TEN DAYS OF SUPERSTITION…DAY 4

My first eleven books were Historical Romance.  I wanted to do something different–something I had always wanted to do.  I wanted to write a Contemporary Paranormal Romance about vampires.  Switching from writing about the people and lifestyle of the 1800s to present-day shouldn’t be a big deal, right?  WRONG!

In my humble opinion, I was pretty familiar with the customs, language, mannerisms, etc., of the Old West.  As I’ve talked about before, I was so lucky to have a ‘real’ cowboy dad, who lived by old-fashioned values, and loved to tell stories about the days of the American West.  It was fairly easy to write my own stories of romance and adventure in the Old West based on tales I had been hearing all of my life.

It only took me a couple of chapters into my new book (and new genre) to realize I was in trouble.  Writing in a contemporary voice as opposed to a historical voice was a whole different writing style.  I rewrote those first chapters over and over again. They just didn’t sound right.

I decided to write the entire book and then I would worry about finding my contemporary voice.  Easier said than done.  After writing a chapter or two, and sometimes even just a few pages, I would delete it all and start over again.  I wanted to give up.  I desperately wanted to write this book. It was a vicious circle.

My beautiful daughter-in-law, Heather Blake, was my oldest son’s wife. She was also an avid reader and one of my biggest fans.  Ever since she had became a part of our family, she was my writing mentor.  I would call her constantly while writing a book and bounce ideas off of her.  Heather was always straightforward, and I knew I could rely on her to tell me exactly what she thought.  We had talked many times about my idea to write a vampire book, but when I was finally ready to give her a rough draft…whoa…I was not prepared for her response.

I will just write the highlights of her comments the way I remember them.  Keep in mind, this book was also my first attempt to write erotic romance.  “Oh my God! Why didn’t you warn me that this book was so explicit?  Do you know how hard it is to read that stuff knowing that your husband’s mom wrote it?  I just skipped those parts.  Okay, so Mateo is magnificent.  I can picture him clearly in my mind.  What a hunk.  Love him!  But, Dawn…yuck.  She’s supposed to be this experienced camper and big-time hiker, but she can’t remember to bring matches?  Please!  What a ditzy blonde.  Can’t stand her.  Mateo deserves so much better.”

Ditzy blonde?  Yuck?  Mateo deserves better?  Oh my God!  By the way, there is another blog post here called ‘Ditzy Blonde’ that was inspired by Heather’s reaction to that first draft.  Needless to say, it was back to the drawing board.  I started over again, virtually changing everything but the locale and the names of my characters.  Heather had also mentioned that she wanted to know more about the history of Mateo’s vampire clan, so I worked hard on developing a story about the Blood Clan and their origins.

Motivated (and a little gutted) by Heather’s candid remarks, I rewrote this manuscript over and over again.  There’s another blog post here entitled ‘The Death of a Manuscript’ that was inspired by my relentless quest to find the voice I needed to finish this book.

It took me five years to write this book, which was just insane.  I gave up completely on it several times, and stubbornly refused to work on it for months at a time.  But, I thought about it constantly, and my love for my characters, Dawn and Mateo, kept drawing me back in.  They had a story to tell and they deserved a chance to tell it.

Throughout all this time, my wonderful daughter-in-law was my constant sounding board for all the story changes and ideas.  Tragically, she suddenly became ill two years ago and passed away on July 29, 2015.  I loved her (and still love her) like my own child and one of my best friends.  Her loss is indescribable for all of us, but especially for my son and their two boys.  How I wish Heather could be here now to read the finished book, and to celebrate the release of Superstition with me.  I would give anything to hear one more ‘brutally honest’ critique from her.  On release day, I will be looking up at the Heavens and whispering, “Thank you, my beautiful angel.”

Tomorrow is Sunday Funday.  I’m going to be posting some fun (and silly) stuff about Superstition.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Now available for pre-order in eBook and paperback! Watch for news about the upcoming release of the audio book.  Release date: June 9, 2017

https://www.amazon.com/Superstition-Blood-Clan-Book-1-ebook/dp/B071VPQSY7/

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Ten Days of Superstition…Day 3

Mateo Two Moons.  He is compassionate and loving; tender and protective.  Of course, he’s drop-dead gorgeous and a magnificent lover.  He’s an Apache, and oh, did I mention he’s also a centuries old vampire?

Dawn Malone has got her act together.  She’s a woman looking for adventure and loving life when she relocates from Colorado to Arizona.  She only wants to concentrate on her teaching career and explore her new surroundings.  Falling in love with an ancient, but irresistible, vampire who plans to take her to a hidden village in the Superstition Mountains and make her his eternal mate was definitely not in her plans.

Although I knew the Superstition Mountains were the ideal location for my clan of vampires to dwell, in the beginning I was not sure about having a contemporary vampire hero who was Native American.  I had read many books about vampires and seen lots of movies about immortal blood suckers, and a present-day Native American vampire just didn’t seem to fit the part.  It only made sense he would be an Apache if he lived in the Superstitions, but I still struggled with this when I first started writing this book.

In my previous historical romances I’ve had several dynamic Native American heroes, but this one had to be entirely different.  As I finally started to envision this unlikely leading man, I could see a gorgeous man dressed casually in jeans and boots, but still with long raven hair, a shimmering dark gaze, and smooth bronzed skin.  He would drive a big truck that would be as sexy as he was.  A modern-day vampire hero of Native American descent was starting to look pretty darn good.  The name Mateo Two Moons just popped into my head somewhere along the way and it seemed to fit.

