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  • Writer's picture Kathy Cassel

The Things You Do for a Character

My daughter Jessica went to college to get her degree in criminology. Well, here they call it Public Safety, but I think criminology sounds much cooler. She also added an Underwater Crime Scene Investigations certification. That meant taking lots of classes about police procedures, criminal behavior, crime scenes both on land and underwater, and several dive classes. She is certified in basic, nitrox, science diver etc.

Jessica and a classmate doing underwater pumpkin carving

Somewhere during this time I thought it would be fun and challenging to write a book about a character who was part of a college dive team. But then someone pointed out that most of the cases would be turned over to the police or NCIS etc, not solved by college students. So the character became a newbie on the police team after having been an officer for 18 months.

The thing is, I kept having to ask Jessica simple scuba questions. I'd never tried scuba. As a former lifeguard, I like to be above the water. I also don't have a strong lung capacity and feared I wouldn't be able to clear my mask. Also I am just enough claustrophobic to cringe at the thought of being that far underwater.

However, to get the feel for scuba myself, I decided to take a two-hour intro to scuba class that met in an area closed in by jetties that locals refer to as the "baby pool." My daughter Jasmine, 14 at the time and plagued by fear in general, volunteered to do it with me.

So off we went expecting to have a somewhat interesting, but stressful, experience. Long story short, I could clear my mask. The water was so clear we could easily see the surface. We loved it.

We signed up for the Padi Basic Class the same day. We became certified divers in 2015. And she overcame the fear of deep water.

Our certification dive March 21, 2015

However, not feeling up to the challenge of writing such a complicated story as this one was turning out to be, I set the writing project aside until now. I am doing preparation work to make it my 2018 nanowrimo project. National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) is November, and the goal is to write 50,000 words in that one month.

There are mixed feelings about nanowrimo. Some people think you can dash off 50,000 words in the month of November and send it to a publishing house in December. Others feel it's a waste since you can't merely write the novel and expect it to get published.

I'm in the middle. I like the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month, but then I set it aside for a month or so before I go back and start editing. I also have a fiction coach who reads my work and lets me know what works and what doesn't. I have a manuscript I wrote three years ago at two publishing houses right now for consideration and with one agent. I have another book I wrote for nanowrimo two years ago in the final critique stage, and the one I wrote last year is about to be critiqued for the first time.

I will share more about last year's nanowrimo experience next post!

Here is the short synopsis for the one I am gearing up to write this year:

It’s Abbi Kincaid’s first day on the Police Dive team. Their mission? To find a gun tossed from a drug boat. All is going well until Abbi comes face to face with a dead body forty feet below the ocean’s surface. She panics and quickly returns topside.

Days later, a second body is pulled up in a fishing net. The search for the missing pieces in the two murder cases and the men who may hold them requires Abbi to face unresolved issues from an accidental death in her own past and to overcome her aversion to dead bodies.

A call about a seemingly unrelated death places Abbi directly in danger’s way. Abbi and the teammate who despises her most are trapped in an underwater cave. With time running out, she must save both herself and him, but does she have the strength and faith it will take to do so?

So it's really due to Abbi that I am a scuba diver today.

Abbi also rides a Honda Phantom Shadow to the police station where she works. I wonder where that will lead?

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