Revision Xibalba Part One

Day One of vacation from the Evil Day Job:

Made it to Kaldi’s this morning and began working on the next section shortly after 9 am.  Two cups of coffee and one section down.  Moving into Quinn’s POV next.  I think I might need one last brief “tie up” resolution section after that, a sort of breather after the high action.  I’m not sure how the sections will fall into place in the existing first draft yet, but I’ll figure that out in revision.

Short and sweet section, only 655 words, but high action.

Snippet:

The front of his shirt moved and wiggled like a rat had crawled down his collar.  He screamed louder, higher, and the pulsing mass rose sharply from his chest.  Firecrackers went off and a bucket of hot, thick fluid splashed her face. 

Gagging, she wiped her eyes and spat, trying to get the thick, foul stuff out of her mouth.

It tasted…

Her brain chittered like a birdcage of frantic, fluttering birds.

With horrible fascination, she turned and watched the lump float into the creature’s hand.

Throbbing so hard it jerked and fought the creature’s grip, the hunk of meat still squirted red from dangling veins.

A yawning pit of darkness opened beneath her feet, and this time, Tara flung herself into oblivion gladly.  I don’t want to be conscious when it takes my heart.

Revision Xibalba

Modest progress today.  I didn’t finish all of the new scenes as I’d hoped, but I’m pleased with the 2,225 words I managed to work out.  All Dallas threads have converged and the big showdown is iminent.  According to my spreadsheet, I only have one more new scene to write, but I think I’ll need 2.  I hope that’s it.  I’m really not sure what happens other than a vague “bad guy arrives and all hell breaks loose” sort of note to myself.

I made a note about needing to research flamethrowers.  Ah, I love this writing gig.  When else would I get to find out what kind of gas is used, if it’s pressurized, and whether it’s feasible to have one as small as a foot-long steel pipe?  If one doesn’t exist, I need enough details to show the possibility of one as a “secret” R&D sort of government weapon.

I have a few static traits that I thought I’d use — but they haven’t proven important yet.  I’m hoping they will magically unfold in these final pages.  If not, I’ll either have to axe those traits or tweak my plot until it’s tight and seamless.  Quinn might be using a flamethrower, but Tara’s only weapon is an expensive ink pen and she’s severely handicapped by fainting at the sight of blood.  Still, I know in a deep gut sort of way that she’s going to play a huge role in the final scene(s).

Plan tomorrow:  get the monsters off to school and drive up to Kaldi’s, the coffee shop I used in November, where assuming I end up with an outlet, I’ll write until I finish the new scenes. 

Snippet:

Mr. Linkyn slammed his fist down on the table between them so loudly she jumped.  “No cross-reference, no boring details, we don’t have the time.  Use this one.”

He pointed to a symbol which she’d identified as Ix Chel.  Dr. Tennant had said she was the rainbow goddess of fertility and medicine.  That didn’t sound so bad.

“We need two,” she said slowly.  “We can’t–”

“You know which one,” Mr. Linkyn growled out. 

Larry started to tremble but he nodded.  Meeting her gaze, he whispered, “All we need is a little blood.”

Revision Xibalba

Oh, dear, it’s been so long since I worked on this project that I forgot my own characters’ names!  Not the major characters, obviously, and this story does have quite a large cast (with three major POV threads), but still, that’s not a good sign.

I decided to start by refreshing my memory (since it was so poor!) and tracked both subplot threads from start to finish as far as I’d written.  Or so I thought — I got ready to start the next section and realized I’d written another one, but couldn’t find it.  Doh!  Found it — I’d forgotten to put it in the main draft.  Of course I had to edit it, too, and then edited a few other things, one thing leading to another…

Finally, I sat down with the next scene solid in my mind, but the words came slooooowly.  Partly because I’m sick–AGAIN–Princess Monster shared her crud with me.  It took much longer than I care to admit, but I finally got that first draft section finished. 

