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Release Day! – Mistletoe and Moonbeams

Nov 01, 2016

It’s here! The Wild Western Women, Mistletoe Montana box set is here today! It’s available at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited for the first 90 days, then will be available wherever eBooks are sold. Come to Mistletoe Montana to fall in love with these four connected stories, and to get in the Christmas spirit! And it’s only 99 cents!

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Stories include:

Mistletoe Mistake, by Caroline Clemmons – When he sent for a doctor, he didn’t expect a woman!

Mistletoe Scandal, by Sylvia McDaniel – A city girl, a cowboy, and a dog trapped together in a blizzard discover Christmas wishes can come true.

Mail-Order Merry, by Kirsten Osbourne – He wanted an independent wife, but he wasn’t so sure he wanted her to come with two young children and a nurse!

And, of course, Mistletoe and Moonbeams, by yours truly, Merry Farmer. Here’s a taste of Chapter One to get you started!

 

Mistletoe, Montana – 1890

Randall Sinclair heaved a heavy sigh and climbed out of the crowded stagecoach within seconds of it stopping in Mistletoe, Montana. The other passengers grunted and shifted behind him, as irritated and weary as he was. He should have taken the train, but they’d all stopped running after rumors of snow further down the line.

“Shut the dang door,” one of the stagecoach passengers growled. “It’s cold out there.”

It certainly was that. For miles, days, the only thing the stagecoach passengers had been able to see out the windows was snow and ice. It was a wonder the coach and its team could get through the winter wonderland at all. Randall wasn’t that familiar with Montana, but in the last few weeks while he’d been traveling from town to town, he’d never seen so much snow.

“Here’s your trunk,” the stagecoach driver called down from the top of the coach, unfastening Randall’s huge brush trunk from the rest of the baggage. The driver wore a long, thick, wool coat with a fur-lined hat pulled down over his head and a muffler wound tight around his neck. He grunted as he handed the trunk to Randall. “That thing’s heavy. What have you got in there?”

Randall answered with a wry laugh, setting his trunk on the packed snow of the street. “The weight of the world.”

It was hard to tell through the layers of wool protecting the driver from the cold, but Randall thought he got a strange look for his comment. A second later, the driver shook his head and climbed back into his seat.

“Aren’t you going to stop for a while and take in the sights of Mistletoe?” he asked, confused. They’d at least stopped long enough for the passengers to get out and stretch their legs at every small town before this.

The driver made a low, warning sound, then said, “Nope. Not with the talk of measles in town, and not with those clouds on the horizon looking the way they do.”

Randall raised a hand to shield his eyes from the glare of light on the snow and looked toward the western horizon. He squinted. What he’d thought were mountains now looked more like cold, worrisome clouds. There was a definite bite in the air, and the wind nipped at his exposed cheeks and ears.

The driver snapped the reins over the backs of his horses. With a, “Yee-ah!” the stagecoach lurched and rolled on. Randall figured he’d better move on too, if he knew what was good for himself.

He thrust his gloved hands under his arms and glanced down at his trunk. The words “Mendel’s Marvelous Brushes” were stenciled on the side. They’d been crisp and dark when he’d started out from Chicago two months ago, but they were battered and worn now. A little like him. But no matter how monotonous the traveling had become, no matter how many plaintive telegrams he sent back to his enterprising, demanding father, he couldn’t stop.

Stomping his feet to coax blood back into them and to disperse the ever-present, gnawing frustration in his gut, Randall grabbed his trunk by the handle and hefted it high enough to walk. Not that he knew where he was going. The tiny town of Mistletoe seemed overly quiet, even for all the snow. Several businesses lined the road where the stagecoach had dropped him off, and several houses beyond that. Something that might have been a hotel rested down the way. There was even a church at one end of town. A few wrapped-up people scurried from one building to another, but none of them seemed in a social mood.

“Perfect,” he muttered under his breath. “Just what every traveling salesman wants to see.”

He slogged his way to one side of the street, spirits as low as they’d been in ages. A part of him wanted to just sit down in the snow and give up. This wasn’t the life he’d imagined having, it was the life his father imagined. No, it wasn’t even that. His father imagined him being a successful and powerful business magnate, like him. Randall imagined a simple life with a simple wife and a small business. He didn’t need to be grand, just happy.

