Is there such a thing as an anniversary before something happens? A pre-anniversary? The first chapter of A Spark of Heavenly Fire begins on Friday, December 2, which means the year in which the story takes place will be 2011. I didn't specifically choose that year, but certain events needed to happen on weekends, others on weekdays, and the year ended up being 2011 by default. I never mentioned the year in the book, so it's mostly a trivial issue. Today is the two-year pre-anniversary of the onset of the story, however, and to celebrate, all month long I will be posting outtakes of the book on my blog.
Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Somewhere along the line I deleted the computer version of the first draft (or perhaps there wasn't a computer version. I wrote it before I had a computer). I dug out my handwritten copy and am retyping some of the deleted parts. And there are a lot of them! The original draft was over 118,000 words, the final version less than 95,000. At least 4,000 of those words were justs and onlys and thats and beginning tos, which I worked hard to eradicate, so I don't intend to bring them back, not even for curiosity's sake.
Still, there many scenes that I deleted in order to get to the action quicker. Like many new authors, I frontloaded the book with information that slowed the story. I kept thinking that if only people could get past the first fifty pages, they would like the book -- it's a solid story with solid characters in a disasterous situation that could actually happen. A real breakthrough in my writing occurred when I realized that no one would wade through fifty pages to get to the good part, so I needed to eliminate those pages.
Included in the eliminated pages was a substory about a real estate agent and a retired defensive back who had once been part of the legendary Bronco defense team The Orange Crush. The realtor was so sex-starved that she would do anything, even turn a blind eye when he started molesting her daughter, in order to keep him in her life and her bed. I was going to post the deleted scene here, but it's way more graphic than I realized. Whooo! It's one thing putting a scene like that in a book, and another to post it where anyone can take a peak. I've saved it, though, and perhaps one day I will find a use for it.
I also deleted many less than stellar scenes, but included a brief mention of the action in flashbacks or dialogue. It got the point across without the sludgery of the original version.
I never quite knew what to do with the handwritten draft, but I'm glad I kept it. And who knows -- someday I might be so famous (or even better -- infamous) and the thing will be worth a lot of money.
Read the outtakes of A Spark of Heavenly Fire on: Bertram's Blog
Read the first chapter of the published version here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire
Free download: get the first 30% of A Spark of Heavenly Fire free at Smashwords
Read blurb (or buy!) at Second Wind Publishing: A Spark of Heavenly Fire
Pat Bertram is also the author of More Deaths Than One and Daughter Am I.