Category Archives: Brett Battles

Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

We’re going to be on a minimal posting schedule through the New Year. Not a complete hiatus, but semi-regular postings, since many of us are traveling and trying to get a real break from the Interwebs. We’ll be back at full force January 2.

We truly appreciate that you take the time to stop by, to participate, to be a part of this fabulous community all year long. We value your input so much that we thought we’d throw the field open to you.

If you comment over the next week, you’ll be entered into our Festivus Contest!

And what, pray tell, may the glorious prize be for commenting? Why, a package of signed Murderati books, of course!

14 books from 14 authors.

Now that’s a deal.

Here’s what we want to know:

(answer as many as you wish, but only one answer is necessary to be included in the contest.)

 What are you doing for the holidays?

What are you reading?

What topics would you like us to cover in the New Year?

What questions do you have for any or all of us?


 We wish you and your families the very best of holiday joy!

A Little Holiday Cheer

It’s a week before Christmas (okay, a week and a day), but I’m already traveling around visiting friends and family. I’m happy to say the new manuscript is all but done. Just a few more days work, maybe five tops, and I’ve decided not to push it, so will finish up right after New Years.

Anyway, since I’m traveling around today (you’ll probably notice the lack of response ahead of time from me, my apologies), thought I’d leave you with some holiday cheer. Two songs and a present.

Song one features David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing together. I remember watching this when I was a kid, and it’s stuck with me every since:

 

Song two…couldn’t leave out the kids from Glee:

 

And a present:

 

Oh, and in case you missed it…here’s a new take on people power.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!



Interlude

by Brett Battles

We’ve talk about music here a lot. Music that inspires us. Music that entertains us. Music that we like for no particular reason.

One of the topics that comes up often with a lot of writer friends is which of us can listen to music while we work, and if we can, what kind of music do we listen to. I think I’ve even discussed it here before.

Well…it’s on my mind again because I’m just finishing up the draft of my stand alone, and music has played an integral part in keeping me focused and on pace.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that this particular novel has basically thrown itself on the page as fast as my fingers can hit the keys of my laptop. I started it at the beginning of November, and (hopefully) am finishing it this week. Fastest book I’ve ever written. All I can say is that I couldn’t have done it without music.

Since I work for the most part at coffee shops, and exclusively at one coffee shop/café in particular, in addition to keeping me moving forward, the music also drowns out the noise of what’s going on around me.

For this book, I created a specific playlist on my iTunes to write by. I’m one of those people who has no problem listening to lyrics while I write…though, oddly, when I do re-writes I prefer my tunes to be instrumental. (And, yes, I have a specific playlist for that, too.)

This particular writing playlist is made up of music that hits me on an emotional level. These are songs that heighten my creative juices, and, I’m pretty sure, actually increase my heart rate. Sometimes I’ll even sway back and forth as I type…yes, even in public. (Ask Tim Hallinan if he’s seen me closing my eyes and get my groove on, he’s working at a table ten feet away as I write this.)

I love being in an emotional state when I write…Anyway, since I am in the middle of writing the climax, I thought I would share that playlist with you. I’ve provided links so you can hear each.

In no order (or, in iTunes parlance, Shuffle Mode):

 

Yellow – Chris Martin 

I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders

Saeglopur – Sigur Ros

Answer – Sarah McLachian

Levon – Elton John

Pink Moon – Nick Drake

You’re Beautiful – James Blunt

Into My Arms – Nick Cave – (Great Video!)

The Loneliest Guy – David Bowie

Five Years – David Bowie

The Blower’s Daughter – Damien Rice

Wires – Athlete

A Thousand Miles (Interlude) – Vanessa Carlton – There’s a commercial at the start of this, but video worth the wait

My Immortal – Evanescence

Falling Slowly (From the movie ONCE)  – Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

Untouched – The Veronicas

 

You might like some, you might not others. But one thing they all have is an emotional tug that, for me, pulls me from word to word to word.

Okay, ‘rati, let’s hearing some of your favorites…emotional and/or just for writing.

