Thanks for having me here, Paty!
When I first started writing with the hope of publication, I wrote the ‘book of my heart’ which was inspired by the Pt. Loma lighthouse and stories I had read of San Diego’s whaling industry. Growing up in San Diego, I had always been fascinated by its history. Much of that research ended up in the book. It came as a surprise when Harlequin wanted to publish the story as a western! The marketing department even put a covered wagon on the cover, although none appear in the story.
I had other stories I wanted to write—one set in NYC and set in WWII. Harlequin wasn’t interested in looking at those. They wanted me to write two more westerns, wanting me to stay in the same genre so that I could build my audience. As a newbie in publishing, this marketing concept was new to me. I see now, how wise it was.
Well, I had visited the Alamo in San Antonio the year before and been captivated by the history there, especially with the Mexican government’s opening of their archives to the public a year or two earlier. That became my next setting. Lots of research and history went into those next two books. As the reviews came back I was happy to see that readers appreciated of that.
Some publishers leaned toward the ‘wall-paper’ historical where there is little historical detail and the setting is a light backdrop to what is happening in the romance. I have always enjoyed stories with a bit more fact and detail so that I can learn history as I read, and that is how I wrote those first books—always keeping in mind that the main story in a romance, had to be the romance!
I thought I had gotten the hang of this writing gig. I was still working full-time at my day job, and although Harlequin wanted me to write faster, with family obligations, I was only able to finish one book every eight months. Out of necessity—make that lack of time to do in-depth research—I returned to southern California as a setting for my next three books in The Heroes of San Diego Series. Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff, the last book in the series which has just been released, takes place in San Diego’s back country after the discovery of gold there.
The process of writing, over the years has gotten both easier and harder at the same time. Easier, because I can do much of my research over the internet, and harder, because with such access, I easily get bogged down in too much information. I’m one of those writers who get lost in my research. I wonder…do authors of contemporary stories have this problem?
Blurb ~ Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff
Clear Springs’ new schoolteacher, Gemma Starling, feels as if she’s been given a fresh start. So long as no one discovers her dark secret.—she once shot a man in self-defense!
Sheriff Craig Parker has forsworn love, but delightful Miss Starling intrigues him. And when events at the school turn dangerous, Craig won’t let her face it alone. Gemma might just be the one woman he could ever love, but will the secret she’s hiding tear them apart or bring them together by Christmas?
Excerpt ~ First Touch from Christmas Kiss from the Sheriff.
(Up to this point Gemma has successfully kept up her guard against the sheriff. They are both riding horseback on their own mounts.)
He breathed hard trying to catch his breath while looking back and listening to make sure they weren’t being followed. With any luck on their side, the cougar had been protecting its kill. When they left, it would have settled down to eat. He turned back to attend to Miss Starling. “I think we’re oka—”
She gripped his vest hard, and tucked her face into his chest, breathing hard. Her small shoulders shook.
Surprised by the sudden change in her, he didn’t know what to do at first. “It’s okay, Gemma.” He looked down on the straight part in her brown hair. Her hat had fallen off during her wild ride and now hung by its ribbons on her back. “We’re safe. You’re fine.”
Her breaths came in disjointed gasps.
He didn’t know what the heck to do with his arms, flummoxed as he was by her sudden move to cling to him.
“Is it gone?”
“I think so.” Her hair knot was half out of its coil and falling down her back. He breathed in her jasmine scent. What had happened to Miss “I can do it myself”? He was beginning to realize there was a lot more to Miss Starling than she cared to admit.
“Wha…what happened?” She spoke into his chest, her breaths still coming in gasps.
“Not sure. Probably the cat was being protective of its kill.”
“Are we safe?”
“Yeah.” He said it but he wasn’t all that sure. He listened for the big cat, which was foolish since cats hunted quieter than any other large animal. It would be on them before they knew it wanted them.
Finally, he slipped his arms around her shoulders and simply held her. It was awkward at first. He felt stiff. She hadn’t wanted to close the gap to call him Craig, but here she was in his arms. He didn’t know what to make of it. Then she shifted on her saddle, moving closer. He tightened his hold. “Take a big breath and let it out slow.”
She did as he said, her breathing still unsteady, her body still shaking. She was a tiny thing. The only other woman he’d held in his arms was Charlotte who was a good five inches taller than Miss Starling. Bigger frame too. Feeling Miss Starling’s shoulders heave with every small gasp made him want to hold her tighter and ease her fear. He brushed the tendrils of hair off her cheek. Her skin felt even smoother than it looked. His fingertips tingled and the urge to repeat his stroke tugged at him.
After a while her breathing evened out. She pushed away from him, breaking the moment of comfort. “I’m all right now.”
He studied her, liking the way she looked all disheveled with her cheeks flushed and her brown eyes soft and self-conscious.
She pushed a hairpin back into place.
He snorted softly. “Don’t think that’ll do it.”
Her cheeks pinked up more.
She was embarrassed. He found it rather fetching.
“If I may just take a moment…” She then proceeded to comb out her hair with her fingers.
The sight of all that rich brown hair flowing loose, the sunlight glinting on it did odd things to his gut. This was a most intimate part of her day and he was suddenly privy to it. He would have liked to reach out and stop her. He would have liked to do the combing with his own fingers and touch those silky waves. Instead, he gripped his reins tight and simply stared, fascinated.
She rewound the thick strand with a practiced hand and coiled it again upon her head. She repinned it and then set her hat just so to cover the slightly mussed-up appearance of her hair knot. Her gaze skittered to him as she tied the ribbons under her chin. “I hope my horse was running the right way.”
It took him a moment to pull out of the spell she’d cast over him. He pointed with his chin to the small cross section of road ahead of them. “Smart horse. Knows the way home.”
Kathryn Albright writes sweet western historical romance. Her stories celebrate courage and hope with a dash of adventure. Kathryn’s stories have been finalists in the distinguished RWA Golden Heart® and the HOLT Medallion as well as several other industry awards. She enjoys hiking and road trips with her husband (when he drives) and being caught up in a good story. She lives with her family in the rural Midwest.
Sign up for Kathryn’s newsletter at www.KathrynAlbright.com to be the first to hear of her books, contests and more.