Update On A Forthcoming Novel

The publishing process for a novel takes a long time, many rewrites and edits, and constructive remarks from beta readers even before someone with professional pedigree lays eyes upon it. For us who know we’re going Indie publishing, that means getting that editor to scrutinize the manuscript and recommend changes before we authors put those changes into place.

That’s where my forthcoming novel, Jag, is at. You can read more about Jag’s plot here, from an earlier post in this blog.

Now, here’s a rough snapshot taken from one of Jag’s early chapters to give you a sneak peak:

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“Breakfast is ready!” Mom’s voice drifted up from the kitchen along with the aroma of bacon and eggs.

“Be there in a minute.”

Breanna doubted Mom heard her drowsy reply. She still lay beneath her aqua-blue comforter after snoozing the alarm–stalling for a few more moments alone with Jag.

The brawny black Labrador sat on his haunches in the heavy-duty plastic crate next to her bed. His deep brown eyes danced as if pleading for that caress with which she greeted him each morning.

“It’s your big day, my big baby.”

Breanna kicked off the covers and sat up. When she swooped her open hands over the crate’s edge, Jag burrowed his boxy nose into her cupped palms and she massaged his jowls. Soft facial fur slid beneath her fingertips while hot breaths moistened her wrists.

The past sixteen months raising him had slipped by so fast. Today, she’d return Jag to California Guide Dogs for training.

“Some really nice folks are gonna teach you to help a special blind man or woman go places. But what am I gonna do in college without you?”

In one smooth motion, Breanna slid out of bed, knelt on the floor, and unhooked the crate’s latch. The wire door swung open and Jag bolted out onto the bedroom carpet. Breanna folded the big lab’s head and shoulders to her chest. His sloppy tongue brushed her left cheek and his left-front paw lighted on her shoulder.

“Yeah, you feel my jitters, don’t you?”

The dog’s chocolate brown eyes met her gaze and a little woof escaped his silly smile. That he understood nothing she said mattered little. Breanna brushed away a couple sleepers from his eyes and smiled as if he did. She scratched behind his ears and stood. “When I got you, you were just a little pup in my arms. Now, look at you!”

Breanna brushed a trickling tear drop from her left cheek. Jag was the fifth pup she’d take back to California Guide Dogs, but despite all the previous pups’ successes, he would always be her favorite. He’d been her buddy on hikes at the beach and her solace when Mom and Dad’s arguments interrupted her senior year studies. Now he was ready to become some blind man or woman’s best friend.

Breanna started for the stairs when a navy-and-white-striped package on the dresser caught her eye. A manila envelope lay beside it covering her newly-arrived diploma.

“Where’d these come from?” she asked no one in particular.

Snatching the envelope, Breanna read the return address: 4625 Figueroa Street, Santa Barbara. Aunt Maren? Had she forgotten to write her name on the envelope? Or was this how Dad could get through to her? Since the divorce became official in June, Mom swore she’d block every attempt he made at communicating with her.

“Breanna Renee!”

Ignoring Mom’s second summons, Breanna tore the envelope to shreds and read the note: 

Dear Sprout,

I hope this gets to you before you leave for school. I’ve missed you so much these last several weeks.

First, please forgive me. I am so sorry for how everything turned out this summer. I’m so sorry that I haven’t been around or even called. You must feel like I ran away, but I didn’t intend to do that, and it’s about killed me not talking to you. I know I should say this to your face, but this letter will have to do for now.

Second: Hang this accompanying little doodad in your truck window while you’re on the road. When you look at it, think of me and know how much I love and admire you. Let it bring you comfort when times get rough. Remember that God has blessed you with a tender heart just as he’s enriched your beautiful mind. Your wisdom and grace amaze me every time I think of you.

Third: Take a class with Jeff Patrick. Do you remember your mom and me talking about our college buddy Jeff? Well, he’s Dr. Patrick now and he’s a professor at Gerhard College. He’s shown some symptoms of sight loss, and it’s been hard for him to handle. Seriously, if you get a chance, take one of his courses. Just don’t expect him to cut you any slack on account of me! He probably owes me payback from a prank or two back in the day.

Finally: Call me when you get there, Baby Girl. We’ll talk often, I promise.

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