My Dearest Friends,
I had initially intended to write beyond Book #23 in the Westward Series, but as I wrote Westward Horizons, something in my heart kept telling me that it was time for the series to end. Black Fox has become such a central part of the series, one of the many unintentional things that have happened throughout these books, and I simply felt that his very special story was the perfect book with which to finish the series.
Writing the Westward books has been one the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced. The characters became real for me; I heard their voices in my head, urging me on or leading me in directions I never thought they would. I always say that I have this creative door in my head that characters knock on. I never know who is going to come through it and that’s a good thing. They come in, sit down, and introduce themselves to me. Some of the most beloved characters in these stories have come to me that way. They’ve become my dear friends, but so have all of you.
You’ve been there from the beginning, sharing their joys, triumphs, grief, and life-changing events. You’ve witnessed births, deaths, heartache, humor, and romance right along with me. Because of all of this, these aren’t just my books, they’re our books. We’ve shed tears of joy and sorrow as we turned the pages together and we’ve formed a bond that goes beyond readers and writer. You’ve become my friends just as have all of the characters we’ve come to know and love. It is my love for them that demands that I do them all justice and end the series in a very fitting and loving way. And because you love them as much as I do, I know you’ll understand.
There are no words powerful enough to convey how much all of your support, love, and kindness has meant to me as we’ve gone on this journey together. But the journey isn’t ending. There are other places we must go together, other characters to meet and come to love, and other adventures we must share. Just as with the Westward series, the folks of Echo Canyon have their own unique stories to tell, as does Echo itself. So even though this particular journey is ending, I invite you to come on the next one with me and the next one after that and the next …