"Yeah, I’d Kill Someone for 110K"

From Wikimedia Commons
(by Francinegirvan)

“Yeah, I’d kill someone for 110K.”

You might think this is a line from my nearly-complete WIP (a mystery novel). But it’s not. It’s what I overheard at the grocery store the other day…in the produce section to be exact. I don’t think they were serious. Actually I’m pretty sure absolutely certain because I lurked around for a little a lot longer. Let me be honest, I stayed as long as I could without raising (too much) suspicion.

I’ve always enjoyed mysteries, and snippets of conversations raise my curiosity. But so does everything else. For instance, the other day MEH (My Engineer Husband) couldn’t find his navy blue slacks. He looked high and low. As he left for work, he said: “Don’t take that bag of stuff to Goodwill, I think my pants are in there.”

The thing is the day before we’d cleaned out our bedroom—went through all the drawers, the closet too. And MEH had a large pile of clothes to give away. By the way, MEH and I came to the conclusion as we sorted through things, that MEH has a lot more clothes than I do. (In truth, I called him a clothes horse.) This isn’t really a mystery, though—MEH works outside the home and I sit at the dining room table all day…in my sweat pants or other extremely casual wear (I admit it, some days I don’t even get dressed unless I’m going out of the house).

Anyway, I digress. The navy blue pants. MEH told me not to bother looking—he’d take care of it when he got home. But I couldn’t help myself. First I went through the hefty bag of Goodwill. Nothing. Then I started going through laundry baskets, drawers, our kids’ rooms, still nothing. I finally gave up. I knew they didn’t just walk away so they’d turn up sooner or later.

Although, there were those peat pots we lost once and never found. And the hammer. What about all the missing socks? Maybe MEH’s pants joined those notorious items?

A while later, I went to do a load of laundry, and when I opened the washing machine, I solved the mystery of the missing pants. During the cleaning frenzy, MEH had started a load of laundry and forgotten all about it. I put the blue pants in the dryer and declared “the case of the missing pants” closed.

The Next Big Thing

I want to thank writer friend KarenWojcik Berner for tagging me in the “The Next Big Thing”—a fun blogger tag game in which participants answer the questions about their WIPs. Here are answers about my new mystery. 
What is the working title of your book?

Desired to Death

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve had the protagonist (Maggie True) in my mind for some time—since my son left for college. The specific premise for the plot in this book came from a conversation with a friend.

What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I truly have no idea.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When Maggie True’s ex-best-friend is arrested for the lurid murder of her hot young lover, “Tattoo Boy,” the now-empty nester puts her intuition to work as a sleuth and enters a seamy underworld far from her typical mom routine.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

To be decided.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two months.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was inspired to write this book when faced with the empty nest—just like my protagonist Maggie True. For me it’s a bit of a time of turmoil, of figuring out what I want to do next, of lots of conflicting thoughts and feelings.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Here’s an excerpt… I hope you like it!

Maggie couldn’t keep herself from asking. “Who is that guy?”

“Oh em gee,” Jessie said, rolling her eyes. “A.J. Traverso. He teaches kickboxing or something. The old women go crazy over him. They call him “Tattoo Boy.” Think you might want to take up kickboxing, Mom?” Jessie gave Maggie a playful push.

“Of course not…” Maggie could feel herself flushing and hoped Jessie didn’t notice. She didn’t. She was already gone, heading to check in at the lifeguard station. As Maggie turned to leave the Club, she couldn’t help herself and took another look over her shoulder in the direction of the group of women, forming such a thick circle she could only see Tattoo Boy in glimpses. As she watched, Tattoo Boy reached up and stretched one muscled arm over his head, flexing and turning his head with his hand, like he was loosening his neck muscles. When he moved he looked like a jaguar—with spots of tattoos on one side of his back, a vine of flowered tattoos on the other, leading to jagged dark lightning bolts down one arm, another jagged tattoo on the back of his neck. Maggie watched as he repeated the stretch with his other arm, his fluid movement mesmerizing. But he also looked as dangerous as a wild animal.

Instead of tagging specific writing friends, I’d like to tag all of you reading this! What’s your next big thing? And (I’m curious, naturally!) what mysteries do you have going on in your house and life?



  1. Ah, my next big thing… Well, I’m writing my second thriller, IN THE RED, or, rather, trying to write it. (I think I can, I think I can…) And, I guess, the big mystery is whether I’ll be able to make a career out of thriller writing. I, for one, can’t wait to see how this mystery turns out! 🙂

  2. I absolutely LOVE the title of the blog post! I clicked over immediately when I saw it! 😉 Well done!

  3. Julie Luek says:

    It is a great title and was a fun read. So glad MEH and his pants have been reunited. Upcoming books sounds great too.

  4. Erika Marks says:

    Oh I LOVE that you shared the excerpt from DESIRED TO DEATH. And I really appreciate that you shared that some of the inspiration came from what you were going through–I firmly believe that the novels that resonate most with readers are the ones that are born from a deeply personal place. And two months??? You’ve been holding out! I had no idea you were so fast! That’s incredible–you and Cynthia are marvels!

    (Love to the pants story–it’s so true; our beloved husbands end up having way more clothes–not to mention wash–than we do at home. I can go a week in the same outfit–TMI? Ayup, sorry;))

    • Glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Erika. As for the time frame, I think it was because it had been in my mind for such a long time, partially written in my imagination anyway. As for the pants stories…and the outfits… ’nuff said, friend, except we’re pretty much twinsies 😉

  5. Love the excerpt, Julia. Can’t wait to read the full story. I, too, happen to pick up crazy lines from people all over the place. At a coffeehouse once, the guy next to me said to his friend, “So, I’m having a problem with monogomy lately.” Ding! I leaned over, thinking, “Oh really?? Do tell.” 🙂 That was the basis of a scene in my first novel, “A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles: Book One).” Thank you, kind stranger.

    • Glad you enjoyed the exerpt, Karen! Thanks again for including me in the next big thing. And, wow, I’d have leaned in to hear that conversation, too. As you say, thank you kind stranger… if only they had any idea. (Of course, they are having highly personal conversations in public places so they must have *some* idea 🙂

  6. I am hooked on Tattoo Boy. I’d love to read the rest. And a mystery? Where to start, so many things disappear around here.

  7. The things I overhear at the grocery store astonish me. And when it comes to household mysteries, I could use a full time sleuth to figure out where I put things. Yesterday I found a vitamin case that I’ve been looking for for months. It was in the drawer with my curling iron that I use almost every day. How did I not see it there when I was searching? And will I remember it’s there next time I want it?

    Love the excerpt and can’t wait to read the whole thing!

    • It is astonishing, isn’t it, what you can overhear these days — especially from people on cell phones? As for the vitamin case, like with the items I can’t find, someone moves things around when we’re not looking. I can’t say for sure in your case, but for me it’s almost always MEH or Abby… have you talked to Lola?

  8. Ha! What I want to know: were they talking about 110,000 dollars or words? I’m thinking they could be NaNoWriMo participants, but maybe they just wanted some moolah? 😉

    Also, whatever happened with your MC name? I think it was Maggie True before, wasn’t it? And you were considering changing it… or am I making it up?

    • Too funny! But now that you mention it, they didn’t specifically say it was dollars, but that’s where my mind went. It never occurred to me someone would kill for 110K words BUT you bring up a good point. I mean what if they have had writer’s block for a really long time and they just had to get some words?

      As for my MC…. I stuck with Maggie True. I decided not to change it (and no you’re not making that up — and neither am I 🙂

  9. Oooh… what a fun post. I love reading these snippets from writers’ WIPS. I’m with the others – quite interested in Tatoo Boy (LOVE the jaguar-spotted description; I have a ‘thing’ for jaguars, you know). The writing is quite engaging, Julia. Excited to learn more and read more.

    And, as for you and Erika’s comments re: what you wear during a week. I plead the fifth. Let’s just say, some weeks the laundry pile is quite thin and my clothes can walk to the washer on their own. OH – the sexy lives of writers! Keep on sleuthing, Julia and Maggie!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Melissa! I’m so glad you enjoyed the snippet (by the way, I love THAT word 🙂 I’m so happy you found it to be engaging.

