In writing a series, it’s hard to keep all the characters straight, never mind their pets. As the story progresses through several books, circumstances, events and relationships drive the plot forward. One chapter segues into the next and one book into the next.
A “timeline” will help keep the chronology straight and prevent gaffes that will confuse the reader and make the author look incompetent or unprofessional.
What’s hard is that pets have such short lifespans and, in the natural progression of time, they become old and infirm…or die. I understand this intellectually but I’m having a hard time as I write Book 5, Far And Away, to describe the loss of a cherished companion. I was re-reading what I’d written and suddenly realized that, if the animal was first introduced several books back, it would be about a hundred and twenty in dog years now!
It’s more than having friends in high places (although that certainly helps), more than ambition and hard work, more than luck…
Stephanie Deschaines is the teenage daughter of Luc Deschaines whom readers met in Fool Me Once, Book 1 of The Riverwood Series. Struggling with his child’s obesity and unhappiness as a single parent, Luc is gratified to have the love and support of the women in his life to mentor and nurture Stephanie. First it’s Lucinda Westlake, the wife of his business partner, Chip Westlake. Then it’s Ronnie Chandler and her colleagues at Horse Country Real Estate in Tennessee, when The Westlake Group commits to underwrite a planned equestrian community there.
As the story progresses through subsequent books in the series, there are others. In Book 4, Ride A Pale Horse, Stephanie spends the summer after her high school graduation at the Round Top Ranch in Texas, one of The Westlake Group’s investments, and is drawn into the warm and loving Sauseda family who manage the ranch. Little does she know what a role they’ll pay in her future, how much she needs them and depends on them.
When Stephanie and best friend, Alison, realize their dream to embark on a business venture together after college graduation in Book 5, Far And Away, it’s the women who’ve been her support system all along who provide the financing and cheer her on.
When you read a novel in the “Romance” genre, isn’t that the crux of the matter…a romantic attraction between two characters?
The attraction is established through the plot and the dialogue, which is the interaction between the two characters. Then the trick is to create some sexual tension and spin it out as the story progresses and the attraction grows.
To prevent the story from just being “mushy,” it helps to throw in an obstacle or two (or three or four LOL) which preclude the relationship from being actualized. Readers get to know the characters as they react to the various difficulties and strive to resolve them, ultimately leading to a happy ending.
In the Riverwood Series, readers root for Ronnie and Luc in Book 1, Fool Me Once. In Book 2, A Bitter Wind Blows, it’s Ricky and Aaron. In Book 3, Signs of Life, readers hope Tim can make his way into Asha’s heart (and other body parts). And in the fourth book, Ride A Pale Horse, readers fall in love with Antonio and hope he ends up happily ever after.
There is a program, Scrivener, that makes laying out a plot considerably easier.
I told my editor I was thinking of ideas for the next book and, as they occurred to me, I would scribble them on a scrap of paper and throw them in a box, lest I forget. After a looong silence, she asked incredulously, “Really?” She suggested I download the 30-day free trial and give Scrivener a try.
It has a feature where the synopsis of each chapter becomes an index card which you can color code according to which character’s Point of View dominates the chapter. If there are multiple POVs, the chapter can be subdivided into scenes and color coded accordingly.
In the “corkboard view,” you see all the index cards laid out and, by dragging and dropping, you can rearrange the plot. What the author wants (and his editor more so) is to avoid veering story lines so this is definitely the tool for the job!
Now that Book 1, Fool Me Once, is published, readers have commented that there are a few “loose ends.” They ‘re not loose because those few things were deliberately left unresolved in the first book of the Riverwood series.
And that’s because they’ll carry over into Book 2, A Bitter Wind Blows…which has a few of its own matters left unresolved so they can carry over onto Book 3, Signs of Life. Which they do.
Likewise into Book 4, Ride A Pale Horse, and now into the current work in progress, Far And Away, Book 5.
Each book is a stand-alone sequel. They’d be best read in sequence but it’s not essential. Readers will come to know the characters and will be able to follow them as the narrative develops, following the threads of the various story lines.
And, presumably, tying those loose ends into a tidy bow.
Readers met Luna, Frank Barton’s German Shepherd, in Fool Me Once, Book 1. Luna is quite the partygoer and makes frequent appearances, including a stint as a bridal attendant. Luna especially likes eggs and never misses an opportunity to be invited for breakfast.
She’s not the only GSD featured in the Riverwood series.
When the Hadley family moves from Vermont to Tennessee in Book 3, Signs of Life, buying a lot and building a house at Riverwood, their Shepherd, Cricket, comes too.
By Book 5, Far And Away, Luc Deschaines has cut back on his insane work schedule and spends more time at Riverwood with his wife Ronnie. He has always admired the relationship Frank and Tim have with their faithful companions and he wants a dog as well. Enter Leuther, Luc’s new German Shepherd.
His friends are good role models for Leuther but, like all young dogs, he has a lot to learn!
Asha and Tim Hadley sure have their hands full with identical twin boys!
They’re born in Vermont in Book 3, Signs of Life. By Book 4, Ride a Pale Horse, the family has moved to Tennessee where they built a house at Riverwood, an upscale equestrian community. These are horse books and they’re set in Big South Fork, the “Trailriding Capital of the Southeast.” Picture the boys on near-identical Spotted Saddle Horses….people think they’re suddenly seeing double.
By Book 5, Far And Away, the current work in progress, they’re old enough to be a handful. They’re smart, handsome, considerate and highly principled which is exactly what you’d expect given who their parents are.
When Justin and Jordan engage in some typical preteen behavior at school, Asha wastes no time in making them make things right. In this ‘teachable moment,’ not only must they make amends, they forfeit coveted NASCAR tickets to the night races at Bristol.
But when the class bully makes an off-color comment about Asha, that’s more than Justin can take and he learns another hard lesson.