Only 3 more to go, then I’ll have a complete “first draft” and can piece the new sections into the revision as I edit the rest.  I think that’ll keep me from stalling each time I move from “revision” to “new” sections.

This stop and start, stop and start, and problems with my organization (or lack thereof), have really caused this manuscript’s revision to be more painful than it should have been.  It ranks as the toughest revision I’ve ever done, and sadly, it’ll probably need another pass before I can submit.  The opening page(s) still need some work.  I’m not happy with them yet.

Those Genre Fences

I did some soul searching with my accountability partner, Jenna, and I think I finally realize why I can’t get any momentum built up on the Maya story.

I can’t decide what genre the story should be in.

You might be asking, how on earth could you have written 70+K in a story and you don’t know what genre it’s in?  I find myself asking that same question. *wg*  It comes back to Romancelandia, the tall white-picket fence I tend to sit on, and which side I think this story’s going to jump down to become.

I’ll always write a “romantic” thread, sometimes smoldering and boundary-pushing, but other times, quiet and gentle.  In the first draft of the Maya story, I tried to make the romance smoldering, and it came out forced.  I *despise* forced.  I’ve toned things down considerably so it is more natural.

It’s not a traditional romance “thou shalt have hero and heroine met on page one” kind of story.  In this second major draft, a lot of plot is going on around and in the main story line.  The hero and heroine don’t even get on page together until around the 86th page.  The focus of the story is NOT them getting together.    They don’t even have relations *cough* until after the 200 page mark, and then just the one time, a feat for me.  (I dare you to go count the sex scenes in Rose, say, or Beautiful Death, or even Survive My Fire, a mere 20K!)  The romance is much less “in your face” than I would typically write, but I didn’t do it deliberately — it just happened as I worked through this draft.

Now the ending…it’s so crucial.  I have two paths.  The path I know is “romance.”  The path I don’t know is “not.”  I don’t want to take the easy path, whichever way that is.  Part of me says take the path less traveled, explore that new way, but then I wonder:  is this just me wanting to kick the genre fences down?  I do get that way sometimes (while according to the Chinese horoscope I’m a dog, I feel a lot of empathy for horses which don’t like to be penned in stalls).  I don’t want to make a choice just to be obstinant, n0r do I want to play safe.

I think the more compelling ending would be the non-romance path with a cliffhanger.  It would lend extreme urgency to the next book (although I have no idea what that plot might be).  Yet is that the *right* thing to do?

I have to make a decision.  Today.  Because I have two days off next week and I’m going to bust my metaphorical balls to finish this revision before I go back to the Evil Day Job on Wed.

Opinions?  Discussions?  Would you rather see a “happy ever after” or “cliff hanger” type ending?

2/9/2009

A most excellent day of revision.  Dark & Early this morning, and then quite a bit tonight, despite parent-teacher conferences for Princess Monster.  She also conned me into reading a book she checked out from the school library that had me bawling like a baby.  Wenny Has Wings by Janet Lee Carey.  I don’t know how any parent could read that book and not cry.

4,382 in revision.  I told you it would be bam, bam, bam action from here on out, which means a lot of these sections should fly.  I do have a few research holes to plug as I go, especially once we get to Iximche.  Luckily there’s not a lot known about that ruin, so I can make up a lot.

No work on 7Crows today.  That deadline is looking pretty impossible.

Snippet:

A demon howled, a cry of derision or glee that skittered down [Ruin’s] spine.  His sense of time told him it should be high noon, but no sunlight reached the waters.  Clouds roiled in the small circle of sky, darkening the sun.  If he failed, if he allowed a demon to reclaim the White Dagger for the might of Xibalba, the sun might never shine again. 

Yet dread at what he needed to do twisted his gut.  What he needed from her now might be the final thing that drove her to turn her face and heart from him forever.

Terrified but calm, she smiled with relief as soon as he joined her.  “Where are we going?”

Solemnly, he traced the curve of her cheek with his thumb.  “Do you trust me?”

She stared at him, her chin trembling slightly. 

“Priest!”  The demon screamed above.  “Surrender the White Dagger, or I’ll slice the woman’s skin from her body in thin strips and feast on her flesh!”

She paled and her pulse thumped in her neck.  Staring at him, she weighed his many sins against the night they’d spent together. 

Carefully, he kept his mind closed and his face shut down.  He would not accidentally use the mental connection he’d forged through healing to sway her.  Steeling himself, he prepared to make the most difficult sacrifice of his life.  His heart rebelled.  A knife cracked open his chest and exposed his frantically pounding heart. 

How could he leave her to a fate worse than death?  Did he dare force her?  His mind and heart raged at one another in the everlasting battle he could never seem to escape.  This was his true curse, this desire to throw all caution away for his heart. 

For his love.

“I would die to save you,” he whispered raggedly.  “I love you.”

She trembled.  “You barely know me.”

“I know your heart.  I touched your soul when I healed you.  I love you like no one else could.  I cannot harm you, Jaid.  Trust me.  Let me save us.  I’ll pay the cost myself.”

A splash told him the demon had jumped into the cenote, willing to risk that he’d send it back to Xibalba in order to gain the greatest prize of all. 

Ruin clenched his hands into fists.  Choose, choose, he screamed silently.  Don’t make me force this choice upon you.

2/8/2009

Last week’s goals:

 

  1. Take a look at my NSR day sheet and decide if I’m going to keep Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV or not.  I axed his POV for now; if nothing else, I’ll use these sections as “DVD extras” to give away.  I also found a way to resolve the other character’s thread that I believe will allow him to be on stage in Dallas after all.  I’m really looking forward to the way these characters will interact. 
  2. NSR:  at least another 10K in revision.  Close:  9,017 in revision.  The dreaded sex scene took longer than I anticipated.  In the first draft, I was trying for a sexy book.  After plotting these other threads and complicating the overall plot significantly, the romance is a much more minor angle.  It’s well over 200 pages into the story before Ruin and Jaid get together, which is fine.  However, the culmination of that thread just didn’t fit at all with the revision.  Frankly, it was pretty bad, one of the worst sex scenes I think I’ve ever written. :oops:  Have no fear, though, it’s much better now!  Shockingly, I think it’ll be the only intimate scene in the book.  I just don’t have time or opportunity to throw them together in a place of safety again.  From this point out, it’s bam bam bam action.  No time for nookie!
  3. Plot 7Crows.  Finished.  I have a pretty good block figured out.
  4. Begin first draft of 7Crows.  Sort of started.  I have several pages of hand written notes.  I’m oddly reluctant to begin this story.  I think I’m a little afraid of it.  If I don’t get a good start on it this week, it’ll be too late to even consider finishing the story in time.  I’ll simply set it aside and concentrate fully on the Maya story.  Once it’s done, I’ll have plenty of time to come back to the novella — I’ll just have to decide what to do with it if I miss the deadline!

Goals this week:

  1. Write up Character Clinic posts in advance so I’m not all stressed out this weekend.  I want at least 3 posts set up and ready to go.
  2. Another 10K in Maya revision. 
  3. Make final decision about whether to try for 7Crows this month or not.

I didn’t get quite as much done this week — mostly because of the good news I shared on Friday.  Ironically, good news can derail me as easily as bad news.  I was stressed out about questions and working out a possible relationship with an agent.  The latter didn’t pan out, but I was closer than ever, which makes me very happy.

Friday night, we had an unexpected get-together with That Man’s family.  We ended up shopping for a sheet (not a sheet SET which would have been much easier!) with his mother at JCPenney’s after dinner.  Standing around visiting, and bored, I might add, I didn’t realize that Middle Monster decided to race straight at me from behind and plow into me full speed.  It was like whiplash–in my lower back.  Ironically enough, the one time I was on muscle relaxers for a strained back, I had hurt myself manuevering her infant seat (fully loaded with MM herself!) into the back seat of the car. 

It’s not all that bad, yet, but I definitely feel like I’m wearing a very low-slung belt around my hip area, and after long periods of sitting (aka church this morning) that belt gets tighter and tighter.  I may have to use the heating pad to get through work tomorrow.

Tonight I wrote a quite long scene in Quinn’s POV that I didn’t expect.  Yes, I have a detailed spreadsheet.  Yes, I plotted out the rest of the block.  I had “Team Update” in this spot, and as soon as I got his team together, they informed me that the serial murderer they’re tracking had struck again, this time on the outskirts of Dallas.  This prompted a lot of Googling until I decided on the appropriate location and did enough research to get the site details down.  Then of course I had to decide WHAT happened and why that was significant.  Took me all day off and on (while we watched the NFL ProBowl, so I wasn’t fully dedicated) but I finally finished that scene.

Snippet:

“It’s getting stronger.”  Quinn’s stomach felt tight and small, clutched like a fist.  “It took time to play with them this time.”

“Why,” Ballard cleared his throat nervously, “do you say that?”

“Look at the broken vase, the disarray.  Someone came to the door, and then ran when the demon busted through.  We know how strong this thing is, how fast.  It could have killed whoever came to the door then, but instead, it played.  It enjoyed the chase.”

Sickened, Quinn led the way deeper into the house.  The first body was an older woman in the kitchen.  Her white apron looked like a gallon of ketchup had exploded on her.  Eyes wide open and staring up at the ceiling, she lay twisted on the Travertine tiles, chest flowered open as before, but…

“Where’s the blood?”  Dylan asked, his breath a loud pant in the room as he took another picture.  “There’s not a drop on the floor.”

The walls were pristine, the shining, polished cabinets clean.  The woman’s skin wasn’t slack and saggy as with the other victims.  Other than the mess of her chest, she could have simply slipped on a wet tile. 

“Did it gain some new power?”  Ballard asked.  “Or maybe it’s not as hungry.  Maybe all it needed was the heart.”

From the far end of the kitchen, Cruz stepped in and waved them toward her.  “Or maybe there were plenty of fresh, young victims waiting just on the other side of the door.”

2/4/2009

Dark and Early this morning, I accomplished the following:

  • went back and revised the last scene involving Tara and cut out the stuff that happened too early.  Rewrote the scene to fit with the day sheet.  NSR total word count down 266 words.
  • wrote next new section in Tara’s POV, 1199 words, the official “meet” of her thread with Quinn’s.  From now on, they’ll be working in conjunction.

Next scenes are the first sex scene of the first draft, and they’re pretty bad.  They’re going to need a ton of work.  Once I get past it, though, the next few scenes should fly.

Snippet:

[Ruin] muttered words [Jaid] didn’t understand and drew the blade across his left palm.

Fisting his hand, he dripped blood on the altar and then flung his hand hard, slinging blood out onto the waters below.

Breathlessly, she scanned the lake, waiting.  When her father had performed the ritual, he’d released an inland hurricane.  She glanced at Ruin as he put the knife away and then back at the lake.  “That’s it?”

His mouth quirked.  “When done correctly, yes.”  Stones clacked together.  He whipped his head around, staring down into the darkness of the plaza.  “They’re close.  We need to go.”

“Go where?”  Bewildered, she searched the still waters, the three volcanoes perfectly reflected.  Something tinged on the altar and chips of stone flew up, stinging her arm.

Ruin shoved her up the ramped stone, using his body to cover her.  “They’ve seen us.  Go!”

On the rock slab that hung out over the water, she felt her stomach pitch and her head whirled like a merry-go-round.  Shimmering waters beckoned, but it was quite a drop.  This lake was so deep that it’d never been sounded.  She remembered how her father had disappeared beneath the surface.  He hadn’t flailed or tried to swim; he’d sunk like a boulder. 

