Writer's Notes

Writer’s Notes: Three Steps to a Winning Scene

By Elaine Faber

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary

To draw the reader into the action as the story evolves, you must make her feels as if she actually becomes the protagonist, or is walking by her side. She must see, feel, and think what the protagonist sees, how she feels about the situation, and reacts with her dialogue or action.

To create this experience, before you start to write your intended scene, Consider the following.

What does your character see? (Describe the setting through character’s POV.)

The following is a much edited scene where Angel, (Black Cat’s sweetheart) first finds the diary that contains the clues to a lost treasure in gold, stolen during WII.

Angel stood at the door and gazed into the storeroom, her gold eyes wide. Boxes, parcels and baskets lined the shelves. She jumped on the worktable and sniffed at the scissors, packing tape, and address labels, and then sniffed an unopened parcel just received in the mail. “Why would someone send a musty package to a bookstore?” (Kimberlee enters the storeroom)

As Kimberlee cut the tape, the brown wrapping paper fell away, and a worn leather journal lay on the table. Sunlight fell across the stained cover. Was it from mud, sweat, or blood? Or all three? She ran her finger over the letters etched into the leather. “Oh. I thought it was a book written by a WWII soldier. This is just a personal diary.”  Disappointed, she tossed the diary on the table.

What does your character think or feel? After seeing the situation, how does your character react? What thoughts enter her mind? What does she feel?)

Angel sniffed the parcel again. There’s something… she jerked, jumped off the table and raced to the front of the store. “Black Cat, come quick. You must see the book Kimberlee just received. It’s odd. I sense something important inside. She needs to read it.”

What does your character say or do? (Your character speaks or reacts to what she has seen and thought/felt. This can be a simple statement or pitching a drink into someone’s face…a reaction!)-

(Black Cat follows her back to the storeroom.) “What is it?” Black Cat sniffed the book. “It smells musty. What’s so important about it? ”

“Make her read it,” Angel said. She kneaded the table with her front paws. “I feel it in my bones. There’s something she needs to see. You can do it. You’re so clever and brave.” She rubbed against Black Cat’s face. Black Cat pawed at the book. It plunked onto the floor, open to the title page. He held his breath as Kimberlee knelt, and picked up the diary.


By following this brief outline that describes your character seeing, thinking/feeling and reacting in each scene, allows your reader to immerse herself in the situation, to react and be personally involved with your character’s adventure. This creates a sense of ‘oneness’ with your character and a fulfilling journey for your reader.

About Elaine Faber

Elaine Faber and Boots

Elaine Faber lives in Northern California with her husband and feline companions. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, California Cat Writers, and Northern California Publishers and Authors. She volunteers with the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop. She enjoys speaking and sharing highlights of her novels at public venues. Her short stories have appeared in national magazines and multiple anthologies.

List of books:

Black Cat’s Legacy, With the aid of his ancestors’ memories, Thumper helps pursue a cold case murder.

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, Thumper accompanies his family to a Texas horse ranch where they confront wild horses, embezzling, false identities and attempted murder.

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, Black Cat and his companion are left behind following an MVA. Taken in by a family facing personal and financial disaster, Black Cat and Angel face danger and a spiritual encounter.

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary, a dual tale with the cats challenged in Fern Lake and mistress, Kimberlee, following clues to a treasure in gold coins in Austria.

Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot, Eccentric Mrs. Odboddy believes Nazi spies and conspiracies run amuck through her town during the beginning of WWII.

Mrs. Odboddy-Undercover Courier, Mr. Odboddy assumes Nazi spies will attempt to steal the secret war documents she carries on the train to the president.

Mrs. Odboddy-And Then There was a Tiger, Falsely accused of various crimes, Agnes sets about to restore her reputation and return missing war bond funds.

Links (website and blog site) :  (face book)  (Goodreads)  (email)

Purchase Links  (Amazon)  Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary

SynopsisBlack Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary:  In this duel tale of mystery, lost treasure, and riddles, while Black Cat narrates the exciting events in Fern Lake, Kimberlee discovers a cryptic clue in a diary. She travels to Austria to search for the stolen gold coins missing since WWII.

