Short Story Sunday #60

SSS Mystery Man One

            Lilah placed her laptop on her lap and watched the screen light up. She picked at her fingernails patiently not knowing what else to do as she waited. She glanced over to George who was sitting at his desk on the other side of the office. He was clicking away on the mouse of his desktop computer looking very serious. Lilah wondered if he was in the middle of something important, but they didn’t have any cases for the time being. When her laptop finally turned on all the way, she pushed the thought out of her mind and logged onto her blog.

She smiled at the many views she had on her blog stats. She had a lot of “likes” on her recent blog posts, many new comments, and also a few new followers. Lilah responded to the comments and typed away on a new blog post to publish.

Her blog was based on the Private Investigator agency George had set up a few months back. For publicity, Lilah started a blog telling the types of crimes they’ve solved, criminal justice information, and also what to do in certain situations. It was becoming more and more popular each day and with each case they solved.

After publishing a new post, Lilah opened a new tab on her Internet browser and checked the e-mail linked to her blog. Instead of leaving comments, some people left feedback on the “Contact” page of her blog, which sent straight to her e-mail.

There was only one feedback message and the subject read, “HELP.”

Lilah’s eyes grew wide and she clicked on the message with curiosity. She didn’t know what to expect. She did sometimes get spammers through her blog. She couldn’t imagine someone would actually be calling out for help through the Internet.

Her eyes darted from left to right as she read the message. She gasped and called George over to her.

“Hold on, Lilah. I’m in the middle of a level…” George muttered without taking his eyes off the screen.

“Get over here!” Lilah growled.

“It’s not my fault you introduced me to this silly game. Now I’m addicted.” George grumbled back.

Lilah grunted and got up from the couch carrying her laptop over to George’s desk. She turned the monitor off George’s computer and placed her screen in front of him.

“Now I’m going to lose…” George’s voice drifted as he read the message in front of him. “Where did this come from?”

“Someone used the contact information on my blog to send this to us.” Lilah pointed to the screen. “How do I respond to this? They gave an e-mail address as well a house address.”

“Well, it sounds as though this is urgent. I don’t think e-mailing him back is going to help anyone.” George stood up from his desk and lifted his trench coat off the back of his chair.

“So are we going to go to the house?” Lilah took a step back.

“I think that’s the only way to investigate this. I just hope it’s not someone playing a prank.”

“It sounds pretty serious to me, George.” Lilah sighed. She closed her laptop and led the way out of the office.

*

Lilah stepped out of the taxi after George and watched him as he paid the driver. She bent her knees bouncing in anticipation. When the driver finally drove away, she darted toward the front door of the house, but George lagged behind.

“What are you doing?” Lilah stopped and called behind her.

“We can’t rush in there. We don’t want them to get suspicious.” George replied walking casually with his hands in his pockets.

“This is life or death, George.” Lilah glared at him.

“Right; so we don’t want to startle anyone.” George nodded his head. “Just stay cool, calm, and collected.”

Lilah growled under her breath, but she waited for George to catch up. She looked around the lawn and nodded her approval. It was freshly mowed with a blooming garden off to the side of the house. The house itself was in great shape on the outside. If she didn’t know any better, she would have assumed the house was newly built. The maroon red shudders and mint green siding shined in the harsh sunlight.

Lilah looked at the clear, glass windows and realized the blinds were down in every one. She turned around and looked at George pointing it out.

“I know, I know.” George whispered. He walked up to the front door and rang the bell.

Someone shuffled along inside the house and a few clonks and clangs were heard. Lilah and George looked at each other in wonderment, Lilah biting her lower lip nervous.

A young girl opened the door a small crack and poked her head out. “May I help you?”

Lilah stared at the girl in confusion. She was definitely older than this girl. She looked like a kid.

“Yes,” George gave her a friendly smile. “My name is George Florence and this is my colleague, Lilah Williams. We’re private investigators. We received a message that someone needed help at this residence?”

The young girl and opened the door all the way. She turned around and led the way into the next room. Lilah looked at George motioning for him to go first and he obeyed.

The girl stood off to the side in the doorway sighing.

Lilah stopped beside George and stared in horror at a dead body lying face-down on the carpet, stiff as a board.

The girl stared at George with unblinking eyes. “I swear I didn’t do it.”

Part Two

Advertisements

Change of Plans

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

About a week ago, I posted my May Goals. I’ve been checking back on that post every so often as its helping me stay on task with my reading, writing, and blogging.

I reread the post the other day and realized that some plans have already changed. I know, I know… we’re not even halfway through the month yet.

Everything is pretty much the same except I decided not to type up the next draft of George Florence 2.

