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As you’ve probably noticed, the five of us who wrote the novellas in SCANDALOUS BILLIONAIRES are pretty excited about the upcoming release of the boxed set.  It’s mostly because the heroes are thrilling, and the location–the glamorous Amalfi Coast–is to die for.

But, for me, it’s also because, like most writers, I love participating in a good series.  I like hanging out in the story world long after my own plot winds up.  I enjoy seeing the setting through the eyes of new heroes and heroines.  I love peeking in on characters I’ve come to care about, getting a glimpse of how their happily ever after is really playing out.

Dry rose on an old book/ Vintage Books and Roses

It’s true for me as a reader, too.  Always has been, I think.  Someone asked me the other day what the first “series” fiction I remember reading is.  My answer was, I thought, quite simple.  Nancy Drew.  When I was in elementary school, I devoured those books.  It didn’t matter how many times I was introduced to her charming town, her orderly house, or her wonderful, indulgent, elegant father.  I was enchanted, and I couldn’t get enough of her.  It was like coming home every time.

nancy drew

But today, when I was mulling over the unique thrill of connected stories, I remembered other, earlier, equally beloved series.  I remembered being taken to the tiny library near my house and running my fingers over the spines of the Bobbsey Twins books.  I can still see the pictures on the covers.  A whole shelf of them…maybe two!

The books were old-fashioned even then, but for some reason they made me so happy.  The two sets of twins went to the seashore, and the country, and the county fair. They rode airplanes and ferries and houseboats.  They visited places with wonderful names, like Meadow Brook, Lakeport, Cedar Camp, Blueberry Island, and Big Bear Pond.

I can’t remember many of the details, and I have a sneaking suspicion the kids were gaggingly wholesome and sweet.  Probably lots of gender indoctrination, too.  But I was seven, and I was in love with the whole Bobbsey family.  Knowing there were so many books in the series made me feel oddly safe, as if I had made true friends, friends who would stay for life.

But then..wait…! I suddenly realized that even the hundred-year-old Bobbsey Twins weren’t the first “series” stories I loved.  For the first time years, I recalled that my very proper grandmother was a marvelous storyteller, too.  Whenever my older sister and I spent the night at her house (a big, sometimes scary place), she tucked us into bed with another installment of the winding saga of Foxy Loxy and his wife (whose name I can’t remember) and their animal friends.

Grandmothers house and granddaddy

It was like coming on a strain of gold in the caves of my memory, recalling this long lost treasure.  Sadly, so many of the textured, fabulous details are lost with the years.  I know Foxy Loxy had an arch-enemy in the form of some diabolical animal, and I know FL adored his beautiful wife, but I have forgotten the names of their friends, or the twisting, adventure-filled plots.

But the feeling of excitement, of scrunching down under the covers and looking up at my grandmother, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, almost holding my breath as I waited for the story to begin…that I remember as if it were yesterday.  She would, with her words, open the door to a magical world where these characters waited for me to come and play with them. I knew Foxy Loxy as intimately, as comfortably, as I knew my own kitten, or the stuffed toy I slept beside.

granddaddy and grandmother with us

What about you?  What was the first “series” you ever loved?  Which characters did you know as well as you knew your own siblings?  What fictional towns were like second homes to you?

I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of SCANDALOUS BILLIONAIRES, which will arrive in your inbox on release day, to one randomly chosen poster today, so please do share!  It might take a while to dredge up the first, but the memories you revisit will be worth it! 🙂

 


Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 8.59.54 PMTwo weeks ago I started a blog series to get y’all to help me plot a novella. So if you remember from our two previous blogs where we came up with the trope and then came up with the external set-up.

So here’s where we are: we’re doing a Beauty and the Beast story, but we’re flipping it and having the Hottie (hero) and the Ugly Duckling (heroine) and we’re putting these two in a compromising situation/scandal which forces them into a marriage of convenience.

Then last week I asked y’all to decide on that external situation – that impetus of scandal that propels them into that marriage of convenience.

Here was the breakdown:

(a) she’s somewhere she’s not supposed to be and interrupts the hero’s romantic tryst (the other woman runs away) — 4 votes
(b) she hires the hero to “ruin” her so she doesn’t have to marry someone else — 4 votes
(c) someone (a 3rd party) traps them together — 6 votes
(d) he intentionally gets her alone b/c he thinks she has something/knows something — 5 votes
(e) he has a crush on her prettier, younger sister and tries to get alone, but heroine “rescues” sister — 1 vote 

Since I will be the one writing this novella, I’m going to make the final decision here, but within the choices that y’all voted on. I am predisposed to like plot lines that send my characters on a quest or adventure or working together to solve a case – that’s the most fun for me. So I like the idea of him getting her intentionally alone because of some antiquity that he’s trying to find and he thinks she either has it or knows something about it. I don’t, however, think he’d schedule said meeting with the ulterior motive of getting her alone publicly in order to marry her – he’s a confirmed bachelor, after all. So for him, it’s all business. But I do like y’all’s favorite choice of having a third party intentionally getting them together and then found thus forcing that marriage of convenience. (what if it was one of their mom’s?!)

Let’s come up with some names for them. If you remember from last week, I cast the characters and you can see the pictures here

Hero’s name:
(a) Evan
(b) Oliver
(c) Peter
(d) Matthew
(e) Lincoln

Heroine’s name:
(a) Matilda
(b) Annelle
(c) Beatrice
(d) Harriet
(e) Lottie

Now, you should have a general idea of what this novella “feels” like to you. Can you see some scenes? Share your ideas. Don’t forget that at the end of the three blogs, I’ll pick three winners (at random) to win some goodies. So be sure to participate and often! 


Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 10.04.11 PMSo if you remember from last week’s blog, y’all are helping me brainstorm a novella. 

I asked y’all to come up with the trope and here’s how the breakdown fell: 

Beauty & the Beast -or- the hottie & the ugly duckling
Compromising situation/scandal
Marriage of convenience tied with Friends to lovers

So I’m going to say we have a Beauty and the Beast story – though I’m gonna swap it and have a Hottie and the Ugly Duckling (this doesn’t have to mean she’s physically unattractive, just hasn’t come into her own yet or maybe she’s awkward or chubby or whatever). Those two characters end up in a compromising situation/scandal which forces them into a marriage of convenience. So that’s our basic storyline. 

Next step is to figure out the external stuff that’s going on. So we know that our hero (the hottie) and our heroine (the ugly duckling) somehow manage to get themselves embroiled in a scandal. (I love this, btw!) I’m going to go a step further and say that though these two might know each other, they’re not romantically involved. Instead our bookish heroine somehow stumbles into a situation which puts her right in the hero’s path. So what forces our hero and heroine’s unlikely paths to cross? 

(a) she’s somewhere she’s not supposed to be and interrupts the hero’s romantic tryst (the other woman runs away)
(b) she hires the hero to “ruin” her so she doesn’t have to marry someone else
(c) someone (a 3rd party) traps them together
(d) he intentionally gets her alone b/c he thinks she has something/knows something
(e) he has a crush on her prettier, younger sister and tries to get alone, but heroine “rescues” sister

Again, you can vote for as many as you like, or suggest your own. 

Okay so now I need you to make some suggestions for the following:

Fears (I’m not talking spiders, heights or tornadoes here, these are emotional fears)
What is she afraid of? 
What is he afraid of? 
What is about each other that makes them fall in love?

I took the liberty to “cast” our hero and heroine so I hope you like the pictures I chose. 

Don’t forget that at the end of the three blogs, I’ll pick three winners (at random) to win some goodies. So be sure to participate and often! 


Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 10.03.13 PMAs it so happens I’m on the schedule to blog the next three Wednesdays in a row. Lucky y’all! The lovely and talented, Shana Galen suggested I do a three-week connected blog. So I got an idea, wouldn’t it be fun if we brainstorm a story together? So for the next three weeks, I’ll give you some choices to make (and you can suggest stuff on your own) and then when we’re done I’ll have a plotted idea for a novella that I’ll write. 

Stuff I already know about the story: it’ll be an historical because that’s what I do best. Y’all can vote if you want Regency or Victorian though. For the most part I like novellas where the hero and heroine have a bit of a past – doesn’t mean it has to have been a romantic past, they just need to be acquainted with one another since the format is shorter than a full-length book. 

First step, let’s pick a trope, AKA a beloved plot line. Here are some you can choose from (or suggest your own!), you can choose up to three

(a) Marriage of convenience
(b) Compromising situation/scandal
(c) Unrequited love
(d) Friends to lovers
(e) Enemies to lovers
(f) Mistaken identity
(g) Beauty & the Beast -or- the hottie & the ugly duckling

Here’s something to get you in the mood for an historical, in case you need inspiration for your brainstorming. 

https://youtu.be/Ll2H3TIt0PE

Also, at the end of the three blogs, I’ll pick three winners (at random) to win some goodies. So be sure to participate and often! 


ghfghgSo this past weekend former Quill, Emily McKay, and I presented a writing workshop in San Antonio. At the conclusion of our lecture material, we brainstormed a new book idea (not one either of us planned to write) so the participants could see the how-to in action, so to speak. But during the brainstorming, something totally cool happened and it reminded me of how marvelous it is that there are so many different writers out there so that we have so many different story options as readers. 

The story we brainstormed, we pulled straight from the gossip pages – did y’all hear the rumor a few weeks ago about Prince Harry dating Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter movies)? The internet lit up with this rumor and for a few blessed hours we seemed to have an awesome power couple in the making. Turns out, it was all a rumor. But we ran with that idea as our would-be plot scenario: What happens when a rumor starts that the royal “spare” is dating the actress from a beloved children’s series? Well, if the crown is currently in turmoil, then they make a bargain with both parties to continue their false relationship to busy the paparazzi to deflect from the actual problem. 

So that was the story we bounced around. We got lots of scene ideas and possible conflicts and goals for the two main characters. And then someone asked, well, what if when the crown approaches him about the fake relationship, they leave it up to him to pursue her and she’s not in on the secret? At this point, I got all kinds of excited. This was my kind of conflict. Secrets, the hero as the pursuer, a feisty heroine who will NOT be happy when she discovers whats actually going on. Then we had two clear choices that made for two very different stories. 

Which story would you pick? The one where both the hero and heroine are in on the secret and trying to fake it together? Or the one where only he’s in on the secret and it’s up to him to get the heroine into the relationship (fake or not!)? Why do you think you would choose that over the other option? *Also, how cute would they be as a real life couple? So cute!!!


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