Wednesday, February 01, 2017

IWSG: Reading as a Writer

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you haven't yet, join in. You'll be glad you did!

Each month we have a question. This month's question is:

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Way back in the early days of my career--probably while most of you were still in high school or whatever--I attended a workshop on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It was hosted by Debra Dixon and based on this book of hers:

I detailed the entire process in a previous blog but basically, it's a way of brainstorming your story. Every character has something they want, a reason for wanting it, and something standing in the way.

At the start of the workshop, she (or someone in the workshop) said something important. "Be prepared to never enjoy a movie again."

Once you've learned to create a plot, you do begin to pick things apart. It also makes it easier to predict the ending in unpredictable stories like mysteries. You learn that a good writer "plants seeds" throughout a story so that something doesn't pop up unexpectedly at the end.

Does it completely disrupt your enjoyment of a good book? No. It does limit the number of books you see as good, though. Am I the only one who abandons a book a couple of chapters in if it sucks?

What do you think? If you're a writer, do you find you enjoy books less? If you're a reader only, do you keep reading all the way to the end even if a book is bad?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mystery Monday: Marcia Trimble

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

Every Monday, I'm presenting a new mystery. Some have been solved...some remain unsolved to this day. 

***Warning: Today's mystery involves the death of a child.***

When I was a kid, my mom would never let me go door to door to sell things for school or Girl Scouts. She always mentioned one name: Marcia Trimble. Marcia was a Nashville girl who mysteriously disappeared while delivering Girl Scout cookies in the mid-70s.

While a missing nine-year-old is always alarming, the thing that shook Nashville most was where she disappeared. Marcia lived in one of the very wealthiest areas of Nashville, Green Hills. Most of the homes in Green Hills look like this:

For years, police focused on Jeffrey Womack, a 15-year-old neighbor who said Marcia stopped by his house, but he told her he had no money to buy cookies. When police interrogated him later, they found he had money in his pocket, as well as a condom.

Marie Maxwell, a neighbor of the Trimbles, was unloading groceries from her car just before Marcia's disappearance. Through a hedge, she saw Marcia speaking to two people--one tall, one short. She was holding a cookie box. A few minutes later, witnesses saw Marcia walking away from her house, the cookie box no longer in her hands. She looked confused. Police believe one of the two kids in the driveway may have stolen her cookie box and she was trying to find them when she disappeared.

Four weeks later, her body was discovered in a neighboring garage, only 200 feet from her house. Her murder was unsolved for 40 years, although there were many suspects. In 1980, Womack was arrested for the crime, but the charge was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

DNA evidence collected from Marcia eventually led police to her killer. In 2008, Jerome Sydney Barrett was charged and successfully convicted of the 1975 murder. Jerome had served time for the February 1975 rape of a Vanderbilt University woman, which happened just 8 days before Marcia's murder. However, it was another February 1975 case--the murder of a Vanderbilt University student named Sarah Des Prez--that finally inspired police to check his DNA in connection to the Marcia Trimble murder. Jerome Barrett was found guilty and sentenced to 44 years in prison.

Jerome Barrett--then and now.

For years, police were certain the murderer was a young person who lived in the neighborhood when all along, it was a complete stranger.

Did you have a local child abduction story where you grew up?