Hi, readers and fellow Bandidas, give a big, warm Bandit Lair welcome to our guest Stacey Kayne, four-time Golden Heart finalist and author of amazing western historicals. Her debut novel Mustang Wild - which currently is a contender for Best Western Romance of 2007 at Love Western Romance - sold to Harlequin Historical in July 2006, followed shortly by Bride of Shadow Canyon. Stacey resides on two blogs; you can catch her on Petticoats & Pistols, a western blog, and Writers At Play.
Stacey is a fellow chapter mate of mine, and for those who don’t know her, she’s one of the kindest, most generous persons you’ll ever meet. Learn more about her at www.staceykayne.com.
Stacey, thanks so much for joining us in the Lair!
Happy New Year’s, All! Thank you Jo and Banditas for inviting me over. Wishing y’all a wildly fun and successful 2008!! The release of Maverick Wild is a fun way to start the New Year. With any luck, I’ll see the completion of my Wild Trilogy by the end of '08.
Stacey, we love call stories here in the Bandit Lair. Would you mind sharing yours with us?
It comes when you least expect it. It was two days before I had to board a plane to RWA National in 2006…and I was at an all-time low. I had promised my hubby I wouldn’t attend National unless I’d sold a book – I hadn’t, but I was a double Golden Heart finalist — I HAD to go.
Guilt was running high and funds were running low as I slogged out of bed and dropped into the chair in front of my computer. I hit my email and thought to myself, “You are such a pathetic loser.” And then I saw it. The subject MUSTANG WILD, the sender a Harlequin editor I’d sent two westerns to just a few weeks before.
(A friend/contest-rival of mine, Lyn Randal, had just sold to Harlequin Historical and mentioned to her editor that she had a friend who wrote westerns. Her editor asked if she could look at them, and I thought, "Why not?" They weren’t doing anything but gathering dust. I hadn’t looked at the files in nearly two years — I didn’t even open them, I just attached them to the email and hit send.)
My next thought on this suddenly-eventful morning was, "No way!" I read the first line. "We’re interested in MUSTANG WILD and have contacted your agent. We would like to discuss this with you before you leave for National…." I ran down the hall, glanced at my hubby who’d just poured his morning coffee and shouted, "Holy shit!" Then I turned and ran back to the computer with him chasing after me shouting, "Holy shit, what?"
LOL. Sounds like the kind of language and excitement that run amok in the Lair!
I emailed back that I was home and awake, pulled the phone cord from my computer and my phone rang — that fast! I answered and heard the words I’d waited nearly five years to hear while my hubby sniffled behind me. Of course he wasn’t crying *wink, wink*.
Packing my suitcase was a lot more fun after that phone call and National was a blast. A couple weeks later I sold Bride of Shadow Canyon.
Oh my gosh, Stacey, chills run down my spine just hearing your call story. I remember how ecstatic you were at National that year! And it just keeps getting better! You’ve sold the second books in each of the above-mentioned western series. Tell us about Maverick Wild, just released, and The Gunslinger's Untamed Bride, due July 2008.
Maverick Wild is the second book in my WILD Trilogy and is out TODAY! YAY!!! It’s been two years since the Morgans arrived in Wyoming, and Chance Morgan, Tucker Morgan's straight-faced twin brother, is our hero this time around. Chance is doing all he can to avoid the snares of marriage-minded women looking to capture a husband.
When a woman from his past arrives at his ranch, his resolve to stay single is weakened. Cora Mae Tindale owns a foothold into the emotions he’s kept under tight rein for most his life. A distracting array of curls and curves, she hardly resembles the mischievous spitfire from his youth, but her eyes hold the shadows of a painful past, and a passion she struggles to conceal. When Chance gives in to his own desires, he discovers something he’s never faced—she doesn’t want him.
Cora Mae’s indifference entices Chance in a way blatant flirtation never could. He yearns to discover the truth she hides, and as their pasts catch up to them, rekindled love becomes their greatest protection.
Sounds great! There's nothing like an alpha-male turned on his ear to pique my interest!
The Gunslinger's Untamed Bride, second in my BRIDE series, will be out in July, and features the young gunfighter adopted by Jed and Rachell at the end of Bride Of Shadow Canyon. I’m really excited about this book — it was a blast to write. The plot and characters were conducive to the amount of action I like to experience in a western.
Juniper Barns has grown into a hunky man who’s having a hard time shedding the violence of his past. She vows to kill him....he'll risk everything protect her!
