Greetings from Southern California. I’m thrilled to be blogging here at Book Talk with J & J. Although I must confess I don’t have the exact release date yet, I get more and more excited about the release of Marrying Minda, my Western historical romance, tentative early 2009, at the Cactus Rose line of The Wild Rose Press.
Marrying Minda is a book of the heart. I know: snore, that’s such a cliché. But it is so true. I invented a fictional little Nebraska town based on one of my favorite areas of the Cornhusker state, Platte County, and named it Paradise. And the time period is one that I love to research, the late 1870’s. If it weren’t for my personal preferences of flush toilets and antibiotics, I’d just love to live there.
My mail-order bride Minda Becker sojourns to Paradise and finds herself married to a man whose kisses melt her toes. The pretty spinster has waited a long time to find a man to love her like she deserves.
Only her handsome bridegroom is the wrong guy. Cowboy Brixton Haynes can’t wait to hightail it back to Texas, leaving her in charge of a passel of orphans. He can’t deny he’d like a honeymoon with his beautiful bride, but he’ll never give his heart. Leaving can’t happen soon enough…until outlaws threaten the family he never thought he’d want.
So..what’s a California girl doing, writing about Nebraska? Well, in my humble opinion, it’s a vastly over-looked setting for Old West romance. It’s so rich in history and beauty, with the rolling prairie, the knolls and rivers, The Oregon Trail and Chimney Rock, the native tribes and the blazing sunsets. Not that I don’t appreciate Texas —my current release, Midnight Bride, is set there. I’ve had one reviewer compare it to the writings of Diana Palmer. And I’ve set a current wip in the gold country of Southern California.
Nonetheless, Paradise will likely always be “home.”
I’ve dabbled in other genres. I had an editor seriously serious about a proposed trilogy of action-adventure. Until the line closed. But I always come back to the Westerners who make up the heart of America. I guess my childhood camping trips in the High Sierras started it all. I clearly recall the first time my dad showed me Indian grinding holes and a pioneer graveyard.
Later on, my college years in Nebraska and student-teaching in Colorado kind of cemented the whole thing.
Throw in a career teaching English, both writing and American Literature. I honed my own writing skills while teaching it, and absorbed all the history that goes along with American Lit. So writing Westerns ended up running through my veins.
But how to begin writing romance? Well, I found out one of my teaching colleagues had published a romance novel! She directed me to the indispensable Romance Writers of America. I joined my local chapters (OCC and LARA) right away, awestruck at meeting real authors, some whose names I recognized, whose books I’d read.
I listened, I learned. Took online classes. Read books and more books. Got a critique partner. Fortunately, mine happens to be the multi-published, best-selling and award-winning writer of Harlequin Historicals and Silhouette Desires, Charlene Sands. She got me to start my first novel The Outlaw’s Woman with a better scene. I entered it in a contest and got published after it finaled. That’s when I knew what I want to do with the rest of my life.
I hope you’ll enjoy your Christmas present from me and the Cactus Rose Line at The Wild Rose Press. My holiday story, His Christmas Angel, will be a free online read in a couple of months. The story is set in my fictional town of Paradise and features the fine-looking young schoolteacher, once Brixton’s rival for Minda’s hand. I figured he deserved a happy ending all his own.
All participants this week will be in a drawing for a copy of Marrying Minda when it’s released. I promise you the book is worth the wait. It received first place honors in two recent fiction contests, the Merritt “Magic Moment Contest” sponsored by the San Antonio Romance Authors, and the “Ignite the Flame” Contest at Central Ohio Fiction Writers.
To read the entire award-winning excerpt, check out the Biography page on my website.
Now, on to you all. Who are your favorite authors? What romance genres do you like best? (I just met a fireman on myspace who sent me his erotic Western! I’m eager to give it a try. I’m so fond of firemen I married one!)
If you’re writer, what are you currently working on?
Let me hear from you!