Writing and Deadlines

I’m under a major deadline for the Authors of Main Street’s upcoming Christmas boxed set.  I’ve been trying to do edits and I’m failing. I promise, I have an excuse, but that won’t stop the deadline. These edits should have taken me an hour or two at the most, except my head is so stopped up that I can’t think straight  – so please forgive any mistakes here!

Anyone who writes has seen these deadlines coming full speed at them as if it were a big locomotive. It’s part of the business. And I’m often running for my life to meet them, but I never let deadlines out of my line of sight. They are too important!

I’m also teaching classes on writing. I can teach people how to craft a story to make it interesting. But I can’t teach them to actually put words on paper. Every writer has to do that on their own.

We’ve all heard how you can’t edit a blank page. But you can take slop and edit it until it shines like a jewel! And guess what? Every person I know in this business will tell you that the first draft is slop. Except buried in that jumble of words is a story.

Don’t worry about where the story starts – just write. Someone can help you find the beginning of that story, if you can’t. Write until you reach the end! In romances, that’s reaching the happily ever after, or in some cases, a happy for now.

The story has to be inside of you and you must have the desire to put it to paper. A friend’s father has no desire to be published, he only wants to write the stories in his head for his grandsons. He wants to pass along his love for sci-fi to them. There’s nothing wrong with that! And there’s nothing wrong with putting together a family “history”that is only meant for the family. Our reasons for writing vary, and honestly, maybe we are slightly cracked for wanting to toss our words out there to the entire world to read. But you can’t edit a blank page!

Just write. Don’t try to edit it or make it perfect, just put your story on paper! The rest is crafting. That is something that you learn to do. It’s teachable! But that story in your head is uniquely yours.

Here’s a snippet from A Cowboy’s Holiday. If you’d like to read the whole story for free, just visit my blog. It’s a sweet story of two college students who head to his family’s ranch for Christmas. It’s tender, awkward, and sometimes funny. The whole story is there for you to enjoy. And if you read my ranching stories, you’ll remember Jeremy from the Lazy A +8 Ranch. He’s grown up. He and Hannah have been busy studying for their doctorate in Veterinarian Medicine (DVM) at Cornell University. That’s a long way from Wyoming! And there’s a snowstorm!



Hannah Smith was sitting by a window. She seemed to be staring into nothingness. Her dark brown hair was pulled into a large clip and some of it had escaped the plastic jaws and now tumbled down her back.

Jeremy McCullough walked over, lightly tugged on her wayward lock of hair and put his cup of coffee on her table as he slid onto the seat across from her. “Hi. Penny for your thoughts.”

She looked at him and smiled. “Hi. Not thinking about much of anything. Are you going home for the holidays?”

“Yeah. Three days of driving. I tried doing it in two and almost fell asleep behind the wheel. With the snow that is predicted, it might take me more than three.”

“You’re lucky. You get to go home.”

“You’re not going home?”

She shook her head. “Can’t afford it. My mom is military and my dad and siblings went with her. She’s not even in this country. She’s in Japan.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Same thing as last Christmas. Stay here.” Her smile looked forced. “I was hoping you’d be here, too. Keep each other company and all that.”

This is worth a try and it just might be my lucky break. “Why don’t you come with me? Ever been to Wyoming?”

“I’ve been to a lot of places growing up, but never to Wyoming.” She grimaced. “But I can’t just go home with you. It’s not as though you live an hour away.”

“I don’t morph at night into a crazed animal with claws, nor am I an axe murderer. I promise I’m a gentleman, and my family will welcome you with open arms.” He pulled his phone from his pocket. “Listen.” He touched the screen and the phone began to ring. “Hi, Grandma. May I bring a filly home with me? She doesn’t have anyplace to go for Christmas.”

“Of course, you may. Is there anything more to this story that you’d like to tell me?”

He could hear the smile in his grandmother’s words. “No. She’s just a fellow student. But I don’t want her staying here on campus alone over the holiday.”

“But if she’s more than just a friend…”

“Grandma, I promise, she’s just a friend and would appreciate the guest room.”

“Are you sure? You’re a grown man. No one is going to say anything if you want her in your room.”

He could feel the heat headed for his cheeks, and prayed it wouldn’t show as he winked at Hannah. “Really, Grandma. She’s just a friend. We’ve taken classes together, and we often run into each other on campus.”

Hannah put her hand on her forehead as her cheeks flushed, and she lowered her gaze to her almost empty coffee cup.

“Well, of course, she’s welcome to come. It’s nothing for me to set an extra plate. Besides it is Christmas. You two talk it over and let me know when you are on the road.”

“I will, Grandma. Thanks.” He disconnected the call and grinned at Hannah. “See, it was that easy. You’re coming home with me.”

“But I don’t have a bunch of extra money to pay for hotel rooms between there and here.”

“Don’t worry about any expenses. I can cover everything.”

