Recently, I thumbed through my file cabinet filled with all my written notes for every book I’ve written, and it struck me what a long journey I have taken with my writing. There are some really old files in that cabinet – old notes I’d forgotten about. I found one folder titled HARVEST OF OUR SINS. I wondered what the heck it was, because I never wrote a book with that title. I looked in the folder, dated 1991, and all the notes were for the story that became OUTLAW HEARTS! The note paper was old and worn, the notes faded, but there it was. So my beloved Jake has been on my mind for 30 years!


        I don’t remember intending to call that first story HARVEST OF OUR SINS, but it makes sense when you think how far my character Jake Harkner has come from his sinful past. I do remember what started my idea for the OUTLAW HEARTS series. I distinctly remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror in our old house on a small lake in Coloma. I was drying my hair – getting ready to go to my day job – and, as always, I was thinking about what I should write next. The simple idea came to me – an outlaw who tries to change his life, and the woman who helps him do that – the “bad man with a good heart” theme I love to write. I didn’t have any pen or paper with me, so I quickly wrote the idea down on the back of a check book with an eyebrow pencil. True story.


        Now, 25 years after that first book was published, I have finished a sixth book to the series. I never dreamed, or intended, that the first book would turn into a series, but Jake haunted me for the next 20 years. I knew I had to write more about him and his beloved Miranda. I knew what would happen in a second book, and then I found an editor who agreed to let me write it. Of course, I knew after #2 that there had to be more. I had to keep following Jake and Randy and their children and grandchildren.

       As I looked through all those old folders, and remembered starting my writing with an old manual typewriter, I wonder sometimes how on earth I wrote so many books while working full time, helping my husband clear property we had purchased that needed a lot of work, helping pick 40 acres of asparagus that my husband farmed, and raising two active boys, taking care of ageing parents, going through brain surgery, two broken wrists (at the same time), other surgeries, a move to Colorado that didn’t work out, a move back to Michigan, and countless other “life” events. 


        I moved my “office” from a corner of the bedroom in our then-very-small house to a corner of the living room, to a cottage on our property that we decided to rent out, so I moved back to a spare bedroom in the little house when one son moved out, then to a bedroom in our current home, then to a big office at our family business. We left the business, so back home I came – to a corner of the living room, then an area in the kitchen, then back to a spare bedroom that used to be a playroom for the grandsons – who are now grown. That’s where I am now. The above picture of me at a typewriter was taken when I first started writing in the corner of my living room, back around 1980. I had long hair and was a LOT skinnier then!


        I have learned that it doesn’t make any difference if I have a big, plush office, or just the corner of a room. I can write anywhere. I remember finishing a book in a hotel room in Las Vegas before we bought our condo out there. After that, I had an office in a spare bedroom in the condo until we sold it in 2017. I’ve worked on books in countless hotel and motel rooms. I never travel without my laptop and a small printer. In Vegas I used to take several chapters to a new manuscript with me to the casino and sit at a Starbuck’s and proofread and edit while my husband spent 3-4 hours in the poker room. I’m not a big gambler, so I used that time to work on my writing.


With Dee Brown in 1986
        I can write anywhere and everywhere. My mind is always, always actively thinking about the next book, or the next chapter to the one I’m working on. If I’m not writing, I’m studying for research. I seldom read regular books. I read for research, and for me, that’s more entertaining than reading regular books.

         I look through old pictures and remember numerous conferences and book signings and meetings and years and years of traveling for research. In this blog I am including a picture of me with Dee Brown, the author of BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE, my “Bible” of sorts for all my books about the American Indians. I recommend EVERYONE read that book. The picture was taken at a Western Writers of America conference in Montana around 1986. I remember Janelle Taylor, who also wrote Native American stories around the same time and for the same publisher (Kensington Books) back in the 1980’s. We have some good memories. That is Janelle, standing beside me in the orange suit, at yet another big writers conference. I don’t even remember which one it was. 


