Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Work In Progress!

by Andrea Downing

Last night I had a discussion over dinner as to what I was writing at the moment.  From that we were led into where I get my ideas, why I write about the west, why I write romance, and so on and so forth. If you’re an author and reading this, you’ve been there I’m sure. How do you name a character or find their names? How do you choose your setting? Do you have the entire story plotted out? Do you know the ending? The questions came at me faster than an outlaw on the run.
Well, I’m not going to answer those questions here if that’s what you’re thinking—unless of course you happen to put them in the comments section.  But I thought I’d give you a small taste of the opening of my WIP and see if anyone wishes to comment or critique it—all criticism gratefully received.  I’m also, purposefully, not giving you the working title since that can lead to all sorts of problems. So here we go:
Part One
Chapter One

The first thing Shiloh Coltrane thought, as he went flying through the glass of the The Painted Lady Saloon, was he was going to hurt like hell if he didn’t first bleed to death. The second thought that passed through his slightly foggy brain as he hit the iron bar, which served to protect the glass from kicking horse hooves not flying people, was this was going to cost him big-time and anger every man in town. And as he landed on the wooden boardwalk, rolling away from the possibility of further infliction from the tied horses, glass shattering and splintering around him, the vision that had descended the steps from the second floor flashed through his mind’s eye as if death was approaching and his entire life had come to this point.
Which in some vague way he was aware it had.
That woman. Soiled dove? Surely not. Too neat, prim, and fully clothed. So what was she doing there?
He lay for a moment as the boardwalk vibrated with a power not unlike an earthquake and voices grew like thunder moving in. A slight odor of manure wafted up, the prickle and sting of fractured glass, and a knowledge that any which way he moved, pain was inevitable—all became apparent.
Then, as the squeak of the saloon doors invaded his hearing, Bozy the bartender’s voice slammed into his brain: “That there glass come all the way from Pittsburgh, Coltrane. You know how much that gonna cost to replace? You know how I’m gonna have to cover up that there winda while we wait for a replacement? And the painting to be done? You know how much all that gonna cost? You! It’s gonna cost you!”
Shiloh felt the scrape of the glass fragments as he lifted his head gingerly and twisted to look Bozy in the eye. He’d removed his gloves earlier and in order to push himself up, the tenderness of bruises just now becoming evident, he knew he’d have to risk some of those splinters embedding themselves further into his skin. He pivoted on to his buttocks, now conscious something had stuck him in the behind, right through his jeans and union suit. He pulled his legs in, bent, and somehow managed to squat. His hands found and gripped the window’s iron bar behind him, and he pushed himself to his full height.
“You tell Ike to pay for that, Bozy. And tell him not to show his face in town or he’ll have two windows to pay for.”
“Ike’s not gonna pay nothing. He ain’t got two nickels to rub together. He’s already hightailed it outta here.”
“I see. So just because I have a ranch that actually sees a profit I’m supposed to pay on behalf of the dumb brute that just flung me through your window? Good luck with that.” He glanced around for his hat and spotted it clutched in the hands of one of the doves.
Without meeting his gaze, she held it out. Shiloh took it and nodded his thanks, dusted it down, more to see if he could get some glass splinters out of his hands than to get dust off the hat. He studied Bozy’s face, a mix of upset and anger, worry and thought.
“I’ll see what I can do about Ike.” Shiloh tried to keep his voice noncommittal.
“You gonna shoot him?”
“No, I’m not gonna shoot him. Damn fool.” His hands inadvertently slipped to his thighs but the discomfort stopped him from actually feeling for his Colts.
“Why’d you start that fight, then? You gotta chip on your shoulder big as all outdoors!”
“I didn’t start the fight. And I said I’d see what could be done.”
“You’re good with your hands, Coltrane. Usually. You can do the work.”
“I guess. Maybe. Let me know when the glass arrives.”
“Well, what the hell happened there anyway?”
The crowd drew a little closer and suddenly Shiloh felt the air sucked from his lungs. He wanted to get out, get home, get the glass picked out.
“I asked him where Parmeter was.”
It was as if the ring of onlookers moved as one person and took two steps back.
“Yeah. You remember Parmeter? My sister’s husband?”
“You been askin’ ’bout Parmeter ever since you come back. Give it up, why don’t you?”
A chatter punctuated by snorts and sly looks met this statement.
“I’m not giving up ’til I find out who killed my sister and where Parmeter’s gone. And I hadn’t asked Ike before.”
Bozy shook his head. “Looks like he don’t know nothing ’bout Parmeter from where I stand.” He seemed to think a moment. “You best be gettin’ on over to that new doc’s.”
“What new doc’s? Since when do we have a doctor?”
Bozy’s mouth puckered and moved like he didn’t want to swallow something awful in his mouth. “A few weeks back. Only temporary I’d think. Lives up near the fort, treats the Indians at the agency, comes down here once a week. Sees folks over in the storeroom of the mercantile. Name’s Sydney Cantrell.”

© Andrea Downing

And if you need some good reading to keep you occupied while I continue to work on that, maybe my Lawless Love would fit the bill.  It’s available in both eBook and Audible.  See

Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.
Marshal Dylan J. Kane is a man who considers everything as black and white, right or wrong. He's never seen life any other way until he sets eyes on Lacey. Suddenly the straight and narrow that he's followed has a few twists and turns. Loving Lacey offers the home life for which he hankers...but can he really love a woman who seems to be plain lawless? 

Lacey thought of fluttering her eyelashes, but it was such a silly thing to do. How could women act like that? She just looked up at the marshal and waited, the possibilities turning over in her mind, flitting through her head but never settling.
     “You wanna tell me what really happened now so we can try to sort this matter? All I can do is promise I’ll do everything in my power to sort it for you, but I cain’t help you less’n you tell the truth. You tell me lies and make me look a dang fool, there’s nothin’ I can do. You understand that?”
     Along with the tiniest nod, she clasped her hands together. She looked up at Dylan Kane and saw kindness in that face, a face she could so easily have loved had things been different. She could sense the heat radiating from his body and knew if she touched his chest, a strength would exist where his heart beat. If she ran her hand down his arms, she would find that same strength in his muscle. How she wanted those arms around her! All her life, it seemed, she had looked after herself, cared for her brother, struggled to make a home for the two of them. What would it have been like if Morgan had not...
     “Lacey?” Dylan’s soft voice brought her back from her reveries. “You ready to tell the truth?” With one gentle finger, he lifted her chin so their gazes met for a moment before they each stepped back from the brink of something neither could control. “Lacey?” he repeated.
     “Yes, I’m ready.”



Julie Lence said...

Love this Andrea! Thank you for sharing part of you WIP. Hugs!

Andrea Downing said...

Your very welcome, Julie. Thanks for your kind comment.

Anonymous said...

Andrea, LOVE IT! I'm right in the hero's head from the first word, feeling what he's feeling. And I'm intrigued by what's going on in the background. An excellent start, I'd say.

One suggestion for a slight tweak: In this line, near the beginning: this was going to cost him big-time and anger every man in town-- I'd change "anger" to "rile up", just for the vernacular.

Thanks for letting us read!

Andrea Downing said...

Laura, thanks so much for the comment. Great suggestion. I like the word 'rile' but I have to admit I've never seen it used with 'up'?

Barbara Bettis said...

Wow! How exciting. And I want to know what happened to parmeter too!! and who the primly dressed lady in the saloon is :) Looking forward to more!

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

Love this!!!! You got me right at the first sentence. The details, the hero, your voice--perfection. Already it's sounding like a unique story. It's fun to see an author's work in progress. The first page of the first chapter is so important, and you nailed it.

Andrea Downing said...

Ah, Parmeter, not to mention the primly dressed lady. All will be revealed, Barb! Thanks.

Andrea Downing said...

Thanks Patti, that's quite a compliment coming from a fellow author. I only hope the rest of the book lives up to it.

Kristy McCaffrey said...

It's a great opening, Andi! Really grabs the reader.

Andrea Downing said...

Thanks Kristy. Glad you like it!

Elizabeth Clements said...

You packed a lot of information into that short piece. Great beginning. I lovre stories that open with action and you nailed it. One thought that ran through my mind is somehow make shorter sentences for this action beginning. JMHO. And the thought that crossed my mind....what if that prim, fully-dressed woman is the new temporary doc in town? She could have a man's name. I mean what a scene, her picking bits of glass out of his bare buttocks

Andrea Downing said...

Thank you Elizabeth for those comments--I'll definitely look into the length of sentences. As for the next scene in the doctor's office, well, I think I'll leave it for now for you to eventually (I hope) discover whether you are right on track. :-)