AT PLAY IN THE FIELD OF THE WRITTEN WORD PART 3

by Brett Battles

I hadn’t actually intended to write a Part 3 of the saga, mainly because I thought the saga was all played out. But given what’s happened since posting Part 1 and Part 2 (and what’s happened is, well…just wait till you’ve read the whole post), I felt it was necessary. In fact, I think I might just continue this series until the book is done, reporting in every once in a while as to what has happened.

So, let’s begin. When I last talked to you about the stand alone I was writing, I said that I had written proposals for three different directions, and that my publisher had chosen one. With that I was off to the races!

And the races I hit. For the next two weeks I wrote my tail off.

(Aside: we all write at different speeds, and approach writing a book in different ways. My way is to write a first draft pretty much non-stop, warts and all, then go back and rewrite until it is presentable. What that translates into is that I plow through the pages. And given the fact that I’m doing this fulltime, it means I plow through A LOT of pages.)

At the end of this two-week period, I had a sizeable chunk of the draft done, and was excited about where things were going.

Then I did something we all do. I randomly visited a bookstore.

No. Wait. I need to back up a moment.

For my stand alone I chose a very specific location. One that was personally important to me, and one that has some very specific attributes. There is only one other writer I know who has written about the area in the past several years.  Just to be safe, I read one of this person’s books to make sure we didn’t overlap. We didn’t. So I moved on, a happy camper.

Let’s flash back to that bookstore. While browsing around, I started looking around the thriller section, and came across more books by the author I mentioned above. (An excellent author, BTW, who writes equally excellent books.) On the shelf were four books from this person’s series, the first of which was the one I had already read. I was curious where she went with the series, so I picked up the other three books one-by-one to see what they were about. The first two were both set along the California coast, no where near where their first book and my new manuscript were located, and, even better, had nothing to do with the plot I was writing.

Then I picked up the last book. This one WAS set in same place as mine. Okay, no problem. Lots of books share similar locations.

Then I started reading the synopsis on the back.

“Uh-oh.” Though it was not entirely clear what the story was about, what was there sounded familiar. Immediately, I knew I needed to read the book. Still, I wasn’t too worried. I mean, how close could it be to what I was writing? When I got home that evening I started reading.

By 1 a.m., my eyes were wide, and my brain was reeling. What I discovered was that there WERE several things that were not just vaguely similar, but WAY too close to what I was working on. I got out of bed, and shot off a quick email to my agent saying I wanted to talk to her first thing in the morning New York time (I’m west coast.)

When I woke up…okay, I was already awake, unable to sleep for long…When 9 a.m. ET came around, I called. I explained to my agent what I discovered, and think I actually could hear the blood draining from her face. “Call your editor.”

That’s exactly what I did. Surprisingly, she was very calm about it. “Have you read the whole book?” “Not yet.” “Well, maybe it turns out that things are different.” “Maybe, but I doubt it.” “Read the book, then send me a short synopsis, and where the similarities are between the two.”

I spend the rest of the day (that would be two weeks ago last Monday), reading and doing a cross story analysis. And I came up with one very definitive truth – I could not write the book I’d been writing.

Similarity included: the triggering event, the fact that this event happened around 20 years in the past, the villain, deaths of old friends, and, of course, the location. I’m just being general here. Trust me, the core elements of the stories were very similar.

Granted, the way I was telling the story, and the way the other author told their story were different, but it didn’t hid the fact that there was too much the same.

I sent my notes off to my editor, and then realized I had a choice to make. I could just sit around and feel miserable, or I could be proactive and keep myself moving forward.

Those who know me know that being miserable is not a trait I know how to do well. I’m not of the “why-me?” variety, I’m of the “what-do-I-need-to-do-to-keep-moving-forward?” variety.

So in that vein, I took the finding of this book to be a fortuitous discovery. My God, how horrible would it have been if I hadn’t found it? The author had already agreed to read my book when it was done. Can you imagine if I had finished it and sent it off to them? (Rob suggested that if the author were to give me a blurb it may have been, “It’s was a great book…when I wrote it!” Hilarious, in a tragedy averted kind of way. But I have a feeling this author is too kind to ever write something like that. But they might have pointed out the similarities to me, and boy would that have been embarrassing!)

