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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

YIKES, I'm Running Out Of Wildings!

Sarah McNeal is a multi-published author of time travel, paranormal, western, contemporary and historical fiction. Her stories may be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Prairie Rose Publications.

A few years ago I wrote Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride as a stand-alone paranormal, time travel western with no intention of writing another western or another book related to Harmonica Joe. Interesting enough, I went into writer’s block in the middle of writing Harmonica Joe and thought I might never finish it. I took a RWA writers’ class about writer’s block which helped and I got some great advice from a fellow writer who told me I needed to love my hero. Taking the techniques of the WB class and my friend’s advice, I did manage to finish Harmonica Joe’s story. In the end, Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride became a story very dear to me. So, you might think that would be the end of that…but it isn’t.

While creating the secondary character, Banjo, a homeless, streetwise, teenager, I found I really cared about that kid. He talked rough, didn’t mind mixing it up with someone hell bent on hurting someone he cared about, loved horses, and had a unique talent for inventing mechanical devices. I just couldn’t let him go, so I wrote his story. He almost lost his life on the battlefield during World War I, fell in love with his childhood sweetheart, found a lost relative, and settled down to raise a family in the fictional town of Hazard, Wyoming.

Was I satisfied? Nope. Naturally, Joe and Lola Wilding had some kids, Banjo had some kids, Banjo’s lost uncle, Teekonka Red Sky marries an English woman Banjo rescued along with her son and they had a son. I began to write about this second generation of Wildings which brought me into the era of World War II and the post war period of the 1940s and 1950s. Right now I’m writing about Banjo and Maggie’s twin boys Hank and Kit all grown up and in love. Teekonka and Jane’s son, Kyle, is the only second generation character left. He survived World War II, just as his cousins did, but his story will have more to do with his Lakota heritage than his war wounds.

And now what?

I have quite a few candidates for more stories because I’ve introduced another family, the Thoroughgoods, into Hazard along with some adopted children Juliet Wilding and Harry O’Connor raised, but it will take my stories into present day and out of Prairie Rose Publications because the company is for historical westerns. So, I’m at a crossroads.  I haven’t decided whether to go ahead and roll into modern westerns with my Wilding family saga, move on to other families in historical Hazard, Wyoming, or to create something entirely different. I’m open to some opinions here and would love to hear what your thoughts are.

Just for fun, I’m giving away a digital copy of Hollow Heart, now out in a single, to someone who comments today.

Lost love and the hope for possibilities

Madeline Andrews is a grown up orphan. Sam Wilding made her feel part of his life, his family and swore he’d come home to her when the war ended, but he didn’t return. With the Valentine’s Ball just days away, the Wildings encourage Madeline to move forward with her life and open her heart to the possibilities.  But Madeline is lost in old love letters and can’t seem to let go.

Joey glanced through the kitchen window at the snow falling in the yard. “I’ll do it right away. I wouldn’t want any of Dad’s patients sliding off the road into the ditch. When Mom and Juliet come home, they’ll need a clear road, too. I’d feel terrible if anything happened to them.” He turned back to Madeline and took the broom and bucket of cleaning supplies from her and followed her down the steps to his father’s office. “Did Juliet talk you into going to the Valentine Ball?”
Madeline smiled. “Who could resist the persuasive powers of Juliet Wilding? It’s like trying to take down a brick wall with a wooden spoon.” They both laughed.
“I’m glad. It won’t be so bad, and I can tell you for a fact all my cousins will be standing in line for a dance. Before you’ve had a dance with those idiots, I’ll take a turn first, before you’ve suffered too much damage. Hope you don’t mind some broken toes. None of us can dance worth a hoot.”
“Thank you, Joey. It makes me feel better to know I’ll be surrounded by men who are like brothers to me.” Madeline gave him a friendly swat on the arm.
“You can count on us to get you into trouble or get you out.” He spoke as he headed back up the steps toward the kitchen. “Well, guess I better get on a warm coat and hat and get out to the t
ractor. Get busy with those mops and brooms, girl; daylight’s wasting.” With a chuckle, he disappeared beyond the kitchen door.

Buy links:
Hollow Heart (single for 99 cents) 
Hearts And Spurs Anthology

Just in case you want to know what my Wilding stories are, here’s a list according to the date of publication.

