Wednesday, September 28, 2016

From Yankee Young Adult author to Texas Rom Com writer #Writing Texas with Magan Vernon

From Yankee Young Adult author to Texas Rom Com writer

I started my writing career with YA while I was still unmarried and living in a tiny Illinois house, hoping for something different than my call center job out of college.
Fast forward to the present and now I'm living on an acre of land in a town of 852 people in northern Texas with two cheerleading little girls and a neighbor with chickens the size of dobermans.

Did I ever see my life like this? Nope.
So how'd it get like this?

My husband and I both worked for the same insurance company. I left in 2013 when my writing career took off and that was the winter Illinois got 16 inches of snow in one day. I told him "We have to get the hell out of here." He ended up taking a job in North Carolina, so we packed up our two young daughters, the dog, and headed south.

But after only six months with the new job, my husband hated it and made us all miserable. So he agreed to go back to his insurance company but there was no way we were going back to the snow of Illinois. So the company sent us to Texas and we decided if we were going to Texas, we were never leaving, so we had to enjoy it.

For the past, by golly, eight years, I'd been working on the same book about an Olympic athlete and small town girl. The setting was originally in the mountains, but as I started strolling our small Texas town and frequenting the local bakeries, I knew that this story needed to take place in Texas.

For my family and for my writing, we all became immersed in Texas culture. We went to the State Fair of Texas and rode the giant ferris wheel, we started making our own barbecue (we like it sweet and thick, Dallas style. Sorry North Carolina, you keep that vinegar), and every chance we got, we traveled to the little towns around us and took in all of the charm that Texas has to offer.

The words to Edge of Glory started flowing from my fingers. Friendship, Texas became a real place full of all of the awesome things I'd found in small town Texas. Once the book was out there, I cringed, hoping that people wouldn't think this former yankee messed up this wonderful state. Instead this little ol book was featured in San Antonio Living and had reviews saying "Magan Vernon knows small town Texas."

So I put away the YA and the other books and decided to stay in Friendship, Texas a little longer, Homecoming mums, church ladies, and all.

☼☼☼Want More of Magan Vernon? ☼☼☼

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Monday, September 26, 2016

#Historical Chapter Two - Loving the Enemy

Here's Chapter Two of the historical series that correlates with the ghosts in my Book B!tches series.  They are unedited, although their draft form is pretty complete.  Please leave a comment or contact me at with thoughts.  I will post one chapter a week moving forward.  I hope you enjoy!

Catch up on Chapter One: HERE

Emily was half-way through the hen house on her way to milk the cow, lost in the waking wildlife of her surroundings.  She had risen and dressed for chores, still in a daze of sleep. When she heard a rustling and a grunt coming from the barn, Emily froze, then remembered that she wouldn’t be alone in there this morning.

Union soldiers were camping out.  Stiffening her shoulders, Emily resolutely marched forward, determined to complete her morning chores.

While most of the men were too sick or exhausted to try anything funny, she still worried.  Everyone in Texas had heard of the atrocities committed by Yanks.  They plundered fields, raided farms, raped women.  And Mama had practically invited them in and told them to make themselves at home.
Emily ignored the snores and occasional flatulence as she milked the cow as quietly she could and left.  It wasn’t from some sense of curtsy that she didn’t want to wake them.  She didn’t know how to act around them.  Would they be rude, making lewd comments?  Or would they be demanding?  Would they just kill her on the spot, now that they’d rested up from their journey?  She had no idea, but she wasn’t in the mood to find out.

Carrying the bucket to the kitchen, she found Rachel making several loaves of the dense bread from the yeast bowl she kept on the counter, her face a mask of determination.
“Go kill three of those old roosters, Emily.  I’ll make some broth for the sick ones.  Get Jamie and Irene to work on your chores.  And tell them to put the steer in the back pasture.  We need to get it fattened up fast now.  I was planning on butchering the pig in a few weeks, but we can go ahead and do it tomorrow, and the steer in a few weeks.”

Never mind that those old roosters were supposed to feed their family.  They could eat off one for two days.  Three roosters at once?  For a bunch of Yankees?
“Alright, Mama.”  Emily knew better than to argue.  Her mama had a plan, and wouldn’t be deterred.  She was feeding these men all their food.  Emily wouldn’t think about that too hard.  If she fed them all their chickens, the steer, and the pig, what would the family eat after they left?  Mama was taking a gamble, and Emily didn’t like it.  But who was she to say?  Their summer months were supposed to be filled with canning meats and vegetables, smoking meat for the winter, and harvesting the corn to sell for winter supplies.  And the bank payment.  She couldn’t forget that.  They’d mortgaged the farm to buy corn seed and equipment when the cotton embargo had happened.

