TIMELINES IN SERIES BOOKS
—more important than you’d think!
Well, summer’s here, at least it is in the steamy part of Florida that I call home. My orchids moved months ago to shady spots outdoors, the DH’s tomato plants are just about burned up from the sun…and I’m fantasizing about cooling myself off at the beach or in the pool. BEST RECEPTION, my latest contemporary BDSM, came out last week—I hope it went to Memorial Day picnics or into vacation to-be-reads with lots of eager buyers!
My good friend Delilah asked me to talk about the writing process, so I’ll try to put into words my convoluted method for writing series since I’m now working on PRIME DEFENDER, the last of four books in my Necessary Roughness series for Ellora’s Cave. First, about this time last year, came the idea for a spinoff from my Gridiron Lovers series—one that would deal less with football and more with the BDSM club where the guys go to play. That took very little effort because I loved Jimmy Bronson, a secondary character in COACH ME. I wanted to give him his own story—a big, lovable guy with a very unusual fetish that readers heard a hint about from Coach and his lady love.
So…I had my hero for one of the books. A person would probably think I would then sketch out the other main characters for the books. I didn’t, though. Since Jimmy had this unusual fetish—and since I had decided up front that each of the books in the new series would explore an unusual BDSM practice, I picked three I found interesting. Then I sat back and did some research, trying to figure out what might cause different people to be dominant or submissive, why some would get turned on by things that would scare others away…and more.
Once I felt I had the psychology of my chosen kinks sorted out in my head, I sketched out a series proposal for my editor—descriptions of each hero and heroine, a brief idea of how the story lines would go in each book and a separate synopsis for each book. What I also should have done was establish a formal (written) timeline for the series. If I had, I would have avoided many revisions made necessary when my eagle-eyed editor noted inconsistencies among the books. But I didn’t, and I digress…
Next, I started writing the books—one at the time, because I rarely bounce back and forth from one work in progress to another. SACKMASTER, the first, came out last fall; END RUN in February; and BEST RECEPTION last month. I’d hoped to have them released closer together, but two things came in the way: the publisher’s decision to release a seven-book series of mine alternately with the Necessary Roughness books, and my aforementioned stupidity at having written myself into a corner by writing the Necessary Roughness series books as solo titles, not parts of an integrated, planned whole.
The series will come to a close with PRIME DEFENDER, which I set after the other three stories in order to avoid any lingering, head-scratching problems like the ones I encountered earlier. It’s been a learning process. I’ve brought away the knowledge, if I ever again propose a series with multiple books sharing a tight time setting, that I need to outline the action in the first book and verify the consistency of action in subsequent ones, in order to save myself a great many unnecessary headaches.
Hopefully, this book will go well, and I’ll be able to take a breather at the beach before the weather gets too hot to venture out from air conditioning. Thanks for inviting me to your home on the web!