Lorelei James Author’s Notes
~updated April 2014~
I love writing about the modern day west, creating larger than life cowboys and the women who love them. I set out to create books that were a bit more realistic in the day to day life of Wyoming ranchers and a whole lot sexier than what I’d found on the shelves of the local bookstores or online. So in that respect, what you read in my books might be unfamiliar to you and your way of life, especially if you live in an urban area. To satisfy the curiosity of my readers and fans, I've compiled answers to some recurring questions (if you don’t find the answer here, try my FAQ page). I'll try to address them in one fell swoop. And since I’m a plain talker, well, my answers aren’t always PC, so you’ve been doubly warned.
Author's Notes on the Rough Riders Series:
This series is actually a western saga, carried out over a multi-book arc, so not all questions are answered in every book. I don't consider this “series baiting” because this long-term approach allows me to detail the trials, triumphs and tribulations of a one ranching family over the span of several books and several years.
There will be 16 full length novels in the ROUGH RIDERS series. Yep. That’s it. At this point I don’t have any intention of writing a series starring the next generation of McKays. Seriously, don’t be sad. The family will be very happy in Wyoming I promise!
That said...At some point I will write a few short stories that will pick up after the happily ever after for each couple, so keep checking the website for more information. Currently SHORT RIDES is out digitally and also in print as of April 2014! And late 2014/early 2015, I hope to have another compilation, cleverly entitled SHORT RIDES 2 to self-publish for your reading enjoyment!
In LONG HARD RIDE, Rough Riders book 1, yes, there is a lot of sex in this book. That’s why it’s labeled erotic. And the comments my books have gotten more emotionally heavy and involved as the series has progressed...I’ll agree. But when I wrote this first book I had no idea I’d be writing so many in this series. Some have suggested I need to do more research about what “really” goes on behind the scenes at a rodeo with the cowboys and cowgirls because my scenarios are unrealistic, which always cracks me up because 99% of my fan mail, from women who’ve been involved with the rodeo circuits across the country…tell me I’ve hit the lifestyle—at least with the younger set—right on the head. I intentionally leave a relationship unresolved between two male characters. I plan on tying up Trevor Glanzer and Edgard Mancuso’s story arc in Rough Riders book 5.
RODE HARD, PUT UP WET, Rough Riders book 2, involves a dual — but separate storyline between Gemma Jansen and Cash Big Crow, and Cash’s grown daughter, Macie Honeycutt and her paramour, Carter McKay. The reason the blurb didn’t delve into more detail about the separate, yet intertwined plots, is because there’s not enough room on the jacket copy to give a mini-synopsis of both love stories.
In COWGIRL UP AND RIDE, Rough Riders book 3, a minor character dies. This character, Dag West, is shown in same sex (M/M/M/M) situations early in the book. Some detractors have suggested:
A) I killed off the character because he was a closet homosexual.
B) Those sex scenes were uncomfortable to read and had no place in a romance.
My official response?
A) Dag West died not because he was gay, but because he did a dumb thing: he operated farm equipment while he was drunk. Unfortunately, ranch accidents are a way of life even when sober, and being drunk adds another level of stupidity to the lethality of machinery. Dag’s death in no way reflected my personal commentary on his sexual orientation.
B) The multiple partner sex scenes, with M/F/M and M/M/M/M were supposed to be uncomfortable.
The point of view I chose to show those scenes from is a heterosexual male rancher living in Wyoming. The scene Kade McKay stumbles on involving his cousin Dag and three other men is shocking in many ways and I stand by the character’s reaction to the situation. It might not be PC, but so many things out here in the Wild West are not and I won’t sugarcoat the harsh realities and prevailing attitudes. Sometimes sex isn’t sexy. And yes, COWGIRL UP AND RIDE is still first and foremost – a romance.
***This book was nominated for a 2009 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Small Press Erotic Romance
In TIED UP, TIED DOWN, Rough Riders book 4, which takes place a year after COWGIRL UP AND RIDE, Trevor Glanzer and Chassie West are married. I’ve had a lot of readers ask if they missed a book or a novella in between these two books. No. My reason for not explaining the details of this union is I already had enough backstory with Kade and Skylar and the secret baby. I intend on filling in the all blanks with Trevor, Chassie and Edgard in Rough Riders book 5. Also, McKay cousin Quinn and his wife Libby are introduced. We see them bickering and that’s piqued reader’s curiosity. Their story will be out in May 2009.
ROUGH, RAW AND READY, Rough Riders book 5, reveals what happens when Edgard Mancuso comes calling three years after he and Trevor split in LONG HARD RIDE and Trevor is married to Chassie West. After Chassie finds out her husband loved another man, she leaves to sort out her feelings. Chassie returns with the intention of seeing how Trevor and Edgard act when they’re together as lovers. From then on, all three of them work at figuring out if a ménage would be viable on a permanent basis. I’ve had some criticism that Chassie accepted Trevor and Edgard’s relationship way too quickly — to which I answer, in fiction, I couldn’t very well have the next chapter heading read...Two months later, invariably readers would want to know exactly what happened during those two months (see above notes, where I threw in the information about Trevor and Chassie already being married!) So for fictional purposes, yes, I speeded up Chassie’s acceptance of Trevor and Edgard’s relationship so I could get on with it and tell the story. Some critics have suggested Chassie got gypped in this book, and for the life of me, I don’t see that. She has not one, but two men who adore her. When she thanks Edgard for giving her a piece of Trevor she didn’t even know existed...that says it all to me. The trio has chosen to buck the status quo and live a ménage lifestyle for the long haul. So like all romances, the end of the book is the start of their happily ever after. Also, Cam McKay is seriously injured in Iraq at the end of the book and I will fill in the details about his life and recovery in Rough Riders book 7.
In BRANDED AS TROUBLE, Rough Riders book 6, Colt McKay has been sober for three years and he’s still struggling with earning his family’s acceptance and trust. I appreciate all the letters of support from readers, who understood the ongoing struggle with addictive behavior. Between books 3 and 4, some readers were skeptical I could redeem Colt. Naturally I have insider knowledge of a character’s arc
***This book won the 2011 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Small Press Erotic Romance
STRONG, SILENT TYPE, I call this book Rough Riders book 6.5, but the publisher has included it in the WILD RIDE ANTHOLOGY. Part of the appeal of these connected books is getting a glimpse into the lives of my previous characters after the book has ended. But I wanted to tell the story of a married couple who were on the verge of packing it in. Because I intended this to chronicle the road back to love, not the rocky path that’d gotten Quinn and Libby to that point, a novella worked better than a full length novel.
SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY, Rough Riders book 7, was chock-full of issues, Cam feeling less than whole being an amputee; Domini feeling the same with her missing uterus. I did not choose the subject matter to be gratuitous. In fact, it would’ve been easier to craft a story that skirted those serious issues. I spent many many hours researching Army amputees and trying to understand their adjustment to civilian life so I didn’t get it wrong, make light of it, or offend the soldiers who’ve given so much to the protection of our country. Strangely enough, former Romanian and Ukrainian citizens have contacted me, accusing me of mis-portraying their countries when I spoke of adoption. I compared the orphanages in Romania and the Ukraine to orphanages in third world countries, not Romania and the Ukraine to a third world country. I did extensive research on the current and past state of the orphanages in Romania and the Ukraine, including the government’s moratorium on foreign adoptions, and subsequent lifting of those restrictions upon political whims, and I tried to portray it as accurately as possible. Again, SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY is first and foremost a romance, a love story about acceptance between two broken people, where they’ve (mistakenly) believed there is none. The car accident deaths of Nadia and Rex, as well as Luke McKay and the unnamed Indian man, happen all the time in Wyoming, sadly. Since medical facilities are a great distance apart, even what would be considered a survivable injury in a metro area, is not in the wilds of Wyoming. Readers find out what happened between Keely McKay and Jack Donohue at Colt and India’s wedding reception in Rough Riders book 8.
ALL JACKED UP, Rough Riders book 8, was a blast to write and I’ve been looking forward to telling Keely’s story for three years — since ballsy, blowsy Keely showed up at the dance scene in LONG HARD RIDE. I’ve had to wait for her to grow up and come into her own (8 years have passed since the first book) despite her brothers and cousins intent to protect her. I knew immediately when Jack Donohue stepped onto the page in RODE HARD, PUT UP WET, and arrogantly announced he’d never fall for a little country cowgirl, that he and Keely were a bad match, which made it so delicious to put them together and watch the sparks ignite and insults fly. Although this is the last book in the Carson McKay branch of the McKay family, this is not the last book in the series, but there will be longer breaks – 2 books per year rather than 3 – and yes, Jack did officially ask Keely’s dad Carson for permission to marry Keely when he was sitting on the log at the end of the book.
RAISING KANE, Rough Riders book 9, falls between the epilogue of SHOULDA BEEN A COWBOY and the start of ALL JACKED UP, which has confused some readers. But the books should still be read in numerical order, if you’re the type that likes order. This book features Kane McKay, who insisted on changing his name to “Buck” at one point in the series, due to the confusion/preponderance of C and K names in this family. Alas, the name “Buck” didn’t stick and he will forevermore be referred to as Kane.
(SIDE NOTE: My editor has forbidden me from using any more C or K names and I don’t blame her, and I would NOT do it again if I knew I’d be writing 16 books in this series, although, I will point out that starting each kid’s first name with the same letter seems to be working for the Dugger family on TV and they’re up to kid 19!)
As with Colt, many readers didn’t think I could redeem Kane, given his wicked, wild, love ’em and leave ’em past, so I was giddy with anticipation to prove naysayers wrong. Always in control Ginger was the perfect match for Kane, because he could finally show his nurturing side to her in a way that had nothing to do with her son Hayden. That said, Kane is—and always will be—rough around the edges. In Ginger he found a woman who not only accepted that side, but it freed her to give up control to a man she trusted implicitly. I leave an issue unresolved between Brandt McKay, and his widowed sister in law, Jessie McKay. Their story will unfold with Rough Riders book 10, which picks up directly after the epilogue of ALL JACKED UP.
SLOW RIDE, Rough Riders free read, is a peek at Keely and Jack at their wedding reception, and as they head off to their honeymoon. My publisher and I decided to offer a never-before-published free book in the Rough Riders world, as a thank you to my readers for sticking with the series, hoping it’d get this series in front of more readers, and happily, this release coincides with the paperback release of ALL JACKED UP as well as the digital release of Rough Riders book 10. However, this book won’t ever be published in paper, due to the short story length.
COWGIRLS DON’T CRY, Rough Riders book 10, deals with infidelity, a secret child spawned from that infidelity, and how widow Jessie McKay deals with her former husband’s family, specifically coming to terms with her feelings for her brother in law, Brandt. I’m writing this before the book’s release, so I’m sure questions will arise in the next few months before my next update***
***Whoo-boy, talk about questions. I’ve taken some hits for the prologue in this book. But again, I stand behind it 100%. And again, it was meant to be unnerving, because it gives crucial insight into Brandt and Jessie. Bad decisions are a part of EVERYONE’S life. I know lots of women and men, who under the influence of alcohol and free wheelin’ good times, make decisions about sexual situations they regret in the morning. What seemed like the best idea EVER at the time...doesn’t seem so hot, sexy, and fun in the light of day and self-recriminations abound. Sometimes for years afterward. For Brandt to witness the wheels coming off Jessie when she finally cuts loose, hurts him in ways he never imagined — he knows that Jessie will have those WTF? morning after regrets. Being the white knight type, Brandt wants to rescue her. Even with all the issues Brandt and Jessie have to work through, this is a love story. About acceptance. About change. About discovering that true love and happiness is sometimes sweeter because of the adversity it takes to reach that happily ever after. About knowing when to say when.
