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  • Writer's pictureGrace A. Johnson

PAH Anniversary Week (Day 7: Behind-the-Scenes Thought Process)

Well, life did not permit me to get Tuesday's post up on I've done some rearranging and I'll be sharing yesterday's post today and today's post either tomorrow or Thursday, which works out great, because I actually didn't have a plan for today's post.

Anyway, today, we're really going "behind the scenes." Y'all remember those deleted scenes and alternate chapters I shared Monday? Well, I didn't just churn those out one right after the other, and then immediately scrape them and then turn to what made it into Prisoner at Heart. There was a lot of thought behind each scene and the reason why I ditched them. And at times, I was ready to give up. It got really difficult in the beginning, so much so that I open up a LibreOffice document and just poured out my feelings to my computer.

When I first decided to go in and redo pretty much everything, I ended up doing a prologue--and it really was an on-a-whim thing.

I’m doing it. Slaying what I put so much time and effort into. Like a dragon. A fierce, relentless, stubborn, insubordinate dragon, to be precise. Yeah.

I’m doing it.

How, I’m not so sure of.

Chapter One. Good ole numero uno. Si, si, senorita. Uno. Not dos. Uno. How to start out this wonderful, groundbreaking chapter? Je ne pas sais. Oui, I am jumping back and forth between languages. A little English, some Spanish, French. Sim. Portuguese, even. But that’s beside the point.

Let’s start out with...Julius.

Let’s have a prologue.

Yeah. It literally happened. Just like that. I grabbed my notebook and pencil, plopped my butt in the swing outside, and then jotted away. The first few paragraphs of Prisoner at Heart are largely unchanged from what I first wrote.

Then I went in a wrote the six chapters that were bugging me. I had a dance party when I finally got through them.

As of May 6th, the dragon has been slayed. I have finished six and a half chapters, as well as a prologue. My Crim scenes have turned out well. My redone scenes are perfect. My copied-and-pasted scenes are perfecto. I am now past where I left off!


Take that, you fierce, relentless, stubborn, insubordinate dragon! You have been slayed, and now I’m making a dragon-skin rug.

Not really. But it sounded good.

I actually copied and pasted a lot. Most of Rina's scenes were edited in just a few sparse paragraphs.

I didn't do very much plotting--although I certainly did more than I did with Held Captive. I had four big events--Wilde's arrival, Crimson's sickness, the mutiny, and Scarlette's disappearance--and a chapter guide. I'd divided the certain things I knew would happen between--what was it? 29 chapters, I think? So when it came down to the individual scenes, I'd have a wee bit of writer's block sometimes. At one point, I did some outlining for a few scenes.

So, outlining some chapters here…

After Chuck—okay, okay, Charlie—dies, which will be in Chapter Nine, hopefully, I’ll have Rina finally sit down to talk with Julius, while we have Elliot wrestling with Tomas, Keaton getting everyone situated. But their talk should be interrupted by little Ellie, who comes toddling in, arms outstretched toward Julius. Then they hear it…

Crimson’s voice, as she calls out, “C’mere, you wee one. I canna be chasin’ ye around all evenin’, y’hear?”

Now, Elliot’s POV, as he searches for his son, only to find him in Crimson’s arms.

Yes...this will be fun indeed!

You can tell, though, where my pantsing (a writer's term for doing everything by the seat of their pants) attitude led to some thing either not happening, turning out just a wee bit differently, happening in another scene/chapter.

I wrote so smoothly for the next...20-ish chapters. I didn't come back to my "diary" until I was nearly finished, and this is what I had to say:

It’s August 8th. I’m on Chapter 29, last scene. When Elliot finally proposes in that stammering sweet way of his. So much has changed since I first began this story. Everyone has grown so much, and I’m so proud of what they’ve become. Except Scarlette, of course. But that’s another story for any other time.

I couldn’t have asked for a better family, better friends. I love them all. They are, in their own special ways, completely perfect to me. Crimson with her wandering mind and confusing outlook on practically everything. Elliot and his mix of humor and anger. Rina, in all her fickle, calmly not calm, glory. Xavier, who really doesn’t play much of a role in this book but still makes an amazing nervous new father. Tomas and Scarlette who both annoy me to no end. #favorites. Keaton, Daisy and Lissy, Randal and Tori, who all set the stage for Bound and Determined. Thanks for being amazing, guys. Kit and Edgar, Damian and Aria, Rowen and Lilith—all my good friends who got to play short but important roles in this story. I love y’all too!

I hope everyone loves these guys as much as I do. Maybe even more.

Ha, ha. 'Bout like a director acknowledging the cast of his new movie at the release party, right? Well, that's kind of how I felt. And when I finally finished?

Oh, great September 9th! Prisoner at Heart is complete, editing is finished, and I’m just starting on publishing it! My dragon-skin rug is absolutely beautiful!

So, yeah. I had a TON of fun writing PAH, even if it was super hard at times. I'd like to invite y'all to read one of my favorite stories and experience the same love and joy (and sometimes anger) that I did! Prisoner at Heart is on sale on Amazon for $3.99 (Kindle version only)! This sale won't last long!

If, after all of these posts, you're not interested in my second novel, then why don't you read this blurb and take a peek into the book itself! Feel free to share the synopsis below and let your friends and family know about the sale! Remember, you have until Saturday, October 31st to grab your e-copy!

Atlantic Ocean


Five months have passed since Captain Rina Blackstone lowered her Jolly Roger. Five months since she had last heard word of her greatest enemy, Timothy Wilde. For once in her life, she feels as thought she may actually be out of the storm. She has found her parents, found love, found her Savior.

And a boatload of trouble when Wilde comes sailing up beside her, prepared to finally finish the job.

Julius Blackstone has survived over ten hard, grueling years on board Wilde’s pirate ship, the Rogue Maiden. During those ten years, he has continually wondered when his storm would at long last pass and he would be returned to his home and his only family. The time has come.

Crimson Wilde has awaited this day for over a decade. Her father has finally found Rina Blackstone, and now her torture has come to an end. Both Rina and Julius will be put out of their misery.

But neither Crimson, Rina, or Julius are prepared for the onslaught of joy, peace, anger, and hatred that follows with Wilde’s death sentence.

I'll close with an excerpt from Julius' prologue--but don't forget to tune in to 168.4 tomorrow for more on Prisoner at Heart!

Atlantic Ocean

May 1673

My legs were heavy, as solid and unmovable as the mainmast of my father’s ship. Cold sweat coated my palms, and I wiped my hands on my bloody breeches. It shouldn’t have come to this. That much I knew.

As for where Rina and I would go from here…

Nobody could ever know.

My back ached from sitting here for so long, in this dank, dark prison my life had turned into. I wanted to move, to pick myself up and walk away. I couldn’t. And not just because of the chains that held me tight to the bulkhead of the prison hold. But because if I left, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go on anymore. It’d be better for me to die right here. Right now. By my enemy’s hand.

By Rina’s side.

At just the thought of my sister, a sharp pain worse than any sword could cause pierced my heart.

I hadn’t heard her all day. Or night. Whatever time it was. Not since he had dared to show his face again, when a sound came from her that I had never heard before. A whimper. A stifled sob.

She never cried. She was too strong for it. We all knew it. He did too, I suspected. But he’d brought tears to her eyes anyway. Whether she had shed them, I’d never know.

Fear gripped my heart again as I thought of what could’ve happened to her. Surely he hadn’t…

He had a daughter of his own, I told myself. He may have killed Father in cold blood, but surely he was not so cruel as to harm an innocent girl.

Ah, but it was too late now. He had harmed us all, the fiend, the snake. One day, if I ever lived to see it, I would have my revenge. Somehow. Someway.

Even if it was the very last thing I did.

Because he had made Rina cry.

Excerpts from Prisoner at Heart: Copyright © 2019 Grace Ann Johnson

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