Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One trip, one book. Two trips...

One trip, one book. Two trips...
Judy Nickles writing as Gwyneth Greer

Branson, Missouri, is a great tourist town full of clean, family-friendly entertainment. Several years ago a long-time friend talked me into a trip. Though I went reluctantly, I came away with a smile on my face, a song in my heart—and a book to write.

We were leaving the showboat Branson Belle after a tasty dinner followed by a sparkling musical show, when I remarked, “This would be a good setting for a book. I think I’ll write The Showboat Murders.”

Properly horrified, my friend replied, “Oh, no! Write The Showboat Affair”.

So I did.

The story of Jean Kingston, dumped by her unfaithful husband after thirty years of marriage, fit with the guidelines for TWRP’s Last Rose of Summer line. My wonderful editor, Aly Ottomeier, held my feet to the fire as together we refined Jean’s journey to reinvent herself as an independent person with a career and finally with a second chance at love.
When the first edits came back, I remember my face flaming as I read the (only) strong love scene in the book—or in any other I’ve written for that matter! It wasn’t graphic by any stretch of the imagination and faded to black as is my custom. But I couldn’t believe it had actually come from my pen…um, computer keys!

I emailed Aly with my determination to rewrite it. She emailed back, in essence, “Don’t you dare.” So I didn’t, and in retrospect, she was absolutely right.

My only regret is putting the book out under a pseudonym, Gwyneth Greer. Growing up with an unimaginative name, I’d always envied several of my classmates who had lovely alliterative names. This was my chance, and I took it. If I could do it over, I’d use my own moniker.

The cover art by Tina Lynn Stout perfectly captured the essence of the story. She found just the right pictures and wove them together perfectly.

I went back to Branson in September, stopping for a couple of nights on my way home from a writing conference in Springfield. My focus this trip was more time at The Landing. All those shops were calling my name, just as they'd called to Nick Cameron, the male protagonist of The Showboat Affair. However, I decided at the last minute to take the train excursion again. For 90 minutes, in between listening to the intermittent narrative and watching the scenery, I stayed busy with pen and notebook.

So did I come home from this trip to Branson with a new novel?

Time will tell.

Judy Nickles writing as Gwyneth Greer


Liz Flaherty said...

I've never been to Branson, and now I feel I really must go!

Judy Moore Nickles said...

You definitely must go, Liz. I left at least one story idea there for you!