Friday, November 28, 2014

(15) Mystery: THE CAT'S MEOW

GENRE: Mystery

Veterinarian Marti Foxx realizes her dream of owning an animal hospital, but instead of finding the stability she craves, she becomes the prime suspect in a string of crimes and struggles to rebuild her reputation while searching for the real criminal.

The first moths of spring huddled against the weak porch light.

“Here kitty, kitty,” I crooned, peering over the railing into the darkness.

My only reply came from the distant peal of the town carillon, marking the quarter hour. I made my way down the steps and stumbled onto the road.

It was a country lane, lit only by the moon and the homes that dotted it. Once the vernal rains began, its pavement would be splattered with the guts of hapless frogs, squashed while making their way to the spawning pools. But tonight it remained devoid of decoration, dead or alive, amphibian or otherwise.

I shivered and rubbed my arms for warmth. Searching the entire property without a flashlight was impractical at this time of night. The cat I’d heard crying--if, indeed, it was a real cat and not a fragment of dream--would have to wait until morning to be rescued.

I picked my way back to the porch and retreated into the warmth of the farmhouse. The old house had been subdivided in recent years into three apartments. My elderly landlady occupied the first floor. An anthropology professor rented one of the second floor units. And the last one belonged to me, Marti Foxx, veterinarian and newcomer to Ivy Lake.

The polished oak staircase in the entrance hall beckoned me back to bed. As I placed my foot on the bottom step, a door slammed open on the landing above, and voices exploded into the hall.


  1. I would suggest that if your protag is searching for a lost cat, she continues until she finds it. Abandoning the search this early in the story makes me question her empathy and commitment to the animals she cares for. This is an opportunity to put her in a great light--she rescues a cat (Blake Snyder would be proud)! Let us see all her compassion before she confronts the voices that explode in her hall. I want to like her and this action makes me question how committed she'd be to anything if she walks away so quickly.

    Good luck!

  2. I agree with the above comment. But-- you have a great voice and strong writing. I was right with you in that scene. Good luck in the auction!

  3. Lots ofmgreat imagery used very early on to tug the reader into the plot. A superb sense of nature is apparent and will be needed for a successful plot development. Looks promising. good Luck.

  4. Yes to the previous comment, that you have a "superb sense of nature." The opening line is beautiful, unique, and evocative. Well observed. The detail about amphibians in the rain is also creative, unusual, and eye-opening. The use of the word vernal probably wouldn't occur to someone less attuned to the cycles of nature, so that's spot-on as well. Each of those details bodes well for an authentic characterization of a veterinarian.

    I'm not particularly bothered by her not following through on finding the cat, especially if she's not sure whether it was a dream. I imagined the cat as black, and as such, finding it in the dark would be nigh impossible. It is aborted action, though, which could feel a little start/stop for some readers so early in the novel. Perhaps if she expressed a little regret that would mitigate the choice to abandon the hunt. It doesn't bother me, though.

    I like the sentence "...belonged to me, Marti Foxx, veterinarian and newcomer..." It feels a bit unusual to have the protagonist introduce herself in this way, formal and almost stilted, but I like the almost brashness of it in the writing.

    I'd enjoy reading more from the POV of a character so sensitive to nature and with such beautiful, well-edited description (e.g., the sound of the carillon). Good luck!

  5. Very nice opening. I like your character, the descriptions of nature and then all the calmness being broken by the slamming of a door. I would definitely read on.

    Best of luck!

  6. I like the logline and premise of this, and I'd keep reading. A couple things that made me think were the cat's cry and how you introduce Marti's occupation.

    The cat: If we learn soon that Marti is having strange dreams or can't sleep, then I am OK with you suggesting Marti didn't hear what she thought she did.

    Introducing Marti: I think I would introduce her as a newcomer to Ivy Lake. And then come back with: Since opening my veterinary practice (insert time here) ago . . .

    I also agree with the comment about giving up the cat search so quickly. I want to like Marti. Find the cat.

    Good luck with the auction.

  7. I liked this entry a lot. I didn't have a problem with Marti giving up on the cat because there was no clue where it was. When she called for it, no answer. (As a picky point, I'd change "My only reply came ..." To "The only reply came ..." because it sounded as if she were replying to her own call.)

    I especially liked this once I reached the line that said she was a vet because I realized how perfect the voice was. Your nature details, but especially animals--moths, frogs, the cat--would be things a vet would be likely to notice and think about.

    I suppose it's just me, but I was surprised when commenters said "she" because I thought Marti was a guy. (Yes, I read the opening and the comments before I read the log line). You might consider giving some hint at her gender in the opening. I suppose the spelling of her name might be considered such a hint. It wasn't enough for me.

  8. Beautiful prose. I loved reading this page. That last line makes me think things are about to explode and I can't wait to turn the page.

    Agree re not giving up the cat search as others have mentioned.

    Good luck in the auction!

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

    The moths huddling against the porch light followed by Marti crooning "kitty, kitty" had me thinking she was calling the cat to get the moths. When i realized the two points were disconnected, I didn't understand why the moths were mentioned in the first place. For atmosphere, I guess, but it feels tacked on to me. The detail is nice, however the disassociation between the two bothers me as a reader.

    I didn't mind that Marti didn't go looking for the cat right that second. She's a vet, so I give her the benefit of the doubt that she knows what she's doing. It's just that saying the cat was "crying" makes people immediately think the animal is in trouble. I get that. My cats meow a lot because they like to talk. When they see me, they meow, but it's a greeting.

    One more thing about the cat cry, Marti calls out to it before we know why. That added to my confusion about the moths. At first I thought the cat belonged to her.

    The slamming of the door and exploding voices really raise the intrigue meter. It makes me want to keep reading.

    Good luck!

  10. You have a beautiful way with imagery that immediately put me in the setting. Your voice is strong and I would read on.

    The only thing that threw me off was the line "...belonged to me, Marti Foxx, veterinarian and newcomer..." The protagonist doesn't usually introduce themselves directly to the reader.

    Other than that, great entry. Good luck!

  11. Love that opening line. I think the voice in this is really strong overall, but I have to agree with that last comment before mine--the protagonist introducing herself really took me out of this.

    I do think you should give consideration to the search for the cat--I don't think it's necessarily BAD that the protagonist gives up so quickly, but it does certainly characterize, especially this early on and with that line about practicality. If you're trying to write a pragmatic character, this is great--if not, you might want to reconsider that graf.

    I think this is very strong, and like the logline. Best of luck!