I love starting a new manuscript. It’s a bit like opening up the chocolate box of your ideas and characters and figuring out what’s inside. Yesterday, after a few weeks of dithering and thinking, I wrote the first few paragraphs of Hot Under the Collar. The opening is always a big hurdle for me to overcome whenever I’m starting a new book. It sets the tone for everything that follows and helps me find my way “in” to the characters and the story. Usually, the first few hundred words I write end up in the final version of the book, although not always. In this case, I have a feeling they’re going to stick with only minor modifications.
Cumbria, England, 1803
The good Lord had a devilish sense of humor. That was the only possible explanation for the series of events that had led, inexorably, toward Walter Langston’s current predicament.
To be fair, there was nothing amusing in the accident that had brought an abrupt end to his nascent—albeit not terribly promising—military career. If he had been shot in the arse or even the foot, the story would probably have made good fodder for post-prandial gatherings, but when the errant bullet struck one’s collarbone and left one with less than full use of the adjoining arm, there wasn’t a great deal to laugh about.
He could, of course, have continued in the army despite his disability, but the truth was, he hadn’t wanted to. Having been shot once by mistake, Walter had little inclination to put himself in a position where he was guaranteed to be shot at on purpose. A single encounter with a projectile was enough to last a lifetime. It had certainly come close enough to ending that lifetime.
Unfortunately, he had been equally disinclined upon his recovery to return to the life he’d led prior to purchasing his commission. It was one thing to live off the largesse of an older, titled sibling at twenty three or twenty four and quite another at nearly thirty. Walter had required a profession, and with the military option now closed and murdering both his older brothers—not to mention two nephews—in order to come into the viscountcy out of the question, there was only one remotely acceptable option. The one to which he, as the third son of an aristocrat, had purportedly been born but had misspent his youth proving himself unfit for.
He was a vicar.