Amber is the heroine in Debra's This Feels Like Home
When I set out to write my Corral series, I knew one of my heroes would be Jake. And I always knew his book would be the third and last installment in the series. I knew Jake. I knew what his story was going to be about. In the letter to the reader at the beginning of the book it says this about Jake:
Jake was the guy always there for his friends, and who often helped them find their way down true love's path but planned on steering clear of love for himself, so he could focus on his rodeo career. But of course, we all know it takes just the right woman to come along and change a hero's mind, so I brought Amber into Jake's life.
Phrased like that, it seems simple. But actually bringing Amber into Jake's life was a lot harder than it sounds. I had a really difficult time finding someone who was good enough for Jake. I'd gotten to know Jake pretty well during the first two books, and I also knew whoever would ultimately be his heroine had to be pretty darn special. Worthy of my Jake.
Even coming up with a name for her wasn't easy. I went through oodles and oodles of lists and nothing sounded right. I wanted something with at least two syllables to off-set the single syllable of Jake. Finally while driving from here to there at some point, we passed a road called 'Winfield'. I liked the sound of it, and at least now I had a last name. Eventually, her first name came to me, and Amber Winfield was born.
Amber started out as a lawyer from Chicago. She'd be visiting her cousin and come across small town country boy Jake. The crux of their conflict would be the country boy/city girl lifestyle. A bit cliche, but I figured I could make it work.
Or not. I got a 'rejection' the first time I submitted. More of a...if you want to make some changes I'd love to look at this again type deal. One of the things the editor (not my usual one) said was definitely not working was Amber's job.
Since it was the third in a series, I wasn't going to give up on it, but changing her job was a HUGE deal. It wasn't just substituting another career for every time I mentioned the word 'lawyer'. There were pages and pages and entire scenes that had to be cut, revisited, changed. One suggestion the editor made was to shorten the book. Instead of making it a full-length, why not go with a novella?
Well, for several reasons. One, I'd still need to do something about her job, so shortening it didn't help there, and two, the first two books in the series were full-length available in print stories, and I wanted a matching set. Yes, I'm a bit OCD when it comes to stuff like that.
So eventually Amber wound up as a Certified Accessibility Consultant and Counselor. (Don't ask me how I got there. I seriously have no idea.) To quote Jake, "Now that's a mouthful." What it basically boils down to is Amber works with recently disabled people to help them try and cope with their new circumstances. Not only was this much, much less mundane than a lawyer, it helped add a layer of conflict to the story. Many of Amber's clients are people who have been injured doing extreme sports gone wrong. Jake, as a bull rider, is virtually addicted to the danger that has changed her clients' lives forever.
And thus a tag line was born: Can a danger-addicted cowboy and a safety-conscious urbanite ever see eye to eye?
Until next time,
P.S. As an interesting aside, I was asked if I wanted this book to be part of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, which basically means Kindle would have the exclusive rights to the e-book version of this story. In turn, they publicize the heck out of it as part of the program, which ultimately should lead to more sales. I was torn. Seeing that it was part of a series and I wanted readers to be able to get all three books no matter where they shopped, I eventually declined. Through a mix up with my publisher, the title did wind up as a Kindle Unlimited. The owner of TWRP called me in person to apologize for the mix up. In the long term, however, it's been a good thing. When I got my royalty statement just this last week, I had sold over 100 copies of This Feels Like Home during the first quarter of the year. Now, granted, that won't get me on any best seller lists, however, it's a big jump from where sales had been before. AND this is a book that is three years old. MAYBE (or not) I've sold 100 copies total in the last three years, so that many all in one quarter is huge. And very exciting.
Now for this month, the book is part of Kindle's summer promotion and is on sale for the entire month of July. I'll be very curious to look at my sale's numbers for the second and third quarters of the year.