At the moment, the only way to happiness was by keeping his father happy, so Randall squared his shoulders, put on a smile of false cheer, and headed for the closest business, a barber’s shop. His frustrated sense of duty was eased by a hair at the sight of a pretty Christmas swag of pine, tied with red ribbon and hanging on the shop’s door.

“Excuse me,” he announced as he walked into the business. A weary-looking man who must have been the barber sat in the barber’s chair, reading a yellowed newspaper. “My name is Randall Sinclair, and I come to you today from the Mendel’s Marvelous Brushes company.”

“Huh?” The barber frowned.

It didn’t bode well, but if there was one thing Randall’s indomitable dad had always told him, it was that only the weak took no for an answer.

“Mendel’s Marvelous Brushes manufactures every sort of brush a savvy businessman like you could want,” he went on, setting his trunk down and preparing to open it to display his wares. “Why, not only do I have shaving brushes and dust-brushes, I have a whole variety of—”

“No!” The barber leapt up out of his chair, shoving the newspaper aside. “No, no, no! I don’t want none of your fancy, overpriced brushes. I buy everything I need from the mercantile, just like any other person in this town. So you just stop right there and git!”

Randall sighed, re-buckling the straps of his trunk. “Oh. Um, all right, sir. Thank you for your time.” So much for not taking no for an answer. But if he was honest with himself, he hated confrontation, and he hated pushing brushes on people who didn’t want or need them. He lifted his trunk and headed back out into the frosty, Montana afternoon. The clouds had drawn closer.

He looked around, searching for any business that might need brushes. Farther down the street was a building that looked like a bathhouse, though it didn’t seem to be doing much business at the moment. He cleared his throat, stood taller, and headed down that way.

“Good day to you, sir,” he announced himself as soon as he walked into the bathhouse to find a stocky man at work scrubbing out a large tub. Perfect. “My name is Randall Sinclair, and I come to you today from the Mendel’s Marvelous Brushes company. We provide a wide range of brushes designed to—”

“No offense, sir, but can’t you see I’m busy?” the man said, turning to Randall with drooping shoulders and tired eyes.

“Well, yes.” Randall hesitated. He could hear his father’s voice in his head, pushing him on…relentlessly. “I think I can help. Mendel’s Marvelous Brushes carries every sort of scrub brush and bath brush that a business like yours could need. If you’d allow me to demonstrate…” He bent to open his trunk.

“If it’s all the same,” the bathhouse owner stopped him with a sigh, “I’d rather not. It’s been a heck of a month here in Mistletoe, and I can’t spare a second to listen to salesmen.”

“It’s…it’s not a long presentation.” At least it wasn’t if Randall did the short version.

The bathhouse owner shook his head. “No can do. I’m up to my elbows in work, what with the measles and all.”

“Measles?” The driver had said something about that.

“Sorry.”

Whether the bathhouse owner meant to be dismissive or not, Randall took the hint. Working hard not to be discouraged, he took up his trunk once more and headed out into the bitterness. The sun was gone entirely. Once more, he searched the town’s main street for any signs of life, any sign of someone who needed a brush. His gaze settled on a newspaper office across the street and down a ways. Figuring he couldn’t do any worse than he had already, he headed over, slipping on snow and ice as he went.

“Good afternoon, sir. My name is Randall Sinclair, and I come to you today from the Mendel’s Marvelous Brushes company,” he said, voice dripping with weariness as he stepped into the small office.

The man at work over the printing press glanced up. “Brushes?”

“Yes.” Smiling had never been so hard. “Mendel’s Marvelous Brushes has every kind of brush you would need to keep your office neat, tidy and in order.” He stopped at the end of his sentence, at a loss for what else to say.

The newspaper man blinked at him. A sympathetic grin pulled at the corners of his mouth. “My friend, you know there’s a measles epidemic raging through town right now, don’t you?”

“I heard something about that, yes.”

“And the weather has been awful.”