      I had to laugh out loud at your clothes walking to the washer on their own — welcome to my world, too — it reminded me of a scene out of Fantasia or something! Yes, we writers do have a glamorous, sexy life, at least in our books 😉

  10. As, I think, I said once before: You are a dangerous woman to stand next to at the supermarket, Julia. Loved the excerpt! And the premise of your novel.

    • Haha… but so true… however, I did stop short of taking a photo of these guys. I was *this* close 🙂 So glad you loved the excerpt and the premise, Leslie — thank you so much!

  11. Oh em gee…your sample is so good! haha! How many novels have your written in the past two years? I think they’ve all been pent up behind your ‘mom’ facade, and now they are unleashed. 🙂
    When can we read one of these, eh?

    • Thank you, Cynthia! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Oh em gee, made my day 🙂 No, really. As for when you can read one… right now I’m polishing this one, then querying, then… who knows? If it’s a self pub then it’ll be coming up soon… Thanks again, you’re so sweet.

  12. I immediately thought 110K words, too! That would be interesting. . .someone who snatches stories during the month of November. Weird. Anyway, you’re brave for sharing! I like the empty-nester-as-sleuth idea. My WIP is a historical fiction (1870’s) maybe called The Road to Will. After a fire destroys her home and everything she knows, *name* (not giving it out yet, haha) decides to start over and travel West. Along the way, she has some adventures, meets some interesting characters, and learns what is really most important to her as she embarks on a new life. There is plenty of humor, of course. As I fully believe in finding the laughter in every mundane situation. The only mystery going on right now is why my sweet-potato-hating husband ate my cousin Dave’s casserole and won’t eat mine.

    • That’s so funny that you thought of words, too. I guess we writers have NaNo on the brain. I’m glad you like my sleuth idea! Your fiction sounds so interesting — and especially when you mention the humor, I totally agree (and believe it or not there’s humor in my mystery, too!). I’m especially fascinated with historical fiction right now because the WIP I just started in historical YA.

      Sorry about the real life mystery… but that indeed is a mystery. I say break out the bright lights and let the interrogation begin… or at least that’s what my alter-ego Maggie True might say 🙂

  13. I loved getting this behind the scenes peek on Desired to Death. I’m so intrigued and I’m looking forward to the day I can read it.

    All of us writers are also amateur eavesdroppers, aren’t we? I’ve gotten some of my best lines from conversations I overheard while riding the subway. Those can be some doozies! 🙂

    • I can well imagine the doozies on the subway… it always makes me shake my head and wonder what people are thinking! Yes, I think we’re all amateur eavesdroppers…. exactly! So glad you’re looking forward to reading more of Desired to Death and glad you enjoyed it!

  14. I LOVED this sneak peek into your novel, Julia! There’s such great suspense already, and I love the images of the tattoos and parallels with a wild, dangerous animal, and the fluid movements, seen only in glimpses. It’s so evocative! Thanks so much for sharing it.

    I love this Next Big Thing series. Cynthia Robertson tagged me this weekend, as did another blogger, so I’ll be writing a post up soon 😉

  15. Oooo, Tattoo Boy is mesmerizing! I loved this glimpse of your novel, and I am amazed that you wrote the first draft in two months! You are setting the bar high. 🙂

  16. Malena Lott says:

    Julia, I found you from the Writer Unboxed blog. My team at Buzz Books is doing a Writer Wellness blog in 2013 if you are interested in joining us.

    And here’s my next big thing I was tagged on last week. I’m a women’s fiction author but started my first mystery/thriller. Good luck on your book!


    • So glad you came over for a visit, Malena! I loved reading your next big thing, too — fascinating premise! Nice to meet you and I’ll definitely check out the Buzz Books Wellness blog, so nice of you to offer.

  17. Wow, I’m super late to this post, but I love it!! Maggie True (LOVE THE NAME) being caught looking at Mr. Hotty by her daughter is funny, but also gives a hint of bad to come. Nicely done!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Lori! And there’s no such thing to being late to a blog commenting party, especially when you’re so complimentary! 😉 Thank you so much for the lovely comments about my excerpt and Maggie’s name!!