How I Write A Series

This week the paperback of Bound By Their Secret Passion was released. If you can’t find it in your favorite bookstore, try your favorite online vendor!

Bound By Their Secret Passion is the fourth book in the Scandalous Summerfields series, the stories of three sisters and their half-brother.

Readers first met Lorene, the heroine of Bound By Their Secret Passion in Book 1, Bound By Duty. It was Lorene’s marriage to elderly, wealthy Lord Tinmore that set up that first book and became important in Books 2 and 3: Bound By One Scandalous Night and Bound By A Scandalous Secret.

Readers, you might wonder if I plan out all the stories in a series ahead of time. Do I decide who the heroes and heroines will be and what will happen to them? The truth is, I do not plan all that much.

When I needed to come up with a four book series, what popped into my head was to base my characters on my mother, her sisters and her brother. I never intended to base the books on their lives. Instead I fashioned three sisters who were very close, like my mother and my aunts, and their brother with whom they had a more distant relationship. That was the germ of the idea.

Lorene was the first character I thought up. Like my Aunt Loraine, she was the oldest and in many ways took care of her younger sisters, but there the similarities ended. I thought of Lorene marrying for money as a sacrifice, so her younger siblings would have a chance in life. I always planned for Lorene’s story to be the last in the series, but that was the extent of my plotting.

When I’m writing a series, I don’t really figure out the plots. I start with characters. The characters make themselves known to me. If I start with a heroine, I decide her personality, her situation and then I think up a hero. If I start with a hero, I think up who his heroine might be after I know him.

The first book in the series gives me ideas of who the next book should be about. And lots of times a minor character in one book becomes the hero or heroine in the next book. For example, I didn’t know that Edmund would have his romance with Amelie in Book 2, until I wrote a scene of him meeting her in Book 1. I didn’t know who Lorene would fall in love with until Dell appeared in Book 3. One of the reasons I like to write series is to tell the stories of characters who play a minor role in an earlier book. I get to like them and I want them to have their happily ever after, too.

I know for some authors, this way of crafting a series might seem wrong. I know some authors prefer to plot ahead of time and to know exactly where their stories are going. For me, though, some of the fun of writing is discovering the stories as I’m writing them. If I outlined every scene and knew exactly what would happen in every book, I would lose that sense of discovery. I’m not saying my way is the best way, only that it works for me.

What about you, writers? Do you prefer to plot or fly by the seat of your pants?

If you prefer reading ebooks to paperbacks, the ebook version of Bound By Their Secret Passion will be available April 1 and can be preordered now.


Surprise! A French Edition and a Manga!

Harlequin authors don’t always know in advance when their books are released in foreign markets. For some of us this is frustratingly irritating, but, me? I love the surprise.

The foreign editions mostly just show up in the mail. A package appears and it is like Christmas. Last week I received a double surprise. This foreign edition was called La Rose De L’Opera. French!

I’ve only had one other French edition of my books, although this is no surprise. Because I often have heroes who are soldiers in the Napoleonic War, I’m often casting France as the enemy. Well, not really France, because I love France, but Napoleon is the enemy and, to a Frenchman, that might not be much of a difference.

La Rose De L’Opera is the French translation of Innocence and Impropriety, a book that has been translated into several other languages, sold world-wide, and really doesn’t deal with the Napoleonic War. I would never have guessed this book would have such an appeal, though.

In 2012, it was even translated into a Japanese Manga and I blogged about it at the time. And again when it was released for the UK market.

Another recent surprise was happening upon a second book of mine released as a manga. The fabulous Hiroko Miura illustrated and adapted The Vanishing Viscountess to Japanese manga and Harlequin Comics has released an ebook English version.

The manga versions come in two volumes, so you have to buy both to read the full story.


Volume 1
Volume 2

Copies of the Japanese manga of The Vanishing Viscountess have not yet reached my door, so I still have that surprise coming. Who knows when it will arrive?

What Shall I Do Next?

I finished my last book and am on a little hiatus before starting another. I have a little bit of time to think about this. At this point I am completely open to my next story.

Should it be a series?

I like doing series. In fact, I have already outlined a possible series, a Regency Paranormal featuring what I like to call “real” paranormal–premonitions, ghosts, healing, mind-reading. Things like that.

On the other hand, my editor said readers love books about governesses, so, with the help of my friend, Darlene Gardner, I came up with an idea of a lady who takes the place of a governess in order to escape an unwanted marriage. I could like writing that book.

Then today my friend Julie suggested I adapt my first effort at book writing, a contemporary romantic suspense, into a Regency. That’s an intriguing idea, too.

This week I also received my copies of the French version of Innocence and Impropriety, called La Rose De L’opera, about the romance between a marquess’s secretary and a Vauxhall singer. This book just keeps being re-released, once as a Japanese  manga. Maybe I should try a similar story.

Decisions. Decisions.

Any votes?

The Sculptures of Chatsworth

I’m missing England again and remembering Kristine Hughes Patrone‘s and my three days at Chatsworth.

William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire and Georgiana’s son, was a great collector of art. He prized classical sculpture, but most of the pieces had already been snapped up by the wealthy aristocracy years before. So the Duke commissioned contemporary sculptors to create statues in the classical style. These and other 19th century sculptures comprise the Statue Gallery at Chatsworth.

Here’s a peek:

And the beautiful Veiled Vestal Virgin by Raffaelle Monti, 1846

I want to go back and see it all again!


Is February  too late for a New Year’s resolution?

I am resolving to resume my Thursday blogging. I went on a long hiatus, but I resolve to do better.

I plan to continue sharing interesting Regency research items, writing news, and snippets from my travels and everyday life.

This year, on March 21, the fourth book in my Scandalous Summerfields series, Bound By Their Secret Passion, will be released, telling Lorene and Dell’s story. I must admit I’m a little sad to see this series come to an end.

I’ve also been involved in a special project for Harlequin Historical. More on that in later days!

I’m also planning to join my friend, Kristine Hughes Patrone, of Number One London Tours,  on one of the fantastic tours she has planned for 2017.

Here’s the list:

The Regency Tour
including tours of Regency London, Brighton, the Royal Pavilion, Polesden Lacey, the Regency Townhouse and Buckingham Palace.

The 1815 Tour: London to Waterloo
First the sights and experiences of Regency London, including Apsley House, Wellington’s London home, and a special 1815 tour of the V&A. Then on to Brussels and Waterloo with acclaimed author Ian Fletcher.

A Week At the Lake
Tours of the country houses of the Lake District. Cruises on two of the lakes. Even a steam railroad journey.

The Queen Victoria Tour
Tours of Victorian London, Brighton and Windsor to see Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, the Royal Pavilion, Windsor Castle, Osborne House, Frogmore House, and more.

A Stay In The Cotswolds
Tours of Blenheim Palace, Sizencote House and Sudeley Castle. Visits to Stratford Upon Avon, Winchcombe and Stow on Wold, Oxford and Highgrove.

The Country House Tour
Visits to Wentworth Woodhouse, Sutton Scarsdale, Sudbury Hall, Calke Abbey, Kedleston Hall, Hardwicke Hall, Haddon Hall, Chatsworth House and Tatton Park.
And more.

The Scottish Castles Tour
Visits to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood House, Inverary Castle, Glamis Castle, Blair Castle and Stirling Castle, an afternoon cruise on Loch Lomond, shopping
at the House of Bruar. And more.

Don’t they all sound fabulous?

I’m not sure which one I’m going on (or which two!) but I’m definitely going!

Which one would you pick?