As far as Casper and Joan, their relationship elicited some heated discussions. Again, I stand by my characters and their actions. This arc mimics real life. Casper may not be likeable, his actions, bordering on abusive, may be deemed unforgivable, but we all know men like him. We all know women like Joan who should’ve left the unpleasant circumstances years ago but didn’t because it’s easier to stay than to force the change and leave. Not all people in the world are redeemable and sadly, sometimes they’re a relative. This is no different even in my fictional McKay family. I’ll revisit some of this family’s issues in Rough Riders book 13.
***This book was nominated for a 2012 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Small Press Erotic Romance
CHASIN’ EIGHT, Rough Riders book 11, ended up being a longer book than I anticipated…the more I got into the story, the more story I uncovered. Chase McKay and Ava Cooper Dumond’s love story was a challenge on a number of levels. It fascinates me, our culture’s obsession with celebrity. Everyone has problems, even in the entertainment industry, but they’re forced to deal with those problems in the spotlight. What’s a minor misstep for normal people can be a career wrecker for those with a high public profile.
Yes, it took awhile to get to the first sex scene in this book. They needed to be friends first—Chase to prove he could do it, and Ava understood how much Chase’s promise to himself meant to him.
The death of young bull rider Ryan wasn’t gratuitous. I’d be remiss if in writing these books dealing with the world of rodeo, if I didn’t touch on the dangers of riding rough stock. Sadly, competitors die. It’s a hazard and not a danger exclusive to rookies. But again, my intent wasn’t to preach. It was to show tragedy in a realistic light that allowed Chase to make some much-needed changes in his life and his way of thinking. It allowed him to take a stand. I take great pains to keep my personal politics out of my fictional writing. Am I an advocate for mandatory helmet laws in the sport of bull riding? Nope. But Chase McKay is, and this is his book, so I had to let his thoughts, his views, his feelings come through on the page.
I love Texas. In fact, I lived in Texas for a year growing up. I have nothing against Texans. I have nothing against longhorn cattle. So the nasty crack that Chase, a Wyoming cowboy made while drunk, about Texans and longhorns? Might not be politically correct but it’d get a laugh here and everywhere else, yet some folks took offense. So, here’s the really funny thing. I heard that comment about Texans and their unnatural love of longhorns…in a bar in Texas, from a native Texan rancher—who no longer raises longhorns, and used it in this book—from a Wyomite’s point of view.
Lastly, and this is the biggie—the introduction of Gavin Daniels, as Chase, Ben and Quinn’s full-blooded brother came as quite a shock to readers. That was intentional. What really got a burr under my saddle blanket were the comments floating around cyberspace from detractors who found fault with everything about this book, especially that I’d added a new McKay to “milk” another book out of the series. Umm. No. I’ve known about the existence of Gavin for several books. As has my editor.
Normally I don’t pull anything from my real life and use it for fiction. But this is the one time I decided to use a situation from personal experience. I have a relative who gave up a baby for adoption when she was eighteen. She became pregnant again two years later, by the same man, and opted to keep that child. So when baby #1 was all grown up and became curious about her birth family, imagine her surprise when she learned she had a full-blooded sibling her birth mother did not give away, but kept and raised. I had no idea my relative even had another child and gave it up for adoption. And like the McKays, I hail from a fairly big family, and it had been a well-kept secret for years.
Once I started discussing this topic for research purposes, I cannot tell you the stories that came out of the woodwork about adoption and how this isn’t such an unusual situation—and many, many thanks to all those readers who shared their adoption stories—good and bad—after reading CHASIN’ EIGHT. It amazed me, learning that women I’d known for years had made choices as young women to offer their children a better life. I heard from an acquaintance that had a fifty-year old sibling show up unannounced on her doorstep, and being shocked that her mother had given up a child for adoption and had told no one—including her husband. I’ve heard stories of birth parents searching for the child they gave up with happy and disastrous results. I’ve heard stories from men who had no idea their girlfriend had even gotten pregnant forty or fifty years ago until an adult child contacted them. I’ve heard from people who found the existence of half-siblings…on Facebook. I talked with a woman who had one child and gave her up for adoption, and two years later ended up pregnant again from the same man, so she contacted the family who adopted her first child to see if they wanted another child. So the adoptive couple is parents to full-blooded siblings, and now the birth mother is involved in their adult lives.
So, no, a vehement no that I tossed in a secret baby plot to further the length of the Rough Riders series. Keeping that secret, for so long, intrigues me on a number of levels, as do the emotional repercussions for the family involved. Yes, Gavin Daniels will have his own book, with RR book 14.
***CHASIN’ EIGHT was my very first book to hit the NY Times Bestsellers ebook list and the USA Today Bestsellers list!
COWBOY CASANOVA, Rough Riders book 12, features Bennett McKay and gives a peek into his hidden lifestyle as a Dom at the Rawhide Club, as a mild-mannered rancher and member of the McKay family.
I’ve always known Ben—Bennett—had a secret. One thing that’s not a secret and I make no apologies for? All my characters are alpha males. Period.
Ben is no exception, but he’s the take-charge type on a whole other level. He’s a sexual dominant. He’s accepted that about himself even when he knows his family probably wouldn’t understand, even when he’s chosen to stick to a sex club to find sexual satisfaction and feed his needs. He doubts he’ll find a woman who wants that Dom/sub relationship on a permanent basis.
Enter Ainsley Hamilton, a sexually unfulfilled divorced woman, a conservative banker by day, used to being in total control of her life and her job. She’s interested in experimenting with a Dom/sub experience, but doesn’t believe she can ever fully be a submissive woman, which in her mind is subservient 24/7—so she’s surprised to learn it is not the same thing. She’s really surprised to learn she likes handing all sexual control to Bennett.
I chose to approach this book in a different manner than many BDSM books. Bondage, submission and domination games behind closed doors, between two people who want the same thing out of an intimate relationship—absolute trust and total sexual fulfillment—but on different levels. Lovers who have no intention or interest in sharing the experience with others. Either with other club members, or letting their family and friends know their proclivities. Bennett is confident, and I wanted to portray him as a man who knows what he wants, but he isn’t a perfect man, he isn’t an unyielding Dom who demands to be called master. Ben makes mistakes and assumptions. About himself and about Ainsley. And Ainsley accepts Ben for who he is, and who he can be to her, and who she’s allowed herself to be with him.
I am not involved in the BDSM lifestyle. I don’t believe you need to experience something to write about it convincingly (I write about vicious murders under my other pen name and I’ve never actually killed someone—and hello, if I’d done half the things I’ve written about in the erotic romance genre I think my vagina would protest). Even people in the BDSM lifestyle will tell you there’s no ‘right’ way to live it or practice it besides safely. So like everything else I write, this book is MY take on a dominant/submissive relationship. It’s fiction. It’s a fantasy. It’s entertainment. It is NOT to be interpreted as real. And for Godsake, if you’re interested in experimenting with a real Dom/sub or BDSM relationship, do research before you just slip on the fetish wear and hit the clubs.
But, I do need to know the rules before I can break them, and I did research—lots and lots and lots of research for this book. I’d like to thank G and N for so graciously answering my research questions in person about their life as a fulltime sub/Dom couple. For providing insight on so many things about what works, what doesn’t, sharing their previous experiences with other Doms and subs, and setting the record straight on my misperceptions. Truly invaluable information. And thanks to T for sharing his professional observations as both a law enforcement officer and a confidante to his friends and colleagues in the lifestyle.
Lastly...poor naïve Dalton. He didn’t know what he was getting into showing up at the Rawhide Club, did he? His reaction and subsequent actions were borne out of concern for Ben. But his youthful impulsiveness in contacting Ben’s brother’s did come back to bite him in the ass. Having to confess he isn’t the sexual stud he’s made himself out to be to his cousins. Not so unbelievable because God knows, NO man has ever lied about his sexual experience or his sexual conquests. Dalton, being the youngest McKay, needs to grow up a bit before I get to his book.
***COWBOY CASANOVA hit the NY Times Bestsellers list for ebooks and the USA Today Bestsellers lists for all books!
KISSIN’ TELL, Rough Riders book 13, is about the reappearance of the secret—or not so secret—high school crush. Tell McKay has grown up, filled out, embraced his family legacy as a player and a rancher. Before this book released I had a lot of readers asking me to describe Tell, which threw me because the phrase that came to mind was…he is just a great guy. Tell is one of those nice guys who is always there to lend a hand. He likes to have a good time and he doesn’t take himself too seriously, but that does allow some people take advantage of him and his helpful nature.
So when Tell’s high school crush Georgia Hotchkiss returns to Wyoming, he wants her to see him in a different light—not the pushover. The irony is Tell reverts to that high school-ish game playing guy he used to be in order to prove he’s changed. And Georgia reacts in much the same way. Tell and Georgia’s seemingly juvenile behavior was intentional on my part. Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t know how it works in larger cities, but in small towns, it seems you are forevermore branded by who you were, how you acted, and who you hung out with in high school—especially if you remain in the area where you grew up. This mindset holds true for Tell and for Georgia—even though she’s been gone awhile and they’ve both grown up.
Tell is still fighting to prove he is more than the family jokester and has a good head on his shoulders when it comes to ranch business. People in the community see Georgia as the purity ring-wearing cheerleader, the ex-wife of the class football stud, the too-quiet sister of the beloved class clown and spoiled, regardless if it is—or ever was—true. So the passing of a decade hasn’t changed many preconceived local attitudes with their friends or classmates or even their families.
Since neither Tell nor Georgia have been in any type of long term relationship as adults, even after being out on their own, and their parents’ marriages have fallen apart, in some respects, they’ve never grown out of that high school relationship mentality. It’s easier to stick to a pattern than it is to break a mold. I loved finding the hidden pockets of strength in both characters, both who were deemed shallow, letting their fun, sexy sides shine through, giving them each other as a sounding board for their grief over the loss of a sibling.
***KISSIN’ TELL landed on the NY Times Bestsellers list for ebooks and on the USA Today Bestsellers list for all books!
GONE COUNTRY, Rough Riders book 14, I imagine many questions will pop up over the course of the next few months after the publication of this book. At 126,000 words it is my longest book in any genre and it shocked me as much as my editor because I hadn’t planned for that. The book takes place over the course of 9 months. It was a challenge to write an older (43) non-cowboy male character in the Rough Riders series, as well as writing from the point of view of a sixteen year old girl—since I have a sixteen year old daughter in the house, who is at times sweet, annoying, frustrating, wonderful, awful, mouthy, insightful, thoughtful, and thoughtless as Sierra—all in all, a pretty typical teen girl.
I’d gotten a few comments from readers who didn’t like Rielle Wetzler after COWBOY CASANOVA and really hoped I wouldn’t pair her with Gavin—quite a few of you demanded I set up Doctor Joely Monroe with my man Gavin. Nope. And can I just say how perfect Gavin and Rielle are together? I loved this couple’s forthright-ness and how they kept their individuality, especially after they became a couple.
