Friday, August 26, 2016

I Got Those First Draft Blues...

The challenges of this writing week have been the death of my desktop (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) and the return of wrist problems AND a surprise visit from my pop on a day set aside for nothing but research and writing.

Which wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't already behind.

But I am. Mostly due to circumstances outside my control, but that's life. Or the writing life.

Writing a first draft is just the weirdest thing. You start with basically nothing. Even when it's a series book and you have the advantage of knowing the characters and their dynamic...there's this feeling of trying to make a snowman out of sand. I hate this stage. It is all blood, sweat and tears. And Sam-E and motrin and sleeping with wrist braces and typing with copper thread gloves and begging my computer not to leave me...

I'll do anything you ask, just don't die, my little graphics card...

Anyway, here's a messy, clunky  wee snippet from the first draft of FAIR CHANCE, third and final book in the ALL'S FAIR trilogy, which is the current project (though not due out until next year)


“I knew you’d come.”

Andrew Corian, dubbed “The Sculptor” by the national press, was smiling that same old smile. Supremely confident and a little scornful. For a moment it was as almost as if he was seated at his desk in his old office at PSU and not in this dingy interview room at The Federal Detention Center in Sea-Tac.

“Sure you did,” Elliot said. He had been second-guessing the decision to meet with Corian from the minute he’d acceded to SAC Montgomery’s request, and Corian’s supercilious attitude just confirmed his doubts. They were not going to get anything useful out of The Sculptor.

Corian’s big hands, wrists handcuffed, rested on the resin table top. He spread his fingers, palms up in a have a seat gesture as Elliot took the chair across the table.

 “How could you resist? A chance to play hero one last time. A chance to convince yourself you got the better of me.”

“You’ve been hitting the psych shelves in the prison library pretty hard,” Elliot commented, folding his arms on the table top. He glanced casually around the room. He’d been in plenty of these interview rooms back when he’d been with the FBI. Neutral colors. Durable furniture. Mesh over the windows. Generic right down to the two-way mirror behind which stood Detective Pine of Tacoma Homicide and FBI Special Agent Kelli Yamiguchi.

Just in case they missed anything, the cameras overhead were recording the interview.

Corian’s eyes, a weird shade of hazel that looked almost yellow in the institutional light, narrowed at Elliot’s jibe, but his broad smile never faltered. He seemed to be a in great mood for a guy looking at a multiple life sentences.

“I don’t need to read a psychology book to understand you, Mills. There’s nothing complicated about your psyche.”

“But enough about me,” Elliot said. “Let’s talk about your favorite subject. You. Or more exactly, why you wanted to see me.”

Corian sat back in his chair. He looked a bit like a cartoonist’s idea of the devil. Gleaming bald head and immaculately trimmed Vandyke. He was a big man and prison had made him bigger. Leaner. Harder. He looked like he ate steroids for every meal and spent all his free time body-building. Maybe the body-building wasn’t far from the truth. There wasn’t a hell of a lot to do while sitting around waiting for trial. Not when you’d been caught red-handed, as it were, in a series of brutal slayings and mutilations spanning more than fifteen years.

He said, “I didn’t want to see you, Mills. I gave you permission to visit. That’s all.”

“Two letters in two months? We’re practically pen pals. Come off it, Corian. You want me to sit here and listen to you explain in detail how brilliant you were. How brilliant you still are compared to the rest of us.”

Corian’s smile widened. “That wouldn’t be the only reason.”

“It’ll be the main reason. You’re sure as hell not interested in bringing closure to the families of the victims.”

“You’ve never understood me, Mills.”

“You’re right about that.

“But you’re afraid of me.”

Elliot sighed. “No, Andrew. I’m not.”

They had never been on first name terms. Corian replied, “You should be, Elliot.”

“This is bullshit.” Elliot made sure his tone revealed nothing but boredom. “If the idea was to get me here so you could practice your bogeyman routine, you’re wasting both our time.” He pushed his chair back as though to rise.

Corian sat back and expelled an exasperated sigh. “Goddamn, Mills. Can’t you at least buy me a drink before you screw me over?”

“Look, you wrote me. I’m not looking to continue our relationship--if you want to call it that. I don’t need closure. I got my closure when they slammed those cell doors on you.”