Randall glanced over his shoulder out the window. He needed to stay positive, he needed to make the sale. … Or was that his father talking. “It should make for a beautiful Christmas.”

The newspaper man chuckled lightly. “Yes, it should. But it makes for a mighty pitiful market for a traveling salesman in the meantime.” He stepped away from his press and approached Randall. “I’m sorry that I don’t need any brushes. I’m even more sorry that you probably won’t find a single taker in town right now. At least not until the epidemic is over.”

Randall sighed and returned the man’s kindness with as much of his own as he could muster. “Thanks anyhow.” He nodded, then picked up his trunk one more time and headed back out into the cold.

Well, that was it. He was stranded in a frosty town with a measles epidemic, no clue when the next stage would come by, fairly certain the trains wouldn’t stop at all. Not if the ever-increasing clouds were any indication. No one was in the mood to buy brushes. By his father’s standards, he was a complete failure. By his own standards, he was due for a change. He rubbed his gloved hands over his face, warming up his red nose. He needed something else to warm him up, and fast. The only thing he could see that would help with that was the saloon across the way.

“Well, at least I’ll be able to forget my troubles for a while,” he said aloud. And now he was talking to himself.

He picked up his trunk and headed on to the saloon. Something in his life had to change, and soon.

 

Come find out what Randall discovers at the saloon, how he and Miranda weather the blizzard, and celebrate Christmas in Mistletoe Montana. Only 99 cents for four stories from four bestselling authors!

Weekend Excerpt – Mistletoe and Moonbeams

Oct 29, 2016

So we’ve been keeping very hush-hush about this project, but the Wild Western Women are at it again! We’re bringing you a Christmas box set, but not just any box set. All four of the stories by me, Caroline Clemmons, Sylvia McDaniels, and Kirsten Osbourne are set in the same town of Mistletoe, Montana, and they’re all connected! The box set comes out on Tuesday! November 1st, that is. Here’s a sneak peek of my contribution, Mistletoe and Moonbeams….

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If she hadn’t had the bar to lean against, Miranda suspected she would have been knocked clear to the ground with the force of Randall Sinclair’s smile. It brought about such a transformation on his handsome, weary face that she caught herself smiling too. It took half a second for her to determine that there was no one else like this man in all of Mistletoe, maybe in all of Montana, although she couldn’t put her finger on whether it was his tailored coat, his high cheekbones and straight nose, or just the air he had about him.

Outside, the flurries were changing over to steadier snow, and it was the smack of the door flapping against the wall as another gust came through that startled the smile off of Mr. Sinclair’s face.

“I’m so sorry.” He rushed to put his trunk down and spun around to shut the door.

“Hold on a second there, sweetheart.” Starla pushed away from the bar with a knowing, teasing grin for Miranda. “I was just about to leave.” Before she did, she leaned closer to Miranda and said, “Just you remember what I said about loosening up and letting miracles happen.”

“He’s a man, not a miracle,” Miranda whispered in return.

Starla laughed. “Honey, in my experience, every man is some kind of miracle.” She ended her statement with a saucy wink and sashayed toward the door.

Mr. Sinclair was still in the entryway, and as Starla reached him, taking a light grey, wool coat from the row of hooks by the door and shrugging into it, he held the door for her with a slightly baffled, “Pleased to meet you, ma’am.”

Starla sent a glance in Miranda’s direction, chuckled, and patted Mr. Sinclair’s slightly shadowed cheek as she marched out into the snow.

Mr. Sinclair watched her go, shook his head and shrugged, then closed the door behind her. When that was done, he put his smile back on and strode a few steps deeper into the room. “Like I said,” he began again, “my name is Randall Sinclair, and I come to you today from the…”

His smile vanished once more. His hands dropped to his sides as he looked around the big, empty saloon.

“Oh. You’re closed, aren’t you?”

“In fact, we are.” A hot flush filled Miranda’s face. She tried to shake it away. Why did she feel guilty for stating the obvious to this man?

“My apologies.” Mr. Sinclair sidestepped to his trunk. “I should have known, what with the storm that looks like it’s blowing in. I won’t bother you.”