After meeting with my writing group a few weeks ago (which is explained further in my Problems with Protagonists post) I decided that the first book need my undivided attention and all the love it can get because I have a lot of decisions to make with that book.

1. Should I change the POV?
2. Should I make Lilah the protagonist instead of George?

Those aren’t simple changes such as deleting a scene or changing a character’s name or appearance. Changing the main character and the POV will ultimately change the entire dynamic of the novel–of the entire series.

So, I’m going to put the second book aside for the time being and focus my attention on the first book. My writers group has one more meeting before we break for the summer so I’ll spend my summer focusing on that novel. That way in September when I meet with my group again it’ll be like I’m giving them an entirely different novel.

With that said, my other writing goals for May remain the same. I’ve been writing one Short Story Sunday a day, I’ve been slowly working on critiques for my next meeting with my writers group, I’m getting my children’s book ready to be queried, Kris and I started working on a writing-related project, and I’m keeping my eyes open for magazines and contests and submit to.

20 days left in May… I hope I make it!

May Goals

May 2015 Goals

April has come and gone and boy, did it go by fast. Spring is officially here (let’s hope the weather stays nice) and school is officially over for me which means that I’m going to have more time on my hands. More reading, more writing, more blogging.

That being said, I decided to set monthly goals for myself to get myself into a better routine. I’ll still be spending six hours of my day at work, but that’s all scheduled so it’s easy to set goals.

Reading:

With five Saturdays in May, that means five book reviews. These books may change depending on my mood, but as of right now here’s what I’m thinking of reading:

1. TTFN by Lauren Myracle
2. L8R, G8R by Lauren Myracle
3. The Sight by Erin Hunter
4. Dark River by Erin Hunter
5. Outcast by Erin Hunter

The Lauren Myracle books are books two and three of the Internet Girls series. I already read and reviewed book one, TTYL.

The three Erin Hunter novels are the first three novels of six in the third Warriors series. I haven’t read that series in a while so I decided to get back into them.

As stated, those books may change. Books may also be added depending on how quickly I can get through those five novels.

With that being said, my Reading List was updated with April’s books.

Writing:

For my writing group I need to edit parts two and three of the first George Florence novel. I need to look at part two and the critiques I get on that and then look at part three to send in by the 15. Then I have a meet with the group on the 30 so I also need to critique their pieces by then.

I have to type up the next draft of George Florence 2 and take a closer look at that and the first novel. That way my next edits can possibly be the last.

I plan to write one Short Story Sunday a day giving me 31 short stories by the end of the month.

I’m going to start querying my children’s book. I’ve been slowly gathering information on different agents over the past few weeks, so I think it’s time to get rolling on that.

I also may or may not try to find some contests and magazines to submit to depending on if I have time to write submissions or if I already have something to submit.

Kris and I are also going to start working on a big project–not a book, but it’s writing related. There will be more on that much later, though.

So, there’s a lot of editing and querying to do this month and only a little bit of writing. I have too many manuscripts written, but not edited. I may or may not leave the writing to NaNo months for the time being. We’ll see.

Blogging:

Nothing has changed on the blog. I’m just going to continue posting every day hoping each post is better than the last.

Overall, May is going to be a super busy month. Between reading, writing, blogging, and work, I have my plate full. At least I don’t have to worry about school anymore… I can’t wait for my diploma to arrive in the mail!

Short Story Sunday #52

Anonymous Tip Excerpt

I entered the kitchen, hoping to keep quiet enough so I wouldn’t wake Lilah in the other room. To be honest, I was surprised she was even still asleep at this time. Most of the time she would wake me as early as six in the morning just because she was bored and wanted someone to hang out with.

I turned on the kitchen light and took out a pan from a drawer under the oven. I thought of waiting to make breakfast for when Lilah woke up, but I was hungry and she was able to fend for herself when it came to cooking. I took out the eggs and butter from the refrigerator and placed them on the counter next to the sink. Then I rolled up my sleeves and turned on the water to wash my hands.

“ACK!” I shouted in surprise.

I immediately turned off the faucet and looked down at the giant wet spot covering most of the front of the shirt. Breathing heavily from shock, I looked at the faucet to make sure nothing was wrong with it.

That’s when I saw it: a rubber band tied around the squirt nozzle.

I grinded my teeth together and shook my head. I willed myself not to get frustrated; that’s exactly what she was going to expect from me.

“Good morning!” Lilah greeted in a sing-song voice. She entered the kitchen without bothering to look at me, but she had a wide grin on her face. She opened the refrigerator and put her head in.

“Let me guess,” I leaned against the sink glaring at her. “You’ve been awake this entire time and have been waiting for me to come into the kitchen to soak myself.”

