Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Death on My Porch

by Julie Coulter Bellon

Well, as Stephanie mentioned, I had a birthday yesterday, (thank you to the three people who made awesome wishes for me. You’re my new best friends) and it was one of those milestone birthdays that makes everyone want to ask how you feel about it. (Don’t even try to guess in the comment trail how old I am. It makes writers like me cranky if you guess high and then I’ll be insecure about what people think of me and have to use my writing as therapy---it won’t be pretty, so just restrain yourselves, okay?)

So anyway, back to the point. I had this very mysterious thing that happened to me right around my birthday. (Or I just see creepy mysteries everywhere now since Stephanie’s Methods of Madness book has me totally spooked.) On our porch there is a little step before you get into our house and we found a fat little furry mouse lying there on my welcome mat covering the step. Dead. Just lying there like he was having a little nap before he came into the house. Except he was dead.

I know! Did you think like I did, that is was a message of some sort? I mean, who finds a dead mouse on their doorstep? Especially a fat one neatly arranged as if he were sleeping on a welcome mat. Happy birthday to me! Was someone trying to tell me I’d be dead soon? Were they trying to say “Welcome to death?” Was the fat little mouse supposed to represent me? *shudder* I admit that it crossed my mind that perhaps Stephanie had suddenly come to Utah and was experimenting with new plot ideas. She was probably hiding in my bushes waiting to see what my reaction would be to a dead mouse on my welcome mat. Which is wrong, Stephanie. Very, very wrong.

However, I did come up with another theory. The little dead mouse could also represent my writing career. Anyone who knows me, knows my story of how my career was almost over before it started. After three rejections, I gave up (I know, I was a crybaby!) and put my manuscript under my bed. I left it there for a year before I decided to revamp it and resubmit it (with some gentle nagging from another author friend.) Of course that decision changed my life since I got a contract and became a published author with the revamped manuscript. But I was almost like the fat little mouse---so close to getting what he wanted by being inside my warm house, but dying on the doorstep within inches of his dream. If I’d let that manuscript gather dust, my writing dream would never have been realized. But who would want to remind me of that? Stephanie wouldn’t want to remind me of previous failures so I’d get all depressed and stop writing, would she? Maybe her next book is about how an author sees how far she can influence her writer friends into giving up writing so she has no more competition and the entire Seagull store is full of only Stephanie Black books. Piles and piles of Black books that eventually take over the world. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I can totally see that happening after reading the subtext in Methods of Madness.

My final theory was that it was a death by natural causes. Since there was no blood, it seemed this poor little mouse managed to get on my step, and perhaps was so winded that when he felt the soft bristles of the welcome mat beneath him he thought he’d take a little rest. His right arm/leg was sort of hurting him, and he needed a breather. But before he could lie down, his little mousy heart just gave up and he had a heart attack. (You know, after you’ve had a birthday, sometimes you think of those sorts of things.) Or, Stephanie knew that Rob was coming over and had him gas the poor little rodent and arrange him on my doorstep. Getting him to do her dirty work would be brilliant since no one would expect something so devious from innocent-looking Robison Wells. That Stephanie has some tricks up her sleeve for sure. I mean, look at her novel! Creepiness personified.

So as I’ve contemplated my new age and the mysterious death on my porch, I’ve come to the conclusion that the general public should not read Stephanie Black’s book when it’s near your birthday because dead animals may or may not appear on your porch. If you disregard my advice you do it at your own risk because there's something about her book that will make you want to steal your kid's nightlight. It is seriously that good. I’m almost to the point where I can’t read it at night and I don’t want to read ahead because I know I’ll scare myself even further. It's not horror, though, just very well done spine-tingling mystery. I don’t know who the villain is yet, but I do know this. Stephanie isn’t who I thought she was. And whether she was directly or indirectly involved in that death on my porch, I know it’s some sort of message from her to me, to my subconscious in a conscious way. Spooky.

And here's one more thing I do know for sure. If I’m ever with you, and not feeling well, please, please, please don’t find the nearest welcome mat for me to die on no matter how much Stephanie begs for you to recreate the mouse's death scene. And if I die with bushes anywhere nearby, please check them. Just to make sure that Stephanie isn’t hiding there taking notes.

Thank you.


At 11/19/2009 1:11 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

I am so proud to have given Julie the creeps. My work here is finished.

Okay, I admit, hiring Rob was a mistake. It's just that he was willing to do it for a six-pack of Diet Coke and a Twinkie, and I was on a budget. But I should have known he'd get busted. That's the way it is with these guys. Once they go national, it's all "my book, my agent, my advance", yada yada, and they get all sloppy when you hire them as a hit man. Just look at J. Scott. After Farworld:Water Keep hit Barnes and Noble, it was all downhill when I needed some dirty work done.

And thanks for the great new plot ideas! I knew hiding in your bushes would be worth the cost of the plane ticket.

(And if you're celebrating a milestone birthday, I'm guessing you and I are the exact same age--I've got a milestone birthday coming up in a few weeks, and I'm thinking it's the same one. Twenty-one, right?)

At 11/19/2009 2:19 PM, Blogger Marta O. Smith said...

Do you have a cat? Ours leaves offerings on the welcome mat every one in a while. (I think it's supposed to show how much she loves her people.) Mice don't make as much of a mess as birds.

At 11/19/2009 2:22 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Marta, don't try to find excuses for Stephanie. Is she bribing you to throw me off her trail? *narrows eyes at Marta* Is she offering you a copy of her book so that you'll read it too? Watch out for that. She has ulterior motives, my friend.

(Yes I have a cat, but she's an inside cat and is deathly afraid of outside. It really is a random mouse death. Sad, in a way.) :(

At 11/19/2009 2:25 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Stephanie, I don't think we're the same age, (since you're in elder care I heard) but thank you for verifying one of my theories. Bwahaha! It was shrewd of you with the whole Rob thing and I'm proud I figured it out. (Great job on the book, by the way. I've recommended it to everyone I know.)

At 11/19/2009 2:45 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I can't believe I didn't see it! Thank you for turning me on to Stephanie's devious ways. I read Methods and came home to a dead bird in my driveway, placed just so that I wouldn't run it over. I didn't connect the reading and the bird until just now. I'm onto you, Stephanie Black. (And how on earth did you hide in that tiny bush in MY front yard? You and your willowy, badness)

At 11/19/2009 2:50 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

*nods head* I'm glad you're finally seeing the light, L.T. I'm sure more victims will be coming forward as word gets out.

At 11/19/2009 4:13 PM, Blogger Janice said...

We found a little mouse scurrying around one of our window wells once. The kids were so excited my oldest named it after himself. Then the little mouse laid down and ummm fell asleep for a long time. I think I'd just finished reading The Believer. Hmmmm

At 11/19/2009 6:26 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

LT called me willowy! I'm so happy!

Julie, thank you so much for recommending my book! I really appreciate that, though I'll thank you not to expose any more of my evil plans or my daughter is going to start wondering about how her hermit crab "disappeared."


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