The next day (Tuesday), I returned to my favorite coffee shop determined to come up with an alternate plot that could save some of the elements from the original story. You might be wondering why I didn’t just suggest I do one of the other ideas I had proposed…well, my publisher really liked many aspects of the story they’d chosen, as did I, so I wanted to preserve what I could. Especially, for personal reasons, the location.

With the help of good friend and author Bill Cameron via iChat, I was able to brainstorm a new story. And guess what? It was even BETTER than the old one. Tons better. I wrote up a new synopsis and sent it off.

By Wednesday morning, I hadn’t heard back for my publisher. So, again, I had a choice. Sit around and wait, loosing time, or dive in and write like the new proposal was approved. The only downside there would be if it wasn’t approved I’d have to toss everything out, but if it was I’d be ahead of the game.

I’m not a sitter.

I wrote the opening two chapters that Wednesday, and sent those to my editor so she’d see the direction I was going. Then I wrote on Thursday and Friday. On the following Monday, I was expecting to hear from her, but she gotten busy so needed more time. I wrote on Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday. I wrote like a madman, hitting daily word totals that I seldom ever hit.

The only other communication I had with my editor that week was an email apologizing for the delay, but would need more time. That was fine. I was in a groove, and I was afraid to push her in case it jinxed things. (Yes, sometimes I worry about that.)

When this past Monday morning came I was ready to dive in again. Then, before I even started, I received an email from my editor. I was nervous to open it, but did so.

She LOVED everything. She also thought it was better than what I had been working on. And the chapters I sent? “Powerful and horrifying.”

That big PHEW!!! you heard Monday around 8 a.m. PT was from me just in case you were wondering.

Now that I had closure, I emailed the author of the other book to let them know what had happened. And, as I would have expected, the response back was completely understanding and supportive.

So everything’s on track again. And, as I write this, I have already written more pages of the new direction than I had of the original one.

Can I say phew again? PHEW!!

Similar stories happen all the time. There is no getting around it. As writers we can’t worry if someone has told a story like the one we’re working on…most of the time. But there are instances when things get so specific that you might have to adjust. I ran into one of those instances, Big Time.

But the real lesson here is that no matter how small or large a problem is, you can either wallow in your own self-pity, or you can do something to put it behind you. If that means you have to throw away 150 pages, 250 page, or even a whole book, then that’s what you do. Because option two is ALWAYS the way to go if you want to succeed.

Okay, ‘rati. What kind of hiccups have you experienced in your life that have required a change in direction? What was your response?

Something to Bridge the Gap

By Brett Battles

 

So this week has been a very interesting one for me. By interesting, I mean…well, let’s just say there’s an installment of AT PLAY IN THE FIELD OF THE WRITTEN WORD coming up, and it’s a doozy. Can’t do it this week because a few things are still up in the air, but should be raring to go in two weeks.

That said, what has been going on has kept me a little occupied, so I hope you’ll excuse me if I post something that has appeared on-line before. It’s a short story.

Now, I haven’t written a ton of short stories. In fact, with the exception of several flash fiction piece (one of which is below), I’ve really only written two average length shorts. One is a sci-fi piece I worked on about ten years ago, but never really did anything with. And the other was “Perfect Gentleman,” the story that appeared in the KILLER YEAR ANTHOLOGY in 2008. (Side note: I am very honored by the fact that “Perfect Gentleman” was also selected by Tyrus Books to be included with their recently released BETWEEN THE DARK AND THE DAYLIGHT AND 27 MORE OF THE BEST CRIME & MYSTERY STORIES OF THE YEAR anthology.)

So, I guess what I’m saying is that while I don’t do a lot of short fiction, I do enjoy it. Anyway, on to the story. For those of you unfamiliar with Flash Fiction, it refers to short stories that are limited to a certain small word count, quite often 1000 words. In this case, the limit was 500.

