Excerpt from Bento Box

Here is a slice off what I’ve been working on for this year’s nanowrimo:

“Why are you so obsessed with the identity theft cases?” Saskia asked as they walked back to his office. “Orochi’s high profile. He’ll be a feather in your cap. No one even believes the identity theft cases are credible.”

Rascati looked at his watch. “Come with me, I’ll show you.”

They walked down the hallways to some interrogation rooms. No one looked up as they walked past. The walls were now set up as old one-way mirrors used to be. Everyone still knew they were on display, but the illusion was friendlier than the big, open mirror had been. Rascati walked down the narrow hallway until they reached slightly friendlier quarters. These rooms were used for taking witness statements and had slightly more accommodation. Inside the room, a thin, wiry woman with honey blonde dreadlocks and brilliant purple eyes strummed the air as though she were practicing chords. The audio feed was on, and she could hear the woman’s voice, a smoky, rich sound that Saskia recognized immediately.

“That can’t seriously be Risa Starr.” Saskia’s eyes grew wide with amazement.

Rascati had been caught up by her tattoos. She had a multitude of them. Most of them were music related, but he noticed in the smoke of a genie bottle, two women kissed passionately. His favorite tattoo was of an old wooden guitar. It seemed so plain against the rest of them, yet it was prominently displayed on her left forearm. “That’s her lawyer.”

He dressed conservatively, but his hair was coifed into a shaggy mane, barely contained by product.

“I just never thought I’d see her in here.”

“She’s too rich to end up in one of those.” He pointed down the hall. “I hear she’s started riots before.”

“That wasn’t her fault!” Saskia said defensively.

“I have an idea. You stay out here, and I’ll go talk to her.” Before she could argue, he opened the door and slipped into the room.The wiry woman sat up, her expression grim.

“Risa Starr?” He asked, holding out his hand.

“Yes. And you are?” She stood up and shook his hand firmly, looking into his eyes with her hypnotic purple gaze.

“William Rascati. We spoke over the phone.”

She looked relieved. “Thanks for meeting with me.”

“Same here. Can I get you something? Coffee, donuts? Nothing but the best here.” He grinned.

She chuckled, her nervousness abating somewhat. “Nah, some water would be great. For myself and Charlie.”

Rascati opened the door, unsurprised to find Saskia already there. Her blue eyes held the question, and he nodded. “This is Saskia. She’s my partner.”

Risa and Saskia exchanged glances. Rascati idly wondered what madness would ensue, but Saskia just handed Risa the water and withdrew. “Nice to meet you.” She set the lawyer’s water down on the table.

“Thank you.” Risa said softly.

“And she was just leaving. So that I can conduct the interview.” Rascati shooed Saskia out, and gave her a sharp look when Risa couldn’t see.

“Of course.” Risa toyed with the water, her fingers moving in complex tapping rhythms. She didn’t seem to be aware she was doing it.

“So, first of all, I have to thank you for agreeing to this interview. I want to make sure you know that I consider what happened a crime, and that you are the victim of this crime, not a perpetrator or accomplice. I don’t want you to feel as though you are on trial, but I may ask questions that you aren’t expecting to answer. All of this conversation will be made available to the courts should any prosecution take place, so I also want you to be aware of that. Do you understand?”

“That’s why my lawyer is here. Just to make sure everything is treated correctly.” As if on command, Charlie stood up straighter.

“Risa, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like you to begin by telling me your name, your occupation, and your age, for the record.”

“My name is Risa Starr, I’m a recording artist, and I’m thirty six years old.”

“Thank you. For the record, I am Inspector William Rascati of the Seattle-Tacoma polyregion. Now, in your own words, would you mind telling me the circumstances of this crime you say was committed against you?”

“My body was stolen.” Risa’s words were quiet, but the anger was definitely there. “It was a month ago, now, but no one was willing to listen to me before.

“Could you elucidate? How was your body stolen?” It wasn’t difficult for Rascati to seem interested. This case had been bothering him since it came into his office. He knew bodyjumping was real, but so far he hadn’t been able to get anyone to tell him what happened.

