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Writing Wednesday: Last Day

Today is the kids’ last day of school. And they actually only have half a day. I’m not quite sure what summer vacation will mean for my productivity, but I’m hoping to still have some. The kids are pretty independent so it may not change too much, though I’m sure it will slow down a little when I don’t have the house to myself.

Neighborhood ducks came to visit

It’s been a pretty good first half of the week, though it didn’t start great. Sunday night something was bothering my stomach, and I ended up skipping dinner. Woke up Monday morning around 1 or so and couldn’t get back to sleep. Still wasn’t feeling great, but thought that also might be because I hadn’t eaten anything in over 12 hours. So, I had some crackers with my coffee and that seemed to settle my stomach, though I did feel off most of the day. Still, I got stuff done. May be a good thing that I’d already planned to focus on plotting for the day. Tuesday I felt back to normal, and it was a really good writing day.

I’ve basically been writing along with the JuNoWriMo sprints over on Twitter. Using the times between them to get some other stuff done. Well, except for yesterday. There were several hours in the morning when no sprints were happening. And I got basically everything else done, so I wrote even without any sprints. But, this seems to be working. At least for this month(since you know, no more junowrimo in July). 😉

Got my revision board for In the Moonlight all set up.

But, now it’s Wednesday(Ha! tricked you!-as my son likes to say-I’m actually writing this Tuesday night), so it’s time to share another snippet with you. I’m working on By the Gun today, so I’ve got a snippet from that(not sure I’ve shared from this one before). This is a western I first started writing maybe 15 years ago(maybe not quite that long, but probably close). I’ve had some trouble getting this story to come together, but I think I just need to keep reminding myself, it is not a romance, so it’s not going to follow the same path mine usually do. That seems to be working for now. Anyway, today I have 7 paragraphs(simple math, just going with today’s date). Luke, his oldest son, and his brother-in-law and some other men(only Luke & the brother-in-law are in this scene) are driving cattle to the railroad. Both of the men woke up in the night and are talking about what is keeping them up.

Luke winced a little at the reminder. He’d been lucky Varick’s bullets hadn’t ended him. He’d remained on his feet at the end of the battle, but the loss of blood had put him down for a few days. He’d kept infection at bay by some miracle, though and had recovered. By the time he’d gotten on his feet again, Varick’s son had left town searching for him. He’d spent a few more weeks recovering at Diego’s ranch before heading back to his own.
That was when he’d put his guns away and started living simply as a rancher. He was afraid not too many more of those days were ahead of him.
“He’s dead,” Luke said, not completely sure if he was reminding himself or Diego more. “No matter how much he haunts me, he can’t hurt me or those I love.”
“His son is not. He’s still out there somewhere. And no matter that more than seventeen years have passed, he’ll still want your blood.”
Luke knew all that. He didn’t need Diego reminding him. “He hasn’t found me in all this time. I find it hard to believe he would now.”
“Unless that neighbor of yours starts spreading word the gunfighter, Lucas Riordan Tierney is hidden away up in Acoma. They will come out of the woodwork, hermano.”
Maybe that’s what was really haunting him. The fact that his past was coming back and his family may very well be in its cross-hairs.

Just how prophetic will that thought be? That’s what I’m writing now, and let’s just say, it’s very disturbing being in the antagonist’s head.

Now, on to this week’s progress so far:

Plotting:

  • High on Your LoveBack stories, Plot summaries, Story Toolkit, Outline – Got Morgan’s(1084 words), Anna’s(1037 words) & Kacy’s(727 words) typed up. Wrote plot summaries.
  • Jayla & CarisaPlot summaries, Story Toolkit, Outline

Writing:

  • Heart of Christmas(BC Security #3.5) – Add 8000 words
  • Still Burning(Hunter Family #4) – Add 10000 words – 4429/10000 words, 2309 words this week
    • And just maybe it would take her mind off this clusterfuck of emotions she couldn’t seem to set straight.
  • Not Meant to Be(Gilbert, Co #6) – Add 10000 words or finish 1st draft – 3096/10000 words
  • By the Gun – Add 8000 words – 482/8000 words
  • Side Projects – Add 9000 words between them – 3070/9000 words, 1710 words this week
    • Midas’ Daughter – 347 words – Calla shook her head. That wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. “He doesn’t even like me. He barely looks at me.” *just keep telling yourself that, Calla 😉
    • Sean & Braeden – 354 words – He opened the door and stepped inside, getting ready to call out. But, he was stopped by the sound of a familiar voice coming from the front parlor. One he hadn’t heard much on in the last couple years. 😀
    • Mike & Fadil – 336 words – “You’ve been mooning,” Jaspar said. “Please tell me you at least got his number.” *nosy bosses 😉
    • Patrick & Sarah – 268 words – The boy wrinkled his nose. “I don’t think she likes him. He tries to tell her what she should do, with us and for a job.” He leaned closer to Patrick and lowered his voice. “I don’t like him either. He’s not nice like you.” *Aw, I’m loving writing Will as a young boy. 🙂
    • Dougal & Shae – 405 words – Donovan grinned and clapped him on the shoulder. “Good man. Can’t wait to see you there.” Oh, Donovan. Your sister is not going to thank you for this. Not yet, at least. 😉

