Ten years ago, I wrote a book called War Wounds. Not the most romantic of titles but it fit the story, and I liked it. It has since been changed to The Marriage Agreement or A Temporary Husband, depending on my mood. I still like War Wounds best.
Either way—I wrote this story and loved it, still do to this day. It is about these two damaged souls hooking up and heading west on the Oregon Trail, trying to outrun or leave behind the demons that torment them. I wrote it at a time when I knew nothing about standard length of single title books (it was an 800 page epic…need I say more?), POV, structure, etc. But I loved it nonetheless. I sent it in to Warner Books to a contest they were having, received a lovely form rejection letter and then sadly set the thing on a shelf, promising myself one day I would go back, fix it up, and send it out again.
Life took over, and my writing was put on the back burner. I scribbled ideas here and there; started stories and abandoned them in the early chapters; created sketches and characters that I would create a story around someday. Always some day. My family hounded me endlessly to go back to it. They had read War Wounds and, like any supportive family should, loved it. My Dad had even cast the Hollywood version. Granted his idea of the characters differed vastly from mine, but it was nice he was so enthused about the manuscript.
Eventually, things came full circle, and writing once again had priority in my life. I have reached a point now where my education has caught up with my story-telling vision, and I have started deconstruction and reconstructing the story of War Wounds. But in the meantime, I have written another book, The Outlaw Bride. It takes place in the Old West, California to be exact (yeah, yeah…I know…westerns aren’t selling right now…well tell that to the idea portion of my brain!). As I’ve mentioned in here previously, my Mom is proofreading it for me, picking up missed words, misspellings, all the little things our eyes skip over when we try to look past the movie running in our heads to see the words printed on the page.
She knew this was a new story, I’m sure she did. But this morning she called me up and said, “You’ve really changed this around from the original version."
At first I thought she meant the original version of The Outlaw Bride, which she had read the first few chapters of. But then she mentioned my Dad thought so too, and he hadn't read the original chapters of TOB.
So as this information filtered through my brain, my obvious response was: Huh?
Mom skips over my stunned response. “And I was thinking, you could make this into a whole series. It’s like you could take each event that happened and turn it into its own book.”
I scrunched up my face. She couldn't see it, because we were on the phone. So I added a rather high-pitched "Huh?" to go with it.
There’s a slight hesitation on her end. “Well…you know, its like the events have changed, so you could have one book where they’re on the trail and then another when they're in the town…”
Trail? What trail? This isn’t War Wounds. This is a totally, unrelated, nothing to do with War Wounds, new book altogether.
“It is? Oh…well that explains why the story is different.”
Yes. Not to mention the characters names. And the setting. And the…I stop and pull the receiver away from my head, hold it out and look at it as if it had the answers. It doesn't. I put it back to my ear.
Mom, have you been smokin’ the crack?
“Well geez, Kelly, I kept reading really fast trying to get to the part where the original story matched up to this new one!” She starts to laugh. I shake my head in good-humored disbelief.
Oh Mom. I lean down and bang my head against my desk. Just go to my house and pick up the two new chapters to proofread, will ya?
I didn’t mention the neon green post-it note taped across the top that says: Rated NC-17 for Sexual Content. I’ll let her discover that on her own.