The Oak Grove Series ~ A Look at the Making of a Series

When author, Lauri Robinson, surprised me by asking if I’d be interested in writing a book with her, I had just finished my San Diego Heroes Series and really hadn’t expected to write any more stories set in the Old West. However, her enthusiasm spurred me (please forgive the pun) to accept her request. The process of collaborating has been a learning experience and also a joy. With Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove, we fell in love with the inhabitants of our fictional town and that first book propagated a series. Between Lauri and me there will be seven books by the time we are finished. You can view them all, along with a brief description, here: http://kathrynalbright.com/books/oak-grove-series

Throughout the series, I’ve gotten to know the town-folk with their secrets, idiosyncrasies, heart-aches, and joys from the moment Mary and Maggie, twin mail-order brides, stepped off the Kansas-Pacific train platform. As I type this, I just realized that the final book in the series ends with a scene on that same platform. Talk about ‘book-ends’!

I sketched out a town with buildings and stockyards, but, as I am no artist, I quickly gave up on that idea. Sketching did help me to visualize things better, but initially, I had to have a basic idea where buildings were situated so that both Lauri and I could mention them in their correct perspective without mistakes. (The smallest mistake can pull a reader out of the story.) Even shadows had to be falling the proper direction for the time of day. The Smoky Hill River had to run south of town and be within walking distance for a fishing scene (first book) and also because in the Spring (fourth book) it overflowed its banks, causing a horrific flood. (That is according to the real history of the river in 1879!) Here is the first map I made on my dining room table…

Original Map Cedar Grove

And here are some of my computer scribblings…

 

And then I stumbled across a picture of a real town’s Main Street that was so very close to what was in my head… it’s missing the school down by the church and Oak Grove doesn’t have a Fire Station yet. Instead, the Fire Station would actually be either the bath house or the Saloon. Still…it looks fairly close to my vision. Oak Grove…being a newly built town…would also be a bit spiffier.

Oak Grove town in real life picture

What’s next for the series?

CHRISTMAS WITH THE OUTLAW is coming out NOVEMEBER 1st! This story will be the last in the Oak Grove Series and I am already sad to leave this wonderful community. It’s funny how fictional worlds and characters can become so ‘real.’ I would enjoy going to this town and meeting everyone there! I hear that from many of my readers about the Oak Grove Series and about other story “worlds.” I think that must say something about humanity. Despite the outliers – those ‘lone wolf’ independents, despite introverts and extroverts, we are all made for connection and for community to varying degrees.

What about you?

If you could travel to any fictional book world or setting, where would you like to visit?
(Does not have to be a historical western setting necessarily!)

Answer for a chance in my giveaway and your name might be drawn to win a copy (print or ebook)
of my newest release ~ Wedding at Rocking S Ranch!
(See Giveaway Guidelines at the top of this page)

Wedding at Rocking S Ranch cover picture

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Kathryn Albright
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. When she isn't caught up in a good story, she enjoys road trips with her husband (when he drives) and planning her next home improvement adventure. She lives with her family in the rural Midwest. Visit her at http://www.kathrynalbright.com.

57 Comments

  1. I would like to see the Lone Star Ranch owned and run by the Men of Legend. Father Stoker and sons Sam, Houston and Luke Weston. Linda Broday brought this series to life with characters that are bigger than life. And, Houston has been my favorite HWR cowboy ever since. Sorry, Lara (Houston’s wife).

    1. Hi Jerri! Linda will be glad to know this! I have the start of this series on my TBR pile. Need to get busy and read it!

    2. Oh, Jerri, bless your heart. I’m really glad my Lone Star Ranch and the Legend men captured your imagination so fully. Those men are larger than life and I loved every second writing their stories. Big Hugs!

  2. I just put the series on my to read list. I was reading the blurbs on the series at your web site.
    They all sound like some great reads. I’d say at Linda Lael Miller’s MacKettrick’s family ranch. Love that series.

    1. Hi Carol,
      I enjoy Linda’s stories about the McKettrick’s family too.

  3. I’d go to the Aces and Eights Ranch in Texas with the McClains or The Lonestar Ranch In Texas with the Legends. I’d also like to go to Colorado to The Harkner’s.

    1. Great choices. They would be mine too but the Legends won out.

    2. Hi Tonya! Thanks for stopping by! Great choices!

    3. Tonya dear, my heart is bursting with joy to have touched you so deeply with my stories and places. That is truly why I right. It’s not for money or accolades. It’s for how I touch readers’ lives. Love and tender hugs!

