Happy Monday, Everyone!
Today, I'm turning my blog over to fellow Crimson Romance friend, Becky Lower, author of the Cotillion Ball Series. She is revealing all that she's learned over the course of writing a huge series, mistakes and all.
Becky, my blog is yours. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Writing The Historical Series
If I’d known when I started the Cotillion Ball Series in 2011 what I know now, I would have done things quite differently. All I knew at the time was I wanted to write about the Cotillion tradition, and I wanted a to write about a large family where each child got his or her season to find a mate. I loved Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, and have read and reread them multiple times. But where most novels about the Cotillion are set in England, I wanted to place mine in America.
Those ideas led me to researching the history of the Cotillion in America. When I found out the idea of introducing young affluent ladies into society migrated to this country in 1854, I looked no further. That was my first mistake, since I hadn’t looked into the other events happening in this country in the mid 1850s. The Reluctant Debutante was born, and the book was set in New York in 1855. I named the collection of books The Cotillion Ball Series. My second mistake, since not every book focuses on a ball.
So now, with the last book in the series about to be released, I thought it would be a good time to articulate what I’ve learned, in the hopes of saving others from making the same mistakes. Here we go:
1) If your series is going to take place over a span of years as the children grow into adulthood as mine is, do some investigation of historical events first, to see if there’s a discovery, a war, a movement that you can use. I got lucky on this one, since America in the 1850s and 1860s was rife with significant events as the country was expanding to the west and also sinking into the Civil War.
2) Before you give your series a name, figure out which events you want to highlight in each book. Write a couple sentences about each book. You don’t need to be JK Rowling, with a shoebox full of notes, outlines, and research for each book. A couple of sentences–who will be the protagonist in the book, what significant event will you focus on, how will it affect the hero and heroine. I should have named my series the Fitzpatrick Family Saga instead of the Cotillion Ball Series since Book 3, Banking on Temperance, took place in St. Louis, where the second son, Basil, moved to open a branch of the family banking business. Book 7, Expressly Yours, Samantha takes place in Missouri and Kansas and centers around the Pony Express. You can’t get much further from the splendid hotel ballrooms of New York if you tried. Books 8 and 9 take place during the Civil War years, when the balls were put on hold. No Cotillions there, either.
3) Keep a Bible of names, dates, hair and eye coloring, for each character in your books. Since I’ve limited my books to basically either New York, St. Louis, and now Washington, DC, there’s some repetition in buildings, restaurants, and places, too. And, as each child marries off and starts their own families, keeping track of the children is something I could only accomplish by creating a Fitzpatrick family tree.
4) Develop strong secondary characters. I know it’s been extremely hard for me to finish this series, since I feel like I’m a part of the Fitzpatrick family. My readers have suggested I continue the stories of a couple of my characters who had cameo appearances in my early books. Julia Quinn did this with her Bridgerton series, and now the Smythe-Smith children are each getting their own story. So I may not be completely done with the series yet.
Here’s the blurb for The Forgotten Debutante, which releases April 4.
Don’t miss the touching conclusion to the Cotillion Ball Saga!
Three years ago, Ezekiel ran away with his older brothers to join the war effort, welcoming the chance for adventure. But when all four of his brothers die at Chancellorsville, he retreats home, despondent and depending on the kindness of strangers, like Saffron, who help him on the journey. They share a wild ride and a breathless kiss, parting with fond memories.
Fate reunites the couple three years later, and their former attraction rekindles as they discover unexpected common ground and begin to build a relationship. But though the war is over, a future together may still elude them … especially if Saffron’s older, protective brother and the U.S. Army have anything to say about it.
Where you can find Becky Lower:
Award Winning Author
Amazon Best Selling Author
Timeless Romance With Sass
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Wonderful post, Becky. Thanks again for sharing. I found similar problems with my first series. I had to come up with not only a family tree, but a 60 year timeline to keep everything straight. I wish you the very best of sales. If anyone has a question for Becky Lower, please don't be shy. She would be honored to answer your question.
I hope everyone has a great week. Take time for yourself and read a good book. Until we meet again, be safe, and as always, be kind to one another.
Hugs to all!
Nancy C. Weeks