Apologies to those of you who’ve already read it.

 

CAFÉ LATTE

By Brett Battles

 

“The large one.”

“You mean venti?” the barista asked. She was probably just barely out of high school.

“Sure. Venti. That’s the large, right?” the man asked.

“That’s the large.”

“Good.”

“Can I get your name?”

The man looked around. “Why? Is there a line?”

There was no line.

“Right. Sorry. I’m a little nervous,” she said.

“This your first day?”

“No. Third.”

“You’re doing fine.”

And she was, too. Her customer service was all he could have expected.

“How much?” he asked.

She hesitated for a moment like she hadn’t understood what he was saying, then shook herself and rang up his drink.

“Three forty-five,” she said.

“Annie.” It was one of her co-workers. The red-headed kid who looked like he could use a little sun. “Just give it to him.”

“It’s okay,” the man said. “I don’t mind paying.”

He pulled a five dollar bill out of his pocket and handed it to the girl. Once she had given him his change, he dumped it all in the tip jar.

While the rest of her co-workers and pretty much everyone in the coffee shop watched, Annie made the made a venti latte. No one offered to help, but she seemed to have everything under control.

Somewhere in the distance, there was the faint sound of a siren.

The man waited contentedly as she finished frothing up the milk and adding it to his cup. Once she was done, she put a lid on top and slipped a safety sleeve around the base. Her hands weren’t even shaking as she handed the drink to him.

The sirens were closer now, probably only six or seven blocks away. The man took a sip of the latte, then smiled.

“This is great.”

“Thanks,” Annie said.

“You have a good day,” he told her.

“You, too.”

Except for his footsteps on the tiled floor, the coffee shop was silent. Everyone’s eyes were on him, but he acted like he didn’t notice. The only abnormal thing he did was step over the dead body of the would-be robber lying in the middle of the floor.

The unlucky bastard’s gun was still in his hand. An ancient .38 special. God only knew how much damage the kid had done with it in the past.

As the assassin opened the front door, he glanced back at the counter. Annie was still there, watching him. As he gave her a little wave, she mouthed the words, “Thank you.”  

He smiled and walked out to his car. A glance at his watch told him he was still ahead of schedule. That was fine. It was never good to kill someone when you were in a rush.

 _________________________

Read a good short story lately? Tell us about it. And, if you can, tells us where to find it.

AT PLAY IN THE FIELD OF THE WRITTEN WORD PART 2

by Brett Battles

When we last left off after part 1, I was finishing my proposal and about to send it to my agent. If you recall, I mentioned that I was doing something different that neither my agent nor my editor was expecting.

Now I can tell you what I did…instead of giving them a single, stand alone book proposal, I gave them three completely different ones.

Yes, I said three…individual…story proposals.

Each included the following: A) a ten to fifteen page outline, and B) sample chapters of around thirty pages for each idea.

I know. You’re thinking, What? Are you crazy?

Perhaps. After all, I turned in approximately 120 pages of written material…for a  proposal!

(Wait. I am crazy.)

Here’s how it happened. Earlier this year I was at a point with the book I was working on that I had a break of a few days, and, as luck would have it, an idea for a stand alone came to me. In a two or three day period I typed up nearly forty pages of the beginning of the book. Then I saved the file (we’ll call this idea #1), and went back to the manuscript I was working on.

When August came around, my publisher and I agreed that the next proposal should be for a stand alone instead of the fifth in the Quinn series. Almost immediately I had a new idea (idea #2) that I was excited about. I worked on it for several weeks, spending a lot of time just thinking things through. I ended up devoting a lot of time on the trip I took in late August working on it, and had things pretty much had it all figured out by the time I got on the plane to fly home.

Funny thing about flying, often I’m struck with random ideas that momentarily consume me. (Many times they involved planes, for obvious reasons. One such idea occurred on my trip to Bouchercon last week.) This moment of inspiration happened to me on the first leg of my journey back to the States, and for three hours I wrote long hand in my notebook the first couple chapters of a new book (you got it, idea #3). When I got home I still had a few weeks before my proposal was due, so I allowed myself some time to flesh out this new idea and see if it was worth sending in. I’m sure my initial thought was that if it was better than idea #2, it would be the proposal I’d submit.