I’ve had a few people question the conversation between Rielle and Sierra about home schooling, and some readers have chastised me, believing I have something against people who choose home schooling. Not true. First of all, my characters opinions are NOT my own. Second of all, since Rielle was homeschooled, she has a right to her opinion since she lived in that world. Is her opinion derogatory toward home schooling? No. Again, she’s basing her response on HER experiences so she will have a different viewpoint than someone who hasn’t been homeschooled—like Sierra—or someone who had an entirely different homeschool experience. Everything Rielle says is her opinion, not mine.
I would not have introduced Boone West to Sierra Daniels-McKay if I hadn’t intended to write their book at some point. YES, I PROMISE. Be patient, both Boone and Sierra need to grow up and the earliest I can finish their storyline and release the book is 2016 so stay tuned Their story will NOT be part of either the Rough Riders series for the Wild West Boys series, but a stand alone novel.
***GONE COUNTRY landed on the NY Times Bestsellers list for ebooks and on the USA Today Bestsellers list for all books!
SHORT RIDES Anthology, Rough Riders novellas, are a peek into after the happily ever after of previous characters. I had some time in my schedule and rather than waiting for a publication slot through Samhain, the publisher of the Rough Riders series, I opted to publish this book on my own.
The first story, KING OF HEARTS, is a little darker than my usual RR stories. But I wanted to show the ugly side of law enforcement. Deputy Cam McKay tries to deal with the horror of his job on his own, but realizes he needs his family to bring the light into those dark spaces.
The second story, ROUGH ROAD, revisits RR series favorites, Chassie, Trevor and Edgard Glanzer, and their lives ranching and raising three kids. This novella shows how bullying can affect an entire family. But the story is about how those ties that bind Chassie, Trevor and Edgard as lovers, partners and parents are strengthened by their unwavering support and love for each other, even faced with the attitudes of openly living an alternative lifestyle in a small community.
The request I got most often after Keely and Jack’s book, ALL JACKED UP, was a bird’s eye view into the delivery room when Keely gave birth. Since I mentioned Keely’s pregnancy in GONE COUNTRY I wanted to follow up on that and fill in the time gap between GC and REDNECK ROMEO’s release in June 2013.
Although the majority of my readers were thrilled with this peek into Jack and Keely’s lives, WOW have I gotten some hateful reader mail about this novella, ALL KNOCKED UP. Everything from Jack being a selfish asshole getting Keely pregnant that many times in such a short amount of time, to why I continually gloss over the horrors of childbirth, especially when the births are that close together, to the inability to suspend disbelief that smart, educated, married people such as Keely and Jack would have an accidental pregnancy or two, to why Keely didn’t take a morning after pill when she discovered the condom broke.
Seriously? It’s far out of the realm of possibility that a married couple has had a condom or two break? (Uh, personal experience here—we had an entire box of defective condoms, luckily we figured it out after two mishaps) No couple has ever—intentionally or accidentally—had their children close together?
Wrong. I could cite a dozens of examples, from my friends and family, from looking at high school yearbooks and from just observing families at the mall, in restaurants, at school events, at the park. Maybe this sounds harsh, but this is a FICTIONAL story. It is an EROTIC story. Which means I am not going to go into graphic detail about post-pregnancy issues such as episiotomy, rectal and clitoral tears, hemorrhoids, stretch marks, vaginal dryness, incontinence, lack of libido, painful intercourse and mastitis—as some readers have suggested I do to keep it “real.”
There’s real and then there’s the “real life things that readers don’t want to read in a fun, sexy erotic romance when they’re trying to escape from real life” types of descriptions that I’ve opted not to include in ANY of my books in this series. Yes, the women who’ve married into the McKay family seem to have lots of babies. Yes, all of those things I mentioned above happen to SOME women, not all women. But I’ll reiterate my point—those physical issues have NO place in a romance (and if you’re looking for that type of realism? I suggest women’s fiction, not erotic romance). I focus on the positive, the hormonal, and the funny side of pregnancy, and I touch a little on Keely’s post-baby body issues when becoming intimate after childbirth. I also included Jack’s worry that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew with their unexpected bounty of babies—and his helpless feeling in the delivery room, seeing his partner/lover/love of his life in pain, and having that panic of how they’re going to take care of and provide for their growing family.
I stand by this story, as I wrote it, 100%. It is MY vision, and these are MY characters. I love Keely, I love Jack, I know exactly how they’ll react. I love how they’ve grown as a couple and I’d love to take more peeks into their lives and parenting journey.
REDNECK ROMEO, Rough Riders book 15, is about Dalton McKay, the youngest of his generation of McKays. Dalton has had a lot of growing up to do, and in order to do that, he left Wyoming after a botched attempt at settling down—with the wrong woman. He returns three and a half years later after his father Casper suffers a stroke. I’ve always had a soft spot for Dalton, because I knew what the poor boy had suffered, what he’d hidden from everyone, why he reacted like he did in COWBOY CASANOVA when he saw his cousin Ben striking a woman with a whip. Child abuse is an ugly, ugly thing, and so many times children feel like they deserve the “discipline” and hide the truth of what’s happening from others—even in their immediate family. It truly broke my heart to hear stories from people, some that I know, who reached out to me after the book released, who were finally able to share the truth of their childhood traumas.
One thing that hadn’t changed about my man Dalton were his feelings for Aurora “Rory” Wetzler and how their lives had been intertwined for most of their lives. These two went from childhood friends to teen lovers to enemies—at least in Rory’s mind. I loved putting the two of them together and letting them show each other how much they’ve changed and how they were finally in a place to have an adult relationship based on love, respect and understanding.
And yes, Casper McKay had to die. I didn’t redeem him simply because some people aren’t worth being redeemed. But Joan…she accepted her role, her faults, her mistakes in raising her sons in that environment and she’s worked to earn their forgiveness, striving to become the woman and mother she always wanted to be.
This story was funny, sexy and bittersweet for me because I knew I was reaching the end of the McKay family’s journey.
***REDNECK ROMEO hit the USA Today Bestsellers list!
COWBOY TAKE ME AWAY, ROUGH RIDERS Rough Riders book 16, will release in June 2014
Author’s Notes on Wild West Boys Series:
The Wild West Boys series is a spin off from the Rough Riders, which features members of the West family, cousins to some of the McKays (see family trees on this website). It appealed to me to tell stories about family members that willing left the area they were raised in. Writing a loosely connected series allows me to set those books in other locales besides Wyoming, with characters that might not outwardly show the roots of their western heritage.
MISTRESS CHRISTMAS is the first novella in the series, and features Detective Nick West. MISS FIRECRACKER is the second novella in the series and features Blake West, brother to Nick. Both novellas have been packaged together for a print book entitled WILD WEST BOYS.
****The Wild West Boys series has been suspended for several years, due to my deadlines for the Rough Riders series, as well as the Blacktop Cowboys series, the mystery side of my career as Lori Armstrong and now the Mastered Series.
So this series is on hold indefinitely. Sorry to say I have no plans and no time to write new installments.
Author’s Notes on Blacktop Cowboys® Series:
I’ve been asked umpteen times why I started another series. Especially another contemporary erotic romance western series? Which leads to question #2: What’s the difference between Blacktop Cowboys and Rough Riders series?
First off, I love to write. I love to write romances. I love to write western romances. I love to write erotic, so it seemed natural to build my new world in the west and populate it with more hot sexy cowboys. In the Rough Riders series, I’m following a specific family—the McKays—and it’s been gratifying to explore the social issues and family dynamics over the course of several books, while telling individual love stories.
But I also have an unnatural fascination and secret worship of the world of rodeo. I wanted to delve into life on and off the road for professional cowboys and cowgirls, as well as other characters who make their living traveling that the blacktop highways in the west. I also wanted to touch on the lives of family members who keep the home fires burning while their siblings and friends are on the road.
The Blacktop Cowboys series features characters from the same Wyoming hometown, rather than a specific family, and the community plays a larger part in the books. Another reason I chose to write a new series for a different publisher is because the books in the Blacktop Cowboys series are put out simultaneously in print and digital form, whereas the Rough Riders books are available strictly in a digital format for 11 months before releasing in trade paperback.
Muddy Gap, Wyoming is a real place. It consists of a single convenience store at the intersection of three roads. That’s it. I liked the name for a town. So my Muddy Gap is an entirely fictional place, with people, buildings and houses, businesses, stores, churches, and all the characteristics of a small western burg. In my fictional world, Muddy Gap is closer to Rawlins, in an area more suited for cattle and ranching, but still retains some of that stark and diverse landscape that surrounds the real Muddy Gap.
***Because the Blacktop Cowboys series is published with another publisher (NAL Signet Eclipse/Penguin Putnam) who has global restrictions for digital books sold outside the US—you you haven’t been able to buy this book digitally outside the US. So I was really happy when we made four books, CORRALLED, SADDLED AND SPURRED, WRANGLED AND TANGLED, ONE NIGHT RODEO, available digitally through the international amazon.com sites in July 2013! And TURN AND BURN released in November 2013! There will always be a few months lag time for digital readers overseas after my newest release, but late is better than never, right?
The higher pricing of these books in digital format in the US and Canada is something I have NO control over.
CORRALLED, book 1, in the Blacktop Cowboys series, finds Hank and Lainie together at the end of the book, riding off into the sunset after finding their happily ever after. What about Kyle Gilchrist? Kyle will get his own story in book 4. I’ve had a few readers ask me if the EBS, a fictional bull-riding organization, is based on the PBR. The answer is no, beyond it’s an organization devoted to the sport of bull riding. Same for the CRA, it’s entirely fictional and not based on the PRCA. In my fictional world, rankings in both circuits are based on a mix of money earned and points earned, which is not the case in the real rodeo organizations.
SADDLED AND SPURRED, book 2, features Bran Turner and Harper Masterson. Hard working man, misunderstood beauty queen—neither is what they seem on the outside. This is probably the closest I’ve come to writing a traditional romance. We get a bigger peek into the community of Muddy Gap, which will continue to play a role in future books in the Blacktop Cowboys series. Yes, there really are fainting goats called Kentucky Stiff Legs.
Also, Wyoming has a “no fences” law, which I altered for fictional purposes.
WRANGLED AND TANGLED, book 3, is a dual storyline, revolving around the opening of the Split Rock Resort outside of Muddy Gap. There just wasn’t enough material for two books, so I combined two separate love stories into one book. With Abe Lawson and Janie Fitzhugh, I wanted to explore looking at a marriage gone wrong from the standpoint of being older and wiser. The book is actually more weighted on telling Tierney and Renner’s love story. Renner Jackson and Tierney Pratt, begin the book and their relationship at odds about everything, but find worth and acceptance in each other.
***WRANGLED AND TANGLED also hit the NY Times Bestsellers ebook list and the USA Today Bestsellers list!
ONE NIGHT RODEO, book 4, was Kyle Gilchrist and Celia Lawson’s book and has not a damn thing to do with rodeo. The term “one night rodeo” is western slang for a one night stand. I’d been building toward this book for a few years after introducing Celia in CORRALLED and having sparks fly between her and Kyle. So reader expectations and speculation for this couple were high, if my reader mail since 2010 was an indication Not only is this a “wake up married after a drunken night in Vegas” book, it’s also a “in love with my best friends’ little sister” book. So naturally I wanted to mix it up a little more and turn the rancher/cityslicker trope on its head, by having my male character reliant upon a female character’s expertise to learn how to run a ranch he owns. Watching Kyle and Celia become each other’s family, and learning how to compromise and let bygones be bygones and fall in love with each other on their own terms made this such a fun book to write.
***ONE NIGHT RODEO also hit the NY Times Bestsellers ebook list and the USA Today Bestsellers list!
TURN AND BURN, book 5, is Tanna Barker and August “Fletch” Fletcher’s love story. Tanna was broken in more ways than even I knew when I put this pair together. Many readers (mistakenly) assumed I planned to pair Tanna with country music star Devin McClain—haha I gotcha! No, I knew all along that the sexy vet and the feisty barrel racer were perfect for each other. Fletch and Tanna are an older couple, established in their respective careers, or in Tanna’s case, working to get reestablished. I had a blast putting Tanna, who really doesn’t have much of a filter, with Fletch, a man who embraces that trait in her and it allows him to cut loose too. It’s also part of the storyline that Fletch’s cousin, Eli Whirling Cloud, is living with a woman named Summer Redstone. No, dear reader, you didn’t miss a book of how Eli and Summer came to be a couple. I plan on writing a novella about the two of them at some point which will fill in all the blanks.
***TURN AND BURN hit the USA Today Bestsellers list and was nominated for a RT Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Erotic novel of 2013!
HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR, book 6 is Devin McClain and Liberty Masterson’s love story and will release in August 6th 2014.
In recent news, I will write at least two more full length books in the Blacktop Cowboys series that will release in 2015 and 2016!
In addition to that, in September 2014, I’ll release ROPED IN, a novella set in the Blacktop Cowboys world, which is part of the exciting 1001 Dark Nights project, featuring 13 New York Times bestselling authors! Each month in 2014 a new installment will release digitally and then in print and I’m thrilled to be a part of such a stellar group of authors and stories. The hero of ROPED IN is none other than Sutton Grant, the bulldogger I introduced you to in TURN AND BURN! It’ll be a fun, hot ride.☺
Author’s notes on the Mastered Series:
I’ve been asked about my personal experience in martial arts and how I know so much about it (beyond just doing research online and indulging in watching hours of TV due to my love of MMA.) My three daughters were lucky enough to train in ju-jitsu at Dynamic Martial Arts, in Rapid City, under the watchful eyes of Shihan Julio “Mutch” Usera, (8th degree Dan, Jukite jujitsu; 8th degree Dan, Shorinji Ryu jujitsu; Founder, martial arts discipline Bujin Ki Ryu jujitsu) Master Josh Usera (5th degree Dan, Jukite jujitsu, 3rd degree Dan; Bujin Ki Ryu jujitsu, MMA fighter and trainer, instructor in Brazilian jujitsu, judo, karate, Muay Thai) and Godan Mark Borrensen (5th degree Dan, Jukite jujitsu.) I spent many hours in the dojo during the eight years they trained, and I’m so very thankful for the discipline, respect and skills they learned from these men, and the other instructors at DMA. Some of my proudest moments as a parent were watching my daughters throw a grown man on his ass during belt testing ☺ listening to my youngest daughter’s loud ki-yi’s, and cheering them on during tournaments.
I'll address the cliffhanger question about the BOUND since it seems to be a point of contention with some people.
When I pitched this series in January 2013 (after kicking around the ideas and the characters for months), I wasn't jumping on any "bandwagon" ala FSOG or the Crossfire Series, or the Stark Series, or the Inside Out Series, or any of the other erotic "trilogies" that were out there. First of all, the Mastered Series isn't a trilogy—the official name for it is a duet or duology series. Secondly, I didn't write the series in 1st person point of view (POV), which is also a hallmark of those types of series. I wrote BOUND in 3rd person singular—a new writing challenge for me since it was something I hadn’t attempted in the 40 projects I’ve completed in the past 9 years I’ve been a published author. Thirdly, I DO get into the male hero’s POV in UNWOUND, which does not happen in any of the series I named. Also, UNWOUND is not written in the exact same timeframe as BOUND, just seeing the previous events from Ronin’s POV; UNWOUND picks up directly where BOUND left off and we finally get a peek inside Master Black’s head. What the Mastered series does have in common with those books? It is a love story told in more than one part.
The one story in two books aspect surprised people because I've never done that before (read all the comments on how I like to challenge myself) so many readers were expecting a self-contained story. I knew from the start that Amery and Ronin had too much story to contain in one book. Sometimes that happens—that’s why some of my stories are long and some are shorter. We've NEVER hidden the fact the story is told in two parts—the jacket copy for both books was done at the same time, both books went up for preorder at the same time and UNWOUND clearly states the "conclusion" to the Mastered Series. Not only that; the books were scheduled two months apart, which should've been an indication that it would be an over-arcing storyline in two parts.
The hardest part of writing this series, in addition to stepping outside the cowboy worlds I currently write in, is I knew readers had to wait for that HEA. And in this day and age of instant gratification, no one wants to wait for anything—ever; they feel it is their right to get what they want in THEIR time frame. My fabulous fans and hardcore readers have been straight up AWESOME about embracing this new series and following me as I try a different path. Letting me know how much they loved BOUND, how anxious they were for UNWOUND, how thrilled they are that I challenge myself and give them something new and different to read—as well as something to look forward to with a second release coming right on the heels of the first book. And yes, two months is not that long to wait. ☺ I wait for an entire YEAR for a new book from my go-to authors. I wait for months for a new season of my favorite TV shows to start up again.
I won't go into the negatives of this back to back release schedule, beyond to say with the release of the Mastered Series is the first time I've gotten hate mail from readers because Ronin and Amery’s story was not tied up in a neat little bow in one book for them. It's the first time I've seen the words “books to avoid” attached to my name. It’s the first time I’ve been called a “greedy author” who is only milking my readers for as much cash as I can (newsflash: I DON’T set the pricing for any of my books) It's the first time I've had horrible, nasty, mean, vindictive reviews—not because the story sucked, but simply because that need for instant gratification wasn't satisfied.