“Professor Hadley invited me to have Christmas dinner with her family. It’s not that I won’t have anyplace to go. She’s very nice, and often has students over who are stuck here.”

“You’re coming with me.”

“But I–”

“Hannah, you’re coming with me…as a friend…to my family’s ranch. I promise I’m a total gentleman.”

Hannah giggled. “You never struck me as being anything else.”

He rolled his palms so they faced up. “I’m a normal male, but my parents raised me to at least act like a decent one. Just wear really ugly pajamas, because I don’t need any temptation.”

She laughed. “Does that mean you like me?”

“Why wouldn’t I? Let’s grab some pizza. I want to get some sleep tonight. I like getting on the road early.”

“Are you asking me out on a date?”

“Call it whatever you want. I’ll call it pizza with a friend.” He swigged down the last of his coffee. “If we go now, it’ll be quieter. I think there are some holiday parties planned for tonight, and I’d like to be asleep before that happens.”

She pushed her chair back. “I’m fine with that.”


At five o’clock in the morning, Hannah, still bleary-eyed, dragged her suitcase out of the dorm and into the parking lot where Jeremy greeted her.

“Not much of a morning person?”

She knitted her eyebrows together and watched as he stowed her bag in the cab of his pickup truck. “It’s not morning. The sun isn’t up.”

“What time did you go to bed?”

“Midnight. I had to do laundry so I had something to pack.”

He laughed and held the passenger door for her. “You can go back to sleep.”

“I should have brought my pillow.”

“Well, go get it.”

She turned and went back into the dorm. What am I doing up? What am I thinking? I’m not.

On the third floor, she unlocked her dorm room and grabbed her fuzzy throw and the pillow from her bed. Great. I’m taking my blankie and my pillow. He’s going to think I’ve lost my mind.

She returned to his truck, and he held the door for her.

“There’s coffee for you in the cup holder.”

How can he be so awake? She fastened her seatbelt and sipped the coffee. It was perfect. “How did you know what I like in my coffee?”


Or if you’d like a autumn romance, check out my book A Skeleton at Her Door. It’s available as a Kindle Unlimited. This is a second chance romance

Trick or Treat! Angie Robertson opens her door and finds a six-foot tall skeleton on her doorstep. Is it a trick or a treat?

Angie thought the man at her door was her neighbor. Except he wasn’t. Dressed for a charity event Tom Meyer winds up on the wrong doorstep and this just might be the best thing that ever happened to him.

What if the skeleton was a really nice guy who’d been burned by enough women that he’s lost faith in ever finding someone who could be faithful?
A Skeleton at Her Door is a sensual romance. It’s about trusting, putting the past away, and finding love when it’s least expected. It’s also about blending two households, parenting, three children, and sneaking off for some adult time.


The fun part of being a full-time author… When this deadline is over, I have two more waiting for me! Just cross your fingers that I make this one.  I certainly don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to join my sisters and fellow authors here on Main Street for another wonderful boxed set! And to those of you who have bought our previous boxed sets…thank you! I hope you will be just as thrilled with this one!



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16 Responses to Writing and Deadlines

  1. Great excerpt! There’s so many I’ve heard that have this cold-flu bug, me included but I fought it off 🙂
    Best of luck with your deadline and for what it’s worth, I swear by Buckley’s cough syrup. It tastes bad but it works!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Jo Grafford says:

    Loved the excerpt and best of luck with the edits! Sometimes editing is fun and it just rolls out of you. Other times, you wonder if walking across glass shards might actually be more fun. Hang in there, woman.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. MRS N, the Author says:

    Loved the excerpt and the autumn romance. 🙂 Good luck with the editing, E! You can do it! Deadlines remind me of playing dodgeball in school. You can bob and weave but eventually the ball will punch you in the stomach. lol!

    Like Jacquie, I swear by Buckley’s cough syrup. It tastes like you’re sucking on an evergreen but it works! I’m feeling like myself this morning for the first time in ten days. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • E. Ayers says:

      Glad to hear you are better. Short stories are not my thing. I write long novels, but I wrote that little story and then sat back and said wow. Jeremy is such a nice guy – well, that family is filled with nice guys. But it was fun watching him strain against desire, fight the elements with that family instilled confidence, and well, just be Jeremy who hasn’t figured out all the right things to do. And Hannah…she had no clue what she was getting into! But who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas with that big family?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Carol says:

    Loved the excerpt, E. I’m under a deadline so tight it feels as though I have a Boa Constrictor wrapped around me. So, good luck with your edits and thanks for sharing A Cowboy’s Holiday.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jill James says:

    E., reminds me of that saying that goes something like, “I love deadlines and the sound they make as they go whooshing by.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. leighmorgan1 says:

    Wonderful, E. Loved the excerpt! Ginger root tea helps with cold & flu…not so much with deadlines :).


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