Monday, May 5, 2014

Making a Series

I'd written four books before I attempted a series. One of those books, now entitled A Taste of Bayou Water had a sequel, Blessings and Curses, the first being the sister's romance, the second the brother's story.  But, I deliberately wrote Goals for a Sinner to be the first in a series that would follow the life and loves of the players on a fictional football team, the New Orleans Sinners. I vowed I'd use players other than a flashy quarterback and started out with a wide receiver, then broke my vow when I became intrigued by the quarterback, Joe Dean Billodeaux, who helped the receiver through his crisis. Joe Dean became the hero of the next book, Wish for a Sinner. When I couldn't sell either book, that series came to an abrupt halt. I moved on to cowboys and Regency dukes. Tides turned and Goals became the first book I sold.  Then, I had to get cracking writing the third book, Kicks for a Sinner and so on up to five books in all (so far). I never got over Joe Dean and found my stories followed his career to its end while encasing a new romance inside that overall arc. Some people like that. Some don't.

Series simply do sell better than single titles.  I can swear to that.  In fact, I created an unintentional series with my Mardi Gras books.  The first, Flames, had a mystery sub-plot and less sex than the Sinners series. A pivotal point n the plot takes place at a ball at a small town Mardi Gras.  I explored a country Mardi Gras where the celebration also plays a big role in the plot with another small mystery going on in a story called Masks. These books were only very loosely connected by the Mardi Gras theme, different towns, different characters. Searching for another book to write, I finally tackled the 1920's historical novel, Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball.  It grew out of three sentences in A Taste of Bayou Water, "You got your great-grandma's moxie showing up here. I remember that shawl from when she danced a fandango on a table out at Broussard's Barn on New Year's Eve back when I was just tadpole. Rosamond St. Rochelle was some high-stepper in those.days."  I wondered about Granny Roz for years after writing Bayou Water. What was her story? Because she is the heroine's great-grandmother, obviously she came of age in the Roaring Twenties and would have to be a rebellious flapper.  Nine months and much research later, I finished Queen, one of my best books to date.  Couldn't sell it. No one wants to read about the 1920's I was told, but again a prime plot point takes place during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

So, no takers on any of these books as single titles.  I wondered if they'd sell as a series, technically a trilogy, if I repackaged them. First I changed the titles of the first two books to Mardi Gras Madness and Courir de Mardi Gras and developed a nice catchy phrase,"Anything can happen on a Mardi Gras Day in...a small town, the country, New Orleans. I rewrote the earlier books mostly to bring them in line with what my publisher wanted-and they sold as a group. The connection between the books is still tenuous and each can be read alone, no problem, but they had no appeal as single titles. Queen and Madness came out in October, 2012. Courir was due out in September, 2013. Anyone who follows this blog knows what happened next. My publisher went out of business before Courir appeared. Queen and Madness went out of print. I still have some new copies and some are available used, but people kept asking me when the third book in this series would be out and even suggested I write another based on Mardi Gras in the 1800's.

I'm happy to say Courir might be out next year. I've submitted it to Wild Rose Press and await their word. If they accept it, I will see if they want the others as well. I admit I've been dragging my feet on this while trying to get my real bread and butter series, The Sinners, back into print. I blogged about that struggle last time. After that came the launch of the cowboy series, The Roses, starting with The Convent Rose and followed by A Wild Red Rose.  The third book in that group, Always Yellow Roses, has gone to galleys, so now I have a little time bring those Mardi Gras books forward again. Wish me luck with my unintentional series.