THE WILDINGS (in order of publication)

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride (time travel/paranormal)
For Love of Banjo (sequel to Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride)
Fly Away Heart (novella)
A Husband for Christmas (short/also for sale as a single) included in Wishing for a Cowboy anthology
Hollow Heart (short Valentine theme) included in Hearts and Spurs anthology (now in single)
Unexpected Blessings (short) included in Lassoing a Bride anthology
Beast of Hazard (short) included in Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico vol. 1 anthology
When Love Comes Knocking (short) included in Present for a Cowboy Christmas anthology

Where you can find me:


  1. Sarah, you have created such a wonderful family that makes us all look forward to "what's coming next?" in each and every story. That's really tough to sustain, and you've done a really great job of it! I love them all. Just remember, even if your Wildings go out of the PRP imprint, they'll go right into Fire Star Press! I can see a whole bunch of FSP Wilding and/or Thoroughgood stories on the horizon!

    Hugs, dear friend,

  2. I've thought about that, Cheryl, but honestly, I wish PRP was where all western stories went instead of just the historical ones. I really like the PRP imprint, but I may have to do some changing--or create some new characters for historical Hazard. This is like the time I left Mom and Pop to go to college in Washington, DC...I was excited to be on a new adventure, but so very homesick, too. Thank you for your kind comment--oh, and for having Fire Star Press so I still have a home. LOL

  3. I thoroughly loved this story. It also has one of the most eye-catching covers I've seen. Great story.

    1. Robyn, I loved this cover the moment Livia presented it to me. She has this magical ability to get the perfect cover for a story--and for the author, too. I love the brilliant red! Thank you for coming here and commenting.

  4. Sarah, just a thought what about an illegitimate Wilding, no one knew about. I was just reading an article about Maui Hawaii and how on one side of the island they have cattle ranches. Surely back in the day they had cowboys. And the daddy was a soldier stationed in Maui during the Pearl Harbor attacks. There you go problem solved.

    1. I see what you're saying, Barb--it's sort of a Pearl S. Buck kind of story line. I think it was her book, Peony, where a WWII vet discoveries he has a child by a Japanese woman he loved during the Japanese occupation. The story is complicated by the fact that he is married and has other children. Thank you so much for the suggestion. I'll give this idea some thought.

  5. Sarah--I appears you have more than enough suggestions for your dilemma. And all of them are good. I understand it's hard to let go of a family--I did after four Texas books--because the last one took me into the 20th Century and it's never done as well. Why? Maybe because my readers expected historical western romance, or maybe because I, too, prefer WHR, and did not put my heart and soul into the story. I thought I did...but now I wonder.
    I think Cheryl's reminder of Fire Star is excellent. You seem to have characters for the 20th Century.
    But honestly--for me, I don't find it nearly as satisfying as staying in the 19th Century.
    I have a complete genealogy chart made out on paper with all the Camerons and all the Deleons of Texas. I could write another 20 stories...but see--they have to move on into the 20th century. So, I made the decision to stop.
    Which leaves no man's land.
    But this is my problem and we're trying to solve yours.
    (p.s. I loved Barb's suggestion, too.)
    Good luck! Your Wildings are special.

    1. Celia, you've touched on part of my dilemma...historical western vs present day western. If I take the Wildings into modern times, I may lose the readers who like historical westerns (the majority of western readers I believe.) If I bring in some new characters in historical Hazard, they could still run into a Wilding here and there, but the stories would have some "fresh blood". As you mentioned, I could write some next generation Wildings on occasion for Fire Star as well. I really appreciate you sharing your own experience with the same situation with me. Thanks so helpful and makes me feel more confident that, whatever direction I take, I'll be okay. Thank you.

  6. Sarah, Celia makes a good point. I remember Janet Daily's Caulder series. I loved them up until her last book. It just wasn't like the others and it lacked the heart and soul she put into them. That and I hated the ending.

    1. Barbara, I know Linda Lael Miller writes western family sagas, and she does goes forward and back in time. But I always loved her historicals best. Over time, we all establish a following from readers (at least I hope I have some of those) and they have an expectation from the authors they follow. I would hate to lose them. I want to try writing the things I love like paranormal and time travel, and I would so love to write about places I really know here in NC and up in PA, but I don't want to lose my historical western readers.
      I have to know: what was it about that ending that you hated?
      I really appreciate your input, Barbara.

  7. Sarah, Follow your heart and you will be able to find where you need to go. I love the Wildings and do hope to read more about them. At the same time, Hazard has such great people. I'll love any story you write.

