Bitter Creek, #13
Genre: Western Romance
Date of Publication: April 28, 2015
Number of pages: 322
Cover Artist: Alan Ayers & Lynn Andreozzi
WHILE HE SEEKS A HAVEN,
SHE SEARCHES FOR A PLACE TO CALL HOME
After a tragic accident leaves Delta sergeant Connor Flynn a widower, he faces the toughest fight of his life: battling his in-laws for custody of his two young children. To win he’ll need a make-believe bride to take care of the kids while he runs his Wyoming ranch. Who better than a woman he already knows and likes—his late wife’s best friend?
Ruthlessly forced from her home by her powerful father, King Grayhawk, Eve needs somewhere to go... and so does the herd of wild mustangs she’s rescued. Connor’s offer sounds like the answer to a prayer. But Eve has a guilty secret she’s guarded for years: She’s always been in love with Connor.
Now forced to live under the same roof as her heart’s desire, Eve must hide the love that has never died, while Connor vows to resist his growing need for a woman who was forbidden fruit during his marriage. Can two lonely people set adrift by fate and haunted by guilt find redemption in the healing embrace of love?
I usually write first thing in the morning, because that’s when I’ve learned (after 28 years of keeping the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair) that I’m most creative. Writing is harder than it looks, so I’m always putting it off until the deadline looms and then sitting down and writing night and day without stopping (sort of like how I did term papers in 10th grade).
I work from a synopsis—which is a 20-page short story of the book in the first person that tells who the main characters are, what the main conflict is, and how everything will be resolved. That 20 pages is the skeleton for a 400-page book, so as you can imagine, there’s a lot of room for it to grow. I always write a synopsis. In years gone by, I rarely looked at it again as I wrote the book. I knew where to start, and I let the characters take me where they wanted to go. Sometimes they wrote me into a corner that I had to get us all out of! More recently, I’ve been trying to keep an eye on my synopsis so I don’t miss elements of the story that I want to make sure get included. But always, always, I let the characters tell the story.
I finish an entire chapter and polish it until its perfect before I move on to the next chapter, and I never let myself “write ahead” and do a chapter that seems like it might be easier to write than the chapter I’m on—even if I can already see the entire thing in my head. That way, when I finish the book, there’s very little editing to be done. However, when I read my finished book, I might discover that I missed an important scene (or my editor will definitely notice it’s missing), and that chapter ends up getting written after the book is done and inserted (seamlessly, I hope) into the story.
When I come to a place where I’m not sure (or the characters aren’t sure!) what they’re going to do next, I STOP. I’ll go fill the dishwasher, make a visit to the cupboard for a snack (an irresistible idea, even if it’s a bad one—the story can’t be found in an Oreo cookie), clean house, go to the movies, take a hike in the mountains, take a nap or a shower, or do something that gives my brain a chance to work on the problem. This can be a break of 5 minutes or an entire day.
You could, of course, keep writing and hope that the answer will come, but I’ve found that too many writers leave that extra “junk” in the book (see my philosophy on a “stuff” file for the “junk” you need to cut). You can tell where characters have gone off on a tangent and then get back to where they should have been in the story—leaving the plot meandering off course. My thinking is if you’re going to throw it out anyway, why write it in the first place? Think first. Write second. That doesn’t mean magical things haven’t happened when I’m totally immersed in a character’s head. You just have to let it all happen.
See all those pieces of paper taped to my printer and computer? They’re inspirational quotes that I’ve found in magazines or books, items that have been sent to me in emails, or that I’ve heard on TV or radio, that I put in a place where I’ll see them every day.
On the face of my computer is a list (composed by the people who publish my books) of all the things they believe make a book great: well-realized voice; What makes it singular?; great structure; gripping; has a clear audience; clean, fluid writing; compelling characters, unforgettable, engaging, builds anticipation, sustains excitement; and fulfills the promise to the reader. Seeing that list every day helps me to evaluate the words I put on paper.
Of course, there’s also the quote I pulled out of an article recently, wrote on a post-it note, and taped under my nose to remind me what my readers want:
“It’s the Love Story, Stupid.”
I haven't read a Joan Johnston westerns for many years. Why, I ask myself? Because I got side tracked in other genres. It happens. But now that I am rediscovering how much I love me a cowboy (my sister and I agree, it's something about that swagger in tight jeans), I am finding myself coming back to Joan Johnston.
If ya'll have followed me any, you know I hate starting in the middle of a series. 9 times out 10 you feel like you are missing something. This is book is part of that 10% where you don't. If I hadn't seen the big ole #13 on Goodreads, I wouldn't have guessed it was that far in. This book feels like the start of a new arc in the series, dealing with the so called King's Brats and their life long nemeses the Wild Flynn Boys. The stage is being set for more books within this multi-family dynamic. So if you are like me and hate missing anything, this is a good place to jump in without that worry.
This story focuses on Connor and Eve. Watching them dance around one another, the habits and prejudices of years keeping them from telling each other how much they love and want the other, kept me wondering who would finally get the courage to make the first move. In a surprising twist, it's neither and both. Intrigued? Ha! Read the book and find out.
This was a quick read, mainly because it sucked me right in and didn't let me go until I finished the book. I am looking forward to reading more about the families and figuring out if some of the other siblings stop sniping at each other long enough to admit their attractions as well. I really enjoyed the book and gave it 4 stars.
Thanks to Netgalley and Dell for the opportunity to read and review the book.
Win a copy of Sinful
One of the most popular romance writers in America today, former attorney and college professor Joan Johnston has over 10 million books in print world-wide – including the New York Times bestsellers SISTERS FOUND, THE COWBOY, THE TEXAN, THE LONER, THE NEXT MRS. BLACKTHORNE and NO LONGER A STRANGER..
Joan Johnston has an eclectic background. Now the bestselling, award-winning author of forty-five novels, she was formerly an attorney with Hunton & Williams in Richmond, Virginia and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Miami, Florida. Joan also worked as a newspaper editor and drama critic in San Antonio, Texas, as a director of theatre in Southwest Texas, and as a college professor, most recently at the University of Miami, Florida. Joan has a B.A. in theatre arts from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida, an M.A. in theatre from the University of Illinois in Urbana and received her J.D. with honors from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.
Joan loves to travel and visited England and Scotland to do research for her Captive Hearts series (Captive, After the Kiss, The Bodyguard and The Bridegroom). She also made journeys to Tahiti, Australia and Bali–for a South Seas, WWII novel that she hopes to write. Joan’s books have appeared on the New York Times, USA TODAY and Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller Lists.
For her Bitter Creek series, Joan toured the legendary King Ranch in South Texas and took a course on tracking (humans and animals!) from a Deputy Marshal deep in the Big Bend country of West Texas. She also traveled to Australia to tour the big cattle stations there and see what life is like Down Under.
Joan is a member of the Authors Guild, Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America and Florida Romance Writers. She divides her time between homes in Colorado and South Florida.
Johnston recently became a grandmother for the second time. Her daughter, a teacher, lives in the Tampa area. Her son, a budding novelist, lives in Orlando.
To connect with the author online:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads