Patti Shenberger and Nancy Fraser are a dynamic writing duo who write wonderful historical romance novels. I am thrilled to have them with us today!
Who’s Your Daddy and Where Does He Live? – The intricacies of plotting a multi-story, multi-location family series.
When we began planning the McCade Legacy series, we can honestly say we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It seemed easy at first … outline a couple of books and pitch them to an editor. However, the more we outlined, the more characters and possibilities came into our sometimes creative, but always active minds. What was originally planned as four books quickly became eight and we were off to the races!
Once we realized our original plan had morphed into something huge, the first thing we developed was a comprehensive outline for each book, listing the working title, the hero and heroine’s name, description, occupation, age and a two-three paragraph synopsis of the plot.
After the outline, we designed a family tree (which, btw, has changed a few times as weird thoughts popped into our caffeine-driven brains). We created a family patriarch and gave him multiple progeny. Our “tree” sprouted limbs, followed by more limbs, and even an illegitimate limb. One of our favorite scenes from Gambling on Love is when Aunt Virginia, now the family matriarch, tells our heroine Felicity the family history … right down to the dirty laundry!
Because the books occur in succession we realized we needed a timeline that included not just the start and finish of each book, but also each carry-over situation. For instance, in Gambling on Love, the first McCade Legacy book, our heroine Felicity gets pregnant. In book two, she gives birth. So, the timeline for book two had to encompass the end of her pregnancy. This type of inter-twining between books will continue throughout the series, although the carry-over won’t always be a blessed event.
Both Gambling on Love and the second book, tentatively titled The Lawman’s Agreement, are set mainly in Greenville, MS with extended family and plot situations taking place in Vicksburg and Natchez. In order to keep the supporting characters straight, we developed a database for each of the three main towns and included names of the local residents, e.g., the sheriff, the banker, the mercantile owner, etc. Currently, we have over 100 supporting characters between the three locations. We also developed a family conglomerate where the extended family share in the profits from the McCade businesses. These businesses include the gambling boat, the River Maiden which is docked in Greenville, the Grand Hotel in Vicksburg, and the mining and manufacturing interests just outside Natchez. In the second Legacy book, we also introduce the new McCade hotel in Greenville which has yet to be named (see contest information below).
The third book in the series, scheduled for release in the spring of next year and tentatively titled The Barrister’s Temptation, will take place mainly in Vicksburg, with a rather eclectic and new group of characters. The McCade family will, of course, be there but the story actually revolves around that illegitimate tree limb we mentioned earlier.
We also developed one particular story arc that, while not a huge plot changer, will carry from one book to the next. A few years ago, we published the original McCade story about the romance between Matthew McCade and Miracle Johnson. Both are supporting characters in Gambling on Love as well as the rest of the Legacy. We plan to re-issue the original book as a prequel and the next-to-last book in the series. In that original book, Matt’s sister Elizabeth disappears. We are carrying the mystery behind that disappearance over through each successive Legacy book. Then, once we’ve re-issued the original, we’ll close the series with Elizabeth’s story.
While our system may not work for everyone, there’s not a day goes by that we don’t refer to at least one of our supporting documents when crafting a chapter. For those of you considering a multi-book series such as this, either Nancy or Patti would be more than happy to answer any question you may have through email.
There is still time to enter our Rafflecopter contest to name the new McCade hotel. The winner will also have their name used as a character in the book and will receive an e-book copy of both Gambling on Love and the book in which their name appears
Would you consider writing a multi-series book? For those of you writing a series, what challenges have you faced?
Join us on Friday, June 14th, when Barbara Wallace presents: Tips on Writing Deep POV
Name the Hotel!
As part of a tour-wide giveaway the authors are offering one lucky winner the chance to not only name the hotel which will appear in the second McCade Legacy novel, but will also have their name used as a character in the book as well! The winner will also receive a copy of Gambling on Love and a copy of the second book when it becomes available.
When she devises a plan to move them north with the help of Jake McCade, owner of the gambling boat known as the River Maiden, she finds she’s run afoul of not only her father but of the man she’s duped into helping her.
As her plan begins to unravel, she and Jake are forced into a marriage for the sake of propriety and soon discover the most important thing to them both is the life they’re now building together.
Bio: Patti Shenberger has been writing since she could put pen to paper. An active member of the Romance Writers of America, along with her local chapter, the Greater Detroit RWA, she currently serves as the Chapter President and the Booksellers Best Award contest chair.
Patti lives in Michigan with her husband of over thirty years. She’s a mom to a grown daughter and son, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and her first grandchild is due in August. Rounding out the family are two fur babies, a cat and dog.
When not writing, Patti can be found reading, traveling with her husband, or spending time with friends.