That wasn’t completely true. Like everyone else involved in the case, Elliot wasn’t going to truly breathe a sigh of relief until Corian was tried and convicted. He wanted the reassurance of knowing Corian was locked up in a maximum facility until the end of time. The numerous court date postponements were wearing on everyone’s nerves.

Corian had the gall to look wounded. It was only partly an act. Being a psychopath, his own pain and his own frustrations were very real to him. It was the suffering of other people he was indifferent to.

“I’d appreciate a little courtesy. A few minutes of intelligent conversation. Or as close as you can manage.”

Elliot eyed him without emotion. “All right. But we don’t have all day. If you’ve got something to say, you’d better say it.”

Corian leaned back in his chair, smiling. “How’s the fall session shaping up? Have they hired someone to replace me yet?”

 “Oh, no one could replace you,” Elliot said sarcastically.

“True.” Corian grinned. “How’s Rollie? I read his book. When you think about it, it’s pretty ironic. The only child of a celebrity sixties radical joining the FBI.”

 “Yep. Ironic. Are we done with the chitchat?”

Corian’s smile faded. “All right. Ask your questions.”

“As of this date, sixteen bodies have been removed from the cellar of your property in Black Diamond, bringing the number of victims to twenty-three. Is that it? Is that an accurate headcount? Or are there more?”

“Headcount.” Corian’s smile was pure Mephistophelian. Partly he was acting. Partly he was simply…evil.


  1. OMG! I can't wait! With that said, take care of your wrists!

  2. You know, I have a thing for Elliot and Tucker, but your wrist are more important for me.
    Can you dictate your text? If I have something to write, it's better for me to type direct and change my text immediately. I am not very comfortable with voice to text thingies.
    Your snippet is great!

    1. I wish I could. I don't seem to be able to make that jump. Granted, there was a time I couldn't jump from handwritten to direct data it's not impossible. Just not possible in this moment.

  3. How about voice recognition software? ....although you still need a functional computer....and I am only asking because it sounds kinda fun to stand outside your window and listen to you recite (read as "mumble behind your hands") the sex scenes out loud......not that I would be standing outside your window....uh...I brought you a mouse....

    1. Is it possible I have some weird California Girl accent? Because Dragon seemed to think I was speaking in some long lost version of Gaelic. :-D

  4. Oh no! Take care of those wrists!!

  5. Ooooh! What a great snippet! This is going to be sooo goooood...

    I'm sending warm-and-gentle-massage-related-thoughts to your wrists and kick-in-the-ass-wishes to your desktop.


    Take care, Josh!

    1. Be careful what you wish for is the motto of the day. The new computer is currently more trouble than the dead computer. :-D

  6. I was going to recommend Nuance DragonSpeak or similar software, and a BIG-ass container of honey-lemon throat drops, but I see folks already beat me to it. Sending healing thoughts.

  7. Loving the snippet! Really just love the word 'snippet'. But your book snippet is creepy good! I edit (always looking for work :D) and sometimes I can barely move my wrists and 'drumsticks' - my thumbs. The jar of blue cream named after a giant land bird is surprisingly helpful. Good luck on the wrists AND the book. You've never written anything bad!

    1. A few years ago I had the same problem with the thumbs. Massage (weekly and deep tissue) made a life--well, career--saving difference.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. That is so good! The back and fore, Elliot's wisecracks, Corian's bonkers menace. I could see them and hear them. Corian's such a great villain. Im so sorry about your wrists though. Can you hire a flunky to dictate to, like whatserface in Murder She Wrote? Mind you the person she hired invariably turned out the be the murderer, so...
    Seriously though, that is a brilliant excerpt. How can your first drafts sound ready to go?

    PS sorry about the deleted comments above. I had a tussle with Wordpress and it won. x

    1. Hey you!

      Word Press always wins with me too. Which is why *cough* this is Blogger. :-D :-D :-D

    2. Aside from teasing you -- thank you for the kind words. I don't tend to show the parts with the TALK ABOUT CASE HERE comments. :-D

    3. You spotted the cunning mistake then. Drat. :-p I have FILL IN ENTIRE STORY comments (which is probably worse).

  11. Thanks for this wonderful snippet! Definitely looking forward to my next fix of Tucker and Elliot:)
    Take care of your wrists, and best of luck with your new computer.