After the Heartbreak
Together Cathy and Beto have faced horror and heartbreak. Will they together find their way back to happiness?
What was to be the first night of the rest of their lives together instead became an evening of heartbreak and horror. Now dealing with the aftermath, Cathy Armbruster and Beto Flores struggle to put their lives and their relationship back together. Was their future destroyed on that fateful night, or will Cathy and Beto find a way to get past the heartbreak and claim the happily ever after with one another that they both want so desperately?
Tommy Joe is home from war, but he’s now in a wheelchair-and always will be. Can he still be the man a woman like Christi deserves?
Crippled by a sniper’s bullet, paraplegic Tommy Joe Reece doesn’t see how he can run a ranch from a wheelchair-or be a husband to Christi, the girl he’s always loved. Will Tommy and Christi let their doubts and fears about the future destroy their love, or will they have the courage to reach out to one another and find a way to make it all work?
Daughter of Valor
When wounded war hero Holly Riley comes home to the Texas Hill Country to build a new life for herself, she has no idea that life will include sexy Congressional candidate Jimmy Adamcik!
Wounded war hero Holly Riley has come to the lakeshore community of Heaven’s Point to recover from her injuries and build a new life for herself with her band of fellow wounded warriors. Temporarily employed as a nanny be charismatic Congressional candidate and neighbor Jimmy Adamcik, Holly and Jimmy quickly began to care for one another in spite of Holly’s distrust of politics. But Jimmy finds himself sucked deeper and deeper into the seamy side of the political process, and an old enemy from Jimmy’s past targets Holly’s soldiers one by one. Will Jimmy and Holly’s love survive the double onslaught-or will they be the final target of their unknown enemy’s rage?
The Challenge of Writing a Series
Writing a series of stories is a new challenge for me. In my years with Candlelight, a sequel was rare and a series absolutely unheard-of. My Candlelight editors bought two sequels from me, but were not especially interested in more, so the rest of my books with them were all completely stand-alone. Starting in the nineties, leading writers such as Linda Lael Miller and Nora Roberts began to write books in series-three or four books featuring a particular family or set of siblings or even a ranch or a seacoast town, with heroes and heroines who appear as supporting characters in the other books of the series. The writing of a series of books has taken off to the point that today many if not most books are part of one, and the true stand-alone book is rare. This makes it convenient for both the reader and the writer-the reader can revisit people and places they’ve fallen in love with, and the writer does not have to re-create a setting or characters from scratch with every new book. But the writing of a series also presents a set of challenges, challenges that I have learned to overcome in the writing of the books and short stories of the Texas Hill Country series.
I had no idea I was writing the first book of a series when I created ‘Solomon’s Choice’-it was my first stab at writing in almost thirty years and I just wanted to get it written. But it wasn’t long before I was thinking in terms of another story and looking at the secondary characters I had created for ‘Solomon’s Choice’. Cute deputy Rory Keller and big-mouthed waitress Lisa-they had possibilities and became the short story ‘A Gift of Trust’. But the three that intrigued me the most were widowed Jimmy Adamcik, single mom Angie Baxter, and soldier Holly Riley, who sustains devastating injuries during the course of the story. Pairing Angie with Jimmy didn’t work, but I looked at Jimmy and Holly as I had already created them and their story began to evolve into ‘Daughter of Valor’. But it was the multi-faceted cast of characters I invented for Daughter of Valor that really set my imagination on fire-playboy Russ Riley, politician Alex Navarro, campaign manager Misty Martinez, the members of Holly’s brave band of wounded warriors-and suddenly their stories were screaming to be told also.
But there were challenges. Once a character is created, that character has to be portrayed consistently throughout the series, or the series lacks believability. In other words, if a character is short, fat, smart-mouthed, or not too nice as a supporting character, a reader is not going to believe that character has suddenly grown six inches, lost forty pounds, and been to charm school when they become one of the leads. The character Russ Riley is a case in point. As he is portrayed in ‘A Gift of Trust’ and ‘Daughter of Valor’, he is a short, smart-mouthed, devastatingly attractive man with the morals of a tom cat. So when he became the hero of the third full-length book in the series, he had to stay in character, as counter as it was to the tall, true-blue traditional hero most readers expect. Another case in point is hero Jason Donahue. As a supporting character, the man has suffered devastating burns that have severely disfigured him. Do those burns and the hideous scarring go away just because he’s now the hero? No, they do not-they are part of the character and have to stay.
Another challenge to the writer of the series is portraying former heroes and heroines in later books once their story is over. How much of their new lives do you include in the subsequent books? Yes, the readers want to know how they are doing. But at the same time, it’s not their story anymore. My first hero and heroine, Jack and Caroline, do appear throughout the rest of the Texas Hill Country series, but I tried to be very careful to remember that, while they are important supporting characters, particularly in ‘Daughter of Valor’, at this point it’s another couple’s story. And it is important that the former leads actually be part of the story and not be included just included because their story was part of the series.
So when is it time to end a series? The answer to that is ‘when the stories are over’. Most writers end a series at three or four. Some write many more. The Texas Hill Country series is currently scheduled for four full-length books and four shorter stories. At that point, I think it will be time to move on.