Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Keeper Trilogy - a series close to my heart.

I'm going to be taking a short vacation soon and I can feel my excitement building. Why? Because I'm heading to the Black Hills in South Dakota. I've wanted to return for a long time and the reason is because the beautiful backdrop of the rolling mountains' spiritual vista was the reason my western romantic Keeper Series became a series in the first place.

The very first story I'd ever written was Keeper of the Spirit, a western romance story about Tyler Wilkins, a man who thought he'd lost everything until a young woman named Emma Sanders whirled into his life and made him realize that deep abiding love can happen twice in a lifetime. The mysticism of an old Indian brave...a forgotten evil that lurks in Emma's tragic hour in their lives, will all combine to lead them to a future filled with trust and understanding, and the discovery of peace and love that a man and woman can share.

You know, when I wrote Keeper of the Spirit it wasn't because I had visions of getting this "story of my heart" into publication. Emma and Tyler's story was embedded in my brain and simply needed to be put on paper. I come from a long, long line of readers and most of them love sweet western romances. So I wrote the story not just for myself but for my mom and my sister. It was their steady brow-beating to try and publish Spirit that started my career as an author. In restrospect, it's very honest to say my sucess is due to them and their never ending support! Keeper of the Spirit ended up garnering great reviews and awards. It's received Recommended Reads, 5-Star Reviews and even won the 2006 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award!

Okay, so now I've got a book published but I had no clue in what direction I would go next. That was only until we'd taken a family vacation to the Black Hills. Once there, something came over me. Who would have guessed that the Sioux's Paha Sapas (Lakota for Black Hills), the Crazy Horse Memorial, and the teeming herds of buffalo would touch my heart in such an unforgettable way? I think Cole Wilkins' story (Tyler's youngest brother) was already forming somewhere deep inside me and I didn't even realize it. I remember walking through a gift shop at Crazy Horse and paging through reference books. In that short thirty minutes I'd come across a fact not once but twice. It was a reference to a rumor that Crazy Horse himself might have fathered a daughter that he never recognized. As in the famous words of Emeril... BAMM! Shortly after, I found myself sitting on the deck, looking out at the partially carved Crazy Horse memorial and the words and sentences started flying through my brain. Why not try writing a sequel? After all, Tyler had two brothers, one of which never wanted to leave the ranch in northern Minnesota. What would it take to get this guy a life? Ah, I knew then. It would be a beautiful Sioux maiden who he would love to eternity. Needless to say I couldn't get home fast enough.

Once home I sunk my teeth into Keeper of the Dream and I couldn't let go. Hours of research went into Cole and August Moon's story. As I delved deeper and deeper, I felt indelibly drawn to the Sioux's plight at the end of the nineteenth century. Real life characters such as Chiefs Crazy Horse, Big Foot, and Sitting Bull grew larger in my mind. They were good men who were unfortunate enough to be caught up in the final battles of the great Plains people, misunderstood because their one goal was to continue to live as their forefathers had. Actual events that took place in their lives were woven into Keeper of the Dream and once again I was a published author with accolades attached to this story.

Ah, Cole Wilkins. Quiet and brooding, loyal to a fault, yet suddenly filled with an unamed urge to discover something more in his life. He leaves the family ranch in northern Minnesota and meets a young Indian woman—one who tries to steal from him, who tests his patience to the extreme. A woman who is the mysterious figure that haunts his darkest dreams. Cole finds himself not only in the midst of a nationwide battle to assimilate her people, but also discovers love as he begins to understand his fateful dream.

August Moon leads a small group of fugitive Sioux, the last holdouts of a dying nation. She fights her growing love for Cole, but not because of ancestry. Instead, a fated vision from her childhood, her loyalty to the Sioux way and the misunderstandings of two diverse cultures prevent her from seeking a life with the man who has touched her very soul. But destiny cannot be altered. No one person from her past, nor anyone she would ever meet, would have such a profound impact on her life.

So now I began to think about Trevor Wilkins, the middle brother. Shouldn't he have a story also? Plus, I really found that I was having a hard time letting go of this entire family. Afterall, it was like they'd moved into my home, occupying my days and walking through my dreams at night. I began to formulate a story in my mind, one that was a bit different from the others. Let's fast forward a few years and think about Trevor, a confirmed bachelor who loves his women (and there are many) and who also discovers that though he loves his family to a fault, he much prefers the city life, being single, and responsible for no one but himself. Well you can bet I decided to mess with him a bit! And not with his normal style of preening women who were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Nope, I wasn't going to do it. How about a slightly weathered widow with five children. Yup, I figured it would be great fun to see how I was going to work this all out and still have Trevor retain his sanity.

So at times with tongue in cheek, a little humor and of course some tears, Keeper of the Heart, was born. I'm so very proud of this last story in the Keeper Series. It was nominated for the 2007 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Small Press Romance, Honorable Mention Winner of the 2007 Best Western Romance by Loves Western Romances Review Site, and has received numerous 5 Star awards. My confirmed bachelor at the age of thirty-nine, Trevor Wilkins had everything he needed or desired—a lavish lifestyle with only himself to answer to, easy money at his disposal and an exciting life racing the Wilkins family horses. He will leave married life to his two brothers. That is until Claire Holcomb and her five wonderfully impish children blindside him.
Claire will never trust another man and never give her heart away again. Her ogre of a husband is finally gone. Penniless and widowed with five hungry children, she is determined to meet life on her own terms no matter how hard the journey becomes. Beside, she is past the age where any man would look twice at her.Trevor doesn't think so. And when she runs he will follow her because suddenly a life with Claire and her five urchins is the only thing to make his world complete.
Okay, okay. So you're thinking, "What about Ruby Storm and these sweet romances? I thought she wrote erotic romance?" Well, everyone, I do. I surrrrrreeee do because I like to diversify and come on, let's face it, erotic romance is fun!
But I have to say, these three brothers and the loves of their lives will always, always hold a special place in my heart. I think it's because historical western romance has always been my favorite genre to read. I cut my teeth on it. And it's probably safe to say that Tyler, Cole and Trevor are as partially responsible for me and my writing career and my mom and my sister were. Well...I guess I'll never forsake them. And as strange as it sounds, those three books sit on my nightstand and everynight I pick one of them up simply to say goodnight!
So who knows? I can feel the excitement building, I can't sleep because my mind is churning with new ideas. How much do you want to bet that something is going to happen to me in a few weeks? Whether it's visiting a museum or simply looking out over the beautiful landscape of the Black Hills, I'm really thinking I'll be working hard on a story when I get back.
Happy Labor Day to all of you! To all those on the Gulf Coast, please be safe over the next few days. My prayers are with you all!
Hugs, Ruby


Titania Ladley said...

***Whether it's visiting a museum or simply looking out over the beautiful landscape of the Black Hills, I'm really thinking I'll be working hard on a story when I get back.***

We'll hold you to that, Ruby! Looking forward to what you come up with. Your Keepers are keepers---I have all 3 of them sitting on my shelf. Awesome stories with eye-catching covers!

By the way, Happy Labor Day you and to all those who celebrate it! Stay safe but have a good one!


Titania Ladley said...

***Happy Labor Day you and to all those who celebrate it!***

Uh, make that TO you and to all those who celebrate it. Geez, I need to slow my fingers down...or maybe my brain. LOL


Lynn LaFleur said...

I love hearing how an author comes up with their book ideas. Thanks for sharing, Ruby. I'm sure the beauty of the Black Hills will inspire you for another book!