First, if I might thank you all - what a fantastic forum for authors and readers, alike! My name's Ashley Ludwig, and I'm an author of inspirational romances, both contemporary and historical.
Today, I'm celebrating the official release of my historical romance, All or Nothing - set in the American West of 1876.
The story stems from years of research while working as an archaeologist in the Southwest…tromping around the ruins of Fort Lowell, romanticizing what it must have been like to live and work there. I studied, I read, I had false starts and rough drafts reaching to the ceiling. However, the pieces didn't fit together when a series of “A-ha!” moments happened that the story really came together.
I'll never forget it.
Puzzle piece number one: I was on maternity leave with my eldest daughter--having a rare moment of peace. I'd been thumbing through an Arizona Highways article, and read a half page snippet about a bandit who was never caught. His name, El Tejano. The Texan. Oooh. That's a good one. Never caught. No one knew who he was. An unsolved mystery, and real treasure never found! That would be great to build a story around… Hmmm.
Puzzle Piece number two: Still on maternity leave, little one in the swing, busily tossing old documents from my office, when I came across a draft of a story I'd worked on while working as an archaeologist.
It had everything. Setting. Purple prose. Passive writing. A tiny thread of a romantic plot. However, if I stripped out the beginning, end, and worked on the middle--with unmasking the above mentioned bandit, I just may have a story. Hmmm. But what about character motivation? Who was my hero? Who was my heroine? Why would they need to work together? Hmmmm.
Puzzle Piece number three: The totally ridiculous notion that I remembered how to sew. Disaster in home decorating, battle with a sewing machine, and ended up as $20 in my pocket from Craigslist when I sold the foul thing. But, my heroine. She could be a seamstress. I bet she could whip out a dress lickety split. Hmmm…And I suddenly met RuthAnne.
Puzzle Piece number four: Finding an old article about one of Tucson, Arizona's less than fine moments--an incident where a group of townspeople banded together to resolve the Indian “problem” - the cavalry left to pick up the aftermath. That's it! That was the thing that plagued my hero! I discovered Bowen. Scowling, fierce, and wounded both mentally, and spiritually…I'd bet the love of a seamstress just might bring him back to the right road…
It was enough. The threads of my plot and characters came together in a symphony of synopsis. Start to finish, I knew what was going to happen, how to get them from point A to point B…and all I had to do was write it. For once in my life, busier than I'd ever been, I made time to do it.
Baby in one arm, laptop on my desk, I one hand typed my way through much of that draft. The revision, copy editing, and help developing my voice-I can attribute to my local writing group, critique partners, and finding an editor who believed in the story as much as I did.
My question for the writers among you is this:
Have you experienced that A-ha! moment - when suddenly the pieces of your story fall into place? When it all makes sense to you and suddenly, you become just a vessel from which your story is poured?
Or do you sit down, and write by the seat of your pants, hoping for the best?
Thanks so much for visiting with me today… and thanks, my friends at You Gotta Read Reviews! For having me.
I do hope you all will celebrate with me by commenting here… And one lucky winner will receive a complimentary E-book copy of All or Nothing…
Here's a tease for you…:
A widow finds love…
A soldier seeks redemption…
And a murderous bandit threatens to destroy them both…
A young widow starting over nearly dies on the perilous, winding road to Tucson, Arizona in 1876.
An accident turns out to be a cover-up for a heinous crime at the hand of a murderous bandit. Robbed and left for dead, all that remains for RuthAnne Newcomb is her faith, and the talents God gave her. She needs both to endure the handsome, vengeful cavalry captain who saved her life.
Captain Bowen Shepherd offers aid in exchange for information leading to the criminal's capture. El Tejano, as the bandit is known, is bound to strike again and RuthAnne is the only living witness to his crimes. Left with nothing but her savvy and unwavering faith, RuthAnne is forced to return to the scene and help with the intolerable soldier's quest.
Already, the criminal is after the lone witness who can destroy him. Bowen and RuthAnne must risk everything to unmask the bandit before he can strike again at the one who cost him the most. Will their newfound love, or their lives, be the cost of bringing a murderer to justice?
Now Available from White Rose Publishing
“Mara!” Her voice choked; the raspy words burned like fire.
She searched the scene on hands and knees in the silver moonlight. Lord, not Mara. Where is she? She's just a girl…please!
Footsteps crunched on the gravel-filled dirt. Nowhere to hide, RuthAnne willed herself invisible. Her hand closed around a fist-sized rock. The bandit wouldn't take her without a fight.
He knelt down beside her. A large, rough hand cupped her cheek in an all too familiar way. “You're awake. Thank God.”
With a ragged battle cry, RuthAnne lunged at her would-be attacker with the stone, cracking him just above the shoulder. He shied away from the blow, and the lump of granite glanced off him. With little effort, he peeled it from her fingers. “You're coming with me, whether you like it or not.”
The brigand picked her up like a child and marched her off to her doom. Terrified, she fought and bucked while he carried her.
Tears of frustration streamed down her face; her hair, a mass of golden curls, tumbled loose about her as she thrashed in his arms. RuthAnne hammered at him with ineffectual fists. He carried her so easily, as if she were feather light, though he did pin her arms close against her body.
“I'm not going to hurt you. I'm here to help.”