Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Writer's Wednesday - Collaborating on Tule's the Secrets of Cherry Lake Series

Today on the Pink Heart Society, PHS editor and author Jeannie Watt discusses collaborating on Tule Publishing's new Montana Born series, The Secrets of Cherry Lake.

What happens when you take four authors who don’t know each other and put them together to develop a series? Well, in the case of The Secrets of Cherry Lake, a kind of magic happened.

Cherry Lake, Montana, is a fictional community set on the east side of Flathead Lake, where, as the name implies, cherries are grown.  [Side note—I was just in Montana a week ago and bought some Flathead Lake cherries at a roadside stand and they are superb!] Jane Porter used Cherry Lake as one of the settings in her book The KidnappedChristmas Bride, and it was such a neat place that the Tule team decided to develop it as the setting for future books--thus The Secrets of Cherry Lake.

When I joined Roxanne Snopek, Paula Altenburg, and Joan Kilby as a member of Team Cherry Lake, they already had  a rough map of the town and the back story. Four brothers—the Jacksons—returned to Montana from WWII and started a cherry orchard. Each of us would get a brother and write about one of our brother’s grandchildren. Great idea, except do you know how many people you can generate in just a couple generations? We had a hard time keeping the patriarchal brothers straight, plus their children and grandchildren.  It was time to pare back. So we had one brother—Nate Jackson—return from WWII and start a cherry orchard. His four children and resulting grandchildren were much easier to keep track of. 

One neat aspect of developing the town was combining our businesses and characters into a cohesive community. When I joined the team, I added an historic hotel in need of renovation to the town. Writing the history of the Montreau Hotel was almost as much fun as developing a character--but not quite. Developing Clinton Calloway, our resident bad guy, was the most fun. He figures in several of our stories.

Roxanne, Joan, Paula and I live in three different time zones and when it was evening here in Nevada, I think it was morning where Joan lives in Australia. It didn’t matter. Despite distances and time zone issues, we communicated full time, describing characters and businesses via email and Google Docs, and Cherry Lake came alive. 

Please check out Roxanne Snopek’s kick off novella—Small Town Secrets—which was released yesterday, along with Joan Kilby’s full length novel, The Secret Son.  Paula’s Her Secret Love releases on September 1, Roxanne’s Her Secret Protector releases on September 8, and my The Secret Bride releases on September 15.

Do you enjoy books that share a setting and characters? Or do you prefer stand alones?

The Secret Bride--
After a decade away, Jacie Rose has returned with her daughter to Cherry Lake to renovate a historic hotel…and to lay some ghosts to rest. She knows she’ll have to confront mistakes she made in the past, but she didn’t expect to be living right next door to the guy she once asked to be her husband.
When Brett Jackson was approached ten years ago by Jacie Rose with the wild scheme of marrying her to help her out of a jam, his white knight instincts kicked in and he agreed to be her emergency groom. The only problem was that the bride didn’t show up for the wedding. How’s he supposed to get used to seeing the woman he’s never forgotten every day now that she’s his neighbor?
Determined to provide the secure home life for her daughter that she never had, Jacie is not about to bring a man into her life—even one that she sometimes thinks should have been there all along. But Brett and Jacie soon discover the spark between them is even stronger than before… Now that their paths have crossed again, will they lead them back to the wedding that almost was?

Jeannie Watt writes fast-paced, character driven stories set in the American west. When she’s not writing, she teaches in a small rural high school, sews and, of course, reads romance. To learn more about Jeannie and her books, please check out her website.


  1. Hi Jeannie, it was such a great experience collaborating with you, Roxanne and Paula on this series! I'm really sad not to be spending time in Cherry Lake -- for a while.


  2. It's true, Jeannie. What a lot of fun! I hope everyone loves our cousins (and the people who love them) as much as we all do. :-)

  3. You guys were great co-founders! We need a statue of us in Cherry Lake.

  4. It's so much fun creating imaginary families. You can torture them in ways you just can't do, in real life. Or... we're all acting out our secret wild-child sides. That sounds more likely, doesn't it?