Shivering with fear, she reached back and clutched Ruin’s hand.  He wrapped his other arm around her, and together, they jumped.

NSR Block

Revision Xibalba has been going well the last few weeks.  Which is good.  Great!  Until I ran out of “Block” today.

NSR contains the most complex plot I’ve ever woven before.  Although the first draft is finished–so I know where the main story arc goes and ends–I’ve added two new POVs, each with its own sub-plot.  Those two sub-plots meet at the same time the main story arc reaches its climax.  Revision “Hell” has been appropriate, because I’ve got several concurrent threads to handle, in different parts of the world, but they have to MEET at the right time.  Some sections are finished in first draft.  Others I haven’t started.  Now as I work through the second major draft, some scenes have been edited and smoothed.  Others haven’t.

It’s been insane, challenging, and even though I may bitch about it, I’m loving every minute of it. 

I’ve used section “blocks” (like the one I created for 7 Crows last night) many times before, but this time, I needed more detail than ever.  I ended up using the “Day Sheet” idea talked about in Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days (which oddly, I’ve never used for first draft, but for major revisions!) and manipulating it into something useful for this project.

Today over lunch, my great achievement was going through the old first draft, my stack of notecards, my jotted notes, and finishing the Day Sheet, at least a first draft which can be used to complete the rest of the revision.  (Note:  I’m not a rigid writer.  This spreadsheet WILL change.  It gives me a guide to go by, but if in writing the section, I feel a break is needed or a different scene will flow better, I’ll do so, and then make the corresponding change to the table.)

At a glance, this is how much work I have left to finish.  Notes follow the table.

 

Day Scene POV Total POVs for Character Status Location Chapter Count Scene Title
3 PM 039 Tara 6 FD Dallas        Haunted
3 PM 040 Ruin 8 SD Lake Atitlan     My Last Sacrifice
3 PM 041 Jaid 22 SD Lake Atitlan     Everything has a Cost
3 PM 042 Quinn 6 FD Dallas     Bad Things, Amigo
3 PM 043 Ruin 9 SD Chi’Ch’ul     Price of Sacrifice
3 PM 044 Jaid 23 SD Chi’Ch’ul     Jaguar Kiss
3 PM 045 Jaid 24 SD Chi’Ch’ul     Through the Navel
3 PM 046 Tara 7 IP Venus Star     Nightmares Come Alive
3 PM 047 Ruin 10 FD Chich’en Itza     Low Reserves
3 PM 048 Jaid 25 FD Chich’en Itza     Everyone Dies
3 PM 029 Quinn 7 NS Dallas     Team Update
4 AM 050 Ruin 11 FD Chich’en Itza     Cost of Magic
4 AM 051 Jaid 26 FD Chich’en Itza     Hidden Dagger
4 AM 052 Ruin 12 FD Chich’en Itza     Blood Keyed
4 AM 053 Jaid 27 FD Chich’en Itza     Drowning in Blood
4 AM 054 Tara 8 NS Venus Star     Save a Life
4 PM 055 Jaid  28 FD Iximche     Doomed
4 PM 056 Jaid 29 FD Iximche     Translation Under Duress
4 PM 057 Ruin 13 FD Iximche     Heart’s Duty
4 PM 058 Quinn 8 NS Dallas     Hospital Visit
4 PM 059 Jaid 30 FD Iximche     Iximche Key
4 PM 060 Jaid 31 FD Iximche     Desperate Bargain
4 PM 061 Jaid 32 FD Iximche     To Xibalba
4 PM 062 Tara 9 NS Venus Star     Venus Star Showdown
4 PM 063 Ruin 14 FD Iximche     Butterfly’s Devastation
4 PM 064 Jaid  33 FD Iximche     The Caged Heart
4 PM 065 Ruin 15 FD Iximche     My Heart is Yours
4 PM 066 Quinn 9 NS Venus Star     The Dallas Gate
4 PM 067 Jaid 34 FD Iximche     The Final Death
4 PM 068 Jaid 35 FD Iximche     Broken
4 PM 069 Ruin 16 FD Iximche     Home
4 PM 070 Jaid 36 FD Iximche     Closed and Locked
4 PM 071 T/Q 10 NS Venus Star     Tie Up
4 PM 072 Jaid 37 FD Iximche     Tie Up