“It happened on June 27th. I was scheduled to do some PR, which I wasn’t happy about to begin with, but who loves all the parts of their job? Anyway, I was scheduled to be in New Dehli at five at night, so I had to get up at four thirty in the morning. I remember going. I remember Shazri being late. We were talking for a bit about the setup when I felt like someone drove a spike through my brain. I knew the grid was sketchy; I thought it was a power spike that interrupted my feed. When I woke up, I was still in my c-pod, but I had bruises that I didn’t have before. My bodyguard could tell you more. He’s been my friend for years. He wouldn’t come today though. He’s afraid of what this could do to my reputation.”

“He watched over you when you were.. not yourself?” Rascati asked.

“Yeah, he saw all of it. It was a hard day for him.” Risa’s purple gaze studied the floor.

Her lawyer put a hand on her shoulder. “Remember, you’re not obligated to incriminate yourself.”

“He’s right, Risa. And I don’t think you should.” Rascati said.

She looked up at him, confused.

“Not yet. Right now I’m trying to gather evidence that this is a problem. You see, everyone who this has happened to before, has been an everyday joe. Everyday joes that make good money, mind you, but no one who has international fame. Your story is new, and new tells us something. New tells us that they’re getting overconfident. The next step is sloppy. These clever pricks who’ve found this new system, they think they can’t be touched. And today, they can’t. But I have been piecing together profiles. I’ve been putting together MO’s. I am going to catch these bastards, because I believe they exist.”

“So what was the point of talking to me?” Risa asked.

“Today, maybe not much. You aren’t willing to put yourself, or your friends, out on a limb yet, and I respect that. But tomorrow.. or the next day.. when I catch this ring of thieves and con men, I’m going to need someone to stand up and say, ‘It happened to me.’ And who better to rally around than Risa Starr, Golden Voice of Seattle? People will demand blood, and you’ll get justice. You can prevent these bastards from getting away with it.” Rascati noticed her hands had stilled.

“That’s what you wanted me for? To fly your banner?” Risa asked, anger threading through her voice.

“No. I wanted you to come forward with hard evidence so I could make an arrest. Since you won’t, I’ve got to go for second best and go begging like a pauper.” He pitched his voice in a sing-song. “Please, Miss Starr, help me catch the boogeyman that no one believes in.”

“Well I damn sure believe in them.” She shot back.

“Don’t you want them to pay? Don’t you want to know how they did it? Are you afraid to use a C-Pod now? Let me take it for a few days, see if I can find any pieces that shouldn’t be there. I don’t know how they’re doing it, but I know that they’re ruining people’s lives with it, and they’re getting away with it too. We have to cut them off at the circuits. Will you let me investigate?”

Her lawyer shook his head.

“You don’t have anybody to prosecute, Rascati.”

“I’ll learn something about them if I can look at your C-pod. It doesn’t have to be at your house. It could be taken off-site to be looked at. I don’t want to disrupt your life, I just want you to care about this when I crack the case.”

“Charlie.” She said. Her lawyer moved to her side, so fluidly Rascati wondered what implants he sported. “Take a walk.”

“I can’t do that, Risa. Anything you say without me is still submittable.”

She looked at Rascati.

“This interview is over. Nothing further said is submittable.” He said.

“Now.” She said.

Charlie, who was a bright boy despite his hair, turned to go. “I’ll send Ethan up.”


I have been writing like mad for fifteen days, and I have over 25k words to show for it. I’m not sure how good it is, mind, but a rough draft is no place for perfection. Ideas are forming, relationships are working out, and my villain is that right mix of oxygen and fuel that drives the story forward. What is interesting to me is that the stories I write are nothing like the stories I read.

Okay, let me say that another way. I can definitely see the influences of authors I have read, but there’s only one book that I can think of that has a similar enormous cast list. (I looked it up, the title is Lonely Werewolf Girl.) Sure, Robert Jordan also comes to mind, but I can contain my cast list to one book, so I don’t think I reach his vaunted “pad it out” status.

The human mind is not a stream that flows in one direction all the time. We tend to think it works that way, but we are compartmentalized. When there are multiple people in one room, we think differently than if we’re alone. I tried to use speech-to-text software for my stories, but when I talk, my stories come from a different space in my head than when I type. My husband is a very kinesthetic person. Getting him to sit down and concentrate to tell a story is difficult. He’s a masterful storyteller, however, when he sits down in front of a group of people.

