This is an one-page synopsis Draft for my next novel, As The Crow Flies.
It’s about 30% too long. What can I cut and not lose the story flow for you?
Also, this is an early draft and I’m soliciting all suggested corrections, grammar, etc.
You cannot hurt my feelings: I’m committed to constant improvement.
Fifteen-year-old Nancy Lou Cotten arrives by wagon with her family in western Louisiana’s wild “No Man’s Land” just before Christmas 1882. Instead of finding an area ready to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, she is in the midst of an erupting feud between two groups of settlers in the crossroads village of Westport. Her family fits right in with the trouble. They’ve wandered across the Deep South, always moving on when trouble inevitably finds them. Nancy opens her story with, “I was born to thieves.” Her family has even recently changed their family name to “Cotten” as they’ve traveled through the Red River Plantation country. They are a gypsy-like people who possess an amazing gift: the gift of healing. Nancy and her mother can cure burns and stop bleeding. Their “gift” always seems to cause trouble and division when it is revealed.
When the Cotton wagon crosses the Calcasieu River, their wagon breaks down in the beauty and darkness of Piney Woods Louisiana, in an area called Ten Mile. It’s the ancestral home of a mysterious people called “Redbones.” Isolated and clannish, they proudly speak of their Indian and Portuguese history, but like Nancy’s family, seem to be hiding from something in their past.
The local feud is between the Redbones and encroaching white American settlers. The trouble seems centered at the local general stores, owned by an Irishman named Joe Moore. Nancy, sent on a “stealing mission” by her father to the store, is caught and meets Moore, who has married into the Redbone culture, and his fascinating family of characters and misfits.
Nancy’s punishment is being forced to “work off” her theft at the store where she becomes involved with Moore’s sixteen-year-old son, Eli. Sparks fly and trouble breaks out as everyone tries to keep them apart. Nancy learns both sides of the normal description of the Redbones, “The best friend you could ever have, but the worst enemy you’d ever fear” as well as Eli’s description of his father, “When they made ‘stubborn’ they made my Irish daddy.”
The sputtering feud erupts into a gun battle at the store on Christmas Eve 1882. The Moore family, as well as Nancy Cotten, are thrust into the middle of the two day gun battle that leaves men dead and wounded on both sides. The Moore family acts bravely during the battle to rescue wounded on both sides. At the height of the shooting, Nancy must make a choice on using her gift of healing. It risks her life but also will direct her fate/lot from that moment forward.
This actual battle, known as “The Westport Fight” is still debated, studied, and celebrated in the Ten Mile area. The author’s family took part in both sides of the battle and is using the fictional character of Nancy to tell the story.
As the battle ends and an uneasy truce hangs over the area, Nancy and Eli are forced to choose between love and family, freedom, forgiveness or hate. Healing. She also learns about forgiveness and the truth that it’s never too late to make a new start. An arson fire at the store and Moore home drive Eli and his family from Westport and causes the young couple to reconsider everything they’ve ever believed.
The end of the story features Nancy reliving the Westport Fight to her granddaughter. They’re in Ft. Worth, Texas—“three hundred and sixty two miles as the crow flies from Westport”—the place where she and her preacher husband, Eli Moore, fled after the trouble.