Guest Author Monday

Please welcome my Guest Authors –Nancy Fraser and Patti Shenberger

The Ins and Outs of Writing a Romance Series

When we first decided to write a book together, we had no thought beyond one book. Then, during the planning stages, one of our supporting characters started shouting ‘what about me!’ So, we revised our thinking and plotted two books. An idea for a third book weaseled its way past our caffeinated brains (Nancy’s choice is coffee, Patti’s is Pepsi) and soon an entire series … a family legacy if you will … was born.

What we’ve discovered, mostly by trial and error, is that there is a definite formula that must be followed in order to make a series come alive and meld together. Today, we’d like to share our version of the ‘formula’ with other writers who may be thinking about embarking on a series of books and with our readers who may wonder how it’s done.

First, create a broad series outline. Determine just how many books you think you can fit into the series. This number can (and likely will) be adjusted as you go along. Create a short blurb for each proposed book in the series, name your hero and heroine, and give them a little background. Again, adjustments can be made whenever necessary.

Second, create yourself a ‘bible’ to store information. Ours is in an Excel spreadsheet. Each book will have its own location, its sub-characters and its own way of interacting with the other stories. For instance, both books 1&2 of The McCade Legacy, take place in Greenville, MS approximately six months apart. Our database keeps track of the residents of Greenville so that the names of the banker, the mercantile owner, the doctor and even the local minister flow from one story to the next. In book 3, due out in July 2014, we change locations to Vicksburg, MS. We’ve visited Vicksburg in both of the first two books and met some of the townspeople, so we needed to establish their names right from the beginning and then carry them over to the third book.

Third, create yourself an ongoing storyline that will lightly flit its way through each book and be the basis for the final book of the series. In The McCade Legacy books it happens to be the disappearance of one of the main character’s sisters. Her disappearance will be explained more fully in the next to last book, and then her story and return in the last book. The ongoing story gives your readers something to look forward to as well as something for you to aim toward.

Fourth, develop your research about both the time period and locations and dole out the information throughout the series. Since our stories are set very shortly after the end of the Civil War, we elude too many different aspects of the post-war recovery. In book 1, Gambling On Love, our heroine is helping her father’s indentured workers escape the south and runs afoul of our hero who’s agreed to help her. In book 2, The Lawman’s Agreement, we deal with the rebuilding in the aftermath, as well as the emergence of women in previously male-dominated roles. We don’t go into great detail with any of our research because we do not intend to be a history book … we’re a romance about people learning to love despite the circumstances around them.

Finally, be cautious about introducing secondary characters. Do not put a lot of emphasis on the character unless you’re intending to carry them on to the next book. In The Lawman’s Agreement, we introduce the reader to the hero’s half-brother, Christopher. We also mention his step-brother and sister but only in passing. For us, as the authors, this means Christopher will definitely get his own book. As for Ethan and Annalisa … maybe, maybe not, depending on how the next story plays out in our sometimes unusual imaginations.

In summary, a good series has both a beginning and an end. The fine balance (and I’m not sure we’ve found it yet) is to know when to find that perfect happily ever after for everyone.

Blurb:

11 The Lawmans AgreementPost-Civil War Mississippi, Spring 1868

U.S. Marshal, Zack McCade takes pride in protecting the good folks of Greenville—especially the beautiful Dr. Suzanne Martindale. He doesn’t always understand her need for independence, but he sure does like getting under her skin. It’s not like he’s looking to settle down—his job is too dangerous to risk taking a wife and family.

In an era when women aren’t readily accepted in the male dominated world of medicine, Suzanne doesn’t have time for courting—especially a charming Cajun rogue like Zack. When he proposes a fake betrothal to keep the matchmaking town out of their hair, she’s sure it’s a bad idea, but can’t deny her longing for a respite from the over-zealous bachelors in town.

Their ruse starts a fire in their hearts that neither expected, but will the re-emergence of Suzanne’s real fiancé douse the flames?

Buy Links:

All buy links and an additional excerpt can be found at: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/the-lawmans-agreement/

Excerpt:

Zack left the clinic and turned away from his office rather than toward it. He needed to walk off some of the tension holding his body as tightly wound as a pocket watch.

He should never have stolen that last kiss. The first two had been enough to appease their onlookers. The third had been strictly an indulgence for his own amusement, a silly flirtation intended to raise the doctor’s ire. Instead, his plan had backfired, and he’d found himself as aroused as a young schoolboy after his first deep kiss. It wouldn’t do, Zack realized, to walk into his office with a flagpole in his britches.

After a second pass behind the main buildings in the central part of town, Zack felt in control enough to go back to work. He’d barely reached for the handle on the office door, when the sound of a gunshot rang out from somewhere in the vicinity of the saloon.

He stepped off the sidewalk and into the main road, covering the distance between the jail and the saloon quickly, coming to a halt at the hitching post just as two men backed through the saloon doors, their faces covered in bandanas.

Zack drew his gun and a deep breath and asked, “You two gentlemen planning on going somewhere?”

The two men turned in Zack’s direction, their guns at the ready. “Let us go, Marshal, and nobody gets hurt,” the first one said.

“It’s two against one,” the second pointed out.

“Hmm, not such great odds, is it?” Zack agreed. “Perhaps, I can even things up a bit.” The words had no sooner left his mouth when he fired his gun, clipping the first man’s hand and knocking the gun he held to the side. “Now, it’s just us,” he said to the other.

The second man tossed his gun to the side as well and raised his hands in defeat. To his left, Zack caught sight of his deputies’ approach. “Tom, Pete,” Zack ordered. “Get these two scoundrels over to the jail and bandage up this fellow’s fingers.”

“Will do, boss,” Pete Bailey confirmed. “You want I should have the doc take a look at his hand.”

“No, not unless it’s a deeper scrape than it appears to be. He’ll do fine with your handiwork.”

Zack holstered his gun as his deputies started away with the prisoners. The second, larger man broke free of Tom’s hold and charged in Zack’s direction. Zack stuck out his fist, landing one solid blow against the man’s chest, sending him sprawling in the dirt, gasping for air and clutching his ribs.

“Come on,” the deputy said, pulling the man to his feet by the collar. “Let’s get going.”

Zack watched as the two men were led away without further incident. When he turned back toward the front of the saloon, he realized Suzanne was standing there, mostly likely alerted by the sound of the original gunshot.

“Was there anyone hurt in the saloon?” he asked.

“No, the robbers fired into the air in an attempt to scare the barkeep so he would hand over the money.”

“Since you’ve got your medical bag with you, I’ll take you over to the jail and you can check on both men.”

“Did you flatten the other one as well?” she asked.

“No. I shot him.”

Suzanne shook her head, the frown playing across her beautiful face causing him concern.

“Let’s go then, Marshal.” She started toward the jail, stopping long enough to say, “I’d really rather you not add to my workload any more than necessary.”

“It’s not like I do it on purpose,” he argued. When she didn’t respond, he caught up with her in two long strides. “It’s my job.”

“Yes, I know. And, because of your job, I now have to do mine.”

Zack was overcome with regret. Not that he would have done anything different where the two men were concerned. His regret stemmed from the fact he’d once again disappointed Suzanne, her reaction only serving to convince him of why they were unsuited for a real relationship.

Author Bios and Media:

Like most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.

Website: www.nancyfraser.ca

Blog: http://nancyfraser.ca/wordpress/

Twitter: @nfraserauthor

FB: http://facebook.com/nancyfraserauthor

***

Patti Shenberger recently signed a contract for her twenty-first romance novel/novella sale. She’s published in short contemporary, historical time travel, paranormal and erotic romance, as well as multi-published in fiction and non-fiction magazine length work.

Patti is a wife, mother of two, mother-in-law of two, brand new grandmother to a beautiful baby boy and pet mommy of two. Patti resides in Michigan, where she complains about the heat in the summer and the snow in the winter. When she’s not writing, Patti can be found with her nose buried in a book.

Website: www.pattishenberger.com

Blog: http://pattishenbergers.com/wordpress/

Twitter: @pattishenberger

FB: http://facebook.com/authorpattishenberger

Thanks ladies for joining me today on my blog. This sounds like a fascinating read. Merry Christmas to you!!

 

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