Lily Carrington sees the name of an infamous killer on the payroll of her new lumber company and leaves her cushy San Francisco office to journey into the untamed wilderness and avenge her father’s death. Unprepared for the turmoil of a lumber camp torn apart by financial strain, Lily finds herself at the mercy of lumberjacks willing to do anything to get their pay. A handsome stranger determined to keep the peace becomes her sole protector—the very man she’s sworn to kill.
Juniper Barns has sought out a secluded life to escape the ghosts of his past, men seeking revenge for those he'd killed during his youth as a gunfighter. Realizing his new pretty boss has come with vengeful intentions, Juniper knows his troubles have just begun. As they work together to bring the lumber camp under control, their mutual desire becomes a new threat.
Can they overcome a past built on vengeance to find love in their future?
I hear you have some exciting news about a four-book contract! Give us the 411 on that.
I dropped into bed after finishing GUNSLINGER, relieved to finally be deadline free for the first time in over a year. I figured I'd take a little break before working up any new western proposals...sometime before Christmas maybe...*g* Well, I woke up six hours later to a message from my agent - my editors at Harlequin sent us an offer for FOUR more westerns — no proposals or anything =:-O I was stunned, and excited to say the least. After some pleasant negotiations and working out deadlines that didn't give me chest pain *g*, we accepted the offer :)
The first of the four will be the third book in my Wild series, where Garret Daines gets his shot at love — during the Wyoming blizzard of 1886. I’ll be taking part in a Spring Bride Anthology with Jillian Hart and Judith Stacy, due out in June ’09 — and two more full-length westerns will fall somewhere in between.
You’re the mother of two teenaged boys, which is a huge challenge all by itself. How do you manage such a prolific writing career with parenting teenagers?
I rely on my laptop and spend a lot of time writing in my truck. We live nearly ten miles from town, so once I leave my casa, it’s not time or gas effective to go home until all activities are done. Every weekday from 2:30 – 5:30 I’m sitting in the parking lot of the school or the tutor, writing on my laptop. Over the summer my boys had drum camp and water polo practice, and the heat drove me to the local library, where I searched out a quiet corner to keep cool and pump out pages in between events ;-) .
The great thing about having teens is they can work a microwave, dig through the laundry pile and be understanding when mom needs to get caught up on her page count after driving them to and fro.
The Banditas were just talking about keeping risqué clench covers away from inquiring young eyes and minds. What do your boys think of your writing? Do they read your books? Do you get teased by their friends?
When a new cover comes in, it’s quite the excitement in my house. It usually starts with a squeal when I see the attachment in the inbox and the family gathers round to watch my dial-up deliver the jpeg in tiny increments. My boys (hubby included) prefer the cowgirl on MUSTANG WILD over the cowboy on MAVERICK WILD.
My hubby’s first comment about MAVERICK was, "Hey, they forgot to button his shirt!" My fourteen year old said, "What’s that guy going to do, challenge a cowboy to a posing contest?" Me, I just grinned *g*. The men in my life are very supportive of my writing.
I don’t allow my sons to read my books because of the love scenes, but they tell me quite a few of their junior high friends have read their parents’ copies, certain chapters at any rate — which embarrassed me, but surprisingly made my boys all the more proud. I’ve had young readers attend my book signing with their parents who’ve told me all of them are reading my series — and that’s pretty neat. Considering I was nearly thirty when I read my first romance, I still blush.
You also write romantic suspense, which was a surprise to me. That’s a genre near to my heart. Tell us about your romantic suspense books. I know you believe in stock-piling completed manuscripts. Are those books part of your stockpile LOL?
I do have a few contemporary manuscripts in my stockpile. You can’t fight the market. That’s just fact. The 2002 RWA conference was my first, and the big buzz around conference that year was WESTERNS ARE DEAD. Not exactly what a budding western writer wants to hear. But I stuck to my guns, finished a few more westerns--had a few bites from editors. After two years of NEARLY selling westerns my agent told me I had two options…wait out the market or try something new. I’m not so good at the waiting thing, so I decided to try my hand at a contemporary western with a splash of suspense—before I knew it I had another pile of manuscripts and contests wins.
My RS manuscripts have been waiting patiently on the backburner while I settle into my western digs, and hopefully will find their own home in the next year or so. Trying to keep it fresh, I’m currently working on a hit man series, which I’m anxious to get in front of editors.