“It’s all right.” Miranda jumped out from around the bar, throwing down the rag she’d been clutching and wiping her hands on her skirt. “I was closing up early, but I don’t need to. Especially since you look like you could stand to sit down for a minute.” She blinked at the pun in her words, then giggled as her heart thumped hard against her ribs.

Mr. Sinclair looked confused for a moment, then laughed himself, cheeks a merry shade of red. “I get it. Stand to sit. You’re clever.”

A blossom of pleasure filled Miranda’s chest. Although she shouldn’t be so giddy about being called clever when Vicky was called beautiful every twelve minutes.

She shook that thought aside and moved a few steps closer to Mr. Sinclair, more like a hostess at a garden party than a saloonkeeper. “Why don’t you have a seat at one of these tables by the fire? I just added more wood not ten minutes ago, so it should warm you well.”

“That’s mighty generous of you, Miss…?”

“Clarke. Miranda Clarke. How do you do?” She crossed to meet him in the center of the saloon, hand outstretched.

Mr. Sinclair took her offered hand and not only shook it, he bowed over it. Miranda’s brow flew up. Obviously Mr. Sinclair was used to some degree of society. That wasn’t something she’d seen every day in the rugged little town of Mistletoe.

“Miss Clarke,” Mr. Sinclair said, letting her hand go. His smile grew, and a sort of manly mischief filled his eyes. “Say, with a name like Miranda, you don’t happen to have the nickname ‘Randi,’ do you?”

Miranda’s cheeks flushed hotter and her back went stiff. “Only at times when people wish to be nasty to me.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Mr. Sinclair blushed harder, his mischief switching to embarrassment near panic. “It’s just that my closest friends call me Randy too, although with a “y” as opposed to an “i,” which I imagine is the female equivalent of the nickname. I thought it was quaint, is all. Randy and Randi.”

“Oh!” Miranda clapped a hand to her mouth. Not only did a burst of awkwardness threaten to knock her over, but she had suddenly never wanted to be called “Randi” so much in her life. She managed to swallow, pull herself together, and say, “That is an amusing coincidence, isn’t it?”

“It must be fate.” The smile came back to Mr. Sinclair’s eyes. “Of all the saloons in all the towns in Montana, I happened to step into yours for a bit of refreshment after a long, wearying day.”

 

Are you ready for Tuesday??? =D

Wild Western Women are Coming!

Oct 31, 2014

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Pre-order your copy of Wild Western Women now on Amazon and iBooks!
Add it to your Goodreads WANT TO READ list!

The Wild Western Women Box Set launches tomorrow! To celebrate, I’m bringing you an excerpt from Kristen Osbourne’s Mail Order Misunderstanding, one of the stories in the collection. Enjoy!

When the stage pulled up, he knew immediately the woman coming down was his own sweet Anna. She’d warned him that she was incredibly shy, and she wasn’t certain, once she arrived, if she’d be able to go through with it. He’d decided his plan of action, and every time she seemed to be trying to talk him out of marrying her, he’d just kiss her. It would work beautifully.

WildWesternWomenBoxSet_NewHe caught her eye and walked across the street toward her, so happy to see her in Wiggieville at last. She was a true beauty with her red hair swept atop her head, with a few tendrils falling down out of the knot she had them arranged in. He couldn’t see her eye color from the distance he was at, but he didn’t think he needed to. He knew he’d never seen a woman who was more attractive to him than the one standing beside the stage.

A tall, handsome man stepped walked across the street toward her, his eyes filled with excitement. He was dark with hair that was almost black and the brownest eyes she’d ever seen. When he reached her, he gave her a very familiar look that startled her. “Are you Miss Simmons?” he asked.

She nodded, holding her hand out to shake his. When he took her hand, he gently pulled her toward him, leaning down to press his lips against hers. She was startled and put her hand to her lips as soon as he pulled back. She knew Texas wasn’t as formal as New York, but she’d never expected to be greeted with a kiss, especially not in the middle of the street. What if one of her pupils saw her?

She stepped back, out of his reach, and smiled nervously. “Will you take me to where I’ll be staying please?” She decided not to mention the kiss and give him the dressing down he deserved. He was a school board member after all, and as such he needed to be treated with respect, whether he deserved it or not.

