But Harlequin requests that we do something called Art Fact Sheets for the covers of our books, and I was suddenly thrown into the need to find photos of what I thought my hero and heroine looked like. Yikes! I found magazine photos and lurked on model sites for the "right" person.
After finally getting into the habit of choosing photos early on in a project, Harlequin changed the rules. They want photos of "known" persons aka Hollywood people. Not that they're going to use the "stars" we send for our covers, but they must be as visual as I've become, when it came to characters. Feel free to compare the real deals with the covers.
A NANNY FOR THE COWBOY
I first noticed actor Eric Winter on the one-season-only GCB, when he played the character of Luke Lourd, son of Carlene & Ripp Cockburn (Kristin Chenowith & David James Elliott). He was the perfect hero for A Nanny for the Cowboy. Luke Walker hadn't had an easy life. His parents were killed in an accident near the end of his sophomore year in high school, and he and his older brother, with a little help from their sister, managed to turn a struggling ranch into a profitable one. He also had some trust issues, thanks to a wife who walked out on him shortly after their son Brayden was born, leaving Luke to raise the little guy on his own. Desperately desperate in Desperation, he agrees to interview a nanny that his sister recommended and, well, you know what happens in romance. You might also recognize Eric Winter as Craig O'Laughlin in The Mentalist, and Jason McCallister in Brothers and Sisters.
DESIGNS ON THE COWBOY
Whether it's those eyes that grabbed me or what, Colin Eggelsfield was the perfect Dylan Walker for Designs by the Cowboy. Poor Dylan carried around a lot of guilt over his parents' accident, shortly before his graduation from high school, and someone needed to save him. Enter Glory Caldwell Andrews, former cheerleader and prom queen at Desperation High. After growing up with an emotionally abusive step-father, then marrying an even worse abuser, Glory returned to Desperation, hoping to make a mark as a decorator. What she made was a mark on Dylan. I saw Glory in my mind almost immediately. The inspiration for her came from actress Clare Kramer, known by Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans as...wait for it...Glory, a god from a hell dimension. No, not a cheerleader or prom queen. But it wasn't the character of BVS's Glory that drew me, but more her determination to destroy the world. Glory Andrews wasn't out to destroy anything and was obviously the complete opposite of BVS's god from a hell dimension. Clare's All-American good looks did the trick. BVS's Glory would never own a shopped named Glory Be Antiques and Decorating, but Dylan's Glory does. Clare also appeared in the movie Bring It On. She's now the executive producer of several cable series.
THE COWBOY MEETS HIS MATCH
Originally, a book about Erin Walker, older sister of Dylan and Luke Walker, wasn't a part of the plan. I don't remember how it came about, except that I liked Erin. She is basically a reincarnation of a long ago heroine of mine that I'd always liked. Although not the same character by name, location, back story or GMC, the two had similarities. Both were barrel racers who traveled the country from rodeo to rodeo. Oh, and both had two younger brothers. And their parents had died in an accident. Smart-mouthed and sassy, both of them. So Erin got her own book, a completely different character...except for those similarities and adjusted back story. Lots of adjusted back story. While still writing Designs on the Cowboy, I spent my mornings walking at a nearby park, letting my mind wander. It wandered to the opening of Erin and Jake's story, and as soon as I got home, I wrote the beginning of that first scene. Actress Keri Russell, who played Felicity in the TV series of the same name, also appeared in the movie, August Rush, and can soon be seen in a new movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. But who work for Jake Canfield, the hero? Not at all difficult and another GCB actor, David James Elliott (you should see him in a cowboy hat!), better known to many as "Harm" (Cmdr. Harmon Rabb, Jr.) in JAG. Now in his 50s, he's a little too old to be Jake, but the younger version of him was perfect. It's a reunion romance, with a surprise in the middle, and there's more "reunioning" than it might appear at the beginning of the story. No cover yet, but it should be available in a couple of months. The Cowboy Meets His Match will be out in August this year.
TO LOVE A COWBOY (working title)
The last book of the Desperation series (book 10)
You may not recognize the actress on the left, but if you've been paying attention to one of HBO's most-watched series, you might recognize the one of the right, even if only from previews. Emilia Clarke plays Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's Game of Thrones. As soon as I saw the real Dani/Emilia, without Dani's long, blonde hair, I knew she was Desperation's Lucy Dawson, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks--or so she believes--an on and off waitress at Lou's Place, the local tavern and now an out-of-work EMT. With a secret. Desperation newcomer and single dad Bowie McClure believes he's seen an angel, when his 6-year-old son breaks his arm, and Lucy arrives at his ranch to attend to the boy. But Bowie lives with guilt over the death of his wife, 6 years before. David Giuntoli (Nick Burkhardt of TV's Grimm) has the perfect haunted look in his eyes that I imagine Bowie would have. And what a hunk! Working title for the book that will available early next year is To Love a Cowboy. We'll see if it sticks.
Is it easy to find the right actor to fit a character? Sometimes, but not always. Before I dive into the next book, which I hope will be a much shorter--like 3 books--series, I'll have to start hunting again. Of course, it might help if I knew who the characters will be, other than their names! I'm open for suggestions of your favorite actors.