Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guest Post: Cara Covington

I am pleased to welcome Cara Covington as the guest poster. Today she gives us some insight into how Lusty, Texas came to be.
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I never actually meant to be a world builder. It all started out as a challenge issued to me by my publisher. That challenge? To write an historical erotic romance that was also a ménage.

Amanda Hilton came up with the idea, creating the “Lost Collection”. These would be a series of western historical erotic ménage romances crafted by authors invited to take up the challenge. I was blessed to be one of those authors.

Until that moment, I’d never once considered writing an historical romance, for any era. But I was a fan of the Saturday morning westerns, of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and later, in prime time, Paladin and Gunsmoke and Bat Masterson. So when Amanda invited me to write two novels for the series, of course, I said yes!

There was just one tiny catch. I couldn’t write these two novels under the name of Morgan Ashbury. I had to pick a new pen name.

I came up with Cara Covington. The name kind of sounds like the name of someone who would write historical romance, doesn’t it?

I got some great advice and the title of a fabulous resource book from my good friend, Emma Wildes. And then I sat down and thought about the characters who would be the stars in these two western historical stories.

You see, for me, it’s always about the characters. I have to discover strong characters who have an interesting story to tell. Once I have those, I can write that story.

So I discovered Sarah and Caleb and Joshua, the men’s friend Adam Kendall, Adam’s secret lover, Warren Jessop—and Sarah’s interesting cousin from Virginia, Amanda Dupree.

Sarah wasn’t a twenty-first century woman in a nineteenth century historical. I’d read some of those, and I guess there is too much of the history scholar in me for me to have done that. I wanted my heroine to be a woman of her times. So when her father arranged for her to marry Tyrone Maddox, it didn’t occur to her to say no. She was, as was proper in the day, a dutiful daughter. And not a worldly-wise one, for she didn’t understand that for a marriage to be valid it needed to be consummated—which, of course, hers never was. Sarah comes into her own when faced with extreme circumstances and life-threatening events. She rebels and begins to forge a new path, and a destiny, of her own choosing. And what red-blooded American woman wouldn’t choose a couple of hot, honorable gunslingers like Caleb and Joshua Benedict?

I also had fun inserting a couple of real historical characters into those first two “Cara” novels, Love Under Two Gunslingers and Love Under Two Lawmen. I featured Bat Masterson as a guest star in Gunslingers, and Wyatt Earp as my main guest star—with Masterson making a return cameo appearance—in Lawmen.

Before I finished writing Love Under Two Lawmen, I had occasion to speak on the phone with Ms. Hilton. We discussed writing, and trends, and what the readers seemed to like, and what I could do next, and she mentioned that the concept of the small town romance appeared to be striking a chord with readers.

By then I was hopelessly in love with my characters (an occupational hazard for us writers), and I had the sudden inspiration: what if I wrote a contemporary story or two, based on the descendants of my two historical romances?

My publisher loved the idea. And because the inspiration had come to me before I had finished Love Under Two Lawmen, I was able to “create” the town of Lusty, and the concept of the Town Trust, in that second historical novel.

Towns were far more autonomous in the 1800s than they are today.  Throughout the unfolding of the love story in Lawmen, my characters were very conscious of the fact that the love between Adam and Warren was considered so taboo by society in that day and age, that in some places, they could have been arrested and executed. And around a campfire one night, they pondered: wouldn’t it be wonderful if there could be a place where men and women could love who and how the heart decreed?

So the Benedicts (Sarah, Caleb and Joshua) and the Jessop-Kendalls (Amanda, Adam and Warren) decided to make that happen. Together, they contributed land to establish a town that they would create and yes, rule. No land could ever be sold, it could only be leased. This would prevent the self-righteous from moving in and taking over. It would prevent others from discriminating against or persecuting those inhabitants who wanted only the freedom to live and love as they chose to do. Of course Warren, being a crack lawyer, set up the trust in perpetuity. They wanted this dream, this sanctuary, not only for themselves, but for their children, and their children’s children.

He did a pretty good job of it, too, because the Lusty, Texas Town Trust still exists to this very day.

I had what I hoped was a good idea; my publisher liked that idea and gave me the go-ahead. The only question was: would the readers go for it?

I didn’t know, while I was writing the first book of the contemporary series, Love Under Two Benedicts, if the readers would embrace my concept and my characters, or not. I couldn’t see that far ahead. I did sit down, and roughly detail out a “family tree”, just to see how many Benedicts, Kendalls and Jessops there might be. That was a bizarre exercise for me, because as an author doing this “tree” I had to know when my original characters—the ancestors of my contemporary characters—had died.

I write romance, and once I write “the End”, in my heart and mind those folks live on forever! So that was a difficult moment, let me tell you.

By the time I had completed this first, rough, family tree I came up with enough characters to write maybe a half a dozen books. I thought that was pretty good, and the writing would, after all, keep me off the streets at night.

My first story, being the first in a series, was crucial. And the characters that found me, in a way, hit pretty close to home.

Kelsey Madison was a woman with a tragic past. She’d witnessed the murder of her husband and young son during a convenience store holdup. This event occurred five years before my story opened. In that five years Kelsey had moved on in body, but she had closed herself off to the chance for love. She’d done this by never quite dealing with the death of her child; neither had she faced the fact that in the end, her marriage was in grave trouble. That little fact she had completely buried deep in her subconscious mind.

I knew I was taking a risk, presenting a heroine who had to deal with a past tragedy, but Kelsey’s story had to be told. There is one scene—when she’s putting Benny to bed for the first time, after Ginny had left him at the restaurant. The flood gates behind which Kelsey had sealed her grief at losing a son began to crack and very quickly, they crumbled.

That was a hard scene for me to write, and you can be sure I cried as I wrote it.

You see I, too, have lost a son, though he wasn’t small when he died. But moms, you know what I mean when I say your baby remains your baby forever. My loss happened in 2006 and my son, my middle child, was just 29 when he died as the result of an accident.

So I did take a chance writing this story, but my readers are smart, savvy, and, most importantly, vital, living women who face challenges in their lives that are real and hard. They want to be entertained by fiction, and by dreams of a happy-ever-after. But I believe they demand characters that are real, and three-dimensional. They want their heroines to be vulnerable, yes, and in need of love, most certainly. But they want heroines they can respect; heroines who can triumph, and if necessary kick some serious ass—just like them.

So I finished Love Under Two Benedicts, and a miraculous thing happened. The readers found me. They found me and they loved what they read and they wanted more.

The one real surprise that I got was that my readers loved one of the secondary characters, Ginny Rose. Here was a mother cornered, and in an untenable situation, locked in a maze from which she couldn’t see a way out, because the man she had been with had systematically abused her physically and destroyed herself esteem emotionally. In a moment of desperation, and to protect him, she leaves her precious child behind—but she leaves him with a woman she senses will guard him with her life.

I could see the potential in Ginny Rose, but I didn’t know if my readers would.

Every one of my readers should take a bow, because they, along with Grandma Kate, Adam and Jake and the entire town of Lusty, Texas, became Ginny Rose’s fiercest champions. Ginny thanks you, and I certainly thank you.

I’ve been asked with nearly every book that comes out, if I will continue to write this series. It’s a good question, because we are all aware of authors who have tired of writing a particular series and want to move on.

My answer to the question, will I continue writing the Lusty, Texas series is a resounding yes!

I will continue to try and tell the stories of an amazing group of people with an awesome legacy – for as long as my readers keep wanting to read them.

I’m currently at work on the 10th book in the series (#9, Love Under Two Doctors, has been submitted and accepted). My work in progress is titled Love Under Two Cowboys.

For my readers who are also fans of the fabulous Heather Rainier and her Divine Creek Ranch Series, get ready for some real cross-series fun as the folks in Lusty, Texas become acquainted with the folks of Divine. After all, Divine is just down the road a piece from Lusty.

It’s a match made in romance heaven!

Thank you to all of my readers for loving my Lusty, Texas series, and for taking my characters into your heart. I’m thrilled beyond measure to meet you, in person or through e-mail—and I always welcome comments on my books.



With much love,

Cara Covington

Ontario Canada, June 2012
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Cara is giving away $15 in Bookstrand Bucks and the entire Lusty, Texas Collection. To be entered to win, comment below and tell us which book in the series is your favorite and why.

9 comments:

  1. Cara, I have to be honest that I have not read this series as of yet, but you now have me sold!! I loved the background you have shared on how you brought this series together. As for the cross over to Divine, I will love it. Now I am off to get some serious reading done and get all caught up! Happy writing and I'll see ya soon!

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    1. Hey, Rana, I hope you enjoy the read. Heather and I are having a blast with this cross-over, too. Let us know what you think. :)

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  2. So I have not read the historical books yet, but have all the others. I love them, but Ginny Rose became a favorite, I re-read Love under Two Benedicts to get ready for her book. I really like a book that makes me smile, yours do. I'm excited for the next ones and the cross overs! Thanks so much!

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    1. Ginny's my favorite too. In the one I'm working on now, you'll get to come to their commitment ceremony. Thanks for reading, and commenting!

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  3. I loved Love Under two Kendalls. I just fell in love with the characters, and will definitely be working my way to picking up the rest of the Lusty collection. :)

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    1. Hi Seri! I hope you'll love the rest of the characters. ;)

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  4. That was a very honest and heart felt blog. I really enjoyed seeing how Lusty Texas came to be it definitely makes me want to pick up the series.

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  5. Thanks, Amy! Let me know what you think of the series. ;)

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  6. I have read all of the series so far and love each one for a different reason. The historical ones ring true, maybe that's because I used to watch the Sat morning cowboy series too. I love the more modern ones because of the characters , the feisty women and the men, sometimes clueless, but they get there in the end. It is a dream come true that your series and Heather's will be linked. I can't wait... I am delighted you want to keep going....

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