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Writing Your Series

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I love a series with a strong hero and heroine. Once I'm invested I don't want to quit reading a series I really like. That's what I hope will happen for readers with my first series that I'm nearly finished with as far as my first contract is concerned. Secrets of the Heart, The Ravensmoore Chronicles, Book One released last May 3rd and introduced Devlin Grayson, Lord Ravensmoore as a nobleman who was studying to become a physician when he learned that he had unexpectedly come into his title and Lady Madeline Whittington who got to close to the truth regarding the horrors of Ashcroft Lunatic Asylum. The second book in the series, Chameleon, releases this May 15th and is now available for pre-order. In Chameleon, Lady Victoria Grayson and Lord Witt  become increasingly entangled in a plot targeting the lords of Parliament. Victoria is forced to question how well she knows those close to her while challenging Witt’s cynical nature and doubts about God. You can read the first chapter here. Mystery of the Heart, Book Three, releases next May with Devlin's youngest sister, Mercy the heroine of that novel. I've learned so much along the way. There are always pros and cons to everything we do and we writers differ as much as flavors of ice cream.

COMPLETE THREE BOOKS  I wanted to sell a novel to get my writing career off the ground. I was working a full-time job and raising two children with my hubby while I studied the craft of writing. What I've learned along the way is that it's probably a great idea to write the first three books in your series you hope to sell before you pitch it to an agent or editor. We learn how to write by writing. It's easy to think about writing a novel but when it comes down to actually doing it and fitting the time in to do it that's a another thing entirely. If I'd had all three of my books written for this series before it sold my current situation would have been that much easier.

LEARN THE CRAFT   No matter how well you write there is always more to learn. While you are writing I recommend you try to attend at least one big conference somewhere that will help you grow. You will not only grow as a writer but you will start to get an idea of what the business side of writing is all about. You can meet with editors and agents for an appointment (although most will want you to have something to pitch if you do) or you can choose to sit in and listen to an agent and editor panel. I've done both. I'm sure I scheduled to meet with editors way too early. I scheduled two agent appointments along the way because I didn't think I was ready for one yet in those early days and I was right. James Scott Bell wrote a great blog this week at The Kill Zone called How to Develop an Enduring Series. I'd encourage you to take a look.

STUDY THE MARKET  Know what's out there. Read in the genre you want to publish in but also read widely. You may think you know what you want to write and then find out later that you really want to write in another genre. I've always loved historical romances. I learned over the years that I love them better with a mystery/suspense plot. Try to incorporate new ideas into old plots. If you try to write the same thing that someone else is writing it won't be fresh and fresh is important.

My latest addiction to a series is this one that begins with What Angels Fear. This is a series written for the ABA and not the CBA. It contains some gruesome murders so it's not for the faint of heart. But if you enjoy novels like this you will learn a lot about what makes an enduring series.C. S. Harris has created a series I cannot put down. I am currently reading book three, Why Mermaids Sing. Written during the time period I love, the British Regency, Harris has woven an intriguing mix of characters into a fabulous mystery series with hero Sebastian St. Cyr.

What's your favorite series? If you are writing a series, what have you learned?

Change Your Thoughts

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

 There really is power in the ability to change our thoughts. Norman Vincent Peale wrote about that ability in many of his books. The most famous of those was probably The Power of Positive Thinking.  One of his most famous quotes is, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World. I believe that. It's difficult to do though so I thought I'd tweak that quote a bit to, Change your words, change your thoughts, change your world.

As a full-time college counselor I see many students for test anxiety issues. They become so overwhelmed by many factors that by the time they decide to seek help and come to my office the words I hear most often are, "I can't." And their thoughts have been stewing in negatives for a long time. I'm not sure who said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right." The mind and the mouth are powerful weapons.

Philippians 4:8 ESV, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Proverbs 18:21 ESV Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Positive thinking isn't instead of faith. It isn't a religion. It's simply a tool to achieve change, change for the better.

Think for a minute what you say to yourself in the morning before you get out of bed. Are you saying words that will lift you up and start your day well? Or are you saying words of defeat before the feet even hit the floor? Here's some positive thinking thoughts you might want to consider putting in your arsenal.

  • Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. Madeleine L'Engle
  •  Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will. Zig Zigler
  •  It's always too early to quit. Norman Vincent Peale
  •  A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome of every situation and action. unknown
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

How many times have you been criticized lately? Criticism is a difficult thing to give and to get. How we use our words and how much thought goes into why we are being critical can make a profound difference. My agent blogged on Do you have a thick skin? on Monday, March 19th.You might want to take a look at this and the responses. Using positive words when constructive criticism is required can make a huge difference.

