My stories are set along the rivers and bays of the Texas Gulf Coast. I have lived between Houston and Galveston since 1976, and spent many years doing archeological surveys and historical research for environmental impact statements in the area. When I switched to writing fiction, I had plenty of material to draw from.
Paper Hearts, my 2011 Golden Heart® finalist, was born more than ten years ago, in a writing class taught by my wonderful friend and mentor BK Reeves. The manuscript has grown through two or three word processing programs, at least three computers, and long periods lying fallow, waiting for a plot. The background to the love story was inspired by the real town of Texana, which died away in the 1880s because the townsfolk refused to contribute to the building of the railroad. The tracks went elsewhere, and eventually so did the people, and even the buildings (several of which still stand today in the town of Edna). The hero of Paper Hearts is on a crusade to convince the people of my fictional Bailey’s Bend not to make the same mistake.
Jinn & Tonic was my hundred-word-challenge novel. I started it on day one and finished the handwritten first draft on day 440. When I began, all I had in mind was the opening page, but that had been lurking in the back of my brain for a long time. I had to write the book to find out who that naked man was (hint: he’s NOT the hero).
Bathtub Jinn is my 2012 Golden Heart finalist; this time the jinn of the title isn’t naked, but he IS the hero. The heroine, on the other hand, isn’t at all sure just what she is, and she needs the hero’s help to track down her missing grandmother and find out the truth about her past and her family. The talking cat helps, too, when he isn’t getting in the way.
Far Between, set on an alternate version of the Gulf Coast, has one foot on the romance shelf and the other firmly across the aisle in science fiction. That probably explains why it has had the least successful contest career of my manuscripts. A number of judges apparently thought it was a time travel story; I’m flattered (I think) that my description of a Spanish foothold on Galveston Island against a mainland under the rule of the Aztec Empire seems real enough to be history.
Tempting Fate really is a time travel romance, set in Texana before the railroad lured its population away. Also written in BK’s classes, Tempting Fate is special to me because it was my first completed romance novel (never mind those boxes in the attic and those ancient unreadable computer diskettes) and because it brought me my Maggie medallion. What little remained of Texana, the river town that backed the steamboat trade instead of the railroad, has been submerged for fifty years or so under the lovely man-made Lake Texana.