Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An Author’s Experience Writing a Series

Today I am pleased to welcome, author Lily Bishop. Lily’s new release, Breaking Even, continues her City Lights series. I asked her tell us about her decision to be a series author. Her experience might be helpful to others contemplating stories that continue beyond the first book.

Lily, why did you decide to launch a series rather than single titles, and what advantages/problems occurred during planning?

No Strings Attached, Book One in the City Lights series, tells the story of Fox and Laura. They have a whirlwind romance in Las Vegas, but then learn they have to work together. Fox is investigating embezzlement where Laura works, and she is the prime suspect.

At the end of this book, my husband said he could see the underlying embezzlement plot line continuing, although in my mind it was wrapped up. So I began thinking how I could revisit the embezzlement plot line and so I began, Book Two, Under His Protection. In Book Two, the leading lady is an attorney running for attorney general. She hires Fox’s brother Lee to provide bodyguard services after she receives death threats.

So one of main characters led the way for a new plot. Did you continue the story of other characters from your first book?

Yes, Fox and Laura feature in several scenes in all four books, and Lindsey and Ric appear in all four as well. Lee appears in books one, two and three.

Laura’s sister Lindsey became the driving force behind the rest of the series. I wanted Lindsey to end up with Ric, and they were both featured prominently in the first book. Unfortunately, she was young, only 22, and she had some growing up to do. I didn't feel like I could write her story next.

I see the importance of considering the age and maturity of characters as you develop them in future books. Does Breaking Even tell the sister’s story?

Yes. Lindsey’s romance has been problematic. There's an age difference, and readers know they weren't together during Under His Protection, the second book in the series. So we've ended up with an on-again, off-again romance, with some suspense thrown in. That may be more like real life, except we have super-yachts, private islands, and a horse farm. I started their story in book 3, a novella called For the Win. Since Lindsey featured prominently in book one, and she was missing for a good part of that book, I decided to tell what actually happened while she was on the island with Ric. Essentially I retold many of the events that happened in book one, but from Lindsey and Ric’s perspective. Since Laura didn’t know everything that happened to Lindsey on the island, we get to know Lindsey better.

Breaking Even (4) deals with the year between No Strings Attached (1) and Under His Protection (2). I won’t say that it ends with a cliffhanger, but there are unanswered questions about what will come next for Ric and Lindsey. We know they aren’t together in Under His Protection (2). Their story will finish at the end of book 5, which I plan to release early next year. I still have a big overarching plot to wrap up. In addition, a secondary character named Chloe was kidnapped near the end of book 2, and we need to see what happened to her. She will feature heavily in the fifth book, almost a romance within a romance. Chronologically, the books occur 1, 3, 4, 2, and 5.

From your responses, I see the importance of keeping track of each of your character’s characteristics, journeys, and connections. Also, a series author needs to reflect on the changes in each character as he or she appears in each of the book. It’s interesting that you have an overarching theme that carries through all the books as well.  So much to keep track of as you write!

With so much to think about, would you write another series?

The good thing about series romances is that the readers get to know connected characters and their families. I love these characters, and I'll be sad to see them go. I’m planning a spinoff series with two FBI agents who feature in the second and fifth books, but I don’t have that fleshed out yet.

Originally, I planned for the books to be standalone but connected, so that they could be read in any order. Unfortunately, that's not the way the books came to me. Sometimes as a writer you have to go with the way the story is leading. Because Ric and Lindsey’s story spans a year and a half and three distinct periods, I decided to break it into three books. The final book has a working title of Winner Take All (5), and we will check in with all of the couples. Readers should expect more than one viewpoint couple in Book Five.

All four books are currently available on Amazon, and books one through three are available at other vendors. No Strings Attached (1) is currently on sale for 99 cents at all vendors. You can find all of the buy links here:

In your newest book of the series, Breaking Even, tell us about your hero. What do you like most about him? Does he have a weakness?
Ric Salzana is from Venezuela, although he attended college in the United States. He owns a resort on a fictional private island in the Bahamas name Calliope. We first meet him in book one, when he disables the main character with a stun gun. There are criminal elements in his family, but he works hard to stay on the right side of the law. I like that when he meets Lindsey, he falls hard, but he’s patient with her, and he waits for her to catch up with him. His weakness is that sometimes he acts without thinking.
Tell us about your heroine. What do you like most about her? Does she have a weakness?
Lindsey Todd has just returned from a weekend at The Castle, a resort on the private island of Calliope. (These events are covered in For the Win) When I first created Lindsey, a long time ago, she had started out as a ditzy character, but I decided to flip it. What if she were at the other end of the spectrum? What if she were a mathematical genius who struggled to fit in and feel accepted? Now she is starting graduate school, and she and Ric are attempting a long distance relationship. I like that Lindsey isn’t waiting on a man to start her life. Her weakness is that she’s naive and tends to trust too easily.

Please tell my readers more about Lindsey and Ric’s story.
Their stories that build their romance are bigger than one book. For the Win is a prequel, followed by Breaking Even.

For the Win: When blackjack turns to blackmail...

Lindsey Todd is on the blackjack table. She can't lose. After perfecting a system that helps her win big at every hand, Vaughn Bruce learns her secret and blackmails her into entering a high roller blackjack tournament in the Bahamas.

