Camp NaNoWriMo: Week Four

We’re in the final stretch! April was a fast month.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Week Four | Creative Writing | Writing | Cozy Mystery | Mystery |

I say this about every time I rewrite George Florence and the Perfect Alibi, but I have to say it again – this draft is coming out so much better than previous drafts!

While I’ve gotten into writing slumps, I’ve never lost passion for this novel. I’ve had novel ideas and have been excited about them before. I write them, edit them once or twice, and forget about them. Sometimes, I don’t even get to the editing stage or don’t even complete the first draft.

George Florence is different though. He came to be in January 2011 (if I remember correctly), so it’s been nine years. I’ve written and rewritten countless drafts and, as I said, even though I get into writing slumps here and there, I’ve never lost my passion for this novel, for this series. I love these characters and I can’t wait to publish them someday. (Someday, hopefully, soon.)

With that said, I think I’ve made more progress in this draft than I ever have before. I won’t go into too many details (it’s confusing and… well, spoilers) but my characters did me a favor.

I know, usually, they run amok and argue with me every step of the way. This time was different though.

A lot of ideas I had for this book (for the series as a whole) have continued to exist in this draft but they make a lot more sense. The major plot point, however, hasn’t changed. Yet, I always had a hard time connecting the dots.

Well, guess what? This past week, I wrote a chapter. My characters had a heart-to-heart (totally unexpected, I was just trying to get some words down) and – lo and behold – their heart-to-heart lead to a major breakthrough in the case. That breakthrough was the one piece I needed to complete the puzzle of this mystery.

They did it and it actually makes sense.

Needless to say, the novel is going pretty smoothly. I reached 50,000 words on the novel on April 23rd, so I reached my goal for NaNoWriMo. I’m still writing 2,000 words a day, but I did skip one day. I’m still taking that as a win.

Daily Word Count

Day 21: 2,200
Day 22: 2,820
Day 23: 2,058
Day 24: 2,036
Day 25: 0
Day 26: 2,232
Day 27: 2,231

I’ll reach 60,000 words today. Let’s see how far I can go with this draft before the month ends. I hope this month has been a productive writing month for you as well.

Are you participating in Camp? If so or if not, what are you currently working on and how’s it going? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat. If you enjoyed this post, please share it. 

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What To Include In Your Mystery Novel’s Outline [Mystery Month]

It’s Mystery Month and we’re starting right at the beginning of creating a mystery novel. I know most people don’t care too much for outlining, but when it comes to writing a mystery, I find an outline really helps. So, here’s what to include in your mystery novel’s outline.

What To Include In Your Mystery Novel's Outline | Mystery Month | Mystery Writing | Creative Writing |

A List of Characters

This probably goes without saying, but it’s always helpful to have a list of characters handy. So many people are involved in a mystery novel. There’s the detective or police officers, witnesses, suspects, any assistants, the victim, and their family and/or friends, the culprit and anyone who knows them, etc. Even if you just write down their names and their title for the novel (witness, for example), at least you have something. I personally like to write down their first and last names, title, age, and any major plot points that affect them or they had an involvement in.

A List of Clues and Evidence

With crime comes evidence, clues, witness statements, you name it. It’s a good idea to have a handy list of what these clues are and what they mean. Also, how and when they’ll be discovered. Not to mention you can always strategically place them throughout the book. Which one should be discovered and discussed in which chapter and the like.

The Details of the Crime

Who, what, where, when, why, and how. That’s really all you need to know and it’s better to figure it all out before you start writing. Or else you’ll be ripping your hair out later.

A Timeline

Going along with the details of the crime, it’s always a good idea to have a general timeline of the events of the book as well. Not just for the crime but also for the investigation. Despite it being fiction, it’s pretty unrealistic for a homicide to be solved in one day or within a few hours. Evidence needs to be processed, bodies need to be autopsied, travel time to the crime scene, and so much more. There are only so many hours in a day, remember.

An Outline is Not Your Book

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story, but an outline makes that first draft easier to tell… and it also relieves a lot of pressure on the editing part. Outlines are optional and even if you create one, it’s just a guideline for your book – know that things will change. Still, it’ll help in the long run. Your ideas will be in order and it’ll be less remembering for you later.

Do you outline your mystery novels? Or for any genre? Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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7 Elements Of A Mystery Novel [Mystery Month]

We all know what goes into a story – plot, characters, settings, etc. However, there’s more to it depending on the genre you write. Since I main in mystery and it’s Mystery Month, we’ll be talking about the 7 elements of a mystery novel.

7 Elements of a Mystery Novel | Creative Writing | Mystery Writing | Mystery Month | Mystery Genre |

Cliffhanger Hook

This goes without saying for every book, but you want the beginning of the novel to really hook your reader. You want them to sink their teeth into the words and frantically turn the pages for more. The hook can be anything though introducing the crime right off the bat is a good way to do it. Of course, not everyone does it that way but do what you think works best for your story. A cliffhanger on the first few pages is a fun way to go too.

Suspense All Around

Of course, you want your mystery novel to be suspenseful. It doesn’t matter what sub-genre of mystery you’re writing it, you want to keep your readers on their toes. The characters need to have high stakes – what if they don’t solve the crime? Or, what if they do? Why is this particular crime such a big deal? What sort of evidence is just evidence or damning evidence?

Red Herrings

Red herrings are “leads” that turn your characters (and readers) in the wrong direction. In some ways, red herrings can be pretty predictable. I know a few books and TV shows that the first person they accuse is a red herring because they do it so often. Still, if woven into the book correctly and the evidence line up, red herrings are a lot of fun to write. It added meaningful filler and add some in-depth character development. Plus, it’ll keep your readers guessing.

Strong, Compelling Characters

If you’re going to write a mystery novel, you want to have characters with purpose. Why are they involved in the case? What does it have to do with them and why do they care about it? Your characters need to have meaning or maybe even a personal involvement in the case. The case, in the end, will only make them stronger. During, though, it’ll push their limits.

Evidence The Makes Sense

While evidence can serve as red herrings as well, each piece needs to make sense. You need to connect all the evidence to one person or a group of people as well as to the crime as a whole. Why is each piece of evidence important and what does it mean? If a clue is a red herring then you need to explain why they thought it pertained to the case and what it actually was when they figure out it had nothing to do with the case in the first place. Everything should be tied in together in one way or another.

Reader Involvement

Part of the fun of reading mystery novels is that I get to play detective. There are some novels where it’s easier to take a look at the crime than others. Depending on the POV of the protagonist, your reader can easily follow along and make their own deductions. Sometimes readers know only what the detective knows or sometimes they’ll know more than the detective and rip their hair out when the detective overlooks something crucial. Still, that sort of involvement is fun, engaging, and adds so much more suspense for the reader.

A Satisfying Ending

Like all good books, we want a good ending. Whether it’s happy or sad, we want it to be satisfying. For a mystery, everything should make sense and be wrapped up neatly and clearly. If there’s a book two, it’ll make your reader rush out to get the next one.

What are some other things you like to see in mystery novels? Let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Editing/Rewriting A Novel During Camp NaNoWriMo

I started writing a mystery novel way back in 2011 (or 2013… I honestly can’t remember it’s been so long).

I wrote the first draft, edited it, then wrote the second draft. Then I realized I needed a serious POV change.

I rewrote the novel, edited it, rewrote it again, and edited it again. Sort of. I’ve been trying to edit it, but my editing skills weren’t great. I’d end up just finding typos, get discouraged, then put the manuscript aside to write something else.

All to avoid editing.

Rewriting A Novel For Camp NaNoWriMo | Creative Writing | Mystery Writing |

My editing skills have grown a lot over time. I feel more confident editing and I actually do a good job (I think so, anyway).

Surprisingly enough, I did learn a thing or two in my creative writing courses in college. I’ve also experimented and tried different styles of editing.

The method I use the most and that seems to work best for me is Rainbow Editing. I have different colored pens and use each color to zero-in on different parts of the story such as plot, character development, pacing and tension, spelling and grammar, and more.

My problem was always that I’d read my novels and never see a way to make them better other than to check for typos. I didn’t know what to look for. I don’t read each paragraph six times, once for each color, I just read it slowly and ask myself, “What else can this character do other than nod and shake his head?” It works.

My plan for Camp NaNo this month was to rewrite or retype, the first book in my mystery series. I’ve been stuck on this book for so long now and I think it’s high time I get my butt into gear and do something with it.

I never have because I struggled with the editing. I knew changes needed to be made, things added, others deleted, but I never knew how to go about it. Now I do and I feel confident about it.

So, I was going to retype the latest edited draft and go into May ready and excited to edit the next draft. I’ve given myself until the end of the summer to really make sure this novel is ready.

Except, when I opened my Dropbox I realized I already had a document saved for this current draft. I clicked on it and I already had the first chapter retyped.

Okay, cool. One less chapter for me to do. I opened the hard copy of my manuscript, flipped to the second chapter, and… it wasn’t edited.

Apparently, I had edited the first chapter, “edited” the rest of the story (the pages only had one or two red marks if any at all) and I had deemed that well enough to type up as a new draft.

The document was made in August 2016… Yeah, that’s how long it’s been. Go figure.

So there’s been a change of plans. I’ll be editing the current hard copy I have during NaNo this month. I’m tallying up the words for each chapter and counting that as my word count. It kind of sounds like cheating, but my goal is 80,000 words this month and I’m still making progress. I’m not going to worry about it.

The manuscript is about 65,000 words and I don’t even know if I’ll end up finishing the whole draft before the end of the month. I’m hoping I will but I also want to take my time with it.

I’ve been making great progress on it so far. The rainbow editing has been really helping me. I also created a timeline of events that happen in (and out) of the books, creating a timeline of the books in the series as well. I had done that a while ago, but I’m using it now as a reference and I know where this series is going to go.

I’ve never been excited to edit before and now I actually enjoy it.

How do you go about rewriting a novel? Have you ever done so for a Camp NaNo session? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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8 Tips For Writing A Mystery Novel [NaNoWriMo 2017]

I’m not writing a mystery novel for NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m sure you know how much I love mystery and that I do write a lot of it.

I run a Mystery Month on this blog and 9 times out of 10, I write a mystery for NaNo. So, if you’re writing a mystery novel this month, here are some tips.

8 Tips for writing Mystery

1. Do your research.

It sounds a bit weird to research how to hide a body or how long it takes a body to start to smell if left out for too long. Still, you should fact-check. Despite it being fiction, you should always have that little bit of truth in there. Know what you’re talking about and when your characters are investigating a crime, do the real world some justice.

2. Know your genre and sub-genre.

There are so many different sub-genres of mystery. You’ve got your cozy mystery, you’re courtroom drama, whodunit stories, and much more. Which sub-genre does your mystery fall under? Sure, you can mix them up, but it always helps to define what kind of mystery you’re writing about.

3. Keep your readers always guessing.

Red herrings are a lot of fun, if they’re used in the right way. Red herrings are fake clues thrown in just to throw the detective and the readers off the hot trail. It’s great for a “wow” factor when the real clue is finally found and it certainly keeps the readers interested.

4. Know the crime inside and out.

Whether you like to outline or not, it never hurts to plan out the crime before you write. If you have  a basic idea, know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the crime. It’ll help you keep track of what’s going on, keep a list of clues and evidence. The more you know and understand, the easier it will be to convey to your readers.

5. Should your readers be able to figure it out? Make it so, but not too easily.

I’ve read my fair share of mystery novels. Some are easy to figure out, some are hard. Some I don’t figure out at all. It’s up to you whether you want to make it so your readers can investigate and infer who the culprit is. You can let them be detectives or just keep them guessing throughout. Every reader has a preference. Either way, you should explain everything to a certain extent in the end.

6. Motive is key.

I’m sure everyone knows that motive is everything when you’re trying to charge someone for a crime. Why did they do what they did? Sometimes the motive isn’t always clear. Sometimes the motive can be a red herring for a suspect. However, there should always be some sort of connection, personal or otherwise, to the culprit and the crime.

7. Give unique and thorough backgrounds for your protagonist and antagonist.

This sort of goes along with the previous point. Why did your antagonist do what they did? And why is the case important to your protagonist? Usually, when a detective solves a crime, they have some sort of connection to it somehow, or it reminds them of something from the past. There are a lot of cliches to watch out for (such as the detective who lost his wife prematurely or something), though some of them can still work depending on how you weave it in.

8. Remember, good is not always good and bad is not always bad.

People do good things for bad reasons and bad things for good reasons. But is it really good or bad? Is your protagonist an anti-hero? Is revenge their motive? It’s up to your readers to decide.

Are you writing a mystery novel for NaNo? What other tips can you come up with? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

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When You Can’t Edit No More

I don’t know about you, but I think editing is the hardest part of writing. When I get past the editing stage, then maybe I’ll find something else about writing that is more difficult. But for now, I’m sticking with editing.

I’ve been working on my mystery novel for so long now.

I started it back in November 2013. I’ve written it, edited it, rewritten it, edited that, and then rewrote it again in a completely new way. I edited that version, rewrote it again, and now I’m editing it again.

But no matter how many times I go through the manuscript, the same things are always wrong with it.

There’s not enough character development here. The plot moves too quickly over there. There’s still some research to do.

I look for those things and more each draft I read through. Yet every time I end up wishing it was done already so I end up just finding typos instead. I don’t focus well enough on what I should be looking for. This is why I have a million drafts of everything.

I made a list of things I need to look out for, but every time I sit down to edit, I just… don’t. I stare off into space. I end up playing with the dog or cat (yes, I got a new cat!) or turtle. I find something to eat. I clean. I decide to get some other form of writing done because then I’m at least being productive, right?

Kris suggested I take a break from working on this particular novel.

My original plan was to have it agent-ready by January. Of course, at the rate I’m going that may not happen.

I don’t want to take a break, but I think I need one. The characters and I are getting on each other’s nerves.

So Kris is going to take over for me. She’s going to read through and edit the current draft I’m on. Meanwhile, I’m going to take an in-depth look at everything else. Do the research I need for it, really come up with a plan for what to look for in my next set of edits and how to fix them.

I can work on some other stories in the meantime.

Then maybe I can get back to my novel with a brand new outlook on it.

Do you ever get stuck on your writing or editing? What do you do to overcome it?

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Editing Goals

George Florence Editing Goals

I’ve been editing my novel, George Florence, since the beginning of January.

I’ve been doing really well keeping up with my routine. I’ve been editing every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning. Saturdays I’m able to edit more and I go to the bookstore to do it sometimes.

I wanted to have the whole draft completed by January 15, but I still have about 50 or so pages to go. So I’m hoping to finish it by the 19 instead. That will give me one more Saturday to really work on it a lot. Because I don’t write or edit on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

I feel as though it’s always tough to self-edit. Once I finish the first draft the manuscript looks perfect in my eyes. Then when I start editing I realize how untrue that is.

A lot of my editing is rewording things because I tend to through random words in that don’t need to be there (you can tell I wrote the novel for NaNo). I reuse the same descriptive words over and over again because I don’t want to interrupt myself and get a thesaurus.

The draft I’m working on at the moment is technically the third draft, but I’m calling it the first draft.

The first-first draft was written in George’s point of view. The second draft was edited as George’s point of view. During all of this Lilah kept trying to take center stage.

I rewrote the novel in her point of view just to see how it would work and I have to say that it works much better. It’s a completely different story, which is why I’m calling it the first draft again.

I have a lot of editing notes that I’ve jotted down here and there to keep on the lookout in the next draft. I’m going to need to so some research before beginning the next edit phase.

First, I need to figure out the setting. I’ve gone back and forth between then being in a small town versus a big city. I believe they’re in a city, but it’s nameless and I don’t describe their surroundings much.

Second, I’ve always lived with my parents. I’ve never had my own house or rented an apartment before. My sister has so I’ve seen the inside of at least one apartment complex, but that’s about it. I don’t know anything about rent, leases, etc. Since a huge chunk of the setting if in an apartment building… Well, I should probably look into that.

Third, I want to make a map of Lilah’s apartment building, George’s house and firm, maybe the key areas of their city. Visuals are easier for me and than I should be able to describe things better from that.

Fourth, how does one become a private investigator? That’s a key part of the story, so I should probably figure that out.

Fifth, I have to do math. I dread that part because I clearly prefer English over math. But I do need to figure out a timeline of sorts. The year, the ages, figure out the robbery, figure out the murder, and so on. That part will be fun.

