Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Red String of My Mind

by Bethany Maines

In the cop shows, whenever the intrepid detective (Watchingthe Detectives, Elvis Costello) is working on the massive conspiracy that killed her mother/lover/those six girls we never met, but who really give our character a reason to act, the case is always shown as pictures (Pictures of You, The Cure) tacked up and connected by red string.  I don’t know what set designer came up with the red string, but they ought to get royalties.  It’s so common that if I worked at a craft store and someone bought red string I’d think they were a serial killer, a cop thrown off the force for refusing to quit the case, or a grandmother of toddlers stocking up for Christmas.  I bring this up for the reason that it is a fitting visual for the song lyric littered wasteland (Teenage Wasteland, The Who) that is my brain. 

Whenever I have a story noodling around in my head, but haven’t moved it to the level of having an outline, my natural writing style is to pick out scenes that I want to write, type them up, and save each scene to it’s own word document.  As you can imagine, this creates a number of random word documents that might be hard to keep track of.  But I have a system, most often I’ll name the document the song lyric associated with it.  As a book grows, frequently these scenes become chapters, and those document names become chapter titles.  Which is why the original table of contents for Bulletproof Mascara, the first of my Carrie Mae Mystery novels, read more like a playlist than serious literary subtitles.  Sadly, editor made me change most of them – now they simply hint at the songs they reference.  Apparently, the only people more uptight that literary rights lawyers or music rights lawyers.  But you can still rock out to the Bulletproof Mascara playlist simply by visiting my youtube page  ( – please enjoy the musical stylings of David Bowie, James Brown, Simon & Garfunkel, Tech9, Morcheeba, and (of course) more.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Wild Waters, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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