Friday, August 20, 2010

Reading in the Tub - Magpie Tales

I haven't done a Magpie Tale in a while but when I saw Willow's prompt picture, I felt compelled to bring forth a relevant excerpt from my second novel.
Art's Blood has always seemed like the red-headed stepchild of my books. For the most part, folks just haven't embraced it as heartily as the others. Too much modern art? The little lesbian interlude? Or is it the rather blah cover with a cabin that does not look like an Appalachian building? I don't know. I'm still proud of the book.

Here's a brief excerpt from the bathtub scene  --
...She stretched out a foot and turned the tarnished brass tap, letting a little more hot water into the tub. A long soak before bed was one of her greatest pleasures. Usually she brought a book with her and read till the water became too cool or till she dozed off.  Occasionally her book would dip into the water as her eyes drifted shut and she had made it a rule never to read borrowed books in the bath. Once wet, a book was never quite the same. It would eventually dry out  -- but only as a puffed up, outsize version of its former self.

[Next come several paragraphs where Elizabeth considers the various suspects in the murder at hand and makes a list (yes, she has a notepad and pen nearby) of motives and opportunities. Finding herself at an impasse, as well as sleepy, she abandons her meditations.]


The intoxicating fumes of the lavender bath oil filled her nostrils. Elizabeth tossed the pen and pad onto the pile of folded towels resting on the small chair beside the tub, extricated a gardening magazine from under the towels, and began to read.
~~~
She awoke with a start. The water was cool and English Gardens was lying open on her belly.  Or rather, floating.

With a sigh of disgust, Elizabeth lifted the sodden magazine and let it drip, then laid it gently on the towels.  She yanked the drain plug loose and the water began to run out with a mocking gurgle.

When she was in the oversize T-shirt that was her nightgown, she turned her attention to the magazine, hoping that it could be salvaged. Carefully she spread it open to a double-page photograph of a luxuriant garden.  Roses cascaded from trellises, arbors, and trees -- in all shades of pink, coral, and red. The title shouted in bold turquoise print: "Don't Forget the Rose!"

She blinked, trying to focus her eyes and her mind. For a few seconds she stood there, staring at the soggy pages. 


Then she wrote on her notepad: There's always a previous murder.


Yes, there's a character named Rose. Like Elizabeth, I do some of my best thinking in the bath.  Including solving the murders that I dream up.

None of the photos are mine. For more Magpie Tales, go HERE. 
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42 comments:

Martin H. said...

A nice taster, Vicki. I can see how time spent in the tub, would leave the mind clear enough to discover clues and solve riddles.

Words A Day said...

I loved this, how did you do it? There's a kind of tension in the bath tub scene that i cant put my finger on! I love the conclusing sentence -There's always a previous murder.

Words A Day said...

That should be "concluding" of course!

Pat in east TN said...

Ah, I remember that part of the book well.

Relaxing in the tub is always a good way to end my day ... some of my best thinking/planning is done there.

tony said...

I should bathe more! I tend to shower & worry about Hitchcock Movies!

Brian Miller said...

nice excerpt vicki...started on my mag last night...hopefully tomorrow...i do some good thinking in the bath as well...and reading...but i try to keep the books out of the water. smiles.

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...

I loved Art's Blood!:)

Ms EM said...

I enjoyed Art's Blood. I didn't mind the pathways of the book, but I did start to wonder how one woman get's into so many "situations". I never looked at my tub the same after that part of the book! hahahah

Louise said...

None of the pictures in the entry were yours? Oh, and here I thought that those perfectly manicured toes (something mine will never be) belonged to you!

Off to Amazon to order a book of yours. That passage really intrigued me.

Hah! I just noticed that my word verification is deadr.

Vicki Lane said...

I see the tub as a place for meditation, Martin -- that and reading.

Thanks, Words a Day! This scene is the conclusion of a chapter.

Tony -- thanks to Hitchcock I always lock the door when I take a shower.
And I saw PSYCHO about fifty years ago.

Ms EM - that's what is known as the Jessica Fletcher syndrome. Folks who read amateur sleuth series just have to suspend their disbelief on why this middle-aged lady keeps getting into 'situations.'

Not my toes, Louise. Nor Elizabeth's. Neither of us is into nail polish.

Helen T said...

I enjoyed "Art's Blood." It was the first of your books I read. I never seem to read books in sequence no matter who the author is.

Tammy said...

Hmmm...never pictured Elizabeth with black toenails. ;-) It seems like I enjoyed Art's Blood...can't remember having any negative vibes from it. I want to re-read the series, maybe this fall, back to back. It's always fun to 'wait' for that next book, but sometimes you lose the continuity of the setting after time, so it's always good to go back and re-read...
Tammy

Jingle said...

compelling magpie,
Glad to read you today...

the images, and the plot are superb!

Reader Wil said...

I liked the book! All your other books too, and I am sure that your next book is just as great as the previous ones!

NCmountainwoman said...

I don't understand how people might be less enthusiastic about "Art's Blood." Quite the contrary, I found it even more interesting since I had grown to know the characters. You have every reason to be proud of this book. I LOVED IT! It's a great story and beautifully written.

Markin said...

Odd that people didn't take to Art's Blood -- I was vastly amused by the performance art in the beginning, and it gave your readers a chance to know Laurel so much better.

