clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Not Quite Like the Real Thing

At left, close-up of strawberry by the US Department of Agriculture courtesy wikicommons. Public domain image. Scott Bauer, photographer.

The image at left isn't a strawberry. It has as much resemblance to a real strawberry as the milkshake I just consumed.

Oh, they had some resemblance to  actual strawberries. The have an appearance related to strawberries. Neither is a functional facsimile.

Scott's picture at least refrains from leaving a vaguely "chemical"  taste lingering on one's tongue. Yes, I did drink the whole thing.

We've all read these stories where something seemed to be in the print, the characters, the plot, the conflict. In the end, there wasn't much there of what we expected.

I'm fixing some of those bits in an story I wrote a decade past. It's found its way into my current WIP as it fits, and I learned what didn't work properly way back then.

There's no substitute for some things. A "complete" story is one of those.

Farmer's Market. Saturday morning. Go there.

They won't have strawberries but they'll have something else just as delicious.

You'll know the thing from its image.

You'll know the genuine article by ... taste.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Daderot generously provides the image at left of Rodin's The Thinker from outside the Cleveland Museum of Art - in it's damaged condition. Daderot placed the image in the public domain and it is hosted on wikicommons.

In March of 1970, the statue was damaged by a bomb placed at the feet show at left as having been destroyed. The statue is exhibited in its damaged condition.

I never think of my characters as being in "dodgy" places despite the subject matter of my stories. I always place them as being at home amidst the mayhem of their tumult.

Why is that?

Why is it that I think there is little value in the unexpected consequences of life among the ruins of life.

I suspect the answer lies in a lack of appreciable re-write.

Pick up a story you've written from a decade past and - if you can stand it - you'll see things from a new position in your craft.

Sometimes that position represents greater skill at the composition or the grammar or the sparse yet adequate description. Sometimes it is merely in the author's point-of-view.

I'm still curious why I never have a thug with a gun interrupt my story because I certainly place characters in places where it would be a believable outcome.

Maybe I've become comfortable in "dodgy" places and so my stories are comfortable as well.

Walk softly and carry a spare pen.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sharpening the Mind

Fellow at left in photograph by Peter Scherer is sharpening his scythe. Photo in public domain obtained from wikicommons.

When I am busy with two other things and take a minute to look at my working notes in my little pocket notebook, I usually come up with some new feature for the story at hand. This feature usually is far better than what I can conceive when staring at my actual manuscript.

I don't know why.

I do know it has made the investment in a good pocket notebook pay off five times over.

I recently moved a murder setting to Stockholm because it worked. Then when in a minute between meetings today, I remembered the Stockholm Curry Club and made my inspector from Stockholm's finest a charter member.

Now, it doesn't do much for the plot but it does a lot for the character.

Swedes eating curry. Nice twist.

I'm done with trimming the jungle which was my yard. I did not use the scythe tonight.

I used a powerful John Deere.

Some tastes demand haste. Some demand a more contemplative approach.

I could use a little haste tonight. I've ideas to capture.

So do you.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Land of Ink and Coffee

At left, coffee black as ink as photographed by Jon-Isac Lindberg. Jon-Isac has waived all rights to the image making it public domain but we like to attribute our photographs here on Mayhem, even when the artist is so generous as to allow any use.

It's more a half cup of coffee, isn't it?


The summer season of trials and visits has past. I went almost nowhere but the procession here through the house was substantial.

I could manage a kind of writing schedule (not daily, alas) and so made some progress. Now though, the disturbance has past and just the balance of summer remains.

There is little as productive as a break once in a while.

I've a new stream of stories, new characters, a nice clean desk (cleaning is a consequence of visitors especially when the library becomes headquarters for "camp cub"), and a joy for returning to the discipline of ink, transcription, revision, re-writing and ....submission.

So, off to do some writing. At the shop all day doing what I do which had fallen behind as well.

I hope your characters enjoyed the break as much as mine. A few more murders have popped-up in the interim. Imaging that? Shocking,

Of for trouble. You too.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Writer in Summer

At left, the pennant for the family camp. All the cubs got to take one of these home.

No, I'm not a crafter. Thus, there is a distinct Moonrise Kingdom sort of effect in these pennants.

So, back on an even keel. June rapidly became consumed with Camp Cub set-up. I made a flag, pennants, made a campsite in the north meadow, fire pit, the works. Still managed two serious and productive sessions while the cubs were up and about.

The scorecard:

One bee sting.
A billion fireflies.
A whole bag of Stay-Puff Jumbo.
Most of the ice cream in the state.
One whole smoked piglet (my fishing buddy did the roasting ...we just consumed it).

My library became a bunk house. So did a lot of the rest of my house.

We had a little rain but nothing serious. Sleeping under the stars? Success. Venus and Jupiter? Another success.

All the while I'm developing a secondary character in a priest as a foil for my Sheriff protagonist. Since I kill a Methodist minister in this story, seem helpful to have the not-particularly religious foil.

So, off to the land of prose and imagination. after a little nap.

Oh, my flag.