Behind the BRAND (series)
The Littlest Cowboy is celebrating THE TEXAS BRAND series' new duds (cover art) and new home at Oliver Heber Books with a 99¢ sale on Book 1. All the links are below this Behind the Series post
I had written one romantic suspense, one modern gothic, and a handful of paranormal novels, when my then-editor Melissa Senate asked me to try my hand at western romance. My first reply was, "No, thanks." But then she pressed me. Your readers have seen that you can write a good paranormal. Don't get yourself typecast. Show them what else you can do!
In hindsight, I wonder if she had seen the writing on the wall. It was before Silhouette Shadows had folded, but not much before, and she wanted to see me do well in case I had to stop writing them. I kept hearing a voice in my head saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."
Her advice made its way through my stubbornness to my brain, and I decided I would give in and write JUST ONE.
To set the mood
I started reading Louis L'Amour novels. Let me amend that. I had long since started reading Louis L'Amour novels. Better to say I re-started. I fell in love with the Sackett family, and read every book in that series, some twice. I knew almost immediately that I was not going to write just one book. I was going to create a family like that. A family where when one member got into trouble, the others came to help. A family with branches. The existence of the Clinch Mountain Sacketts absolutely inspired the Oklahoma Brands.
In addition, I watched the old TV show "In the Heat of the Night." Set in Louisiana, not Texas, but it wasn't so much the location that got me as it was one big, soft-hearted, slightly awkward cop named Bubba Skinner. I loved a lot about him, and he was the character who ignited the spark that became eldest brother Garrett Brand. Just the spark, mind you. Garrett is smarter, hotter, and even sweeter if that can be a thing.
I think this might be the reason too, that every single Texas Brand book has a crime/suspense subplot. In some it's a small thread, and in others it's the whole enchilada, but there's always a bad guy. Every good story needs and antagonist!
One became nine
I thought there would be six books in the series, one for each sibling; Garrett, Ben, Wes, Adam, Elliot, and Jessie. But then a couple of things happened. First, my publisher was creating a mini-series about super-hero type men, and populating it with characters linked to other existing series. They wanted me to create a super-hero linked to the Texas Brands. I came up with Marcus, city guy, a batman type, tragic childhood, family murdered -- The link to the Brand family is a huge revelation and there's a touching holiday reunion that melts this loner's heart. (That's The Lone Cowboy.) And then his story spun off into another, because of a reason I can't tell you without ruining the book. (Texas Angel.) And then I was offered the chance to do one as a single title release. The rest of the books were category romances, published within Silhouette Intimate Moments (Later Silhouette Romantic Suspense, later Harlequin Romantic Suspense.) Single title books are where category books go when they grow up. They are "bigger, longer, and uncut," to paraphrase South Park. So I wrote Texas Homecoming.
The nugget that became Oklahoma
There's a scene in one of The Texas Brand books where one of the boys blurts something like, "You think we're bad, you should see the Oklahoma branch of the family."
That was it. I was writing along, and he said those words, and my fingers typed them, and I looked at the screen and said, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" And I just left it there and kept going. It was a throwaway line that I would probably delete in the second draft.
Only I didn't. I suspect the girls in the basement were already composing book 1 of the Oklahoma Brands, The Brands Who Came for Christmas.
The Texas Brand Series
UK taking a little bit longer to lower the price. It wouldn't hurt to gripe a little. :
If your retailer doesn't have it for 99¢ they're being slow to implement the price change. Griping about it might help. :)