The Long Journey

I have been writing books since 1979, when I penned my first novel - a 3,000 page disaster called WINDS FROM OREGON! I took a couple west on a wagon train, and anything and everything that could happen to people heading west in the 1850’s happened in that book. Those two should never have survived! And I didn’t know how to skip time, so it was practically a day-by-day blow all the way to Oregon. Hence, 3,000 pages! I never sold it, but it was a real learning experience, and I know now that I’ve used bits and pieces from that story in my later books.

If you count the books I wrote after that but never sold, that first book was 72 books ago. I just kept going, and the first book I sold for publication was actually the 9th book I wrote. Now, my 65th published book is coming September 5th (THE LAST OUTLAW) and #66 in October (A CHICK-A-DEE CHRISTMAS in an anthology called CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS).

It’s been a long, long journey. I could write another book about all the things I’ve been through in all these years of writing. When I started, my sons were only 10 and 9 years old. Now they are grown and have their own teenage boys, and one of my sons is even a grandfather!

Where do all the years go? I scan through some of my older books and have no memory of when I wrote them – or even how I found the time not only to write them but to do all the research involved. I worked full time, was raising two active boys, helped develop some property we bought that needed a lot of work, and I would stay up at night and write until about 2:00 am – get up at 5:00 am and do it all over again. I was lucky to get 5 hours of sleep some nights, usually 3 the other nights. I even put off needed brain surgery once because I told the doctor I had a book to finish first. That’s how devoted I was to my writing and my stories … and yes, to my CHARACTERS, who always came alive for me and seemed so real. I’ve even had readers write me and want to know if those people really existed. Yes, they did, as far as I’m concerned, but in reality, only in my mind.

And speaking of “real” characters, two heroes became incredibly real to me – so real that it took me years to get over them – no – actually I will never get over them. Through all the other heroes I write, these two (and their counterpart heroines) will live in my mind and heart as the most special.

The first hero would have to be Zeke Monroe (Lone Eagle), a half-breed man who walked into my heart one day (and into the life of his beloved Abigail) and stayed there through nearly 50 story-years and seven books. I loved him like my own husband. I was Abbie, and their children and grandchildren were mine. These books, first published by Kensington Publishing (Zebra Books) are 35 years old and have been reissued several times. And after all these years they remain my best sellers!

The other hero that will never leave my heart is Jake Harkner from my Outlaw series. I like to say that Zeke is my favorite Native American hero – and Jake is my favorite outlaw. Again, I feel that he’s my husband. I am his beloved Miranda, who is Jake’s “center” – his strength - his breath – his only reason for living. Miranda took an angry man who lived with the blackness of a horribly abusive childhood and brought him into the light, taught him how to love and how to accept love in return – and she gave him a big, beautiful family and grandchildren who all worship him. All his life Jake has wrestled with the fact that he killed his own father – a man who deserved to die, I might add – but it simply isn’t natural for a son to kill his father. That fact, and black memories of childhood abuse, are the key factor in every decision Jake makes in his life – and watching his mother die when he was too little to stop it is the root of Jake’s almost maniacal defense of his own wife and family. They have given him love he feels he does not deserve, and he adores all of them.

This series started back in 1993 with the publication of OUTLAW HEARTS (Bantam Books). OMG – I fell so in love with Jake when I wrote that book. For various reasons, I could not get a publisher to let me write the sequel, so I lived with the continuing story in my head and heart for many years until I came across an editor at Sourcebooks who had read OUTLAW HEARTS and loved it. Sourcebooks reissued OUTLAW HEARTS with a new cover and then published the se quel, DO NOT FORSAKE ME, the title I’d had in mind all those years. That second book flew out of my brain and through my fingers in only about two months – over 500 manuscript pages. When I finished, I knew I had to write a third book. My editor loved the second book so much that she agreed, so I went on to write LOVE’S SWEET REVENGE. Now #4 is coming September 5th. It’s called THE LAST OUTLAW, and although this entire series is packed with passion and romance, action and adventure, and heart-rending emotions, I think THE LAST OUTLAW is the most emotional of all four books.

The Outlaw Hearts Series


National magazine Romantic Times has called me an “emotional powerhouse,” and I guess I am. I tend to write big, fat family sagas that bring the readers into the lives and homes (and bedrooms!) of the heroes and heroines. Readers fall in love with them and get wrapped up in their lives, just as I do when I write the books. And the more “in love” I am with the hero – the more emotional my story will be.

I thought THE LAST OUTLAW would be the last book of the Outlaw series. But now I want to write #5, which I will call NEVER SAY GOOD-BYE. If Sourcebooks does not take a fifth book, I will write it anyway – and I will publish it myself through Amazon, because I KNOW my readers will want it.

THE LAST OUTLAW really isn’t the last book for now because in October you can read a short Christmas story about the Harkners that takes place the very next Christmas after book #4 ends. It’s called A CHICK-A-DEE CHRISTMAS and will be in an anthology titled CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS. It’s a wonderful, sweet story that shows how much Jake has grown and changed over the years – and mellowed – at least to the extent a man like Jake can mellow. There will always be that fierce, protective nature about him, but in A CHICK-A-DEE CHRISTMAS, it’s one of Jake’s granddaughters who helps tone down the man’s temper and defensive nature. You will love the story.

For now, I will have a very hard time leaving Jake and going on to other books with new heroes and heroines. I do have others in mind – three “for sure” stories already in my head and they already have titles. Want a teaser? The titles are: DANCING BENEATH YOU (my first Native American CONTEMPORARY story!), LOGAN’S LADY and A WARRIOR’S PROMISE (a sequel to CAPTURE MY HEART, my very successful Indian romance published in March 2017 through Amazon.

Yes, it’s been a long journey – 66 books published, 72 in all written, and more still to write. I’ve traveled through history in all my books, have been all over the country, from the east coast and the revolutionary war, to Texas and the Alamo, to the Mexican war, to the Oregon Trail, the building of the Union Pacific, the Indian Wars, the Civil War – the list is long and exciting. I LOVE AMERICAN HISTORY! And I try to bring it alive in my stories.

I hope you will order THE LAST OUTLAW and I hope you do enjoy it. I love the story and, of course, its characters. Watch for a big celebration of the book’s release through a Facebook party I am holding August 31st. Lots of prizes – and a fun Q&A contest! You won’t want to miss it. The top prize is really lovely but a “surprise,” so you won’t know what it is until it arrives. Whoever wins just has to promise to share a picture of it on Facebook. Another prize is a $50 Amazon gift certificate, and I’ll also be giving away autographed books. So will the three other authors who are “joining” the party – E.E. Burke, Linda Broday and Nancy Gideon

Be sure to “visit” my Facebook author page August 31st and take a chance on winning some nice prizes! I look forward to “chatting” with you! Until then, KEEP READING – and I will KEEP WRITING – as long as the Good Lord allows me to use my brain and my fingers.


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