THE PREMISE: LAURA AND GIBBONS ARE ON THE CASE AGAIN! AN UP AND COMING AUTHOR IS BRUTALLY MURDERED WHILE ATTENDING A WRITERS CONFERENCE. JANINE HARPER IS FOUND POISONED IN HER ROOM. THE SUSPECT LIST IS LONG BUT THE SAVVY DETECTIVE FERRETS OUT THE REAL WRONG DOER WITH THE HELP OF THE DEAD AUTHORS FRIENDS. THE STING IS ON AS THE HELLCAT FRANCESCA IS BEING INVESTIGATED FOR FRAUD AND MURDER.
CASSIE AND SYLVIE ARE MEETING WITH OSCAR A WOULD BE HITMAN TO NAIL FRANCESCA
Oscar replied “I suppose she would want me to kill you too if you got in the way. I’m not going to do any of that. I want you ladies to call Carolyn Crawford at 22 division and meet us here. I have information for her with regards to the Janine Harper case.
Cassie sat up straight. I remember you now! You were there the day I bought the hemlock bush for Francesca. She told me that it was a gift for a friend. I remember you took it from me and said you would handle it.
yes, and I feel guilty about what I did. Oscar replied. I took it to a shop that handles black arts. Poison potions spells and all that. The man who worked there extracted the poison from the roots of the plant and gave me a vial of hemlock to give to Fran.
Cassie continued. Yes, and then she gave me the gift basket with the poisoned wine in and told me to take it to a delivery service. The rest, as they say, is history and Janine is dead.
Right and if that bitch gets her way you will both be dead by nightfall.
Sylvie spoke. “This is something out of SNOW WHITE where the woodsman takes Snow White into the forest to kill her but leaves her for the dwarves to find.”
Oscar laughed. “Interesting comparison Sylvie. I’m going to make it look like I’m going to kill you both. However, we are going to call your friends at 22 division and fill them in on what’s going on.
Sylvie laughed and responded. “Good, because neither Cassie or I have any intention on cleaning house for a bunch of short dirty men with the help of Woodland creatures.”
Cassie agreed. “Certainly not! I didn’t get my degree in Pub. relations just to be a housekeeper.”
The whole group laughed and moved onto working out a plan to trap Ms. Lewis.
This is better than the plan we worked out with Carolyn and Laura. She went to explain plainly the sting operation to take place at the writer’s conference the following day.
We’re doing something a bit different today. Instead of just one author, you’ve got FOUR! There’s a reason for this, so please bear with us but a moment and read on.
Sarcasmˈ/särˌkazəm/ Noun: The use of irony to mock or convey contempt. Synonyms: derision, mockery, ridicule, scorn, sneering, scoffing….
And the list goes on. It’s important to define this word, because not everyone knows what sarcasm is, but we all use it to one degree or another. I’m convinced my family would be unable to communicate without it. In fact, my youngest son was, without doubt, the most sarcastic five year old in his kindergarten class.
Sarcasm is a tool that, when used properly, can add interesting dimension to an author’s dialogue. Imagine your favorite characters on a TV show or in a movie, chances are, they’ve got a snarky side. These characters, and their lines, are memorable because they really spice up the chitchat. This witty repartee is fun to listen to, read and to write. I’ll be honest, I don’t think my characters could communicate without sarcasm, either.
I’ve been told I’m sarcastic. I shall neither confirm nor deny this allegation. Instead, I’d love to share some of my work with you and you can judge for yourself. Over the next few weeks, a few of my (supposedly) sarcastic friends are going to talk about using sarcasm in our work and in life. Rather than giving them a big introduction, I’ll let their work speak for them. If you’d like to find out more about these ladies, click the Guilty Parties link above.
Sit back, sip your favorite beverage, (I find that sarcasm is best with lemonade, but you be the judge) and be prepared for some dry humor, wise cracks and a tad bit of sarcasm. Just a little…not too much….
Someone wants movie producer Kent Griswald dead. Unfortunately, the first attempt is foiled by the fact that it’s not Kent on the beach, but his younger brother. In broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses, someone takes a pot shot at Connor. Detectives Weinstein and Scott are dispatched to investigate.