I loved the ... what do you call it, not quite "background story" or "back story" ... the one of Lily Gordon. I was afraid when I first started reading your books that your way of weaving past and present would get to be a "shtick", but now it's one of the things I look forward to most in your books.

And I am glad I've been reading your books in order: the last chapter in Art's Blood gave the first in Old Wounds so much more depth, and vice versa. There's almost like a double exposure, reading Rosemary's call to her mother and reading what leads up to it, or a slow fading in and out of one to the other and back ...

Helen said...

Obviously, I need to trek on over to my local bookstore! Thanks for sharing this ..........

Friko said...

I really have to spend more time in the bath in future; like you people across the pond ( - so I have been told in one comment -) I tend to have a quick shower most of the time. Standing, soaping myself and thinking ahead to the tasks of the day, is not conducive to working out plots and solving murders!

Miss_Yves said...

Stunning post!

Miss_Yves said...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UW-JDCQVnhg

The illustrated cover recalls to me Frida Kahlo's painting "Ce que l'eau m'a donné"

Tipper said...

I liked Art's Blook as much as the others-means I'm a true fan right : )

Lyn said...

A floating book...I've done that..so much atmosphere, a nice presentation!!

Kristen Haskell said...

I am going to find and read your book.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks to those of you who gave a thumbs up to ART'S BLOOD! I still think it's good.

And, unlike SIGNS IN THE BLOOD, where the secondary historical story was added(at my editor's behest)after the main story was written, in ART'S BLOOD, I knew what I was doing (kind of.) I'm very fond of the Lily Gordon story.

As Markin says, you gain more depth in the story if you read the books in order. I try to write so that each book can stand on its on but the changing relationships are clearer if you read them in order.

That said, I think books 3 and 4 -- OLD WOUNDS and IN A DARK SEASON are much stronger and better writing. So I'm always torn when people ask which is my favorite book or which is the best or whatever.

It's a great place for creative thinking, Friko!

Oh, Miss Yves, that is a stunning video! Thank you! I've forwarded it to Willow, whose picture (and toes) those are.

I reckon that your are, Tipper!

And for those of you who want to find the book, of course it's on Amazon if not at your local bookstore.

Angie Muresan said...

I love that last sentence, as well. And I need to buy your book, as I can't wait to read it.

Claudia said...

and you watered the rose….amazing how things can pop into someone's mind when relaxing in a warm bath tub….enjoyed your writing and sharing how the story develops

my magpie is here

Merisi said...

Fantastic writing,
and I held my breath,
thinking you had somehow found
a way to spy on my bath tub rituals
(yes, notepad too, but - so far - I have never thought of taking a camera with me).
Raisin in the tub,
far from a rose,
am I, though. ;-)

rel said...

Vicki,
Easy to picture that scene. Although I'd rather be floating on a lazy river in a kayak to get the same maditative feel. Of course if one falls asleep in their kayak, it's they who end up in the drink.
rel

willow said...

Beautiful piece of writing, Vicki. (and photos) Now I need to read your book!! Wonderful Mag.

Star said...

A lovely snippet from your book. I can identify with that. I like reading in the bath too.
Incidentally, did you know we have a detective series over here called 'Rosemary and Thyme'? It is gentle, like Miss Marple but it concerns two lady gardeners who solve murders using gardens, flowers and that sort of thing. It is very enjoyable. I'm sure you would love it.
Blessings, Star

christine said...

I think I will have to surf Amazon to read the whole book. Just my sort of reading!

Vicki Lane said...

Star -- I've heard of Rosemary and Thyme but not seen it -- yet.

Brigid said...

Great extract, nice bit of tension.
Glad to see you use lavender too and I so hate soggy books too. Great read.

Deborah said...

Compelling and beautifully written ... a pleasure to read!!!

Doctor FTSE said...

"Art's Blood" is available also from Amazon U.K. Added to my Wish List as of today.

kathew said...

the mind does clear when soaking in hot water! Nicely done! I'll have to look for your mystweries in our library! Cheers!

Systematic Weasel said...

Wonderfully written magpie! =)

Stafford Ray said...

Anyone who does his/her work, in this case sleuthing, while lolling about in a hot bathtub has my respect! Nice little teaser!

Tumblewords: said...

The perfect response to the prompt - Nice work!

joanny said...

I have not done a Magpie for awhile and was tempted with this toes peeking out of the tub vignette, but time works against me,
Glad you shared an excerpt from your book, it was engaging, pulls the reader into that world to become as one with the heroine, and makes one almost forget the outside world as they merge in the world you created with the power of your words. Now that I am hooked will have to get a copy to find out what happens next. then and your newest book coming out.
You are busy.

cheers,
Joanny

Abhilasha-The Desire said...

Wonderful Mag...I'm a huge gobbler for mysteries and your mag just picked those bones in me...I'm new to magpie and now would surely read some of your work...
The last line was absolutely claasic "There's always a previous murder".. What a conclusion before a chilling beginning !!

Stephanie D. said...

I believe I'll have to make a trip to the local bookstore and spend some bucks, because this is a great tease. Sorry to say I haven't read any of your books yet.

My introduction to you and your blog was a short story with Magpie Tales--the one about The "Gordons". Gave me absolute chillbumps.