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I just had to start my story over again, after having written exactly 80 pages. I went off track around page 50, but really the problem was deeper, and began at the beginning, so I had to make a clean break and start over, and that's okay. That's part of the job. It's not a fun part, but it's a necessary part.

In his book On Writing, Stephen King advises his fellow scribblers to "kill your darlings," and I thought of that when I axed the 80 wayward pages. I mean, they're still hanging out on my harddrive, and maybe I'll come to a spot where something I had in there can be plucked out and re-tooled and inserted in the new version, but I doubt it. The energy is different this time around. The dynamic between the two characters is different, and the characters themselves are even different.

The Next Generation of The Texas Brands

The working title of the story I just started over is Harrison Hyde and the Runaway Bride and it will be the first book of the New Texas Brands, or whatever I'm going to call this new series. It will be focusing the seven kids of the original Texas Brands. Let's review, shall we?

In Book 1, a baby was left on the doorstep of The Texas Brand ranch. The note with the baby named him Garrett Ethan, but big Garrett Brand knew it wasn't his child. He's the most upright man in town, a local sheriff who's raised his 5 younger siblings after their parents were killed. He wouldn't father a child and not know it. But Baby Bubba, as they call him, is in need of a home, and when his angry aunt comes looking, well, love ensues.

Bubba's all grown up (29,) a country music singer in pursuit of his big break while trying to figure out who he really is.

Jessi Brand's five big brothers did everything they could to keep her away from ranch foreman Lash, but Jessi always gets what she wants.

Tough as nails veterinarian Jessi can track like a hound, and fight like an alley cat. Her man, Lash, might be whipcord lean, but he held his own with her family, and won his woman, even after an accidental pregnancy pushed up the clock their wedding.

Maria-Michelle Brand Monroe (26) has her mother's toughness and her father's easy charm, but she's a little too eager to get started on the perfect life she's imagined. She wants it all, the house, the kids, and to take over and expand her mother's veterinary clinic. But her impatience has her about to walk down the aisle with the wrong man. What's a cowgirl bride to do?

Wes Brand is the half Navajo result of an affair between the Brand clan's patriarch, and a beautiful Native woman called Stands Alone. Wes learned more about his heritage from an aging shaman with ulterior motives, while trying to scare off the archaeologist who was digging up her own ancestors' sacred lands. At first. Soon he was trying to win her heart, instead.

Taylor and Wes own Sky Dancer ranch, where they raise horses and their daughter, Willow Stands Alone Brand.

Willow (25) is tall, gorgeous, 75% Navajo, and as cool as winter. She's confident, brilliant, and afraid of her own emotions. She never gets upset or loses her temper, has a plan for her life and career, and doesn't intend to let anything like romance distract her.

Ben lost his wife Penny, or he thought he did, but nothing was as it seemed, and their tragic love story got a second chance that was nothing short of a miracle.

Ben's a martial arts enthusiast and teacher. Penny has a private investigator's licence and has embraced her natural talent for snooping.

Their son is Orrin Kenneth (24) named for his grandfather, and their daughter is Drew (22) named after Nancy Drew, fictional dectective and Penny's childhood heroine.

Drew is two years younger than Maria and Willow, but the three cousins are best friends, even if she is always the one getting the crew into trouble--usually because she's trying to prove that she's as brave and daring as any of them.

Orrin, two years older than Drew, feels like he spends most of his time trying to protect his kid sister from herself, or get her out of whatever mess she's caused.

Elliot Brand, aspiring rodeo rider and all around funny guy, took a wild journey, and came back with a bride from another time, Esmeralda, whose family once owned the land where the Texas Brand sits.

She's adjusted to life in the modern day, and wouldn't go back to her past even if she could - because she has a family now. She adores Elliot, and has brought a new son into the Brand clan.

Trevor Brand (24) feels things more deeply than most. He's never believed his mom's story about coming from another time and is fairly certain she had a mental break followed by amnesia, and imagined the rest. But she believes it, so he doesn't challenge the very private family legend until one day he encounters the undeniable proof that challenges everthing he thought he knew.

Luke Brand, cousin to the siblings Garrett, Ben, Wes, Adam, Elliot and Jessi, returns home to the family he's never known, to find a former stripper named Jasmine hiding out in his house with her frightened, genius little boy, Baxter, now (29).

Baxter's life had been in danger after witnessing a murder, and while his mother took him on the run to keep him safe, he's always felt like he was the one caring for her. He didn't get to be a kid until they arrived in Texas. His childhood started right then.

Scrawny and brainy, he bonded with big, athletic Bubba even though they're opposites and in every way--because neither of them are Brands by birth, but they way they feel about that is entirely different. Baxter feels he blongs, but Bubba never has. Despite being physically smaller, Baxter has always been a leader among the cousins--even Bubba looks up to him.

Here's who would play the Brand girls if I were casting them in films:

Maria-Michele: Julia Garner Willow: Ashley Callingbull Drew: Amanda Seyfried

I picture Maria played by Julia Garner (as a redhead.) She has the attitude, the angst and the look. She's one of my favorte actresses.

Actress Ashley Callingbull has the perfect look and cool demeanor (with fire just beneath the surface) to pay Willow.

I can't imagine a better acrtress to play young, adventurous, sometimes screw-up Drew than a very young Amanda Seyfried.

I haven't cast the boys yet. Bubba is big and broad and little bit lost. Baxter is is a blond genius born in the city, fitting in amongst the cowboys in spite of being different. I don't have a great handle on Trevor and Orrin yet, but they'll show themselves to me as things begin to unfold.

The first book, Harrison Hyde and the Runaway Bride, is Maria Michelle's story. I wrote 80 pages, then trashed them all and started over. Now I have 10 far better pages, and it's going well.

And that's all the scoop I can give you at the moment, because that's all my characters have shared with me so far, but it's coming together and I'm getting the feeling this is going to be a big, fat, hairy deal that results in at least 7 more stories set on and around The Texas Brand.

Now it's your turn! What should I name this new series? Post your suggestions in comments, and also feel free to suggest young actors to play the guys! Drag photos into your comments. Help a gal out here!




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Little Brands No More. Or

Brand New Generation. Or

Next Generation Brand

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