As I continued on it, I definitely liked where it was going, but I also found that I still really liked idea #2. That’s when the scandalous thought hit me: why not send in both and let my publisher decided.

And seconds after that thought crossed my mind I remembered the story from earlier in the year.

Knowing I probably shouldn’t, I went back and reread it anyway. Damn if I didn’t liked where it was going.

Okay, fine, I told myself. I’ll send them three. Because I knew I’d be happy to write any of them. Let my editor weight in on which one should be next.

As a side note, I should say that this method of giving multiple choices was also ingrained in me during my working days in television graphics. The thing was, if someone wanted a main title for their show…let’s say TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORIES (one of the shows on E! I rebranded)…if you show them one idea they won’t like it. But if you give them choices, they’ll feel like you really put thought into it, and will pick one.

In the case of my proposal, reason behind given multiple ideas didn’t equate to my time at E!, but my thinking was definitely influenced by my process there. The real reason I sent all three was because I was happy with all of them so it didn’t really matter to me which one I did.

The last Friday of September, I emailed the proposal to my agent without any warning about what she would receive. Was she impressed? She sounded like it to me. That following Monday, she send it on to my editor.

Since my proposal was rather bulky, and my editor also had other things on her plate, it took a couple weeks for her to get back to me. She finally did the Friday after my last Murderati post (two weeks ago tomorrow.) Thankfully, she was very happy with all the material, and while she liked aspects of all three idea, she went with idea #2.

(Funny tangent…the down side of doing this (besides all the extra work) was that once I sent the proposal in, one of the ideas started to pick at my mind. And since I had nothing else to do, I put in a little time on it, developing it further. And, you guessed it, that wasn’t the one chosen. Oh well, it’ll be the next one if I have any say in it!)

So I’m back at the daily writing thing now, working on making idea #2 into a finished, kickass stand alone. I’m pretty excited about it, too, because I’m using a lot of my personal past in it…(the book is largely set in my hometown.)

Now, would I advise doing your proposal in the manner I did? Ah…no. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for all. I will say I don’t plan on doing multiple ideas for future submissions, though, I guess, you never know.

Questions for today:

Brett…crazy/not crazy? (Perhaps we should skip that one.)

For writers, how much thinking to you put in before you start a new book? (Not talking necessarily about outlining, just working the idea and characters in your mind.)

Readers, does this behind-the-curtain stuff even interest you?

And finally…and this is most important…I would love to hear any ideas on topics you like me, or other Murderati contributors, to discuss!

 

A special hello to all the new friends I met at Bouchercon, and to the old ones I got to spend time with and get to know better. It was an excellent conference and I can hardly wait until next year. If you weren’t there, try to come next time. Hell, it’s in San Francisco! Who’d want to miss that?

 

At Play in the Field––––––

Okay, I know I promised you the second part of my proposal adventure, but it’s currently with my editor and I’m waiting to hear back. Wanted to have that info before I wrote the next segment.

So instead I thought I’d present a short story by the next generation of Battles writers, my daughter Fiona. She wrote the following story one day last spring, and I knew I had to share it with you all. She, of course, has no idea I’m doing this.

 

THE GIRL THAT CRIED GUN

By Fiona

Once there was a girl in England. She was the biggest liar ever. But one day she said she was a guy with a gun and she cried “help” and everyone came and they go their guns and stuff and then they saw her giggling.

Then one rainy day she really saw a man with a gun and she called “help”! But no one came. And then she ran but then she got shot. And died! And they had a funeral and no one came because she is a big fat liar! Except her mom and dad were there.

And everybody had a party. And no one felt bad or sad.

Remember don’t be a liar unless you want to die.

 

The End.

