Monday, December 1, 2008

Fallen, out-takes and edits


I was thrilled to be able to bring Connor Duncan back in Fallen, which is about John Murray Carrie's brother. If you've read Rising Wind then you know John is something of an ass, and that's putting it nicely. Okay he's a big jerk the entire book. Fallen is about the reason why he acts as he does in Rising Wind. It starts the year before Rising Wind and continues until the end of the Revolutionary War. I also have points of view from Izzy, John's true love, her father Donald and her brother Ewan.

This post is to help you see how the editorial process works. While writing the story I wanted the reader who hadn't read Rising Wind to know something that happened to John in the past. I'm also a big fan of dream scenes so I included a battle from Rising Wind in John's dreams so the reader would know about some of the things that haunted John. My editor suggested we take it out for a very good reason which I'll explain after the excerpt.

John's Dream sequence.

He could not see. He could hear the noises, he knew the enemy was around him, but he could not see them. He drew his sword and his pistol and moved away from his tent.
John heard the screams and yells. He smelled the blood. Carrie was here, somewhere, in the midst of the battle. All he saw was fog and smoke. He ran through it to where he thought she should be. Where was she? Where were his soldiers, his command, all the men that were his responsibility? He was to lead them safely to Fort Savannah. It was up to him. All him. No one else.
The fog and smoke dissolved around him. He looked around the ridge and saw the bodies of his men strewn about, all covered with blood and their scalps missing. He turned a slow circle to search for any sign of life but there was no one.
“Carrie?” John formed the words but nothing came out. He felt a strange need, an urgency, a desire. He knew he should run and hide before the savages returned but he couldn’t. He had to find his sister. He moved about, calling her name but no sound was made. His mouth moved and his throat was hoarse with his calls. Perhaps he was deaf. Could that be it? He turned again, calling for Carrie. All he heard was the emptiness. Not even a bird could be heard singing in the trees. But he had heard the battle earlier. Had he not?
John shook his head and moved onward. He turned over the bodies of his soldiers with the toe of his boot, hoping against hope that perhaps Carrie would be sheltered under one of them. He looked for a color other than the red coats of his soldiers and the red of blood. He looked for golden hair and a pink striped skirt. Was that not what she was wearing?
Finally, by a trampled tent, he saw what he was looking for. A woman lay face down. John ran to her side. He dropped his weapons and fell to his knees.
“Carrie?” He touched her shoulder and it was cold and still. “Carrie?” he said again as he pulled her body into his arms and turned her over.
Izzy…How? Why? He looked down upon her pale face, at the smattering of freckles across her nose, at her red blonde cloud of curls. There was not a mark upon her, yet she was dead.
He had left her to die. Just as he had his men. She was his responsibility and he failed her.
Izzy was dead.
The pain tore through him as if the Shawnee held a knife to his heart. The shock of it sent him flying upright and he stumbled from his cot with his legs twisted in his blanket.


Later in the story I had Donald talking with Connor. Donald told Connor about John and Izzy. The problem is, the reader already knows this stuff so for them its just repetition. So we took that part out also. By the way, I really enjoyed writing Donald. He had such a dry outlook on everything. He fought at Culloden and felt guilty about abandoning his wife and children to hide in the highlands afterwards.

Donald's version.

He wasn’t going to make it. Donald looked at the bruised, beaten and sweaty face beneath the filthy bandage. John Murray would soon be a dead man, either from the broken skull or the crushed leg. It was up to him to see that he lived long enough for Izzy to make her peace with the man.
Ewan best get back with her soon or the only peace she’d have would be from standing over his grave. They’d carried Murray into the makeshift hospital camp under a flag of truce then Ewan left, taking a few of the remaining English soldiers with him to show them where they’d found Murray so they could collect the dead and the wounded. The camp was nothing more than rows of cots with some canvases hung to shelter the patients from the rain. Surgery was inside a small cabin close to the meetin house and wagons held the dead awaiting burial.
The Quakers at New Garden gave him a wide berth. Mostly because of the rifle that lay across his lap. They did not approve of violence of any kind. The Doctors looked at Murray, offered to take his leg off and he would not let them. When Murray faced his daughter it would be as a whole man and nothing less. Donald had made his position clear and they left him alone after patching the man up as best they could.
They all knew Murray would not live much longer. As it was the man was lucky to be alive. Since Ewan left the man had sunk into a delirium from his wounds and there was no rousing him. Occasionally he would speak nonsense as he tossed his head back and forth on the cot that he lay upon. Words like father, mother, Carrie, duty, savages and Izzy. Donald could not help but smile when he heard his daughter’s name. The man still thought on her. It was a revenge of sorts since he’d left his daughter with a bastard child to raise on her own.
Donald raised his hand when he saw Connor walking among the rows of wounded with two tin plates in his hands. He was covered with mud and soaking wet.
“How is he?” Connor asked as he handed a plate to Donald.
“Near death,” Donald said. The plate contained a hearty stew and a chunk of bread which he used to sop up the meal.
Connor flashed a quick grin. “Donnae spare my feelings,” he said. “Please.”
“I ken he is your wife’s brother,” Donald said dryly. “But ye can tell by looking at him that he willnae last long.” There was no need to mince words. Duncan’s kinship with the man would not stop him from dying.
Connor drug over a short stool, sat down, and dug into his plate. He had to be as hungry as Donald felt, if not more so. And there was nothing he could do for Murray beyond sit and wait.
“I hae a friend,” Connor said between bites, “Efrem, a Cherokee who is wise in the way of plants and things. I wish he was here, but then again, I am glad he is with Carrie, watching out for her.”
“Ye buried her father?”
“I did,” Connor said. “Beneath a dogwood. It will be blooming soon. Carrie would like it I think.”
“Better than he would have gotten from this lot I think,” Donald said.
“He was a good man,” Connor said. “I owed him much, including my life.”
Donald nodded his head as he let Connor have his silent moments of tribute.
“Tell me how ye know John,” he said after a bit.
“I donnae really,” Donald said. “Except that Ewan used his horse to try to break me out of prison.”
“What about your daughter?” Connor asked. “Ye said he was Elly’s father?”
“Aye. Which makes her your niece.”
“Then it is no wonder she resembles my wee Jilly.”
Murray stirred feverishly on the cot. Connor pulled a kerchief from inside his shirt and stuck it out in the rain to gather water. When he was satisfied he wiped at Murray’s face and let some of the water drizzle between his lips. He did it all matter of factly and Donald could tell there was no love lost between the two men.
“Tell me the story,” Connor said when Murray had settled.
“It seems the man here fancied my daughter,” Donald began. “He was also the one who brought me in. He had no idea that Izzy was my daughter. I think she used her mother’s name for employment or so Ewan told me. She didnae have much patience with me in those days. She blamed me for her mother’s death.” Donald looked out at the rain. He still grieved for Ellyn. The pain of hearing the news of her death was as fresh now as it was all those years ago.
“My youngest son, Donnie.” He swallowed back more grief. He had barely known Donnie, the one who resembled him most. “Was the same coloring and size as Murray here. And with Murray’s white horse…”
“I have his horse,” Connor said. “He’s a great stud.”
Donald nodded in agreement. “Tis good to know that such an animal survived instead of being blown to bits on some battlefield.”
“Donnie pretended to be John,” Connor said.
“Aye. They had a letter and a seal and since the man here was new at the post Ewan thought they could get away with it. They waited until Izzy had plans with the man, drugged a bottle of wine and he got Izzy with child while Ewan and Donnie used his horse and uniform. They were bringing me up the steps of the prison when his friend came upon them and realized it was not Murray on the horse. His friend was killed, along with Donnie…”
“Did your daughter know of the plan?”
“Nay, not according to Ewan. But he thought she did and that was enough to destroy Izzy.”
“I would say it destroyed him too,” Connor said. “He seemed to have an unnatural hatred for all things Scots when I met him. I can now see why. Carrie puzzled upon it also. She said the man I knew was not the brother she’d grown up with.”
“Pride can make men do strange things,” Donald said.
“Aye,” Connor agreed. “This explains much about how he was with me. I think it nearly killed him when Carrie chose me.”
“He felt the lash,” Donald continued. “Along with Ewan. They made Izzy watch it for her part. We didnae see her again until we were put upon the ship. He was on it too. With his horse and his sister, your wife. And Elly was born on the voyage over. Izzy wouldnae let us tell him either. He never even knew she was on board.”
“Izzy…” Murray said as he tossed his head once again.
Connor wiped Murray’s forehead again. “He tried to have me lashed,” he said as he wiped. “Luckily his father stopped it. As I said, I owed the man much.”
“I donnae thing Izzy ever got over him,” Donald said. “She is much like her mother in that way.”
“Once a woman gives her heart,” Connor said. “It is hard to convince her otherwise.”
Donald smiled as a vision of Ellyn filled his mind. “Aye,” he agreed. “And since she has given her heart to this man I willnae have him die without knowing that Izzy did not betray him. He will look her in the eye and ask her forgiveness.”
I have not done much for her…my daughter…but this I will be sure of…
“I hope he lives that long,” Connor said.