When Ric Salzana spots Lindsey Todd and the shady man who enters his casino, something doesn't add up. Once he realizes that Lindsey and Vaughn have been playing with counterfeit chips, Ric has the man arrested. But, Ric has other plans for Lindsey. Can he convince her to confess that she was cheating or will Lindsey beat him at his own game?

Breaking Even: Everyone wants to be a winner. Nobody wants to be a loser.

But for Lindsey Todd, all she wants is to break even and get back to the real world, focusing on graduate school in South Carolina. However, with her heart still in Caribbean with the sexy Ric Salzana, Lindsey's mind is miles away.

When Ric Salzana realizes that old enemies have resurfaced and that Lindsey is in danger, he'll do anything to save her--even if it means jeopardizing everything they've worked so hard to build. Can Ric keep Lindsey safe before all the cards start crumbing down or is their downfall just the bad luck of the draw?

Thank you, Lily, for telling us more about your City Lights series and your newest release, Breaking Even. I wish you much success as you go forward with Book Five.

Short Bio:
Lily Bishop is a transplanted Georgian who lives in the upstate of South Carolina with her husband and two children. By day, she works full-time as a data analyst. She writes about strong women and the men who love them. She writes linked books with connected couples and an overarching storyline. She loves the Caribbean, although she’s only been via cruise ship, not yacht or private plane like her characters.

Questions and comments are welcome!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Authors Inspired!

Where do authors of various genres get their ideas? 

Today’s blog highlights wonderful authors whose ideas for their novels began with a memorable experience.  Read on and discover how a spark of inspiration becomes a novel!

My first guest, Kathryn Orzech, tells us about her novel, ASYLUM, a dark suspense saga.

Drawn to the time of 1880s to 1910, my first apartment in a Victorian mansion featured elegant banisters, pocket doors, a marble fireplace, stained glass windows, and a servant ghost who stood behind me to welcome guests. Then at a friend's dinner party near Mark Twain's Hartford home, a woman who worked in an 1800s building, once a noted asylum, claimed to have seen a ghost in the hallway outside her upper floor office—and ASYLUM was born.

Kathryn, ASYLUM sounds so intriguing, and what a great cover.  You’ve drawn me right into the story. Check out Kathryn’s sites and buy link to learn more about her books.
Asylum: A Dark Suspense Saga
by Kathryn Orzech
 E-book at most online booksellers.

My next guest is Laurie Gifford Adams.  Her earlier novel, Finding Atticus, is one of my favorite YA novels. Here Laurie tells us about what inspired her newest novel, Over the Edge.
For Over the Edge, a YA novel, I was inspired to write about the themes of bullying, disabilities (in particular in this book, autism) and service/assistance dogs because of interactions I saw among my middle grade students. I wanted readers to have a little more understanding about autism and the fact that these kids want acceptance, too. I also wanted to highlight the different forms bullying can take. I included romance and adventure to get the attention of girls and boys.

Two important topics,  Laurie. This novel belongs in every school libraries. Learn more about Over the Edge  on these web links.
Laurie’s website:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Writers’ Greatest Fears


        Have you ever questioned your ability to write and fear that no one will want to read your work? Or, perhaps, it’s another desire other than writing that you haven’t pursued?
        Author Rose Anderson recently wrote in Romance Books 4 Us: “When I became a novelist, I jumped right in. It's a weird story really. I had been working on a wordy 5-book masterpiece for years (I call it my magnum opus or MO for short). When the end of the tale drew near, I began to fret. What if no one wanted to read it? What if I couldn't get a publisher to even take it on?”

          If you follow Rose’ career, you’ll see that she has done extremely well and has many admirers.
          After reading Rose’s post, I was reminded of a quote that I’ve kept a copy of for years. I stumbled on it just this week, while clearing out a drawer. The quote reminds me that Fear is our worst enemy. If God has given us the desire to write, then it’s a gift endowed by our creator. It’s up to me to believe, embrace a gift, hone it, and be thankful for it. There will always be others who write better and are more admired. That doesn’t take anything away from God’s gift to me. In fact, these authors help me to strive to work harder and learn more.

Do we neglect other gifts?

          I also love to draw. Time, responsibilities, and inclinations don’t allow me to expend the energy to practice and learn more. Perhaps, if I were better organized…  Or, could it be that I believe I just don’t have a gift that could be honed and improved?
          There I go again.
          Isn’t it better to believe that if we found the time to hone our gifts, we might realize that it’s our thinking that holds us back, not our abilities?
          Here’s a picture I drew of my grandson, Nick. It’s embarrassing to show it. The proportions are off and the sketch needs a lot of work. I admit I tossed it aside and gave up on drawing years ago. 
           I'm inadequate? 
          Or, should I believe if I kept at it, I could do it? 
          Obviously, there are many things we don’t want to do, even if we have a measure of talent, and that’s fine. As long as that’s our reason and not that we can’t do it.

Smile when you think of your gifts!
        I’m writing this and sharing my thoughts to encourage others who might feel inadequate or question their abilities to smile with appreciation at the marvelous gifts you’ve been given because you’re worth it! God said so.

Take this quote to heart:

Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
          Write on and shine your light!