“You’re not going to believe what they chose.”
My friend, being the sympathetic kind, asked what could possibly be so bad. Instead of answering, I threw out the other ideas that had been mentioned and suggested I go with one of those. After all, I’d given myself that out—I didn’t have to go with something that wouldn’t work for what we were doing.
She pointed out what I didn’t want to hear. “But you’d be showing them how to write fast without being dependent on inspiration.” When I typed, *wails* she demanded, “Now what did they decide?”
I was grateful she couldn’t hear my sigh through Facebook Messenger as I said, “Girl riding the Pony Express. Gold bandits. Chuckwagon guy.” A groan probably followed.
“Girl Pony Express rider?”
“Yeah,” I grumbled. “Like that’s never been done before.”
When I grumbled some more, she reminded me that I’d promised to write the story they came up with—for NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words of it—in a month.
“It’ll be boring.”
“Then make it good.”
Of course, my friend was right.
I needed to write it. And with a good attitude. That would take some adjustments—lots of internal adjustments.
So, I did what I enjoy most. I wrote the opposite of what I’ve already seen done. Instead of the amazing girl outdoing all the boys and saving the day with her clever schemes…
Nancy was born. Prissy, silly, selfish Nancy with her tendency to see herself as slighted at every turn and a heart aching to be admired. To that end, I decided she didn’t like horses—nasty, smelly things—and oh!!! Yes! She can’t ride! I pictured her arriving at the first station, just ten or fifteen miles down the road, with the worst case of jiggles and jelly-legs you’ve ever seen. Falls off the horse. Crawls to the next one, weeping…
Okay, I didn’t let her cry as much on the page as you know she did in “reality,” because who wants to read about that?
Then came the thing with the gold.
This was the Pony Express, not the Gold Rush! It took a few tries to get a gold plot that worked, but it did… and totally not how I expected it! Then I did what I always tell people to do. I took that plot and twisted it… and then again. Then I threw in a red herring or two. And the fun began.
Except for the “chuckwagon” dude.
What chuckwagon? There wasn’t a chuck wagon for the Pony Express. There were stations—some with families, although I didn’t put those families into my story. I was trying to keep it as character clutter-free as possible. That’s not easy with approximately 180 stations along the route! (it varied as they had to add more to save the horses and others burned due to attacks by natives).
But, I twisted the idea and came up with Bruce MacLeod. And man, I learned to love that guy!
This isn’t your normal Pony Express story.
Because of the plot I came up with, even the way Nancy has to do her job is slightly different from reality. Still, I tried to stick as close to historical accuracy as I could find and only moved a couple of things around. Those are noted in the afterword.
It was hard work, let me tell you. Really hard work. I had to write a character I didn’t like and make her sympathetic… and eventually, make her likable. How? How could I do that?
Some might even ask why?
Note: links are likely affiliate links that provide a small commission to me at no extra cost to you!
What Made Me Write a Book I Didn’t Want To?
Okay, you know those people I mentioned up there under the ambiguous “they?” Yeah, them.
“They” were the students in a class I taught. I think it was called “Supercharging Your Writing with NaNoWriMo.” For the uninitiated and who didn’t know what I was talking about up there, NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” It takes place every November. People (almost half a million in 2017) from all over the world endeavor to write 50K (yes, that’s 50 THOUSAND) words in 30 days.
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? It’s only 1667 words a day. So, about 1.5 hours of writing for the average Joe.
The goal of the class was to help students learn how to come up with an idea QUICKLY and write as fast as possible. I gave all kinds of tips and tricks… and I said they could choose what I’d write so I could show it could be done.
A year and a half later… The Trouble with Nancy is here.
In November or so last year, Caryl McAdoo (her book in the “series,” Jewel’s Gold releases tomorrow!) asked if I wanted to join a group of authors in a series of unrelated books with the theme “Gold Diggers.” I almost said no.
However, I’ve been dying to write the next book in my Ballads from the Hearth series, Mary, and I thought, “Well, that might be a way to give me an excuse to do it.”
So, I agreed. But by January, another thought had taken root and sprouted. Poor, languishing Nancy could finally get out of my “In Progress” folder and done. Another WIP (work in progress) checked off the list.
I liked that. I liked it a lot.
So, poor Mary is still waiting to get married, and I’m done with Nancy. The question now remains… Do I tell her brother Lewis’ story next year or let this one stand-alone? I know what I’d write for Just Like Lewis but does it need to be told? I don’t know.
Should I write Just Like Lewis? I’d love to “hear” what you think after you’ve read Nancy and met her little brother with man-sized shoulders and a lot to learn about life.
Leave a comment and let me know, but meanwhile…
Let’s Talk Nancy!
Fresh out of the stables, Nancy’s ready to gallop her way to your Kindle and show you why she has no business being on the backside of a horse and what God teaches her there.
Book: The Trouble with Nancy
Synopsis: Her reputation precedes her, whether the bad guys realize it or not.
Nancy Harrison has finally stepped out of her prissy box and tried to do something helpful–but did she go overboard in her first self-less act?
She can’t ride, she hates horses, and she’s terrified of being alone. What’s a girl to do?
Join the Pony Express, of course.
When Nancy Harrison’s family receives a tax bill they can’t pay, there’s only one option open to them. Her brother, Lewis, will have to join the Pony Express and earn the money that way.
It would have worked, too, if ruffians hadn’t attacked him and broken his leg.
She doesn’t want to do it, of course, but what choice is there? Lose everything or ride a stupid, smelly horse for a few weeks? Nancy decides that she’ll chop off her hair, take to the dusty overland trail, and prove that she isn’t a “flighty little thing.”
But things go from bad to worse as she discovers that riding astride is worse than sidesaddle—especially when you’re not used to it.
Can’t she just go back home to balls, teas, and the hope of a suitor before her twentieth birthday? Sans her hair, of course, because that’ll entice the fellows. Sigh.
Nancy is STILL at the pre-order price for a few more hours!
I finished up at 53K words back in 2017, but the story wasn’t done. Though The Trouble with Nancy got chopped a bit, it also got expanded. When I put it up for pre-order, I just didn’t know where it would end up, so I gave it a novella price of 2.99. Well, it’s a full-length novel (although a little shorter than some of mine), so I’ll be raising the price to 4.99 later today.
If you want to meet Nancy, grab it while it’s “cheap”! (I always let the pre-order price go on for launch day so that people who use gift cards can still get the lower price.)
Oh, and Supercharged Class of ’17… thanks for choosing what I thought I didn’t want to write. I was so wrong… and you were absolutely right.