Last year, 2020, was one of the hardest writing years I’ve ever experienced. While many authors were able to pound out stories during our ‘stay-at-home’ period, I wasn’t one of them. My creativity shriveled up like a raisin. July came and went and I had less than 10,000 words written on Crosshairs, book 3 in my Natchez Trace Park Rangers series. It was due November 1.
I learned a few things during 2020 as I wrote Crosshairs. One, if I show up at the computer and make myself write, the words will come. Eventually. Two, I can’t edit what I don’t write. Three, this too shall pass—“And it came to pass” has long been a favorite Bible scripture.
It wasn’t like I didn’t love the story in Crosshairs, more that my mind was paralyzed. I found it easier to spend waste time on social media. Before I knew it, it was September and I only had two months to finish the book.
That’s when I learned the most important lesson—if I practice 1 and 2, the words will add up, ideas will come, and the story will come together, and I will have a completed manuscript and three becomes true.
Someone asked me what character was the hardest to write in Crosshairs. I’ll have to say Lincoln Steele was. As a former FBI sniper who suffered from PTSD from almost killing a child and who believed he was responsible for his friend’s suicide, it was hard to flesh out a hero who was no longer a hero—or who at least didn’t see himself as one since he could no longer even hold a gun. Yet, he had to be strong, someone Ainsley, the heroine, could trust. I discovered there are other ways to show strength in a character—like throwing himself in front of Ainsley to protect her. His willingness to do anything to keep her safe showed his true character, and eventually he came to embrace who he was.
As for Ainsley, she wasn’t a piece of cake to write, either. Stubborn. Strong-willed. She didn’t want to admit she had any faults. And she certainly didn’t want to forgive Linc and her father for undermining her singing career. But if she hadn’t lost the singing career, she would never have found her life’s work—that of an elite Investigative Services Branch Special Agent.
Researching about the Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers and the Investigative Services Branch (ISB) was fascinating. First the ISB—it has thirty-seven special agents who are regarded as the FBI of the National Park Service. They are spread out all over the US and are sent in when needed, sometimes even undercover. The Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers are separate from the National Park Service, although under the same umbrella. That really changed the way I wrote about them.
Linc is an interpretive ranger with the National Park Service in Natchez, while Ainsley is an ISB Special Agent. Interpretive rangers in the South don’t carry guns which worked well for Linc since I wanted him to be a ranger. Writing this series has changed the way I look at the National Park Service. I’ve always admired rangers, but even more now!
Writing Crosshairs, even during a pandemic, was so satisfying. I want to thank Revell for giving me that opportunity and for their support. I hope you enjoy Ainsley and Linc’s story.
Patricia Bradley is the author of Standoff and Obsession, as well as the Memphis Cold Case novels and Logan Point series. Bradley won an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award in Romantic Suspense, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and a
Touched by Love Award; she was a Carol Award finalist; and three of her books were included in anthologies that debuted on the USA Today bestseller list. She is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.