"Mississippians have preconceived notions about the invading students—smug, shrill know-it-all extroverts with a savior complex...problem brats defiant of parental restraint...sexually promiscuous, addicted to interracial love-making...brainwashed in Communist doctrine with no clear idea of Americansm...more hostile to the White South than to Red Russia."
* Schwerner was denied a jailhouse phone call.* Deputy Price informed Klansmen of the capture of Schwerner.* Klansmen organized of group for some "butt ripping."* Two Klan meetings were held, and it was decided the younger Klan members would kill the workers.* The men were freed from jail around 10 p.m. Price followed them up Highway 19* After a high-speed chase, Chaney stopped the car and the three surrendered.* They were placed in Price's patrol car and driven down a dirt road.* The workers were taken from the car. Schwerner was shot first, then Goodmen, then Chaney. The FBI's informant said Chaney was shot twice.*The bodies were taken to a 253-acre farm with a dam site. They were placed together and covered with dirt.* On August 4, 1964, the FBI received information about the bodies, and they were recovered.
They killed one nigger, one Jew, and a white man. I gave them all what I thought they deserved.
Light and Dark.
This had to be one of the stupidest things Nari had ever done. The chilly fall wind whipped her hair and goose flesh erupted over her cold skin. She gazed up at the night stars as she tromped through the overgrown yard lugging her equipment. What was she doing, coming here alone? She should have gone to bed when her partner cancelled. But like an idiot, she'd moved forward with the mission.
Nari had investigated hauntings throughout the southeastern United States, but she’d avoided the Chatum place the same way she avoided committed relationships. Her best friend had been murdered here. What if her ghost waited to greet Nari? What if a residual haunting played out the murder in gruesome detail?
She couldn't avoid the house any longer. Her dreams were full of dark scenes: a terrified woman running through dark halls and screaming for help, sinister laughter, and the awful, gurgling sound of a victim as she bled out.
Her best friend was trying to tell her something, and Nari had to find out what it was. That's why she was standing on a rickety front porch of an old Victorian at midnight and freezing her ass off.
The hulking, abandoned Victorian loomed before her. The Chatum place had been empty for the last five years, the hundred-year-old house crumbling beneath the rumors. They had started as soon as the bodies were wheeled out of the old house.
Six months after the murders, a family with two young children had moved in. They lasted less than three months. Neighbors reported hearing terrible cries in the middle of the night. A man walking his dog insisted the lights in the house turned on and off despite the fact the power had been shut off.
She hefted the bag onto her shoulder and slid her lock picking kit out of her pocket. Nari hadn’t bothered to get permission to enter the Chatum house. She didn’t want anyone in town to know what she was doing. Cape Charles, Virginia was a sleepy town that enjoyed the status quo. Hearing that Nari was searching for her best friend’s ghost would send them into a gossiping frenzy.
The door opened without fanfare. Darkness greeted her. The fine hairs on the back of Nari’s neck flared up, and her pulse raced. She always got an adrenaline rush the first time she entered a place with supposed paranormal activity, but as she stood on the threshold of the home she’d spent so much time in as a child, a new kind of chill went through her. There was no turning back now.
Nari flicked on her Mag-Lite and cast the beam around. The foyer was just as she remembered, its oak floor coated with dust. To her right, a narrow, spiral staircase waited. Hannah had been murdered in the upstairs hallway, the last family member to lose their life to John Chatum. The prodigal son had turned out to be a psycho with a knack for gutting people.
She stepped forward and then stalled. A whisper ran through the air. It could have been the wind or something far worse. A heavy stillness settled over Nari. The miserable feeling was one she knew well, and it took her breath away.
This house wasn’t empty.
What do you guys think? Should I continue Nari's story for Thriller Thursday?
The wonderful Donna Galanti is guest blogging for me today, and her topic is something every writer needs to be familiar with: 9 ways to get your novel ready to market. Donna's shared some valuable links as well. Enjoy!