Editing:

  • Stained Blood – beta edits – edited Chapter 1/26(counting the epilogue as a chapter of its own).
  • Flames of Renewal – CP edits – still waiting
  • In the MoonlightPre-revisions & Revisions – Mapped out 32/32 chapters & highlighted different plot lines, wrote out a scene list/timeline to figure out how crammed together the story is. Made up note cards for sections of revision to concentrate on & pinned them to my board. Ready to start actual revisions now.
  • One Touch(formerly Snow White Twist)Beta edits, Polish, & Submit – still waiting to hear back from 2nd beta reader.
  • Dance with the Devil – Polish 6 chapters  – Polished 2/6 chapters

Reading:

  • Listen: 5 books – 1/5
    • Heartless(Gail Carriger) – Finished this Monday afternoon. Really enjoyed it.
    • The Immortal Irishman(Timothy Egan) – Picked this back up Tuesday morning. On Chapter 18/24
  • Read: 30 books – 7/30, 4 this week
    • Death at Peony House(Krista Walsh) – Finished this Sunday evening. Really enjoyed it.
    • The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh(KJ Charles) – Read this Sunday morning. It was short, but I really enjoyed it.
    • Devil May Care(Cynthia Rayne) – Started this Sunday evening. This is book 4 in her Four Horsemen MC series. I really want to get to the next one and read Shep & Pretty Boy’s story. She’s been teasing us with hints of them throughout the series. I got to 36% Sunday night.
    • Talk Me Down(Victoria Dahl) – Started this Monday morning. Finished it Monday evening. Really enjoyed it.
    • A Seditious Affair(KJ Charles) – Started this Tuesday morning. Finished it Tuesday night. Absolutely loved this one.

Story a Day: Day 30 – “Your Call”

“Yes, Lucas, I will marry you.”

Lucas brought Arcelia’s hand to his lips, pressing them softly to her skin. Then, he rose back to his feet and drew her to her feet. He found he did not want to let her go. Not yet, maybe not ever. But, he needed to. He’d already informed her parents and older brother of his intentions. Now to tell them she had accepted.

They’d always accepted him and as more than just another ranch hand. They hadn’t denied his request to ask for her hand, even though he imagined they’d have someone else in mind for her. Another Mexican rancher perhaps. Not the son of Irish immigrants who had fled before they’d starved. But, they’d left it up to her to choose. And she had chosen him.

He finally released her and stepped back. But, she grabbed onto his hand again. Maybe she did not want to let him go yet either. Well, they could go spread the news together.

But, as they headed out of the parlor, there was a commotion near the front door. Lucas moved so Arcelia was behind him. He didn’t know just what was going on, but he’d protect her from whatever it was.

Then, he recognized the voice that shouted, “You cannot just keep me from seeing her.”

“Varick,” he muttered. That man had become such a thorn in his side. He knew Arcelia had tried to gently turn him away. But, the man never stayed gone.

“I do not wish to see him,” she said.

Without looking back, he reached for her hand and squeezed it. “Then, I will make sure he leaves. Just wait here.”

He stepped away from Arcelia and moved toward the front door. Both Diego and his father blocked the entrance to the house. He put a hand on Diego’s arm, and he shifted so Lucas could step through.

“I think it’s been made clear that you are not welcome here,” he told Varick.

The man sneered at him. “It is not your home. You only work here. You cannot tell me to go or stay. If Arcelia wants to see me-”

“She doesn’t,” Lucas informed him.

“That is not your call to make.”

“You are right. It’s not. It is Arcelia’s, and she has said she does not wish to see you. Right after she agreed to marry me.”

The other man’s body went rigid at that, his face turning dark as thunderclouds seemed to build in his eyes. “She did not. She is mine.”

“That is not the choice she made,” Lucas said, keeping his voice calm even as everything in him wanted to throw him at Varick and put a final stop to this.