Lilah stood up straighter and grinned looking me up and down. “Are you wet? I didn’t even notice.”

“Lilah,” I growled.

“Oh, you already took out the eggs and butter. Perfect.” Lilah muttered closing the refrigerator. She walked past me, still smiling, but not looking at me.

“I hate you.” I muttered as she walked by.

“Hate is such a strong word, George.” Lilah looked me in the eye right after putting a glob of butter on the pan. “Besides, it’s April Fool’s Day. You didn’t expect me to carry on like it’s a normal day, did you?”

She turned on the stove and watched the butter melt before she proceeded to crack a few eggs into a bowl.

I sighed watching her. No, I guess I couldn’t expect Lilah to treat a day dedicated to pranking people go by wasted.

Lilah Williams was my colleague for my private investigation business. She came walking unexpectedly into my house a few months ago giving me my first freelance case. When that case turned into a homicide and we figured out the real cause of death of her father, Lilah ended up staying a lot longer than intended. She even decided to move in with me.

It wasn’t bad having Lilah live with me. It was nice to have the company and she was a big help with my agency. She advertised a lot for my business through her blog, which was extremely popular on the Internet. If only her blog would start getting me regular cases, then we’d be all set.

“You want scrambled, right?” Lilah broke the silence. She had just finished mixing the eggs in the bowl and was pouring it onto the melted butter in the pan.

“I guess so.” I shrugged. She had already turned the eggs scrambled anyway.

“Good, because I forgot to ask before I started making these.” Lilah snickered.

“You were too busy laughing at my pain.” I said melodramatically.

“Oh, please. You got a little wet. You didn’t melt, did you?” Lilah looked over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow.

“I guess not,” I muttered and stood up straight once more. “I am going to get changed before breakfast, though.”

“Well, hurry up. It’s almost ready and eggs cool fast.” Lilah sprinkled some salt and pepper over the yellow puddle in the pan.

Once I finished getting dressed for the second time that morning, I went back to the kitchen and wrinkled my nose. Lilah sat at the kitchen table sipping on a cup of coffee, the scent taking up the entire kitchen.

I sat down at the table across from her and ate my eggs as quickly as I could.

“Slow down,” Lilah scolded. I noticed she had already finished eating her eggs.

“You know you’re not allowed to make coffee while I’m in the house.” I muffled with a mouth full of food.

“That’s never stopped me before. That’s a stupid rule, George. It’s a smell, get over it.” Lilah tipped her head back and gulped down the rest of her beverage. She placed the mug on the table and sighed with satisfaction.

“We should go for a walk this morning.” Lilah announced.

I finished eating my eggs and leaned back in my chair eyeing her.

“It’s supposed to get up to about 65 to 70 degrees today. Spring is officially here!” she cheered knowing she needed to convince me more.

“You are more than welcome to go for a walk, Lilah. In fact, I think it’s a great idea. Then I can have the house to myself for a little bit.” I bared my teeth in a smile.

“Don’t be such an old man.” Lilah smirked. “It’ll be fun. It’ll be good for us.”

“We walk enough.” I complained. “And I didn’t use to be an old man… you made me this way the moment you first knocked on my door.”

Lilah stared at me with a serious expression.

I sighed, “Fine, we can go for a walk. This isn’t going to turn into a daily thing though, is it?”

“It can,” Lilah perked up, “I think that would be a great idea! Walking is excellent exercise.”

I rested my head on the table pushing my empty plate to the middle.

Lilah grabbed my plate and put it in the sink for me. I sat up slowly watching her with a close eye. I expected her to rinse the dishes and then place them in dishwasher; she couldn’t stand any mess and dirty dishes in the sink was a huge pet peeve of hers.

I had to wonder, did she remember…?

“AHH!” Lilah shrieked the moment she turned on the faucet.

I grinned so wide my face began to hurt.

Lilah turned around with her arms held out as though she herself was contaminated. A huge wet spot stained her blouse. She narrowed her eyes at me. “Don’t you say a word.”

I began to laugh. “Karma!”

Camp NaNo: New Characters

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

I wrote 3,010 words this morning. My official word count for Camp NaNoWriMo at the moment is 19,034 words. I would have liked to hit 20,000 words this morning, but I wanted to post on here and then I have to get ready for work (technically, I should be getting ready for work now).

I think it was on day two or three of Camp that I introduced a new character into my novel, Anonymous Tip (which is  a George Florence novel).

I didn’t expect her to come into the story. I didn’t think she would even exist. Her name is Celeste and she’s the mother of two side characters, so obviously she exists because those other two characters had to come from somewhere, right? Yet, she wasn’t supposed to make an appearance and she managed to push her way through anyway.

