Evolution of a Story: Belayed Heat

6 min read

You know in Lord of the Rings, how Gandalf goes to Saruman’s castle to research the origin of the One Ring before he realizes what an evil dude Saruman is, and when he goes in that room full of ancient scrolls and yellowed parchment to study and drink mead out of a wooden cup? Well, last May, I pulled down an old shoe box I’ve kept with me for over 25 years, in which I kept a hand-written manuscript I wrote when I was thirteen. The manuscript I pulled out would have looked right at home in that ancient library. It was the first book I’ve ever written. This is what it looked like:

I remember originally buying the small writing pads from the dollar store in 1994, and writing the story whenever I had a chance, until it was completed. I had no idea what to do with it, so I put it in a shoe box and let it sit there until eight months ago. As I typed it up between edits for my recently released books, I both laughed and shed some nostalgic tears as I remembered writing it and dipping into the belief that I could possibly one day be a published author.

For the last month, I’ve been rewriting it and fixing characterization, plot holes, and dialogue, and I’m pleased to announce that it now has a working title: Belayed Heat, and I’m gunning to finish it and submit it for publication. It’s an action-adventure romance, about a group of people who crash land in a plane in the middle of the Moroccan jungle and have to survive. The heroine, Marissa, is a rock climbing photographer who has custody of her little brother. I am a huge fan of the dynamic between Eliza Taylor and Bob Morley from The 100, so if it were ever turned into a movie that is who I’d want to play them.

The hero, Topher, is ex-Special Forces, so there’s a lot of action involved amid the sizzling heat.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the book in an excerpt:

Some days were destined for chaos, but this one topped them all. Marissa herded her little brother through the crowded Morocco airport as she located their flight. She stowed their things in the overhead compartment after they boarded, and told Max to shut down the game on his cell. She dozed as the plane gained altitude, and awoke to the screams of other passengers. The lights flickered, and her seat jolted violently with the turbulence. Oxygen masks released, dangling in front of her face. Trembling, she clutched Max’s hand. A hard object fell, and smacked her forehead. She blacked out.

In the void, a voice spoke. A man. Australian.

“Lady. Hey, lady… come on, love. Wake up. Please. We’ve got to get the hell out of here.”

Her cheek smashed against soft netting attached to the seat back pocket in front of her. Her neck hurt, and her body ached. She tried to move, but couldn’t. Her seat angled forward, unhinged and disproportionate, and her limbs dangled in front of her. She blinked blearily. Her eyes stung, and the stench of smoke and gas fumes filled her nostrils, thick and heavy. She struggled to gain clarity. “W-what’s going on?”

“We crashed. What’s your name?” She turned her head, and a straight nose, worried dark brown eyes, olive skin, and dark, shoulder-length hair came into focus. He had a red handkerchief fastened below his nose to protect his mouth from the smoke.

“M-Marissa.” She looked to Max’s empty seat, and whimpered in panic. “Oh God. Please, no. My brother. My little brother, he’s a twelve-year-old kid. Max. Where is he?”

The man put a large palm to her shoulder. “Outside with the others. He was one of the first ones I got out. He’s all right. I told him I’d come straight back and get you.” He titled his head, and the corner of his eyes crinkled. “Not going to make a liar out of me, are you?”


This was the first book I’d ever written from beginning to end that had an actual plot, and I wrote it not knowing I’d actually be an author one day. It was one of those things that you do and are so into, then you just put away and categorize it as a pipe dream. But one thing this whole experience has taught me is that nothing is a pipe dream, and nothing you write is ever wasted. Harry Potter started out as random scribbles on a napkin while J.K. Rowling was having tea one day in a diner.

With the edits for Finding a Pulse starting in March, I am going to attempt to get the rewrites on Belayed Heat finished before then so I can start submitting it. Moral of the story? Never give up and never stop writing. It will all come to fruition if you believe in yourself and your dreams!

There may be a bit of radio silence from me while I’m holed up in the writing cave, but those on my emailing and mailing list can expect a newsletter in February and some fun rose pens sent out in late February. Thank you to all who signed up. Please check out the Costa Mesa Series!

All the best,


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Please enter an e-mail address

Scroll to Top