I’m excited to announce I recently signed a contract with Elk Lake Publishing. We just finished the first round of edits. We don’t have a definite release date yet, but I will keep you posted.
The working title is Emily’s Trial. The story is about a female attorney in Kansas. It’s set in the mid-1880s in the town of Abilene.
There’s an interesting story behind the story of Emily’s Trial. Several years ago, I was reading a novel which I now can’t remember the title of or the plot or much else about it. But in the middle of reading it, I had the thought, “When was the first female attorney?”
I did some research and discovered each state admitted women to the bar at different times. Kansas had its first female attorney in the early 1880s. This fits the historical period I usually write about.
I contacted my agent at the time and presented the idea, “What do you think about a story about a female attorney in the 1880s?”
She wrote back, “I like it. It’s the best idea you’ve ever had. Send me a proposal for a three-book series.”
I wrote back, “All I have is a female attorney in the 1880s.” I didn’t have characters or a plot or anything else.
Then I wondered how did she know this was the best idea I’d ever had? Had she been talking to my wife?
I got to work on the story. I’m a pantser. When I began, I knew how the story would end and I knew some obstacles the heroine would have to overcome along the way, including dealing with prejudice about a woman entering a previously all male profession. I looked forward to discovering the journey I would follow with my heroine.
On a dark and stormy night, the opening scene came to me. I don’t remember the actual weather. I just thought it would be fun to throw in the cliché. Besides, the story really opens in a horrendous rainstorm, but during the day.
The main character is Emily Peyton. She passed the bar two years earlier and works in a law practice with her father, a prestigious lawyer in the area. Her father raised her as a single parent after her mother deserted the family for another man when Emily was eight years old. Their closest friends are Doc Everett and his wife, Caroline. Caroline became Emily’s surrogate mother while she was growing up.
In the opening scene, I throw Emily into a catastrophe. She learns her father was seriously injured because of his carriage being washed off the road while he was on his way to visit a client. His injuries are both serious and extensive. Besides being unable to walk, he can’t speak coherently.
I thrust Emily into taking over the law practice.
For those of you who like writers’ jargon, the first doorway of no return occurs when a robbery and murder take place. No other attorney in town will take the case because the evidence against the accused murderer seems open and closed. The accused’s friend, Terrence McCarthy, comes to Emily and her father. Her father is reluctant to take the case because Emily has yet to represent a client in court. Yet he is in not physically or mentally capable of being in a courtroom himself.
Emily’s reluctance stems from her believing the accused is guilty, but they agree to take the case because her father believes every person is entitled to legal representation.
And then the fun begins.
I’ll write more as we get closer to publication date.
As you can see, Emily throws me quite a few curveballs and we’re early in the story.
What curveballs or surprises have your characters thrown you? How did you handle it?