Meet an unforgettable character named Missouri.

We’re deep into the second draft of our latest novel, As the Crow Flies.

I need your help in fleshing out some of the characters, scenes, and storyline.

Join our Creekbank Tribe by sharing ideas at the end of this post.

Thanks in advance!

Today, you’ll meet the narrator of the book, a spunky teen named Missouri.


Missouri's eyes: it's the one thing everyone remembered.
Missouri’s eyes: it’s the one thing everyone remembered.

Opening line of As the Crow Flies:  “My name is Missouri Cotten and I was born to thieves.”  


Full Name: Missouri Mae Cotten 

Alias: Musselwhite  White  Watson  Mabel 

Preferred Name:   Mizz

Nicknames:  Mizz,  Miss

Name meaning: “My folks claim I was conceived in Missouri on one of their Mississippi River Town trips.  I guess I have to take their word for it.”

One word:  Spunky/Searching  __________,

One sentence:  I’m Missouri Cotten and I was born into a family of thieves.  The main thing my daddy stole was hope/self-respect.

Our current novel in progress, As the Crow Flies, takes place in 1881.
Our current novel in progress, As the Crow Flies, takes place in 1881.

Missouri, what do you want to tell about yourself? What would be your Manifesto?

One paragraph:  All of my life I’ve just wanted one thing: to feel I belong.  To feel that I belong somewhere and to believe I belong to someone.  I ain’t found it yet, but I’m still searching.  Our family just goes from town to town, crossing river after river.  Knowing I’ll never go back.  One more step west ahead of trouble.


What do I value?  Heck, I value mostly things I don’t have.  Stability.  Honor. Family. Loyalty.  I lay awake at night wondering what it’d be like to have that.  Some nights I believe I might have it one day.  Most nights, I don’t.


Ambition?   I guess I have it.  I’m pretty stubborn when I set my mind to it.  Got that from my daddy.  If I could be honest, which I think I can with you, what I really want is to see chimney smoke coming out of a log cabin I’m living in. To live somewhere where I might want to stay.


My main goal:  would be to have two things: freedom and belonging. Freedom from my crazy family and belonging to a family/group/person that’s worth being with. It won’t happen with my folks. It’s sad but true.


My main conflict:  where do I start:  a thieving daddy that makes a living conning others then staying on the run.  A poor sick momma that can’t function most of the time.   I love them dearly but have got to break away if I’m gonna have a life.   “Show me your family and I’ll show you your future.”  Lord, I hope not.


Epiphany: Moment of Grace    Whoa! “I see said the blind man.”   When I got mixed up with the Moore family, it nearly cost me my life, but it was also what gave me a new lease on life.  I found some of those things I was looking for.  I also found I didn’t need some of the things I wanted so badly.


What do you value most?   Loyalty, honesty, stability, real friendship

Mock Cover 1 "Sunbeam"
Mock Cover 1 “Sunbeam”

Author’s Notes:

Where does he/she fit in this story?   Missouri is the story.  Although fictional, she is the perfect foil/narrator: an outsider who’s not on either side of the Westport Feud/Fight.

She’s telling the story and I’m just taking dictation.

First appearance in the story:  She starts it. She tells it like it is.

What’s his/her pyschological story problem?   Mixed up feelings.  Always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Readers: Here’s your chance to help?

What additional words would you use to describe Missouri?

How would you like this story to move ahead?

How would you write this as a love story?

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