    By the way, I love this Valentine story! Doris McCraw/Angela Raines

  8. Doris, if ever there was a person born to encourage others, it must be you. Thank you so much for all your kind comments. Writers work alone for the most part. We often have no idea how others feel about our work. It gladdens my heart to learn you like my Wildings and my Valentine story about Sam Wilding and Madeline. That makes me very happy.

  9. Sarah, The two woman were vying for the love of the same man. I don't recall names, its been way too many years. The main character was married to the man in question. The other woman was the other woman. In the end of the book the husband dies. And the ending left you wondering which woman truly owned his heart.

  10. Sarah, I read Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride and For Love of Banjo, and adored them both. I am facing the beginning of that dilemna with my WIP. I've done several years of research while building an intimacy with my characters for the novel, and through their story I realized it cannot be told through one epic novel, long as I intend for my first one to be. I already have notes on a prequel and sequel to the main story. Like Banjo and the Wilding family, they are each rich within their own stories, and so I plan on writing "spinoff" novels - they can be stand-alone stories, but they point back to the main book I'm writing now. As well, I want to write a short story collection based on some of the interesting, but lesser-known characters. Sometimes, their stories are as fascinating as the main interests, if we take the time to get to know them. I believe certain stories...and characters...are meant to find us. Clearly, you were meant to write about The Wildings, but, at a crossroads, I can see where the whisperings of new characters might take hold. Perhaps you are meant to find the story of another family? - someone lurking in the background of The Wildings? Best of luck to you, Sarah, you are such a beautiful writer, I look forward to reading the rest of your work!

    1. Shayna, it heartens me to find you are doing something very similar in your own work.
      I'm considering all options with my Wildings. It might take me a while to figure it out, but all the comments here have certainly been helpful
      Shayna, thank you so much for reading Harmonica Joe and Banjo. I am so happy to learn you enjoyed both stories. Your compliments mean a lot to me. Thank you so very much.
      I want to wish you the best of luck with your WIP and the spin-offs you're developing. I really appreciate your comments.

  11. Sarah, I've read all the comments and they are good ones so you sure have lots of choices and decisions to make. But I agree that you must write what is in your heart. And when you write those historicals, you do it so very well, indeed. All of us love each and every historical you've written. Though it is extremely difficult, I'm sure to leave the Wildings and Hazard, I think maybe try to sit back and think of your first Wilding story. Where did it come from and why? At that time you didn't know it would grow into so many more stories, did you?. We all hate to say goodbye to our characters at the end of a book or as in your case your many characters and families of Wildings. But can you pick another town, another name and just restart another series like the first time around? And keep in mind to build your family tree as you did with the other? There must be another family out there on the prairie just waiting to hop into one of your books. And I too love the cover of Hollow Heart--the whole thing just pops, esp. the red lips. Wishing you the best and hoping you get that certain spark of inspiration for a new historical.

    1. Beverly, thank you for your suggestions. It helps to have input from others and look at all the alternatives. Leaving Hazard, Wyoming and my Wildings is scary. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. I appreciate your ideas and well wishes.

  12. Sarah, why not start a whole new story--different setting, different characters?

  13. Meredith, I've thought about changing towns, maybe even change to another state. I had to research like crazy to set up this town in Wyoming, I would not look forward to having to do that all over again, but that's not to say I won't. I have also thought about staying in Hazard, but going back in time before Joe Wilding comes to town and writing about characters back in the town's history. Since it's a fictional town, I could create the history. LOL
    Your idea of starting off with all new characters is a good one.
    Thank you so much for coming by and giving me your ideas. It's good to see you.

  14. The winner of HOLLOW HEART is Beverly Wells!! Congratulations, Beverly. Please contact me at starcriter at yahoo dot com so I can get your book to you.
    Thank you to everyone who came to comment and make suggestions. I really appreciate all your support and help.

  15. Hi Sarah, I'm a little late in coming in on this discussion and I read all the comments. I'm sure they gave you a lot to think about and I know you'll come up with the right answer for you and your writing. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Hollow Heart. I could feel the love you put in the story and look forward to reading more about the Wildings.

  16. Agnes, you really make me happy. I am so glad you liked Hollow Heart. There are more Wildings out there and I'm writing about Hank and Kit Wilding (Banjo's twin sons) right now. I still have Kyle Red Sky (son of Teekonka Red Sky, Banjo's uncle, and Jane Pierpont, the English woman Banjo rescued from a fire.) Then my dilemma begins, go to modern day Wildings, or change to another family or town, or both.
    Thank you so much for coming and I really appreciate what you had to say.