When plotting a book, I always expect that somewhere along the way there will be a problem. I’ll get stuck, I’ll plot myself into a corner and I’ll have to wrestle my free-wheeling ideas into some form of usable material.
I don’t get nervous when this happens. For me, it’s a natural part of the process. It forces me to push myself. To make the work a little grittier or maybe more lighthearted.
While writing OpposingForces, I encountered an issue like never before. This was the monster of all issues. It was big and mean and spitting. And it had sharp teeth.
Okay. Maybe I got carried away there. It didn’t have sharp teeth.
But this was definitely a problem that could change the course of my story. You see, my hero, a guy who’d made appearances in the preceding Private Protectors books, a guy the Taylor Security operatives considered their go-to person, a guy who finessed government officials like a master, well, he didn’t have a first name.
My go-to person in each Private Protectors book had simply been referred to as Lynx, which was his last name. Originally, Lynx was simply meant to be a minor character who popped in to help. During the plotting process, I do character sketches for all major and some secondary character’s, but because I’d never intended to give Lynx a book of his own, I never did a sketch for him.
Then I got curious about him. As my curiosity grew, I decided he needed a story of his own. And when a character gets a story of their own, they need a first name.
My problem was that I had too much history with Lynx. I knew him, but I didn’t know him. I wanted a special first name for him. Something a little slick, but traditional. I spent weeks searching name books and baby naming sites, but couldn’t come up with the perfect name.
I finally realized I was too close to it and did the only thing a writer could do. I turned to my readers and asked them what first name they’d give Lynx. The suggestions started flying in. They were all great names, but I hadn’t seen THE ONE. Then, on the same day, I received two suggestions that I thought could be THE ONE. One was Brent and the other was Jackson.
Brent had a sense of strength to it, but Jackson kept grabbing my attention. I played with it. Let it roll off my tongue. Jackson. I liked that it had a formal feel. In my mind it spoke of tradition. A family name maybe. Then I shortened it.Jack Lynx. My heart went pitter-patter asI pictured my guy walking into a meeting, shaking hands, schmoozing his way to whatever goal had been placed before him.
I sat back, stared at my handwritten notes and said “Oh, Jack Lynx, how I love you.”
And that did it. Decision made. Part of me still thinks of Jack as “Lynx”. I can’t help that. I created him as Lynx and I wrote five stories with him as Lynx. But then there’s that other part of me. The part that knows he wasn’t complete until he became Jackson.
Meet Jack Lynx. Excerpt from Opposing Forces:
Jackson Lynx added another ten pounds to each end of the weight bar and settled himself on the bench. On Saturday morning, the quiet of the gym in the Taylor Security building could only be considered heaven. No one yapping and wrecking his concentration when he wanted to focus on the day ahead.
Quiet. That’s what he needed.
The gym door swung open and Vic Andrews—most likely the nation’s loudest loudmouth—entered, wearing a ripped T-shirt that said I’m Just One Big Freaking Ray of Sunshine and a pair of gray basketball shorts. He tossed his gym bag on the floor and smacked his hands together. The clapping noise rocketed off the walls and disturbed the calm.
There goes the serenity.
Vic raised his arms. “Boy Scout, funny seeing you here.”
The Boy Scout nickname had been around since their army days when Lynx, two years younger than Vic and fresh out of West Point, had joined Vic’s unit as a Second Lieutenant. Vic, being Vic, was the only guy with balls enormous enough to call his superior Boy Scout. Somehow, they’d become friends. War did that to men. Bonded them. Gave them a common purpose and understanding of the insanity surrounding them.
Lynx lay back on the weight bench and gripped the bar. “Since you’re here, you might as well spot me.”
“Sure. How long you been here?”
“Forty minutes. Don’t start.”
“I’m not starting. I asked a question.”
“Yeah, but I know you’re gonna start.”
In the five months since Lynx moved to Chicago from D.C., Vic had been nagging him to get out more. Meet some people.
All good things. Just things he wasn’t yet ready for. He had someone in mind, though. Jillian Murdoch from his Sunday morning yoga class. She was cute and lush but could also derail his plan.
Eleven more days.
“But since we’re on the subject,” Vic said, “it wouldn’t kill you to be spontaneous every once in a while.”
“I don’t like spontaneous.”
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Lynx let go of the bar and popped to a standing position. At six foot five Vic had four inches on him, but Lynx knew how to get large with someone without needing bulk. He folded his arms.
“I got an hour before my meeting. Let’s make it peaceful. Yes, I should get out and have fun. You know what I’m doing. Don’t mess with my head. I have a plan. That plan requires me to stick to a routine. No slip-ups. No emotional upheavals. No aggravating friends breaking my balls because I like to keep a schedule. Now, are you gonna shut up and spot me?”
Vic waved both hands at him. “I’m not the one running my mouth and wasting time.”
Assuming his point had been made, Lynx dropped to the weight bench again.
Behind the bench, Vic waited for him to start his set. “All I’m saying—”
“I don’t care what you’re saying. And tell Gina to stop hinting at fix-ups.”
“You’ll have to have that conversation with my wife. She’s on a mission to find you a woman and I’m not getting in the middle of it.”
Lynx took a breath, held it a second and heaved the bar. His muscles groaned at the added weight, but he exhaled and fully extended his arms. He made it to eight reps before his arms quivered and he set the bar down.
Unaided. Not bad.
“I don’t want to insult her.”
“Then stop coming to my house for dinner every Friday night. She thinks you’re lonely. Why else would a successful single guy be at our house every weekend rather than getting laid?”
True dat. “You don’t think I want to get laid? This is no picnic I’m putting myself through.”
Without a doubt, there were nights he slept on his not so comfortable sofa to avoid climbing into his cold, barren bed. He was a man who enjoyed the feel of a woman next to him while he slept. In the time since he’d entered a thirty-day rehab for a prescription drug habit that turned borderline scary, he’d been following his program and, as the books advised, staying away from women. For three hundred and fifty-two-and-a-quarter days he’d been focusing on making himself well, on taking responsibility for his actions and more or less trying not to pummel himself for his mistakes. That meant attending regular support group meetings and concentrating on not relapsing. It had been some of the hardest work he’d ever done. He didn’t need his friends testing him.
“Yeah. The big plan. The one-year mark you’ll hit in what? Ten days?”
Vic laughed. “I get it. My wife isn’t convinced. She thinks you need a woman. Can’t say I disagree. Except, I don’t think you need a woman to marry. You, my friend, need a woman to get busy with. You’re like a goddamned monk.”
“My life. My choice.” Lynx set his hands back on the bar. “Second set.”
“I’ll talk to her. Tell her to lay off.”
“Thank you. Tell her as soon as I’m ready, I’ll let her know.”
Vic sighed. “Boy Scout, I know you. You’ll never let yourself be ready. You’re so determined to have a plan that you’ll make it a habit. Your life will become week after week of rigid schedules. Work every day. The gym every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Recovery meetings every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Yoga every Sunday. Am I close?”
Close? The f**ker was dead-on. Lynx gave the bar a push and ripped off eight reps. Next time he’d shoot for ten at the higher weight. See how he did.
He set the bar back into its cradles and sat up. “I know what I’m doing.”
“You need to get a life.”
And now the next phase of the lecture would begin. What Vic didn’t understand, and probably never would because he wasn’t an addict, was that the life Lynx led now was one that kept him in control. To keep his sobriety intact and prove he could be the responsible person he’d been prior to getting hooked on pills. “I have a life,” he said. “It’s just not the life you think I should have.”
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Bio: Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane's Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.
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