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Monday, November 18, 2013

Deleted Scenes

Back in October, I visited Kathy Wheeler’s blog and talked about how hard it is for a writer to delete scenes. The only thing that makes it a bit easier is watching the Bonus Features on movie DVDs. I love when the director says how much he loved the scene but, because of length or it slowed down the movie or some such thing, it had to go. It’s nice to know other artists have difficulty scrapping scenes they love.

When I first wrote One Red Shoe, I did something I haven’t done in any of my other books. The story was told from several characters’ point of views. And I do mean several. When I ran the story by my fabulous editor Ally Robertson at The Wild Rose Press, she love the story but suggested I reduce the number of characters through which we saw the story. As much as I hated cutting my “precious words” I know it made my story stronger.

On that note, I’d like to share one of my favorite scenes that doesn’t appear in the book. This happens when Daria’s brother meets Sam’s best friend.

Jim headed for the door, nearly running into the small woman who stepped in front of him. Her red hair was skinned back into a ponytail. The severe style emphasized her delicate features. With a practiced eye, he put her at five-four, a hundred ten pounds, and in her late thirties. A couple of years younger than himself.
“Sir?” Roger called. “These people want to see you.”
“Take their information, Deputy Arbuckle,” Jim said over his shoulder. “I don’t have time right now. I need—”
“Make time, Sheriff.” The red-head’s voice, sharp and determined, cut him off.
Jim eyed the woman. Dressed in black—cargo pants, vest and long-sleeve turtleneck—green eyes blazing, she was gorgeous. For a moment, she knocked his world went off kilter.
He’d never seen her before. She must be from the new houses in the northwest corner of the county between the Hiegel and the Burns farms. Don and Lloyd made a bundle, each selling off a portion of their lands to a developer. Now all Jim heard were complaints from the newcomers who moved from the city because they wanted wide open spaces and didn’t realize what all that farmland around them entailed.
“We will speak with you now, Sheriff.” Her voice was smooth, sexy and insistent.
Jim clenched his teeth at her order that he make time for her and her companion. If the damn newcomers weren’t complaining about the noise of machinery running from early morning until late at night, they complained about the smell. Well, golly, gee whiz. Farmers didn’t keep banker hours. They had to work the fields whenever the weather cooperated. And smell? Livestock smell. They leave deposits and those deposits smell. Farmers recycle those deposits to fertilize their fields. And when the wind blows in the direction of the houses . . .
“I don’t have time for this. File your complaint with Deputy Arbuckle.” He strode through the double glass doors.
“Do you have time for a matter of national security?”
Jim turned around at the top of the courthouse steps. The red-head had followed him. She stood hip-shot, a smirk on her lips. She propped open the door with her foot. He didn’t know Caterpillar made boots that small.
“Now that I have your attention, Sheriff, get your ass—”
Her companion clamped his hand on her shoulder. “I suggest you listen to what Ms. Quinero and I have to say, sir.”
That answered one question in Jim’s mind. Whether the two were mother and son or, God forbid, lovers. And wondered why he should care if she was a cougar.
Jim bowed to the inevitable. National security took precedence over Daria’s homecoming. If he discovered this was a ruse, Ms. Quinero would regret it.
“Follow me.” As usual, Jim set off the metal detector.
The red-head eyed the archway. “I’m carrying.”
“You’d damn well better have a permit. Let’s see,” Jim said. When she emptied the multiple pockets of her cargo pants, his jaw dropped. He expected to see a revolver. She carried a veritable arsenal. A Glock, throwing stars, a knife illegal in most states, a Taser, pepper spray and a cell phone.
Roger’s eyes widened so much he appeared bug-eyed. “Holy shit,” he breathed.
“It’s a wonder you can walk carrying all that,” Jim said. “Roger will keep an eye on your . . . weapons. What about you, Junior? Are you loaded to the gills, too?”
“No, sir.” He took a Swiss Army knife out of his rumpled suit pants pocket. “Except this.” He added the mini-toolkit to the pile of weapons.
“Are you expecting an invasion?” Jim asked the woman.
Once through the metal detector, the red-head kept pace with Jim’s much longer stride. “I feel naked,” she groused.
The image her comment evoked sent a surge of heat through Jim’s body. He walked quicker.
The young man hustled to keep up. “I’m surprised you have a metal detector. This is just a small town.”
“This is the county courthouse. The detector protects the judge, jury, witnesses and anyone else who appear during a trial. Even out here in Podunkville—” He sneered since that was surely how they saw his village. “—hotheads take their anger out on others with weapons.” Jim ushered them into his office.
He moved a pile of yet-to-be-filed papers off the lone visitor chair. That was a wasted effort since the red-head stood, her body vibrating with tension. Her companion sat in Jim’s chair behind the desk and popped open the lid of his laptop.
“Sally Quinero, Orion Agency.” She held out her hand.
As he did with all women, Jim was careful not to squeeze her hand. In contrast, her handshake was surprisingly strong.
“This is Agent Patrick Hardesty, boy genius.” She smiled at the kid and her green eyes danced. Jim couldn’t believe the transformation.
Hardesty reddened.
“Orion Agency?” Jim sat on the corner of this desk so he didn’t have to look so far down at the woman who appeared to be in charge. “Can’t say I’ve heard of it.”
This time he was the recipient of her smile. “I would be surprised if you had.”
Had what? His brain stopped functioning for five seconds while her smile hit him like a punch in the solar plexus. Jim cleared his throat. “Identification?”
She handed him a card. “If you wish to check, the second number is a direct line to the National Security Office at the White House.”
Jim blew out a breath. They could be lying. The ID could be fake. But to what end? He’d listen to their story and then get home. “For now, I’ll take your word that you are who you say you are. What’s the national security matter?”
As he expected, Sally Quinero did the talking. “One of our agents returned to the U.S. with highly sensitive information. An international hitman who works for a Russian Mafia kingpin wants the intel. He will kill our agent and anyone with him to get it.”
Jim stared at her. This was a far cry from complaints about cow manure. “Why tell me? Do you suspect your agent and the hitman are here in my county?”
“Our agent is traveling with your sister.”

I loved how the sparks fly between Jim and Sally. Maybe they’ll have their own story someday.

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