That first book, a time travel when no one was buying them, has sat in a box on a shelf for over twenty years. An editor told me that story was too unusual to sell as a first book and suggested I write a simpler romance, get it published, and after a few more books I might be able to sell the complex stories I love most.
So I wrote about a woman who faked her own murder to escape an abusive marriage. She joined a wagon train for Oregon and hired a guide to pose as her brother. Naturally she and the guide fell in love. That book became a Golden Heart Finalist published by Kensington Books as Tender Touch.
My most successful paperback, Forever Mine, came from a visit to an Oregon lighthouse and saw a bridal photo of a keeper and his wife who were married there. Neither looked happy, but she appeared absolutely forlorn. Ithought about what that area of the country would have been like in the waning days of the nineteenth century, what a chore it would have been simply to get to the lighthouse from the nearest town, nine miles away, when there were no roads. And Forever Mine was born.
Taming Jenna is another story. My critique group and I were having lunch after a meeting and I said to one of the members I knew had a quirky sense of humor, to give me an idea for a new story. Without hesitation, she said, “Write about a woman who has to find a man and the only way she can identify him is by a scar on his bottom.” The result? —a lady Pinkerton who finds herself at odds with a bounty hunter after she pulls a gun on him and makes him drop his drawers. That was a fun story to write.
Ideas for novels come from many sources and what they are doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the writer is inspired by an idea that carries her through to the end of the tale and creates a vivid, compelling read. I like to believe this is what I’ve done in my books.
Please leave a comment and your contact information for a chance to win a copy of one of my back issue eBooks, winner’s choice.
Charlene's latest release (don't miss trailer at the end of the blog) sounds like an interesting and fun read.
THE WRONG MAN
Deserted by her father at the tender age of seven, Jenna Leigh-Whittington had taught herself to ride, shoot, brawl…and steer clear of the opposite sex. But now, in a lonely Utah canyon, the Pinkerton agent has drawn her gun on a rugged stranger—only to discover that, far from the dangerous outlaw she’d been tracking, he is Branch McCauley, hired gun…and the most irresistible rascal ever to tempt and torment a woman!
THE RIGHT WOMAN
If there’s one thing McCauley trusts less than a female, it’s a female who packs a six-gun. But what a woman! Vowing to bring the sensuous hellcat to heel, McCauley has no inkling that their passionate battle of wills has just begun. Taming Jenna will be the most seductive—and satisfying—job he’s ever taken on.
Being in the last, and therefore the closest tub to the door, Branch shivered as cold air blowing down from the canyons rushed inside, along with the missing towel boy.
A man shaving at the far end of the room, a towel wrapped around his loins, called for clean rinse water. The boy, wearing overalls and a mixed expression of fear and excitement, hurried to comply, leaving the door ajar. An older youth edged inside, wearing baggy trousers, an oversized coat, and a hat pulled low on his head. Branch's eyes narrowed. He detected something vaguely familiar about the youngster. Branch watched out of the side of his eye as the kid pushed the coat aside to reveal a gunbelt. Trembling fingers drew the pistol from its holster, and Branch nearly choked. A single-action .44 Starr.
Branch's hands plunged below-water to cover himself. "Dammit, Eugenia, what in blue blazes are you doing in here?"
Her eyes darted to him and her cheeks turned a healthy shade of pink, but her voice remained calm. "I'm doing what I came to Utah to do."
The boy in overalls jogged to her side. "You gotta hurry, ma'am. I'll get fired, sure, if they figure out you're a woman."
Too late; the eyes of every man in the room had zeroed in on her.
"What'd you call that boy? Eugenia?"
"That’s a girl's name."
"By God, it is a girl!"
Eugenia didn't bother to disguise her voice. She lifted the Starr so they could all see it. "Keep calm, gentlemen. And do, please, remain seated." Turning to the boy, she said, "Which one, Billy?"
With eyes as round as donuts, Billy stared at the pistol in her hand. "Are you going to shoot him?"
"Not if he cooperates. Which one?"
Branch stared as the boy pointed to the tub next to his. The Spaniard shrugged. "Ah, the Senoritas, they always manage to find me, no?"
"Turn around and stand up," Jenna ordered, the Starr aimed at the man's chest.
He spoke in a low, smooth baritone. "Always happy to oblige a lady."
The Spaniard rose out of the water like a golden sea god, water sluicing off his broad back and down over firm, round buttocks marred by a three-inch long scar.
"Sweet Jesus," Branch muttered.
Black Jack Mendoza. Sloan's murderer!
Branch surged to his feet, sloshing water over the sides of the tub. He ignored Eugenia's voice rising above the fury roaring in his brain. He couldn't ignore the shot she fired into the ceiling.
"Sit down, McCauley." Her fingernails raked his arm as she yanked him back from Mendoza. Hands raised as if to circle Mendoza's throat, Branch whirled to look at her. She jerked back in shock and fear at the rage contorting his face. Then she aimed the Starr at his chest and hollered again: "Sit down!"
"No, dammit, this bastard—"
"I'll put a hole in your best shooting arm, McCauley." He knew she could do it. She'd demonstrated her ability with the Starr well enough back in Echo Canyon. For one full minute they glared at each other: McCauley, his large hands fisted, his green eyes cold enough to freeze the hot water in which he stood; Eugenia, her stubborn chin thrust toward him, fire smoldering in her smoky blue eyes. Around them the silence became so intense that the hiss of the wood burning in the stove several feet away sounded like a geyser.
Tersely, she asked Mendoza where he'd left his horse. Then she sent the boy after the animal. "Get dressed, Mendoza. You're coming with me."
"With pleasure, Chiquita." He bowed. "Never have I known a woman more eager for my attention."
Her apparent calm as her eyes slid back and forth between the two men, seemingly well accustomed to watching naked men dress, added fuel to the anger already roiling inside Branch.
"Listen to me, Eugenia—"
"You'll have to forgive me, McCauley Maybe we can have dinner another time...if you'll shave off that hideous beard. It makes you look like you ought to be on a wanted poster of your own."
He took a deep breath, struggling for control. He had to make her understand. "You don't know what you're doing. I—"
"I know exactly what I'm doing and if you don't stop interfering, I'll have the boy tie you up and gag you. Now shut up. And sit down."
"Down!" Her bullet plowed through the water of his tub and drilled a hole in the side.
McCauley dropped like a rock, soaking her with spray. A small fountain of water poured out through the bullet hole in the tub. McCauley had spent a lifetime learning to control his temper. He watched the water recede, exposing more and more of his nudity as it went, but he saw only his chance to see Mendoza pay for murdering Sloan going down the drain.
Charlene Raddon likes to say that she began her fiction career in the third grade when she announced in Show & Tell that a baby sister she never had was killed by a black widow spider. She often penned stories featuring mistreated young girls whose mother accused of crimes her sister had actually committed. Those were mostly therapeutic exercises.
Her first serious attempt at writing fiction came in 1980 when she woke from a vivid dream that compelled her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. An early love for romance novels and the Wild West led her to choose the historical romance genre but she also writes contemporary romance.
At present, she has five books published in paperback by Kensington Books (one under the pseudonym Rachel Summers), and the same five digitally published by Tirgearr Publishing.
Charlene Raddon is the award-winning author of five historical romance novels set in the American West and has been writing for over thirty years. Her books were published in paperback by Zebra Books, and are now being released as e-books by Tirgearr Publishing.
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