Promotion / writing

Farmhand

Sometime in the next month, a new piece of my work will come out. Only it won’t appear as Cedar Sanderson, author. The reason for this is that I’m trying a new genre, and to keep from confusing my readers who expect fairies, pixies, and ogres to pop out of the woodwork, or space ships and interstellar travel at least, I’m creating an open penname. So welcome Lilania Begley to the world. My middle name, and the soon-to-be-married last name (which makes the First Reader strut a little). Lilania will write mystery, romance, and some things that are a bit of both. Just no magic, or lots of science. It’s all very mundane, and all about the characters!

Without further ado (because I have a paper to write!) here is the second snippet of Farmhand, a modern Western Romance novella. You can find the first snippet here. Next week I will try to have a mock-up of the cover for you, and as always, this is a work in progress at the time of snippeting. It may have errors, typos, and will certainly change before final publication. Let me know what you think of my new venture!

Farmhand

“Dad…” Dev shook his head in disbelief.

“Well, she said yes, she’d like that.” His father had a slightly defensive note in his voice, and Dev flashed back to boyhood, and certain critters that had come home with him, and that note in his own voice.

“You brought home a stray. You don’t know anything about her.” He accused, knowing it wouldn’t help but he had to say it.

“Sometimes you don’t need to know someone long to see the quality in them.”

Dev shook his head. His father was sautéing mushrooms and onions now. “So what happened?”

“Well, we went in to town. She dropped her rental car off and we went to the Diner. She changed in the ladies room, then we sat over coffee for a spell and we discussed pay and what-not.”

“Dad. I need someone who can help around here. Until I’m all healed…”

Gray Macquire came around the table, stiffly moving, showing his age, Dev saw with a pang, and laid a hand gently on his son’s shoulder. “I’m grateful to just have you here. Don’t fret about what needs to be done. She’s going to help, and you need to work on resting more.”

Dev sighed. His fatigue was wearing on him again just then, his body aching and pulling his mood down. Stress, no doubt, he thought ruefully.

“Today I might as well write off. Not getting any more done. I’ll go get my tools in.”

Gray nodded, “And I’ll finish dinner. She will help with that, too, she said, just like you do.”

Dev swore fervently as soon as he walked out the door beyond his father’s earshot. His leg and side ached. He leaned on the mended fence and rubbed his thigh for a minute. The muscles were healed, they said, but the pain remained. Physical therapy helped, but the drive to town took so much time, and he did the home exercises when he remembered, which wasn’t as often as it should be.

He didn’t hear her until she was standing at his shoulder.

“How long has it been?” The warmly concerned feminine voice broke in on his reverie.

Dev jumped, instantly furious at his own reactions. “Shit! Don’t sneak up on me like that!”

She had a quirk to her lips like she was trying to suppress a smile. “My apologies, soldier. Your leg?”

“Caught beneath a humvee when it flipped. Broke my femur and a couple ribs.”

She winced. “No wonder you needed some help around here.”

“I do all right,” he growled.

“I can see that. Your Dad’s ticker is iffy, and you have a bum leg. I can help, if you’ll give me a chance.”

She picked up the toolbox and handed him the cane he’d left there. He didn’t use it much, but he had to admit it would be good right now.

He leaned into the cane and headed for the barn. “You’re blunt. How’d you know about Dad’s heart? He doesn’t like to admit it.”

“Could see it on his face while we were pitching hay. He gets a little blue around the lips under cardiac stress.”

“You a medic?” That was interesting, and not a bad thing to have on the skills board.

“Yeah, a paramedic.” She sounded nonchalant, but wasn’t.

Dev kept on with his prying. “How long for you?”

“Two tours.” She looked away, and he knew there was more than that.

“I’m a fool, then. Three. Last one cut short by this…” He gestured and then held the door to the barn open for her. “Week before heading home. What the hell happened to you? Pardon my language.”

She smiled and shook her head. “That’s all right. I keep it covered in public. This…” She reached up and touched the scar gingerly. “Wasn’t in the line of duty.”

He could see that she didn’t want to talk about it. Without thinking about it, he reached up and touched her throat softly. She stilled, looking up into his eyes. Dev felt his own throat tighten at the heat of her skin. He dropped his hand back to his side and she walked quickly to the workbench and set the toolbox down.

With her back to him, she asked “What needs to be done?”

Dev ran a hand through his hair. This woman was driving him crazy and he’d known her a matter of hours. “Too much. Fences need fixing, Garden’s a shambles… Can you ride?”

She turned to look at him now, smiling. “I grew up riding mustangs and cow ponies.”

“Heh… should have figured. Come on now, let’s get dinner.”

Their first meal was the pattern for the days to come. Easy talk, where Irina gently led his father into telling old stories. Dev mostly listened, enjoying his father’s animation even though he’d heard most of them before. She didn’t hesitate to pitch in and help out in the kitchen, although he doubted his father had expected so much out of any other farmhand.

