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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Process to “The End”

First, I’m so excited to be a part of this lovely and talented group of authors and to be included in posting on this fun blog. 2013 has been a great adventure for me.


These are possibly the most important words an author can write on a page. They’re definitely the most fun. How do I know this? Because I just typed them on the last page of my romantic suspense manuscript, Code of Honor.

Every author has their own way to develop their story. We all plot, it’s how we plot that is the choice du jour. I have friends who outline to the point of writing the story in that outline, then embellish until the story is complete. Others are what people these days call Pantsers. These writers sit down to a blank page with a basic idea and go from there. After years of trying to outline and getting nowhere, I discovered I write the other way. Yes folks, I fly better by the seat of my pants.

I’ve been writing this little story of mine for a number of years, about seventeen to be more exact. I started out with my heroine, Maggie, as an art instructor tired of being put down by men, and with a working title of, Next Time Around. After learning a smidge more about writing, the plot became more involved with Maggie as a Registered Nurse, losing her husband in a plane crash and trying to prove him innocent of pilot error charges. The title at this point was Texas Skies. An agent suggested a title change to Without a Doubt, and with that done, I completed the manuscript and sent it off to a publisher. That sucker nearly met itself in the mail it came back so quick! That was 1999.

I'd had other rejections, mind you, but, for some reason, I couldn't make myself get back on that horse. I was so bummed, I shoved it under the bed and didn’t pick up writing again until 2003. Guess what? We’d survived 9/11 and my technical airline story was so out of date, I had to start over. Writing, writing, day job, critiquing, writing, day job, yada, yada, yada. I got nowhere until 2012, when I discovered my local writing chapter, Yellow Rose RWA, and the most wonderful group of supportive, nurturing authors anyone could hope for.

One of our monthly speakers told of her particular way to write and, as I listened, I realized that’s me! When I sit down to the keyboard to write a chapter or scene, I may have an inkling where I want to go, but that’s it. The majority of the time I look like I’m staring into space, but I swear that’s when the characters drag me along to where they want to go.

Now that I’ve typed, The End, there is still a chunk of work to be done. After the critique, there are rewrites/edits, and off to my editor, then rewrites/edits. Finally then we will have publication in July 2013. At any rate, this has been the most fun and I’m ready to do it all again.

This is but a small snippet of what a writer goes through to type "The End". I hope you enjoyed my little corner.

Code of Honor - Texas Code Series - Book One - Copy smaller size for blogsThe following is a short blurb and an excerpt from my romantic suspense, Code of Honor.


Graeme McAlister’s determined to unearth the truth behind his foster brother’s implausible suicide, but when he sees his widowed sister-in-law will he be able to handle the biggest revelation of all?

After the death of her husband, Wyatt, Maggie Benning resolves to establish a successful and independent life for herself and her son, Andy. Can she overcome past hurt and loss of trust to accept a new love in her life?


Maggie held her breath and turned the key in the lock. The intense heat of the brass did little to warm her chilled fingers as she closed her hand around the door knob. She slowly exhaled and rested her forehead against the solid oak door.
            "You can do this," she muttered under her breath. "Just turn clockwise, push, and enter."
            This morning started out relatively normal for a Saturday. She and Dinah left at the same time but went their separate ways with Dinah promising to catch up with her here after lunch. First, she'd stopped by the hospital to speak with the administrator about getting her job back after being placed on suspension during an investigation into missing Morphine. Then, she'd gone by the bank to withdraw the last of her savings. Oh, and last, move back into the home she'd shared with Wyatt, until his death.
Normal? Who was she kidding?
            She focused on her breathing to slow the anxiety that threatened to overtake her, when her hand froze on the brass knob. Weird, since it was the middle of August in Texas and more than a hundred degrees here on the porch. She shivered slightly in spite of this knowledge, fighting for control. You're stronger than this.
After what seemed like an eternity, her world slowly righted itself, her tingling fingers fell away from the doorknob, and she slowly lowered herself to the porch floor. Covering her eyes with both hands, she massaged her temple and a sudden stabbing pain that felt like roughnecks drilling for oil. The sound of boots scraping on the steps diverted her attention away from the headache and she stiffened.
She'd come here today, in particular, because she thought she'd draw less of a crowd. The ranch hands were supposed to be out rounding up cattle in the north pastures. Bridey had mentioned she and Andrew had plans in Dallas for the day. The task before her was hard enough. She surely didn't need an audience.
             "Hey, Maggie, are you okay?" Graeme rested one hand on her shoulder, while lifting her chin with the other. He looked deep into her eyes with concern.
             The silence hung between them for a few seconds, but she answered him before he asked again, "Yes, I'm fine. Must be the heat getting to me." He cupped his hand under her elbow helping her to stand.
            "Yeah, it's a scorcher." He led her over to the porch swing. Sitting beside her, he took her hand and gave her one of his trademark smiles that, if she were to venture a guess, made most women weak in the knees. Years ago, she'd been affected, too. But, she'd become immune to the abundant charms the men in this family possessed in spades.
"Wow, two days in a row, I can usually hold it together better than this," Maggie said, embarrassed. Uncomfortable, she removed her hand from his and tried to deflect his attention. "Looks like I'm not the only crazy one. What in heaven's name are you doing walking around out here?"
"First off, I didn't walk, I rode." He pointed toward the horse nibbling on the dry grass by the iron fence. "Second, Junebug sent me up here to check on the old place. I think he wanted me out from under foot."
"Yeah, he never did want any of us hanging around." This was one of the things she'd thought about when she decided to move back out here. There was no privacy. Be it Junebug or Graeme, or the entire Benning family, she had to take control of her situation and the sooner the better.
Standing, Maggie said quickly, "I really need to go on in the house. I have to get ready for the moving truck that'll be here this afternoon. You can report back to Junebug that the house is fine. I'm sure you have other things to do today."
"No," Graeme said. "There's nothing else." He rested his forearms on his knees, laced his fingers together, and stared out into the small yard.
"Well, I have a list a mile long and I…"
"Listen, Maggie, I know it's been hard for you, and I want to say I'm sorry."
His apology caught her off guard. Granted, a few months ago she'd been mad at him. Now she didn't have the energy, but he piqued her interest. "Just to be clear, what are you sorry for exactly?"
"For starters, not being here when you needed me after the funeral."
"A strong shoulder would've been nice." She walked to the door, faced him, and smiled sadly. "Truthfully, you have no clue how hard it's been for me, or how many times I wished you were here."  
"Maggie, I'm…"
"Never mind, Graeme, there's a reason we're both here now." She offered her hand to him and when he took hers in a handshake, she said, "Hi, I'm Maggie Benning and I just moved into the neighborhood."
He followed her lead. "Graeme McAlister. If you ever need anything, I'm just a phone call away."
Code of Honor will be available, July 2013. You'll probably hear my shouts of glee no matter where you live but, in case you don't, please check on my website or blog for the release date.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to leave a comment and your e-mail for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Carra Copelin
Fall in Love Under . . . Texas Skies


