I’ve always been a creative person. I enjoyed dancing from a young age, and multiple crafts, then there was singing and theater. In high school my favorite subject was easily English. I enjoyed writing papers and reading – but I never dreamed of taking a leap into writing for publication.
Then seven years ago I became a primarily stay-at-home-mom. I worked part time, spent time with my family and then when the house got quiet I played RPG online with a friend of mine. I had a story idea and took it and wrote a fan-fiction. Yup. Fanfic.
The story was good, the plot sound, and I had so much fun writing it that when a friend of mine suggested I try to rewrite it and get it published I thought “why not.”
Back then I had no idea what I was getting into. Before the upsurge of ebook and small publishers, when the agent was the way to go. My writing was naïve and immature and very much not ready for press. When I received my first crit from a friend I cried over the blatant harshness of it. It was all critique I needed, but back then my skin was thin as all get out.
It took me five years to let go of that story and the hope of seeing it published. It reached the point where it made me sick just to look at it. Time has softened me and I still love the heart of the story and at times imagine re-writing it – but that’s a long way off.
With that initial foray behind me and the publishing world evolving before my very eyes I dove head first into another story. Changing Tracks and it’s 2 sequels set up a trilogy story that came to mean more to me than my first story ever did. I wrote all three books in a matter of three months and spent the next year re-writing and editing for an attempt to get them published.
Still in the old world I went the agent route first. The agent route is slow – painfully so. A full year passed with some nibbles and one big bite for my full. I turned in the full and promptly turned it in within days.
And waited. And waited. And waited.
I started another series. I did all I was supposed to. I had nagging ideas to improve the story. I still heard nothing so I rewrote it again. I edited and turned the ‘new’ full into the agent that wanted it. Still nothing.
After a year and a half of silence on that end I stumbled upon the best thing that ever happened to me. My crit group. I learned more about navigating the small press world and dove in head first. Had an offer within weeks. (Yes my crit group gave me more than that, but that’s another post for another time)
The offer turned out to be wrong for me. There was something about this book that made me hold off and make sure I could see it in print. I turned it down—hands down the most painful and frightening thing I’d done since first trying to query agents. I mean, what if I never got another offer?
I considered another round of edits using one of my critique partners. I pondered just trying to let Jane & Cole go – to move on with the other stories I was writing.
I decided to make one last round of submissions. In one night I sent out six last queries and stepped away from the story.
Within a week I got the offer from Secret Cravings.
It took seven years for me to sign a publishing contract.
Seven years of growing a thick skin, learning from my mistakes, and changing every single day in how I approached my writing.
One wonderful sweeping saga of a story had to be set aside for a darker, grittier story that ripped my heart out. I had to stop editing and start taking a chance on the faster route of a small(er) press over agents. I had to force myself to keep writing, to try new things, to get a publishing credit (in horror of all things), and then another.
In the past year I’ve gone from struggling, failing writer to multi-published author with several contracts for new stories, or a continuation of a series.
I’m still learning – but best of all I’m still writing. I’ve expanded my circle of writing friends and social circles.
The journey itself was so much longer that this past year feels like a whirlwind.
It took having a friend that wasn’t afraid to tell it to me straight, even if at the time it stung like mad, I can look back and see where she was coming from. It took a lot of perseverance. Seven years is no short span of time.
Truth be told, seven years ago I hadn’t a clue I wanted it this much.
Now I know how bad I wanted it. And I want more.
There’s nothing simple about forgetting your past.
Cole Mitchell runs the busiest saloon and brothel in Dominion Falls. He keeps his women at a distance, unwilling to relive a past he worked hard to forget.
Until the night Jane Doe falls into his saloon bleeding and near death. She wakes with no memory, only the firm belief someone tried to kill her. In the strange world of amnesia she manages to find solace in Cole’s arms and he finds home in hers.
While they work together to solve the mystery of her appearance, their pasts – her lack of, and his buried – build a barrier between them.
To make matters worse, Jane’s past isn’t willing to let her go. A stranger proves he’ll kill to keep his secrets safe. With those she loves in danger, Jane’s errant memory is all that stands between them and death. Cole can only do so much to protect her, will it be enough?