Hi Stacy, thanks for having me on! In my quest to polish my first novel to be the-best-it-can-be here is feedback (and resources) I received along the way from the experts—agents, authors and editors.
It’s been driven into us writers over and over that before you query, you must have your novel as polished and professional as possible. In these revolutionary publishing times, it’s especially important for a debut author to have a top edited MS to send that agent or publisher. Here are some areas to address to make your novel shine.
1. Is it in the proper manuscript format?
Check out the Agent’s MS standards or Google. Here are some basics:
Double spaced. Minimum one inch margins all around. If sending a hard copy make sure it’s printed single sided, unstapled. Your name, title, page # should be in a header on each page.
A good resource list:
2. Is it too long?
Know the accepted word count for your genre. Look at another round of editing to shorten if need be. You don’t want this to be a reason you get rejected. An agentor publisher may wonder, as a debut author, if you have performed the necessary edits to make it a professional submission if it’s too long. Look at shortening your MS. Publishers think in dollars. Higher word counts = higher publishing cost.
3. Perform a butterfly edit. Do a search for these nasty guys to replace or remove
I eliminated 4,000 words just by doing this!
*Look to remove adverbs. Those nasty (–ly) words and unnecessary words like just, even, very.
*Consider removing annoying POV filterslike: realized, thought, saw,noticed, glanced. For example: “She realized he moved closer”. If we are in your character’s POV the action is coming direct from her, so all we need to say is “He moved closer”.
*Where possible use past tense (–ed) vs. (–ing).
*One space after periods is now the standard. Can do a search with a period and two spaces after (. ) and replace with a period and one space after. (. )
*Reconsider passive language: is, are, was, were, has been, will have been, have been, etc.
*Remove exclamation points! If your MC “screamed” we don’t need the (!) to tell us so.
*Make sure you use the em dash (“No way–I can’t!”) with no space before and after.
*Do not use a dialogue tag with a sentence that ends with ? or ! (but you removed that ! – right?).
4. Do you know what genre your MS really is? Do you have a sub-list?
Make sure. Check out (library site)
Mine is a paranormal suspense and here is what I found, for example.
Then create a submission list (sub-list) of the top ten books your novel is most like. The agent or publisher will want to know that you know where your book will be placed on the bookshelf (online or brick-and-mortar).
5. Does your book start with the true inciting incident?
Know where your book should start. What is the event that propels the premise in your book? Do you start with the true inciting incident or does it just seem like the true one? Sometimes it can be deceptive. The inciting incident must set the premise and the dramatic imperative for the reader to keep reading.
6. Does your book start with your main character? It should. If not, perhaps the character it starts with instead is your true MC. Then of course this changes your query letter, your synopsis…..This happened to me with one project. I was made aware of it by two author mentors.
7. Point of view (POV)
Rule of thumb. One POV per scene. Watch for head hopping. Very few authors can pull this off well. In reviewing my MS I found a few head-hopping scenes. I went back through each scene and checked off who had the most POV in it. I also decided who needed to tell the story best in that scene and changed it to that one character’s POV.
TIP: Make sure you are telling the scene through your character’s eyes. For example, if Laura is showing us the scene then we can’t “see the tears shining in her eyes”.
8. Does your book start with your protagonist sitting around thinking and not doing?
Don’t start your novel with the character sitting around alone in exposition. If your MC is doing nothing, skip it and start at Chapter 2 or 3, or wherever the action starts. For a good example read Accidental Tourist intro scene. You need to grab reader (and agent) on first page. This is the only chance you have.
9. Is your MS in the right voice for its genre?
Check out other authors in your genre. Do you have a consistent voice throughout scenes in the book? If it’s a Thriller make sure your MC doesn’t have a YA voice or your YA book doesn’t sound like it’s written from an adult’s POV.
QUIZ: Just for fun. How many things are wrong with this sentence below?
“Don’t even do that!” She screamed loudly, running away, as she realized what the writer could have done.
Good luck polishing your book so you can market it well!
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