In another place and time, I’d be insane. Or, maybe, in this time and place, I am insane.
I’m often asked where the ideas come from for my stories, and I can honestly say that I don’t have a clue. It’s frightening what will spark a story idea. When I first got the idea for The Devil’s Own Desperado, I was trying to write a 20 to 25 page critical introduction to my creative project (a fantasy romance novel) for my master’s degree. I remember I was sitting in my office at the university where I not only attended master’s classes, but I also supervised the Writing Center. I was staring longingly at a poster of my favorite place on earth—the Medicine Bow Range in Wyoming—and Toby Keith’s “I Should Have Been a Cowboy” was playing on the radio. Colt popped into my head, fully formed. He was hand in hand with Amy, and wouldn’t go away. I joke that it’s hard to say “no” to a man with a revolver strapped down low, but it’s not really a joke. I made a deal with my Muse that if She would let me work on the critical introduction for an hour, I would write their story for an hour. The first hour I spent writing Colt and Amy’s story saw almost 2500 words completed. It took me a month and a half to complete the first draft and the first place I sent it to—The Wild Rose Press—offered me a contract.
Smolder on a Slow Burn was a nightmare. Literally. It began life as a contemporary romantic suspense novel that was born of a reoccurring nightmare. The same nightmare, several times a night, night after night. When a writing friend remarked that I looked exhausted, I told her that I’d been having the same nightmare every night for almost a week. She asked about it. I told her that in this horrifying dream, even though I wasn’t the person driving the car, I could feel her absolute terror, her choking panic, and her desperation. And, just for grins and giggles, the passenger in the car was slumped against the door with a bullet hole in his chest. My friend told me until I wrote their story, I was going to continue to have this dream. If I remember it rightly, I told her I didn’t want to know what their story was and I sure as heck wasn’t writing it.
What’s that line about famous last words? After a few more nights of waking screaming, I threw my hands up and started asking those questions every writer asks. Once I’d established the who, the where, the when, the why and the what the H***, their story fell into place. In a little under two weeks, I had a 70K word manuscript—which then sat in a box. Yes, a box—because this was in the days when I only had a used Brother typewriter.
For almost twenty years that manuscript sat in a box. And then three years ago, I decided to try NaNoWriMo. The original story was so dated, it could have passed as an historical. I started puttering around with ideas to update it. I played around with the “What If” game. What if I made it into a real historical romance? What if my hero…what if my heroine… I tossed them onto a train in the middle of Nebraska that was going in the right direction—AWAY and started writing. When I got to A.J.’s first real line of dialogue, when in full snark mode he suggests to Allison that she not make it a habit of missing the train, I knew it was going to work. The two characters who have remained with me all this time were still there.
I have no idea where the ideas come from. I say it’s The Muse. Other people might suggest I’m insane. We’re both right.
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Certain she was born about 150 years too late and in the wrong part of the country, Lynda J. Cox can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to live in the Old West. Short of inventing a time machine, she’s settled for writing romances set in the wide open spaces of what was then the Wyoming Territory. With a love of writing and history, she combined both into a double major in English and history and continued on to a master’s degree in English.
When she isn’t writing, she can often be found on the road, traveling to the next dog show. Those long road trips allow her to plot out her novels.