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Guy’s approach disrupted Cole’s musings. The slime looked positively smug. Instinct made him pull his hand from Jane’s affectionate grasp.
“Jane, it’s so good to see you up and about. I heard about your injuries.” Guy stepped closer, too close. “I wish you’d come to see Dr. Stone.”
Jane’s hand hit his cheek so hard several heads turned their way. For a moment the anger in her features toppled into pain-streaked lines before she recovered. “I can’t begin to tell you how much of an idiot you are.”
“Jane.” The smile dropped from Guy’s face faster than Cole had ever seen.
“You self-serving, righteous bastard. You don’t turn away injured people. You don’t favor status over degree of injury. The doctor you hired is a quack and you want to push him off on me?” Damn, she was impressive.
“I beg your pardon. Dr. Stone was taught at Harvard.”
“Did he actually listen at Harvard? His work had to be redone by Daisy on at least three patients because he couldn’t see fit to take care of the poor.” How on earth did she know that? “And turning away the Chinese? So they’re good enough to wash your linens or provide pork for your customers but not for medical care?”
Guys eyes narrowed. “You have no idea-,”
“I have every idea. This town may be a good size, but there is little else people like to do more than gossip. Even laid up in my room, I heard all about your precious Dr. Stone and the horrible treatment people got from him.” She took a step closer. Guy taking a step back almost drew a laugh from Cole. “Those he didn’t refuse to see.”
“The hotel was overrun with patients. We couldn’t take everyone.”
“Oh, please. The saloon is still overrun with patients to the point of interrupting business. Your hotel still has five rooms available.” Even though her finger trembled, she still jerked it toward Guy. “You have to wake up.”
Guy’s nostrils flared and his fists clenched up as red started to fill his cheeks. “I don’t pay you to browbeat me.”
“That is exactly why you pay me. My advice. You want to be more liked by this town, then listen.” Jane got in Guy’s face. Her skin grew pale, but she didn’t stop. “When this town is in crisis, the whole town is in trouble. There is no status, no race—”
“’Cept the Indians.” Cole couldn’t help himself. It had to be said.
“Of course.” Jane now took a step back, her shoulders sagging. Whatever drove her started to drain away. Cole had to fight against the urge to step up to support her. He had a feeling it would only piss her off more.
She took a deep breath. When she spoke again darkness filled her tone unlike anything Cole had heard before. The woman was beyond angry. “White, Negro, Chinese—it doesn’t matter. Unless you help the whole town like Cole saw fit to, the town falls.”
“You’re overstepping your contract.” Guy didn’t sound all too convinced.
Jane knew it too. “Then take your out. You’ll be in breach of contract and I’ll keep the money I’ve been paid. Read the contract. I’m not overstepping my bounds. Now go away before I hit you again. I’m tired of your ignorance.”
This time Cole did move up close behind her. Just in case Guy decided to fight her on it, he didn’t figure she’d have the energy to combat him.
Guy’s jaw worked in circles for a minute before he spun on his heel and stormed off down the street. No argument, no more threats.
Cole breathed a whistle through his teeth. “You are my kind of woman.”
“Shut up and escort me home before I faint.”
Sarah Cass’s world is regularly turned upside down by her three special-needs kids and loving mate, so she breaks genre barriers, dabbling in horror, straight fiction, and urban fantasy. An ADD tendency leaves her with a variety of interests that include singing, dancing, crafting, cooking, and being a photographer. She fights through the struggles of the day, knowing the battles are her crucible and though she may emerge scarred, she’s also stronger. Changing Tracks is her debut novel, but she’s already ahead of the game with another novel set for release in April. While busy creating worlds and characters as real to her as her own family, she leads an active online life with her blog, Redefining Perfect, which gives a real and sometimes raw glimpses into her life and art.
Where to find me:
Redefining Perfect – http://redefiningperfect.com
Sarah’s StoryLines – http://authorsarahcass.com
Twitter – http://twitter.com/sadiecass
Facebook – http://facebook.com/SarahCass.Author