Tag Archives: the noble hearts

Status Update – Why Series End

Mar 01, 2017

In my writing career so far, I have written eight different series (and a few odds and ends). Of those series, I only have two “active” right now (The Brides of Paradise Ranch and Nerds of Paradise). Four of those series are definitely done (The Noble Hearts, Montana Romance, Hot on the Trail, and Culpepper Cowboys). And the other two (Second Chances and Grace’s Moon)? Ugh, that’s where my heart and my head get into serious debates.

But first things first….

Why does an author choose to end a series? If you’re a reader, it might be heartbreaking to say goodbye to your favorite characters and a world you’ve fallen in love with. The same is true for the author too, but sometimes things have to end. Like with my Noble Hearts series. That decision was easy, because I realized Medieval Romance wasn’t the way I wanted to go. Or with Montana Romance, I felt like I’d told all the stories I needed to tell in that world and wanted to move on to other things. Hot on the Trail was a slightly different story, because I just got burnt out of writing about the Oregon Trail. I mean, there are only so many stories you can tell about people headed west in wagons. But you’ll notice, I sort of just rolled that world into Paradise Ranch, so it doesn’t really end, it just shifts.

Incidentally, I’m thinking that later this year, I might spin-off Paradise Ranch into a 3-5 novella series about the girls that Bonnie has rescued, educated, and helped to find a new life. And thanks to Elspeth and Gunn, those lives are as servants in British households…which would be a great transition from my historical westerns to the British Victorian stories I really want to start writing. It’s all organic, and everything fits together!

But I digress. For me, the Culpepper Cowboys books ended because the well went completely dry for those books. I got to the point where I was just blank. I had no new ideas for the length, tone, and atmosphere of that world. But that sort of rolled into Nerds of Paradise, which are longer, deeper, more complex, and deal with more serious issues. So if that’s the case for those books, what about Second Chances, my contemporary series set in Maine?

This is where I start to cringe on an emotional level. Because I LOVE those Maine books. I love Maine! And I’m very proud of what is now a trilogy. I have people asking me if I’m going to write more in that series all the time. And I hate to say it, but the farther away I get from the last one of those that I published, the less likely I am to continue the series. Because the thing about writers is that their writing brains are not static. I am constantly coming up with new ideas, new worlds, and new characters. Which is a wonderful thing! But the consequence is that other things can be left behind because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Also, when other series and types of books start to pick up in sales, it’s really hard to forego that income to write something that will need a bigger marketing push. We gotta eat!

And finally… Grace’s Moon. *epic sigh* So, so few people have read my Sci-Fi books or even know they exist. The thing is, I love that genre. I love the books that I’ve already published in that series, and I love the ones that are still floating around in my head. And I keep saying that someday I AM going to come back to that series and write more. Unlike Second Chances, I’m unwilling to say, willingly or grudgingly, that I’m done with Grace. Because I have generation after generation of those characters already planned out. In my mind, that world is epic! Someday I’ll get back to it. Someday!

Character Interview – Toby Dunkirke from The Noble Hearts trilogy

Jun 28, 2016

I’m continuing my series of character interviews today with one of my most beloved characters. Toby Dunkirke is a supporting character in my very first books: The Noble Hearts series (The Loyal Heart, The Faithful Heart, and The Courageous Heart). I stopped writing Medieval Historical Romance years ago, but Toby and his friends have always kept a special place in my heart. Let’s find out why…


The Loyal Heart_smallMerry: Hey Toby, it’s great to see you again!

Toby: And do be seen. I really appreciate you bringing me off the shelf, so to speak. It means so much.

Merry: And you mean so much to me. So tell me, what is it like being a major secondary character in other people’s books.

Toby: It’s a bit of a relief, to tell you the truth. I get to be a part of the stories and play a pivotal role, but it keeps me out of the center of attention. I’m not very good at being the center of attention.

Merry: So you’re sort of a loyal side-kick then?

Toby: Loyal and in some cases long-suffering. I tell you, Ethan…I mean, Lord Ethan…can get into all sorts of trouble. He’s a bit full of himself sometimes, my master. But that’s to be expected when someone is born into the position they’re born into only to lose everything.

Merry: But you stuck with Ethan through thick and thin, right? You were faithful through the whole thing.

Toby: Oh, absolutely! I couldn’t be anything but faithful to Ethan. Well, except for… (blushes) No, at heart, I have always been faithful to Ethan. We practically grew up together, you know. Ethan and my sister, Joanna, and I.

Merry: I understand you accompanied Ethan to the Crusades as well. That was awfully courageous of you.

Toby: (scoffs) I don’t consider myself courageous, not at all. I didn’t fight. Not really. My role in the Crusades was more that of squire.

Merry: And after? When you came home?

The Faithful Heart_smallToby: Ah, afterwards, my role was…my role was babysitter, I suppose. Of course, Lady Aubrey was incredibly happy to see Ethan when he returned, but things weren’t the way they used to be. In fact, so much had changed that it’s a wonder we didn’t get into even more trouble.

Merry: Did you enjoy getting into trouble with Ethan?

Toby: Heavens, no! I would have been content to stay at home, eating Joanna’s cooking and maybe tending a small vegetable patch. I never set out to be a hero.

Merry: But you became a hero, right?

Toby: I certainly wouldn’t put it that way. I merely did what I needed to do.

Merry: What do you think about Sir Crispin?

Toby: (frowns) That’s difficult to say. Sir Crispin caused so many problems for Ethan…er, Sir Ethan…right from the beginning. And he was the lackey of Buxton, you know. But I always thought the man could be something more. It was interesting to watch the way he changed along with everything else that was changing.

Merry: How do you feel about playing a central role in one of the most emotional scenes I’ve ever written? One that I still cry over every time I read?

Toby: (blushes) Oh, well, that. I only did what I had to do, that’s all. I’m flattered that you would find it so touching. But by that point I knew what had to be and what could never be, so I did the only thing I could do. I think Joanna would have been proud of me. And Ethan, of course.

Merry: So what do you have to say about the criticism that your story sounds a lot like the Robin Hood legend?

Toby: Well, that was sort of the point, wasn’t it? In a vague way?

The Courageous Heart_smallMerry: It was, actually.

Toby: I mean, there are certain iconic stories that stay with us through the ages. Different people have played with those stories in different ways throughout the centuries. We actually like to see familiar motifs turned into something else. The familiar keeps us grounded and the new elements, the unfamiliar, expand our minds into new territory. What’s not to like about that?

Merry: My thoughts exactly! But let’s let the readers decide for themselves.


You can read all about Toby, Sir Ethan, Lady Aubrey, and Sir Crispin in The Noble Hearts trilogy. They should be read in order, beginning with The Loyal Heart. Exclusively available on Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited!