Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A 30-day novel in 90 days

If you all remember, I started my Nik Morton-induced 30-day novel on July 9, 2013. Today I finished the draft. It's October 8, 2013. Know what? That's about what it took me to write a novel of Black Horse Western length in the pre-30-day era.

What can I say? My work patterns are carved in steel and unbreakable even with the urging of Nik Morton's book? Could be.

I thought Stryker's Bounty was going to be a book of blood and guts. Turns out not to be true. Maybe that's why I've no best sellers. Maybe if I cut down a character every three pages, people would be more interested in my writing, who knows?

Anyway, the 30-day draft is now in the process of going through my trusty beta reader. We'll see what evolves from here.

In the cave where Lester Dent and his two older boys died, Stryker and Molly and Wee Willy are alive. Just alive.

No food. No water. No horses. Nothing but 250 pounds of gold. Stryker couldn’t see a way out no matter which way he looked at their predicament.

Molly and Wee Willy sat in the cavern, their backs against the rock wall. They said nothing, but Stryker knew they expected him to find a way out. He rubbed his left hand against the trickle of tears that always wet his left cheek.

The gold just sat there, mocking him, or so it seemed. Molly was there. He’d found her. That’s what he’d told Dodge Miller he would do. Maybe if he let the gold lie. Maybe if he just walked away with Molly and Wee Willy. Maybe. Stryker’s head got so full of maybes that he found it hard to think straight.

And what would happen when John Walker led those gold-hungry men back into this canyon? And he would; that white Pima would bring them back.


Stryker didn’t answer at first.


Stryker opened his eyes like he was just waking up. “What?” he said.

“We ain’t got no water, mister. I’m all right. I’m not worth nothing. But the missus. She needs water, mister. Real bad.”

“I’ll be all right, Matt.” Molly’s words were more a croak than something a human voice would make.”

So what did Stryker do? He left the gold and took Molly and Wee Willy up the canyon wall the same way he and Carpenter had come down. But first, he had to make a signal fire.

Takishim was an Apache scout like these
Wee Willy gave a vigorous nod. “Ah allus made the fires for my pa,” he said.

“That’s the man. Build one right here.” Stryker sketched an X on the ground with his toes.

“Here? Outside?”

“Yep. Build it with the sticks from inside, then put creosote on. Make it smokey.”

“Oh, mister. They’s Induns around. Smokey fire ain’t good. That’s what my pa say.”

“We need smoke, Willy. We want Apaches to come.”

“Oh no, mister. Apaches do scalpin’ and such. They all’ll cut the liver right outta a man, they will. No, sirree bob. Apaches ain’t no good.”

“Did you ever hurt an Apache, Willy?”

“Oh, no, mister. I don’t hurt nothing. My pa allus said I was so strong I might kill a man without me meaning to, that’s what he said.”

“Well. Now, we need my friend. He’s Apache. His name’s Takishim. He’s a government scout. We send up a smoke, and he’ll see it.”

We know Stryker and Molly and Wee Willy are headed back to Tucson. Molly is so afraid that her husband will not have anything to do with her because of what happened with the Dents. But here's what happened when Dodge Miller saw his wife.

Tucson in an earlier day, but with electricity.
As Stryker hit the street, Dodge Miller hopped past, using crutch and one leg to make quick time.

“Molly darlin’,” Dodge said.

Molly now had both hands to her face and her eyes showed panic and fear. She jerked her arm, trying to free it from Willard Dent’s grip, but he held fast.

“Missus. Missus. Missus,” Willard said, like he was soothing a flighty filly. “Mister Miller don’t mean no harm. He’s your mister, missus. Just yor’n.”

“Molly. Molly darlin’. I thought I’d lost you. I saw that man beat you. I saw his son use you. And I had to play dead.” Tears coursed down Dodge Miller’s face. “I’m so sorry, Molly. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me? Molly darlin’. Please. Please. Please.”

Molly said nothing. She shook her head again and again, but her eyes never left Dodge’s face.

“Molly. Molly. Dear sweet Molly. Forgive me, please.”

At last, Molly spoke. Her voice quavered. Dodge had to lean close to hear what she said. “Dear dear Dodge. Can’t you see? I’m not the Molly you carried over the threshold. I’m not the Molly that worked by your side to built Miller’s Well into a proper stage stop. I’m not, and I never will be again.”

Dodge’s face crumpled. He covered it with both hands, letting the crutch fall. He ignored the passing wagons, the horses and riders, the people walking by. “Dear God. Dear God. Without my Molly, I’m less than half a man. Dear God, please bring my Molly back.” Dodge Miller closed his eyes and bowed his head. “Dear Lord,” he said. “Dear Lord. If thou wilt please bring Molly back. Let her know, Lord, that she means more to me than all the silver and gold in Arizona. No. All the silver and gold in the whole world. Please, Lord, soften my Molly’s heart so she can feel the love I have for her.”

“Missus?” Willard’s voice was low, like a small child telling a secret to its mother. “Missus?” He tugged at Molly’s arm, pulling her toward Dodge. When they got close enough, he reached for Dodge Miller’s arm. He put Molly’s hand in Dodge’s. “Missus. This’n’s your man. He was laying dead at the stage stop. I seen’m. Now he’s alive. He’s wanting you to be with him, missus. I reckon that’s a proper thing to do. Time for me to move along, I reckon,” Willard said. He checked to make sure Dodge was holding Molly’s hand, turned his back on them, and led his shaggy paint horse back up Scott Street, leaving Dodge and Molly together. Before he was out of sight, Dodge had his arms around Molly and she was shedding all the tears she’d held back while with the Dents. Willard turned the corner and was gone.

This is not the end, but you'll have to read the book to find out that part. Piccadilly Publishing will put in out toot suite, as soon as me and the beta reader get it polished up.

So there you have it. A 30-day novel in 90 days. 

Word Count: about 43,000


  1. What excerpts you offered. Looking forward to the finished, published project.

  2. Thank you. A little while yet to produce the finished novel.

  3. Well done, Charlie. But it may have been 90 calendar days but I bet it wasn't 240 hrs on your spreadsheet...?

  4. The 30-day story is drawing to a close. Enjoyed the excerpts and will wait for the book to be released.