Saturday, January 11, 2020

So It Begins

Over the years since my publishing journey began, I have approached editing in an ever-evolving way. Editing will never be my favorite part of the process, but it's so essential to get it right. I begin my manuscripts writing in Scrivener, a software program that allows you to keep research, language, description, and in the case of my latest work, pictures of fashionable footwear from the late 1700s all in one place so you can quickly and easily reference it as you write. When I finish the rough first draft, I go back and use Margie Lawson's techniques making sure there's enough blue, green, pink, yellow and orange in each scene. (If you're a Margie grad, you know what I mean.)  

Libby manufactured a tear, which she made a show of brushing away. “I’m afraid Mr. Wexford recently passed.” 
He mumbled an apology, handed her a key and took her money for the first week’s rent. Libby placed her fingers on her fluttering stomach. She’d told the truth, sort of. Mr. Wexford had recently passed. 
She thought she’d have a bigger battle on her hands, but evidently, widows were aplenty in Boston. The scuffle with Britain had been simmering for some years and was about to turn into a full-blown war.

Then I run through it again with my 'words not to use' checklist. I end up with an entire sheet of paper with heavy checkmarks all over it.
Finally, when I'm done with all that, I download the work into a word document and go through it again, adding to the scenes, fleshing them out.

So yesterday, I finally was able to dump my work into a word document. This manuscript has been very difficult to write, since family obligations forced me to ignore it for a couple months. By the time I got back to it, I had to read it again from the beginning to get my mind back in the game. There's still a long way to go with it, but I thought I'd share the opening scene with you. The book is the second in my Revolutionary War series, tentatively titled "A British Courtesan in America." Hope you enjoy.

Off the coast of England, 1777

Anjanette Shelby nibbled on her lower lip as her homeland faded into oblivion. She had successfully put England behind her, literally and figuratively. She breathed a sigh of relief, inhaling the salty air as she pondered what name she should give herself now. She was about to take on a third identity, but a girl does what she must to survive. The waves, and the wind, were propelling her toward a new future and she had an entire voyage across the huge Atlantic Ocean in which to come up with a new name. The slogan of her new homeland—Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness– resonated. She was entering a new life in the pursuit of happiness, so maybe she should call herself …Liberty? The name bounced around in her head as the waves bounced the ship around in the vast ocean. Liberty. Libby. Bertie? She’d give it some thought. 
“Excuse me, miss, but you dropped your handkerchief.” A man joined her at the railing, holding a scrap of cloth between his fingers. She glanced at him, and the hankie in his hand, briefly, before searching the waves slapping against the side of the ship. His opening salvo had been a pretty uninspired way of engaging her in a discussion, he was a pretty uninspiring man, and the hankie was pretty uninspired and basic. Not at all her style. 
“You must be mistaken, sir. I did not carry a hankie on deck.” She took a step away from the railing. “I must get back to my room, if you’ll excuse me.” 
He quickly placed a hand on her arm. She peeled his fingers from her arm, one at a time. “I said, excuse me.” 
He lowered his hand but stared at her. “There’s no need to be so angry. I merely wish to become acquainted with you. After all, we’ll be aboard this vessel for six weeks or so, and may as well find some way to liven things up, don’t you agree? You’re alone, it appears, as am I.” He cocked an eyebrow. 
“I’m looking forward to being alone, sir.” Anjanette stared back at him. She’d dealt with worse in her lifetime. He was no match for her, although her stomach quivered.
“So you are headed to a new life as a single lady, eh?” He shrugged. “I’m afraid you won’t be able to shed your past as easily as you’ve shed me.” 
“You have no knowledge of my past, sir.” 
He shrugged again. “You are correct. Except we all have one. And my guess is if you’re traveling alone to America, you must be running from yours.” 
She pivoted on her heel and left the deck, striding quickly to her room in the second-class accommodations. Why wouldn’t men just leave her alone? Even if what he said was true, she didn’t need to be told it. She was taking a risk, traveling without an escort, but she no longer had anyone. She no longer needed anyone. She’d have to confine herself to her room during the day and prowl the deck at night. That man, and others of his ilk, would be in first-class, so, with any luck, she could avoid running into him again. Her blood ran cold at the thought there might be someone on board who was aware of her background and reputation. Yes, it was best to stick close to her room by day, venture forth only at night and pray for a swift passage. 
Anjanette’s body finally unclenched after six weeks aboard ship. She took a long, cleansing breath as the last of the first class passengers departed the ship. It would soon be her turn to leave. She’d kept a low profile during the entire voyage, and successfully traversed the Atlantic without being uncovered. Her dresses, though well made, were modest and serviceable. She kept her hair in a chignon with no adornments. If anything, she’d become a chameleon, imitating the other second-class passengers to better blend in. 
She gathered her possessions and placed them back into her satchel. She fingered her favorite necklace, the last piece of jewelry her final benefactor, Atticus, had given her. 
“Thank you, darling, for giving me this gift.” She wiped the tears from her cheeks and took a deep breath. Atticus had given her more than a necklace. He had given her the means to declare her freedom. She packed away the necklace and packed away her old identity. Liberty Wexford was about to disembark and live out the rest of her days in colonial America. Suddenly, the cabin was too small, the ship was too small. She needed to breathe in the free air of America. 
The ship steward stood next to the ramp, ticking the names of the passengers off the manifest. He glanced at her and smiled. “Miss Shelby, I didn’t see much of you during the voyage. Did you fare well, or were you suffering from seasickness?” 
She returned his smile, schooling her expression to one of disinterest. She had no wish to flirt with this, or any, man. “Some, at the beginning of the voyage, but I had a lot of reading to do.” 
“Well, you’re free to go. Enjoy your stay in Boston, Miss Shelby.” 
Free to go. 
She glanced at the steward. “Can you recommend some accommodations?”
“Yes, there’s a really nice hotel, The Hartford, just up the street.” He motioned to the cobblestoned street leading away from the dock. “I can arrange to have your trunks delivered there.” 
“That would be wonderful. Thank you, sir.” 
He called after her. “Goodbye, Miss Shelby.” 
She glanced back at him and waved as she whispered, “It’s no longer Miss Shelby. I’m Liberty Wexford now.” 
Liberty’s steps were light as she touched the cobblestones. Were it not for the spectacle she would create, she’d fall to her knees and kiss the stones. She straightened her hat, shifted her bag from one hand to the other, and set off for the hotel the steward had suggested. After she found lodging, she’d find a job. Boston should look out. Libby Wexford just landed. 


  1. Wow. Great opening to your new book. Hurry up and finish it so I can find out what happens next.

    1. Thanks, Linda. It'll get there. Glad you read it all the way through.