With Janelle Taylor
        Now I look at shelves of my own books, and I look through all those old files, and I feel like all those characters lived and told their stories through me. If I lived to be 200, I’d be writing more and more books. My biggest fear is dying before I write all the stories I still want to write, and I struggle with which one to write next. I have at least 5 solid stories in my head right now, including a WWII story, a contemporary, and more Outlaw Hearts stories, as well as sequels to several of my older books. I have to calm myself down sometimes and remind myself I can only write one book at a time, so just pick one and get started.


        Forty years ago, when I started writing, I had a lot more energy and stamina. I wrote just as many books per year (actually more) as I do now as a retired person with no kids around to interrupt my thoughts. I used to write with the TV blaring right beside me, and two boys wrestling on the living room floor. I am still able to block out everything around me, but sometimes it helps to put on my earphones and listen to my “mood music.”


        What has changed today is age, of course. It’s much harder to sit for hours without getting up, and I’m paying for that now with a bad hip, but I’ll work it out. I get tired easier, but as long as my brain and my fingers keep working, I will keep writing. When I look through all those old notes, I get nostalgic. I literally miss all those characters. They are like old friends who have moved away. I want them back. I want to continue their stories. And if God lets me live long enough, I will write those sequels.


        I remember when I wrote my first book, a 3,000-page disaster called WINDS FROM OREGON, I decided then and there that I was going to sell a book no matter what. I wrote eight more books with no luck. It was the ninth book that sold (SAVAGE DESTINY #1, SWEET PRAIRIE PASSION). Kensington Publishing asked me to make a series out of that story. “Of course!” I said, but I had no idea what would happen in any of the stories. I just knew I’d just sold four books, and that’s all that mattered. Four turned into six. Then a few years later I wrote that seventh book – EAGLE’S SONG. From there on it was non-stop. I knew my passion, and nothing was going to get in the way, so I wrote every extra minute I could find. I turned 24-hour days into 48-hour days, and I slept 2-5 hours a night – for years. I think back on all of that, and I just take a deep breath and wonder how I did it. I have no memory of most of it – no memory of how I found the time and energy to write all those big books while living a very busy life. It’s no wonder I feel kind of worn out now.


With Maura Kye-Casella
        I feel I should mention certain people who have been with me through all of it – namely my husband Larry, who always believed in me. My two sons, Brock and Brian, who put up with a “mentally absentee” mother a lot of the time, my mother (now deceased) who supported me and who loved to travel with me to book signings and conferences, my writer friend Lucy Naylor Kubash (in the picture with me at the end of the blog), with whom I have traveled and shared hotel rooms countless times at conferences and book signings over these nearly 40 years, and Michelle Crean, my web site designer, who started out as a fan and recommended I build a web site to keep in touch with my fans. My first agent was Denise Marcil, who kept me published for many, many years, and now my current agent, Maura Kye-Casella, who helps me keep up with today’s publishing demands and who helped me start publishing with Amazon. That’s me in dark turquoise standing with Maura at yet another writers conference. A lot of things have changed in the publishing industry over these many years, and an agent is a big help in keeping the writer informed of what will and will not work for his or her genre.


        And, of course, there are my many fans out there who have supported me over the years. I’ve been writing so long that some of them have passed, but they will always remain in my heart. If I named them all, this blog would be five pages longer. Some day we will all get together in Heaven and talk about writing and some of their favorite characters.


        I have discovered I feel very unfulfilled and restless and bored when I am not working on a new story. Writing feeds my energy, lifts my spirits, gives me purpose to stay healthy, and helps me realize I am still important in this world of the internet and god-awful politics and video games and the speed at which people live their lives today. Sometimes I want to just yell, “Slow down! Life is too short for all this craziness!”


        I prefer life like you see on Andy Griffith, a rocking chair on the front porch, where you sit and listen to the birds, watch all those busy people go flying by in their cars, smell the fresh air, and think about the next story I’m going to write. As of that sixth OUTLAW HEARTS story – BLAZE OF GLORY – I will have had 74 books published. God willing, I will reach 100 before I leave this world and go join all my characters in the after -life.

With Lucy Kubash



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