After wringing the necks of the roosters, and plucking the feathers off, Emily brought them inside the kitchen so Mama could boil them into broth. Normally, she’d make a gravy for the chicken meat and serve it over the bread or make a rich soup and they’d eat off that for a long time.  By the time she was sick of chicken, Mama would declare it butcher day, and then Emily could get sick of pig instead.  At least, that’s how long it would take without all the extra mouths.

A couple of hours later, Emily found herself in the barn with Louise, ladling broth into sick men’s mouths, and wiping their brows with cool water.  They looked better today, certainly cleaner.  They were—every last one of them—thin as rails, and Emily had a difficult time imagining them as fierce warriors, fighting against her father and brother.  Most of   them looked a little less gray after their rest, and now she endeavored to get something inside them.  The ones that could handle it, she gave some bread soaked in broth, but most of them just drank broth.  She put the ones well enough to work, churning butter, cleaning stalls, and shucking corn.  Trying to look on the bright side, she decided having the extra hands at the farm might not be all bad.

Most of the men she fed were responsive enough to thank her, yet others seemed to be hallucinating she was an angel of mercy, coming to escort them home.  She wondered at how far yet they had to go, how long it would take, and whether or not they could make such a trek.  It was daunting for her to imagine, even healthy.  But they wouldn’t be able to make it in the state they were in, she mused, so she would do her part to make them healthy enough to journey home.

At the end of the row, she held the ladle up to a man’s mouth, watching it closely so as not to spill any broth, when his eyes opened to watch her.  Something fluttered to life inside Emily as his blurry gaze focused on her features.  Her breath caught, and a little broth sloshed out of the suddenly shaky ladle.  Gunmetal guarded gray eyes focused on her, as his cracked lips wrapped around the edge of the ladle.  Emily could see his throat working as he swallowed until the ladle was empty. 
She was transfixed.  This man seemed different.  Even in his weakened and sick state, he exuded an aura of danger.  Not necessary menace toward her, just a dangerous air, as if he were under the bead of a gun at all times.  It was different from the other soldiers, who just seemed defeated.  This man was sicker than some of the others, but still held a fierce wariness.

When she dipped in for more, he eyes searched her face as he leaned back on his straw bed.  The man seemed to be trying to determine her worth with his gaze.  Emily felt a strange reaction to his piercing gray eyes.  Even though she was scared of these men, and didn’t want them blundering into her life, for some reason, she wanted this one man to find her worthy.  She shook that thought out of her head.  That was a stupid, fleeting thought.  She didn’t want any of them to find her worthy of anything.  She wanted them gone.

Repeating the process, Emily continued her examination, wondering why this man was different.  She was struck by his features—long dark hair and beard that took up most of his face, swarthy complexion, and piercing eyes.  His features would probably be attractive, if he wasn’t so ill, and dirty.  She and Mama had bathed them the best they could, but this man sure could use a dip in the creek. 

Emily didn’t know what was happening to her, but her heart pounded, she tryied desperately to catch her breath, and she was suddenly burning from the inside out in the heated shade of the barn. 
When he’d drunk his second ladle full, the man spoke, a deep rich voice husky with disuse.  “You’re like sunshine.  Used to call my daughter Sunshine, because she was blonde, like you.”  His eyes closed with a small smile on his face, and Emily thought about his words.  Pleasure he’d spoken those words with a smile to her swirled around with sadness he had a daughter somewhere who most likely missed him as much as she missed her papa.

Then it hit her.  These men had families at home.  They were just people.  People like her Papa and her brother, and Jakob, who had places to get home to, people who missed them.  That one man with the gray eyes and the small smile brought that home to her.  As well as a tumbling in her tummy she didn’t know how to deal with.  And guilt.  She’d been thinking all these awful thoughts about them, coveting her family’s food, when these men knew hunger she couldn’t fathom.  She’d been looking at this man in a way that certainly wasn’t appropriate for a woman who was spoken for.

She sat back on her heels and examined him, telling herself she wasn’t being inappropriate, she was trying to understand.  He looked like he used to be a strong man, but his muscles had wasted away with starvation and sickness.  He was boney—gaunt, and looked fragile.  His skin had a yellowish gray hue to it, a frightening color, and Emily vowed to work harder to make these soldiers better so they could get home to their families.  She tucked the sheet around him and let him rest.  As Emily walked away, carrying the empty broth pail, she was stopped by a man.

“That’s Isaack.  I wouldn’t bother with him.”  His voice wasn’t unkind, just matter-of-fact.  “He doesn’t want to live,” he finished off with a shrug.  “You should focus your attentions elsewhere.”  Pointing to his puckered lips, he said, “Like here.”
Emily looked at the man, repulsed.  This Yankee was living up to her expectations.  But, as she thought about it, he wasn’t being cruel or ugly.  He seemed to be laughing with her, at some joke she just didn’t find funny.

Her perceptions of the Yankees were shifting.  If the way she thought about the enemy was changing, what would that do with how she thought about the rest of her life?  Emily wasn’t comfortable with her train of thought, but decided to explore it anyway.  She would write about it in her journal later, when she had some time, and maybe things would make sense to her then.

As she ignored the man and walked away from his chuckles, she couldn’t help but wonder why Isaack didn’t want to live.  He was bad off, but not as ill as a few of the others.  She could make Isaack better, and with her mama’s words finally making sense, Emily vowed to do her best to help these men get well. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Writing Texas - Ashley Christin

My second Writing Texas guest blog post features Texan author Ashley Christin! 

When you hear the word Texas, you probably also think the word, pride. I’m Texas proud with a dripping southern accent to prove it. I’ve lived in this great state my whole life and still, at twenty-nine, I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else. Maybe that’s why all of my books and WIP are based in Texas. They say to write what you know, and I know Texas.

            The series that I currently have out features two BMX riding brothers, who attend college in Texas. I never thought of placing them in another state.  Texas is full of culture and many different kinds of people – so I knew my Taylor boys would fit right in. The X-games, a pro-sport competition has been held in Texas for the last few years in Austin, so then, it made even more sense for me to set the scene.

            From the windy, flat plains of Lubbock, to the rolling hills in Hill Country – Texas has a lot to offer a creative mind wanting to spin a tale. I write about Texas simply because I think it’s the best place to live on earth. Maybe it’s because I’ve never lived in another state, but even if I moved – you can’t take Texas out of the girl.

Want to keep up with my ramblings and shenanigans? Follow me on social media! I have a new release that I co-wrote with another Texas author, RD BERG that releases October 20th! You can find all the information below.

Insta: @ashleychristinauthor
Twitter: @ashleychristin

Monday, September 19, 2016

#Historical Chapter One- Loving the Enemy

I've mentioned a time or two that I'm working on a historical series that correlates with the ghosts in my Book B!tches series.  They are unedited, although their draft form is pretty complete.  Please leave a comment or contact me at with thoughts.  I will post one chapter a week.  I hope you enjoy!

