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Confessions of a Thriller Author: Plotting Murder During A Swim Meet

This is how my child deals with downtime at swim meets. I take a different approach.
This is how my child deals with downtime at swim meets. I take a different approach.

Some of you know my almost 9-year-old daughter is a swimmer. She’s in her third year of competitive swimming, so we’ve got our system for meets down pretty well. Downtime between races is usually social hour for the parents, but this weekend was different because it was our home swim meet. That means parents needed to volunteer, and yesterday morning I worked the lobby door for a few hours. I got to yell at people for trying to sneak downstairs when they weren’t allowed–you know I enjoyed that!

Anyway, after the initial rush, things got slow, and I decided to take advantage. I’m working on a NEW SERIES featuring a new character in the Delta Detectives Series (details coming soon!) and of course, there are murders to deal with. So I started taking some notes. I’ll spare you pics of my cruddy handwriting. Here’s a quick list (and these are just ideas, doesn’t mean they’ll be in future books).

  • Hostage situation
  • Shooting at the college where Nick works – who gets killed?
  • Domestic gone bad
  • Suicide by cop
  • Cage has to deal with shooting/killing someone
  • Sexual Assault/Murder
  • Autopsy – will evidence of sexual assault show up later?  ***At this point, the 8-year-old son of the aquatic directer was chatting to me about someone throwing up downstairs. Don’t worry, I covered my notes.
  • City officials acting like assholes (hey, these are my notes).
  • How decayed is body at scene? What is maggot situation? ***Pretty sure someone brought me a cookie at this point. It was yummy. I hope they didn’t see the part about the maggots. 
  • Kid in morgue. Signs of sex abuse. ***At this point I’m being reminded that the superintendent might be showing up, and since she’s the big boss, we want to show her around. I need to keep a lookout. I make a mental note to close the notebook if I see her. 
  • Various notes about death investigation, including trace evidence exam. The words pubic hair make an appearance as several preteen boys go by. I’m pretty sure the bagels they were stuffing their faces with kept their attention.
  • Dead guy in the concessions or in the freezer (my personal favorite).

During all of this, young, impressionable swimmers are going in and out of the door, my notebook likely in full view. I hoped my sloppy handwriting and their nerves kept most of them from peaking too much. But as any writer will tell you, we’re always working. Our minds very rarely slow down, and there’s always a plot bunny hopping around. If we don’t take the time to make notes, we’ll go insane.

Don’t even get me started on the things I look up at practice. Let’s just say I did a lot of research about the dark web and sex trafficking for SEE THEM RUN (Lucy Kendall #2) at my favorite table at the Aquatic Center.

So that’s my excuse for plotting murder at the swim meet. The good news is, I have a handle on the new series! You’ll meet the character in the upcoming Delta Detectives novellas, and I will be announcing the new series in February. I’m also planning some FREE novellas for my newsletter subscribers (more details to come) so if you’re not already a member of my mailing list, make sure to sign up.

What do you do to pass time at your kids practices or events when you’ve got downtime? Writers, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever Googled when surrounded by kids?

4 comments on… “Confessions of a Thriller Author: Plotting Murder During A Swim Meet”


  1. Patty Leek


    I spend my time at swim meets, too…an 8 year old boy. I cannot say that I have ever had murder ideas


      • Patty Leek


        Not a writer…a professor of Children’s Literature at a large university. My favorite reading for pleasure is mystery/thriller, and I enjoy your books very much. The characters seem like real people, and they are revealed in authentic plot events. I’d love to be a writer, but I think I am destined to be a better teacher and editor.

        And I’m a great safety monitor at the aquatics center…it’s the teacher in me:) I get the best reading time enveloped in chlorine clouds while Vincent is practicing 5-6 times a week.

        • Oh that is very cool! I think Children’s Lit would be very fun. And thank you so much for the compliments. I work really hard to make the characters as realistic as possible.

          And safety monitor is so important. Too many kids run around the pool. We are lucky tho – parents aren’t allowed down at the pool for practice, so I get to skip the chlorine. Don’t miss it!

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