  4. Baker city or Pendleton Oregon. I have fallen in love with Oregon thru Shanna Hatfield Books. Anywhere in Texas or Montana would also be Wonderful as I have read books sit in towns there also lately

    1. Hi Glenda! Yes — Oregon is such a beautiful state and Shanna really brings it to life!

      1. What a sweet thing to say, Kathryn. Thank you!

    2. Oh, you are so sweet, Glenda! So happy you’ve fallen in love with the places I have, too! Hugs!

  5. I would like to visit YKnot Montana with the McCutcheon Family. Also the Lonestar Ranch with the Legends.

    1. Carolyn Fyffe would be happy to know you love her setting and characters! Linda Broday too!

    2. Yvonne, thank you so much for liking the Lone Star Ranch and my Legend men. I truly am touched. I pray things are going better for you.

  6. Oh my choices which I’m terrible at but I think I choose the Lone Star ranch with the Legends. It’s in Texas, involves a cattle ranch (I’m a cattle brokers daughter that grew up around ranches, feedlots and auctions) not to mention I love the Legend men. I’d love the opportunity to read your book it sounds like a great book and series. HWR is one of my favorite genres!

    1. Hi Stephanie! This newest story of mine is the one Oak Grove book that is set on a ranch outside of town. My uncle raised beef cattle, but I never knew too much about them as I didn’t live near him. I had to do a lot of research for this book — very enjoyable as I love to research and have my stories as authentic as possible. Good luck on the drawing!

    2. Bless you, Stephanie! I never knew how deeply the Men of Legend series would affect readers. I’m very happy the books touched your heart. Love you, lady.

  7. Give me those big Texas ranches.

    1. 🙂 Oh yes, Melanie! Although I’d rather have a few mountains…

  8. Series with multiple authors are so popular right now, Kathryn! I’m thrilled you’re writing more historicals.

    1. Hi Pam. Collaborating with Lauri sure made it fun. I enjoyed hashing out details, names and characters with her!

  9. I enjoy books set in the Big Sky Country of Montana.

    1. Hi Estella,
      Montana is beautiful, isn’t it? I’d love to visit there more extensively. All I’ve seen is the part from I-90 and that is such a small section of the state!

  10. I would have to go to Linda Broday’s Lone Star Ranch because I loved that series and love her books thanks so much for the chance.

    1. Quilt Lady, thank you so much! I’m very happy you loved the Men of Legend. It truly was a setting that evoked a large feeling that was kinda like the Ponderosa. I felt that when I was writing each book. That’s why I couldn’t let them go after three books so they bleed over into my next series- Outlaw Mail Order Brides.

  11. Everyone is mentioning ranches which is apropos considering this is a western romance blog, however I really meant ANYWHERE or ANYTIME in fiction. I asked my son this question and he immediately answered with Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings Series. I myself would like to visit Alexandria, VA during the 1890s — the setting for one of my Victorian-set books!

  12. I adore your Oak Grove series!! You have set up that town beautifully and I always picture it when reading your books. Your town people have come to be friends and I have loved getting to know them. I wish it wasn’t about to be done!! I have always been curious to see and experience medieval Scotland in the way they lived and the land, so I would have to pick that time and place. But please don’t enter me – I already have this fabulous new release!!! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad that you are enjoying Oak Grove and the people there Susan! Medieval Scotland would be fascinating. Some of the very first romances I ever read were set there — by Jude Devereaux. Or perhaps they were set in England. I went through a time of reading all the Medieval stories I could get my hands on 🙂 I was fascinated by Robin Hood and King Arthur and Ivanhoe.

  13. I would travel to P.E.I. and visit Anne since Anne of Green Gables is captivating and very special.

    1. Hi Anne “with an E” 🙂 It would be great to meet Anne of Green Gables! Loved that story!

  14. Visiting and experiencing life during the blitz would be profound and meaningful. The courage and strength of character required to live though this is reflected greatly in the novel, The Winds of War.

    1. You are a brave one, Ellie! I don’t know that I would willingly put myself in that position. I imagine stress like that would bring on the best and also the worst in people. Really something to think about. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  15. I’m fascinated, Kathryn, how you set up the town on your computer. Really an interesting way to approach writing a series set in one place. I usually don’t do “fictional” places in my books, I’m more likely to research the heck out of a “real” place and use it as my setting. But your approach is intriguing, to say the least.