 

Notes:

  • Color coding is important for me.  I can see at a glance if the POVs make a pleasing tapestry of Story.  Usually the color means something specific to a character, or invokes a “feeling” in me about the character. 
  • I ended up not using the chapter and word count columns after I got knee-deep in revision.  I’ll leave them off next time.
  • The day column isn’t specific.  e.g. 3 PM means the 3rd day, sometime after noon and before midnight.  When I finish this draft, I intend to go back through and read for time incongruences only.  e.g. I can’t have Tara do something in the morning, and then switch the scene and it’s night in Guatemala, and then go back to Dallas and it’s noon.  This isn’t science fiction!
  • I pick section titles that should immediately invoke the details of the section, but the day sheet alone isn’t enough of an “outline” for me, if very much time elaspes.  E.g. I have notecards for each section with details and thoughts jotted down, and every time I *don’t* write something down because I think I’ll remember it, I end up kicking myself.
  • Status = FD (first draft complete), SD (second draft with editing/smoothing complete), IP (in progress), NS (not started).
  • I backtracked to the scene in red at the top because it needs a rather major revision after I finished the rest of the block today.  I have something happening too early there and it needs to be removed.

Have you ever done or needed something this complex before?  Or am I simply making it too hard on myself?  :mrgreen:

01/27/2009

And great rejoicing was heard all across the land! 

At least here in the house when I *finally* finished the scene from Xibalba.  Gah.  I think those were the hardest 1,158 words in the entire story, and I still have no idea why.  Maybe it’s because this scene acts as a wheel hub.  It brings in one new sub-thread that wasn’t there before, and must spin it into something new with the old thread that’s still there.

In the end, it was like making gold from hay. 

Anyway, moving on, the next scene is existing and only required editing, with some shifting around of chess pieces on the board.  The last line in that scene is a killer, and new, so I’m rather pleased with it.

  1. A whopping 602 words to finish off that new scene.  FINALLY!
  2. Revisions to 1,230 words.  I’d better pick up the pace in a hurry–I’m waaay behind for the week.
  3. Still need to write up something for the blog tour on 1/31.  I wrote a poem but it was stupid.  Need more thinking.

Snippet:

“Where is [the White Dagger]?”

Ruin shook his head mutely. 

She cupped his cheek, her fingers gentle on his face, and she might as well have reached her hand into his chest and stroked his heart.  His gaze locked on her smooth, dark cacao eyes.  “You can trust me with this knowledge.”

Could he?  Staring into her eyes, he wanted to trust her.  Every bone in his body ached to believe in her. 

Jaid nibbled her lip in thought, her hand still on his face, and every muscle in his body tightened with longing, shocking him.  He had not felt such fierce desire for a woman since…

Since his brother had wed the woman he loved, forcing Ruin to watch her as the powerful but unloved Queen until she died in childbirth.

Jaid’s muscles tensed sharply, and then she relaxed so fully she leaned against him as though her knees couldn’t hold her weight.  Her eyes met his and he saw the knowledge gleaming in those depths.  Ah, what a delight this woman proved to be when she contemplated a puzzle.  Gently, he placed his finger across her lips and willed his eyes to speak.

Don’t say it.  Then I won’t have to silence you.

01/21/2009

Not as much accomplished today, but hopefully I’m on the road to recovery!

