At the Scene of the Crime

money bagThe other day there was a thread going around on Facebook that asked authors to share a unique event in their life, some little tidbit that had happened to them that was noteworthy and out of the ordinary. Well, I lead a rather ordinary life that goes along in a pretty normal trajectory. I couldn’t think of anything to add offhand, so I moved on.
But yesterday I was in the bank conducting several transactions, and recalled that a couple of years ago in that same bank, I was part of a real live robbery! Ha! Surely that’s pretty unusual. Have you ever been in a bank robbery?

It was an interesting experience. I was sitting at a desk getting some papers notarized so that my son could participate in some trip or activity. I saw the guy enter the bank, and I remember noticing him and thinking, “why is he wearing that heavy coat?” It was a mild day that only called for a light jacket – not a bulky winter coat. Well, I didn’t jump to the conclusion that he must be a robber hiding a gun under that coat. I mean, really, who does that? Here I was in the small branch location of my local bank in my safe little suburb.
So the guy walks up to the teller, and at this point his back is to me, but I swing around and look when he starts barking at the teller. Clearly he has an issue. Did I think, uh-oh, this guy is a robber, this guy is pointing a gun at the teller? No, indeed. I’m sitting there thinking, “what is this guy’s problem?”!!

I exchange a what-the-heck glance with the gal helping me, but we continue with our business transaction. A couple of minutes later, the guy looks around. Yes, makes eye contact with us, then moseys on out the door. At this point, the bank employee in the next office leaps from her chair, dashes across the lobby and locks the doors, then breathlessly exclaims, “we’ve been robbed!”
Um, yeah, a little light bulb suddenly flashes in my head. Yikes! I’d just witnessed a bank robbery – could potentially have been in danger had things gone badly. I’d seen the clues, but failed to make the connection. As it happens, I was the only customer in the bank at the time.
Here’s a little fact I didn’t know about a robbery: No one can leave the scene until the FBI arrive. Yep, I was trapped in the bank. Why? Because I could have been an accomplice in there as a ploy to distract the bank personnel during the heist. Really.

So, they close everything down, call the police, and the FBI, and the main branch, and in only a few minutes, the place is swarming with people. Have to say it was a little spooky to be questioned by the police and FBI agents. And what was really interesting was trying to recall all the details about the guy and what had happened. It’s amazing what can escape you when you aren’t consciously paying attention. I gave my statement, and after about forty minutes was allowed to leave, luckily still in time to pick the kid up from school. Of course I repeated the story multiple times that day, as others were in awe. My son’s friends were particularly keen to hear the details. For a bit, I was practically a celebrity! 🙂 And I think I’ll be forever known at the bank – the customer who witnessed the robbery!

Oh, for a crystal ball!

crystal ballI’m about ready to finish up a new contemporary romance. It’s always fun to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s also a challenging part of the writing process – figuring out if the story is really “done,” and then moving on to the agony of writing an intriguing cover blurb, choosing an eye-catching title, and creating an appealing cover.
But while that story is being scrutinized by critique partners and beta readers, I’m looking ahead to what’s next. I probably have ten stories in various stages of development – everything from a basic concept to a solid 75,000 words. Some are romance, some are general fiction, some women’s fiction, and one or two are actually non-fiction. The dilemma is, I want to write them all! Unfortunately, time demands that I choose.
Oh, for a crystal ball. Which concept is strongest? Which is most likely to strike a chord with readers or find its way to an influencer? And significantly, which one will come together most organically with words and ideas flowing as I sit at my computer?
My most recent published work is a women’s fiction, and I’m committed to a third book in that series. Charge ahead with that or take a break? The novel that’s attracting the most attention right now is my contemporary romance Something Good that was published last year. Keep the momentum going, and follow up with something similar to appeal to that same audience?
Last night, I sat down and read through several of the manuscripts I’ve started, and have to say, I feel pretty good about all of them. I can see potential in the stories and characters. I can see tension and conflict, and developing relationships. On one hand, that’s exciting because I know I can keep at this. On the other hand, it’s frightening and immobilizing because I can see about ten years’ worth of work waiting to be done!
My solution? Take a break. Go do something else, and hope that inspiration will strike, as usual, when I’m working in the yard or cleaning the house. Hoping that some of those characters will whisper in my ear and nudge me in the right direction! 🙂