Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Peek Behind The Scenes #3 - The Origins of the Idea

Erica here:

When Becky Germany, editor at Barbour Publishing, first approached me about heading up a 7 Brides team, I jumped at the chance. She told me she wanted a novella collection that would be 7 Brides for 7....something. Could I come up with a link between the stories, and could I assemble a team of authors to work with?

Here's Becky. She's kind of adorable! :)


We went back and forth on a couple of ideas, and she really liked the 7 Brides for 7 Texans idea. So I got to work.

The first thing I needed to do as team leader was create the framework of the story, nail down some specifics to the collection, and then assemble a team.

I created the basic premise of the story, that all the sons would have to marry or lose their inheritance, and I began filling in some specifics, just so we would have a starting point to begin the brainstorming process, and then I began recruiting authors.

I was blessed that the authors who joined me in the collection are all top-notch, professional, and are multi-published. They all are historical romance authors, and they've all been through the writing, editing, publishing, and marketing processes.

So much fun working with these brilliant ladies!

But none of us had worked on a continuity series this tightly interwoven. We were making it up as we went along...literally!  I was the originator of the idea and the team leader, and I created the framework of the collection, but within the stories, the authors had free rein, as long as what they were plotting worked with all the other stories.

We brainstormed, picked our heroes from the list of names, put together a birth order for the heroes, and a loose story order for the collection. I would write a prologue, and my story would go last, since my hero, Bowie, would be the most resistant to getting married, and I would write an epilogue to tie things up at the end.

There were a lot of messages and emails flying that first...well, for almost a month, actually.

Nobody went as hard right out of the gate as Gabrielle. We're good buddies, so she won't mind if I tell you I was ready to give her a time out the first week! LOL Gabrielle is 100%. All. The. Time. She never does anything by halves, and the first week, she was plotting, questioning, and trying to figure everything out. She had a million questions and ideas, and she asked them ALL! (Sending a big grin her way!)

We'd barely divvied up the heroes and begun basic story lines when she asked about the Hart family history.

A history? (Insert my bewildered blinking here.) I hadn't made up a Hart Family History. I didn't know anyone would need one. But if Gabe needed one, I would make one up.

So I spent a day researching Texas Frontier Historical Dates and creating the following timeline:

Timeline for the Hart Family:

George Washington Hart 66 years old in 1874

Son of Benjamin Franklin Hart and Mary Ellen Hart

1808 Born near present day Potosi, Missouri, George Washington Hart was friends with Stephen F. Austin, founder of the first white settlement in Texas. The Hart family, Benjamin Franklin Hart, his wife Mary Ellen Hart, and their four children, George Washington, John Adams, William Penn, and Martha Abigail Hart were part of the “Old 300” the first white settlers in Texas.

1824 – The Austin settlements begin. Benjamin Hart ventured farther west than most of the Austinites, putting down roots along the Sabinal River (Between the present day towns of Sabinal and Utopia Texas) There he established the Hart ranch, setting aside a portion of his property to establish the town of Hartville. The Sabinal River, formerly Arroyo de la Soledad, is a stream in Texas. During exceptional drought large portions of this river may flow underground, with scattered pools of surface water.

In 1830 Mexico bans US Immigration into Texas

1835 Texas Revolution begins

1836 The Battle of San Jacinto A 24 year old George Washington Hart fights with Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. Texas wins its independence.

1839, George Washington Hart marries Victoria Elizabeth Marshall, daughter of a San Antonio storekeeper and brings her to the Hart Ranch. George begins adapting eastern cattle ranching to Mexican cattle ranching. The Texas Longhorn breed emerges in Texas around this time. George foresees a great empire of cattle and horses. His two brothers move back east, but he stays with his father to continue the mission.

1840, Stephen Austin Hart is born to George and Victoria

1841 James Bowie Hart is born to George and Victoria

1843 William Travis Hart is born to George and Victoria

1844 Sam Houston Hart is born to George and Victoria. The town of Hartsville is incorporated on land set aside by Benjamin Franklin Hart. The town grows to 150-200 people. George is the de facto Mayor of the town.

