I’d be willing to bet that I’m the only author on Cowboy Kisses who wrote her first book to win a bet. One day my sister and I started discussing books. We chatted away until we got to the point readers do in that kind of discussion—we each said, “I could write something better than that.” So we made a bet. We would each write a book, and the winner would be the one who wrote hers first. I won that bet by writing the western historical romance, Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold, and in the end I won much, much more because that book and the ones that have come after it changed my life for the better.
Other than that unusual beginning, my writing career has followed tried and true paths. I write what I know. I live in the West—Colorado—and most of my life has centered around horses. For over twenty years I bred, raised, trained, and showed Morgan horses. The mare I'm pictured on above was in my unalterable opinion the best Morgan horse God ever created. When age and injury put a stop to my ability to work with horses, I simply turned from horses to dogs (my cozy mystery is Rottweiler Rescue, a mystery for dog lovers). While of course I have to research the historical aspects of my romances, American history has always been a favorite subject, and I believe the core of my stories is part of the core of me.
Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold is my began-it-all book, the one I was afraid to show to anyone (except my sister) until after it had had a lot of revision and editing and was a finalist in two writing contests. Eyes is the one that simply took off less than two months after I first published it for Kindle, reached as high as No. 10 in the Historical Romance bestselling list there (#1 Western) and stayed on that list for almost a year.
Although I am a promiscuous writer and am always most in love with the newest story and the newest hero, Cord Bennett is my vision of the perfect guy. He and Anne, who saw themselves as an "us" united against the hostility all around them, will always have a special place in my heart.
The Civil War holds a never-ending fascination for me. Did you know that the casualties in that war exceed the casualties in all America's other wars—combined? The effect it had on individuals, regions, and the country as a whole was so massive it's almost beyond my modern imagination. Yet I couldn't help wondering what if two people who weren't just on opposite sides of the conflict but opposite in every way, met, had to depend on each other and fell in love.
That's what happened to Matt Slade, orphaned son of hardscrabble Texas settlers, Confederate veteran and tough-minded survivor, and to Sarah Hammond, timid, conventional daughter of wealthy Massachusetts abolitionists. Matt charmed me and still does, and he charmed the All About Romance reviewer who gave Sing My Name an A review and Desert Isle Keeper status.
In the description for Dancing on Coals, I say that the heroine, Katherine Grant, jumped from the frying pan into the fire, but perhaps I was thinking of myself. After all with this story I went from western historical romances, a relatively small subgenre of historical romance, to Native American romance, an even smaller sub-subgenre, and one which quite frankly is often on the cheesy side.
Even so, once I conceived of Gaetan, the Apache hero of this story, his story had to be told, and only a woman like Katherine could hold her own with such a man. To my delight, not only readers who liked Eyes and Sing but also new readers were more than willing to give Dancing a try, and as of this moment, Dancing is the one of my books with the highest ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.
Rachel's Eyes is that short story and can be purchased from Amazon for Kindle or can be downloaded for free from my website. I also have an extra chapter of Eyes I edited out during final revisions and an Afterword to Sing My Name available for download on the site.
I do have my own blog and hope you'll visit there sometime.