Detective Vanessa Weinstein came on the scene ten minutes after the shooting. Aggressive and competitive, she was an up and comer. She knew how to play the game and used her femininity to her advantage. Dressed in a black power suit and a very white shirt, she stood out clearly on the beach. Somehow, in some mysterious way that Walter Scott couldn’t explain, the woman didn’t sweat. Her black hair was sleek, unmoving in the wind off the ocean. Her skin was perfectly dry, not even a bead of sweat on her full lips.
“The rest of Daytona’s in hell in this late season heat wave and you stand there looking like the Sugar Plum Fairy,” Scott complained, wiping his face with a handkerchief.
“Don’t sweat in my crime scene,” she said in a bored tone. “What’s going on upstairs?”
“Got two perps, one actual shooter, one decoy. Second guy left his weapon. Your guy left a shell casing. Looks like both had the same kind of gun. No serial numbers on mine.”
“Why would they make it easy? You didn’t find my gun, huh?”
“Nope. But the shell’s a 5.56mm, so we’re figuring they both had identical weapons. MSSR.”
She nodded, taking a sip of hot coffee from an insulated mug. Scott slurped water from a rapidly warming bottle and wiped his brow on his fist.
“Jeez, can we at least get outta the sun? I’m gonna fry.”
“You should try getting a tan, Walt.”
“I’m Scottish and Scandinavian, Ness, I don’t tan. You could put me out here all day, I’d burn red as a beet.”
“They’re purple.” She moved into the shade of a cabana bar where they’d set up their command center.
My characters wield sarcasm like well-sharpened sword. Laura Hamilton Fitz uses sarcasm to deal with sticky situations when faced with bad-asses trying to kill her and annoying people she has no patience for. Many people will tell you she has an attitude but as a busy mom, CSI and corpse magnet extraordinaire. (see I used sarcasm there) Laura doesn’t have time for BS.
Stella is Laura’s nemesis (next to her mother of course) and knows how to push the girl’s buttons. I am surprised that Stella herself hasn’t made it to Laura’s hit list…. Anyway, in one scene from Dead Men Don’t Swing Laura puts Stella in her place after the pest gives her a hard time about doing a eulogy for a dead, and might I add, not well liked tenant.
I went down the hall to the laundry room. I couldn’t even fathom doing a load before checking the traps and washing out all the machines before using one. I was just putting my loads in when Stella flounced in. I gave her a look that said, “Don’t start lady.” She’s either dense or doesn’t care and got on my case about the eulogy.
“Ya know Stella, you’re usually an astute woman but right now you are down to two brain cells and they are limping. I am only going to say this once, so listen closely! You can shove your eulogy! I don’t know the guy. The other tenants aren’t being forthcoming with details except for stuff I refuse to put in a tribute to the dead man. I also don’t have the time for this crap and it’s not my job.”
Ruth Davis Hays – Translations from Jorthus Series
Tools of the trade Sarcasm can be a fun and useful tool. It can be brought up in different ways. It can be presented in the narrative to express a character’s particular view of the world:
High school locker rooms. Every kid’s favorite place. The arena to expose our physical flaws to our worst critics like exposing our jugular to a vampire. (Watchdogs, a young adult novella in progress)
Or it can be a personality trait displayed in speech:
“A snow storm in the desert? Nothing out of the ordinary here!” Keinigan tried to pry a laugh from his dour companions.
Yet, his question was taken in earnest by the good dravan scholar, who proceeded to educate him on climate aberrations and how a reoccurring anomaly marked over a span of documented time can be construed as an ordinary pattern.
Keinigan groaned and pulled his cloak down over his head to block the freezing winter winds. The amount of snowfall was indeed strange for this area, but he made a mental note not to attempt humor around Master Calbraum anymore. (The Illusion, a Jorthus novel in progress)
My favorite, from time to time, is to use it to quickly convey a relationship between characters:
Before Dharromar could open his mouth, Keinigan’s fist smashed into his jaw. When the stars cleared from his brain, he was blinking up at his attacker. “I get the feeling you’re not happy to see me,” the changeling groaned from the dirt.