He shrugged. “I’d be happy to. We just need to make one stop first, and then we’ll be able to head out to the ranch.” That stop would, of course, be to the local pastor’s house. He just wasn’t about to admit it and make her more skittish than she already seemed to be.
Julia frowned. The way she’d understood it, she’d be staying close to the schoolhouse, which would be much better for her, but she could walk if she needed to. “All right.” She had no idea what kind of errand he was going to have to run, but she was happy to tag along as long as it didn’t take too long. She was excited to go see the schoolhouse and make sure everything was in order. Teaching had been a lifelong dream, and she was finally almost there.

He took her bags from her and held them in one hand, his hand taking hers and pulling her down the street with the other. He seemed to be a man of few words, but that was all right with Julia. She wasn’t here to become friendly with the man, just to stay with his family during her year of teaching at the local school. If she liked it, maybe she would even sign another contract and come back the following year.

He stopped to put her belongings into an old farm wagon before pulling her along to a house that was just down the street. He went to the door and knocked loudly, smiling down at her, his grin very impish.

“Where exactly are we?” she asked softly. She didn’t want to argue with the man, but something felt wrong about the whole situation. Why was he taking her to someone’s house?

Thomas chuckled and leaned down and kissed her again, without answering her. He couldn’t believe his sweet bride kept asking him where they were. Had she forgotten she’d traveled all the way from Beckham, Massachusetts to marry him?

###

From USA Today Best Selling Author Kirsten Osbourne: Mail Order Misunderstanding

Julia traveled West to be a schoolteacher. Thomas requested a mail order bride. When he arrives at the train station to pick up his bride, Thomas mistakenly thinks Julia is there for him. Julia sees Thomas and thinks he’s there from the school board. She’s married an hour later.

{ Find Kirsten on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. }

Pre-order your copy of Wild Western Women now on Amazon and iBooks!
Add it to your Goodreads WANT TO READ list!

Wild Western Women – An Excerpt from The Indomitable Eve

Oct 22, 2014

It’s excerpt Wednesday! But this week, instead of bringing you a bit from my next release, Trail of Kisses, first book in the Hot on the Trail series, I thought I’d show you a little bit of another release that both came out last year and is coming out November 1st! I’m privileged to have my novella The Indomitable Eve included in a box set of historical western novellas put together by some truly brilliant ladies. Here we are!

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So without further ado, here’s Eve:

 

At the front of a wide sanctuary lined with polished new pews, a cluster of children stood in varying degrees of white and yellow and gold costumes, singing their hearts out. A pair of women fussed over a few of them. They adjusted a costume here, or tried on a pair of wings there. The children sang through it, fresh faces turned up to catch the light streaming in through the windows.

Eve had seen almost every stage from California to London, but not one of them could come close to the pure beauty that stood at the front of that church.

“Very good, very good, children.” A man in a simple black suit with sandy-blond hair stepped forward, applauding the children. “Now, once you finish the carol, you will cross the front of the church—yes, just like that—and come to stand over the manger where the baby Jesus will be resting.”

“Rev. Andrews, shouldn’t the shepherds be the ones looking at the baby Jesus?” one of the little angels asked.

The entire group shuffled from one end of the stage—the church, rather—to the other, the mothers with costumes in tow.

“You’re exactly right, Annie. The shepherds will be looking at the baby Jesus, but I bet that the angels couldn’t help but steal a peek as well,” Rev. Andrews answered.

The chorus of angels giggled at his answer, smiles shining.

Eve’s heart caught in her throat. They were all so dear, so marvelous. A few were unruly, twirling or giggling as they took their places above the empty manger. A pair of boys dodged through the others, their hands in the shape of guns that they fired with all the accompanying sounds. One little girl, who couldn’t have been more than three, stared up at the high stained glass windows, her thumb in her mouth.

A bittersweet twinge seized Eve’s chest. Her throat closed up and a hint of tears stung her eyes. She lowered a hand to press to her abdomen. The scar wasn’t noticeable through the layers of her corset and skirt and the wide belt she wore, but she could feel it all the same. It cut her with a finality that went beyond the surgeon’s knife.

