(Not so) fatal mistakes

snake venom
A snake is milked at a snake farm in Chiang Mai. Courtesy of Steve Belcher via Flikr

“[Snake milking’s] a hands on job where you put your fingers millimeters away from the sharp, fangs of asps, vipers, cobras, corals, mambas, kraits, and rattlesnakes. One slip of a finger and, well, its all over.”


While writers can publish in an instant, we have the option of a do-over. Did I really mean to say that? If I tweak this paragraph, does it read better? You can spend too much time editing, but, generally speaking, your work is stronger if you and the work get a cooling off period and can come back to each other when things aren’t quite so exciting.

Which may be why I like writing about people who have to make fast choices with high stakes. Today, while working on SIGHT (book two in my supernatural noir series featuring David Delsarto), I created what I thought was a one-off character.

I borrowed Tarkan’s¬†green eyes because I’ve been warming up for belly dance to his music and gave them to a smart entrepreneur selling above-board and black-market snake venom out of a tiny apartment in Seattle.

After doing a bit more research, I realized my snake milker would need hundreds of snakes to remain profitable, which altered the size and location of his apartment. He now lives in a loft in Sodo and by that time, I’d grown attached to the snake milker and decided to broaden his role in the book, giving him a few more critical scenes with my killer.

Like writers, snake milkers learn by experience, but if I’d been a snake milker, that first mistake — the size of his apartment — could have been fatal. Good thing I catch some of my thrills vicariously.

Cursed guitar playlist

Writing about a cursed guitar’s made me break my usual habit of writing in silence. I just wrapped the draft of RIFF, the third book in my supernatural noir series featuring David Delsarto. Never mind that I thought it was the second book when I was writing it. (I’m tending to book two now.)

But here’s some of the great stuff I was listening to. Be sure to check out 74-year-old Beverly “Guitar” Watkins while she tears up the strings. May I be at least half as hip when it’s my time.

Happy listening.