Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guest Post + Giveaway with Cerise DeLand

Here at Romancing Rakes For The Love of Romance, we love, love, luuuuuuuuuuurve book series. Jamie is a big fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Kati is all about the Midnight Breed. Our shelves are groaning from book series, our Kindles overflowing. Today, Cerise DeLand is sharing tips on how to bring a series together. She will also be giving away the first book in her The Stanhope Challenge series to one(1) lucky reader.


Meet Cerise:
What’s a gal to do if she hails from D.C., lives now deep in the heart of Texas, travels often everywhere, and adores Paris, Florence, London, Tokyo and all points east and west?


She becomes an author who can write about those romantic places. And if your sweet tooth craves spies, pirates, body guards and gutsy women of today and yesteryears of medieval and Regency England, then she is the author you crave for smoldering erotic encounters and delicious love affairs!

Her name? Cerise DeLand.

What’s more is that Cerise is the award-winning author of 18 print novels of mystery, mainstream and romance with St. Martin’s Press, Pocket Books and Kensington. Her books have been on every book club list you can name, including Featured Selections of The Mystery Guild, Doubleday and Rhapsody. And when she isn’t dreaming up fiction? Cerise also writes non-fiction.

Busy lady. Happy writer.

Find Cerise: Author Site | Blog

5 Keys to Successful Series Plotting by Cerise DeLand

During my twenty-eight years of writing fiction, I have penned—among more than 40+ other novels—three historical romance series. Each one has taught me by doing. My latest, THE STANHOPE CHALLENGE of Regency erotic romances, helped me hone my skills and hopefully this short article will help you do the same for yours!

Every series must be more than a collection of stories about a group of people who happen to know each other. They must have a few characteristics of time, place and challenge to drive the quality of your plotting and your thematic rendering of them.
Here in a nutshell are the five keys I think most useful to creating satisfying series for you, the writer, and for your readers.

And while the keys are useful for any type of series in any genre, I have written this using terms of the romance genre.

1. Shared Experience of one set of key characters

Whether heroes or heroines or a combo thereof, the stars of a series comprise a natural group of people who have one thing in common. While immediately, the author would think, ah, well, if they are related, is that not enough?
And the answer is a most definite no.

While families work well as stars, so do other groups. Examples might include women who are friends or debutants of the season, men who have gone to school together, who play together, who were in the Peninsular War or on the same battlefield. All of these provide a similar background and experience on which you can play and develop.
The next challenge is to provide them each with a proper period and setting in which to mature as characters.

2. A Timeline for the entire series provides a realistic canvas on which to paint. A firm concept of why the first story begins where it does and why is as vital to a strong development as the second, the third, on to the very last book.
The conflicts of characters are different, say, during wartime, than during peace.
Characters who suffered tragic loss of wealth or lands under one king, but regain them under another lends a different quality and substance to the progression of each novel and the works as a whole.
The task of the writer is to use the dramatic realities of the period to highlight and underscore the challenges of each hero and heroine. Each person is, in his and her own way, merely a product of his or her age.
He or she cannot escape the conditions of their time on earth and the variety of what they might experience comes out in your plotting.

3. Diversity of plots provide excitement, yet allow for the display of the theme in unique methods.

Examples in romance wherein the theme is destruction of boring status quo could include:
A youngest child who is the comic one, providing witty dialogue. But the hero she meets is staid, depressed even.
A middle child who is the ignored one. But she writes a risqué play, makes a spectacle of herself by running away to Paris to join the opera, and the man who interests her is a politician, dour indeed.
An oldest sibling who has nothing but his pride of place as his main treasure and the woman he adores believes it imperative to be impulsive, dance barefoot in the garden, etc.

4. Finally, and most important, yet often missing from many series is an over-arching theme which gives a major resolution to the challenges met by all heroes and heroines. This overarching theme gives the series cohesion and a sense of historical sweep. Because Historical series do focus on like-minded or experienced individuals, superlative themes must be concluded with meticulous care to give it viability as a work presented in many parts.
This tying up includes resolving old conflicts with reverence to the plots of each book. No, not an easy thing to do! And therefore, this must be planned so that the last book gives the final conclusion to the collective journey of those characters in each work.
Without such a theme, the books in the series will lack focus and in the end, no more drama than a single title book.

5. A series is written and read for many reasons. Not merely to illustrate the challenges of a period or a class, a series conveys a sense of the era and the people who lived in it in more concrete, panoramic ways than a single work.

Ensure that you begin with a set of challenges for each work, and much like those on a chessboard, work with them until you see the strategy you wish to play.
Once you have done this, you will become enchanted with the process.
I daresay your readers will become enchanted with your novels—and all your series!

I do hope you give my Regency series a go: LORD STANHOPE’S IMPROPER PROPOSAL, LADY FEATHERSTONE’S FERVENT AFFAIR (with a novella inside about a certain LADY RAMSEY), MISS DARLING’S INDECENT OFFER and the 4th and last, THE BASTARD’S PASSIONATE PRIZE.

Do tell us about your favorite series. To one who posts today, I will give a prize!

Lord Adam Stanhope faces the Stanhope Challenge of wanting to marry…and knowing it will be loveless and tormenting. But he takes one look at his childhood friend, now a lovely widow, and proposes a marriage in name only. But when he learns that his bride is determined to be his lover as well as his wife, he faces a bigger challenge: Accept her delicious offer to delight them both in bed or spend his life in a greater torment…alone.
Where To Buy: Kindle | All Romance
Book Extras: Read an Excerpt

Well, you heard the lady. Answer Cerise's question and one(1) lucky reader will win an e-book copy of LORD STANHOPE'S IMPROPER PROPOSAL.
  • Leave a comment for Cerise telling her you favorite series.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter form below. You must comment to be entered to win. All other entries are optional.
Thanks to Cerise for taking time to hang out on the blog! She'll be back in March giving away another e-book and answering hard hitting questions from us. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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