Look! Christmas can be Murder

How? you might ask. Well, if you’re Taylor Gressman, and you inadvertently go back in time a couple decades, you might find yourself in the midst of the Christmas Killings, the worst killing spree in Dayton’s history. The killers, four of whom were caught and convicted, murdered six people between December 23 and 26 in 1992 for little more than a few bucks, a pair of shoes, and a jacket.

No one’s ever accused me of being too nice to my characters.

This is the premise of my upcoming short story, “Time’s Holiday,” and urban fantasy author Debra Kristi gave me the perfect opportunity to introduce it by tagging me in the LOOK! meme (Thanks, Debra!).

The rules are pretty simple. Just do a search for the word “look” in your work-in-progress, and paste it in with the surrounding paragraph or two. Then, of course, you get to tag others. First, a little bit of “Time’s Holiday:”

She opened her eyes to find a blond girl about her age staring at her from across the small… bedroom, she guessed, although there wasn’t any furniture. The worn carpet beneath her head was an indeterminate grayish-brown, and riddled with what looked like cigarette burns. The drywall above the blond girl’s shoulder was cracked, and someone had punched a hole through it just above her head. “Where…” Taylor began. She swallowed, her mouth dry. “Where am I?”

The girl half-shrugged. “Bill’s place.”

Taylor tried to shake off the lethargy. “Where’s… that?”

The girl cocked an eyebrow. “You don’t remember coming here? Man, you must’ve gotten some strong stuff.”

Taylor struggled to brace a hand on the floor. Had she been drugged? Finally, she pushed herself up. As she caught her breath, she looked down.

She still wore her black peacoat, her frilly black skirt billowing from beneath it. Her granny boots remained laced on her feet. A tiny, red hair clip shaped like a buttefly lay beside her. She lifted her hand to her head–ugh, why was it so hard?–and patted her hair. One of her ponytails had come out. And she realized that the girl across the room wasn’t blurry, so she still had her glasses on. “I…” Taylor stared at her hands. “No, I don’t remember.” The last thing she remembered was going to Courthouse Square to look for her angel, then some bum handing her a flyer…

Thanks again, Debra, for the tag!

image from Microsft Clip Art (office.microsoft.com)And now I get to tag people. I’ll just do a few, since I’d love to get a taste of what these authors are working on:

If you don’t have time or something ready to share, no worries!

My goal with “Time’s Holiday”  is to give those who’ve already read the Saturn Society books a fun glimpse into a minor character’s backstory, while piquing the interest of those who haven’t read the books.

On another note, when I did my search, the word “look” or a variation of it appeared24 times in 23 pages. Too much? What do you think? Do you like holiday stories? Is this too gruesome a topic for one (there’s no on-the-page violence)? While it isn’t the swee goodness and light that many holiday stories are full of, it does have its moments of Christmas cheer and goodwill.

9 Responses to \

  1. It sounds like your story of these Christmas killings could be quite intriguing. I like odd twists of the traditional stories, and I think this type of story would suit nicely.

    Your excerpt was very well written. You have a knack for floating in and out of Taylor’s mind smoothly, and your attention to detail is great. As soon as I have a few dollars to spare, I’ll have to pick up some of your books!

    Also, I really enjoy the Look! meme. This is the first time I’ve seen this, and while I’m not so sure I’m ready for someone to tag me yet, as my work is still in the initial stages, I’m going to check out my manuscript to see what scenes might develop around the work “look”.


  2. Urgh! I can’t believe you tagged me (especially after my post recently)! Oh well, this one I think I can manage (although I still have to find people to tag – hmmm). I found something interesting (and funny) on my current WIP and will post it tomorrow.

    I don’t remember the killing spree (we’d been living here 1-1/2 years by then), but my husband does. I think it’s neat how you incorporate real-life stuff in your stories.

  3. That sounds like a skanky place to wake up. No thank you. 😀 Taylor’s in some serious need of morning coffee. I like the way you flutter in and out of her thoughts, giving us both descriptions and dialog interwoven. Thanks for playing!

  4. Hi Jennette!

    “Look” in 23 of 24 pages? Maybe?

    Ack, a killing spree? In Dayton, Ohio? I think of Dayton a peaceful urban community Jen. That brings a dark shadow upon your town. Have you blogged about this on Monday?

    I do like the way you show your MC waking in panic not knowing where she is and why. It pulls the reader into your story. Interesting. 🙂

  5. Mike, thanks so much! I hope it comes out as well as I envision. Still have to do revisions. 🙂

    Stacy, LOL – don’t worry about it, I’m just curious to see a bit of your work! 🙂 If you don’t have anything at the right stage to share, it’s OK to pass!

    Thanks, Debra – and thanks again for the tag!

    LOL Karen – I read a statistic a long time ago that Dayton had the second-worst crime rate in Ohio. That was at least 10-15 years ago; it’s gotten better since then. But that part of the story takes place in 1992. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  6. Nice . . . certainly hooks the reader who wants to know what the heck is going on.

    As to Look used so often, in your rewrites you might want to replace a few of those. Look isn’t a very strong or descriptive verb but it works. Sometimes if you replace it the verb you use instead can be too over-wrought. So, when you are revising ‘look’ at the number and locations you used look and ‘see’ if you can find a stronger or different verb to achieve a similar effect. 🙂 Great excerpt. Keep up the good work!

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