Chapter one
June 12, 1865

Emily felt the change in the air before she saw the dust rising on the road.  She’d woken up with an itchy feeling of anticipation she couldn’t explain. So, while unexpected, the plume of dust on the road leading up to her house didn’t exactly surprise her.  As she pumped water from the well in the yard for wash day, her hands worked faster, trying to fill the bucket as her eyes scanned the horizon.  It wasn’t the tall, billowing plume of a wagon or horses, but it was larger than the plume Mr. Stein had made yesterday.  Which meant it was more than one person, most likely on foot.
A tingle of apprehension stole up Emily’s spine.  Strange things had been happening in Texas since the war had ended, and she and Mama had been trying to hide the goings on from the rest of the kids, so as not to worry them.  Banks had been robbed, stores looted, and farms raided.  Every time one of them went into town, more bad news awaited them.  Fortunately, Brantville had been spared, so far.  But news of King Springs, a mere forty miles away, was dire.
Jamie came racing through the trees into the yard, breathless and flushed.  “Emily!  It’s soldiers!  Soldiers are coming!”  He didn’t stop, his excited state propelling him into the house, while Emily braced herself for trouble.  The war was over, but that didn’t mean her world was at peace.  She wondered when it ever would be.
Her heart pounded, wondering what soldiers would want with them, and she forced air into her lungs.  They were on a private drive, not the main road, and anyone coming this way would have to have their farm in mind for a destination.  Breathing heavier than necessary, Emily watched as the dust heralded the arrival of several men, limping into her family’s yard.  Emily knew with a sickening sense of foreboding, that this group of men heralded more than just an arrival.  The presence of these soldiers illustrated a change for her family, whether she liked it or not.  That was the feeling she’d woken with this morning.  It was a sense of doom, because the axis of her world was tipping even further from the comfort level of her past she longed with all her heart to get back to.
When the rag-tag bunch approached, one man walked forward, the dust unable to hide the markings of a Union soldier.
“Sergeant Major Breck, at your service Madam.”  The man bowed low, swiping his cap off his head and clutching it to his chest reverently.  Emily found herself in a brief curtsy as a response, even though she had no real reason to be civil to this man, but she was too scared not to be.  She could name twenty reasons to be frightened, none of which she would actually voice.  So Emily stood as stoicly as she could, lifting her chin.
Her eyes roamed the men behind him, about twenty in all, looking like an awful mess.  Five or six men were managing to hold up the rest of them, obviously ill.  The war was over, and they were on their way home, back North.  She couldn’t imagine what all was wrong with them.  They looked sick, tired, and hungry.  Even through the warnings going off in her mind with the knowledge they were the enemy, a sense of pity pervaded.  Were Papa, John, and Jakob going through the same trials to get back home?  Were they as sick and wounded as these men were?  Were people being nice to them, in an effort to get them to leave and come home to their families?
“I am Rachel Evans, and this is my family’s farm.  My daughter, Emily.”  Mama had made her appearance on the porch, and her regal disposition shone through the rugged exterior, awing Emily.  Her mother worked harder than any woman she knew, yet she’d come here with Papa from New York City years ago, and her polished background managed to shine through when needed.  Like now.  Her rigid spine and elegant demeanor belied the threadbare dress she wore.
Something in her tone spoke of a kindred spirit to the Yankee and he smiled before bowing even lower to Rachel.  Rightfully so, because Emily only wanted to shoo them away and tell them to send her men back.
“We are in need of food and lodging.  We are trying to make our way back home, ma’am, but most of us are sick.  Just until we get on our feet, if you please.”  Emily couldn’t be sure, but it seemed his words spoke plainly, even while his expression was calculated.  His eyes darted about, inventorying the farm, the barn, and the surroundings.  She wanted to extend her arms and pull the entire property into them, to keep it all hidden from his curious gaze.  First the bank was trying to take it away, and now this man was here, looking around like he suddenly owned the place.  Her hackles rose, but her mother’s next words had her snapping her head to look at the woman.
“Of course.  You may make lodging in the barn.  Stay as long as you need.  Emily will be out in a moment with food and supplies.”  Chin raised, Mama dismissed them and walked into the house, tugging on Emily’s sleeve to follow.
“Mama!” Emily hissed under her breath when the door was closed.  If her heart pounded before, it was now galloping out of her chest.  It was almost as if she stood in front of a stranger.  The stories she’d heard of Yankee soldiers raping women on the road they’d come across were horrific.  Her mother was inviting them to stay?  “What are you doing?  They’re Yankees!”  She cried urgently, unable to not state the obvious.  Her past, tied with her future, was slipping away with every minute of this day.  Each new action proved to her that she would never find her old life again.
“I know, child.  Don’t sass me.”  Softening her tone, she continued.  “The bank is coming in two days.  I doubt they want to take back a farm that’s overrun with Union soldiers.” 
Emily’s gaping mouth snapped shut, speechless at her mother’s wisdom.  Once again, she realized she didn’t know as much as she thought she did.  Of course, the entire country side had heard the horror stories.  Nobody would want to be around the soldiers.  The two women turned to the kitchen, where Jamie and his two sisters, Louise and Irene were staring at them, slack-jawed, Irene holding her beloved rag doll in her mouth, as she did when she was upset.
It was a tricky plan, one that could backfire on them.  They may indeed get to keep their farm, but at what cost?  If the soldiers ate all the food before winter came, the Evans would have nothing.  By the time the soldiers took their leave, would there be a farm left?  There wasn’t anything to be done for it.  They could comply, or they could boot them off the place, and apparently Mama had made her decision.  The soldiers would stay.
Emily smoothed down her skirts, in a concerted effort to calm her nerves.
“You’re catchin’ flies…” Emily muttered as she walked over to the stove to start piling corn cakes on a platter for the soldiers.  This was supposed to be their supper, but they’d have to make more.  Scooping up the pitcher of buttermilk and stuffing a sheet under her arm, she walked to the door.  Her mama started barking orders at the children to fetch eggs, make more corn cakes and pick some tomatoes from the garden.  Apparently Mama was going to feed them well.
Emily quieted her thoughts, managing to balance everything and still grab the bucket of water on her way to the barn, determined not to grumble, but when she arrived, the scene stunned her.