There are a lot of other things I need to research as well. Most of it pertains to the robbery and the murder as well as basic police procedure, autopsy reports, funeral homes, the works.

I have a lot to keep an eye out for when I edit the second draft.

What are your editing goals for your novel?

Inspiration Station: The Perfect Crime

The Perfect Crime

What is a perfect crime?

A perfect crime is a crime that is so carefully planned and executed that it is nearly impossible to solve. With that being said, perfect crimes don’t really exist. It may take a few years to solve a crime, but as far as I know, about 9.9 times out of 10, the crimes are solved.


Can you create a perfect crime in a fictional mystery novel?

As a mystery writer you can certainly leave the readers begging for answers; they’re minds continuously trying to solve the crime long after the book is over.

But, unless you plan on a few sequels, that would be mean.

Sure, you want your readers begging for more. You also want them to be satisfied as well. Readers are a tough crowd, I know.

What elements should you have in a mystery novel?

There are a few key elements needed to make for a good mystery. You can’t really have one without the other, either. All the elements need to work together in order to make the crime work.

A Crime

This is an obvious one. Mysteries stem from suspense and most do that through a crime; whether it’s a murder, a robbery, a kidnapping, etc.

The characters need to be asking questions in order to give the readers a sense that something is wrong. There is a problem, there is a puzzle that needs to be solved, nothing (or not everything) is being explained, someone is keeping a secret.


In order to help solve the mystery, you need to lay out clues for the readers and the characters. Clues can range from objects, such as a weapon, or people, such as witnesses.

The objects are also known as evidence. Anything that can be put in a bag, analyzed, and dusted for fingerprints, it’s evidence.

Of course, statements from witnesses, victims, and suspects are also evidence to see whose story matches and whose doesn’t.

Law Enforcement Figures

Every crime novel needs a few characters in the law enforcement field whether they’re a police officer, detective, lawyer, judge, etc.

The law enforcement needs to be involved in order to solve the crime, discover the clues, and make accusations.


Will the law enforcement team make correct accusations all the time? Probably not.

Every once in a while a clue will be picked up that will lead the investigators down the wrong path. When that time comes, a new clue will pop up steering them in the right direction once more. Or, they’ll have to start back from the beginning.

How can you keep track of each crime?

It’s a lot of note-taking, but as long as you–as the writer–stays organized and keeps notes, your readers will be able to follow easily.

Keep a list of clues, know the problem and conclusion ahead of time, and give each witness and suspect careful statements.

With all this being said, mysteries aren’t too bad to write. In the end, everything falls into place. It’s just a lot of thinking involved. Make your readers think, make them proud when they finally get to the end of the book and realized they solved the crime before the protagonist did.

Writing Prompt:

A detective is called to the scene of a bank robbery. The culprit got away with $100,000. There are no signs of a break-in and there’s some blood on the lobby floor. An elderly couple living across the street are the only two witnesses. What happened?

Related Articles:

6 Secrets to Creating and Sustaining Suspense
Elements of the Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, and/or Crime Fiction Genres
25 Things You Need to Know About Writing Mysteries

Inspiration Station: Research For Mystery Novels

Research for Mystery Novels

We all enjoy the mystery genre whether it’s reading a book or watching a TV show. We love to play detective and figure out who the culprit is. We love piecing the clues together. We especially love trying to figure it out before the protagonist does.

However, when you’re writing a mystery novel you need to play from all angles. You’re the victim, you’re the detective, and you’re the culprit. You’re every witness and every suspect. You should know the beginning, the middle, and the end when going into the mystery. You lay out all the clues for yourself and then start searching for them right after.

But how exactly can you have all this knowledge?

Well, you watch plenty of TV mystery shows, don’t you? You know, like Psych, where you follow a hyper-observant man with no job and no education. Yet, he’s still able to solve crimes much better than the police station.

What about Chuck? Or Burn Notice? I’m sure there’s some truth to those shows… Right?

Even some mystery novels can bend the truth a little because… Well, they’re fictional. So how can you do effective research for the mystery genre?

True Crime:

There are some books out there with their own genre called True Crime. These books are non-fiction based upon real life history events. They will help you learn about police investigation, how criminals think, and the many different kinds of crimes that can occur.

I’m also sure there are biographies and memoirs about certain criminals and certain detectives. One could learn a lot from that as well.