If you are a writer, just think about the many times you've already had to deal with rejection and criticism of your manuscript. It's important to have resilience in order to keep from getting stuck in negative emotions. Positive thinking can help. How you think about yourself is as important as eating healthy food. Thinking positive is a lifestyle change and it takes time. Like most things that take time, it's well worth the effort.

What are some positive thoughts you use?

What's So Interesting About The British Regency???

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Regent
Since Secrets of the Heart was published last year I’ve had friends and readers ask me all kinds of questions about the Regency time period. Because I live and breathe this period of history and still don’t know nearly as much as I’d like to, I wanted to share some facts about this intriguing time in history with you. I work as a counselor during the day and write in the evenings and on the weekends. I’ve learned what I know about the Regency because of the many romance novels on the market that I've read through the years and especially because of The Beau Monde, a specialty chapter through Romance Writer’s of America.  

If you write historical novels or if you are working on one you hope to publish then you understand how easy it is to immerse yourself in the era you research and write about. I'm always wondering what else happened during the Regency and the answer is too much for me to relate here. Plus there's so much I'm still learning.

The definition of REGENCY according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary states: "of, relating to, or characteristic of the styles of George IV's regency as Prince of Wales during the period 1811–20." The reason that the Prince of Wales stepped in to reign but was not yet king was due to the decline of King George III’s mental health, thus he was called the Regent and not the King. See the connection to my fascination of being a counselor writing in this era now? 

When I was in college I majored in Sociology and minored in Psychology. You can imagine my delight when I come across websites like Jane Austen World and the fabulous Nancy Mayer's Regency Researcher site. Understand that I am not your typical Regency author. I love to explore the dark side of society and mental illness in this time. An awesome book called Regency Underworld provides a look into crime and the sinister side of London in contrast to the wealthy lords and ladies of society, the sparkling ballrooms, and the worlds of Emma, and Pride and Prejudice.
Also, medicine had not yet made great strides in helping people with physical illness and especially not when it came to mental illness. Author Roy Porter has researched and written much on these subjects. One of the things I hope to achieve by exploring these aspects of the Regency is to emphasize just how far we've come in these areas and yet how much work is yet to be done, especially in the field of mental illness. This was a time period when the vaccination for smallpox was just being discovered and there were no antibiotics. Can you imagine?  

Do you have a question about this time period? Do you have a specific time in history you enjoy reading or writing about? If you know something of interest regarding your favorite time in history and want to share that here, please do. I hope this brief look into the Regency provides some background that will be helpful to you as you read, research, or write about this fascinating era in British history.

Series or Stand Alone? Reader or Writer?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Do you enjoy reading a series or do you grow easily bored? Do you like contemporary novels or historical? What's your favorite genre? If you are a writer what do you prefer to write and what do you prefer to read? In this crazy world we live in where are you going to spend your money when you have time to relax? Will it be a book or some other type of activity you enjoy? Can you tell I've been thinking, a lot? I want to know what you think, too.

I went snooping on other blogs to try and answer some questions for myself as a writer who will very soon be completing the third book in my Ravensmoore Chronicles which will probably release in May of 2013. Chameleon releases in May this year. Do I want to write another series? Should I try to expand this one? Should I try writing stand alone novels for awhile? These are things I will have to decide at sometime with help from my agent. So while your are thinking about these questions here are some ideas I discovered from others out there in cyber space.

The Bookshelf Muse asked this same question related to YA. She has some interesting comments.
Here's a look at this question from Book Worms at Goodreads.

And James Scott Bell discusses Going Deeper With A Series Character. Maybe it's the deeper angle that is so enjoyable with a series. As writers we get the chance to explore and as readers we get the opportunity to find out more about what makes certain characters tick.

Some interesting views here at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews
Good thoughts at eBookworm too, Is the Stand_Alone Novel a Lost Art?

I've been scanning my bookshelf and I just got hooked on another series. This one by C.S. Harris who has lured me into her Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries. I love to read and write novels set during the Regency era and Harris has an awesome character in Sebastian. I would have been deeply disappointed if she hadn't written more books after What Angels Fear. These novels are fascinating because Harris has used her degrees in history and her non-fiction work regarding the French Revolution to bring her characters to life in a way that makes me want to visit them again and again. Harris has more experience than me and more books, but she's come closest to doing with Sebastian what I've done with Ravensmoore. The fact that she's written past book three makes me wonder if  I should do this with my characters? I'm writing historical romance with strong mystery/suspense elements.

Then of course all those critical issues like sales, reader interest, etc., come into play.

So whether you're a reader, a writer, or both, what do you think? Are you a series reader or do you prefer stand alone? And if you could only pick one, what would it be? Thanks for helping me explore this idea. I really want to hear from you.