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary

When Kimberlee and Dorian arrive in Austria, they attract the attention of a stalker determined to steal the diary in hopes it will lead him to the treasure first. On a collision course, it is inevitable that Kimberlee and the stalker meet in Hopfgarten.

Back in Fern Lake, Black Cat and Angel’s lives are endangered with the arrival of Kimberlee’s estranged grandmother, and the return of a man presumed dead for 25 years. Their arrivals create emotional and financial difficulties for Kimberlee’s family.

Street Stories The Call Box

The Call Box: A Common Law Divorce

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD      

For: Maura, Mary, Anne, Megan and Bill Fitzgerald

If I had to guess I would imagine the average age of the officer out there in the black and white right now would be mid 20’s. This is totally unscientific and based only on observation.

However, it was not always so. My first year in patrol was 1957. The PD was populated with returning WWII vets and both of my partners (teachers) were ex-military and probably in their 40’s as seemingly most of the department. Officers looked like what you would imagine a copper should look like. Something from a 40’s black and white crime movie. Large, tough and no nonsense. This was the era of the hat squad and in my opinion,  it was these older uniforms and detectives that made the LAPD what it is today and earned the reputation as the “Best of the Best.”

Chief William H. Parker spoke at my graduation and his words still ring true. Paraphrased, he said, “You now inherit the good name and are part of a very well-respected organization. You stand on the shoulders of giants.” Without actually saying so, we were told not to “f**k it up.”

My partners were Ward Fitzgerald and Hal Brasher. Both vets and looking back I consider myself a very lucky man to draw two of the best. They were very much alike and (if this makes sense) very different. Both were soft spoken, and I never heard either raise his voice or lose his temper. They never lectured or preached but let me learn by example. They naturally shared experiences and tips and I felt like a little leaguer hanging out with the N.Y. Yankees.

Hal had a great sense of humor and shared stories. Ward was always cheerful and in good spirits, quieter than Hal but when he spoke you listened because he had something to say. Both had a way with people. Hal, smiling and kind of easy going while Ward had a very calming manner about him which lowered most semi-hostile situations. 

Our patrol area was the northwest corner of the old University Division (3A15). A residential/business mix, old, poor and more than our share of crime. Despite this I felt most of the residents were hardworking, law abiding, God-fearing citizens. 

One fairly common call was, “see the man/woman, family dispute.” We were expected to act as marriage counselors. This is the story of one such call.

Working with Ward we responded and found the couple to be elderly, polite and respectful to the law. 

Usual practice was to separate them, speak quietly and hope to defuse the situation before it could turn violent. They listened politely and then said that they just didn’t think they could continue living together. 

Ward gave the usual pitch about seeking professional help or in the extreme, divorce, etc.

Their answer was a classic. They couldn’t divorce because they never married. They were “common law.”

{ASIDE} Common law briefly means living together and holding yourself out as a married couple resulted after a while in a “common law” relationship. It was a routine situation for the time and place, but too complicated to discuss here. 

By this time in my training process I had learned to let nothing I saw or heard surprise me. 

Wards statement did. He told them that police officers were permitted by law to perform “common law divorces.” 

I was sent to the car to retrieve the Vehicle Code. It was the dimensions of the Readers Digest but about 2-3 inches thick. 

In bold print on the cover were the words VEHICLE CODE of the STATE OF CALIFORNIA. Holding his thumb over the word “Vehicle” he let them see the rest of the title.

If they wished to go through with this, he told them they would place their left hands on the book holding the right hand up. At this point Ward rattled off some very impressive mumbo-jumbo. Did they wish to proceed? Oh, by the way, one of you has to leave the house and never return. They conferred and decided they would try to work it out. 

Later in the car I commented on his expert flim-flammery. His answer: “We kept the peace and did no harm, right?”

That was pure Ward, my teacher and friend.

RIP Sir.

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