Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteries For Danielle Svetcov #10

TITLE: The Tip of A Bone
GENRE: Mystery

In a small town on the Oregon coast, feisty waitress Maya Rivers tries to prove her brother innocent of arson—only to discover he may be responsible for a young woman vanishing from the woods.

She’d told no one where she was going tonight. Not one soul. So when the branches rustled in the woods behind her, Sara Alvarez flicked off her headlamp quickly. Darkness. Even the moon hid behind a gray shroud.

Another rustle.

Animal? Human? Sara’s heart hammered, pulse jumping, before her training kicked in. Stay calm. Identify the threat. She forced herself to breathe deeply, inhaling the forest’s cool, damp tang until her heartbeat slowed. Rain dripped onto mossy ground.

Rustle. Scrape.

Shivering, Sara slid a hand into her jeans pocket and pulled out a Swiss Army knife. She clenched it in her fist as she reached for her headlamp. Flick. The beam sliced through the shadowy spaces between trees. No birds. No scurrying animals.

Just a whisper of movement.

Her light dipped, washing across gnarled roots and low shrubs—sword ferns, evergreen huckleberry, salal. Nothing there. She tilted her head up, searching the canopy, but all she saw were towering spruce and hemlocks. Their branches swayed in the breeze. Rustle, rustle.


“Nice going, nature girl,” Sara grumbled as she slipped the knife back into her jeans. She’d survived the group’s “wilderness immersion experience”—foraged for bugs and berries, dug latrines, scrounged up leaves for toilet paper. She’d gone face-to-face with cops in riot gear, dodged pepper spray, and resisted arrest with style. So why the hell was she so spooked tonight?

Because from the moment she’d found that bone here…

Get a grip. Sara tapped her GPS watch. Nobody’s coming before dawn.


  1. Logline: And then...? Is this the beginning of the story or the whole story? If it's the whole one, tell us what she wants (prove his innocence/freedom from jail perhaps) and then use the vanishing girl as something that may stop her from achieving it.
    If this is actually just the beginning, we need more information about what she will do with this information.

    Good luck!

  2. Logline: I need a bit more in way of how she plans to accomplish her goal and how the new complication will affect things. This logline is a little too teasing.

    For the excerpt... Okay, so I'm also starting to think that not only do all mysteries start with a death scene not in the MC's POV... but there's generally a fake threat, a moment of relief, and the POW murder... right?

    Anyway, I think the writing and tension is pretty good... I'm confused about who Sara is and why she's there... what training? What group? If she's with a group, where are they? What bone? It's all in the moment and there's not much in there that she wouldn't organically be thinking... but so much so that I'm still a tad in the dark about how she ended up out here.

  3. I'm okay with the logline myself. It gives me enough info to catch my interest and that's all I need, but I am anything but a logline pro!

    Of course, I could be prejudiced because the story takes place in Oregon! And it's raining on Sara...what a surprise. Then again, it does make me wonder if Sara would encounter fewer "rustles" and more "squishes", but I thought the writer did a good job of setting the stage. I could feel my hair frizzing and goosebumps on my arms as I read it.

    And Heather, mysteries can vary, just like most other genres. It's common for mysteries to start with a murder, stumbling across a dead person or at a funeral, but I personally prefer they don't, especially for the first book of a series. I like to get to know my characters and the other story lines before we kill someone off. And I prefer humor to be involved. But that's just me. And maybe cozies are different. I don't read cozies, but they sound like they might be more prone to following a formula.

    The story might also be told from different POV's. So we might not start with the MC.

    And while I generally don't like opening with a funeral, #21 was a hoot!

  4. I liked the logline. Like the last commenter, I don't think you have to throw in everything including the kitchen sink. It's simply a hook.

    Liked the story, the tension, the pacing everything until you got to the dialogue. That writing in that paragraph seems so completely different that it threw me off. I think it was just too much of an information dump at once.

    But overall, good stuff.

  5. Logline: I was fine with the logline. Told me the premise and promised a point for the read of the novel.

    I like your tight, suspenseful style of writing. You know how to pace for tension build up. Somehow tell me in the first paragraph that she's an adult. When you get to the next to last paragraph have her just tighten her hand around the bone tucked safely in her pocket. Have her question herself as whether she whould have picked it up or not? The last paragraph (sentence) slowed the action. I would definitely keep reading.

  6. Tagline was fine, although, a woman vanishing from the woods doesn't pack quite the punch I think you need.

    I really enjoyed this. I love your style of writing and was right there with Sara (I'm guessing she's the woman who vanishes from the woods?)Some nice descriptions, but would agree that the line with the bone needs something added to it.

  7. Log line worked for me.

    "She forced herself to breathe deeply, inhaling the forest’s cool, damp tang until her heartbeat slowed. Rain dripped onto mossy ground." Love these lines!

    "Scrape" does not translate well into something auditory for me. I think it's because the 'rustle' I immediately associate with tree leaves, but 'scrape' I don't know what to associate with.

    I don't like the single word 'flick' either. In combination with these one word auditory terms, 'flick' distances me from your POV character.

    The rest of your opening was awesome! I'm really impressed, and would definitely read on :)

  8. The log line works for me. I would maybe try to add a twist that makes the story fresh. What in your mystery sets it apart? Find that one thing and try to work it into the log line.

    I enjoyed the excerpt a lot. The last sentence threw me though. I was left feeling like I wasn't as sure as I thought I was on what I'd been reading. It felt almost like two different stories or that the line was added to give the excerpt a 'dun, dun, dun' moment at the end. Other than that, I enjoyed it a lot. Good luck!

  9. It's nice to see someone handle an extended scene. The piece leans a little heavily on a familiar narrative thread, i.e. girl alone in the woods. But the narrator feels like she could be her own girl. Overall it's right on the fence: will it cave to cliches or march fearlessly into the land of the truly original?

  10. I'm loving it. I'm hooked and would read on. Nice writing.

  11. There is nothing about this I don't like. The girl is already strong and interesting. The premise is intriguing. The logline is a hint of more interesting things to come and that's how I like them. More details mean they aren't loglines anymore. They're blurbs. The perfect logline for me would work for a TV guide, and this one would work.

    But what do I know? I suck at loglines lol.

    I will say this--I would not only read on, I would buy this book.

  12. Thanks so much for your critiques, everyone. I really appreciated it! I'll have to save a few of these comments as inspiration next to my computer, for those days when the muse refuses to appear. :) You guys will keep me writing!