My editor suggested that we have Connor tell Donald about what happened in the massacre in Rising Wind. It was interesting to get Connor's perspective of it several years later. Plus I just love writing about him.

Connor's version

He wasn’t going to make it. Donald looked at the bruised, beaten and sweaty face beneath the filthy bandage. John Murray would soon be a dead man, either from the broken skull or the crushed leg. It was up to him to see that he lived long enough for Izzy to make her peace.
Ewan best get back with her soon or the only peace she’d have would be from standing over his grave. They’d carried Murray into the makeshift hospital camp under a flag of truce then Ewan left, taking a few of the remaining English soldiers with him to show them where they’d found Murray so they could collect the dead and the wounded. The camp was nothing more than rows of cots with some canvases hung to shelter the patients from the rain. Surgery was inside a small cabin close to the meetin house and wagons held the dead awaiting burial.
The Quakers at New Garden gave him a wide berth. Mostly because of the rifle that lay across his lap. They did not approve of violence of any kind. The Doctors looked at Murray, offered to take his leg off and he would not let them. When Murray faced his daughter it would be as a whole man and nothing less. Donald had made his position clear and they left him alone after patching the man up as best they could.
They all knew Murray would not live much longer. As it was the man was lucky to be alive. Since Ewan left the man sunk into a delirium from his wounds and there was no rousing him. Occasionally he would speak nonsense as he tossed his head back and forth on the cot that he lay upon. Words like father, mother, Carrie, duty, savages and Izzy. Donald could not help but smile when he heard his daughter’s name. The man still thought on her. It was a revenge of sorts since he’d left his daughter with a bastard child to raise on her own.
Donald raised his hand when he saw Connor walking among the rows of wounded with two tin plates in his hands. He was covered with mud and soaking wet.
“How is he?” Connor asked as he handed a plate to Donald.
“Near death,” Donald said. The plate contained a hearty stew and a chunk of bread which he used to sop up the meal.
Connor flashed a quick grin. “Donnae spare my feelings,” he said. “Please.”
“I ken he is your wife’s brother,” Donald said dryly. “But ye can tell by looking at him that he willnae last long.” There was no need to mince words. Duncan’s kinship with the man would not stop him from dying.
Connor drug over a short stool, sat down, and dug into his plate. He had to be as hungry as Donald felt, if not more so. And there was nothing he could do for Murray beyond sit and wait.
“I hae a friend,” Connor said between bites, “Efrem, a Cherokee who is wise in the way of plants and things. I wish he was here, but then again, I am glad he is with Carrie, watching out for her.”
“Ye buried her father?”
“I did,” Connor said. “Beneath a dogwood. It will be blooming soon. Carrie would like it I think.”
“Better than he would have gotten from this lot I think,” Donald said.
“He was a good man,” Connor said. “I owed him much, including my life.”
Donald nodded his head as he let Connor have his silent moments of tribute.
“Tell me how ye know John,” he said after a bit.
“I donnae really,” Donald said. “Except that Ewan used his horse to try to break me out of prison.”
“What about your daughter?” Connor asked. “Ye said he was Elly’s father?”
“Aye. Which makes her your niece.”
“Then it is no wonder she resembles my wee Jilly.”
Murray stirred feverishly on the cot. Connor pulled a kerchief from inside his shirt and stuck it out in the rain to gather water. When he was satisfied he wiped at Murray’s face and let some of the water drizzle between his lips. He did it all matter of factly and Donald could tell there was no love lost between the two men.
“Tell me the story,” Connor said when Murray had settled.
“It seems the man here fancied my daughter,” Donald began. He told Connor the tale, as told to him by Ewan who lived it…and regretted it for the grief it caused.
“Did your daughter know of the plan?” Connor asked when he was done.
“Nay, not according to Ewan. But he thought she did and that was enough to destroy Izzy.”
“I would say it destroyed him too,” Connor said. “He seemed to have an unnatural hatred for all things Scots when I met him. I can now see why. Carrie puzzled upon it also. She said the man I knew was not the brother she’d grown up with.”
“My daughter seems to care for him. And he is my grand-daughters father. I know nothing of him beyond that. I cannae judge him as ye can.”
“I am not sure I can judge him fairly,” Connor said. “I spent more time thinking about how I wanted to kill him than anything else. From the first moment I met him we were at odds.”
Donald settled his stool back against a post and crossed his legs in front of him. “Tell me,” he said. “If by some miracle he survives this and I have dealing with him in the future it would help me to know something about him.”
