A preview of my mystery novel

In writing news, I thought I'd bring you a very small sample of my mystery novel in progress, working title Poisoned, by God.

NaNoWriMo08If you're playing along at home, I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo08, so last November. I finished the second draft this spring. Steve read it for the first time at that point and gave me lots of good critiques. I intended to spend July finishing the third draft, but alas, we decided to buy a house instead. Stupid, stupid. So after we move, I will finish the third (final?) draft, have Steve read it again, plus some other beta testers, then do another draft or a final polishing, depending on critiques. And then it's out to agents, with fingers and toes crossed for good news.

Do let me know if you want to be a beta reader of my novel. Helpful qualities include the ability to read critically and offer constructive advice about plotting, characterization, theme, and/or details like whether I changed someone's haircolor or name halfway through. Also helpful would be a familiarity with the genre of mystery novels, particularly cozies, a la Agatha Christie or similar; having seen movie versions qualifies, as long as you enjoyed them. I mean, you don't have to be an expert — or even conversant — in the cozy genre, as long as you're willing to accept that there are conventions that fit the form and ask for clarification if needed rather than just deriding the conventions out of hand. If you want to do some homework, here are some of my contemporary faves that are similar in various ways: Jo Dereske, Janet Evanovich, Gillian Roberts. If you try them and find you detest light-hearted mysteries, probably don't bother reading this one. Because another helpful quality is not making me cry by saying my novel is utter tripe. That said, I will gratefully accept any helpful criticisms. Ask Steve — I was entirely courteous and appreciative of his suggestions. Oh, and if you're worried you'll you have to slog through the mystery genre's answer to War and Peace, it's only about 220 pages and it reads fast, because there's lots of dialogue, not to mention all that good old "who's going to be killed next" suspense. Steve got through it in a day or so, with ample bathroom and eating breaks.

So, here's the sample page. To give the basic background: Christine is the praise team leader at a Midwestern church, and a member of her praise team is killed during practice by a poisoned cough drop. Hilarity ensues.

I don't know if it's bad form to give out samples of an unpublished manuscript, but I like to live dangerously. Besides, it's mostly just to show you that the characters are funny, with little plot to distract you. Steve's favorite character is Rob, Christine's husband. Guess why.


Rob called from work while I was looking up the name of the poison online.

“I’m bored,” he said. “Talk to me.”

“How can you be bored at work? Aren’t you doing work?”

“I’m waiting for a meeting to start. I already went to the bathroom and got some animal crackers from the vending machine. I’ve run out of ways to amuse myself.”

“I’m glad to know I’m your last hope.” I got up and walked to our little one-butt-wide kitchen. Animal crackers didn’t sound half-bad.

“I figured you might have something to amuse me with.”

“How do you know I wasn’t hard at work editing?”

A sound suspiciously like a snort came over the line.

“Well, you’re not exactly Mr. Productivity yourself today,” I said. No animal crackers in the junk cupboard. I settled on Doritos.

“What are you crunching?” Rob asked.

I told him. “They’re Nacho cheesier.”

“Good idea,” he said. I heard a faint jingling. “I have just enough change left. Do you mind if I spend a Nevada quarter?”

I thought over our collection. “No, we have Nevada. It’s New Mexico I’ve been looking for.”

I heard the clanging of coins into the machine as Rob went after his prize. In between our crunches, I broke the bad news.

“Tammy died,” I said. Rob could handle blunt.

“Oh, no,” he said. “That’s too bad.”

“There’s more,” I said. “She was murdered.”

“Murdered,” Rob echoed. “Well, that’s not amusing, but it’s certainly intriguing. I’ve never known a murder victim before.”

“You couldn’t even remember who she was, so I don’t know that you can say you knew this one, either.”

Rob gave a verbal shrug.

“She was poisoned,” I added. I could hear Rob literally chewing things over. “Don’t you want to know how I found out?”

“I assume Barb called you,” he said after a swallow.

“Don’t assume,” I chided. “Barb’s left me in the lurch. It was a detective.”

Rob gave a little choke on the other end. “From the actual police?” he said. “Are you a suspect?” He sounded much too enthusiastic about the idea.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t think so. Or maybe we all are.”

“Did you ask for a lawyer?”

I gripped the handset tighter. “Should I have?”

“We don’t know any lawyers.”

“No, I know.”

“Murder.” Rob breathed out heavily.

“I know.” I hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything else all day. How could someone have been murdered, and right in front of me, too?

“Well, I have to go,” Rob said, suddenly brisk. “Our meeting is starting.”

“Bummer for you,” I said, snapping back to the immediate. “See you later.”

Rob tossed off a “later” and disconnected. I tongued the last of the orange crud off my fingers and tried to ignore the lure of crime solving via Google and get some work done.


So there you are. Intrigued? Want to read more? Sign up now to read the next draft!

Photo copyright Anna H-G via sxc.hu


Blog Widget by LinkWithin