Good thing I love love love my job of writing and I have fantastic fans who are clamoring for more and have left some of the best reviews of my career! I believed in this series and these characters so much that I added two full length books to my already full schedule in 2013. In order to make this series happen on the pub schedule NAL wanted, I basically locked myself in my house for six months and had no life beyond creating a believable happily ever after for my characters. Writing BOUND and UNWOUND was one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced creatively and I was thrilled with the opportunity to flex my writing muscles. I truly love how Amery and Ronin’s story played out.
Since I intended for the Mastered Series to be two and done, I hadn’t planned on writing stories for secondary characters…until my editor mentioned she’d love to see more of these characters. So will there be more books in the Mastered Series? I’m happy to say as of April 10th—YES!! I’ve signed a contract for two more novels in the series and one novella. The novella is tentatively scheduled to release in December 2014 and will be a follow up to Ronin and Amery. Mastered book 3 is scheduled for March 2015 and Mastered book 4 is scheduled for May 2015.
Will these books be structured the same way as BOUND and UNWOUND? Yes. And no. Mastered book 3 will be told in the same style: the heroine’s POV and then the hero’s POV, so book 3 will be a complete story arc in one volume. Who are the stars of book 3? Shiori and Knox. Mastered book 4 will also be a self-contained story in one volume. Why the change? Because these character’s stories aren’t a carbon copy of Amery and Ronin’s love story. Like I mentioned earlier; not every story is the same length or has to be written to meet some formula criteria.
***BOUND hit the USA Today bestseller list!
***UNWOUND landed on the NY Times bestseller lists and the USA Today bestseller list!
Author’s notes on other books:
I’ve had readers ask if there will be a book with Geo and Shawnee, secondary characters from RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL. I have the story, RUNNING ON EMPTY started, but at this time I’m focusing on other projects.
That said...Since I’ve re-issued RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL digitally and in print with a rockin’ new cover in the spring 2014, and Motorcycle Club books are all the rage (who knew I’d be ahead of the curve for once when RWTD first released in 2007?) I’d like to finish the other four books I’d planned for the Running Series.
I have no plans to write a book featuring Ryan Cross, Tate Cross’s older brother mentioned in DIRTY DEEDS. But you get a tiny peek at Tate and Nathan’s life ten years later, in my novella, WICKED GARDEN, which is part of the THREE’S COMPANY ANTHOLOGY (with Jess Dee and Jayne Rylon.)
Jon White Feather from WICKED GARDEN did finally get his happily ever after in the novella BALLROOM BLITZ, which released in Oct 2012 in digital form as part of the TWO TO TANGO ANTHOLOGY (again with Jess Dee and Jayne Rylon.) Print version of this book became available in Sept 2013.
Author’s notes on random things:
As far as language issues — and I’m not talking about the curse words I use without apology or the fact I don’t use euphemisms for parts of the male and female anatomy — a few critics/reviewers are skeptical that people “really” talk like that. Again, not grammatically correct, but we do drop most of our g’s out here in the Wild West. I ain’t kiddin’.
Grammatically correct: Do you plan to go hunting?
Proper western phraseology: You goin’ huntin’?
Might piss some readers off, but guys, I can’t please everyone and I’d rather stay true to my roots, and the way I KNOW IT TO BE, rather than change it to how someone who’s never been here and presumes to foist their language expectations on us unsuspectin’ folks out here in flyover country.
Most adult cowboys chew tobacco. Might be considered gross, but it is very realistic. Glossing over it would be untrue to what I’m attempting to do with the series.
I’m not one of those authors who compile a “play list” for every book I write, mostly because I cannot listen to music when I’m working. But you can pretty much guess by some of the titles I’ve used just what kind of music is on the radio when I’m drivin’ around in the truck.☺
My characters, male and female, swear a lot. Not for shock value, not for any reason other than the world they live in? People talk like that.
I’ve also had a few readers ask me why I have it in for Christians…why it seems there are only unflattering opinions and portrayals of Christians and churches in some of my books…say what? I was raised in a Christian household. Most people I know belong to a church and are loving, wonderful folks who embody everything it means to be a Christian. Like I’ve said repeatedly, my characters opinions are NOT my own. Their reactions, their fictional experiences are used to move the plot along and provide insight into their character or the character of the people they’re in contact with, or to create drama, anger, happiness, unhappiness or conflict within the story. That’s it.
This comment is totally not PC – be warned: These books are MY vision. MINE. I own them, live with them, sweat, fret and cry over them. I wrote them the way I intended and I am happy with every single one and would not change a thing. Seriously. I’m fortunate to be employed by professional publishing houses and the books have passed through the hands of several editors—my main editor, an associate editor, a senior editor, a copy editor, a galley proof editor—I took my editor’s suggestions and incorporated them into the story lines and received final editorial approval on the end product—which means not only am I thrilled with the finished, polished book that the reader purchases, but so is my editor and my publishing house. Are there occasionally mistakes? Yep. It’s a fact of life. But it doesn’t change the fact I am a paid professional writer. This is my job. This is how I make my living, support my family, and live my dream.
Don’t like a book or a plot point or think a character is a dumbass, or mean, or unrealistic, or stupid, or ___? Think I could’ve done X, Y or Z differently in book X, Y, and Z? Think it’ll make a difference if you contact me and tell me everything I did wrong and I’ll be forever grateful for your criticism? Think again. But here’s an idea; pen your own book, find an agent, have that agent try and sell your book to a legitimate publisher, and you will have creative control, just like I have in my career, and you can write your book however you see fit. Please don’t rewrite mine. Them’s fightin’ words.
I have the greatest fans in the world! Thank you to everyone who’s stayed with all the books, spread the word about them, left awesome reviews for them, defended them, and offered me support both publicly and privately over the years—it means more than I can possibly express!
Contact me at email@example.com with any additional questions or comments.