“She will. Once you are dead, she will come right to me.”

Lucas rested a hand on the butt of one of his pistols. Even when going courting, he couldn’t risk leaving them behind. Not when Varick was in town. Or when someone else would decide to call him out and try to take his name as a gunfighter. It was a name he’d never wanted, but he had it now and couldn’t just get rid of it.

“That will not happen, Mr. Steinwehr,” Arcelia said from behind him, nearly making his heart stop. She should have stayed back where it was safe. But, she continued speaking and moving up beside him. “I have already asked you to leave me be. I would ask it again and for you to remain gone this time.”

“You will regret this,” Varick said, his eyes still burning like an icy fire. “I swear it.”

Lucas stood there until Varick had turned and walked away. He knew this wasn’t over. That man wouldn’t let it be until he had what he wanted. Diego swung the door shut then turned to him.

“You must go,” he said. “It won’t be safe for the two of you here any longer.”

“I won’t leave Arcelia behind. We’re getting married. Once that is done, we can find a place of our own. Somewhere she will be safe. Until then, I will not run.”

“I would not put it past that man to shoot you in the back rather than face you. Would you leave my sister with that grief?”

“I can’t just go,” he said, his voice raw. “I can’t leave her behind.”

Diego glanced at his parents then Arcelia, and getting nods from them as if they understood what he was thinking, he looked back to Lucas. “Then, you’ll marry now and take her with you. I’d rather my sister be away with you than dead or in his hands.”

Lucas looked over at Arcelia. “This is what you want?” he asked.

She reached out and took his hand. “I want to live a life with you. That is all. If this is the way it must be done, then it makes me happy.”

Lucas’ face softened and his shoulders dropped. he studied her face, making sure what she said was true. he could see no sign of her lying, though. So he nodded and turned to Diego. “Call for the priest then. We’ll have it done.”

He still didn’t like the idea of running from a problem. But, if it meant keeping Arcelia safe, that was just what he would do. he only hoped the trouble wouldn’t follow him to wherever they chose to make their new life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story with the Hansel and Gretel structure, with the life-changing moment at the beginning and everything following from that. This is some back story for a western I’m working on. It’s actually one I wrote years ago(I don’t think I have that version any longer & it’s probably just as well) and have recently re-plotted. I’ve had some trouble with it, but hoping it’s finally coming together for me.

Story a Day: Day 26 – Letters Home

Mother and Father,

I hope you will not worry for me. I could not sit aside any longer while our country is torn apart. I will return once the war has been won.

Your loving son,

Lucas

***

Mother and Father,

I have not received a response to my last letter home. I hope that to mean it has just not found its way to me. Three years of fighting, and I’m ready to come home. They say this war should be over soon. But they have been saying that since the first shots of this senseless war. Still, I hope to be home soon.

Your weary son,

Lucas

***

Mother and Father,

I am coming home. The war is done, and the Union secure. I do not know why you have still not responded, or if your letter had just been lost on its way to me. I pray that is the answer, but this war has left me little easiness where those I care for are concerned.  

I got word Joseph fell at Gettysburg. No one has had word of Benjamin since I joined  up. I hope he is well and will be returning home to you as well, and that you were able to keep Aaron from joining the war effort. I saw Peter at one of the battles and held his hand in the field hospital after as he faded away. Two brothers gone, and that isn’t the worst of the war.

I am sorry if this letter brings you sorrow. I feel it’s all I’m left with some days. I am just ready to be home. I hope to find the rest of you well.

Your hopeful son,

Lucas

***

Benjamin,

This letter will likely never find you, still I will post it, even not knowing where you are now. You are the only one I can write to with this news. You are my only living brother, if you do indeed still live. Mother and father are dead. They perished in a house fire more than a year ago. Aaron and Bridget went with them.

Abigail is married to our old neighbor, Elijah. I am sure you remember him, you were of an age. He treats her and their three children well from all I could see. Joseph and Peter fell during the war. I hope the same fate did not come to you. But, I do not know how I will ever know.

I cannot stay here any longer. There is nothing left for me here. I do not know where I will go, but I hope to find my place out there. Perhaps I will even find you while I’m about it.

Your searching brother,

Lucas

***

Abigail,

I hope this letter finds you well. I got your last before leaving Mayfield. The country is still torn to pieces. I do hope it can start being put back to rights soon.

I have a new nephew, you say. Elijah must be so proud. I miss the children. I wish I’d felt I could stay as you offered, but it didn’t feel right. I’m keeping on the move now. No place feels more like home than another. I do plan to stay here for a time, so hopefully your next letter will catch me as well.