If you knew her personality, which is a stubborn and head-strong, you can easily see why she made herself known in the novel.

It’s a good thing because poor George and Lilah had a case, but they didn’t have a client. Well, this woman barged into my story and into their lives and now they have a client. So, I guess she has a purpose after all.

This morning, another new character came into play. I debated on introducing her to the series eventually, but I didn’t think it would be in this novel.

Her name is Ingrid Florence. Yes, George’s mother.

She and Celeste butt heads a lot. So, naturally when Celeste made an appearance, Ingrid felt as though she needed to join in as well.

Ingrid hasn’t actually been in the novel, yet. She left a message on George’s answering machine, but already I can tell that she too has a strong personality. Yet, she seems a lot nicer than Celeste.

I wonder if Ingrid and Celeste are going to end up in a scene together? I’m sure that would be interesting to see.

How are your novels coming along? Have any unexpected characters come for a visit?

Camp NaNo: Week One Recap

April 4 2015

Week one of Camp NaNoWriMo is coming to a close as of midnight tonight. Of course, depending on your time zone you may have a bit longer… or week one may already be done. Anyway….

Week one went well for me. I skipped writing a couple of days (oops) but I’m still ahead of the game, so it’s all good.

Daily Word Count:
Day 1: 5,015
Day 2: 2,005
Day 3: 0
Day 4: 4,047
Day 5: 2,454
Day 6: 0
Day 7: 2,503

Week one total: 16,024 words

As you can see, my word count fluctuates.

My original plan was to write 2,000 a day, extra on the weekends since I’ll have the extra time. As you can see, that has not been happening. I hope to get into a better routine for week two, but as long as I stay on par I’m good.

My novel is going well. I’m writing the next installment to my George Florence series. It’s a brand new case with new characters, new settings, new drama. It’s going really well (in my opinion). When the month is over, I plan on posting an excerpt as a Short Story Sunday that I hope you’ll all enjoy.

In the meantime, we need to prepare ourselves for week two of Camp. It’s the slump week, so I hope you’ve all got your coffee ready!

How is your novel going so far?

George And Me

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how every author puts a little bit of themselves (or something from their life) into their novels. For me, there are numerous things I throw into my novels that are inspired by true things in life. I won’t spill all my secrets, so for now I’ll just explain my good friend George Florence.

20150115_170826George, my protagonist, is a 30-year-old laid-off detective trying to make a place for himself in the world while doing what he loves: helping people and fighting crime.

Being a police officer was something I wanted to do when I was very young. Even when I knew I wanted to be a teacher and writer, I still had a spot in my mind that wanted to be a cop. I wanted to be a teacher since I was six-years-old because of my first grade teacher. I wanted to be a writer since I was ten-years-old because of Kris. Where did this cop thing come from? I have no idea.

When I was little I was always fascinated with that sort of thing. I remember I had a spy kit with handcuffs, a decoder, a notepad, and–the best part–rear-view sunglasses. I was always trying to solve “mysteries” around the house. One time, Kris and I eavesdropped on my mom’s phone call because we were looking for “evidence” in our case, “Mom’s Cooking: Real or Take-Out?” I can’t remember how old we were, but I wish I did.

However despite my fascination, I never pursued it for a plethora of reasons. I’m tiny and have no upper body strength, I can’t stand loud noises, I’m squeamish, and I’m not good under pressure. I just don’t think it wouldn’t have worked out. Of course you never know until you try, but I think when I discovered teaching/writing, my heart changed its mind.

I have written a few novels. Most of them are fantasy-ish with the main characters having super powers. A couple of them are cliche high school drama stories. Each one of those manuscripts (five of them total) are still on the first draft. I congratulate myself for completing a novel, but editing them is just not something I have the motivation to do.

20150115_170900Then I created George. He was a silly character started in a yellow notebook a few years ago at Barnes and Noble when I didn’t know what else to write.

I say he was a “silly” character because that’s entirely what he was. He was originally a detective who did well at his job, but had no common sense whatsoever. He was comical. I didn’t expect to go anywhere with it, but I liked the story. I wrote 32 notebook pages before I stopped and moved onto something else.

Who knew that years later George would rise to the surface and be who he is today?

Unlike my other novels, I completed a first draft easily and then had the urge to edit it right away. I want to continue his story. I want to write more books about him. I want to publish them all. Needless to say, I think I have found my genre for writing.

Funny how it turned out to be a secret passion of mine.

It’s also funny because George was inspired by Phoenix Wright, a character from the Ace Attorney video game series. I played those games and wanted to write my own mysteries and decided to revive George as my main man.