Connor smiled. “He hated me from the start. That much was obvious. I think I understand it now but then I took it personally. Or course I had no love for anyone wearing the red coat at that time. For good reason.”
“Most highlanders can say that,” Donald agreed. “Tis the way of things.”
“Aye,” Connor said. “Add to that the fact that his sister caught my eye.” He chuckled. “She nearly killed me come to think of it.”
“From the looks of ye I think ye survived,” Donald said dryly.
“We nearly didn’t,” Connor said, suddenly serious. “We lost his entire troop up on the Blue Ridge.”
“Shawnee?”
“Aye. I was to lead them to Fort Savannah. It was back in ‘74. In April. They were just off the ship.”
“As were we,” Donald said.
“Carrie was determined to come with us. She wanted to see her father. And himself there was determined to march through the wilderness as if he were parading down the streets of London.”
“Might as well of invited the Shawnee into your camp,” Donald observed.
“I missed the signs,” Connor admitted. “And he was not inclined to listen to my opinion on much…”
“Because ye are Scot.”
“Aye,” Connor agreed. He leaned forward and placed his forearms on his knees. “The fog was heavy that morning. My friend, Efrem, had come into camp the night before. We rose early and went down to the stream to bathe… and talk. Efrem was trying to convince me to cut his throat and take off with Carrie.” Connor tilted his head towards Murray. “As soon as I heard the first shot I knew they’d come. My first and only thought was for Carrie. It turned out she was in the stream with her maid as she had the same notion for a bath.”
Donald knew what Connor was seeing in his mind’s eye. He’d seen it enough in his own lifetime. Different battles, different fields of valor, but always the same deadly results. “Ye did the only thing ye could do. Ye took the girl and ye ran.”
“We did,” Connor admitted. He smiled again. “Then she made us go back for him.”
Murray chose that moment to stir. He said something unintelligible. Was he reliving the battle as Connor told of it? Connor wiped the man’s brow again. He had a history with the man yet he took care with him. His love for his wife was strong enough to conquer the hatred he felt for his enemy.
Murray settled again and Connor continued with his story. “We were too far into the wilderness to go back so we moved on to Fort Savannah. He blamed me for all of it.” He stretched a long leg out and nudged a moccasin clad toe at a rock that poked up through the damp grass. “He nearly drowned when we crossed the New River. Efrem and I jumped in to save him and still he wanted to kill me. Carrie nearly died too, from a copperhead. That, along with the Shawnee on our heels…” His voice trailed off and he scratched at the growth of coppery beard that grew beneath his chin. “When we got to the fort he threw me in a cell and ordered me lashed. He was full of hatred. And pride. I think he went mad a bit after his men were killed. He blamed me for it ye ken.”
“Pride can make men do strange things,” Donald said.
“Aye,” Connor agreed. “I think it nearly killed him when Carrie chose me.”
“He felt the lash himself,” Donald continued. “Along with Ewan. They made Izzy watch it for her part. We didnae see her again until we were put upon the ship. He was on it too. With his horse and his sister. And Elly was born on the voyage over. Izzy wouldnae let us tell him either. He never even knew she was on board.”
“Izzy…” Murray said as he tossed his head once again.
Connor wiped Murray’s forehead again. “Luckily for me his father came and stopped my lashing. As I said, I owed the man much.” He looked over at Murray whose lips moved in silent communication with the demons who haunted his dreams. “I got the best of him yet,” he said. I have his great white stud and am putting him to good use.”
“It might give him some comfort inspite of his hatred,” Donald admitted. “We watched him on the ship with the beast. He treated him well.” Donald rose and stretched his arms over his head. The weather and Connor’s story, combined with the intensity of the battle had finally caught up with. “I donnae thing Izzy ever got over him,” he added. “She is much like her mother in that way.”
“Once a woman gives her heart,” Connor said. “It is hard to convince her otherwise.”
Donald smiled as a vision of Ellyn filled his mind. “Aye,” he agreed. “And since she has given her heart to this man I willnae have him die without knowing that Izzy did not betray him. He will look her in the eye and ask her forgiveness.”
I have not done much for her…my daughter…but this I will be sure of…
“I hope he lives that long,” Connor said.


I hope this gives you an idea on how the editorial process works. It's always helps me to have another view of the story since I tend to write in a vacumn. So what do you think? Is the story more interesting this way? Can you see the process behind the edits?

2 comments:

Gerri Russell December 1, 2008 at 9:52 AM  

Once again, Cindy, thank you for the glimpse inside how you work. I find how other author's craft their stories very intriguing.

Bonnie Vanak December 2, 2008 at 9:52 AM  

Thanks for sharing, Cindy! Interesting, the process, like Gerri said.

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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