Entertaining “What If”

As a writer, entertaining “what if” is what I do. No story can begin with out asking that seemingly simple question.

There are the depressing what if’s when looking at the woulda-shoulda-couldas of our past.

Then there are the future “what ifs”.

I asked a big “What if” last night: What if I actually win the ABNA contest?

Now there’s something that’ll get the heart going.

But my reaction isn’t what you imagine. I didn’t smile at the idea, fantasizing over how I would spend the $15k, and the sheer joy over actually — finally — seeing my words in print that I didn’t have to pay for. With cash that is.

I cried. Out of disappointment. Perhaps it was due to a terrible headache, and a little boy who refused to let me sit on the couch and mope about it.

There’s always a sense of sadness when I finish a book along with that feeling of accomplishment. I guess the act of writing holds more allure than finishing it. Once it’s done, I think, “Now what?” For a few days I actually feel a little lost, as though my purpose in life has escaped me.

And coming up with a new book idea? Yikes.

But the disappointment that came with the thought I might actually win this thing went deeper than not feeling well.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t be thrilled if my book won. I would be. As with most my books, I love this one. I adore the characters, and I think both the story itself and the world it resides in is both interesting and sound. I think it’s worthy to be published.

If “The Red Dagger” wins, I would be sad as well as excited, because it isn’t my first novel. It’s not the one I spent over the last eight years writing, editing, crying and sweating over.

Granted few first novels make publication. Even if “Traitors”, my first, never reaches bookstore shelves, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. “Traitors” was where I learned to write and to edit.

Without “Traitors,” “The Red Dagger” would never have been written. They both take place in the same universe, and have some of the same characters, including the main character named Titus. The main difference is “Traitors” is Christian Science Fiction whereas “The Red Dagger” contains no overt Christian components.

So even if “The Red Dagger” makes publication prior to “Traitors,” there could still be a chance for “Traitors” sometime down the road.

To keep my mind away from the contest, I will tackle the next installment of Titus’s story. I will be using a story template developed by Amy Deardon, author of “Lever Long Enough,” to help me develop it, because right now, I don’t have a clue where to begin!

3 thoughts on “Entertaining “What If”

  1. I imagine you don’t know this, but I did it that way: my first written book was much of the Rehearsal series in scenes here and there – it’s the one I cut my teeth on. However, it wasn’t my first out because it wasn’t ready. I had to think a tad smaller for a first published novel and so put out Finishing Touches, mainly as bait. 😉 I wanted to see how it would go over before trusting my book-of-the-heart to the critiques of readers.

    My guess is you’ll be very happy you held Traitors until it was ready, or until you were ready to offer it.

    By the way, I can tell from the little bit I’ve read of The Red Dagger that it’s going to turn into a very powerful story, and I look forward to reading it! Did they hit the 5,000 entries yet?


  2. Yeah, throwing out the “first born” to the writing wolves is not for the weak. Perhaps you’re right in that “The Red Dagger” will be my bait, and “Traitors” will come later.

    From a chronological standpoint it makes sense as well, because “The Red Dagger” takes place about 20 years prior to “Traitors.”

    I was still able to edit my entry earlier this afternoon, so no, they haven’t hit the 5k mark. Good thing, because I found a few minor errors in it.

    I’m glad you liked it. Let’s hope the judges do as well. Thank you!


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