I wanted to share a coup with you all that I’m still patting my back about. Damn arm gets so sore LOL!
Okay - this is what I did.
Last Christmas – for some nutsy reason, I decided I was going to write a trilogy of novellas called Holiday Heartwarmers and base all the stories from the same town, tie them together by three Samoyed puppies being abandoned in a box in the park and have these adorable little mutts head out to find their own adventure. Of course, these adventures are all tied around a love story and happy ever afters.
Move us forward to this year where I’ve opted to take a group of authors from my Billboard bunch and we’re going to try hitting the lists this Christmas with a new box collection called Love Christmas.
So… that meant I would need to write another holiday novella for this set – right? Well I plotted like crazy. Kept my mind spinning with all the different scenarios I could come up with, but nothing clicked. If you’re a writer, then you’ll know what I mean.
When you have the right idea, it clicks like nothing else and from then on, everything falls into place. Well that wasn’t happening for me until…
Snickering with glee…
I was checking over all my book sales and noticed that my Heartwarmer series was still selling even though it’s May. Cool!! That led me to think about how much people liked Christmas romances – especially if one throws in a puppy. And wham! Like a brick to the side of my head, these thoughts exploded:
- I already had a strong reader base with the three novellas I’d released this year.
- I could leave the trilogy alone but still add more books to the… ahh what I will now refer to as a series.
- I’d still need a puppy but that was easy to do since I could have the same bitch ( I mean that in the nice way) birth a new litter.
- And… crazily enough – have no idea why I did this until now – I had mentioned a third brother in the first book who never did get his story… oh-oh, my arm’s getting another workout… :-))
- Best of all, the readers might buy the collection if it’s the only way to get the next Holiday Heartwarmer story.
Therefore, I did write the book and the first chapter is on a Sneak Peek with the Authors’ Billboard blog. I got to thinking; if it’s there, then maybe you should be able to read it too.
Frosty the Snowman…pup!
Holiday Heartwarmers Book #4
Chapter One (Sneak Peek – unedited version)
Ice shards blew against the Cessna’s windshield, vision became limited and suddenly stress seeped into the confined space. Previously relaxed, the pilot changed to a man with a mission. Tension ramped up and the earlier warm atmosphere turned cold as fear constricted throats unable to swallow.
“We’re going down aren’t we?” Hali Gibson’s voice hadn’t risen from her normal tones. Not even a little. But inside, hidden deep in her emotions, lived a wild spirit that screeched and then whimpered. I don’t want to die! Not yet. Not now!
Clutching the leather panel in front of her as if by sheer want and personal influence she could force the noisy plane back up into the blanket of white sleet that had suddenly appeared, Hali clung and bit back her screams.
The pilot bellowed over the plane’s roar. “I’m afraid so. Hold on! There’s a frozen lake we might use as a landing strip up ahead. Maybe we’ll make it.” He aimed his voice toward her and issued orders. “Just don’t panic.”
“I never panic.” She screamed back, her eyes feeling like they were protruding two inches from their sockets.
That got his attention but just for a second. He glanced over, his expression fierce like that of a warrior pitted against an enemy larger than life. “Brace yourself.”
In comparison to her own instability, she noted the giant-like man behind the controls appeared ridiculously steady. As if he’d force-landed his small Cessna in the middle of the frozen Alaskan outback any number of times. He kept speaking into his earphones giving their particulars and using the word “Mayday” to get attention.
It had certainly gotten hers. Who could blame her for thinking two voices might add more impact. Her screamed maydays certainly had more force than his.
With only a thin layer between them and the thickened white sleet that enveloped the small aircraft unexpectedly, the fragile windshield seemed totally inconsequential.
For a few seconds, Hali wished herself back in the small airport in Ketchikan and pictured a sock in her mouth stopping her from insisting she needed to be his passenger. Why in hell had she fought so hard to be here now? God must be punishing her for being so pushy.