“Actually, I’ve been waiting to do that for a long time.”
“Little bit. You?”
“Wonderful. Your concern for me is truly touching. Now if you really want to be a help, you could come down here and suck my bolls.”
“Maybe later. I’m too busy celebrating.” Keinigan shuffled around the tent randomly as he listened to the voices of Lylith and the magda councilors filtering through the fabric. “Didn’t you hear? The changeling has returned to save us! Hoorah! The darquone are already retreating just hearing you’re back. I feel folching fantastic!” (The Illusion)
When the bite of sarcasm is set in contrast to more sincere narrative or dialogue, it stands out to the reader and punctuates either the writer’s opinion of the character or the situation. I find it incredibly irresistible at times, but must remind myself to read it not as intended but as written, in order to find out if the words are successful. If the sarcasm does not come across, either I am not doing my job or I need to rethink my use of the tool.
Disheartened, Cassie began to make a quiet retreat when she turned around and saw a homeless man who put his hand over her mouth and dragged her towards an abandoned building behind the brownstones. Biting his hand, and elbowing him in the face, she managed to free herself from his grasp. Turning around, she kicked him right in the yam bag when the homeless guy yelled in agony, “Damn’ it Cass!”
Doing a double take, she looked closer at him only to realize it was Amato. “Jesus, John, what the hell you doing walkin’ up on me like that?”
“Tryin’ to get you out of trouble!” he said through gritted teeth. Doubled over, Amato took deep breaths trying not to vomit in the alley.
Blushing, Cassie tried not to laugh. She was tempted to apologize but that wasn’t happening. Besides, it was nice to know she could still handle herself even in her messed up condition. A few minutes passed before she asked, “Ya gonna be alright?”
He looked up at her bewildered, “No wonder we broke up.”
Shrugging her shoulders, she answered right back, “Not every man can handle a strong woman.”
“Not every man wants a ball buster.”
Straightening up, Amato signaled for her to follow him as he limped away. Not feeling all that great herself, was starting to feel a sharp pain in her head. She had forgotten to take her meds and was now paying the price for it. As the two of them hobbled away from danger, the sounds of the city permeated the air playing a soundtrack to this ridiculous love story. Sirens, barking dogs and Amato’s bitching rang loudly in Cassie ears as she wondered how the hell they were ever gonna make it through this?
Join us the 15th of every month when one (or more) of us will share snippets of our stories — focusing on sarcasm, of course! We will comb through our work and find the best bits for you. You have our promise on that! Would we lie to you? ~Dellani
Things are really starting to heat up in the Fitz family. Gerry’s cousin, and best buddy is left for dead after a beating. When the thugs responsible find out he didn’t die, the game is on to keep Pete safe until he has to testify. After finding a body on a mountain trail in cottage country Laura helps a local police officer solve the crime while waiting for the birth of her first baby.
WHAT ONE READER SAYS ABOUT LEFT FOR DEAD
Left for Dead by Karen Vaughan, is witty and intelligently told mystery story. It’s the 6th in the Laura and Gerry mysteries series and a delightfully penned book.
It seems even pregnancy will not stop Laura Fitz from being a corpse magnet, as she stumbles yet again onto another dead body. While Laura is talking to the police, she receives a phone call from hubby. Apparently, Laura’s gift or curse for discovering the dead and becoming embroiled in the nasty affairs of the murder has rubbed off on to Gerry, for he has found his cousin near death.
The Fitz’s have once again become entangled in murder, mayhem, the lives of others along with the danger it entails. But, through it, all Laura remains her witty self. Gerry doesn’t fair as well as his love for Laura and their coming baby upset his judgment at times. After all, it is difficult to be objective when the life of one’s wife is on the line.
A SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR IS KILLED IN HER PRIME TO KEEP A NASTY DEED FROM BEING EXPOSED!
A NEW TENANT WITH A SPECIAL SET OF SKILLS!
LAURA ADJUSTS TO MOTHERHOOD AND PETE AND ELAINE MAKE IT OFFICIAL.
AS USUAL COOKIE THE CORPSE MAGNET HAS HER HANDS FULL.