“Hello?”

Eve blinked to find the sandy-haired man staring at her from across the church. She dropped her hand and smiled to hide the grief she knew was painted on her face. It was foolish of her to break character in public, no matter what caused it.

“Hello,” she answered.

The sandy-haired reverend smiled.

“What are you doing?” a woman’s voice snapped behind her.

Eve turned to see a handsome older woman in a serviceable blouse and skirt about ten years out of fashion yanking the church door open behind her. She had gray hair pulled back in a bun and lines on her face that revealed that she smiled a lot. At the moment, however, she was scowling at Eve as though she were a rabble-rouser.

“I’m terribly sorry.” Eve kept her eyes bright and her chin up. “It’s so cold outside that I assumed you would want to keep the door closed.”

The old woman continued to scowl. “Well you assumed wrong.” She pulled herself to her full height and narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know you,” she went on. “I know everyone in town, even the new people.”

“I’m not from town.” Eve continued to feign ease, though it was a difficult role to play.

“I know.” The woman nodded and crossed her arms. “You’ve got an English accent.”

“It’s because I’m English,” Eve said. She tried leaning closer to the woman and sharing a conspiratorial wink the way she had with Lewis Jones and countless admirers before.

The woman crinkled her nose and leaned back. “You’re not one of the new girls Paul Sutcliffe hired to work at the saloon, are you?”

“No, no, not at all.” Eve tried a breezy laugh.

The woman’s scowl deepened. “Well you look like a whore with all that paint on your face.”

The sting of the accusation dug as deep as the emotion she had felt at the sight of the children. Eve’s act dropped.

“I most certainly am not a whore,” she said, hands on her hips. Indignant as she was, her denial still felt like a lie. “I am Lady Eve deLaurent. The Indomitable Lady Eve,” she went on, convincing herself as much as the outspoken woman.

“Well, I am Sadie McGee,” the woman fired back at her. “And I can assure you that I’m as indomitable as any woman that ever set foot in Cold Springs.”

Eve started, not sure what to make of her declaration.

“Ladies, what seems to be the trouble here?”

She was spared having to come up with an answer to Sadie McGee by the interruption of the reverend. She switched back into the role of charming lady and turned to introduce herself.

Her act evaporated. Up close, the reverend was a sight to behold. He had soft blue eyes to go with his sandy hair, strong jaw, and graceful nose. Tiny lines radiated from his eyes, giving him an air of kindness and humor. He could have played Hamlet or Algernon Moncrieff both and made the audience fall in love with him at a word.

“Just keeping the door open like you wanted, Rev. Andrews,” Sadie said as Eve scrambled to collect herself.

“But why?” Eve stammered. “It’s so cold outside.”

“It is,” Rev. Andrews replied, “but with the door closed people passing by can’t hear the children singing and be drawn in like you were.”

He ended with a smile that was as good as a wink. Butterflies danced in Eve’s gut.

 

Wild Western Women comes out November 1st, but you can preorder it now for just 99 cents! That’s 99 cents for five novellas, plus a few bonus short stories. And guess what? One of those short stories is a never-before seen story from Cold Springs, Montanta! A Hero’s Heart is a delightful little peek into the life of Cold Springs’s stationmaster, Lewis Jones, who is ready for love. You can preorder the Wild Western Women box set here.

About-Face

Aug 14, 2014

The following story is a cautionary tale. It’s a cringe-worthy true story that is basically me offering advice about writing couched in telling tales on myself. There are a few morals to this story. One is “Do your research before you start writing.” The other is “Follow your writer’s heart.” Here it is.

11-26-13 © vsurkov | istockphoto.com

11-26-13 © vsurkov | istockphoto.com

So. Historical Romance and Science Fiction, right? Those are the things I write. I love all of it. I particularly love the stories that have been rolling around in my mind for years now. This summer I finally published the first two books in my Grace’s Moon sci-fi series. Yay! I’ve had those stories in me for years. I actually have a major portion of the entire history of that world in my head. Fun stuff.

This month I’ve been writing the third book in the series. It involves the children of the main characters from the first two books, particularly Grace’s son, Grayson (see what I did there?). A major focal point of the third book—in fact, the central object and plot device that provides the core of the action, the climax of the book, and all of the intent from the beginning of the story through to the last word—is the discovery and rescue of a massive spaceship that has sunk to the bottom of a lake.

Okay, so giant spaceship (capable of transporting a thousand people), a great big lake, and people trapped but still alive in the ship eighteen years after it sank. Very cool, right?

Aaaaand this is why you should do your research before you start writing a book. When I got to about 65,000 words of what was shaping up to be a 75,000 first draft, while Grayson and his buddies were devising and carrying out all sorts of plans to dive to the ship and discover the keys to a lot of plot threads and motivators, it dawned on me that I should probably Google the question “How deep can you dive without any equipment?”

The answer? Your average human who has not trained as a diver can only go down about 15 feet before the pressure becomes painful. (Although the record for free diving is about 600 feet, which is kind of ridiculous if you think about it) Translation? There is no way my characters could dive deep enough to reach, let alone rescue, a submerged spaceship. And there is no way I could place the ship in a shallow location without bringing up questions of why its inhabitants haven’t tried to get out on their own.

So basically, I have to not only rewrite almost the entire book, I have to reconceptualize just about everything about the external plot in order to make it work. I’m working on it. I’ve got a few vague ideas, but this opened a giant can of worms for me.

Research is one of the most fun parts of writing, but as I’ve just learned, the time to research technical questions that you know you’re going to run into is before you start. Now, I knew that you can’t dive particularly deep without equipment. The thing is, I didn’t realize it was THAT hard to dive. But when you’re researching, sometimes it’s hard to grasp what you don’t know that you don’t know. I’m beginning to think I (you?) need to create a spreadsheet or a list of possible technical questions that I have before I start the drafting process.

And now we come to the second moral of the story.

Now, I hate it when things that people have told me for years turn out to be true. I want to be iconoclastic and buck the system so badly. Maybe it’s hubris, but there’s that part of me that wants to be the exception to the rule. In this case, it’s all about the challenges and pitfalls of writing outside of your genre.

10-25-11 © John_Brueske | istockphoto.com

10-25-11 © John_Brueske | istockphoto.com

So as I finished publishing Saving Grace and Fallen from Grace and geared up to write book three, something unexpected and wonderful happened to me. I met a bunch of really great fellow western historical romance writers. Not just met them, I was accepted into the fold of both writers and superfans of the subgenre. I’m actually going to be part of a box set called Wild Western Women this fall! (You heard it first here!) I am totally in the western historical romance zone right now. And I had a miraculous brain-flash for a series set along the Oregon Trail in the midst of all this. We’re talking a half dozen specific romance stories and subsequent characters showing up in my head at the same time singing halleluiah.

At the same time that my sci-fi story was experiencing utter breakdown.

My heart said, “Hey, let’s set the sci-fi aside for a few months and work on this really cool western historical idea!” My head replied, “Dude, that sounds a little too much like quitting for my comfort.” But then my heart said, “You’re supposed to write what you love, though, right?” And my stubborn head said, “I love Grace’s Moon too.” And my heart countered with, “Yes, but your fans are primarily in historical romance, you are hot in historical romance right now, and odds are that you’ll sell more historical romance than you will sci-fi.”

I asked some friends, writers and non-writers. The response was pretty much unanimous. Set the sci-fi aside and work on the western historical romance. Listen to your heart.”

So what have I learned from this nails-on-the-chalkboard painful reversal of the momentum I’ve been trying to build all summer? What advice can I share coming out of the situation? Write the books you want to write, but put things into perspective as you write. If your goal is to publish the books you’ve always wanted to publish without any care for reception or income, then work on whatever feels right. If you want to write for both yourself and the readers you already have and/or if you’re hoping to generate income from your writing, consider directing your efforts to the tastes of the fans you’ve developed.

And above all else, strike while the iron is hot. If someone hands you a hot iron, you’d be a fool not to strike it.

So write on! (But research first) And don’t make the same mistakes I did.

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