I think that everyone has a story to tell, and I think the hardest part is finding the time to tell it. The human body has upkeep costs. Eat, sleep, work, clean, and socialize. I have found in the attempt of slowing down that it seems like life has just sped up to compensate. There is always a project, always a nagging something undone. Some people don’t find that their story is as interesting as hiking, or cooking, or the next video game.

I do notice, however, how many people find the time to write their stories down when they’re older. Those stories don’t go away. They just lie dormant.

I will not spend December turning down my friends for their holiday plans. I will be caught up in the swirl of things, and it will be glorious. I will also carve out time to write my stories, and get them out there into the world, where they could inspire others. Maybe just one other person, but then it will be worth it.

They will not lie dormant.

Never Stop Learning

Recently, in my inherent insanity, I decided that Nanowrimo was the perfect excuse to get done what I’ve needed to do for months – buckle down and write. I have author friends who are for nano, and author friends who are against, but for me the challenge is to stop taking up every invitation. To be home, in front of my laptop instead of socializing.

It’s started several conversations, which also engage in learning. I am befriending a local writer girl who showed me a startling fact; she admitted to being an escapist writer, a pantser who wrote when her life was unhappy and she needed something to distract her. She said she looked forward to publishing so she could set her hobby down. Not long ago, I was that girl. Until I actually published, and got a taste of what lies beyond The End. Learning how to be a plotter. Writing come hell or high water. Having specific goals and using whatever motivational techniques it takes.

This has also forced me to curb my inner editor. I have already hit places in my story that I want to go back over and rewrite, to hit with the proverbial stick until the story comes out the shape I want. I can’t afford to do that this month. I can’t go backwards and clip and tidy as I go. The goal is to leave a wake of words that fills 100 pages or so of text. It’s not the time to be dainty. It’s the time to take your brain cells hostage and put them in sweat shops. It is quantity over quality, and that’s okay. There will be time to take that rough clay and transform it into a vase later.

Much like my blog posts, really.

That said, I’m taking a break from my legit word count, so I better get back to cranking that out. Best of luck to those of you participating in the yearly ritual of noveling!

No Rest for the Wicked

I am writing my second novel.

In an interesting twist of coincidence, I started both The Corsican and my untitled second work within months of each other, back in 2009. I don’t have specific dates anymore, but I know I started the second story after The Corsican, for NanoWrimo. (For the uninitiated, NanoWrimo is National Novel Writing Month.) I burned through the first draft, until I hit the climax, and then I stopped and thought, “Not so much.”

I have attempted this story more times than I care to admit. Always something changed. Characters developed, aged from high schoolers to twenty-somethings, main characters became supporting cast as more appropriate characters stepped forward, all the time tweaking the story to improve it. As is typical with these kinds of things, it took an outside perspective to put me on the path to correcting what it was that I just wasn’t happy with. The climax of the story, which was always my breaking point before, came easily this time around.

After three years of battling it, the story is flowing. Despite the amount of work I’m still doing for The Corsican, despite having all the other stuff I have to do, I can still sit down and churn out two thousand words in a day. This is just the first draft, though. Once I conclude it, there’s still acres of work that require doing. Editing, rewrites, polishing.

I can’t say this book has been easier to write because I published The Corsican. However, what I can say is that publishing The Corsican let me behind the curtain, to see what happens once the final ‘i’ is dotted and the final ‘t’ is crossed. Publishing has helped me to develop my process. I’ve gained confidence and trust my instincts as a writer. This draft has been easier to write, partially because I’ve become very clear on the characters over the years, partially because my husband is a genius and pointed out the book’s major flaw, and partially because I’ve learned from finishing my first book. It turns out, the best way to have a process for finishing books is to finish a book. The first one is the hardest, but after that you have a course of action.

I won’t be posting about writing a book in a linear fashion on this blog. I have many projects in various levels of completion, and I will share my insights as they come, from whichever project is providing me insight at the time. I welcome questions, and I will try to be clear on which project I mean, for clarity’s sake.

The world is full of stories. I’m glad that I’ve been able to add to the collective.