When Your Fetal Book Starts to Kick

Since mid-June, I’ve been earnestly at work on the third Dakota Stevens mystery novel, but it wasn’t until last week that I felt the fetus that is the new book begin to kick.


Baby getting started as a writer on an L.C. Smith Corona.

I’ve heard mothers, some of them friends of mine, describe the thrill of feeling the gestating baby kick for the first time. Many of them have told me that as soon as that happens, the fact that they’re bringing another life into the world becomes very real for them.

The literary equivalent of a baby kicking in its mother’s womb is when a writer is in the middle of a second or subsequent draft of a work, and the writer is startled by something that comes out on the page. By startled I don’t mean that what comes out is necessarily shocking, but it’s surprising in some way. The characters do something unexpected. A scene the writer hadn’t imagined before suddenly unfolds in front of him. Or a line in the narration or in the dialogue knocks the writer on her heels and makes her say, “Damn…this is really becoming a book.”

Over the past two months, I’ve had several of these moments, but a few stand out as true surprises that made me laugh or smile inwardly in aesthetic pleasure.

Mind you, some of these lines might not affect you the way they have me, but that’s because I’m the one carrying this baby, not you. :)

Following are just a few of these moments from Dakota 3. (By the way, I had a title for the new novel but didn’t like it, so I’m working on a new one.) I hope you enjoy these little kicks as much as I have.

And don’t worry—there are a lot more where these came from.



To borrow from the old James Bond movie poster tagline, “Dakota and Svetlana will soon be back, and better than ever!”

From the New Dakota Stevens Mystery Novel by Chris Orcutt:

In all, since our last case a couple of months ago, Svetlana had managed to win four chess tournaments and write a second chess book. Meanwhile, I hadn’t even dropped off my dry-cleaning yet.

A pair of Italian men in their 20s who could have been models for Armani walked in wearing belted black leather coats and ribbed black turtlenecks. They had that fashionably unshaven look and enough styling product in their hair to be a fire hazard.

For a fat guy, he moved lightly and fast, and before I could react he got off a decent punch. It only grazed my ribs, but it still felt as if I’d been hit by an 80 mph fastball. In reply I thrust from my legs and put a hard convincer into his gut—a blow that would have buckled a smaller man and heaved him off the ground—but in this case my fist felt as though it was sucked into Swedish memory foam.

Sherilyn was that rarest of redheads—a wavy auburn red—and all it took was one toss, one quiver, of that hair to make me shove Reason into an oncoming bus.

From the moment my headlights swung into a rutted gravel parking lot and raked across a building with faded clapboard siding, I knew the kind of restaurant we were in for: the kind that serves dispirited coffee in brown, hourglass-shaped mugs and that spells plurals on the menu using apostrophes (e.g., “burger’s”). Regrettably, I was right on both counts.

A young woman sat at a barstool behind the desk. She had butter blonde hair pulled back in a smart updo, and the sheen of it was almost blinding. In contrast to the hair—as if she were deliberately “de-prettyifying” herself—she wore large black-framed glasses. I think the look was called “hipster,” and I didn’t care for it.

The two Asians sat bolt upright in separate double beds. They wore nothing but tighty-whities and were eating Kentucky Fried Chicken from buckets between their legs. Their hands froze with drumsticks on the way to their mouths, and they gaped at me as I held the gun on them.


I hope you enjoyed these baby kicks, these “previews” of the new novel. I plan to release the novel this Christmas, and it will be available for pre-order in late November. Please check back here for updates. Thank you for visiting.


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By Chris Orcutt

Writer — The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, Short fiction, Plays — Editor & Speechwriter for Hire — Avid Golfer, Chess Player & Awesome Wood-Splitter — Twitter: @chrisorcutt

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