This is long, but my memories of Cindy are rather fresh tonight.
For you see, I have Cindy Ross to thank for bringing my novels to life. She was the footprint in my back! And I so miss her right now as I write the last book in the series.
Because as some of you know, I’ve started the manuscript of “Unshackled Courage”, book six which will solve the cold case of the Phantom Killer (1976) when “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” is filmed.
Yes, it’s a mystery/historical novel, and it’s layered with lessons from Annie Grace who once rode the rail as a hobo girl (Shoelace) in 1946, and she encountered the Phantom Killer. And now she’s grown and living in Texarkana, when a clue lands in her pocket at Rose Hill Cemetery.
Now, with the first five novels, Cindy, my friend who lost her battle to lung cancer last November; she read each chapter (every word) the following morning. That’s 80,000 words in each of the five books. That’s a lot of words in four years in five books.
And sometimes even late at night she edited, to help with plot pots, to make sure I captured the essence of the story, the realism, the joy and the pain, that I hoped to paint on the pages. She took road trips with me for research. She endured my goal-oriented life.
So before I started this final book, I stared at the blank page Thursday night. And I prayed for the Lord to receive glory in my writing, to guide my words, to help me do the best ever in this novel.
But shortly after that prayer, as I went to type … I found myself weeping at missing Cindy, as my heart ached like pieces of glass were piercing my soul. I miss hearing and enduring her wit and sarcasm. I miss her loving me in spite of myself.
Gosh, I will SO miss not seeing her edits come into my email, and I’ll miss not hearing her laugh and pray and cry with me as I write the chapters.
But then, I hit the first keystroke, and in the last three days, I’m closing in at 5000 words. And to say, I’m shocked at how it’s rolling onto the page is an understatement.
After all, I know my normal pace, but this story is like no other I’ve ever written. It’s going to change the grownup tale for a character in the book too, who is a “real” person I’ve met, but he’s fictional in the book. But I can’t say anymore or it will spoil it for you.
But I wrote all of the above … to share this. That first night, I went to bed and had a dream that Cindy read the first chapter, and that she made a few corrections and additions, tweaking and making my words better.
When I woke up yesterday, I not only remembered all the changes, I ran to my laptop to make them. So, each morning, I plan to make my “Cindy” updates and changes–those I know she would want and request like a teacher using her red pen to fix me.
Cindy and I became friends with the characters, and they challenged us to live for God with zeal, with joy. To conquer life when death comes. Which I plan to do by completing the task at hand. Her death has rocked my world!
So, I pray this book is read by others, that it points to God, that it changes a life, as I write to remember those the Phantom Killer attacked or murdered. May they not be forgotten! For I know what it’s like to lose a dear one, and Cindy was my best friend for eight years! I won’t ever forget her either!
So this is my plug! Buy “Unshackled Courage” and do it for Cindy. It would make her day, if she were here. It’s releasing Summer 2018. I mention this because I believe in where the Lord is taking this novel. And I believe God will be honored through it!