So, I slept really deeply and well last night, so I am feeling very well rested this morning. I know, my sleep chronicles are probably horrifyingly boring, but it really does affect how my day goes, and how much I can write and get done every day. Yesterday I was so tired I couldn’t focus on anything, and was borderline crabby all day. I don’t think that will be the case today. Huzzah!
I’ve also noticed that being tired triggers depression in me, which is not a good thing. Depression is so fucking hideous and self-defeating…just awful.
I finally finished the second draft of “A Whisper from the Graveyard” last night, which was kind of cool. It’s taking shape, perhaps another draft and maybe a read-aloud this weekend and it might be ready to go. This is an enormous relief, as I feel like I am getting nothing done these days. Of course, I also had a ridiculously productive first half of the year. The second half of the story seemed to be okay, much more okay than the first half, but we shall see when I read it aloud this weekend how much work it needs. I tried to work on two other stories yesterday–“Once a Tiger” and “Never Kiss a Stranger”–but I realized part of the problem I’m having with “Once a Tiger” is because I don’t really understand the motivations of the characters, so I need to brainstorm that story a little bit more before trying to finish it, and since “Never Kiss a Stranger” is going to be a longer story–almost novella length–I need to structure it and plan it out a little better. I know how the story is going to end, but there’s another part of the story I really need to work on.
And I’ve got to get back on track. I need to finish my Bouchercon homework and organize thoughts and questions for that panel; it’s my first time moderating at Bouchercon and I want to do a good job so the audience feels they got their money’s worth. I have great panelists though, so i think it will be a lively and fun discussion.
The next story in Florida Happens is Michael Wiley’s “Winner.”
Michael’s most recent novel is Monument Road, about an exonerated death-row inmate investigating the crime that sent him to prison. He also writes the Daniel Turner Thriller series (Blue Avenue, Second Skin, Black Hammock) and the Shamus Award-winning Joe Kozmarski Private Detective series (A Bad Night’s Sleep, The Bad Kitty Lounge, Last Striptease). He is a frequent book reviewer and an occasional writer of journalism, critical books, and essays.
Michael grew up in Chicago and lived and worked in the neighborhoods and on the streets where he sets his Kozmarski mysteries. He teaches literature at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville—the setting of Monument Road and the Daniel Turner stories.
When Missy Denners walked back into her house, she left the suitcase of money in her car trunk. Security cameras had recorded her in the Omni Hotel lobby. More cameras recorded her getting off the elevator with Marcel Beauvien at the fifth floor and getting back on without him. She figured she had an hour or so before the police connected her to his death.
Upstairs she found a duffel bag on a closet shelf and put in two changes of clothes. She wrapped a t-shirt around her pistol and put it in too. She dug her passport out of a desk drawer and assembled a kit of toiletries.
National Junior Waterskiing Champion at age sixteen, married at nineteen, widowed at twenty-two when her husband Tom made a dumbass deal with Beauvien and then didn’t come through with the cash, Missy knew her ups and her downs, the ecstasy and the agony. She called herself a Florida Girl to anyone who asked, though she lived in Jacksonville, which was to Florida what Detroit was to the beaches and northern woods of Michigan. Thing was, she pulled it off. No light seemed to shine brighter than the brilliant spray from her ski as she blasted through the first pair of red gate buoys, whooping like a wild thing, her hair banded in a ponytail, her teeth glinting.
Now, in the bedroom, she lay down on the bed she’d shared for three years with Tom. She felt no regret for shooting Beauvien. She wanted what she lost, that was all. She hated to lose. For a moment she thought of climbing under the bed covers, shutting her eyes, and trying to dream herself back into her former life. Instead, she made a mental list. Clothes, passport, toothbrush. What else might she need? She went downstairs to the garage and found a screwdriver and pliers.
This is a terrific story, and the character of Missy is perfectly drawn, with all her foibles and thoughts and motivations, and her likability, despite her flaws and faults, are what drive this story of revenge and escape and survival; Missy is a former champion athlete and she’s always been a winner–and her push to always be a champion plays out beautifully throughout the story and especially makes the ending absolutely spot on. I’d actually love to read more about Missy; I hope Michael considers making her the main character of a novel sometime.
And now, back to the spice mines.