Of course… now that I write this post I realize that George wasn’t originally based off of Phoenix Wright. He was based off of me.

Character Spotlight: George Florence

Questions for the Author

What is your character’s name? Does he/she have a nickname?

The male protagonist in the Detective Florence series is Detective George Florence himself. He does not have any true nicknames, but Lilah sometimes calls him “Jorge” or “Georgie” mostly to annoy him.

What color is his/her hair? What color are his/her eyes?

George has short, wavy brown hair with chocolate eyes.

Who are your character’s friends and family?

George has a big family that he doesn’t talk about very often. He has six siblings that he’s not very close to, but they still manage to help each other out. He’s also a bit of a loner so at the moment his only friend is Lilah as he doesn’t get out very much.

Where does your character live?

George lives in a small two-story building that is both his workplace and his home. The first floor contains his office, a bathroom, and a waiting room for clients in his private investigator agency. The second floor is the kitchen, living room, his bedroom, etc.

What is his/her biggest fear?

Failure. George has been laid off from the police department so in his mind he already failed once. Now that he has his own investigative practice he feels more worried than ever. If he fails, he’s not only lose his job, but most likely his home as well. It’s a big risk.

Has your character ever been in love and/or had a broken heart?

Yes and yes. Of course, I can’t say too much because then I would be giving away a crucial part to a future novel.

What kind of clothes does he/she wear?

George dresses professionally, but simple. He wears the standard suit and tie and has a favorite beige trench coat he wears when he goes out. That makes him feel just like the detectives in the old movies.

What is he/she doing on his/her day off?

George loves to prop his feet up, lean back on the couch with a cozy blanket and the fireplace roaring while watching a good film noir movie. He enjoys the peace and quiet and doesn’t like to do anything too fancy.

What is his/her overall personality like?

George, for the most part is pretty quiet. He knows when to be serious and when to be silly. He’s typically quiet, but can be loud; especially since he’s a detective. He can make sarcastic remarks and has the ability to lose his patience quickly, but he’ll try not to show it. If he’s annoyed, he’ll utter a remark to himself or subtly roll his eyes. However, now that Lilah is in the picture, George is opening up more and more.

Questions for the Character

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

“I believe my greatest achievement would be opening my private investigator agency. It’s not something I would have thought I would ever do—or ever needed to do for that matter. However, I did it. I just need to figure out how to get more cases, that’s all.”

What is it that you most dislike?

“Coffee. Ugh, I can’t even stand the smell. It’s so bad for you, too. It stains your teeth, it has caffeine in it which keeps you up all night, it dehydrates you… and yet, Lilah has it all the time. I’ve lost count how many cups a day she has. It’s completely disgusting.”

What is your greatest regret?

“I think my greatest regret is not being able to help my friends. I was unable to help my girlfriend and that ended in tragedy and a few years later I was unable to help my partner on the police force. That also ended in tragedy. I had no idea anything was wrong, either. If I had just said or done something differently, then maybe things wouldn’t be the way they are now.”

What is your best trait?

“I’m a good detective. I know that may sound a bit cocky, but it’s what I do. Through being a good detective I’ve learned to be compassionate, understanding, and I’ve learned when to listen. It’s all I know how to do. I went to college and received my Master’s in Criminal Justice, I went to the Police Academy, and I’ve worked my way up to detective status. I’ve done a good job on every case I’ve worked on. I think I would be lost if I didn’t have this job.”

What is your worst flaw?

“Well, I am pretty decent at a lot of things… I guess I would have to say organization. Nothing in my house has its own spot. However, I do know where everything is. Then Lilah cleaned everything up one time and I couldn’t find anything. She found great amusement in that, but it was more of an inconvenience to me. I’ve tried to keep it neat and tidy since then, but it’s tough.”

What is your hobby?

“I enjoy doing puzzles. Word searches, Sudoku, riddles, or even floor puzzles. It clears my mind and relaxes me. I don’t like crossword puzzles, though. Those give me a headache.”

Who do you most admire?

“I admire a lot of people in my life. Everyone is so hard working and genuine. They all do the right thing even when it’s hard. If I had to choose I think I would pick my brother, Barney Florence. He has taught me so much about being a good detective and being a good person in general. He also taught me to never give up. When he was wounded on duty he came back to work even though he needed to be demoted for a while. That’s true dedication to the job.”

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I believe this is an obnoxious question. I don’t think I overuse certain phrases or expressions. Unless you want to count me constantly telling Lilah to stop, slow down, no, or something along those lines then I think I have a pretty well-rounded vocabulary. I try, anyway.”