This is my first attempt at blogging. I hope to take you along on my journey to publication. I’ve been writing little stories for years. Then in the early 1980’s I read an article about a family that went over the I-205 bridge and into the Columbia River. The writer of the aritcle went on to detail the account of a family that disappeared into the Columbia River back in December of 1958. As I read the article, I formed ideas for a detective story. I began the story, but ran into a road block. I couldn’t go forward when the story didn’t work with the information I had. I wrote to the State Department, paid and requested all the police reports on this case.
I received a packet that was about two inches thick. When I opened it I found about half the pages were either blank or filled with dots. The dots were the result of the old way of copying the carbon copies in those days. Most of the typing from the carbon copies didn’t contrast enough to allow the black type to make a clear impresson. The result should have been black copy with white writing. When it was then copied from the microfilm or fische it would become black on the white paper. Not so here. The result was pages of partial words or dots as they hurriedly copied the documents. After reading the reports, I contacted the officer who wrote many of the reports. Walter Graven. Here is how our first phone call transpired:
“Hello Mr. Graven.” I intruduced myself. “I’m calling about a case you were on. The missing Martin family. I’ve read all the reports and I’m stuck. I think the family may have been in the witness protection program.” I heard a chuckled.
“That was one of the options offered at the time. Why are you really calling?”
“Excuse me? I’m writing a fiction detective story using this case as the backdrop. I’d like some information about the case if you don’t mind.”
“Where did you say you lived?”
“What’s the weather like today?” “Weather? Its around 65-70 degrees, partly sunny. Why?”
“Thank you. goodbye.” He hung up. I sat there holding the phone and wondering what was wrong with this guy. I called again a couple days later and got the same response. ‘What’s the weather like today in Minnesota?” Then he’d hang up. After a month went by he finally asked me a question.
“You said you had the police reports?” “Yes.” “Well, we know they weren’t in the witness protection program. Go and read the interview with the waitress at the Paradise Diner then call me back.” He hung up on me again.
After reading it over a number of times I called Mr. Graven back. “What was the conversation betweeen the family and the waitress?” he asked.
“They were just ordering food. They told her they were going up the highway to get Christmas greens.”
“That’s all you got?” I wasn’t sure what he wanted. “The mother was concerned what the older daughter ordered for lunch. She wanted a burger, fries and a shake. Her mother said she should order a tuna sandwich, fruit or the veggies and drink water.” “What do you think the reason for that was?”
I thought for a moment. The pictures I’d seen of the family, the oldest daughter was on the chubby side. Having been there myself, I shook my head. “My guess is Mom wanted her to watch her weight.”
“That’s true, but why? Why make a big deal about the food? What could be important about that aside from her present size?” There was only one thing that popped into my head, “She was PG?”
“That was your comment. Not mine.” He hung up on me again. That really pricked my interest. I poured back over the reports with that as the underlying reason and found my story. We talked a few more times about the details and he remained secretive for a while then let me know what he really suspected happened. I finished the story and sent the rough draft to Mr. Graven who loved it and my ending, since it remains an unsolved murder.
Since then I wrote a paranormal, then discovered http://www.writing.com. This wonderful website taught me so much about the craft of writing. I’ve read a lot of books (I have two shelves full of writing how-to books), but this site has writers and authors that actually help you, critque you and guide you to being a writitng better. That is if you stay the course. I’ve had some pretty awful reviews from people much like myself in the early days. Then as I took their on line classes and submitted prompts to contests I became more confident. I learned from my mistakes, I took the critiques that told me my weak points and what I needed to improve. I did it. I didn’t justify my work, as much as I wanted to, I didn’t. I wrote and rewrote. Soon my stories won contests, I was asked to review others work. I recived many merit badges for my work on the site. As I move forward the goal of a published book in ahead I know there is still more to learn and I’m ready to do so.