 

Wow…character development, even an arc – you gotta think she learned her lesson right before she kicked the bucket. I love how Fiona titled it “The Girl That Cried Gun” but in the story the girl cries “help.” And that ending…dramatic! Couldn’t make a dad more proud.

The first story I remember writing, though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my very first, was one about to crime fighting super heroes named Kung Fuey and Chop Suey Louie (original spelling). Their adventure took place in Hong Kong as I remember it. See, I was writing crime thriller set in international locations even then. The…eh…writing was on the wall, I guess.

So what was the title of the first story you remember writing? What was it about?

And, please remember, don’t be a liar unless you want to die.

 

AT PLAY IN THE FIELD OF THE WRITTEN WORD Part 1

Thought I’d take you all on a little journey with me. Next week my proposal is due for my new book. So the idea is to let you see how it all goes.

This week I want to talk about the preparation, i.e. the proposal.

In the past, my proposals have consisted of the first twenty or thirty pages of the book and a page or two of an incredibly generic synopsis. That gave me a lot of room to work. I’ve said it before, I’m the kind of author who enjoys writing without a net (read outline.) I love how stories organically come together. I like being surprised and entertained.

But this time is different. In the past, the books I was proposing were further episodes of my Jonathan Quinn series. My next book, though, is a stand alone.

(Now before any of you who enjoy the series get worried that there won’t be any more Quinn books, fear not. The fourth in the series is actually already written and done. And, if I may say so, is my favorite Quinn book so far. But first we’re going to bring out a stand alone, so THE SILENCED – tentative title – will be out after that.)

So while I am still providing the first twenty to thirty pages as part of the proposal, I realized my outline/synopsis can’t just be a page or two. In fact, I’ve decided to make it more detailed than I ever have in the past. The hope is, based on what I’ve heard from others, that this will help me stay on track and write faster. I sure hope so. But I’ve got to say writing the synopsis is excruciating.

In the time I can usually write five to six pages of prose, I’m lucky to get a page or a page and a half of an outline. I also find myself getting up from my chair more often, watching episode of DEXTER season 3 or going for a walk or playing Mindsweeper on my iPhone. Anything to avoid the pain of actually thinking out the details of the story.

But all that said, I can see how this actually is going to help me focus more when I get down to writing the book. I’m excited about it (again, not about writing the synopsis – something I’m avoiding at this very second – but in how it will help me), and am anxious to put it to the test.

If this works, I may be a reluctant convert. I know Rob blogged about a similar thing several weeks ago. (I don’t know for sure, but from what I understand the outline for his next one is in the dozens and dozens of pages…mine is not. I’m not THAT crazy.)

I’m also doing something else with this proposal. Something neither my editor nor my agent is expecting. But that I’m going to have to save until next time, so I don’t blow the surprise in case one of them reads this. I’ll let you know in part 2, as by then they’ll have proposal in hand. Hopefully I’ll even be able to tell you how it was received.

Question time (and no, I’m not going to ask the Outline vs. No Outline question as we’ve argued that more than enough): I know some readers like series and some don’t…for those of you who do like series, does it bother you when the author writes a stand alone? Do you read it? For those of you who prefer stand alones, why do you think you avoid series?

Look forward to reading your answers!

 

Summer and Books, Two Great Things That Go Together!

I’ve been somewhat on a reading tear as late. It reminds me of what I used to do before I really got serious about writing. Back then I’d plow through two or three books a week. I was never without a book nearby. I remember twenty years ago or so, sitting in the kitchen of the home I was renting with a friend of mine, stirring my pot of Craft Macaroni and Cheese while reading THE STAND by Stephen King. I remember a couple of month long stretches where, each time, I would read from beginning to end the entire Travis McGee series. I remember finding new authors, rediscovering old ones, and reading books I’d been waiting anxiously until they came out.

 

The point is, once I started focusing all my free moments to writing, reading feel to the side. It didn’t go away completely, but I was lucky if I got through two books a month.

 

I thought that once I started writing fulltime last year, I’d get more reading done. But for some reason that didn’t happen. Not right away, anyway.