The door wasn’t closed well so Istepped in and called out, “Myrna, are you here? It’s Laura. Can I come in? I just wanted to check on you after we talked yesterday.”
There was still no answer. She might have been napping but I wanted to be sure. There was no one in her room, but I could hear chanting from the second bedroom. Maybe she was meditating. The door was slightly ajar and I could see her standing there in front of some sort of altar. What surprised me was that Myrna was buck naked, holding a scepter over her head in her left hand, and doing God knows what with the other one as I couldn’t see it. Part of me did not want to disturb her ritual, but I just had to know what was going on. Maybe Mrs. Rodriguez was right thinking that Myrna might be a witch.
I knocked a bit louder this time. Myrna jumped and turned around, startled.
“Oh damn, you caught me! This is most embarrassing. Can you wait in the living room while I get dressed dear?”
“Sure.” I backed away uncertain whetherIreally wanted to know, but me being the curious one, sat down inher living room trying to pull myself together. I rememberedthen I’d left Maggie in her crib, so I yelled out to Myrna, “Just meet me down in my apartment. We can have tea and talk about it then, okay?? I have to go check on Maggie.”
“Okay Laura” she hollered. “I’ll be right down.”
I ran to the elevator. Maybe I should just forget this whole thing, but the image of a septuagenarian standing naked in a room chanting was a lot to take in and some things just cannot be unseen.
I was holding Maggie while getting her bottle warmed when Myrna knocked and walked in. I put the kettle on for tea and deposited the baby in her bouncy chair as she drank her bottle. Myrna sat at the table but didn’t say much until I brought the teapotand the cookies over.
“I am so embarrassed,” she said. “I didn’t realize my door was unlocked.”
“That’s okay Myrna, I really should’ve come back later. I was concerned about you afteryou talkedabout seeing and hearing Larry’s spirit in the apartment. I just wanted to check on you, to make sure you’re okay.”
Myrna looked at me. “Oh sure he’s there, but I’ve just accepted the fact thatIkind of have a roommate. I’m just hoping that Roger doesn’t get jealous.”
I just had to ask. “Myrna, are you Wiccan?”
She just looked at the table and nodded.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of Myrna. A lot of people practice that but I’m just not really sure what it involves.”
“Well, what I was doing there, not too many people practice. I was having a conjugal visit with Roger. I might be 75, but I still get my urges every now and then. He might be dead, but I’m not. The scepter I was holding was a representation of his phallic symbol and I was… well, you get the picture.”
“Let me get this straight. You were having sex with the ghost?”
Myrna smiled at the memory. “A very spirited one at that!”
DAYTONA DEAD WAS ONE OF MY FAVE BOOKS TO WRITE –OK WHO AM I KIDDING THEY ALL WERE. IN THIS EXCERPT CREEPY COP DAVE MEECHAM IS ON A MISSION TO GET THE 40’S CHEVY OWNED BY KILLER T FORD SPECIALLY CLEANED. HE TAKES HIS WIFE ANNABEL WITH HIM AND THE HAVE A HEART TO HEART ABOUT KILLER T. FORD HER BROTHER AKA DUANE.
Meecham and Annabel were having fun in Jacksonville. He explained that Duane needed the car looked at, to make sure it was up to snuff for an upcoming vintage car show. While waiting for the Chevy to be worked over and cleaned up, Annabel shared a few thoughts about Killer T Ford that she had never told anyone before.
“I’m amazed he trusts you with his special baby!”
“Don’t you think I am trustworthy?” Meech looked at his wife and frowned.
“Yes, Dave, you are, but Duane doesn’t trust anyone with anything. You have no idea, about a lot of things about my brother, Dave. He ran a numbers racket out back of the car shop while in high school, played craps in the boys change room and had a sex club going with the cheerleaders. I found out about that when we found the peep hole in the shower room by accident. We didn’t tell anyone at first till we got proof for sure, but one day we taped the guys talking about taking Ruthy McNab, a junior cheerleader behind the bleachers. Skill Norton admitted to the rape. My brother is not exactly honesty personified. He knows he can’t be trusted and therefore, he trusts no one.”
“So what happened?” Meecham was incredulous that Ford would sink that low.
“After hearing about Ruthy we understood why she left town suddenly. Later we heard she and the baby died in a botched abortion. So we took the Dictaphone to the school principal and subsequently the sheriff’s office. Skill did time for the rape. My brother got expelled from school for the sex club and the numbers racket and he testified against Skill”
“How do you know all this?”
“David, for the love of Pete, I lived with the toad for the first fifteen years of his life. He’s my baby brother, but he is a dog with the women, cheats at cards and he ran a chop shop out of daddy’s garage. He learned to race stock cars by stealing them. Mike Fowler, our daddy caught him one time and nearly killed him for taking off with one of his prized babies. It was a vintage 1929 Nash roadster. Papa had him buck-ass naked when he found him driving that car ‘hell-bent for leather’ up in Tallahassee. I came home from school one day in my senior year to find daddy tearing Duane a new butt-hole. My brother was begging for his life and swore up and down on a stack of mama’s Bibles he would never steal again if dad would stop beating on him. Dad did stop. Duane turned around after yanking up his pants and cold cocked daddy and left home that night. He changed his name from Fowler to Ford and never spoke to dad again.”
Annabel gave her husband a look and warned him not to get dragged down into Duane’s world. “I know you have done some things for Duane, Dave. Things you could lose your badge over, or even worse get your sorry ass killed by my brother. I can’t prove it but I just have a feeling he is into some things pretty deep and I don’t want to risk us getting hurt by his actions. Go back to Miami and try to join forensics again. Let’s get the hell out of Daytona before we both end up very dead.”
“You’re serious about this aren’t you Annie?”
“Yeah, Dave, I am. I need you alive. My brother is a fantastic driver; a genius with cars, but deep down he is still a bastard. Mama nearly died after he left, and Daddy never told her why. It would have killed herif she knew the crap her baby boy was into. Daddy and I kept that secret ‘til daddy passed on. Now it is my secret alone. I don’t dare even tell mama that he lives nearby.” Annabelle placed her hand on her husband’s arm and pleaded for him to get out from under Ford’s thumb.
Annabel was weeping by now and Dave hugged his wife and promised her all would be well and he vowed to himself to stop being a bastard and help nail his brother in-law, provided he himself didn’t get caught. At that moment, he had never felt closer to his wife. Sure she could be a nag, what woman wasn’t? But then again he was no prize either. He now knew more of the Fowler/Ford family dynamics than he ever had before, even after fifteen years of marriage. Duane didn’t come around to family gatherings and BBQs. And Dave sure didn’t invite the brother in-law to events where his law enforcement friends and colleagues would be invited, as he wanted to keep the connection between them unknown. He really didn’t want people to figure out that he was criminally connected. This was going to change as he had plans to better his station in life and get out from under Duane’s thumb.
MY MOM ALWAYS TOLD ME TO FIND A GOOD HOOK IN YOUR STORY TO ENGAGE YOUR READERS. WHAT BETTER HOOK THAN GREAT DIALOGUE.
SOME AUTHORS SWEAR BY DESCRIPTIVE NARRATIVE OTHERS LET THE CHARACTERS TELL THE STORY BY WHAT THEY SAY.
I, FOR ONE, LOVE GREAT DIALOGUE AND I KNOW A FEW WRITERS WHO AGREE THAT DIALOGUE TELLS THE STORY. SURE YOU NEED SOME NARRATIVE TO DESCRIBE WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE STORY BUT READERS REALLY RELATE TO WHAT THE CHARACTERS ARE SAYING. IT MAKES THEM REAL.
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITES FROM MY BOOKS AND THOSE OF A FELLOW AUTHOR DELLANI OAKES. MY OPINION IS “DELLANI IS THE QUEEN OF DIALOGUE!”
DEAD ON ARRIVAL
“Okay Gerry,” I said, “cut the crap! How did you get Velcro’s’ body in here?”
“What do ya mean how? You mean you think I did this, thanks a lot!” he said, somewhat pissed.
“This wasn’t your handy-work?”
“No! Why would you think I would do such a horrid thing?”
“Not sure really; maybe because you and Ray have the only keys besides me, and you love practical jokes.”
