A 15K ‘short’ pretty much holds an author’s feet to the fire in terms of getting the story told. Any back story and important pre-story details have to be inserted subtly like the right touch of seasoning in a casserole.
So, in the soon-to-be-released ‘summer short’ from Solstice Publishing, Susanna’s Secret, the reader draws her own conclusions about the characters without much help. This week I’ll be adding a few deliciously decadent. . .um. . .interesting. . .details about Susanna and her dead husband Nathan to whet your appetite for the story itself.
Texas wasn’t even a state when Nathan Kingsley decided to cast his lot with the newly-created Republic wrested from Mexico a few years earlier. He brought with him his eighteen-year-old bride and one slave, Elijah, whom he snatched from a degenerate Georgia plantation owner’s cruel hands. Together the three of them built a sprawling cattle empire on the plains of central Texas.
The West didn’t treat women gently. They toiled beside their husbands, gave birth to multiple children, buried some of them, and rarely ventured beyond the confines of their homes. While Susanna hadn’t been a southern belle, she’d known better than the dugout that was her first home and exposure to the elements and backbreaking work that left her used up and worn out by the time she was thirty.
If she’d married for love at eighteen, she had no romance left in her soul after producing the requisite heirs for her husband and burying two little girls down the hill from the site where Nathan promised to build her a mansion someday.
And build it he did. A few years later, she washed his still bleeding body on the kitchen table of that fine home and followed his coffin down the hill. Then, when she was left to deal with the circumstances threating exposure of their ‘pact with the devil’, she began to see herself as something more than Nathan’s wife and her children’s mother.
Who was Susanna Barron Kingsley? As I wrote her, I pictured her as a middle-aged woman embracing the luxuries she’d been denied for the first half of her life. Secure in her position as the wife of one of the wealthiest men in the area, I can see her as a leader in the primitive social structure of the burgeoning town named for her husband. She’s put away what threatened to divide them and doesn’t concern herself with what could happen ‘if anyone knew’--because no one does outside of their two best friends and, of course, Elijah, whom they rely on in so many ways.
Because she puts her hand over the face of reality, she’s also extremely vulnerable. So when the truth begins to rear its ugly head, she reacts predictably with anger, self-pity, even depression (something not recognized in those days). Only she can find and pull from inside her the strength to right a wrong, rid herself of buried hatred and resentment, and emerge as the woman she was born to be.
In a moment of loss and crushing despair, she struck a deceptive bargain with her husband to protect his name as he built his Texas empire. Years later, when he was gone in a hail of bullets, it came back to haunt her in ways she never imagined. Now she must strip away the hatred which has festered over a lifetime before it destroys her. But will the truth, reborn like the Phoenix, sever the carefully forged bonds between herself and her children? Susanna feels fenced in and ripe for slaughter like the longhorns beyond her window. Damn you, Nathan Kingsley! Damn you for what you did! Damn you for dying and leaving me with the mess you made!
Susanna’s Secret will release on June 28
and be available for pre-sale on June 21.
A wonderful story of family, love, and forgiveness.
A true reminder that forgiveness is truly needed for complete healing of the soul.
Judy's writing is a joy to experience!
Visit my website for more reviews and information about Susanna’s Secret.
Wednesday: Who was Nathan Kingsley?
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