Susan Meier: BABIES BABIES BABIES!

My BABIES IN THE BOARDROOM mini-series for Harlequin Romance began with THE BABY PROJECT. In May, book 2 SECOND CHANCE BABY was released. In a few days, June 10th (I think) book 3, BABY ON THE RANCH will hit the shelves.

This is one of the few times in my life that I’ve wanted to burst with pride over a release. Usually by the time a book or books are being released I’ve talked myself out of liking them!

Writers are crazy people. Seriously. We love books so much that I sometimes think we find it hard to believe somebody let us write them! To quote Wayne from Wayne’s World…We are not worthy.

But the three books for the BABIES IN THE BOARDROOM were different. Not only did they virtually write themselves, but the characters and stories came to me full blown.

I could see these three guys, all of whom shared the same dad, but had a different mom. I could see the resentment the younger two sons had for the oldest, if only because Stephone Andreas had married Darius’s mom. He hadn’t married either Nick’s or Cade’s.

It takes some time of getting to know each other before Nick and Cade recognize that living with Stephone Andreas hadn’t been a picnic and that maybe, just maybe, their moms had gotten off easy.

I could also see the difficulty Darius would have accepting Cade and Nick. I could understand why the two younger Andreas brothers wouldn’t give a flying fig if their dad’s company did fall apart. They’d both become rich on their own. Only Darius depends on the company for his livelihood.

So when they came around and began helping Darius put the shipping conglomerate back on its feet, it was easy to see that bonds were growing that the half-brothers were beginning to like each other, that they were beginning to respect each other — that they were becoming family.

But the most interesting, richest part of each of the three BABIES IN THE BOARDROOM books was the way the heroines impacted the family dynamic. Whitney, from book one, THE BABY PROJECT, forces Darius to at least try to get his brothers to work together. Maggie from SECOND CHANCE BABY forces Nick to see his brother needs him. Suzanne from A BABY ON THE RANCH already knows the brothers are tight and wonders if they actually see the strength of the bonds they’ve created. Family bonds she longs for.

The BABIES IN THE BOARDROOM mini-series is sort of like a family saga not told in one book, but three. It’s not the first time I’ve written a series, but it is the first time I’ve written one so rich and emotional.

The books stand alone but each tells a piece of a bigger, broader story. And, to me at least, they feel very real!

So, since I’m biased (to say the least). I have a question for you. Do you like this kind of series? Would you rather see these kinds of stories in single titles? Or do you want your category/series romances to be filled with a little chunk of family and friends?

ORDER FROM AMAZON:

Second Chance Baby

The Baby Project

A Baby on the Ranch

Susan is holding a drawing to give away an entire set of BABIES IN THE BOARDROOM mini-series to one person who leaves a comment today!

A Different Kind of Horse for a Different Kind of Cowboy

When I started writing HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER, I figured that a special kind of cowboy – an Argentine Gaucho – rode a special kind of horse. Turns out I was right, and today I’m going to introduce you to the Criollo.

This native horse of Argentina descends from the horses of the Iberian conquest. When parties went to explore and conquer South America, horses were shipped to the river Plate from Iberia, and as in all the Spanish and Portuguese conquests, they brought the toughest, hardiest horses they could. Conditions were tough on such voyages with insufficient food and water. Many horses died or were unable to regain health. Whether it was the primitive characteristics that cropped out under the wild conditions in the New World, or whether some of the shipments were of rather primitive Iberian horses in the first place, fact is that until fairly recently, the Argentine Criollo and the Criollo in general, bore a considerable resemblance to the ancient Sorraia wild horse of Portugal and Spain (zebro, or encebro).

During long campaigns with Indians, many horses escaped or were turned loose. Also after destruction of Buenos Aires by Indians, many horses were driven into the wild. Natural selection resulted in physical hardiness and the survivors became the progenitors of the Argentine Criollo breed.

The Criollo horse is still the choice of the South American cowboys, the best-known of which is Argentina’s gaucho. On cattle drives or gathers, the Criollos are usually ridden for a week, then returned to pasture and substituted by new ones. All along, the native grass is their only feed. Horses on the ranches are not necessarily registered Criollos, in fact, they seldomly are. The registered Criollo horse has become too valuable to be exposed to the dangers and hardships of many ranches, but those horses used for ranch work are still criollos in the original sense of the word. It is a bit confusing that the breed carries the name of a horse that, traditionally, was not a breed, but a wild or semi-wild horse without a pedigree. Now the pedigreed horses carry that same name: Criollo. In that respect, too, the situation is similar to that of the mustangs of North America, where mustang also described a wild-living horse without a pedigree, but registries exist that use the term to describe their registered animals.

Just like from the work of the North American cowboy, several events resp. contests have derived from the South American herdsmen’s work, some are similar to those in North America, some are quite unique. The Criollo horse excels in all of them.

Criollos of Central and South America were the basis for several specialized breeds, such as the different Paso breeds, or the Mangalargas of Brazil. If you’ve never seen a Paso in motion before, it’s a real treat. I never got to ride one but my sister did, and she said it was like gliding on a magic carpet.

The Criollo horse became only really known beyond its homeland through the famous ride by Swiss Aim Tschiffely with two Criollos from Buenos Aires to New York City. The two horses, Mancha and Gato, were 15 and 16 years of age, respectively, when he set out. He was received by the U.S. president in Washington when he arrived there three years later, after approx. 13,500 miles that took him, among other hardships, over the over 18,000 feet high Condor Pass in Bolivia. That both, Mancha and Gato, afterwards lived to be over 40 years of age is further testimony to the extraordinary toughness and vitality of the Criollo horse.
In some ways, I learned that the Criollo is practically a symbol for the strength and resilience of the Argentine people.

HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER is out now from Harlequin Romance.

*info provided by http://www.horseshowcentral.com/horse_breeds/criollo_horse/421/1