I am fortunate. This I know. In all the years I’ve been writing, I’ve never lacked for a plotline, the time or the drive to develop it into a novel. I never have fewer than two ideas waiting for their turn in the spotlight. Again, I’m fortunate enough to have the time to go along with the imagination–something I never feel the need to justify, or would dare to squander. That’s why I write everyday.
The original spark for Seeking Carolina started with a writing-group prompt a couple of years ago. The scenario was, “What do you do when someone else gets what you wanted most?” Up popped Johanna and her sisters, and the locket they were all promised. Once again during writing group, the very-talented Renee Paley-Bain told us that she needs to get her hands in the dirt. Gardening is her solace and inspiration…and up popped Benny, the young widow in Dreaming August, who plants a graveyard garden and talks to ghosts. Discussing with my son how awesome it would be to, one day, live in an old-folks-home populated by writers sparked Traegar’s Lunatics, a novel unconnected to any of the others; I can’t wait to write it, but I have to finish Waking Savannah, the third book in The Bitterly Suite, as well as write the fourth, Being Charlotte. Then, thought I, would be the old-writers-home book…maybe. Because last week, while reading the latest edition of RWR (Romance Writer’s Report,) most specifically, the article about series work, a new novel was born.
There are plusses and minuses to writing in a series. A minus is getting pigeon-holed, being stuck writing in one place, with one basic set of characters, because that’s what your readers want. Well, readers wanting more is fabulous, of course, but writing in the same place for too long begins to lose its shine–especially when one is writing about a small town. The antidote for that, the article said, could be a spin-off series…spark!
Out popped Tabitha, foil for a grown-up Caleb, who appeared in The Bitterly Suite as an incidental character. The bakery first introduced in Seeking Carolina is located in Cape May, New Jersey, a gorgeous little sea-coast, Victorian town. Bitterly, Connecticut and all her locals are still present, though nebulously. Transplanting Caleb to Cape May brings both series together, while giving me a new world to write in. Now, Charlotte and Peter’s story is no longer Being Charlotte but Cape Maybe, first in the Bitterly’s Bachelors series, followed by Caleb and Tabitha in Wayward Point, and Will and Vanessa in Ocean’s Edge. Once the first novel melds The Bitterly Suite to Bitterly’s Bachelors, I can move away from the Bitterly completely and settle in Cape May. How cool is that?? I’m pretty stoked.
Never lacking for a story is a wonderful thing; keeping focused on one while the others nudge you in the back isn’t quite as wonderful, but it’s still pretty fabulous. I never know when inspiration is going to strike, but I love when it does. What about you? Where does your inspiration come from?