FROM LONE WOLF TALES
We’ve lost the summit, sir. They’re all gone.”
“The locals have some kind of—thing. It took them all out. I got hit. It knocked me back, it’s the only reason I survived.”
“All of them, sir.”
“They took out thirty men?”
“One blast and they were gone. Poof!”
“People don’t go poof, Private.
OVER HER DEAD BODY
”Sanford!” She yelled with her hands on her hips. “We have to go! I have to be in New York in the morning. We need to catch the Red-eye!”
Sandy sighed and looked at me to bail him out somehow. “She is trying out for the Rockettes,” he whispered to me, just out of Blondie’s earshot, “but between you and me, Leena is a bit long in the tooth for all that. She’s closing in on 40.” Sandy looked at Leena –and then back at me. “Alas, my wife and boss have spoken. The glitzy Mrs. Brown was preening at her compact mirror. “You don’t have to yell Leena,” Sanford addressed her; “I have my hearing aid in.”
Leena looked at me with derision again. “Who’s the floozy?” she sneered.
I was seeing red and Sandy’s face was turning a similar color.
“Floozy?” I spluttered. I wanted to scratch her eyes out, but I refused to succumb to the base temptation to beat the broad senseless. Sensing an impending catfight Gerry rushed to my side.
Sandy looked at his wife sternly. “Leena that was tasteless and crass,” he admonished her, “you will apologize to Laura. How dare you defame this funeral of my dear friend Ethel by insulting this lovely girl?”
“Girl my ass,” Leena snarled, “she’s gotta be at least 35.”
If Gerry hadn’t held me back I would have bitch-slapped her into next week. Okay so I was almost 35, but that wasn’t the point.
Sandy was livid. “I apologize for my wife’s bad behavior. I had better take her out of here.”
He handed me one of his cards and said he would be back in a few days most likely without his spouse.
THE NINJA TATTOO
“Boys,” Vivica said sternly. “Stop it. If we have to be around one another all night, you’re going to have to get along. I refuse to be cast in the role of mother.”
“If you are, can I be the daddy?” Jed flashed a lopsided grin at her, hopping up from the table when Teague took a swing at him.
“One daddy’s enough,” Vivica gave Teague a lingering kiss, picked up her dishes and strutted into the kitchen.
“Holy, Mother of God,” Jed breathed when she was gone. “Teague, I love you like a brother, but I wish I’d seen her first!”
A character quote from PLAYING DEAD I looked back at him, “Aren’t we in this together?” I was curious as to how much Brian had invested into this mission maybe I shouldn’t expect too much from him. It was my problem, not his.
“Yes, but I don’t have to like this particular decision. I think it’s dangerous to trust three men who could have been instrumental in your brother’s death.”
“Yeah, I know and I’m going to talk to Gibbons, even if he wants to have me committed.”
“He may have a valid point but I do have your back.”
“Oh about half an hour ago and then they went out. They said they’re staying here and that they were in line behind you earlier when you checked in. They said you would know who it was from, so I didn’t ask their names.”
“Thank you, Miss” Brian replied. “We’d like to make a reservation for later in the restaurant. Is that possible for about 6:30 were meeting friends.”
“I will do that for you. Hey has anybody ever told you, you look like that guy from Baywatch? Not David Hasselhoff, the other one, you know the one, the guy with the piercing blue eyes and the intense stare? He was cute and so are you.”
“Yeah, I get that all the time, I only wish I had the body he did.”
I could hear the whole conversation from my room. “What’s he doing out there? He’s going to get himself killed.”
“I believe he’s tearing your mother a new one.”
“And I’m missing it? Quick get me a wheelchair, I want to see this!”
“Oh no, you don’t. You are going to stay in here and rest.”
“But she will shred him…”
“Not by the sounds of it, looks like he’s managing her quite nicely. You got a good one there Rhonnie, I’d keep him if I were you. I’ll get going and let Brian come in and sit with you before visiting hours are over. In fact, they probably are over, but I better go. Josh is waiting for me at home. He said to say hi and hopes you’re okay.”
“Great thanks for coming Miguel. Tell him I love him and I will see him soon.”