Once my hero starts to become real to me, it’s easy to create my heroine.  She just needs to be the woman of his dreams.  That’s easy, right?  I knew I wanted Mateo to have an Apache name to call her by once in a while, so I did some research.  I found  the name Udaya, which meant Dawn in the Apache language.  It was perfect.  Both of my main characters were now ready for their story to unfold.

When developing characters for a book, I sort of feel like I’m giving birth.  In my mind, I know everything about these people that I’m creating—from the time they are born until they die—even though I’m only writing about a brief period in their lives. While I’m sitting at the computer writing, I literally become these characters and feel as though they are just letting me be the instrument that chronicles their story, because they truly do write their own narrative once they become fully developed in my mind.  Even though they are like my babies, and I give them life, I never know what path they will take us on until they lead me there.  I love them as if they are real.  If they are sad, I cry.  When they are happy, I rejoice.  If they are in the throes of a wild sexual escapade…well, I wish I could join them.

While surfing the Internet one day I saw a picture of a guy that took my breath away.  The instant I saw him, I knew he looked exactly like I pictured Mateo.  Not long afterward I saw a picture of a beautiful blonde girl that looked just how I imagined Dawn Malonemateo 1Dawn.  This was the first time I had actual pictures of the characters I was writing about.  In my past books, they were only images in my mind or resembled an actor/actress in the movies or on TV.  It’s been so fun to be able to look at those pictures and feel like I was actually looking at Dawn Malone and her sexy vampire, Mateo Two Moons.

I learned that the man in the picture was a model from Sweden named Filip Gustavsson.  If he only knew how his picture has inspired some of the most erotic love scenes I’ve ever written, well, he’d either be flattered or embarrassed.

Recently, I found out the picture of the girl is actress Kate Upton.  I’ve never seen another picture of her other than this one that looks like my heroine, but in this picture she is my Dawn.  After seeing the cover that was created by my publisher’s artist, though, I realize that Dawn and Mateo have never looked more perfect than they do on the actual book cover.

Although I’ve loved all of my heroes and heroines in my other books, I have to admit, Dawn and Mateo are my favorite.  I hope you enjoy their passionate love story as much as I do.

Tomorrow I will talk about how hard it was for me to switch genres from Historical Romance to Contemporary Paranormal. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Now available for pre-order in eBook and paperback! Watch for news about the release of the audio book.  Release date: June 9, 2017

https://www.amazon.com/Superstition-Blood-Clan-Book-1-ebook/dp/B071VPQSY7/

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TEN DAYS OF SUPERSTITION…DAY 2

When I decided to write about vampires I knew I wanted them to live in a secluded and mysterious locale.  My original plan was to set this book in some exotic place like a Greek island or the beautiful country of Montenegro (still a possibility in a future book in this series).  Then I started thinking about all the places I had studied while doing research for my other books, or the places I had actually visited.

The most extensive research trip I’ve ever taken was when I was writing my third and fourth historical romances, Savage Dreams and Apache Tigress in the early 1990s.  Those books were about the Jicarilla Apache who lived in Arizona.  I was so fortunate to know a wonderful lady who had once been a teacher at the White Mountain Reservation in Arizona.  When I asked her if she would tell me about the area she said, “Let’s just go there.”

We loaded up my two youngest kids (ages seven & thirteen at the time) in the car and took off on a road trip from Colorado to Arizona that turned out to be an extraordinary adventure for all of us.   My awesome friend, Jan Johnston, took us to places on the reservation I’m sure most tourists never have a chance to see up close.  We explored everything from remote desert rock formations covered in shiny black stones called ‘Apache Tears’ to ancient ruins that can only be seen from a certain spot on the reservation.

During one of our excursions, we stopped at a MacDonalds in the town of Apache Junction, about 35 miles from Phoenix.  I was looking out the window when a rugged looking mountain range off in the distance caught my attention.  I asked my friend about them and she superstion 3told me they were the Superstitions, and were also the location of the legendary Lost Dutchman Goldmine.

Since I loved reading anything historical about the American West, I had heard of the Lost Dutchman Goldmine. However, I didn’t know a lot of the details regarding the mine or the history of the area.  Looking at the spooky mountains from inside that fast food restaurant, though, my imagination was fueled with the idea of what a great setting they would make for a book.  At the time, I was consumed with writing my two historical Apache romances, which took place on the White Mountain Reservation and in Mexico. But, I told myself someday I would write those creepy mountains into a future book.

Seven more books followed my two book Apache series, and truthfully, I sort of forgot about using the Superstitions as the setting in one of my books.  Occasionally, I would come across an article, or see something on TV about the mysterious disappearances that have been occurring in those mountains for the past couple of centuries, or someone who had found something that might be a clue to the location of the goldmine.  Then my interest in this area would flare up again.

Around the time I decided to write about vampires, there were a couple of shows on TV about significant new discoveries that were drawing attention to the Lost Dutchman Goldmine again.  I remembered how menacing those mountains had seemed to me over two decades earlier.  Immediately I knew I had found the perfect location for my new book.

Sadly, my beautiful friend, Jan, passed away long before I started writing Superstition.  I wish I could share with her the exciting news that I finally wrote about those mountains that I found so intriguing all those years ago on our remarkable trip.  But, I have no doubt she knows.

Tomorrow I will talk about my hero and heroine.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Now available for pre-order in eBook and paperback! Watch for news about the release of the audio book.  Release date: June 9, 2017

https://www.amazon.com/Superstition-Blood-Clan-Book-1-ebook/dp/B071VPQSY7/

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