The men had looked rough before, standing in her yard, but they had been hanging on to a tenuous thread of dignity.   Now, they just looked pitiful, either lying in heaps on the floor of the barn, or sitting, obviously exhausted.  She handed off the plate and pitcher to one of the men, who took it gratefully with a mumbled, “Thank you, Ma’am.”
Overwhelmed by the sight in front of her, Emily struggled to know what was next.  They had a place to stay, as well as the Evans’ dinner.  Now what? The men who looked able, barely looked able for anything.  Fatigue marred their every motion, from passing the plate and pitcher, to stretching their legs.  The ones who didn’t look able, looked next to death, and Emily didn’t know if there was anything to do for them.
“Gentlemen,” Rachel barked from behind Emily, startling the able men to some semblance of attention.  “I need you to smell less, so if you would oblige, I’ll be needing your clothes in a pile.”  She pointed to one man.  “You, collect everyone’s clothing and leave them in the yard, my daughters will wash them and get them back to you.”  Turning to Emily, she continued, “You and I will strip the ill ones.”
“But ma’am…” began one soldier, clearly embarrassed.
“No need.  We’re married.  Ain’t nothing we haven’t seen before.”  Emily had no idea how, but she managed a straight face through Mama’s bald-faced lie.  She wasn’t any more married than Louise.  Well, maybe a little more, since she was engaged, but that didn’t mean she was up to stripping a bunch of strange men.  The heat on her face could easily be blamed on the June sun, but she knew the truth.  “If you can walk, I’ll expect you to walk yourself down to the creek for a bath.  There’s soap there.”  She pointed to a small pile of soap she’d brought before turning clear blue eyes on Emily, who knew better than to argue that she wasn’t married and hadn’t seen any of this before.  “You’ll wash as you go, Emily.  You get the lice out of their hair, and I’ll do the rest.  These boys need to be clean, first and foremost.”
Emily gulped past the lump in her suddenly dry throat. “All the way, Mama?” she whispered.  
“All the way, child,” her mother responded with gentleness she rarely showed.  Rachel must have read her trepidation, because she went a bit further to allay Emily’s fears.  “I’ll explain later, Emily.  Just do this now.”  Mama’s mouth was set in a stern line, her shoulders straight.  She clutched her skirts and went to work.
Pretending she was playing with her rag doll from childhood, Emily began undressing the men, most of whom had slipped into unconsciousness as soon as they were prone, doing her best to not look at their privates.  But she just couldn’t help it.
She had never seen a naked man before.  She had bathed and changed Jamie’s diapers when he was a babe, but that didn’t come close to what she saw now, with these men and their hairy, flaccid, filthy appendages. 
Her mother interrupted her ruminations, “They’ll be more comfortable if they’re clean.”
So she did.  She washed the beards and hair on the men’s heads while her mother took charge of the parts she’d presumably already seen before.  After about the third man, it became a stilted routine, and Emily was finished before she realized it.  But the intimacy with such men made her guilty.  Thoughts of Jakob overwhelmed her—memories of him helping her brother chop wood and mend fences, eating supper at their table, even lazy summer afternoons fishing at the creek—all conspired against her duty to her mama.
“Right then,” Rachel stood, clapping her hands together.  “You and the girls get to washing clothes, and I’ll get Jamie to help me with supper.”  Emily raced away, thankful to be out of the barn, and away from the strange men.
With Louise and Irene at the wash pot, dutifully stirring the clothes for their wash day chore, Emily unceremoniously dumped the soldier’s clothing in a pile on the ground.  Louise carefully placed more wood under the pot, to keep the ashes from rising into it and getting the clothes dirty.
Emily fished out the girls’ dresses and lost herself to her own thoughts as she scrubbed them clean while her sisters put the soldiers clothes in the pot to soak.  She missed her Papa and her brother.  William and John had willingly gone to go fight in the war close to three years ago, to show solidarity to their sister states of the Confederacy.  Jakob had not gone until he was conscripted two years ago.  They were to be married on his return.
Thoughts of familiarity, paired with the cleansing motions of scrubbing clothes, made her feel better.    When the men came home, life would get back to normal.  She and Jakob could get on with their plans of building a house on the property and raising a family while Jakob and her father worked the crops.  Maybe they could even go back to planting cotton, like before.  John would find a nice girl from town to marry.  Jakob’s parents would come over for a Sunday meal after their worship and Bible study, and Mama and Papa would help her make her new house a home.
Of course, she hadn’t heard from any of them in over eight months, and she had no idea if that meant they were dead or not.  Lots of men hadn’t been heard from, but some were beginning to make their way back home now.  What would Papa and John say if they came home to find a bunch of Union soldiers sleeping in the barn?  What would Jakob say when he found out Emily had seen them naked?  She chided herself.  Jakob would never know if she didn’t ever tell him.  The dishonesty stuck in her craw, but she was doing her duty to her mama, and obeying her wishes.  That had to count for something.
As she scrubbed the clothes on the flat rock Emily used, her hands red and getting raw from the heat of the water, lye fumes permeating the air.  She found it difficult to clear her mind.  She kept pondering the mysteries of men.  She had felt Jakob’s parts once, when he’d kissed her, he’d been hard against her hip.  It had scared her a little, but she could admit she was more curious about it than anything now.  Did he look like the soldiers when he wasn’t kissing her?  She was taken aback.  How strange it must be to have that fleshy thing dangling between your legs all day.
Emily blushed at the turn her thoughts had taken.  Her face was nearly as red as her hands.
Louise broke through her musings.  “How long do you suppose they’ll stay?”
Emily shrugged.  “I really don’t know.  I suppose as long as Mama will let them.”  She hoped it wasn’t very long, but by the set of tilt of Mama’s head, she’d gotten an idea about them.  There was no telling what was going to happen.
“I don’t like them,” Irene said with finality.  “What if they killed Papa?”  Her bright blue eyes her youngest sister had inherited from Rachel filled with tears and she clutched at her precious rag doll as if it would protect her.  The rag doll had been handed down from girl to girl as one outgrew it and the next one longed for such a precious item.
“Hush now.  Papa’s not dead.  He’s just taking a lot longer to get home than he expected.”  Emily had been saying this so long she almost believed it.  The truth was, this war had changed her life from a comfortable existence to one marred with uncertainties.  And the biggest uncertainty of all was who would be here when the dust of war settled?  Would her family ever be whole again?
After scrubbing the dresses, Emily draped them over the line in the yard before they rinsed them in the creek.  She had to do the Soldiers’ clothes next.  She let out a sigh at the thought of these soldiers making more chores for her.  Emily was weary enough with their own chores. 

