The spring of 2018 was a black hole for me. I had huge plans but they were put on hold when I got sick and stayed sick for a few months. The kind of sick where you take meds that render you worthless, unable to do anything but lounge drooling and in pain in a favorite recliner with your blind Boston terrier.
So when I got a Facebook inbox message from USA Today bestselling author Judith Lucci asking me to contribute a romantic suspense novella for a multi-author box set called LOVE UNDER FIRE, I said no. First, because I had never written romantic suspense. Second, because I was falling farther and farther behind on the writing commitments I'd already made.
Judith, however, was flattering and persuasive. I'm just a girl who can't say no. :-) Because of that, my husband Eric is constantly worrying about me over committing myself, and he was especially protective of me after my illness. But....... I reversed my decision and told myself I'd squeeze in a story somehow.
First, though, what to write? I was still finishing up my 2018 releases (STUNNER (AVA 2) KNOCKOUT (AVA 3) and SEARCHING FOR DIME BOX (MICHELE 3)). I had just started brainstorming the novels I would draft in the summer to release in 2019: LIVE WIRE (MAGGIE 1), SICK PUPPY (MAGGIE 2), and DEAD PILE (MAGGIE 3). Those books would take Michele's buddy Maggie from Texas to Wyoming, where she would reunite with an old love, Hank. In the novels, she and Hank are mature adults. I don't usually like to write protagonists the age of my own kids, but suddenly I was considering writing Maggie and Hank in their "falling in love the first time" stage.
Old dog, new trick?
Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against young twenty-somethings. I spend a LOT of money on them. ;-) I just find the 30s and 40s very fascinating. For me, those years were golden. My teens and twenties? Not so much. I didn't personally have the depth and complexity of personality I achieved as I aged. Or the wrinkles and cellulite. Good with the bad, right?
But I did have a tight ass and a love for partying. And those things weren't so terrible. Maybe I could channel a little of that and write Maggie and Hank? Yes, I decided I would. And I did. I set it in Cheyenne, Wyoming during Frontier Days in 2002, which I used as an excuse to go to Frontier Days in the summer of 2018. We went to the Eric Church concert after the rodeo and wild horse race. We got rained and hailed on. It was awesome.
So was Buckle Bunny.
Around the same time I was writing BUCKLE BUNNY, Pam Stack, producer extraordinaire of Authors on the Air Global Radio Network, asked me to contribute to a multi-author anthology called MIDNIGHT CALLER, with all the short stories in it to be set in or revolve around radio stations.
"No, thank you," I told her.
But then I realized I could write a short story in two days (oh-so-much-easier-than-a-novel, for me!), and that Maggie's career back in her twenties--as an alt-country rocker--fit well into the anthology theme.
Oh, what the heck.
I reversed myself again. I wrote a super fun little story called Shock Jock, a follow-up to BUCKLE BUNNY, and another prequel to the upcoming novels. And then Pam told me that MIDNIGHT CALLER would be delayed for many, many months and gave me back SHOCK JOCK. That made me super happy. I could publish SHOCK JOCK before the novels, and let readers have a chance to revel in Maggie's early history before reading about the mature Maggie. Even better, I created characters in BUCKLE BUNNY and SHOCK JOCK that survived to appear in pivotal roles in the novels. That's a lot of fun for author and reader alike.
Then the multi-author box set LOVE UNDER FIRE went on to make BUCKLE BUNNY a USA TODAY bestseller.
My yeses were good for so many reasons! <3 And to think I almost said no to both.
Next time Eric reminds me that I need to say no more often, maybe I'll remind him about Buckle Bunny and Shock Jock.