Writer Wednesday: Madelyn Hill on Writing a Series

Welcome to Writer Wednesday! So great to have you here for the weekly scoop on a fellow author.

This week, I’m proud to host Madelyn Hill, who writes historical romance with heart, courage, and Highlanders. She’s mixing it up today by giving us her insights on writing a series – and a handy list of mistakes to avoid! Personally, I’m thrilled to have this as I wrestle with plans for my own two series.

So grab your favorite drink and take a sip or two as you read about the rewards and challenges of writing a romance series, and learn a little about Madelyn’s latest release, Highland Faith.


Writing one book is hard. A fabulous idea pops into your head and you begin to plot or just write (if you are a pantser like me). And you continue writing, editing, researching—and then at some point in the book, (the middle for me!) you lose sight of the end, the goals and motivation of the characters and the conflict. You question yourself – is my conflict strong enough? Do the characters make sense, have chemistry? Have I just wasted hours and hours writing this drivel? But when that book is one of a series, you have just complicated your work exponentially.

Writing a series takes much more planning, plot development, and creation of characters who can carry a series. For my Wild Thistle Trilogy, the story starts with a prologue from the three heroines’ childhood. The reader has a glimpse of the personalities and responsibilities that will befall our heroines at a young age. Especially when their dying father utters the words, “Remember, through Hope, Faith, and Honor, ye can rule.” Each heroine leads one of the books in the trilogy and the reader understands how each character interprets and executes their father’s dying pledge.

TypewriterKeeping the facts and history straight throughout three books is not a task for the weary. I created several notes and as things changed through the editing process, I had to ensure I made those same changes to the other books. Also, as a writer, sometimes our muse likes to take a u-turn or detour. This can be problematic with a series because you have already established specific norms in the preceding books.

Some things to keep in mind when writing a series (adapted from NowNovel – How to write a series: 8 novice mistakes to avoid)

  • Don’t choose a story concept that can’t stretch across multiple books – could I have added another sister or brother? Sure, but then the father’s pledge would have been ridiculously long and the symbol of three was important to my trilogy.
  • Don’t keep your series going if you’ve run out of ideas – there are many series out there that are on the twentieth or more book in the series. With a talented author, this is great. But, sometimes things begin to repeat themselves and this bores the reader.
  • Don’t forget to plan ahead and know where your series might end – with a trilogy, it was easy, I knew the story had to end at three books.
  • Don’t ignore the passage of time in your series – I found that I had trouble with this. I needed to have time pass and keep the flow and pace of the story steady. Luckily I had a wonderful editor who pointed this out to me.
  • Don’t be inconsistent with your series’ details – my desk is littered with post-it notes and I put notes at the beginning of each manuscript so I can quickly look at details. Readers will notice any inconsistency.
  • Don’t be so consistent that there’s no intrigue and change – this is so true. You do not want to bore the reader. My heroines are all strong in their own way and each have different goals, motivation, and conflict even though they all wish to fulfill their father’s dying pledge.
  • Don’t abandon important multi-novel plot arcs – with a trilogy this wasn’t difficult to remember, but when you think of series such as the Stephanie Plum series, there are continuing plot arcs such as her relationship with her family and love interest that co-exist with the mystery. They make the character who she is and it needs to continue in each story.
  • Don’t make your fictional world too limited – if you do, you will limit the realistic length you can continue your series.

A Bit About Highland Faith

Huntress Lady Faith MacAlister seeks adventure. Her father’s dying pledge tethers her to Wild Thistle Keep, thwarting her desire to explore the world beyond the palisade. Solace is found while hunting and providing sustenance for her clan. When snatched from the safety of MacAlister lands by a rogue bent on securing a ransom, she finds the adventure of her life.

Disgraced Captain Graeme Ross travels the high seas in search of bounty to sell in order to secure lands seized by the Crown. He longs to regain his honor in his father’s eyes and continually risks his life on the high seas. Lacking enough funds, Graeme and his crew follow Lady Faith MacAlister as she hunts. Out of need and desire, he kidnaps her. The lady captivates him for the moment he laid eyes upon her. Bold and spirited, she fights him. When he negotiates a ransom, deception tears the burgeoning romance apart.

Now, Lady Faith and Captain Ross seek to settle those differences hindering their union, despite the stretch of land and sea—and angry Highlanders standing between them.

Find Highland Faith here!: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072HZQ8BT


A Bit About Madelyn:

Madelyn Hill has always loved the written word. From the time she could read and all through her school years, she’d sneak books into her textbooks during school. And she devoured books daily. At the age of 10 she proclaimed she wanted to be a writer. After being a “closet” writer for several years, she sent her manuscripts out there and is now published with Soul Mate Publishing. And she couldn’t be happier! A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They now have 3 children and keep busy cooking, watching their children’s sporting events, and of course reading!

Want to connect further with Madelyn? Find her here:

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authormadelynhill


Thanks so much for joining us, Madelyn – it was a delight to have you here! 

Writer Wednesday: Meet Mysti Parker!

Welcome to Writer Wednesday!

Do we ever have a sweet treat for you today: Mysti Parker, author of romance for every reader’s taste (she had me at chocolate, y’all.). She’s not kidding, either – she’s published fantasy, contemporary, comedy, historical, and erotic romances!

So grab your favorite treat and settle in for a quick bite with Mysti as she shares a bit about herself and her latest release, Mann Cakes.


Which type of romance do you love most, and why?

I enjoy pretty much every type of romance. That’s why I write romance for every reader’s taste. But my favorite stories involve imperfect heroes and heroines that are both strong enough to overcome whatever obstacles are keeping them apart, no matter how many times they stumble along the way.

 

Name one interesting thing you learned in writing/researching your last book.

Gosh, I love research. It’s easy to get caught up in it, and I’ve learned so many things in the process.

While researching my new book, Mann Cakes, I learned how to make a Molotov cocktail. So, if you ever get the crazy idea to fire bomb something…you don’t know me, okay?

 

Name two things people don’t know about you.

  1. Everyone knows I’m a chocoholic, but not everyone knows I’m a chocolate snob. Anything that says “chocolate flavored” is NOT chocolate. Give me Godiva or Ghirardelli or even Cadbury, and I’m a happy girl.
  2. My biggest pet peeve is when people don’t put their shopping carts in the corrals. You see, a kitten dies every time you leave your cart out in the parking lot. True story.

What’s your favorite romance novel of all time, and why?

I’ll have to say Jane Eyre. Such a classic. It got me hooked on the genre.

Who can resist the dark and brooding Mr. Rochester and the plain, yet bold, Jane, as they weather the secrets and revelations of this Gothic love story?

 


A Bit About Mann Cakes:

Love makes men do desperate things, if desperate things means opening a rival cupcake shop to drive your ex-girlfriend crazy.

Twin brothers and Air Force vets, Tanner and Garrett Mann, return from deployment to find their thriving business burned to the ground. Time for Plan B: Move back to their hometown of Beach Pointe to start over.

But that means running into Paige and Morgan Baxter –gorgeous, curvy, and owners of Two Sisters Cupcakes.

There’s an old diner for sale across town, Garrett’s a great cook, and Tanner has an idea. They’ll make savory cupcakes that men would like. We’re talking bacon and Cheez Whiz. Even better? They’ll call it Mann Cakes. Problem is, they end up attracting an unexpected crowd.

Paige is furious. Every man in her life has left her behind, including Tanner. She’s sacrificed everything for her shop. She won’t lose it over some egotistical ex-boyfriend, even if he does have an Air Force-chiseled body. Her younger sister, Morgan, isn’t helping matters. She’s been gaga over Garrett since high school.

To hell with that. If it’s a fight Tanner wants, it’s a fight he’ll get. But how much is Paige willing to risk to win a cupcake war?

Find Mann Cakes here (release date May 11):

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSHTPYY
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSHTPYY
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06XSHTPYY
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/B06XSHTPYY

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mann-cakes-mysti-parker/1126051104

Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mann-cakes/id1219491854


A Bit About Mysti:

Mysti Parker is an award-winning author and shameless chocoholic. She writes romance for every reader’s taste from super sweet to scandalously spicy. When she’s not writing the next best-story-ever or tackling the endless mountain of laundry, she works as a freelance copywriter and editor. Mysti resides in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband, three children and too many pets.

Want to connect further with Mysti? Find her here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RomanceforEveryReader/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MystiParker
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Mysti-Parker/e/B0055LOTX8/
Website: http://www.mystiparker.com
Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/k1j5q6


Thanks so much for popping in, Mysti! It was a pleasure to have you.
Now I’m hungry for some cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. Yum! 

Writer Wednesday: Meet Nicole Leiren!

Hey hey, May – it’s Writer Wednesday! So glad you popped in for this brief-but-fun-AND-informative interview with an author – a perfect bite-sized chance to get to learn a bit more about them and their works.

This week I’m proud to present USA Today Best-selling Author Nicole Leiren, writer of contemporary romance and cozy mysteries! Nicole and I have known each other on social media for some time, so it’s a delight to get to share her with folks who may not already be familiar with her – and to welcome in readers who are!

But hey, enough from me… Nicole, take it away – we’re excited to learn about your new cozy mystery, Heroes and Hurricanes!


What inspires you to write?

For as long as I can remember, stories have been playing out inside my head (some people call that crazy, I prefer creative LOL) – sharing those stories with others and having them affect them emotionally brings me a great measure of joy. Giving people an escape from the day-to-day grind of their lives is a large part of what inspires me. And, to be honest, if I didn’t get those stories out of my head…it might explode. Seriously…LOL

Which type of romance do you love most, and why?

I love romantic suspense the most. Having some type of mystery or life-threatening dilemma our hero and heroine must deal with while falling in love – well, that just gives me happy sighs!

Name two things people don’t know about you:

At age 37, I turned total rebel and got my first tattoo (much to the dismay of my mother LOL) She continued to disapprove when I added my second tattoo a few years later. What can I say, I was a late-blooming rebel 🙂

I started publicly sharing my writing in the wonderful world of fanfiction. Through the encouragement of the readers there, I finally decided to pursue my dream of becoming published. Many of my fanfic readers followed me over and became readers of my non fanfic writing as well.

What one piece of advice do you wish you’d had when first starting out?

I think it would be that you must decide what you consider a success and be willing to do what it takes (both creatively and from a business standpoint) to achieve that success. There are many ups and downs in the journey and knowing WHY you’re doing this is just as important as WHAT you are doing. Never forget the reasons why you write (see my previous answer lol) and go back to that when things get a little rocky.


A Bit About Heroes and Hurricanes:

From USA Today bestselling authors Nicole Leiren and Elizabeth Ashby comes a decades old mystery…

When Lilly Waters moved to her ancestral small-town home of Danger Cove, Washington, she hoped for a walk down memory lane and a chance to connect with the family she never knew. What she got instead was a bartending job at the Smugglers’ Tavern, a mysterious man promising information about her grandfather—who had been listed as MIA since the Vietnam War—and a dead body she practically tripped over!
When the police point to Lilly as their number one suspect, she decides to take fate into her own hands. She enlists the help of a trivia loving waitress and a hot local security guard who sincerely hopes Lilly is doing more than just passing through. As Lilly searches for clues to clear her name, she uncovers puzzles that reveal secrets about her family and hidden treasure. Each clue brings her closer to the fortune…and to the real killer who will stop at nothing to get the gold.

Pre-order Heroes and Hurricanes here (release date: May 23, 2017):

Barnes & Noble  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Smashwords  
And find Nicole’s Heroes of the Night romance series here:  https://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Leiren/e/B011MKQRMQ/

A Bit About Nicole:

Nicole is a USA Today Best Selling author. She has been an avid reader from a very young age. Starting with mysteries, her love for whodunits expanded to include romance and suspense. Nicole’s stories feature what she likes to call her real world heroes and heroines. She enjoys sharing the love, laughter, mystery, and occasionally a touch of the mayhem she forces her characters to endure—all for the reader’s pleasure!

A Midwest girl, born and raised, she lives in the Western Suburbs of Chicago with her hubby, her own personal hero for over 28 years now.

Email  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Website  |  Street Team  |  Pinterest


Thank you so much for being with us, Nicole! It was a pleasure to have you here. 🙂 

Writer Wednesday: Catching Up With Tamara Shoemaker

Welcome to Writer Wednesday! I love Wednesdays, for they let me connect great authors with fantastic readers. Matches made in heaven, I tell you.

Today we welcome my dear friend and YA fantasy writer Tamara Shoemaker back to the hot seat – but we’ve served up different questions, since we’ve been blessed to have her on Writer Wednesday before.

So read on to find out more about Tamara’s writing process and her latest release, Unleash The Inferno, Book 3 in the Heart of a Dragon trilogy.


What’s it feel like to have finished TWO young adult fantasy trilogies (Guardian of the Vale and Heart of a Dragon) in short order?

I know in the grand scheme of things, publishing two completed trilogies between 2014 and 2017 feels like a short time, particularly when those trilogies are fantasy trilogies… but I can’t believe it’s only been three years. I feel like I’ve been working on those for years, and when at last I crawl back into bed, take out my teeth and lay my bifocals and cane beside the bed, I look back over the eons and eons of time that I worked on those trilogies, and I drift off into an exhausted sleep. 😉

How do you write so fast?

I don’t feel like I do. The fact that I get books done at all is pure, unadulterated, sheer stubbornness. All my spare time is spent in front of my laptop in various stages of writing, editing, planning, outlining, or marketing. Like any job, I love parts of it and hate parts of it, but apparently the enjoyment outweighs any dislike, because I keep doing it. 😉

Do you ever confuse characters in your head?

The names, I do, and it drives me insane. Particularly when I’m switching from one book to another, I’ll use the names interchangeably. Kinna has appeared in my Guardian of the Vale trilogy, and Alayne in my Heart of a Dragon trilogy. Ayden and Daymon also switched places.

That said, I don’t think I’ve ever confused the actual characters. Each of them has such a vivid connection with parts of the world in which I’ve placed them that switching someone else out for that character calls my attention immediately. They’re all so different and unique. But name-switching? Happens all the time.

Do you plot your stories out completely from start to finish or let characters surprise you along the way?

My style has morphed over the years. I used to be such a pantser. I hated the detail-work of planning out the whole book. I looked forward to writing each day to see what my characters would do next.

Once I began to realize the importance of story structure, though, I had to give up my tenacity to pantsing only. I had to have a solid foundation, a riveting conflict, a great story arc. When I pantsed my books, I had a vague sense of how to set that up, but once I started outlining, those things became much more intentional, honed, and focused. I believe I’ve become a better writer as a result of the switch (not that I don’t make room for some pantsing; my characters still sometimes refuse to adhere to my outline).

What if people haven’t read any of your earlier stories? Will this third one make sense?

It would be a lot like coming into the room where your spouse has just put in Return of the King, and the story picks up right after the battle at Helms Deep. You’d get a sense of the hobbits, Shelob, the orcs, Mt. Doom, Sauron, Minis Tirith, and Aragorn the King, but you’d have a hard time making sense of why everyone was where they were.

That’s not to say that the epic battles and some of the cinematic panorama wouldn’t be amazing and great to watch. I’ve included both of those in this book, so hopefully that will bring enjoyment to anyone who picks up the book, but quite honestly, these characters have grown a lifetime in the first two books. It would be much better to read book one and two first. It’s well-worth it; the trilogy has such a satisfying ending! 🙂

What’s next for you?

My plans (whether or not I end up fulfilling those plans or not is another question) are to finish some editing projects for clients, and then begin a brand new YA Fantasy novel that has been simmering in my head for several months. I’d love to get that written this summer. I’ve just completed two co-writes with my friend and editor, Emily June Street: River Running and The Eighth Octave. We’re hoping to take both of those through the traditional publishing route. In August, I’m attending a writers’ pitch conference, and then have plans for several more books/editing projects. I suppose I have no plans to quit anytime soon. 🙂


A Bit About Unleash The Inferno:

After the Battle at ClarenVale, Kinna Andrachen unites those who spurn King Sebastian’s tyrannical reign, mustering a rag-tag army of soldiers and creatures to face Sebastian’s far larger Lismarian army. Victory is elusive and allies are scarce, but Kinna’s tenacious spirit cannot succumb to injustice. Her fiery heart must learn to lead.

