Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I do understand what Emerson is saying here, but I take exception to the last three words. Leave a trail. For twenty years, I was actively involved with Girl Scouts of the USA. One concept that was drummed into my head by my dear friend and outdoor trainer extraordinaire, Holly, is to leave no trace. When we go into the wilderness—state park, national forest, etc.—we pack out what we take in so much so that no one would know we were there.
For a bit of background on my outdoor experience prior to being a Girl Scout leader (I wasn't a Girl Scout as a girl), Hubs used to say my idea of roughing it was a hotel without room service. He was sort of right. As a young teen, Dad took all of us up to the wilds (and I do mean wilds) of Canada north of the Soo. Imagine my sister and I (12 and 14, maybe) along with three little brothers and parents in a tent on a lake ALL BY OURSELVES. Yep, this was no KOA. Not even a state park campground. We were the only people there. Plus not even an outhouse. Do you understand why I wasn't crazy about camping?
But when my daughter was in fourth grade, I bit the bullet and took the troop camping. Platform tents and pit toilets (aka outhouses). I discovered a whole new world. Sounds you don't hear in the city. Wildflowers. A crystal clear sky where the stars looked so close you could almost touch them. And if you went late enough in the fall, no bugs. Mothers have a hard time getting ten-year-olds to pick up after themselves. After all the pre-camp meetings, the girls did exceptionally well in the outdoors. We left the campsite better than we found it. And we all had fun.
I probably should touch on the beginning of Emerson's quote. Not to go with the crowd. To make your own way. Do you remember your kids saying "but everybody was doing it"? And you said "if everybody jumped off a bridge would you do it, too?" We try to teach our kids to think for themselves. And, to quote Star Trek, "to go where no one has gone before."
I've tried to follow my own advice. After years of submitting to editors and agents with minimal success, I decided to go the self-publishing route. Three and a half years and six books later, I'm very happy I went my own way. Was it easy? No. I had to learn new things, like social media (I wasn't on Facebook and had no idea how to tweet), blogging, and how to properly format an e-book. Piece of cake compared to formatting for a print book. But I did it. Like explorers of old, I blazed my own trail. Along the way, I met wonderful people who were only too happy to help. Even though I found my own path, I wasn't alone walking it.
My heroine in The Chameleon has always done what her father asked. Now she wants to be her own self.
Legally Blond meets Mata Hari
Socialite Jileena Winslott has perfected the image of the spoiled, rich, bubble-headed daughter of an industrial magnate. In reality, she’s a smart, savvy aide to her father in social situations where she is his eyes and ears. She yearns to be her true self and run the family business. When her father sends her on a covert mission to the Outer Rim, she has the chance to prove herself. Big problem. He insists she take along a fake fiancé—the man she’s secretly loved for years.
Security Officer Laning Servary has better things to do than babysit a spoiled rich girl on a tour of the Frontier. If he refuses, he can kiss his career good-by. Then Jileena’s father sweetens the pot. If Laning keeps her safe, his family will receive the land they share-crop. He can’t refuse.
In the close quarters of her ship, Laning and Jileena discover they aren’t who they seem. Pirates, weather, and her recklessness threaten to derail the mission. As Laning and Jileena revise their impressions of each other, they’ll have to make hard choices about their goals.
“The company belongs in the family,” Jileena said.
“You have to accept that your brother is dead.”
Despite her heartache, she stood in front of her father, hands on her hips, determined to bring this to a head. She’d danced around the subject long enough, dropping hints that he ignored. He may have groomed her older brother to take over, but she wasn’t going down without a fight. “I am family.”
With his trademark stare—one that made competitors back off and employees quake—he pinned her in place. “You don’t have what it takes to replace me.”
His remark sent such an arrow of hurt through her she snapped, “Neither did Konner.” The moment the words left her mouth, she wanted to retract them.
Father slumped back in his chair. The desolation in his expression broke her heart.
Immediately, she dropped to her knees in front of him. “I’m so sorry, Daddy. I shouldn’t have—”
In a gesture she remembered from childhood, he smoothed her hair away from her forehead then tipped up her chin. “What you say is true. He had no stomach for this cutthroat business. And neither do you, thank the Divine One.” He patted her head twice. “You don’t have to worry about that. Now get up. We have work to do. Plans to make.”
“Baby, I’m sending you to Galeria 7 to check out this discovery.”
“To the Outer Rim?” Jileena’s jaw dropped. While her father had sent her on discreet missions before, he’d never sent her that far from the Central Planets—especially since Konner had died out on the Frontier.
“You will check the site and do your own analysis. Put that geology degree of yours into practice. If, indeed, it is high-grade lambidium, you will negotiate mining rights with the local tribe.”
He’d done it again and seemed to enjoy surprising her. He couldn’t mean it. He wasn’t sending her. He had to be teasing. Yet he’d never been intentionally cruel. At least, not to her.
“I certainly can’t send Sindaro. As soon as reporters learn he left for the Rim, rumors would fly and negotiations would fail.”
He was right about that. If secrecy was paramount, Father had to send someone whose presence was innocuous. Someone like his fluff-brained daughter.
“Discretion is imperative. No one will suspect you are going out to the Rim for anything other than a vacation.”
Hope began to trickle through her. He’d never had her negotiate anything as important as mining rights. He was giving her a chance. A chance to prove herself.
Diane Burton writes romantic adventure . . . stories that take place on Earth and beyond. She blogs here on the 8th and 30th of each month and on Mondays on her own site: http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/