Sunday, September 28, 2014

Writing a Series -- Introduction

Good Morning. If you've been thinking about spinning off from your first novel into a series, there are a few things to consider. Writing a series is a commitment  not only to the books themselves, but to your readers. If you're lucky, as soon as they finish that first book, they want the second, and the third and won't stop reading until you're finished writing.

Over the next couple of weeks on this blog,  I'll share my opinions and what information I've found that works for me in writing a series.

Today, there are three main areas, I'd like to discuss. Commitment, Construction, and Clarity.




Commitment

I'm not going to lie, I never thought I'd write a series of books that linked together. I had three stand-alone novels when I started looking for an agent. I had high hopes, and was rewarded with rejections, although several agents did consider my writing quite fine, they just couldn't place me with a publisher. The market was flush with my genre.

I wanted my work to be read. People were self-publishing as the old stigma of vanity publishing was lifted. I won't lie, I jumped on the bandwagon. Perhaps it was because Amazon had made it so easy, but three years ago, when I hit publish on A WIFE FOR WINSBARREN, and a few weeks later on THE LADY'S FATE, my whole life changed.

I was finally a published author.

Giddy with my new-found career, I worked on my other novels and proceeded to publish them in kind, along with novella length stories. Buy one for $2.99, and one for $.99. This marketing plan brought readers, and then fans, and I was moving right along on my next combination when I was FORCED to stop writing.

I couldn't write. Not that I didn't want to, I wasn't "blocked", I just could not find the TIME to finish the books. I also couldn't find time for social media and sales started to slip, then dip, and I had no idea what to do other than finish "something" and get it "out there". I had been publishing at a rate of three times per year, with either a novel or novella.

(Throughout the Reluctant Grooms series, I also published REMEMBERING YOU ~ a contemporary romance novel under my pen name, as well as several short stories, and other work for literary anthologies.)

I was frustrated as I watched other authors, my peers, publish steadily and gain higher rankings on the book lists. What could I do? I cried. I raged. I was so bloody angry. But there was nothing to be done, and I put my writing aside until my personal life gave me the time to finish my fifth novel.

It took almost nine months to complete, too late to recover from the landslide that was now my career. I picked up the pieces of both my personal and professional life, and took a vacation. Literally. I had blocked out six weeks for vacation this past summer, a "working vacation". I would write and nothing would stand in my way. My own personal NaNoWriMo. I wrote a 25K novella, and finished another 22K words on another manuscript I had started in March. Three weeks later I had two publishable novellas.

I told you that, to tell you this... You need to understand the commitment it will take to write, publish, and market a series. Depending on how fast you write, what you have on your back-list, under your bed and publishable, writing a series of books is a commitment of at least three years. Especially for a new writer.

Once you have ruminated on that thought, and are ready to jump in, we're on to the next decision you have to make.


Construction

Here are the questions I wish I had the answers to before I began writing my series.


How many books do you envision? How many plots do you have? (Hint * There are only twelve.)
How will they be linked? By family, circumstance, event?
Is this a wrap-around series, or a progressive timeline?
Is there one main character for the series? or one/two for each book?
Is there a theme to maintain throughout the series?
What length and genre are you writing in? (Hint * know the "rules")
How much research are you willing to invest in?


How many books do you plan on writing?
My first three novels were planned as a trilogy. Beginning, middle, end. The fourth came out of nowhere, and then I had a secondary character from the third novel who absolutely begged to be written, and that's how I came up with my fifth. A trilogy is by far the simplest of series writing. Beginning, middle, end. However, with short stories and novellas also comprising a body of work these days, a series could continue indefinitely.

How will they be linked? By family, circumstance, event?
In all my stories, Lady Olivia Leighton, the Duchess of Caymore, is the lynch pin that holds the Reluctant Grooms series together. She keeps family and friends in her especial favor, and all of my work centers around her meddling and interference with these characters. Successful links for series writing also include family members, friends, a place, a circumstance, a job, anything that unites the books in some way.

Is this a wrap-around series, or a progressive timeline?
I believe I have both of these aspects in my books. All of my novels include disparate parts of the others, characters or circumstances, that happen within the same time frame of the novel you happen to be reading. I call that a wrap-around timeline. My original timeline begins in Nov. of 1810 and follows the calendar until June 1812 through the course of seven novels. Each of my books also follow that continual timeline, which moves the characters through those particular twenty months.   June 1812 is finite. (An upcoming blogpost why I chose that date to end my series will reveal the answer.)Where does your series start, and where does it end? What about each of the books? You need to answer each of these questions before you commit.

Is there one main character, or one for each book?
I chose to include Lady Olivia in all of my books, but only as a secondary character. Each of my stories is a  traditional Regency > historical > drama > romance. Boy Meets Girl. What the boy does with the girl after the first meeting is why I write books. You may be writing about the last cyborg. Or Brady Bunch fan-fiction. It doesn't matter. Who are your people going to be?

Is there a theme to maintain throughout the series?
If you're that type of writer who can identify themes, by all means put one in. However, know that you need to keep it alive throughout each of the subsequent stories. My main theme is reluctant grooms. I have several underlying themes as well. When readers can identify them, they become fans.

What length and genre are you writing in?
I had written three novels before writing my first novella. I was going after a particular "market" before I realized the self-publishing dynamic gave us tremendous options. I know several cozy mystery authors who only pen 60,000 word novelettes. A paranormal writer I know puts out two novellas a month. A literary fiction author publishes one book a year. It's important to know the rules of the genre you're writing in and under what classification your writing falls.  Mine is Traditional Regency > historical > drama > romance. (With sub-categories of suspense, mystery, espionage, divorce, and old age. I don't write in the same genre as Georgette Heyer. Traditional Regency > historical > sweet romance.

How much research are you willing to invest in?
There is not a day that goes by that I don't get bogged down in research. Naturally, the genre determines how much you will need to know before you attempt writing in the first place, but no one really thinks about research when they get their first great idea. World Building =  Time, Weather, Food, Clothes, Housing, Flora, Fauna, etc. ad infinitum. And then there are the things you forget about = history, science, art, music, speech, philosophy. It's all about "authentic" voice, whether yours as writer, or yours as character. That takes research.

We will discuss the construction of a series in more depth as this writing series continues.


Clarity

I could not write my any of my books/stories/manuscripts without having visual aids. Thank Al Gore for the internet. Google Images is my best friend. So is Pinterest. I find having pictures of my characters and settings easier to bring other images to mind. I never know what I'm looking for until I actually find it.

(My character Davingdale has been portrayed on one of my Pinterest boards by Andrew McCarthy, the actor. He was never right for the character, and I knew it, but I hadn't found the right actor to portray Davingdale. One day, searching the web for a movie, I found a different movie, which turned into a google search for an actor, which turned into the picture you see now in its place.)

It's all about your vision and what you'll compromise on. (Nothing.)

With research come findings, and you need a place to put it all. Some people use Evernote.  Others find Scrivener easier. I tend to have scrap paper piles all over my desk and folders tucked inside folders in my pc. I also have three bulletin boards on an office wall, and two whiteboards keeping track of the calendar. I also built a genealogical family tree (in preparation for this last novel and the next series).

It takes a commitment to create a family tree.

How ever you find your muse, once you figure out what works for you, stick with it. If you have a vision, you might want to take the time now to make a comprehensive outline so that you can follow it successfully to its conclusion. How many books? Length? Genre? Characters? Themes? How long will it take me to realistically write 3, 6, novels? 2,4,6, novellas? Can I commit fully to this endeavor?



If you can, please join me next week. The topic for Writing a Series is Internal Controls: Characters, setting, plot, structure.

I look forward to seeing you.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Writing a Series -- What I Learned

Good Morning. I have been brewing over the fact that my current work-in-progress is the final novel of my series. I'll miss these characters. They've been with me for quite some time. However, I have new characters, and new story-lines for a whole new series.  (I'm looking forward to starting that in the fall of 2015.)

That being said, writing a series is a BIG undertaking. I didn't know that was what was going to happen five years ago when I put my pen to paper. But here I sit with with five novels and six novellas under my belt.

Five years ago, I wrote three stories in quick succession. THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, THE LADY'S FATE, and THE DUKE'S DIVORCE. I also had 45,000 words on THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE, but we moved and I
lost them.

My intent was to acquire an agent, and sell the series to a New York Publisher. That didn't happen. I also hadn't planned to write novellas either. My work was piling up and I wanted readers. I decided to self-publish. It was a steep learning curve. But here I sit with five novels and six novellas under my belt, (as well as other published works under my Robynne Rand pen name).

I am a working writer.

A professor told me once, that when we achieve a pinnacle, or a certain level of success, we must write about how we did it. Share it with the world and discuss it. Someone else might gain something that will help them achieve their own pinnacle.

Over the course of the next few Sunday's, I'm going to outline what I learned from writing a series. I will try to incorporate many aspects of the publishing industry as well. Here is a list of topics I will attempt to cover.


Introduction to Writing a Series
    Commitment, Construction, Clarity
Internal Controls
     Character/Setting/Plot > Structure, Plot devices, Spin-off series
Formulaic/Genre Writing
Marketing
     Novella/Short Story
     Business Plan
Publishing Structure
     Timeline > Pricing > Free?
Marketing Part 2
     Branding > Social Media >Web Presence > Spam
External Controls
     Surviving the Crash > Writing as a Job
Complete


I hope you'll stop by.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Places to Find Anne Gallagher (Regency Romance Writer) on Social Media

As a self-published independent author, "they" say we should be on as many social media sites as you can be. Market, Promote, Be Everywhere and Annoy People with Spam.

As a general rule, I try not to annoy people. Hence my less than stellar performance at Marketing and Promotion. However, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll see over the last few days I have a really great excuse. I've been adding words to THE SEDUCTION of MR. SUMMERVILLE. (Up to Chapter Five so far.)

However, I was talking to a friend of mine (who oddly enough does marketing for her job) and she asked me how many social media sites I was on. I tried to name them, but couldn't. There are just too many. So I decided to do it here, in case you wanted to find me somewhere else. (IF that makes any sense.)

Not in any particular order of appearance.... click through for the link

Goodreads -- for my reviews. I'm not just a writer.

Pinterest -- for who I think my characters are.

Twitter -- Fun at 140 characters.

LinkedIn -- Because I can.

Shelfari -- I really need to update there.


And if you wanted to buy my books.... click through for the link

Kobo US

Apple itunes US

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble NOOK

Amazon

Scribd

And coming soon to Google Play (but we're not set up just quite yet -- by Thanksgiving hopefully)

The blog where I discuss writing, mainly, but with a more personal perspective Piedmont Writer.


So here I am. And where you can find me. Hope to see you around.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reviews

Good Morning. Now that LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING is finally released as well as THE LADY'S SECRET for pre-order, I've done a lot of thinking as to how to market these books. As you know, I'm not a great fan of marketing or promotion, and have pretty much done neither over the last few years.

Truthfully, I've never liked asking people for help. If I want something done, I do it myself, whether that's formatting an e-book, laying a new floor in my living room, or building a fence in the backyard. I'm just a natural DIYer.

The problem is, I can't do EVERYTHING, and sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and ask.

A long time ago, (when I first started publishing three years ago), the blogging gurus said you needed to have at least 10 reviews ready to go before you published. Well, three years ago, I didn't know 10 people who would want to read my books. Regency romance is a niche market -- you either like it or you don't. With vampires and steampunk, shades of color, and the zombie apocalypse currently the craze, traditional regencies (Jane Austen anyone?) don't always make it to the top of the charts, unless you're a name brand.

I have a name, and yes, I've branded it, but I'm just a small fish in a very big pond.

So here's the skinny... If you've bought ANY of my books, would you please leave a review. (Bought is the operative word. Book retailers frown on reviews that weren't "paid for".)

And I know how hard it is to write a decent review. However, I have to tell you, the best review I've ever received was on THE CAPTAIN'S COINCIDENCE. From Amazon, it had 5 stars and only two words -- "Well written." Believe me when I tell you, that was music to my ears. (I do work hard on everything I write and sometimes the best praise comes in the form of "good job".)

I don't expect you to write a dozen paragraphs, or expand on my themes (if you can find them), but I would like your honest opinion. And by no means do you have to write a review on ALL of the books (depending on how many you've read), but if you have read them all, one or two would be swell. Just pick the ones you like the best. (And if you didn't like them, then I guess this request is moot.)

A HUSBAND FOR MISS TRENT is free on Smashwords if you're new to this blog/writer and want a little taste of what I write. It's downloadable for all formats.

And you don't have to leave the review all over the place. Just where you bought it from would be sufficient. And Goodreads would be nice if you're on that site.


Thank you in advance.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

PS If you click on the tab under my header marked Reviews, you can find a few samples of other reviews. There's also a surprise.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cover Reveal with a Twist

Good Morning. Today, I'd like to share my latest cover THE LADY'S SECRET. What's so great about this, is the picture of the main character, Arianna, I've been working with for the last several months. Okay, let me stop talking and just show you.

"Arianna"







Do you not think these two women look alike? How bizarre is that?

Anyway, THE LADY'S SECRET will be available through pre-order, publication set for October 15th. Sooner if I can get out of my own way.

Cover copy --

From the moment Lady Ariana Leighton met Mr. Stephen Summerville, she lost her heart. However, when Mr. Summerville was introduced to her younger sister Arabella, Ariana knew that Stephen had lost his.

Ariana surrendered the notion of love with Stephen Summerville.