  • 1081 words in new NSR scene.
  • Long-winded “synopsis” of last half of the book to May for her opinion on “coincidence” or “believable.”  Tentatively, we think this all works, but boy oh boy is it complicated.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to backtrack to fix a time discrepancy!
  • 7Crows: Thought some more the heroine’s goals, fears, and masks, and I think she’s as solid as I can make her.  Did some brainstorming/clustering on her. 
  • 7Crows:  I also started jotting down key phrases and ideas for scenes as they came to me, very loose and brainstorm-ish too.  I have 21 “titles” in no particular order that may or may not end up as official sections.  e.g. Gathering Crows; At the Queen’s Right Hand; God Save the Queen; As the Crow Flies; Wings on Fire.  No, I have no idea what all these mean, exactly.  I just know they’re cool, intriguing, and mean something.  Next goal is to figure out what.

Snippet:  This is from the new section this morning where all the threads begin to converge–and tangle up into that big honking mess.  I like Quinn a lot, though.  Yeah, I know I say that about all my characters, but he’s really turning into an interesting character who’s NEW to this draft.  I’m glad I found him.  He’s on the phone with an old “buddy” from college, with his friend Iago of the Mexican Garza cartel and Dr. Tennant, professor of anthropology, SMU, Dallas, present.  They’re all getting ready to brainstorm what the heck is killing a path across Texas when Quinn’s phone rings.

At the sound of the smooth, good-old boy voice he recognized from college, Quinn suddenly regretted answering the phone.  “Davis!  Last I heard you were working for the Governor’s Office.”

“That’s exactly why I’m calling.  Governor Wyman has a very delicate request.”

“Look, I want to be totally honest with you,” as much as it pains me, he didn’t say out loud.  “I’m not exactly on good terms with the FBI right now.”

“What, you?”  Davis laughed.  “Everything-by-the-book Salazar?  I don’t believe it.”

Quinn fisted his right hand.  God help him, he’d love to punch the jerk just once on that perfect aristocratic nose and watch him wail and splutter like a little girl.  “Let’s just say I’m laying low right now.  If you have a special request from the Governor, I recommend you call SAIC Trudale.”

“Actually, I need you.  I was going to ask for a very specific favor because of our prior…”

Competition?  Silent hatred?

“Friendship.”  Davis paused, as if he, too, was remembering their on-and-off again camaraderie through the years at SMU.  They were both driven to succeed and from opposite sides of the track.  One of them, though, was more than willing to get his lily-white hands dirty if it meant he’d climb the ladder all the faster.  “I’m not making an official request.”

“I see.”  Quinn rubbed his eyes.  The last thing he needed in the middle of this bizarre serial killer case was to babysit some pet project for the Governor.  She had the reputation of a rabid pit bull once she set her mind–and teeth–on something.  As long as it’s not my ass she sinks her teeth into.  “What’s the problem?”

“Governor Wyman’s granddaughter is in trouble, but she wants it entirely kept out of the news and off the system.”

Of course she does.  Quinn barely repressed a long, heavy sigh.  If he were a betting man, he’d place a twenty that the spoiled little granddaughter had been arrested for drunk driving or something equally careless and foolhardy.  “What’s the charge?”

“Excuse me?  Oh, no, it’s not like that.  She’s not in trouble with the law.  At least, not in the States.  She went to Guatemala to help her father on an archeological dig earlier this week, and then sent an SOS text message to the Governor’s Office less than fifteen minutes ago.”

Quinn raised his gaze to his friend’s.  His heart beat heavy, slow, as though he could count to a million in between each thud.  “What’s her name?”

“Dr. Jaid Merritt.”

Quinn turned his attention to Dr. Tennant.  “Does the name Dr. Merritt mean anything to you?”

His old professor’s eyes lit up and he nodded frantically.  “She’s arguably the youngest and brightest epigrapher today and has translated hundreds if not thousands of Maya glyphs.  Tara asked me about some of those same translations this morning.”

Bingo.