As Hali listened to the roar of the small engine working as hard as it could, fighting against the elements of nature. She decided that when one faced death, seconds lasted longer which gave people time to reflect on why me, Lord? Forced to endure, she tightened every muscle in her body and prepared to die.
A humming noise from the pilot caught her attention. Watching him manoeuvering the small plane, she’d seen the skill it had taken to manipulate the controls and hold the aircraft steady. If by sheer will, a human could force this bird through the white wall of hell; this man would be the one to do so. But damn, did he have to sing them to their demise.
What the…? He was singing Frosty the Snowman. Of all the crazies in the world, trust her to beg this particular Looneytune to let her come with him just so he could serenade her last moments on earth with a children’s Christmas carol.
Without realizing she would, her voice melded with his only she used the words. If it helped calm his nerves, she was all for it.
On the other hand, he hadn’t yielded to their dilemma, in fact, quite the opposite. As if in hand to hand combat with the devil himself, he fought like a man possessed. Continuing to fly blind, his only source of information was the control panels that gave him instrument readings he needed to keep the plane from plunging out of the sky.
Feeling her stomach plunge along with the plane, Hali held on while they tipped from one side to the other. The roaring of the engines, harsher than earlier, revved to ear-splitting levels. Hali supposed the reverberation had increased because of their escalating descent.
The sudden howling going on from the crate in the rear of the plane ripped at Hali’s soft heart and guilt hit her hard. Because she was a wuss for driving long distances alone, she’d decided to take this bush plane into the wilds of Alaska from Ketchikan to Juneau rather than drive the 300 miles to deliver her cousin’s new puppy to a man she’d never met. Now, because of her cowardly decision, the gorgeous animal was going to die.
My fault. All my fault. At the airport, after she’d been bumped from the regular flight, she’d beseeched this pilot to let her and the dog come with him. Seems there’s a pecking order in Alaska. If you owned the Airlines, you were first in line and could change the route anytime you wanted, even if Christmas was only a few days away. Which left the paying customers angry but with no choice. They were forced to wait for the next flight.
Hali, unexpectedly stranded, had pleaded with this pilot to no avail. In her excitement, she’d even dropped her suitcase which had flipped open scattering her belongings everywhere. Like a gentleman should, he’d helped her collect her property, had handed her over underwear, sweaters, even her going-away gift from her newly-married cousin, which had softened his stubborn expression slightly, but he’d still refused her pleas.
It hadn’t been until the person who’d originally bumped her had his say and a large chunk of money changed hands that the tall man had agreed to the arrangement. Within a few minutes, he’d rounded her and the puppy up, got them belted into the place and they’d taken off.
Now she was locked in a sardine can, with a complete stranger controlling her life and… go figure. She’d begged to be here.
While her mind was travelling through time, the pilot had pulled off a miracle. They were speeding along a stretch of ice, hovering slightly above the ground. Battered on both sides, the winds didn’t like being robbed of their prey. As the man in charge searched for a place to safely set the little plane down, he fought valiantly to keep them from tipping.
Visibility much better at this low altitude, up ahead, Hali spotted what he did. There was a sheltered bay surrounded by trees. The lake looked to have less snow. And, cleared from the driving winds, the visible frozen surface invited them to drop in and stay a while.
Singing louder now, her voice blending with sobs of joy, Hali swiped at her eyes. She blinked repeatedly and watched the pilot set the plane down as gently as the buffeting wind would allow. Finally, he drove it closer to the shore and brought them to a complete halt.
In seconds, he’d turned off the motor. As if the turning of the key stopped their nightmare, it cut off their mingling voices also and silence reigned.
Hali watched him drop his face into his now shaking hands. Without realizing her intentions, she reached over to touch, pat, wishing she could hug. Finding her hand enveloped in a tight grip, she didn’t move. For her, connecting in this way with another human being was a normal action and so she allowed them these magical moments before voicing her relief. Truthfully, she’d choked up and words wouldn’t be forced through clogged emotions.
p.s. if you find any errors, I did warn you my editor hasn't had time to make her magic happen yet :-)