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 We’d survived 9/11 and my technical airline story was so out of date, I had to start over.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.
The 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."
"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."
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Fall in Love Under . . . Texas Skies