I wrote and published Come Home to Me late in 2012, the first book in a new time travel venture, which took me completely away from the Yellowstone setting. The book was my personal challenge to write about something other than Yellowstone and the characters who were familiar to me. Being a history buff, I chose the Oregon Trail.
While I was in Yellowstone in the summer of 2012, finishing up Yellowstone Deception, the idea for a story line set in the Tetons came to me (I remember standing in the Jenny Lake parking lot in Grand Teton National Park, gazing up at the mountains, when the idea popped into my head), but I had already started on Come Home to Me, a story idea that came to me from hearing the Eric Church song, Homeboy.
The Teton Trilogy, which would again bring me into a familiar setting (sort of my “comfort zone setting”) would have to wait until Come Home to Me was done, but the wheels in my head were already in motion. It’s an annoying habit my brain has to think about a new story while I’m in the middle of a current work in progress. I managed to publish Come Home to Me in 2012, making it five published novels in one year (but I had already written the first three Yellowstone books in 2011, so I didn’t actually write five books in one year, a seemingly impossible task), and couldn’t resist writing a Yellowstone novella that popped into my head during a four day weekend in Zion National Park.
Finally, in December 2012, I was free to “return” to the mountains and begin the Teton Trilogy! I wrote Teton Sunrise in about eight weeks, because the story just came to me. Although it was sort of a spin-off of the Yellowstone Series, my intent was to make Teton Sunrise darker and more realistic than the Yellowstone books, to depict the harsh life of a mountain man with a bit more realism than what I had done previously, and yet still maintain the romantic aspect. I wanted a completely different overall tone for the book than what I wrote in the Yellowstone Series. Under no circumstances did I want to clone Daniel Osborne when I wrote Alex Walker.
I continue to experiment with different types of characters and situations – the anti hero, the tough as nails heroine, the heroine who, as a product of her time and upbringing might come across as weak but finds her inner strength because of the love of a good man, domestic abuse, rape, a bad childhood and rising above it, second chances and redemption, etc.
Although I didn’t meet my own goal of writing four books in 2013, I did manage to write and publish three - Teton Sunrise, Teton Splendor, and Ain’t No Angel (a long overdue second book in the Second Chances Series).
2013 was a great year in my writing career for many reasons. For the first time, I submitted two of my books, Yellowstone Heart Song and Come Home to Me, for formal review, to InD’Tale Magazine, a romance publication in the Indie World. To my absolute disbelief, both books received Crowned Heart Reviews.
Yellowstone Heart Song remained on the Time Travel Best Seller list on Amazon for a second year. It even made the top 100 overall best-seller list on Amazon for a short time. Come Home To Me became my second best-seller that made it onto Amazon’s top 100 overall, going as low as #62. For me, that was a tremendous achievement.
This past year, I also managed to get all my books in print, and started the journey of getting them produced in audio. Hearing my characters come to life through the voices of some great narrators has been a neat experience.
In Yellowstone, I met my head beta reader, who came to Yellowstone for the first time specifically because she wanted to see the park after reading my books. We spent a great day touring the park and a couple of evenings hanging out in camp. As an added surprise, one of my newer betas happened to be in Yellowstone at the time, and I got to meet her, too.
For 2014, my first goal is to get Teton Sunset, the final book in the Teton Trilogy, finished and published. I actually started the book right after returning from Yellowstone back in July. At the same time, however, I also started on Ain't No Angel. I can write two books at the same time, right? No problem, right? Wrong! Five chapters in on each book, and I couldn't do it anymore. I had to make a choice, and since it had been so long since the first Second Chances book, I decided to concentrate on ANA, and finish that story before diving into the last Teton book.
Now that I'm getting to know my Teton characters again, Teton Sunrise is shaping up to be a fun book to write. After that (okay, I’m letting the cat out of the bag), I promised one of my betas I would write another Yellowstone novella. We’ve already been busy tossing around plot ideas for that story for months. Then it’s on to the third Second Chances book. After that, I have a few new projects swirling around in my head. Perhaps I should let my readers decide what to write next.
I am also taking part in a western anthology with a dozen other western romance writers, to be published in March of 2014. We’re putting together a sampling of our writing in short story format. I’ve already written and submitted my short, and I will shamelessly admit that I am not a short story writer.
One final book-related goal is to get the rest of my books produced in audio this year. All in all, I can’t wait to see what the new year will bring.
I want to wish all of my friends and readers a happy and healthy 2014!