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21 thoughts on “Farmhand

  1. I think I’m liking this story! Have to admit that I don’t enjoy a lot of ‘modern’ romances because of the gratuitous sex (usually included), and don’t enjoy a lot of ‘modern’ western stories because so often the authors don’t really have much experience with that lifestyle. Looking forward to seeing where this one goes!

    There are some historical western romances that Grandma Ella and I were both enjoying because they were so realistic — author’s name is Lorraine Snelling, if you ever have time to take a look at them. It was fun when she wrote about things we had actually done, things that were ‘right’ for the life her characters were living. (I get aggravated with some of the Regency writers, who make mistakes like having their characters sit down on a bale of hay — the first baling machine was invented in 1872, way past the Regency era.)

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    • It isn’t all male POV, because near the end I have a bit where she is elsewhere, and I can’t take him there, so, so it’s her POV. My beta readers suggested that the original length of 25K was insufficient, and I’m adding segments from her POV as well (I have her standing in front of the local jack-of-all-trades’ shop at the moment, chatting about old Spanish saddles). Final length will likely be 35K-40K words. I don’t have time to blow it up into a novel (sorry, betas who wanted that to happen!) but I already have a few follow-up stories planned with secondary characters.

      I’m really glad to hear you liked it. I have no idea on my target market, I’m going to tag it and market it as a Western Romance and see what happens.

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      • As a general observation the overwhelming number of modern romances are female POV. A very few are mixed. The only male POV I can think of off hand are Lois L’ Amour 🙂 (yes, do tell Sanford, they are romances, and I have almost all of them 🙂 Well, many of them have romance as the principal motivation. There is something in the idea that POV reflects the target audience, as it is easier for them to identify with. Honestly, if you’re going to get as far as 40K, my advice would be to add either her POV or a sub-plot (usually an extra character – works to about 10K words per for me.) and get it close to 60K and sell it as a novel. They sell way, way, way, better than novellas. But it is your decision.

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        • I am adding her POV which ought to take it from 25K to near 40K and it’s time… I’m told in Romance novellas do well. I just don’t have the time to put another big chunk on it, which will mean creating a sub-plot, and do classes. Over winter break I must write Dragon Noir. My schedule is not kind to me this year. So… I’ll experiment with this. And we shall see.

          As for L’Amour, I know. And Zane Grey. 😀

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          • eh, now I didn’t know that about Romance Novellas. Thank you, duly noted. Of course the only romance outline I have is a BIG book – somewhere between Vitoria Holt and Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody) is style, which I will damn well write one day, just to prove I can :-). Yes, very much so Zane Grey.

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            • I adored the Amelia Peabody stories when I was in highschool, tried to teach myself Heiratic and got the library to dig Petrie out of deep storage for me to read (dry as the dust he dug in!).

              Hopefully you will write it. I want to read it.

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            • Mr Freer,

              I dearly hope you write that book. I would hunt it down and devour it. Elizabeth Peters is delightful reading, and that sort of romance works well (for a woman who usually doesn’t’ like romance, see ref freeholder) The last romances I read weren’t printed in this century– or the last one, come to think of it. My sweet spot seems to be from 1870-1920 or thereabouts.

              At least, when Romances explored interesting people in (or attempts at) relationships. Manners and family honor are all well and good, but Regency is a bit tedious for my taste.

              Cedar–
              Speaking of this– oooh, I love it! Keep it coming, this is great!

              (For what it’s worth, I can’t do constructive criticism. I don’t see any flaws!)

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              • Thanks! There’s another snippet up in the morning, one more next week, and then it will be available. I’m so glad you like it.

                I agree we need to make Dave write that book. *plotting*

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        • Yes they have strong romantic elements in most of them. I do not think it is the main plot in most of them though it is a very strong subplot, and in a few it is the driver. I have nothing against Romances in the original sense which was an adventure story with a strong romance element. I mentioned that on the thread is Sarah’s Diner on romance. Storytellers such as L’Amour and Thomas Costain are wonderful. I hate the modern romances where the only real plot is the relationship and other elements are negligible at best.

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          • This story isn’t just about the relationship, I don’t think… but there is a story in two people finding their way to one another, through all the sticks and stones life can throw at them. Not all stories are big ones.

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          • I’d largely agree with that, the ones with zero except angst and thoughts about the other, and prob’ly a bit of sex bore me, but the line of what is adventure book/ what is romance can be fairly blurred. IMO it’s romance if love for a character is the principal motive for the actions (so Flint is IMO a romance) but an adventure when the motive is lets say, defense of a rangeland, into which romance enters. Done well, either are very readable.

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            • Now I would have thought Flint was a lost man’s attempt to find himself after losing himself in the wrong world. The romance was more a trigger

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  2. Pingback: Farmhand: Snippet Three | Cedar Writes

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