Saturday, July 28, 2012


Fire Eyes is always going to be the “book of my heart”—most special to me for several reasons. By the end of my writing career, it may not be said that it’s my best work, but it will always remain the most memorable, because it was my first one.

I know e-books are the wave of the future, but I’m old fashioned. I love to hold a real book in my hands and read from paper. And when that first box of print books arrived at my doorstep, I was elated. I can’t tell you how long I sat and fondled the books as I took them out of the box. BEAUTIFUL! My husband wondered if I was going to “rub the paint off” the covers. But there is nothing to compare with receiving your first box of YOUR OWN BOOK and opening it up—the smell, the feel , the excitement of finally bringing your story to life for others to enjoy.

Writing Fire Eyes happened by accident. I had written a much longer “saga” type novel, Brandon’s Gold, and had queried for it. I received several letters of interest back from agents, finally settling on one that I thought would be a good fit for me and for my book. His first question to me was, “Do you have anything shorter?” Through other responses received from my queries, I knew that Brandon’s Gold was far too long for a first novel; far too long to be commercially viable, so I wasn’t surprised.

I had already started working on another novel after finishing Brandon’s Gold. But halfway through that second novel, the idea for Fire Eyes occurred to me. I set my WIP aside and started writing Fire Eyes instead.

The story of Marshal Kaed Turner and Jessica Monroe unfolded quickly, but as I wrote it, I couldn’t keep from developing subplots that I feared would eventually make it too long, as well. Finally, I gave myself permission to just write the story and get it polished enough to send it out.

Eventually, Fire Eyes was contracted through The Wild Rose Press. I had a wonderful editor there, Helen Andrew, who literally made my dream come true. We worked on that manuscript and cut and edited until I sometimes wanted to cry. She really explained in detail why certain things couldn’t stand and had to go or be changed. But the end result was wonderful, and it couldn’t have happened without her. A lot of very hard work had gone into that story, not just from my perspective, but also from many other people who were involved in one way or another.

Fire Eyes was a 2010 Epic Award Finalist, and received many wonderful reviews, including a 4 star review from Romantic Times Magazine. It also received the “Reviewers Top Pick” award from PNR reviewer Karen M. Nutt.

Three years later, in April of this year, I asked for my rights back to Fire Eyes. I loved that story, but I wanted to put it out the way I had written it in the beginning. It was a great story, even with the edits, to be brought out in the TWRP romance line. But part of what ‘had to go’ for the TWRP guidelines was important to the story, in my mind. There were company guidelines to be followed when Helen and I had worked so hard three years ago to make it ‘fit’, and neither of us could change that. So we’d worked together to find a way to take out the parts that made it more “western” than “romance” and still came out with a fine story.

But I wanted to put it back together again, like I’d intended. I submitted the story to another small publisher who has an imprint for westerns and western romances, WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER. I was able to re-edit the book and add in much of what I’d had to take out or rewrite in the first version. It was released again, May 15, just three years shy of my first release date, with a brand new Jimmy Thomas cowboy cover and lots of renewed interest.

The e-book version is available now at Amazon, Lulu, Monkeybars, Barnes and Noble,

Sony and Apple, as well as many other e-book retailers.

Here are the links for Smashwords and Amazon:

The print version is also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, among other retailers. I’m very happy about breathing new life into this wonderful story. I’ve ordered my print copies, and I sat on the floor and ‘rubbed the paint off’ again when they arrived. And I’m so very grateful that I’ve had two chances to get my story out there—another thrill, a second time around!

Future plans for Fire Eyes? Evidently, many of my secondary characters in that story have piqued interest and requests for those characters to have their own stories. One of the younger deputy marshals, Travis Morgan, intrigued me so much I felt the same way! He needs his own story…and he’s going to get it. In Fire Eyes, Travis has been mentored by Kaed Turner, the main character of the story. He’s learned a lot during the time he’s been riding with Kaed, but he’s still relatively young and pretty arrogant.

The more I thought about Travis, the more I wondered about where he’d come from and why he’d decided to become a U.S. Federal Deputy Marshal in the first place—it was a thankless job; dangerous, and not well-paying. Why would he do it? And what would ever make him give it up, once it became the way of life he was familiar with?

A WOMAN, OF COURSE! And one that he never suspects will steal his heart. That’s what will be coming up in the sequel to Fire Eyes. I’ve also written another book, Gabriel’s Law, that I’m still looking for a publisher for, that has Travis as a character as a young boy, so we can see where he came from and gain a bit of insight into his character and the man he becomes later on.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by today to read. Please don’t forget to comment! I’ll leave you with a blurb and excerpt from Fire Eyes:

Marshal Kaed Turner is given a rare second chance at love with the mysterious woman the Choctaw call “Fire Eyes.” But can he quiet the ghosts from his past and protect the love that was stolen from him once before? There’s only one way: Kill outlaw Andrew Fallon, along with the murdering band of men he leads.

THE SET UP: Marshal Kaed Turner has been deposited on widow Jessica Monroe's front porch by a band of Choctaw Indians with orders from the chieftain: "Do not let him die." But can she save him? He's been severely beaten by a band of renegades that run the borderlands between Arkansas and Indian Territory. The last man they brought to her doorstep died. What will become of Marshal Turner? Can she save him?

The bath could be put off no longer. Kaed lay quietly, watching Jessica's nervousness.
"Jessi." When she looked at him, his bones liquefied. She wanted him. All question of how the night would end were answered as their eyes met and held over an achingly sweet moment.

Jessica sank her teeth into her lower lip, her fingers moving to the tiny row of buttons at the front of her day dress. She slowly began to work them open. "Kaed, would you, um, I mean, well, I need to get my bath now."

"I suppose that means I need to at least turn my head." His mouth was dry. It was hot in the cabin all of a sudden.

"Uh-huh." She kept right on unbuttoning the buttons, caught in his gaze. "And close your eyes."

Yeah, well it wouldn't matter if he did. He'd still see the picture she burned in his mind as she stood there opening those buttonholes.

Her fingers hesitated at the button just above the rich swell of her breasts. Kaed wet his lips, not turning his head or closing his eyes.

"Kaed?" Her voice was a husky whisper. That made him close his eyes. The sound of his name on her lips had him imagining doing all the things that a man did with a woman. All the things that were soon to come.

God. The heat was unbearable.

"Huh?" He slitted his still-swollen eyes open and saw she had released that button and moved down to the next one. He gritted his teeth.

"Turn…your…head." A teasing smile played about her mouth, as if she knew exactly what he was thinking, what he was imagining.

Turning away would be a good thing right about now. If he could only persuade his neck to cooperate.

"Yeah. Okay." He turned his face toward the window. Sort of.

"I'm trusting you."

Kaed sighed, frustrated. "I know." It was the one thing she might've said that would have kept him true to his word, that part about trusting. He couldn't betray that. "I've gotta move slow. Hurts."

"Don't—" The dress whispered to the floor.

"I won't," he gritted, the words bitter in his mouth.

OH MY! I wonder what happens after that bath?
Please leave a comment. I love to hear from readers and other writers! For all my books and short stories, go to:
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  1. Cheryl, I just reclaimmed rights to two of my TWRP books. I do love the people at TWRP, but, like you, want to have a little more control of the book. I'm indie publishing the two and my husband is working on the new covers as I write this. Best of luck with all your wonderful books!

  2. One of the best things I like to read is about an author's journey of writing a book. Often the writing, rewriting, rerouting, re this or that,becomes a fascinating tale in itself. I know your loved TWRP, as many of us do, but there comes a time to move into or onto another avenue or level. I'm very proud of you for sticking to your guns, believing in the whole story against a current editor and publisher. We have that choice--cut and slash and burn, or return it to your control and do what you wanted in the first place.
    I still love that cover. When I looked at it early on, I wondered, what kind of writer puts together such a dramatic story?

  3. Thank you, Caroline. I can't say enough good things about my editor, Helen Andrew. She's since left TWRP and is a wonderful writer in her own right in the western genre--something I'm so glad she chose to do AFTER she left her editing job, which, in my opinion, is the right and ethical thing to do. Helen is the person I really owe my success to--she worked with me and turned FIRE EYES into a much better story than I had in the beginning (lots of mistakes with the "headhopping" issues!) But as you know, I tend to write in lots of subplots and there just wasn't room for those in the guidelines. Good luck with your Indie publishing venture! I'm a chicken when it comes to that. LOL

  4. Celia, that is soooo sweet of you--it just means so much, coming from you. I still love the cover too. It will always have a special place in my heart since it was for my very first novel and was soooo gorgeous!

    I still have my contemporary work there at The Wild Rose Press, because I absolutely ADORE my editor, Lori Graham--very professional and one of the nicest people. Also, TWRP's Crimson line is one of the best anywhere, anytime. I tend to write "gritty" no matter what genre I'm writing in, and that's the perfect line for my contemporaries, because there is some violence, bloodshed, and cursing, which is all part of life and which make the stories more realistic--Lori has been wornderful to work with, giving me lots of good advice to "smooth out the rough edges" and really make the stories come alive even more.

    Can't say enough good things about TWRP. It's a great company and I will be forever grateful to them for giving me a chance, and I love the fantastic working relationship I have with them that continues on three years after the publication of FIRE EYES in the beginning!

    Thanks, Celia! You always say the nicest things.

  5. Hi, Cheryl. We've "met" on Facebook's Western Historical Romance Book Club, but I'd like to introduce myself to you here. Especially since I've been invited to join you and your wonderful sistershood of sweethearts.

    The Fire Eyes excerpt is just terrific, and I admire you for taking back control and going with your heart. Being a self-published indie author, I haven't gone through the trad publishing process, but I do know how painful it is to cut out vital chunks of a story. Best wishes with your new, restored version of Fire Eyes!

  6. HI LYN! It's great to have you here with us on the Sweethearts crew. I'm so glad to welcome you! Thanks so much for your comments about Fire Eyes. I really love that story, and I hope that I can do it justice in the sequels when I get to write them. Travis has a story I really want to get out there. LOL


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