorous mysteries for the anthology I put together.  When I read Craig’s Jason Fogg story, I smiled all the way through it.  The premise of a detective who can dissolve into…yup, you guessed it…fog…was so much fun.  And his delivery…well, if you’ve read any of his books, it was fun, too.  Here’s a short blurb of his mystery From the Files of Jason Fogg:

They probably don’t even recognize me in the building, because I usually skipped the lobby and went for my upstairs window. I always left myself a way inside and squeezing through a tiny crack was a piece of cake. The back room was perfect for reforming because there are no windows. No sense in flashing the neighbors across the street. After making myself presentable, I checked the mail. Nothing but bills. Maybe Riley was right about this job.

My bus pass was in the top drawer, and I grabbed some business cards for good measure. “Jason Fogg Detective Agency.” Has a nice ring to it. On the way out, I scooped up a garbage bag with a change of clothes. Jeans and red flannel, it’s practically the uniform of Seattle.

People on the bus commented about the lovely weather. Honestly, I prefer a good downpour but simply agreed with them.

Craig’s a natural at writing with humor, but I think it’s a tricky voice to accomplish.  He seems to manage it with ease.  So does Julia Donner in the Regency mystery she sent for the collection.  The minute I saw her scene titles, I knew I was in for a treat.

Murder at a Garden Party

or The Unpleasantness in the Study

West London

May 1818

Scene 1

Wherein Suspects Are Introduced

See?  No “Body in the Study.”  Regencies are all about good manners.  A corpse is merely an “Unpleasantness.”  I loved it!  I loved the entire story.  Here’s a little to tease you:

Under the pavilion’s roof, guests more interested in the topic of the murder than in the balloon spectacle huddled in groups, whispering while striving to contain offended sensibilities. Understandably, the brutal slaying of Lord Mainspout would deign Lady Brilliant’s assembly either a social coup or a doomed disgrace.

Peregrine lifted his hand to tap away a yawn with the backs of his fingers. “It is indeed astonishing what a lady will get up to when it comes to making herself the most talked about hostess in London. I had thought a balloon ascension a rather desperate measure. A dead body is truly above and beyond.”

“One shouldn’t have to contrive to this extent.”

“But they lack your intelligence and style, m’dear. Patience, Lizzie. Sir Hector and Lady Brilliant have better ton than to allow themselves to get caught up in a vulgar controversy. Do you think the butler did it?”

“Oh, do be serious. If we must loiter about waiting for the magistrate and his tedious questions, tell me about the guests to keep me occupied. I know all of them superficially. Guessing who is responsible for the unpleasantness in the study will pass the time.”

He chuckled and discretely tickled the inside of her left wrist. “You are deliciously heartless today, Lady Asterly. And speculation would present a method for keeping extreme boredom at bay whilst we wait. I must warn you that other than this lovely house and park on the veritable edge of town, Sir Hector and Lady Brilliant are a crashingly boring pair.”

“There is no such word as crashingly.”

“If the shoe fits.”

I’ve loved Peregrine and Elizabeth since I first read about them in The Heiress and the Spy.  https://www.amazon.com/Heiress-Spy-Friendship-Book-ebook/dp/B00HGQCAYU/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=julia+donner&qid=1598638918&sr=8-2

It was lovely to see them in a short story.

But there you have it.  Two mysteries.  Both filled with humor.  And yet so different.  That’s what makes writing so wonderful.  We each come to it with our own voice, our own styles.  I hope these two samples of stories catch your interest so that you take a peek at Murder They Wrote.  It includes 7 different authors and 7 different approaches to murder:)

Snippet

I’ve been ignoring my latest Muddy River short fiction, SURVIVAL.  My blog friend, Mae Clair, wrote a wonderful review for it that made my day.  And it reminded me that Hester and Raven could use a little love.  Here’s her review:

https://maeclair.net/2020/08/25/book-review-tuesday-survival-muddy-river-6-by-judi-lynn-the-nine-astral-conspiracy-3-by-d-l-cross/

There are plenty of enemies and battles in the story, but Raven and Hester face them all together.  Here’s a snippet that shows them as a couple before the crap hits the fan:

I was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping pinot grigio, letting my mind drift, when I heard Raven’s car pull into the garage.  A minute later, he pushed through the kitchen door.  Six-five and corded with muscle, with black hair and amber eyes, he locked gazes with me, and his look sizzled.  “Is everything packed?” When I nodded, he grinned.  “Brown’s covering the office while I’m gone, and Strike’s promised to help out if needed.  We have an entire week to ourselves, just you, me, and Claws.  I have plans for you, witch.”

It was about time.  Between Raven’s job and mine, it was hard for either of us to get away.  I pointed to the suitcases and coolers sitting in the corner.  Swallowing the last of my wine, I stood.  “Let me change, and I’m ready.”

He licked his lips.  Even across the room, I could feel the heat build in him.  “Need any help?”  His voice was husky.

I shook my head.  Fire demons could be distracted by lust.  “If you want to get to the cabin by supper time, it would be safer if I did it myself.”

