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As an author I often wonder if my fellow authors have favorite parts of their stories or books. It only makes sense. When we see a movie, listen to music, see a play, or read a book there invariably is a scene or even a line that becomes a favorite. If that is the case, then why shouldn’t authors have favorite parts of their own works?
Yes, I do have favorite parts of the things I’ve written. Usually, they involve a scene in which characters suddenly reveal something about themselves.
Today’s example comes from A Good Community: Saint Maggie Series Book 5.
Let me briefly set the scene: Greybeal House, home to Maggie and her extended family, narrowly escapes being set on fire by a gang of youth. But other disturbing news quickly greets the family: Water Street and Blaineton itself is on fire.
Maggie and family hurry to the square to do what they can to help. Eli and the other men and some of the women go off to fight the fire. Maggie stays in the square helps daughter Lydia and Dr. Lightner treat people injured in the fire.
If you know anything about the Saint Maggie series, you will know that Eli – who at heart is a man of peace – usually jumps into the middle of conflict to diffuse a potentially violent situation. And he almost always gets hurt. He has been shot, stabbed, and during a retreat by the Union Army nearly blown up by a shell.
The man’s just asking for it, especially since he has a bum leg and gets around only with the help of a cane. He’s vulnerable as all get out. But he goes for it nearly every time.
As I wrote A Good Community, I found myself thinking: “Wait a minute. Eli’s off fighting a fire and Maggie’s in the square trying to help the injured. Maggie does not know what Eli is up to. What must she be thinking and fearing?”
And I realized that Maggie would be worried sick.
So… finally, in Book 5, Maggie tells hubby that enough is enough.
Scene set up:
Exhausted from working in the square all night and worried about Eli, Maggie lies down on a donated blanket and falls asleep. But she is not asleep for long.
“So there you are! I’ve been looking all over for you.”
Maggie’s eyes flew open. “Eli?” She sat up.
“One and the same.” Her husband plopped clumsily down beside her. His face, hands, and clothing were smudged with soot.
“Oh, my dear, dear love…” She placed a palm on the side of his face. “Oh, you’re all right!” And then the emotions of the night – the fear, the sorrow, the worry – hit her and hit her hard. Maggie fell into tears. “Oh, Eli, I was so worried!”
Eli gathered her up in his arms.
“You’re all right.”
“Shh,” he whispered. “I am. And so are you. We’re both fine.”
She sobbed helplessly.
“No, no, no,” he murmured, disturbed by her tears. “Maggie, don’t. I’m fine. I’m fine.”
At that, she abruptly drew back and gave his shoulder an angry push.
“Ow,” Eli yelped, more confused than hurt. “What’d you do that for?”
“Because of you! Why’d you do this? Why’d you go off like you did? I heard nothing for hours! I was so worried!”
Eli caressed her hair. Some of it had escaped her braid. He pushed a strand back behind one of her ears. “But, sweetheart…”
“No! Don’t say, ‘sweetheart,’ as if that solves anything. You’re always trying to stop something bad from happening and then it happens to you!”
“That’s because I’m a Quaker?” he stammered.
“You’re not a Quaker, Eli.”
“Well, maybe not according to them, but in my heart I am.”
“And that was what made you try to take the gun away from Carrie? That was what made you go off chasing war stories and nearly got you blown up? That was what made you jump between Mr. Norton and that terrible man at the hospital?”
Eli winced. Her words stung. “You’re right,” he admitted after a pause. “And I’m sorry. I should have told you all I intended to do was throw water on houses and bushes. I would never run into a burning building.”
“That’s because you can’t run.”
“That’s right! I can’t. My leg won’t let me.” He took her hand. “Look, I know how much you worry. I really do. And I’m sorry.” He tenderly kissed her on the cheek. “Will you forgive me? Please?”
Well, of course, Maggie forgives him! Eli’s her husband. She loves him with all her heart. But I like the fact that she gets a little physical with him to make her point. Sometimes Eli can be thick as a brick.
We might wonder, after that little scene in A Good Community, whether Eli will be more thoughtful and less impulsive? I think there’s hope for him. However, there wasn’t much he could do in book 6, A Balm in Gilead, except expose himself to typhoid fever – which thankfully he didn’t do.
The question remains... has Eli really learned his lesson?
I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see. That includes me. Do you think I honestly have any idea what Eli is going to do? Most authors will tell you that characters, once created, often call their own shots. It’s true. Really.
Anyway, later, gators! See you in a week.
As Ringo Starr says, Peace and love,
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder