Friday, April 25, 2014

Getting a second chance

As often happens, a secondary character in one book pops up in another. I'd had the psychologist Barrett Schaeffer in two other books (Moon Dust and Evening Star) when I opted to give her her own romance in Second Chance. The question was who would be her hero. He turned out to have also been in Moon Dust. Perfect.



Not only because I liked writing a story about a single mom, dealing with an ex-husband, working in a demanding career as a therapist, this book gave me a chance to write about another kind of place that gives second chances-- wildlife rehabilitation centers.

Since I had seen how they operate and respect very much the work of these places, where they operate from donations most of the time, having a hero who ran one was perfect.

Another reason for writing it was that hero. He was not a man the heroine would normally have ever chosen. Much too young for her. More seriously he had another major problem-- he was a caretaker type. So it was fun to write a story about a man who took on the problems of others with a heroine who wanted to be tough and avoid that kind of thing for her own life. No way would she let herself fall in love with such a guy.

The story was set again in the Portland area and areas where I have lived or spent a lot of time. When I write books there, I get to choose neighborhoods I have liked-- not usually ones in which I have lived but have spent time.

Secondary characters showed up in this book from Moon Dust since Barrett was best friends with that heroine. I set this one eight years after it, which meant change had come to these people's lives. I like to carry forth characters and would have done more of it if I had been thinking series when I was writing all these books. So many are set in Portland that they'd be naturals for a Portland series, but the years didn't always work; and so they just live in the same place but don't all know each other. Except sometimes.

Snippet from Second Chance:
          Judd reached into the steel cage, grabbed the water container from where it had fallen, but not quickly enough before the razor sharp beak slashed down across his right hand. He cursed as he withdrew his bleeding hand, still holding the dish.
          "I told you that would happen," Barry Kuntz told him.
          Judd glared down at his friend but handed him the dish. "If you hadn't lost my gloves it wouldn't have."
          "I'm sorry, Judd. You could have worn mine." He looked at Judd's much larger hand. "I guess you couldn't. I just..."
          "Never mind. He barely nicked me.” He studied his hand to see if that was true. He’d had enough stitches over the years since he’d opened Second Chance that he was pretty good at assessing when it was required. “This is shallow and my own fault.” He had known the hawk was recovering, had known he wouldn't appreciate a human hand in his cage, but Judd had been in a hurry, his mind distracted. Those kinds of mistakes usually ended up with blood being spilled, too often his.
          Barry looked at the blood welling up, and his face blanched.
          "You’re not going to faint are you?” Judd asked with a laugh.
          “You should go to ER.”     
          "Not on a bet." He reached into the cabinet for the antiseptic bottle and poured a liberal dose over his hand, hissing as pain seared across the cut. "It's not that bad. See, the bleeding's slowed already." He hoped it was true. A hawk had a beak like a knife. If his wrist had been turned upward, the wound would likely have required a visit to have it stitched.
          In a hurry to pick up Barrett Shaeffer, and knowing he was already running late, Judd grabbed a gauze pad and held it firmly over the wound. "How about taping it?" he asked Barry.
          Barry cut off strips of tape, securing the pad crudely in place. "I think--"
          "Look, Barry,” Judd interrupted. “It’s going to be fine. Right now I really have to get out of here. You finish up, okay?"
          Barry coughed. "Sure. Where you going?"
          "I'm bringing a friend back to tour the place."
          Barry looked around and Judd knew he was seeing the ramshackle buildings, the conglomeration of cages and assorted sheds and wondering who was interested in them this time.  Second Chance didn't look like much, but it had saved hundreds of raptors and other wild birds and an assortment of domestic animals that had suffered from mistreatment.
       Most recently they had successfully treated, then released, a cougar who'd been peppered with buckshot. There had been numerous deer hit by cars. As word had gotten out about their operation--a few newspaper articles and one interview with a local television reporter--they had been assured a constant supply of abused animals, mostly birds; unfortunately, the money to treat them was not so easy to come by. Luckily one of the local veterinarians had been supportive of their operation.


2 comments:

Tabor said...

I have a question. Do you every re-read your very first publications? Do you think your wrting has improved over time? Do you thing your writing has changed?

Rain Trueax said...

Whenever I have time, I reread mine every so often. I especially look at them if I get a review that questions some plot element. For me, I always like my stories, *s* but then that's why I wrote them. The ones though I wrote in my 20s were not well written back then, but they still had the solid bones of the kind of story I like.

I often think I can improve what I wrote two weeks ago. It's that constant tweaking. I wrote about this once where that can happen when painting too-- just one place you can make better. It's the one advantage of fired clay sculptures-- even though I look and think-- that arm would be better shorter, it is what it is.

With the books, if I find something big enough, I might republish them to improve what people buy (if you have your Kindle set to allow for changes, it will automatically re-offer it to you if the editor there thinks it's an important change. Some of my early books, like 'Desert Inferno,' I love every time I reread but then I am someone who watches movies multiple times if I love the characters. IF I ever had a book that I had published and came to dislike, I think I'd pull it. That hasn't happened yet.

I just reread, for the umpteenth time, the one that is coming out May 1, 'The Dark of the Moon,' which is book two in the 'Diablo Canyon' paranormal trilogy. I have edited it now umpteen times but still found places I thought I could make the dialogue more crisp and truer to what that character would say. This time it was only tweaking, but tweaking can go on forever. At some point, I have to say that's good and true to the characters, their stories, and let them go out into the world.

When I reread something like 'Second Chance,' I love that book every single time. It's among my favorites for the animal rehab but also that hero who redeemed himself and fought his way to a happy ending. Yeah, I like the heroine too but almost always it's the heroes I most fall in love with :) I suppose it's one difference between chick lit and romance. chick lit centers around the woman almost totally and the men are mostly vehicles to show her growth or whatever. Romances have important heroines too, but it's those heroes that make or break the stories. This guy having been a teen in 'Moon Dust' and on the way to a bad end, made for a great hero 8 years later :)