At last mastering control of the four Touches of the powerful Amulet, Ayden finds himself at the center of an epic struggle to destroy the corruption that has tainted the throne of Lismaria for centuries. As time runs out, his options for survival fade, surrendering him to a dark destiny.

Tied to a fate he does not want, Cedric Andrachen resists his inheritance, fleeing the lust for power it sparks in him. As war looms, Cedric faces his choices: will he turn his back on his throne and his kingdom? Or will he enter the struggle against tyranny, bringing the freedom his people have so long sought?

Sebastian sits, at last, on the Lismarian throne, stolen from him twenty years prior. But now the Rebellion, led against him by his niece and nephew, threatens his security from across the Channel, and the Amulet’s promise of power tempts him into even darker shadows. Ghosts of the past brutalize Sebastian’s present until the lines of reality blur with nightmare.

Flames of war ignite between nations. Peril threatens the Andrachen line.
Who will survive the inferno?

Find Unleash The Inferno here: http://amzn.to/2nqHy6G


TypewriterA Bit About Tamara:

Tamara Shoemaker authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, a stand-alone Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame, Embrace the Fire, and Unleash the Inferno, as well her Guardian of the Vale trilogy: Mark of Four, Shadows of Uprising, and Guardian of the Vale. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction, chases three children hither and yon, and tries hard to ignore the brownie mixes that inevitably show up in her cabinets.

Want to connect further with Tamara? Follow her on social media:

Twitter | Website | Facebook | Instagram


Woot! Thanks, Tamara, for hanging with us today! Always a pleasure, friend. 

Photo Journey: The University of Virginia Chapel and Alderman Library (Last in a series)

Ah, that beautiful February day in 2017 when I spend a leisurely afternoon strolling UVa’s Central Grounds. Previous blog posts have detailed the Rotunda – for this final one, I bring you photos from the Chapel and Alderman Library.

The front of UVa’s Chapel. Such a lovely building. Hubby and I married there in July of 1999!
The chapel from the east side.
Interior of the chapel from the back.
The chapel’s impressive and space-efficient organ pipes.
The gorgeous stained glass window at the back of the chapel.
One of the side sides of windows in the chapel.
Another side window.
More side windows.
I love stained glass windows.
Looking to the back of the chapel. Or maybe the front, I should say? This is the rear of the chapel, but near the entrance door…
And now the same rear shot with more light, so you can see the roof.
A view of Alderman Library from afar (it’s the building on the right in the distance). I spent many, many an hour in there.
The front of Alderman Library. Love the columns.
The plaque at the front. I sure would like to know more about the secret Seven Society, but alas, I was never a member.
The interior lobby of Alderman – which looks much different from 20 years ago in some ways, and the same in others. The computers in my day weren’t as fancy as these. 😉
And this cafe didn’t exist at all. This area to the left of the library entrance had study tables and chairs, and it’s the spot in which I watched my future husband walk into the library for the first time when we met for a lunch date in person after meeting online via Elvis.
The reference area in Alderman. How I love that checkerboard floor – and grad school friends and I spent LOTS of time in here.
Another view. It was quite the walk down memory lane to be in here again.
I wandered into the stacks – nothing like that old book smell – and found my carrel. This is it, with a view to the side.

“I want to go find my old study carrel on the fourth floor and see if Elvis is still carved in it. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

“Sure thing.” Eliza poked her. “I had no idea you were such a vandal.”

“I never said I did it.” Quirking an eyebrow at her friend, Cat added, “But I never said I didn’t.”

As Eliza headed toward the elevator, Cat walked back to the old side of the library. Passing through the metal doors, the familiar smell of timeworn books assailed her. She breathed in deeply. Geez, I’m as bad as my dad.

She moved through the stacks until she reached the spot in which she’d sat many an hour in school, reading Cicero while dreaming of a Romeo. Yeah, those days are long gone. She reached out and ran her finger along the bookshelf in her old carrel. Elvis was still inked across the edge of it.

“I have a sneaking suspicion you know who defaced this lovely university property,” drawled a voice from behind her.

From A Man of Character. Yup, this very spot in the photo above.

Giving a sense of the narrowness of the book aisles – and the spot in which Cat from A Man of Character had a little rendezvous…

And thus ended my tour of UVa. I hope you enjoyed the photos!