I hope you, Elijah, and the children all remain well. Maybe in time I will see you again.

Your wandering brother,

Lucas

***

Elijah,

I killed a man. I can barely stand to put those words to paper. He was not the first, but the others were all during war. This was different. I did not wish to kill him, but he was stealing my horse, my only means of travel. I only meant to stop him, not kill him.

Please do not relay this news to my sister. I do not wish her to know what I am becoming. His friends tracked me down. I didn’t have a choice, Elijah. If I had not killed them, they would have killed me. But, it is weighing down my soul.

I do not know how long I will be here in this town. The marshal assured me I am in no trouble for defending my own life, but those men may have more friends. I will do what is necessary to stay alive, but I do not wish to take more lives.

Take care of my sister and nephews,

Your disquieted brother-in-law,

Lucas

***

Abigail,

I have met a woman. I know I have been silent for a while. I did not want you to know what my life has become. If Elijah has not told you, tell him he may. I am changing it, or at least making my best effort to return to the man I’d hoped to be.

But, I do not wish you to worry about that. I have signed on with a cattle outfit in Texas now and only use my guns as needed. We have just delivered a herd of cattle to New Mexico Territory, which is where I met her. Arcelia Rodriguez. I do not know how to put to paper all I feel for her. The rest of the outfit is heading back to Texas in the morning. I have taken my wages and will be returning to Arcelia.

I may have no future here with her, either. But, it is something I hope to find out.

Your loving brother,

Lucas

***

Abigail,

Your baby brother is now a married man. I can barely write the words without laughing and shaking my head. Arcelia accepted when I asked for her hand, and the rest feels like a whirlwind. I have never been so happy as the day we were bound together.

It is not all light and joy, though. There was another man who wanted Arcelia’s hand. When she chose me, he swore we’d regret it. As much as I have enjoyed working for Arcelia’s family, there is no way we could stay there and be safe. I won’t risk her, especially not now when she is carrying my child.

Yes, I am to be a father. Can you believe that? I’ve built on some land on the other side of the territory from her family. It’s nearly a week ride between, but her brother, Diego, has promised to visit when he can. And to keep watch on the situation there. If it is ever resolved, we may be able to return.

I remain safe for now. And I hope you and your family are as well.

Your settled brother,

Lucas

***

Diego,

I am glad to hear that Varick Steinwehr no longer appears to be a problem on that side of the territory. Since you say it is safe, I will bring Arcelia and Alejandro for a visit. I do not yet know about moving back. As you know, I have started a small ranch of my own out here. I am not sure I am ready to just start over.

But, we will visit. Arcelia misses you and the rest of the family. And I would like Alejandro to meet his grandparents before he can remember a time of not knowing them. I have to see to some things here, then we shall leave. In two weeks’ time, we should be there.

Your grateful brother-in-law,

Lucas

***

Diego,

We made it home. I will keep this short as I still tire easily and am not feeling well. The wounds from Varick’s bullets are healing, but I still wake with nightmares. As does Arcelia. Alejandro seems to be none the worse for his ordeal, but I suppose only time will tell.

I want to think Varick’s son’s threats were empty, but I cannot take that risk. It would be better if people start to hear I am dead. I’m afraid he will never stop coming for me otherwise. With Arcelia’s condition, I will not put my growing family to chance. This will be the last you hear from me until you can make your way here.

Your despairing brother-in-law,

Luke

***

Luke Tierney sat back after sealing the final letter he’d send to his brother-in-law. He closed his eyes, but that didn’t stop that day from playing out in his mind. A hand came down on his shoulder, gentle as it always was. “Are you finished?” his wife asked. “You should come to bed.”

“No,” he said quietly. “I have one more thing to do.”

He stood up from the chair, taking a moment until his body stopped protesting, then unbuckled the gun belt from around his waist. He walked to the bedroom and knelt in front of the chest at the end of their bed. Once he’d tucked the guns inside, he sat back on his heels.

“You do not have to do that,” Arcelia said. “You can still protect us with them.”

Luke shook his head. “All they have brought me is destruction. I’m not Lucas Tierney, the gunfighter. From now on, I’m only Luke Tierny, a simple rancher. That’s all I want, this place, you, and our family. None of the trouble those have always brought me.”

He could only hope laying them down would be enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story using a series of letters. I wasn’t going to add that last bit, as it isn’t in the form of a letter. But, I decided to anyway. And Luke’s going to learn it won’t be quite that easy after all.

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