  1. I agree, each writer has their own method of getting to the end. Mine is more than just pantsing but no outlining. I call mine process stew and brew. ;) Sometimes there are some stories that just won't stay under the bed. This sounds like one that deserved to be fought" for. And it was joining an RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter that turned the aha light on for me and helped me grow as a writer.

    1. Paty, For the longest time, I thought I could wing it by myself. Rejoining my local chapter and finding this wonderful critique group helped to turn me around. I love the "stew and brew" for that's exactly what it is! I love your stories and look forward to your next one. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Carra, excellent choice of an excerpt. Loved this story and look forward to reading it from a paperback or ebook. Best wishes for the huge success you deserve.

    1. Caroline, you've been my #1 cheerleader. Thank you for your guidance in this process! See you soon.

  3. Carra, I'm so thrilled for your upcoming release. C.O.N.G.R.A.T.S! I have also struggled with the plotting process and am still fine-tuning. It took some time to realize my writing glides more smoothly when I focus on the characters instead of the plot. Thankfully, the plot seems to fall into place. The down-side of winging the plotting process (for me) is the length of time it takes to complete a book. Some of that is due to fiction being a 180 reversal from my usual non-fiction writing. The learning curve was treacherous and winding. I'm currently giving more focus to the plotting process while creating book #2. I was consuming too many Cheetos while "plotting" book #1!!!! Here's wishing you the greatest of success, my dear friend. All the best...

    1. Jude, Cheetos, peanuts, pretzels, M&Ms, toffee bars, etc. I know just what you mean. LOL I'm currently in the same size, but what size will the next book bring?? I should try one authors approach to writing, she has her writing station fixed atop her treadmill, but I swear I'd probably break my neck! I'd love to read your work. I enjoy your witty blog and facebook posts. Thanks for visiting today. "See" you soon!

  4. Great blog, Gloria. I love that story.


    1. Thank you, Geri. I appreciate your encouragement, prodding and generally keeping me in line. It can't be an easy task. ;)

  5. Nice excerpt and cover. Haven't read many books where the book includes "the end" at the end of the book.

    I follow via email

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. Hi, I haven't decided if I'll actually include "the end". I mainly did it for me and my husband. He'd been feeling pretty neglected, so I called him into the office and asked him to tell me what I just typed. His third guess was the obvious. It gave me a boost to write those two words. Perhaps I'll include it to be a little unique.(g) Thanks so much for stopping and commenting today.

  6. Congrats on your wonderful achievement after all these years, Cara, and for sharing your inspiring journey. I am very like you in the way I write.

    1. Beth, I'm finding out that I am not alone, but in a rather large group. I find that very comforting. It's very nice to meet you here on Smart Girls Read Romance and I'm looking forward to reading your work!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Just wanted to say "Hi, my name is Donna Wharton, I'm BookTiger, and I just moved into the neighborhood." Looks like a great book. I look forward to reading it. :D (would love to win the $10 gift card too)

  9. Welcome, Donna, to the neighborhood. Graeme and I are just a phone call or a mouse click away! ;) Thank you for stopping and commenting today. I'm excited you want to read Graeme and Maggie's story. Good luck in the drawing(remember your name will be in the running for the Kindle Fire HD drawing at the end of June).


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