Thursday, June 23, 2016

LOVE deleted scenes? Here's one from Lisa J Lickel's The Last Detail

NOTE FROM LISA J LICKEL: "Deleted original opening from The Last Detail by Lisa Lickel, from a 2008 version. One publisher thought Amalia was already and octogenarian. J No wonder it didn’t sell! Here’s a lesson in how NOT to start a ROMANCE NOVEL!!!"

Amalia Kennedy ignored the wispy-haired man’s waving hand. Past experience told her that Mr. Johnson had some comment not related to trusts or wills, the Super Senior’s topic of the day. She continued to speak until others seated at round tables finishing their lunch of corn chowder and rolls interrupted her to point and murmur.
Amalia struggled to keep her shoulders relaxed. She sighed. “Yes, Mr. Johnson?”
“I just want to know how come a pretty girl like you is spending so much time with old geezers like us. You should dress more colorful-like and go to a party.”
Amalia felt her face grow warm at the resulting laughs from the other Super Seniors. She took a deep breath through her nose and mentally checked that her smile was on straight. “I know you were friendly with my parents, Mr. Johnson.” She swiveled to include the entire group in her statement and waved her arm for emphasis. “You all understand they were caring folks who had everyone’s best interest at heart. Some of you, Gene Halloway and Lucy Knowles, here, don’t have close family left to make sure those little things happen the way you want them to. Who will take care of your personal possessions, or make sure you receive a proper burial? Who will make sure all your debts are paid off? It’s not easy thinking about those matters, but now’s the time to do it, when you can be the one who makes that decision for yourself, not some stranger who never knew you or cared about you.”
“I don’t owe anybody anything.”  Mr. Johnson’s wrinkled mouth no longer bowed upward. His heated tone indicated a change in mood. “And I intend to keep it that way. I got nobody who cares about my leftovers, neither, when I’m gone.” He wiped away moisture with the back of a liver-spotted hand.  Lucy nodded her white over-permed curls while Gene rocked and looked out the window.
Why had she given in to temptation to act like a know-it-all mother hen to these people? Amalia knew better than to offend these folks. They were all warm, nice people who were facing the most difficult time of their lives. How would she feel if she had to rely on somebody else to make all her decisions for her? Maybe she should dress more “colorful-like” as Mr. Johnson suggested, but her navy suit was like a security blanket. She would not look at Hudson for support. She could take care of her own business herself. But first she needed to diffuse the tension she had unconsciously created.
“Leftovers, Mr. Johnson, aren’t just material things.” Two ladies from New Life Church wheeled around garbage containers for the diners to bus their empty paper bowls. Amalia raised her voice. “Everybody has memories and stories to tell, too. That’s why we had the high school class in here a couple of months ago to interview you and make a memory book. They told me they were almost finished. That’s something to look forward to. Now, if there are no more questions about the pamphlet I passed around earlier telling you about The Last Detail’s services, let’s move along. I brought my friend, Hudson Demarest, owner of Demarest Funeral and Cremation Services, to tell you about pre-planning funeral arrangements you can consider.”
Amalia led light applause as Hudson strode to the front of the sunny fellowship room to address the Supers. She stepped out of the limelight and watched him, her intended since practically birth, joke with Mr. Johnson and some of the others he had dealt with over the years. Though soberly arrayed in one of his many pinstripe suits, no one would tease him about going to parties instead of working. In his late forties, Hudson had taken over the funeral home from his parents before Amalia graduated from Fox Fall High School. He seemed to know everyone in LaSalle County. She envied his ability to re-warm the cooling crowd with genial ease.

Amalia was not the morbid sort. Not at all. Her business, The Last Detail, reassured both the living and the dying that their final wishes were granted, their estates disposed of in a respectful, personal manner. Amalia thanked the Lord every morning in gratitude for being able to provide this precious consolation to the grieving or those who are overwhelmed with other issues surrounding loss in any way. She had begun to consider branching out The Last Detail to help those people who were simply downsizing their lifestyles, too, from larger homes to condo or senior apartments, and planned to ask Hudson what he thought about the idea. 

Hope, love, and loss meld two polar opposite personalities. How long can they keep passion for their ministry and each other after the wedding? Medical missionary and avowed bachelor Merit Campbell is wounded during a skirmish at his Mideast clinic and sent home to recover. Restlessness propels him to explore the happier moments of his childhood in Illinois where he meets Amalia Kennedy, owner of The Last Detail, who enjoys helping people prepare for their final years. Merit ushers in new life; Amalia ushers it out. Love? Obviously. Marriage? Check. Dealing with the family closet? Step back… Amalia enjoys her predictable life in a quiet little Illinois town—until long-time intended, Hudson, finally proposes in a way that shows her boring and old are coming way too fast. When a mutual friend introduces Merit and Amalia, the spark of attraction makes Merit reconsider his bachelorhood. When he can’t return to the mission, he accepts a call as pastor to Amalia’s church. As the two grow closer they weather constant interruptions from ministry, business, and family, even at their wedding and beyond. When tragedy strikes, they must learn to rely on each other in ways they couldn’t have prepared for.


  1. It's so hard to know just where to start, isn't it? I loved this scene until SEVERAL publishers and an agent forced me to step back and take an honest look...and yes, it was terrible. Thank you, Prism Book Group, for taking a chance on this book five years later.

    1. You have amazing talent, Lisa, and you let it shine in all your books :)