Work or Vacation? Sometimes They Are One And The Same . . .

By the time this blog is posted, my husband and I will be back home in Michigan – going from 80 degrees in Vegas to 8 degrees at home. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But I have a lot to catch up with at home, and I miss my very cool grandsons!

What a winter this has been – relentless cold and snow. Yet it seems like it went really fast and inevitably we’ll start seeing some green poke through melting snow in Michigan. Hard to picture right now, but it will happen.

One thing I’ve learned while on vacation is that vacation is what you make of it. If you like lying around all day and (in our case) heading to a casino for a few hours daily, and of course if you like warm weather in winter, Vegas is the perfect spot. No matter what is happening in the rest of the country, it is ALWAYS nice in Vegas. While here for six weeks we had only one day of spitting rain and one windy day, and the temps ranged from 60 to 80 the whole time – with plentiful, plentiful sunshine.

So, I should have been basking in that sunshine, right? WRONG! I’m sure some of you will think I’ve lost my mind, but I was in my office writing every spare moment. I finished 200 PAGES of my next project, a book for which I haven’t yet even signed the contract!

That’s right – 200 pages – proofed, edited and rewritten. And you know what? I never once felt like it was work. That’s because this particular book is very, very dear to me and has been written “in my head” for about 20 years. I was just waiting for a publisher to come along who realized this story needed to be written. It’s the sequel to OUTLAW HEARTS, which was published in 1993 by Bantam Books.

From the day I finished that book I wanted to write a sequel. But back then there was no self-publishing on-line – and the publisher had to agree to a sequel. Bantam wanted me to go on to other things, so I did, and many more Bittner books were published after that … but always, always in my heart, I “lived” with Jake and Randy Harkner and went through numerous scenarios of what I would do with a sequel. I ALWAYS knew how it would begin – and how it would end. I just had to fill in the middle, and that has been so easy.

Finally, after all these years, my new publisher, Sourcebooks, felt OUTLAW HEARTS should be reissued and that a sequel was in order. In my 30 (+) years of writing, I have NEVER been this happy about a sale! As soon as I knew it was a done deal, I sat down and started the book while on vacation in Vegas – and the chapters just kept tumbling out of me. I couldn’t stand leaving Jake for even a few hours. As soon as I finished one chapter, I started the next, and the next, until now 15 chapters are finished. And I know exactly what I will do with the rest of the book.

People will say I should slow down and “why would you want to work when you’re supposed to be on vacation?” For me this IS a vacation! It’s a vacation from the years I thought I might never even be published again – a vacation from thinking I didn’t “have it in me” any more. Selling OUTLAW HEARTS opened up a wealth of writing juices – like hitting just the right spot and oil spewing up from the ground and into the sky.

I actually hate the thought of being on the road for the next 3-4 days and not able to work on this book. I can’t wait to get back to it. Believe it or not, my husband said he’s not going to let me drive on the way home because he knows my head is in a different place. I am notoriously careless about not paying attention to my driving when I’m writing, so I have to really concentrate on the road and force myself to get back to reality. When I haven’t finished a book I feel like I’ve deserted my characters in their greatest hour of need. Jake and Randy are facing a sort of crossroads, and I’ve left them there . . . I can’t stand it!

I believe that in order to write a really good book, the writer has to “live” with the characters – love them, hate them, think of them as actually living (or that they really did exist in history). That’s how I think of all my characters. In fact, even this blog has poured out over a time period of about 10 minutes. I just decided to sit down and get one ready to post – and out it came. It was easy because I wanted to talk about this book I am working on.

Writing should come as naturally as breathing. Your story should be constantly taking place in your head and when you have to take a break you should actually miss your characters. We’ll be home soon, and as soon as I get unpacked, I’ll be back at the computer. The book is called DO NOT FORSAKE ME, and it’s going to be a great love story, a story of redemption and forgiveness … and of course it will be packed with Bittner action and adventure. After all, the hero is a notorious outlaw turned lawman, and the woman who has been at his side through it all is the very air he breathes. I know my readers will love this story – and for those of you who have not read OUTLAW HEARTS, you will love that one, too when it’s reissued next year with a brand new cover.

Until then, watch for the reissue of INTO THE WILDERNESS in April (Tor/Forge Books) – and in September my next brand new book, DESPERATE HEARTS (not related to OUTLAW HEARTS) will be published in print and as an e-book. Also, all my SAVAGE DESTINY books are available now as e-books and my BLUE HAWK trilogy is coming soon as e-books, with brand new HOT covers!

Rosanne Bittner launches a new romantic/historical series, Westward America!, which will look at the settling of the United States, with each book moving progressively west into a new location and era.

Set in 1785, Into The Wilderness depicts the life of those who settled in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. The term "long hunters" refers to "Daniel Boone" type men who hunted for settlements and forts, sometimes leaving for months at a time. Florence ("Flo") Matthews is sixteen, and has her world turned upside down when a mysterious long hunter, Clete Barnes, saves her from a bear attack in the middle of the night outside her parents' cabin. Unable to stop thinking about her soft-spoken savior, Flo eventually tells her parents of her wish to marry Clete, but is warned by her mother that long hunters, with their travelling ways, are never truly able to settle down. Flo and Clete persist and are soon married, but true to form, Clete soon feels that he must go on another hunt if he is to keep sane. While he is gone, Flo and their young son are taken captive by Iroquois, and Flo's life is irrevoably changed. Clete eventually finds his wife and son, but whether she will take him back -- and whether the Iroquois man whose son she has borne will let her go -- remains to be seen.

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  1. So thrilled for you, Rosanne! Your enthusiasm for your books is contagious. Will OUTLAW HEARTS be an e-book also or only in print? I look forward to reading the sequel, DO NOT FORSAKE ME.

  2. That's so exciting, Rosanne! Congrats on how well this one is coming together for you. :)

  3. We are so lucky that we love what we do. Glad to hear this sequel is going well. Sounds like those characters definitely want their story told. Here's hoping Michigan's cold weather doesn't slow your progress with the rest of the book.