    1. Hi Hebby! Well — I actually use your method more. I like using the real history of a place for my setting. My San Diego set series is full of the history of that area. But when Lauri approached me to write some of the books of Oak Grove, she was the one who chose a fictional town. I researched and used the political climate of the area along with different real aspects (For example, a ferry on the river instead of a bridge, and the fact that the Native Americans had been forced out to Oklahoma by this time. Prohibition was right around the corner too.) Going back and forth with Lauri, I had to keep up when new buildings were added (and new babies too!) It was a fun way to do it.

  16. Hope Harbor, OR (starts with Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon)(inspirational romance series)

    1. Hi Anon! Thanks for your input. I have got to read Irene Hannon! So many books — so little time!

  17. An old Western town would have been interesting to actually experience… enjoyed reading your post! 🙂

    1. Wonderful to have you stop by, Colleen! My favorite thing to do in an old Western town is the same thing I like to do now… ride a horse!

  18. For me it would be either one the worlds created By David and Leigh Ediings or the Steampunk England created By Cindy Spencer Pape.

    1. Hi Minna! Wow! A Steampunk setting would be fun!

  19. For westerns I’d want to visit Linda’s Lone Star Ranch, the Legends and Lost Point in North Texas, or Jo Goodman’s Reidsville, Colorado. For another time period, I’d like to go back to the pre-Revolutionary colonies before the war, maybe in the Diana Gabaldon books when the Frasers are living up in the western North Carolina mountains. (I had ancestors that lived in the middle of NC during that time, right in the middle of all the Revolutionary action, sadly for their farm that was raided and destroyed by both sides.)

    I’ve read all of the Oak Grove books and have thoroughly enjoyed them. You and Lauri have done such a wonderful job that I hate to see the series end. Thank you for your views of the town in this post too, and for a chance winning for a copy of Wedding at the Rocky S Ranch. 🙂

    1. Hello Eliza! I’m so glad that you have enjoyed the series! You must enjoy genealogy to have traced your relatives back to pre-Revolutionary times! That would be a fascinating place and time to check out. I have enjoyed reading John Adams by David McCullough and come to respect Abigail, his wife, so very much.

  20. Blessing Georgia created by Sharon Sala.

    1. Hi Kim! I’ve read one book of that series! It does sound like a wonderful place!

  21. I do love history, and living in the Northeast and having gone to school in Boston has kept me right in the middle of so many historical sites all my life. I even live near where my first ancestor came to the colonies in the late 1600s. Also, like you, I also really respect Abigail Adams too.

    1. oops. reply appeared in wrong place. sorry,Kathryn.

  22. The books that draw me in the most are those set in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. I have read quite a few books set in this high, wide country. The blue skies, winds, wide vistas, and feeling of freedom can’t be matched. I seems like you can see forever when you look out over the rangeland. The mountain ranges and forests add a lushness and texture to the vistas. We were lucky enough to live on the Front Range in Colorado for 3 years. I dearly miss the area and visit it in books as often as I can.
    I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Prairie Doctor’s Bride (sadly it is still in a box with other books I need to review). I really didn’t realize there was a series set in this area. I will have to start looking for the others. I really enjoy anthologies and duos and will probably get those first. Best wishes for a successful release of CHRISTMAS WITH THE OUTLAW in November. I am sure you are sorry to leave Oak Grove, but you have left us a great place to visit.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed The Prairie Doctor’s Bride, Patricia! Yes — please review it if you get the chance. Reviews are so important to authors!

      Laurie and I were disheartened that Harlequin did not make the covers to reflect the Oak Grove Series. It certainly would have helped with marketing them. So…I’m making the best of it that is possible.

      You are so lucky to have lived in Colorado! Where exactly is the Front Range? I’ll have to look that up!

      1. Kathryn, The Front Range is basically the Eastern foothills of the Rockies. We lived in Colorado Springs.

        1. Okay! Thanks for answering that! Colorado Springs is a beautiful place!

  23. Narnia of course!

    1. Yes Yes Yes!! Caryl! I wondered when someone would say Narnia! What a terrific place to visit!

  24. Sure was fun hearing everyone’s places and times they’d like to visit! Thanks so much for participating! Quilt Lady’s name was drawn, so she is the winner of my giveaway! Contact me with your choice of ebook or print book and your address! Kathryn at kathryalbright dot com.

    CONGRATULATIONS!

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