When I finish writing a series, I take a step back to consider what’s next in my writing journey. Knowing I was changing jobs in late 2022, I worked hard to wrap up the Colter Sons Series and give myself time to get used to my new job as a Software Development Manager at a Christian ministry. The timing worked out well and gave me a chance to read many works by many authors. Interestingly, I’ve gotten hooked on several contemporary Christian authors under the Love Inspired label and a few independent authors as well.
This gave me ideas to write a sequel to Nickels, my only contemporary novel, where I introduced Kelly Sutton and Matt Dixon as minor characters. If you’ve read several of my books, you know I love, love, love to turn minor characters from one book into main characters in other books. I went back and read Nickels again to refresh my memory. Then I plotted out a new book called Breathe, only to discover that I had a few chapters already written. (In all fairness, I had started it eight years ago).
Besides plotting, character development, and even about half of a first draft on Breathe, I also thought through what I want to write on the historical fiction side. I’ve completed a ton of research on several topics, including the earliest days of Phoenix, the Arizona Rangers, the Aztec Land & Cattle Company, other railroad lines in Arizona, US Marshals in Arizona, and more. (Did I mention I read a lot?)
The wheels started churning. I had ideas for a rustler hunter, a US Marshal, an Arizona Ranger, and a district attorney as heroes. But who from my previous books might fit into these roles? Why the other four Harper siblings, of course! Hailey, Flynn, Ike, and Shane were introduced in The Resourceful Stockman (Colter Sons Book 4). No, Hailey is not a rustler hunter, but she goes undercover as a Pinkerton Agent and falls in love with one!
The Harper’s Justice series was born—at least the initial series outline and some character development. I also have written almost half of the first draft of The Rustler Hunter. Like the Colter Sons Series, I’m writing this in the first person and sticking with just the hero and heroine’s points of view. For fun, I’m punching up the western flavor and feel. Trying some new things with cowboy lingo. And going for more action, like in The Resourceful Stockman. Who knows, may be this series will appeal to a few men too.
Then, as if starting two books wasn’t enough, I was inspired by a few tweets back and forth with Love Inspired. They asked what settings readers would like to see in their books. I answered “western, southwest, and Ireland.” They asked if I’d ever been to Ireland. I replied that it’s on my bucket list.
That conversation rolled around in my head. I said to myself, “Self, you’re an author. You’ve always loved Ireland. Why not write a contemporary romance set in Ireland?” The ideas came fast. I’ve got the plot, character development, and the first few scenes started on this. I need to do more research, especially since I hold myself to a high standard for presenting realistic characters and settings. I have a different goal with this book, so it may be a long time before it gets published. And for now, I’m going to keep the working title a secret, sorry. We’ll just call it the Irish book for now.
With so many books in process, fear not, readers. Throughout my writing career, I typically have several manuscripts in progress simultaneously. It’s one way I work around writer’s block. If I get stuck on one, I work on another one for a while. If I get an inspirational idea for a scene in one, I go write it as soon as possible. I did that with several books as far back as the Prescott Pioneers. I wrote A Heart Renewed, A Life Restored, and Nickels this way. I wrote Oaks of Justice, The Reluctant Cattleman, and The Roaming Adventurer this way. I even wrote The Resilient Bride (Colter Sons 6) before The Restless Wrangler (Colter Sons 5). It had a different title, and I almost released it as a standalone, but changed my mind. Violet’s story belongs with her brothers, even if she isn’t a Colter “son”.
I hope this gets you excited about some of my upcoming work. There will be new and exciting stories coming perhaps as early as the fall of 2023, but more realistically, in 2024 and beyond.
As always, thank you for your continued support and for choosing to spend time with my beloved characters.