Nancy: My Recipe for a Delicious Romance Series

As Justine announced yesterday, this week we’re discussing recipes of both the edible and readable kind. As I’ve planned and written and moved toward release of my romance series this past year, I’ve put a lot of thought into what I like in a romance series. Here’s my favorite recipe.

Start with an ensemble cast of characters who each bring something good to the party. Use their interconnected lives to lead us from the story of one happy couple to the next, but be sure to let their individual qualities shine, even when it’s not ‘their book’. When done well, you’ll have me pre-ordering the books that finally give my favorite secondary characters their own romance, like the duke in Slightly Dangerous from Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn Saga series.

Add a generous dollop of inside jokes, memories, and friendly bonding opportunities. Make me feel like I’m in on all the fun even if I haven’t read other books the series, but feel free to repeat or build on these fun themes across books, providing fan service for loyal readers. Think the running joke of the terrible music created  by the Smythe-Smith Quartet (with the musician line-up changing for each annual performance) from Julia Quinn’s The Bridgertons series.

Sprinkle in a bit of past HEAs. Show me the couples who got together in past books, still together, still happy, still interacting like they did in the book of their own love story. It shouldn’t be so heavy-handed that having read those other books in the series is a prerequisite to understanding the current book, but it should be enough to tempt me to pick up those other books to find out how the settled couples found their own happy endings together. The books in Anne Stuart’s House of Rohan series always include at least a few of the happy couples, made up of reformed rakes paired with strong women, from previous books. These happy couples guide, advise, and generally annoy the bejesus out of the couple currently struggling toward their own HEA.

Mix all ingredients together into a multi-book series, pair with a good red wine, and serve over a long weekend with nothing to do but read!

And now, an actual recipe… Continue reading

Nancy: The Month of the Phoenix

The Phoenix: Mythical Beast That Rises From the Ashes

As this is the first Monday of a new month, it’s time for me to recap my writing progress (or lack thereof) for the past month, as I promised to do way back in January. (Remember January? We were so young, so naive!) This time, however, I want to spend less time looking back and more time looking forward. This might lead you to think my progress in March was less than stellar. You would be correct. But that’s not the main reason I’m going to focus on April

This shift in perspective came from reading Michaeline’s and Jilly’s posts Saturday and Sunday, respectively, here on 8LW. Micki pointed out the first quarter of the year is over, and she was wondering what she’d gotten done (I’m right there with you, Micki), while looking forward to the next quarter of the year and what she hopes to accomplish. Jilly wrote a poignant post about the very personal and happily triumphant wake-up call she and her husband had two years ago. After a weekend of thinking about the upcoming quarter, bucket lists, and not letting one more day go by without pursuing dreams, Continue reading

Nancy: February Recap

Woman With a Plan

In the ongoing and possibly overrated interest of tracking my writing performance against my annual writing goals, it’s time to talk about February: the good, the bad, and the sometimes oh-so-ugly. You know the drill. I told you about my ‘reporting in’ plan here. Looking back on the post from just two short months ago, I have to smile a bit, the way you do at adorable pets and small children. I want to pat new-year me on the head and say oh, you naive, optimistic writer, you. Continue reading

Nancy: Back to the Drawing Board (Novella Edition)

Woman With a Plan

I spent much of this past week planning. Planning my annual writing calendar. Planning time for writing, revising, and editing the many different stories I hope to write this year. Planning the historical romance novella series that is part of that annual writing plan. And that’s where I’ve hit a snag. In fact, I’ve hit a few snags and have had to go back to the drawing board.

 

Problem 1. Novella 1 (book 1 of the series) is too damn long. This issue isn’t too surprising to me, as this poor manuscript has had so many different identities, it just has no idea what it is or is supposed to be. It was a novella before it was a novel before it was a novella again before it was the first book of a series. Continue reading