Which did you start writing first – romantic suspense or western historicals – and why did you become so prolific with the westerns? How much research do you do for them?
I started with western historicals. I finished my first western the day before the 2002 Golden Heart deadline, dropped a hundred bucks to overnight Bride Of Shadow Canyon to RWA, then mailed it to an agent, who signed me three weeks later. Characters are always talking to me, and I was in the midst of writing two more westerns when, to my sheer astonishment, BRIDE finaled in the Golden Heart. I wrote five westerns before I made the jump to Contemporaries in 2004.
I love researching a new historical. I have a fetish for old maps and love reading pioneer journals and pouring over history books. My first few westerns started with old maps and plotting a course I wanted my characters to take, and then I figured out the catalyst for getting them from point A to point B and all the calamity they’d find along the way.
While writing Bride Of Shadow Canyon I was taking American History night classes, which helped to fuel the backstory of my characters. My personal library is now bursting with books and encyclopedias on the old west, Native Americans, railroads, horses, logging camps, western slang, trade and trappers, cooking and housekeeping in the 1800’s—lots of interesting tidbits!
I know you’re something of a contest diva (in the Lair, we usually say Contest Ho). Tell us how you’ve run the contest gamut and your feelings about contests.
*LOL* Uh, yeah. I’ve entered a few contests. *g* For me, contesting was a wonderful motivator to keep plugging on, to start the next book and make those next contest deadlines. I also met some of my very best friends on the contest circuit. Writers At Play is a new blog founded by all my partners in crime (including a few Banditas), a group of unpublished contest divas who banded together to make the journey to publication a lot more fun!
When I decided to write a book, it wasn’t about craft or a love of words or writing (I’d never written anything beyond a term paper) or even being a reader (I’d read two romance novels ever) — I was a mother of two boys who’d just started school and I was looking for a job.
A daydream spawned in an American History night class during a documentary on Sitting Bull was the start of my first manuscript — it’s where Jed Doulan was born *g*. When I sat down at my computer that night, the characters just poured out of me and I had a hundred pages by sunup. But I didn’t know what to do with it. I tend to be a tad obsessive compulsive, and over the next month or so I read about 200 romance novels. I weeded out my favorite authors and tried to figure out their rhythm between prose and dialogue.
A few months later I figured I needed to test the waters, to see if I really had a shot at writing, because if not, I’d have to keep my daydreams in my head instead of on paper and put all my focus on getting my teaching credentials. An Internet search yielded writing contests, and I entered the first chapters of two different stories (I write in pairs; a quirk of having a short attention span *g*). I entered them in three contests. I didn’t final, but I ranked in the top ten, and for me that was huge - it gave me some validation that as a total beginner who didn’t know her GMC from her POV, I had promise.
I pored over those pages with every ounce of standard formatting information I could gather, finished the first book about six months later—sent out my first submission, and signed with an agent (proof that it DOESN’T take contest finals to snag an agent), and just a couple weeks later I began to final in contests consistently…and so started my slo-o-ow journey to publication *g*. Further proof that a truckload of contest wins isn’t a guaranteed sale. Sometimes it just takes TIME to hit that right combo of the right editor in the right mood on the right day, in the right house…persistence is the key.
My advice to contest entrants is to always enter in groups of three. I listened to people who liked my work, connected with my characters and gave positive feedback along with suggestions. For those who didn’t like my stuff—and there were many; some even called my heroes names, in red ink!—I figured they were prejudice against cowboys, and tossed them in the trash. Personally, I don’t regret a single contest entry—but they were merely one of many tools at a writer’s disposal.
Who is your favorite hero in your historical westerns? I must confess to being partial to Jed in Bride Of Shadow Canyon.
Thanks, Jo! Jed was great fun to write. I really enjoyed the complexity of his backstory, and the strength of his integrity. He has a few cameos in my upcoming BRIDE books. I love each new hero—every one is interesting in his own way and has something new to teach me about writing and relationships.
I have many more questions, but I’ll leave some for our readers. Now’s YOUR turn, readers, to ask Stacey anything you’d like, from juggling deadlines to how she crafts her stories and characters. Check out Stacey's website at www.staceykayne.com/ for more information about upcoming releases.
We’ll have random drawings for TWO lucky winners: The first will win an autographed copy of Stacey's newest western Maverick Wild, and (my favorite) the second will receive Bride Of Shadow Canyon. Be sure to post a comment even if you don’t have a question!