I’m taking stock of my assets. As a writer, my greatest assets are story ideas and characters. I’ve taken a step back to look at what I have going for me. Let me explain.
Now that The Children of Empire Series is well on its way, I have a confession to make. I don’t have a plan for what to do next—any other author I know would have had one, but I don’t. At least, I didn’t. I’m working on one now. Chalk it up to insecurity. The books didn’t really take off until the third one appeared. Lesson learned? I need to write faster (Not going to happen) or I need to wait to publish until I’m far enough along that the books in a series can follow one another quickly and build readership.
In broad terms, I would want to publish books in sets of three, each book a standalone story that also pushes forward a series arc that embraces all three books and is resolved in the third. In the case of The Children of Empire, for example, the series arc had to do with Julia who strung all three heroes along at one time or another and who made Charles’s life a misery. It was only resolved at the end of The Unexpected Wife.
Rather than rush it, I’m looking at the families and individuals I’ve created in my works so far, from Dangerous Works through The Unexpected Wife. As my series have developed children and friends have appeared as secondary characters. Some of them deserve their won stories and some are terrific supporting characters I can reuse. For example, Georgiana and Andrew Mallet, the scholarly hero and heroine of Dangerous Works, have a son, Richard (also known as Aeneas) who appeared in The Reluctant Wife as a very young budding archeologist. In The Unexpected Wife, Zambak wrote a letter to his brother Archy (Archimedes) who is a botanist. Readers have not yet met their sister Athena who wishes above all to be a doctor, but she’ll have to leave England to do it.
I’ve already had requests for the story of Thorn, Zambak’s drug-addicted brother from The Unexpected Wife. He’ll get his story eventually but he’ll probably be a secondary character in a few books before that. Luckily he has three younger brothers. I’ve also had requests for a novel for Meghal, Fred’s feisty half-caste daughter in The Reluctant Wife. When I line my potential characters up by age, she’s one of the youngest. That one may be a while.
There are more, and as I said, I am taking stock. This process may take me a few months. I need to get to know them all deeply and understand their hurts. I need to think realistically about family: tragedies, conflicts, losses, and triumphs. I need to look for complex plots that will span three books. Love is a risky proposition—but always worth the risk. I can’t make it look to easy!
At the same time, my readers know how I love history and exotic settings so you can guess I’m looking at that as well. I’m developing a global timeline for the 1840s and 50s and looking to see where my characters fit. Every germ of a story i have is being summarized and filed away.
I created a place on Facebook to profile each of my inventory of characters. I call the group, Caroline Warfield’s Fellow Travelers. I’m expanding it every few days. If you haven’t seen it already, you can find it at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1655563474529075/ Come join us!
In the meantime, I’m helping to polish the Bluestocking Belles’ 2018 holiday box set. We’re going to reveal the title and the cover on September 8. Join the party—we like to have fun. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2089367241318177/ At the same time, I just started a story for another Belles’ anthology, this one aimed at Valentine’s Day. I’m going to be busy. At my Unexpected Wife launch party, Patricia Taylor won the right to specify story elements for another short story. I’m looking forward to working on that one. But first, coffee.