 

These past two weeks have been an awesome return to that old form. I’m almost finished with my fifth book in that time, and all have been great. And I’ve been writing, too! In fact, my creativity level seems to be hitting a new high. I’m working on the proposal for my next book, and each day it feels better and better. But beyond that, I’ve also been bombarded with ideas for new books on an almost daily basis. What a rush.

 

I guess part of it was that I was away from home in a foreign land where I was pretending to be a local resident, and just live day-to-day like this was my home. I didn’t do a lot of the touristy things. Instead I found my favorite places to read and to eat and just fell into a rhythm. I like traveling that way sometimes, it allows me to get more of a sense of a place.

 

(Also a note in advance…since I got home late last night after a very long flight, I may be a bit slow in responding to comments.)

 

(Note number two…more of an observation…it’s kind of odd writing this post a few days in advance from my hotel room acting like I’m already home.)

 

As far as the books I’ve been reading, I decided to try to catch up on some authors I’ve enjoyed in the past. Since my last Murderati post, I’ve read KILLER INSTINCT and POWER PLAY by Joseph Finder…both kept me up late into the night, and I’ve vowed to never wait as long to read his future novels. GRAVITY by our own Tess Gerritsen…Tess combined so many of my favorite things in this book, and did it so well I was in awe. I also read SOME BURIED CAESAR by Rex Stout, the book that was chosen as the book to read for Bouchercon this year…a lot of fun. And, finally, I’m just finishing THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND by Jeffery Deaver…boy, can that man tell a story!

 

So my question to you, ‘rati, what good books have you read this summer? Doesn’t have to be a recent release. Let’s build our 2009 What-We-Read-This-Summer list!

 

 

 

WORD LUST

I admit it. There are words that when I hear them, they trigger special endorphins in my brain. They make me salivate, not with base hunger, but with a desire to know their secret. See they all have a similar meaning. Don’t get me wrong, there are other words that get me going, but these…? These captured my imagination when I was young and have never let go.

I probably heard the first of this group when my father would read stories to me before I went to sleep. It was probably in an older story, because, to me, the word is an older one, not one that comes up in everyday conversation. When I heard it, it instantly sounded magical to me. I could almost feel the word rolling around in my mouth.

Parcel [pahr-suhl] • noun

1. an object, article, container, or quantity of something wrapped or packed up; small package; bundle.

There are other meanings, but that’s the mean that’s important to me.

Parcel brings to mind a package wrapped in thick brown paper wrapped with twine. What could be inside? An ancient journal? A box full of coins? A secret invention? A bomb?

I love that word. To a lesser degree I also love package, container, tin, and suitcase. All hold mysteries that you long to be revealed. But out of that group, parcel still reigns supreme for me. It makes me feel warm inside, and evokes endless possibilities.

The other word that can get a similar reaction out of me, is a word in the same general theme. I probably first heard it in association with a western, because it just has that western feel. But it is also a word that can be used in other genres. In fact, I’ve used it myself many times simply because I love the feel of it. The sense of something different it brings.

Kit [kit] • noun

1.    A set or collection of tools, supplies, instructional matter, etc., for a specific purpose: a first-aid kit, a sales kit

2.    The case for containing these

3.   Such a case and its contents

What a great word. Again, like parcel, a kit contains mysterious items. Only in this case, it’s groups of items that are related. The above mentioned first-aid kit, for instance. It could also be a manicure kit, a photography kit, a surveillance kit, a survival kit, a removing the body kit.

I love this work. Because to me, someone who has a specific kit usually is a pro at whatever that kit is for. And what exactly do they need to complete their job? How specialized are the items that make up the kit? Is the kit organized with neat little containers for every tool? Or is it a grab bag of items piled on top of each other?

Love, love, love.

Okay, ‘rati. Let’s hear it from you. What are some of your favorite words, and why? I’m looking for the words that make you stop for a moment and roll around in them.

Once again I’m on the road, so if I don’t respond in a timely matter please forgive me. I promise to check out all your words and comment as soon as I can.

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