I was cleaning up my home office today (because I always feel the need to purge at the end of the calendar year), and ran across the critiques from my writers’ group on a piece that was the very first inkling of Diamond in the Rough.
Whether or not you’ve read Diamond in the Rough, I thought you might enjoy this peek behind the curtain, to see how my novel was born. Hope you like it.
Rusty is a cowhand at the Domino Ranch, where he’s been for years. He lives in a small house, which he shares with Beau, Joe and a couple of other guys. Thursday nights he spends at a neighboring ranch, playing poker with the guys. He drives an old gray Chevy pickup that has more miles on it than he does.
He was with Beau and Beth the night that Bert’s herd was stolen by rustlers. The mutilated steer affected him deeply. A love of animals is what led him to life on the ranch. Growing up, he was responsible for taking care of the family dog and made money summers taking care of neighborhood pets. That was back when he was known as Russell Warner. He dreamed of living in the country, surrounded by rolling green hills and dogs and cats and horses. Once in high school, he joined 4-H. Other kids made fun of him for his project – he raised rabbits. It was the only project he could do in city limits. The girl he had a crush on – her name was Penny – raised a bottle calf every year. Her brother Mike was the one who had given him the name Bunny Boy. His high school years were a blur of embarrassment. He had been a country boy stuck in the city, a disappointment to his college educated parents and an outcast in the FFA / 4-H circles that he desperately wanted to join.
The day after he graduated high school, he packed his meager belongings into the used maroon Toyota Tercel that his parents had given him as a graduation present and headed west out of St. Louis. He stopped for gas in Kingdom City, picked up a newspaper and went to Denny’s to peruse the want ads while he wolfed down a Grand Slam. The girl who was waiting tables chatted him up, and told him about her cousin who worked at the sale barn just down the outer road and how they always needed extra hands on sale days. She jotted her cousin’s name on the back of his receipt and told him to go on down to the sale barn and introduce himself.
The girl’s cousin showed him around, and Bill, the owner, hired him on the spot. The crusty old man gripped Russell’s hand and give it one firm shake. “Welcome aboard, Rusty.”
And in that moment, Russell the Bunny Boy became a distant memory and Rusty the cowhand was born.
<SIGH> I always feel nostalgic when I come across a piece like this, that grew into an entire novel. If you want to keep up to date with my new releases and other book news, make sure you sign up for my mailing list – and if you’re intrigued by how stories like this kernel of an idea become a full-fledged novel, sign up for my WriteScouts newsletter.
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