Mercifully, the girls were lost in their own thoughts, and didn’t pester Emily with more questions she couldn’t answer.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Writing Texas

My first guest post in the series of Authors writing about Texas, is ironically, not from Texas at all, but she writes about it.  I was especially excited to see what Margaret Madigan would write, hoping to learn why she sets so many of her books in this fabulous state.  Turns out, the perception of bigger than life is pretty spot on...

Heeeeere's Margaret!

When Anne put out a call for authors to share their literary experiences with Texas, I was happy to volunteer to contribute. I don't live in Texas, and the few times I've been to Texas were to participate in writer's conferences where I had no time for sightseeing, so the sum total of those trips were airport-shuttle-hotel-shuttle-airport.

But I understand Texas is a pretty cool place. Hopefully someday I'll get to experience it for myself!

In the meantime, I've written several books set in Texas. Why, you ask? Well, the first book was the MMA romance, Making it Right, that I co-wrote with Merissa McCain. We set it in Texas (Houston) mostly because she was living in Texas at the time and it seemed like an appropriate place to set a story about bigger-than-life alphas who step into the octagon and beat the crap out of each other. Plus, I had a built-in research source because Merissa lived right there.

So, when it came time to start my series about the Caine Brothers (six alpha brothers who think they know everything about women, until they each meet their match), I thought...why not set it in Texas? The brothers are all native to Texas and are either still based there, or their stories take place there.

In HUNTER, book one, he's a billionaire who's taken over the family real estate empire (which is based in Houston), but the bulk of the story takes place in Costa Rica.

In XANDER, book two, he's a biker and his club is based in Houston. The entire story (which is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet) is set in Houston and Galveston.

In DAMIAN, book three, he's a SEAL based out of Virginia but he has a home in Houston and his heroine's family is in Houston. The bulk of the book takes place in Colombia, though.

In JAXON, book four (which will release on Sept. 19), he's a rock star who is based in Houston but travels with his band. The entire story takes place at a fictional estate outside of Houston.

I've also started a series of historical romances called the Nevada Bounty series (Gambling on the Outlaw and Depending on the Doctor have published already). These books are set in Nevada in the 1870s, but in book three, the hero is of Mexican descent and is from Texas. Unfortunately, historical western romance is not a big seller these days, so I've put this series aside for a while until it seems like its feasible to pick it up again.

That's a lot of writing about Houston and Texas, which is a place I've never been. Setting a book or books in a place you've never visited presents certain challenges. I want to be as authentic as possible to the location, but I don't necessarily want to use exact street names and whatnot. I want the flavor without every single nitty-gritty detail because A) research is a vortex of time suck and; B) all that detail isn't really necessary. A little goes a long way.

Lucky for me, I have a bunch of Texas friends. When I need to know about Texas beer, or hotels on Galveston Island, or food (I have a lot of food questions), or weather (what's the temperature in Texas in January?), or what part of the city would ???? be located in, I can turn to Wren, Anne, Deena, Charlotte, Merissa (who doesn't live there anymore, but is still a source) and many of the Badass Book Bitches. They flesh out Texas for me so I can see it in my head and write it in a way that's moderately competent (I hope).

 All of that is to say, I have no idea why I set all these stories in Texas. Sometimes characters just tell you where they're from. Maybe that's why. But Texas is a big and varied place, and has a reputation as bigger than life, which is what I was shooting for with the Caine Brothers, specifically.

And yes, I have set books in other locations (Portland, Minneapolis, Southern California New Orleans, outer space) . Not everything I write is set in Texas, but even so, it's a great place with lots of stories to tell!

If you're interested in stalking me (in a nice way), these are the places you can find me:








Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What's coming... #TexasAuthors #HistoricalRomance

This week, I shall start a new series of guest blog posts featuring authors who write about Texas.  I'm not sure what exactly they'll be blogging about, but it will have something to do with the state of Texas, as well as their writing process (what makes them set their stories in Texas, why their characters are Texans, etc).  As an avid reader, as well as a Texas author, I'm super interested in what they have to say.

I've recently been invited to sign a distribution contract with a Texas Publishing house, John M. Hardy Publishing, who is opening up a new romance imprint, Caliente XPress.  Since it's a Texas publisher, to celebrate this new stage in my career, I'm focusing on Texas authors (or authors who write about Texas) on my blog.

ALSO, next week, I'm subjecting y'all to an experiment I've been working on for almost a year.  Doesn't that sound exciting?  Y'all get to be guinea pigs.  I've been writing historical romance, and because I'm too chicken to actually publish them yet, I'm going to put my first one up on my blog--one chapter at a time.  I'm excited to be sharing them this way, but at the same time, a little trepidatious (did I just make up a word, there?).  Anyway, I hope you guys like them.

As always, I'm blogging here, more like whistling into the wind.  I have no clue if anyone reads this blog, or even cares, but I'm doing it.  And it helps me.  :)

I hope you guys enjoy what's coming!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Between projects=New direction

So, it's Saturday morning, I'm between manuscripts, and my brain is working in overdrive... I've got some pretty big news coming soon, hopefully, and I can't keep myself from trying to find ways to make it bigger and better.  But I do know, I want to do more with my blog.  This.  I want it to be an interesting, compelling place for my readers to come.  A place with legitimate content that will interest you.  And someplace for me to use as an outlet between projects.

So, here's my plan.  Y'all ready?


Haha.  I know.  That wasn't a specific plan.  But since all of my books take place in Texas, I'm going to start focusing my blog toward that direction.  Why do I set my stories there?  What makes it interesting?  Who the hell cares?  What other amazing authors set stuff in Texas and why?

I've also been working on some historical romance novellas that go along with my Book B!tches series, and I thought this might be a good place to put them for now, like in a serial format.

So, at any rate, it won't be all cowboys and tumbleweeds, but more about the allure of the Lone Star State.  Stay tuned for some (hopefully) exciting stuff.  :)