Today I thought I’d discuss what went into writing the Montana books. 😀
It all started with Patty and Greg.
I think I got the idea for Patty and Greg’s story way back in 2008. I don’t remember exactly where I got the idea since it was so long ago. I think it was based off of a writing prompt I came across in a local writing group that involved someone shooting a gun and rain.
What I do remember is that my initial goal was to write a story that would be under 15,000 words long. If memory serves, I chose this word count because it fit what a publisher was looking for. Back then, I had been thinking of self-publishing but wasn’t committed to it at that point.
After a lot of praying, I ended up going the self-published route. I started with books like Meant To Be and Eye of the Beholder. I decided I enjoyed the complete creative control, so when I finished Patty and Greg’s story, I published it myself. The original title was The Keeping of Greg Wilson. This was the original Patty and Greg story. I posted the entire 14,000-story on this blog so you can read it if you want.
The Keeping of Greg Wilson only got 1-star reviews because it was “too short”. As a result, I ended up unpublishing it with the intention of rewriting it so it would be a full length novel. In order to do that, I knew I’d have to give the entire story a complete overhaul. To successfully pull off this overhaul, I realized I would have to make it Book 3 in the series. That meant I needed two books to go before it.
Boaz is created, and Mitch’s book is slotted to be the first in the series.
My original idea for Mitch was to be a widower with two children. Since I wanted to have a Book 2 before I got to Patty’s Gamble, I needed to throw in an additional character to the series. That’s why Mitch ended up being a bachelor who was taking care of his niece and nephew (instead of taking care of his own children like I originally planned). That is where Boaz came in.
But in creating Boaz, I needed a compelling reason to write his story in Book 2. That’s when I remembered a couple of romances I had read between the 2007-2010 time period where the hero lost his first wife in childbirth and was scared to consummate his second marriage in case his second wife died in childbirth. I really liked that idea, so I decided to give this role to Boaz. I had to give Boaz a reason for not taking care of his children. I went with the alcohol route because my dad was an alcoholic, and I understood something about it. In real life, my dad did overcome it, just as Boaz did in the series.
There’s really not to mention on this book. I have no idea where I came up with the idea of Mitch winning Heather at a poker game, but I needed to have a reason for him to go to a bar to get her. Boaz’s situation with alcohol is what led to the opening scene in this book. From there, the story between Mitch and Heather just progressed naturally and softly. While writing this book, though, I got to set the stage for Patty and Greg, and I got to start Boaz down the road to recovery. Those two were the main goals I had in this book.
I started writing trivia for this, but then I remembered I had already dedicated an entire post to this book. Here’s the link if you want to check it out.
At the end of Patty’s Gamble, I realized I had left an opening about the mayor’s shady dealings in the town. I started the first chapter, but then I got involved in moving from Nebraska to Montana. I ended up having to put this book aside while I focused on wrapping up the Marriage by Deceit Series (Regencies) and the fantasy series I was determined to finally put to rest after working on and off on it for a few years. Suffice it to say that by the time I was settled into the new home, I lost interest in Shane’s Deal. I set it aside for a later time when I got the interest back.
Long story short, in the 2016-2018 time period, I started losing writing income. Pushing myself to write books faster did stop the drop in income, but I was hitting serious burnout. By mid-2018, I was ready to quit because I couldn’t keep up my hectic writing pace. I felt it was only right to finish up all of my series so that I didn’t leave any loose threads hanging out there. Shane’s Deal was one of the books I still needed to write.
During the time I was writing Shane’s Deal (and the other books that would wrap up the series I had started), I picked up a book at Barnes & Noble called The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha. After the Bible, this is the best book I’ve ever read. When I applied the things Neil mentioned, my burnout fled away, and my perception of writing completely changed. Because of this book, I did not stop writing AND I found joy in writing again. When I look back on Shane’s Deal, I remember the renewal of passion for writing the most. For that reason, Shane’s Deal is one of my favorite books.
The primary purpose of Shane’s Deal was to bring the mayor to justice since he was behind the whole cattle theft that John Meyer helped to carry out in Patty’s Gamble. This is why the hero had to be a marshal. I also needed a compelling reason for the marshal to marry the heroine right away, so I made her a pregnant widow. The hero and heroine got along pretty well, and like Mitch and Heather, their romance just came along in a natural and soft manner.
So really, the bulk of the Montana Collection (to me) is about Patty and Greg. Without them, this entire series would never have existed.