Catching Up

Red QuillThis is what I call a catch up post. I have been busily writing my heart out, but unfortunately none of it has appeared here on Writing to be Read. I want to apologize for neglecting all my faithful readers and perhaps make up for it, in part, by sharing what I have been up to.
I’ve been working on a middle grade mystery novel, The Adventures of Ann and Kinzi, that has turned into quite the project. With 26,000 words down, the first draft is now well on its way to being finished. I also wrote a political op/ed piece that has a good shot at being published after making revisions, and I wrote a query letter for my western novel, Delilah, the first draft of which is waiting for revision at this time.
I covered the 2013 Pikes Peak Writers Conference as the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner, and I’ve also been working on a blog post for the Pikes Peak Writers blog. While attending the conference, I had my first pitch session, where I pitched one of my children’s books and got a “send it”, so I have also been working on revisions of the book, as well as writing a cover letter and synopsis for it.
In addition, I’ve worked up a chapter outline and a start on a non-fiction book, The Unseen Victim, that’s been brewing in my mind for several years, and developed a good idea of the research that I’ll need to do for it. I’ve written the first draft for an article on creative and critical thinking skills in writing and how to teach them in the classroom setting, which may eventually end up here. In class, I learned to write out a syllabus and lesson plan, knowledge that has the potential to be very useful in my future writing career.
With the end of the semester just around the corner and most of these projects finished, or at least close to being wrapped up, I find myself in an unusual dilemma. While many writers complain of not knowing what to write, my question is what to work on first. I have Delilah awaiting rewrite, with query letter ready to go. I have the remainder of the first draft of The Adventures of Ann and Kinzi to finish. I have research to do for The Unseen Victim. And I’m compelled to work on my memoir about the death of my son, which continues to cry out to me from somewhere inside, needing to be written. With the whole summer looming ahead of me, I don’t know what direction to work in next.
All of that just to say I’ve been really busy. To make up for my negligence here dear readers, I bring s peace offering of a short excerpt from my western novel, Delilah. I hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 Delilah watched as the prison gates opened, the gunnysack of rations they had given her thrown over her shoulder. She was dressed in the same clothes she’d arrived in–worn brown trousers and a chambray shirt, with the leather fringed coat that Manuelo gave her for her sixteenth birthday. She loved the fringe that adorned the sleeves and breast, making her feel fancy. It held a special place in her heart because it came from Manuelo.
     She reckoned she’d head back to the little town in the San Luis Valley where she grew up. She didn’t know what awaited her back in San Luis, but Manuelo would be there. His letters had promised her as much. He was the one person who had always been there for her and who believed in her. He was the only person who understood why she killed her step-father when she was seventeen.
     Delilah strolled through the gates, not looking back at the line of prisoners waiting to go the brick yards in their black and white striped duds. Being female spared her from the brickyards, but she’d slaved in the laundry, scrubbing the red dirt from those stripes for two long years. She wouldn’t miss the sight of those dirty striped uniforms or most of the prisoners in them.
     Outside the gates, she examined the contents of the sack Shamus had handed her. The prison had given her rations of flour, sugar, coffee, beans and a hunk of lard. She pulled out the chunk of jerky she’d seen Shamus slip into the sack when the other guards weren’t looking. The young, rusty-haired guard had always been kind to her. Delilah thought he might even be a little sweet on her. She was certain the jerky wasn’t part of the standard rations for a prisoner being released.
      She wandered through the dusty streets of Canon City chewing jerky, not sure where she was headed. A rather plain blue dress with hand stitching was displayed in the window of the Mercantile Store. It was the kind of dress her mama would have wanted her to wear. Mama was constantly harping on her to wear dresses like her little sister, Katie, but Delilah refused. She hadn’t worn a dress since she was old enough to ride.
      As a girl, her mother and the school teacher, Consuela harped about her un-ladylike appearance, but Papa never minded her wearing britches instead of dresses. They were better for riding and for hunting, which they both enjoyed doing. Even after he died and Mama had sold Delilah’s horse to pay the outstanding mortgage payments, she still wouldn’t dress in lace and frills like the other girls. She spent her time hunting to put food on the table, selling the skins of the animals she’d killed to do her part in supporting the family. These were activities for which a dress would be most cumbersome.
     She stopped in front of the livery to look over the horses in the corral, the smell of hay and manure filling her nostrils. She leaned her arms over the top rails of the corral fence, watching the horses stomp and snort to one another. A tall, bearded man in overalls approached her, smoking a pipe. “Can I do something for you, Miss?” he asked.

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