Yet, she left a tiny piece of her heart open – hope would always remain.


This book and LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING are both prequels to THE SEDUCTION OF MR. SUMMERVILLE, the last novel in the Reluctant Grooms series.(Which should hopefully be released by Christmas.)

I should also mention that both UNDOING and SECRET both have mirror-imaging and cliff-hanger endings. I'll speak more on that in an upcoming blogpost.

So what do think about the cover? Isn't she beautiful? Many thanks to my inspired cover designer at Straw Hill Designs.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pre-orders on Amazon

Pt. Judith, Narragansett, RI
Good Morning. I am returned from vacation, less tanned than I'd like to be, and flat out getting ready for my daughter to go back to school tomorrow (where does the time go)....and of course, have captured a summer cold so this post will be short and to the point.

I finished THE LADY'S SECRET while I was on vacation. My critique partner hates me, she said the story made her cry. So I guess that means it's pretty good.

It will be available for pre-order, along with Lady Olivia's Undoing this week.

As you may remember LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING has been available for pre-order on Smashwords, Kobo, itunes, and NOOK, for the last month. It seems that Amazon does not want to be undone, so has now started offering indie/self-published authors the same opportunity.

Both, UNDOING and SECRET will be available from Amazon as pre-orders starting Sept. 1. (Or earlier if I can get out of my own way.)

LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING will be published Sept. 15th.

This picture has been my inspiration
for Arianna, the main character
in THE LADY'S SECRET
THE LADY'S SECRET will be published Oct. 15th.

The last book in the Reluctant Groom Series (yes, it is coming to its inevitable end) THE SEDUCTION OF MR. SUMMERVILLE will be published at Christmas.

Once school is fully underway, I will try and make these blog posts more enticing. Reading about my publications is not a whole lot of fun. But I must do them.

I will also have a cover for SECRET very soon. It's astonishing.


Tell me -- What would you like to see me write about here?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Keeping it Real

Good morning. As you know, I write Regency romance, a sub-genre of historical fiction. In each of my books, I've done endless research to get the "history" of the period as true as I can get it. Yes, I will admit I have "fudged" some facts to make either my story, or my timeline fit together into a cohesive whole.

As an example -- In THE LADY'S FATE, it seems Prince George is a bit of sucker for romance. Was he in real life? I have no idea. But in my books he is. Why? You may ask. The simple answer -- because I wanted him to be. In his own life, Parliament would not allow him to be married to his much older, Catholic, twice-widowed wife. So I took his disappointment (which I'm sure was more akin to outrage had I actually known Prinny) and used it to my advantage.

Is that wrong? I have no idea. But it's my book and I'll write it any way I want to. To me Prince George is as real to me as my own brother.

Now, some people have said that I don't actually write "Regency" romance because I don't write like Georgette Heyer (famed author during the 40's and 50's) because I do not ascribe to the "comedy of errors" novels that she was so famous for. I'm not a fan of Heyer. Sorry. I'm sure there were a lot of comedic errors made during the Regency period, but the Regency also involved the Napoleonic Wars, as well as poverty, and suffering, and political intrigue. People were not just aristocrats having balls and dancing at Almack's. There was more to life than London Society.

Jane Austen actually LIVED during the Regency period. (And for those of you who don't know what that is, it was the period that Prince George ascended to the throne as Regent in England, because his father King George was mad. 1811-1820 or 1830 depending on who you talk to.)

As far as I'm concerned, Jane Austen is the quintessential Regency romance writer because her characters are so believable. Her characters are balanced between good and not-so-nice, most have a major life-altering ah-ha moment that changes the direction which they were following (Mr. Darcy anyone?). However, the main point in any of her stories is not necessarily romance. Yes, there's always a happily ever after at the end, but in order for the main characters to get to it, they have to go through a lot of crappy crap to get there.

To me, the main point in all Austen's work is the character arc. She strives to make each "real" with all the foibles and grace, and idiosyncrasies that make people, well, people.

She writes "personally" -- as if she knew Cathy Moreland and her penchant for imagining the worst about Captain Tilney, and Anne Elliot's desperate hunger for Frederick Wentworth. And let's not forget Emma's matchmaking meddling. How many women do you know who are just like Emma?

To me, this, this getting into their heads, is what writing is all about. I'm not going to harp on some of the ridiculous stories I've read that are published by New York (that no one even bothered to check for historical accuracy) or the wanton sex that appears on every other page (because sex sells -- guess what friends -- not so much anymore).

It's about keeping the characters real. So real that when you read, you root for, you cry with, you are devastated or elated right along with them.

Tell me -- What makes a character real for you?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014