1846 David Crockett Hart is born to George and Victoria

1846 US Mexican War begins. George Washington Hart supplies horses to the US Army.

1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ends the US Mexican War. Benjamin Franklin Hart dies. (Heart trouble)

1849 Jesse Chisholm Hart is born to George and Victoria

1851 John Coffee Hays Hart is born to George and Victoria

1855 Mary Ellen Hart dies.

1858 El Regalo is built as a gift from GW to Victoria

1860/61 (Depending upon the month of Houston’s birth) Houston Hart leaves Texas for California just days before his 18th birthday.

1861 The Civil War begins, Austin, Bowie, Travis enlist in the Confederate Army to fight for Texas’ freedom. Part of General Hood’s Texas Brigade, they fought at every major battle of the Northern Army of Virginia except Chancellorsville. (Infantry)

1863 Bowie Hart wounded and captured at Gettysburg, spends the rest of the war in a Union Prison. First at the Fort Slocum hospital in NY, then at Elmira Prison. Family is told Bowie died at Gettysburg. Victoria Hart dies. Crockett Hart enlists the day after they bury his mother.

April, 1865, The Civil War Ends and the veterans return to Texas. Texas is in a bad way, poor, under Reconstruction, and struggling. The Harts have hung on, but bandits and rustlers are bad.

1867 Harts organize their first cattle drive from Texas to Abilene, KS

1874, George Washington Hart receives the news from his doctor that he has a bad ticker. As a result, GW is faced with his own mortality. Hartsville and the ranch and the legacy of the Hart family in Texas are in jeopardy, because none of his sons is married. He wants to see his boys settled down, and he’ll do what he can while he still has time in order to make that wish a reality.

Turns out, the timeline proved very helpful to more than just Gabe. We all referred to it as we wrote. :) 

This is just one of the things we included in The Master Document where we gathered all the information we would need for our stories. Next Saturday, I'll share some other things in the Master Document and how we created secondary characters for the collection.

Guest Blogs and Giveaways:

Susan Page Davis is on Alexis Goring's blog this week, and she's giving away a copy of the 7 Brides for 7 Texans collection! You can enter HERE:

And please enter the rafflecopter for the Loaded Kindle Fire Giveaway, and come back all next week when Keli Gwyn is our hostess. She's giving away tons of fun stuff and letting you know more about her hero Houston and heroine Coralee.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. The timelines, character sketches, story outlines, etc. enabled us to keep things straight, but questions would still arise. We kinda bombarded poor Erica with them. And Gabe did ask a lot of 'em, but her questions were so helpful to all of us. Go, Gabe!

    1. When I started working at the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, my manager once told me: "Ask all the questions you can. No question is a bad question, especially where history is concerned." I can't help myself. :)

    2. You ask great one, Gabe. Your questions led to answers that helped us all out. Thanks for that!

    3. You ask great oneS, Gabe. If Blogger would allow us to edit our comments the way Goodreads and FB do, my OC side would be so much happier. =)

  2. I love the history of the family! It really does make the stories all come together. This book may be written by 7 different authors, but it comes together beautifully as one huge story. It has been my favorite book to read this year!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed getting to know the handsome Hart brothers and their lovely brides, Joy. It was fun weaving their stories together, but we couldn't have done it without Erica's guidance. She kept us all on track.

    2. What an honor to hear that, Joy. It was challenging and fun to write this collection, but all of us are thrilled with how it turned out.

  3. That was a wonderful behind the scenes look, Erica! What a great job you ladies did in getting this book written and published!

    1. Thanks so much, Regina! It was a lot of work, but it didn't seem like it, because it was so much fun!

  4. Ha!! I did ask Erica a lot of questions those first few weeks, but I knew she could handle them, and I did use a lot of that backstory in my novella. Our friendship can withstand a few hair-pulling moments (and she'd never put me on time-out for too long, we have too much fun together). :) Love being a part of this collection and love that Erica could answer all my questions with such great answers!!

    1. Thanks for letting me tease you! :) The beginning of the process was a bit overwhelming, but we muddled through and I think we created a great product! :)

  5. I am loving the behind the scenes stories, almost as much as I love the book!
    Erica, you put together a wonderful team of authors! Thank you.

    1. :) Thanks for being such a champion of this collection, Andrea.