Typing those magical words THE END on the current work-in-progress is a wonderful feeling, especially when it is a full-length novel that has been in gestation for more than a year, counting character sketches, thinking about the plot, researching facts that might be needed, and actually writing more than 80,000 words.
That was me last Sunday morning, thirty minutes before I had to leave the house, rushing to complete the epilogue in the next book in my Golden Redepenning historical series. I went off to church feeling very happy.
Would you like a snippet? My hero and heroine were childhood friends but have been antagonists for twenty years, until they are thrown together on the Great North Road, chasing her runaway daughter all the way to Scotland. Here’s their first kiss.
Susan was washing her turnover down with a swallow of ale, shifting impatiently as her hands inched towards the knife and fork she had placed on her plate between mouthfuls, as proper table etiquette required. Her inclination to rush the meal and be on her way was clearly at war with her training in manners.
“Relax, Susan. A few minutes will make the world of difference to your digestion, and very little to our arrival time.”
What a valiant creature his goddess was. She managed a smile, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “I know you are right, you annoying man. I will try not to worry and to be patient.
“You are thinking I have no notion what you are suffering, and you are right that I have never been a father, and have never had to wait and worry about a child of my flesh.” Gil almost left it at that, but then he took a deep breath and spoke the rest of his thought. “But I have been an officer with men I loved and who loved and trusted me, and I have had to send them into danger knowing that some of them will be killed and others wounded. That perhaps gives me a small inkling of your feelings, goddess.” He winced as the last word slipped out. She hated when people called her that, but it was how he felt. He had worshipped her from the moment he met her as a boy; carried a candle before her image in his heart since that day; held her as a beacon of the best of English womanhood through a thousand engagements on four continents and any number of islands.
She was oblivious to his preoccupation, considering what he had said. “I had not thought about it like that. Yes. I imagine you were a father, or at least an elder brother, to your men. My brothers are the same. It is similar, Gil. So you know how hard it is.”
Susan called him Gil, he noticed, when she was moved, just as he slipped into calling her goddess. He did not call her attention to the slip, but when he moved her chair back to help her rise, and she stepped to one side almost into his arms, he could not resist wrapping them around her.
He had intended a brief peck on her hair. She lifted her mouth as if she had been waiting for just such a move, and he was lost. She was all that existed. The elusive scent of her pervaded his nostrils, her yielding curves filled his arms, and her lips and mouth consumed all of his thoughts as he tenderly explored them.
How long the kiss lasted he had no idea, but when she stiffened and pulled away, he let her go immediately, sense rushing back into his brain and berating it for the most arrant stupidity. She didn’t comment — wouldn’t even meet his eyes — but led the way out of the garden, almost running in her hurry.
Not, of course, that I’m anywhere near finished writing, as I said on my own blog a few days ago. The Realm of Silence will go through a number of edits (I’m up to page 78 of 184 on the first run through) before it finally hits the shelves some time in late April. I already know I need to give more of the backstory of my widow’s first marriage, and I realised just this morning that I had two characters with the same name, one a sister to the hero and the other a sister to the heroine’s daughter’s best friend.
I’ve found I’m most productive if I carry straight on with the next book, and this time, it is easy because I have one due to a publisher on 1 March. I’ve managed 10,000 words since 1 January, so should make my 60,000 without too much stress.
That one, House of Thorns, is another historical, but the one after that is a contemporary, again set in New Zealand. I’m looking forward to telling you more about it as I write it. Think summer sun, beautiful New Zealand beaches, a high-powered environmental journalist-activist come home to rest, and a US financier turned beach bum.
Meanwhile, New Zealand sweltered up until Christmas, and on Boxing Day the weather turned sour. We’ve had a few fine spells, but not the heat our poor cousins in Australia have been suffering. It’s raining at the moment, but still warm and the garden is producing lettuces, zucchini, and radishes faster than we can eat them. I do love summer, even when it comes with a mandatory umbrella.