“Right.”  His expression turned even more lascivious.  “Everything in due time.”  He bent to grab bags to load into my SUV.  Twenty minutes later, Claws curled on the backseat and I rode shotgun. Glancing at my worn jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt, Raven gave his head a sharp shake as he turned onto Banks Road.  “Those clothes cling to everything I like.  It’s going to be hard keeping my eyes on the road.”

“The sooner we get to the cottage, the sooner you won’t have to.”

He chuckled and turned away from Muddy River, heading north so that we could enjoy ourselves and each other.

Calming Down

Things have been more scrunched for time for me lately.  Life does that.  Sends you way too many things at the same time to see if you survive.  I have, but I’m really ready for life to slow down a bit.  I feel like I’ve been juggling too many balls and I barely got through without them all crashing down.

I’m not looking for sympathy, because I’ve worked through most of it, but my sister died, and then my other sister had to endure three surgeries really close together, and my cousin–who lived with Patty and now will live with Mary–has all kinds of health issues, and Mary couldn’t lift more than twenty pounds.  You’d be surprised how much that limits you.  None of it’s been horrible, but it’s all been trying.

Mary, with HH and my help, has been trying to empty Patty’s house to sell, and Jenny fell three times so that I had to spend the night sleeping in a recliner to keep an eye on her.  My sister Mary has done much, much more, so I’m only backup.  But it’s been rough.  On top of that, I’ve been writing and editing, and living my life.  I’ve had writing meetings at my house.  Because of Covid, we can’t meet in our usual room.  And I’ve been cooking for HH and me and sending leftovers to my sister (she hates to cook), and cooking for Scribes (because I love them) and cooking for kids whenever they come up to see us.

And I’ve loved all the good things.  Survived the bad things.  But I’m SO grateful it looks like we’re going to have a few weeks of down time.  I’m really ready for days with no pressure.  And I feel like a wimp, because Mary still has crap to deal with it, but I can’t help her with it.  I’m not power of attorney, so it’s all on her.  And I feel bad for her, but I have to admit, it’s going to be nice that I can’t do anything for a while, except send leftovers to her and my cousin.  Which they love and appreciate, and that even makes me feel tacky, because the leftovers are no big deal.

BUT, I think I’m going to have time to start plot points for my next Jazzi book (#7).  AND I got an idea for a new series–which I have no idea how I’ll find time to write, but the idea won’t go away.  SO, I’m going to plot out both books because I finally can write, then stop, then write again, until I figure out what I want to do.  And I’m not going to be rushed.  And that’s wonderful.  So I’m going to give both books time to unravel themselves and come to life for me.  And I’m grateful.

Hope you’re writing, too. May the Muse smile on you:)

Treasures

Our grandson, Nate, gets out of the Marines on Oct. 13 and is moving to Indianapolis to settle for a while and start school on the G.I. bill.  We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.  We live about 2 hours away but within driving distance.  And we asked him what he’d like to celebrate his becoming a civilian.  He used to cook with me when he was growing up and loves puttering in the kitchen, so he said he wanted a great start on kitchen products.

He told that to the right person:)  Nate and I still talk recipes, so little by little–(we’ve had almost half a year), I’ve been buying him kitchen gear.  He has 51 more days before he’s released from duty, and we’ve bought him a huge set of pots and pans, a Geoffrey Zakarian cast-iron grill with a heavy top to smash hamburgers and steaks, dishes, silverware, casserole dishes, a stoneware 9 x 13 pan, a Ninja multi-cooker, spatulas and cooking spoons, and much, much more.  I’m going to start stocking him up on spices and seasonings next, then glassware and mugs.  His kitchen will be better stocked than we ever had when HH and I started out.

It made me think of girls I knew when I was young who had hope chests.  They started them in high school and collected all kinds of things they thought they’d need when they got married.  I wasn’t sure that would ever happen to me, so I never had one, but I had lots of friends who did.  I don’t know if girls still do that, but it was popular when I was in school.  Then, on top of that memory, our good friend Ralph Miser told me about a friend who bought a house and found a young girl’s treasure box in its attic.  The girl had saved all kinds of things that made her happy–pretty rocks, a science fair ribbon from school, good report cards, and little odds and ends that she’d collected.

When Ralph told me about the treasure box, it made me think of a story for my Jazzi and Ansel cozy series.  I wanted them to buy a fixer-upper and find a treasure chest in a locked bedroom full of a young girl’s journals and prizes.  When Jazzi looks the girl up online, she learns that she was pushed off a balcony shortly before her high school graduation and her murder was never solved.

I grew really fond of Jessica, but it was her treasure chest that enchanted me.  A box full of memories and a promise of potential that never came to be.

twitter post for The Body From the Past

 

How sad.  Jazzi thinks so, too, and is determined to find who pushed her to her death.  Hope for the future is such a powerful thing, it’s sad when it’s destroyed.  That’s what happens in The Body From the Past.  And it was interesting to explore it.  I’m going to start plot points for my seventh Jazzi mystery soon, with a different theme, and I’m looking forward to it.

 

Whatever the theme is for your writing now, enjoy.  And Happy Writing!