What's that? How could it be??? I found goofs. I considered giving up writing about the time I came on the fourth inconsistency (more were waiting). My writing does not support professional editors; and if you get someone who is not, they might screw your book up worse than you did because they don't understand where it's going or why the dialogue was as it was. So I do it-- with help from some reading friends. I miss things. They evidently do. Some readers won't.
I chose this book to go next because it's the contemporary story of the ranch that is established in Tucson Moon (book comes out in late November) where the marshal in Arizona Sunset will be the hero.
Desert Inferno carries on the story of the O'Brian family and was actually the first book I put out as an eBook in December 2011. How it still had errors, I do not know :( but it's in shape now. (Incidentally if you bought it earlier or have one of the thousands of free copies floating around, you can go to your Kindle Manager and get the latest edit. The characters didn't change. It was just silly juxtapositions of events mostly).
Below is it's opening scene. It actually had no errors leaving me to think it'd be an easy edit... Not so much.
future back cover for the paperback
The brush, rich with vermillion oil paint daubed across one edge of the Payne's grey rock. Well that didn’t work. Rachel O’Brian scraped the garish color away. Critically, she stepped back to survey the large canvas propped against the rear of her pick-up truck. The lower swoop of shadow across the desert with sunlight glittering on the hills projected the feeling she had hoped to convey of depth and distance, but...
Her gaze kept returning to the lower right corner. There was something missing, a quality of deadness that ended the canvas at a bad point, drawing the eye away from the cacti and yucca, her intended center of interest. Was the problem a fatal one or had she lost perspective?
Absentmindedly, she used her wrist to push a long strand of hair behind her ear. She looked from the canvas to the landscape. To her eye, what might have seemed barren to another was lush with yucca, rocks, cactus and mesquite. Across the border into Mexico were the rugged, pale purple, Parajito Mountains muted by dust in the air.
"Shoot," she grumbled, "doesn’t one ever just work out?" Her fingers nearly itched to take hold of the palette knife and peel off layers of paint beginning again from a raw surface. A more perverse satisfaction would come from taking the knife from her belt and ripping the canvas to shreds. Of course, it would do nothing to save the painting.
She reminded herself that sometimes what at first seemed disastrous in a painting had a way of becoming its best point. She wiped her paint smeared fingers with a rag. ‘Give it time. Patience, Rachel. Remember. Patience.’ From the time she'd been small her father vainly attempted to explain how it was better to wait for things, they would be sweeter when they finally arrived. She had never become convinced.
Her paintings all happened in a white, hot heat. She layered on color, shaped the landscape to suit her inner vision-- a feeling she only rarely perfectly captured. If she didn't work quickly, impatiently, the fleeting feeling might be taken away, the impulse of inspiration disappearing in a myriad of details. Through university training, private art lessons, she had learned a degree of patience with her work, learned to temper the heat, to bring the work back to her studio where she would struggle through the composition, and finally put a signature at the bottom--if it was worth signing and showing. They weren't all.
Again she stared into the distance, pivoting a little as she reached into the back of her truck, and brought out a thermos of lemon flavored ice water. Squatting beside the truck in the filtered shade of a mesquite tree, she drank from the thermos, continuing to stare at the landscape before her. In another half hour, she would have to leave as the colors would be washed out by intense sunlight. A faint breeze ruffled the tendrils that had pulled out of her long braid.
"So, Matilda," she asked her four-wheel drive truck, "shall we call it a day?" In the way of good, long-standing friendships, the truck listened, not commenting, recommending, criticizing, nor expressing its preference.
Raised in this rugged country, Rachel had learned to crawl with the desert as companion, teacher and friend. Her family’s ranch stood in the midst of mountains and desert. Nestling against national forest, the land stretched over rugged hills, grassland, yucca, live oak, and mesquite trees to reach the border. Except for the occasional illegal immigrant group, or less desirably the drug traders, it was free of people, a roadless region seldom seen by outsiders.
With the beauty of the cactus and wildflowers, birds and animals, and the challenge of the rugged mountains, its terrain yielded an endless string of paintings that her collectors were quick to buy.
She knew their secret though, those collectors. They really wanted on their walls the love of the land that she knew each of her paintings attempted to capture, to encapsulate. She sold love, a love of nature. She herself intensely loved this land, and she was fortunate enough to be able to let it shine through the paint.
Out here, she had learned how suddenly life could end. When her turn came to join her ancestors, she hoped it’d be on this land with her ashes scattered over possibly the same places she painted today.
Some feared her land. She understood that. Some of its denizens were poisonous, some of its people dangerous. As a small child, her papa had given her practical lessons in desert survival. She knew to avoid most of the hazards and appreciate all of the beauties, to never take anything for granted, knowing full well the lethal promise for the unwary, the potential for an instant of bad judgment to lead to disaster.
At first she thought her eye had been attracted by a jackrabbit or coyote, then realized it wasn't an animal. She squinted but couldn't decide what she saw or perhaps sensed—something out of place. Pulling out a pair of binoculars, she studied the terrain. ‘A piece of cloth or…’ It was white. Maybe a... She shook her head with uncertainty. Her inner voice told her to look more closely.
She tucked her shirt into belted shorts and reached into the glove compartment to retrieve a small 9mm handgun and holster, threw a canteen over one shoulder, and grabbed a soft brim hat. Her feet were already shod with hiking boots and rolled down socks.
There was a time when she’d never have expected it to be a person. She remembered growing up when the only strangers to this land were lost hikers or those whose four-wheel drive vehicle had failed. She had, however, always understood the dangers and knew through the stories of her family that this land had never been held lightly.
It wasn't easy to line herself across the land, down through arroyos, around cholla cacti. Now and then she glanced back to her truck, but kept it in her mind where she had seen the white. "I've got to be crazy," she muttered as the heat of the sun beat down on her shoulders. "Nobody's out here." But what if there was? Someone in trouble. She must know.
When she again glimpsed the white, she recognized it as a man's shirt, ripped and torn, riffled by the faint breeze. She hurried. Closer she could see it was a middle-aged man, hair thin on top, lying on his stomach, his form ominously still.
She knelt at his side. "Are you all right? Como esta usted?" Was he breathing? Swallowing hard, she touched his neck, attempting to find a barely detectable pulse. His skin was badly burnt and hot.
"Can you hear me?" she asked again. "I have water, but you have to drink." Carefully, she turned him over, trying to prop up his head with her knee to get him in a position where she could dribble water into his mouth. "Drink," she commanded.
The man made what appeared to be a gurgling sound, his eyes opened for a moment. She doubted he saw her before he closed them. She poured a little water into his mouth, hoping he would swallow and not choke. As best she could tell the water was running right out onto the ground. She poured water into her hand and stroked it across his face.
"Try to drink. Can you hear me?" He opened his eyes again, muttered something. She bent closer. "D...uh..." The light in his eyes was gone. Although Rachel had seen animals take their last breath, she had never been there when a human did. She had now. Before she again felt, she knew the pulse in his neck would be gone. She laid him down. "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” she whispered as she sketched the sign of the cross over his forehead.
She had to think what to do. She shouldn’t move the body, had to notify someone. She shivered as though a cold wind had blown into her heart.