Writers Guides:

There’s a series I enjoy reading by Lee Lofland. He worked in law enforcement for a long time and now he writes guides for writers on police investigation. There’s Police Procedure & Investigation, Forensics, and Book of Poisons. I have read and reviewed Police Procedure & Investigation on my blog. I own the other two books, but have yet to read them.

The books’ topics range from different criminal profiles, to the way police and detectives are trained, their ranks, drugs, weapons, laws, etc.

There’s a lot of useful information stored in those books. If you have a question, one of those books will most certainly have the answer.

Study Guides:

I don’t do this often, but I have sat down at the local bookstore and thumbed through a study guide or two of the Police Officer exam. It gives me a good sense of what an officer has to learn in school and what they need to know. I can get a sense of my what character knows or, if s/he is a younger character, I can get a sense of what s/he is working on in school.

Plus, I enjoy taking the practice test. There’s a section where they give you a picture and you have to study it for a certain amount of time. Then you answer questions based on the scene and see how much you remember.

Take Classes:

Skimming through study guides is quick and easy, but you could also take a course here and there. Do you want to get a hands-on feel for forensics? Take a college course on the matter. It’d be much easier to write the five senses after you’ve actually lived it.

Even if it is just a mock-up in a classroom.

Talk To Real People:

Do you know any police officers in real life? Talk to them. Ask them questions. It’s all research and depending on how well you know the officer, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to ask for certain information.

Or you can always talk to a family member or close friend of an officer. Talk to retired officers and listen to their stories. I’m sure they all have interesting ones.

So there are many different ways to research the mystery genre. Despite it being fiction, you should have some sort of truth in there. You should have some sort of knowledge of the profession.

After all, you are your protagonist.

Writing Prompt:

Write down what you know–or what you think you know–about the law enforcement profession. Then do some light research to see how much you really know. Do you need to do a lot of research before starting your novel? Or do you have enough real information to get by?

Related Articles:

Mystery Novel Writing: 5 FAQs on How to do Excellent Research for Your Novel
Research Resources for Mystery and Crime Writers
Conducting Forensic Research

Change of Plans

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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!

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!”

Character Spotlight: Xavier Barron

Questions for the Author:

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

One of the male characters in Detective Florence is Xavier Barron. He does not have any nicknames because he doesn’t like them.

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

Xavier has short, slick back hair. He has brown eyes.

Who are your character’s friends and family?

Xavier doesn’t have too many friends. He used to be very good friends with George, but they lost touch when George lost his job at the police station. Ever since then Xavier has had a bad attitude and no one really wants to be around him. He’s kind of a loner and no one knows what changed him. No one knows anything about his family. He doesn’t like to talk about his personal life.

Where does your character live?

Again, Xavier doesn’t like to discuss his personal life. No one knows where Xavier lives, whether it’s an apartment or a house, if he lives alone or with roommates or even with pets.

What is his/her biggest fear?

Xavier’s biggest fear is not being a good detective. He always tries to do the best he can and he doesn’t like to receive help from anyway. He has big plans for his career and hopes he doesn’t mess it up.

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

Xavier has never been in love, but he has had a broken heart. As the author, that’s all I can say for now.

What kind of clothes does he/she wear?

Xavier always wears suits. Even on his day off, he doesn’t like to dress down.

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

Xavier tries to constantly work. If he’s in the middle of a case and he has a few hours off at the end of the day, he still tries to figure it out. When he’s home, he tries to keep his mind sharp by doing puzzles or riddles. He can’t sit still and always has to be on the move.

What is his/her overall personality like?

Xavier has changed since George left the police station. He used to be friendly and laid back. Now he’s serious and tense which is a turn off for everyone else.

Questions for the Character:

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

“My greatest achievement is becoming a detective. George and I used to be partners, but when he got let go I was bumped up in the ranks. I learned a lot while working with George, but I think I’ve learned more without him. I’m happy I was able to continue doing my best without him.”

What is it that you most dislike?

“I hate being wrong or being helped. George’s new agency is so annoying because he’s always trying to butt into our work. If there’s a case, I can handle. I don’t even need Barney to help me out.”

What is your greatest regret?

“I guess I feel a little bad for not being able to maintain my relationships with my co-workers. But it’s not my fault none of them work as hard as I do.”

What is your best trait?

“I’m great at what I do. I’m an awesome detective, I’ve solved a lot of crimes and I’ve helped a lot of people.”

What is your worst flaw?

“I’ll admit it, I’m not a people person. I’m able to help people when there’s a crime that needs to be solved, but I have a hard time when it comes to dealing with friends or family or anyone else. I don’t know what to do if there’s no evidence.”

What is your hobby?

“Puzzles and riddles. I don’t really enjoy watching TV. Occasionally I will read a book, but I don’t have much time to have a hobby. I work too much.”

Who do you most admire?

“It’s hard to pick someone I admire. There have been some pretty great detectives way back when. I can only hope I can be remembered just as great as those guys.”

Character Spotlight: Barney Florence

Questions for the Author:

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

One of the male characters in Detective Florence is Barney Florence, who is the main character’s older brother. He does not have any nicknames.

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

Barney looks similar to his little brother, George. He has light brown hair with brown eyes so dark you can barely see his pupils.

Who are your character’s friends and family?

Barney has a large family as he is one child out of seven. He tries to keep in touch with all his siblings and even his mother, but it’s hard with his job as a police officer. It’s easier to stay in touch with some siblings over others because they work together in the law enforcement field.

Where does your character live?

Barney lives in a small studio apartment by himself. The apartment doesn’t have a lot of furniture and is pretty bland as he isn’t there very often. He’s usually working or he’s out with some friends.

What is his/her biggest fear?

Barney’s biggest fear is getting hurt in the line of duty… again. While chasing down a couple of robbers, Barney was shot in the leg. He had to take leave from work for a few months. When he came back, he started off staying in the office doing paperwork afraid to get back out onto the field. He has worked his way up yet again and is now a police officer once more.

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

Barney has never been in love or had a broken heart. He tries to go out as often as he can and meet new people. Being in his early 30s, he really hopes to someday get married and start a family.

What kind of clothes does he/she wear?

Barney always dresses up. If he’s not in his police uniform, he’s most likely in a suit or slacks. It’s very rare to see Barney in jeans or sweats.

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

Barney enjoys watching criminal shows on TV. He enjoys watching the mystery and thriller movies in the dark with a big bowl of popcorn. However, he tends to rope others into watching these movies with him because, to him, it’s a lot more fun with other people.

What is his/her overall personality like?

Barney is serious at work and he gets stressed out easily. When he’s stuck on a case, he internally panics. He tries to hide it, but most people know by the look on his face. However, he does a good sense of humor and knows how to have fun with family and friends.

Questions for the Character:

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

“I think my greatest achievement would be going to back to work. I know that might seem a bit odd, but when I got shot in my right leg, it was questionable if that leg was going to be paralyzed for the rest of my life. Thankfully, my leg healed nicely and even though I was nervous about going back to work, I stuck it out because it’s what I love to do. I climbed the ladder again and I’m back where I belong; out in the field.”

What is it that you most dislike?

“I hate unfinished paperwork. Most people hate doing paperwork at work because it’s tedious and time consuming, but I actually don’t mind it. It really irks me when I’m delayed in finishing my paperwork. I’d rather fill it all out right away while the information is fresh in my mind.”

What is your greatest regret?

“I don’t have any regrets that I can think of. I’ve always done what I thought was right at the time, so I don’t think that’s anything to worry about. You can’t fix the past and worrying about the past certainly isn’t going to help improve your future.”

What is your best trait?

“I’m very efficient. If there is something that needs to get done whether it has to do with work or not, I’ll get it done right away and I’ll do it right the first time. That’s why my mother calls me all the time if she needs help with something because she knows that I’ll come help her right away.”

What is your worst flaw?

“I work too much. I can admit that. I’m barely home because I’m always putting in overtime at my job to solve a case, finish paperwork, or help someone else with something. The chief has actually had to tell me to go home on some nights because he would catch me sitting at my desk doing research for a case or something of the like.”

What is your hobby?

“I love watching mystery movies. I don’t know if watching movies can be considered a hobby, but I love solving mysteries. I try to find new mystery movies often for a fresh case.”

Who do you most admire?

“I admire my mother the most. She was the one who always encouraged me to go through with law enforcement. She took care of me when my leg was injured and she pushed me to go back to work when I was just about to give up. Plus, she took care of me and my six siblings all on her own. That alone deserves a gold medal.”

Character Spotlight: Lilah Williams

Questions for the Author:

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

The female protagonist in the Detective Florence series is Lilah Williams. She helps George with his freelance cases even though she’s a mere young adult without any experience in law enforcement. She does not have any nicknames, but if she’s annoying enough George may have a few choice words to say about her.

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

Lilah has thin, red hair flowing down to her waist. Her eyes are a bright green. George thinks she looks like an anime character.

Who are your character’s friends and family?

Lilah is an only child. She moved out of her house the moment she turned 18-years-old. Her father passed away when she was a baby and since then there was always some friction between her and her mother.

Where does your character live?

Lilah lives in a small apartment building. The apartment is big enough just for her; a small kitchen and living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. She only gets along with her elderly neighbor. She can’t stand her landlord.

What is his/her biggest fear?

Lilah’s biggest fear is that she will not be able to make her mother proud. Lilah wants to be a published author. Her mother hoped she would try for a more “steady” job, so Lilah is determined to be a writer despite the lack of encouragement from her mother.

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

No, she has never been in love. Lilah is 20-years-old and while she goes to school, has friends, and meets a lot of people, she’s never been interested in starting a relationship. She’s been too busy focusing on her studies and writing career.

What kind of clothes does he/she wear?

Lilah likes to wear light blouses and jeans. She doesn’t enjoy the cold very much, but she prefers to wear short sleeves as though it was summer all year long. Since she can’t wear flip-flops in the winter, she sticks with sneakers. No matter how much snow is on the ground, she’ll still wear sneakers.

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

She tries to do a lot on her day off. She’s either doing homework or she’s writing. Sometimes she’ll be cleaning because she can be a bit of a neat-freak. Lilah always feels the need to be busy so she is constantly on the go. Every once in a while, she’ll stop to play some Mario Kart, but it’s not often.

What is his/her overall personality like?

Lilah acts like a child most of the time. She is outgoing, head-strong, and can be boisterous at times. She doesn’t have a filter and tends to speak before she thinks. It usually gets her in trouble, but she always has a way to get out of it.


Questions for the Character: 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

“I think going to school would be my greatest achievement. I never thought I was going to go to college once I finished high school simply because I didn’t like school. I didn’t think I was going to be motivated to go to class and do homework. Once I moved out of my mom’s house, I felt like an adult and thought I would give it a try. I wanted to do something with my writing and I thought learning different techniques through a classroom with adults in the same boat as me would be a good experience.”

What is it that you most dislike?

“I don’t like messy rooms. That’s why it’s kind of tough being around George sometimes. He has good organization skills when it comes to his job, but when it comes to keeping his home clean… not so much. I try to clean around him, but he gets mad because then he ‘can’t find anything’ which I think is a load of crap.”

What is your greatest regret?

“I didn’t get to know my father and in some ways, my mother. I know it’s not my fault—nor in my control—that he passed away when I was a baby, but it was partially because he died that I didn’t have a good relationship with my mother. We were never close so we never had that mother/daughter bonding time. Because of that, I never felt comfortable enough to ask her about my dad.”

What is your best trait?

“I am very observant and I take good notes. Whenever George and I go to a crime scene and something needs to be solved, I can pick up most clues and I write a lot of notes down in my notebook. I always carry that with me no matter where I am.”

What is your worst flaw?

“I don’t know when to quit. There have been a couple of times George has had to hide case files on me because I constantly try to solve them. I work until I’m too exhausted to work anymore and even then I still try to keep going.”

What is your hobby?

“Writing is definitely my hobby and I hope to someday make it my career. I would love to have the opportunity to write all day long. Of course, now that I’ve been hanging out with George and helping him out with his cases, I would like to say solving crimes is another hobby of mine… but that sounds kind of weird.”

Who do you most admire?

“I think I most admire my father, even though I never knew him. However, I’ve been learning a lot about him as George and I try to figure out his death. George has also told me a lot about him, too. My dad took his job seriously and he never gave up on anyone or his cases. He was always willing to help others.”

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.”