Creating a New Small Town Series — @ReeseRyanWrites

Wrightsville Beach Panorama. Photo courtesy of Brian Leon. Some rights reserved.

Usually, when the monthly email arrives with the topic of the month, I hem and haw, wondering how to best approach the topic. This time, I actually squealed with glee. I get to kick off the Contemporary Romance Cafe topic for December: What we’re working on.

Talking about your current project is a tricky thing. Especially when, like me, you’re not working under a contract. It feels scary. Like I’m making a commitment to the world that I’ll put my bum in a chair, day after day, carving the time out of rock with a spoon if I need to, in order to get the project done.

Yet, here I am, doing just that.

A couple of months ago, I committed to working with a writing coach to help get me out of a slump. We had one marathon meeting which helped me identify some of the reasons I wasn’t moving forward–like my indecisiveness about which project to focus on–and some of the fears that were at the root of my self-sabotage. Still, by the end of the call, I hadn’t decided which project I’d focus on.

Over a month later, another plot bunny came to me. This one was about a New Year’s themed novella. Surprisingly, rather than adding to the jumble of confusion going on in my head, this plot bunny brought me a remarkable gift. Clarity.

I decided that I wanted to make the New Year’s novella part of a series about a small, diverse beach town (another thought that had been floating through my head). Suddenly it all clicked. That story, and a few others that were already in process, could all fit into a single small town series with a few tweaks. To fill out the rest of the series, I mined my running list of random story ideas.

Once I had the location of the series, and a tentative town name, I went to work plotting the series. Each story came together so easily. I could hardly believe it. In just a couple of hours I’d sketched out the entire series, consisting of eight books–six novels and two novellas. The only completely new story is the New Year’s novella.

Just like that, I have a series. This was critical for me because not having a series in mind was one of the things that held me back from venturing into the world of indie publishing.

Of course, plotting the series is great, but it doesn’t result in a completed book. So I started working on some of the foundation work. I ran a contest to help me decide on the series title, Hot Carolina Nights. I am just about finished with a relationship web, helping me connect characters throughout the series. Samantha Ann King gave me a great idea for creating a map of the town. I’ve been working daily on edits (and new words) in Book One, and I’ve created a publication deadline for the series. That last one was probably the scariest piece of all.

I won’t share the entire schedule with you. However, I will tell you to expect Book One of my indie published Hot Carolina Nights series in May 2015. Here’s a brief summary of Book One:

When a NYC reporter unwittingly becomes involved in an international scandal and loses her promising career, she returns to her small, oceanside hometown where she uncovers secrets from the past and gets a second chance at love with the man who broke her heart ten years ago.

I’m working on the first book in my new small town series. Most importantly, I’m incredibly excited about this project. I don’t have to make time to write. I can’t wait to dive back in. I work on the project every chance I get.

What’s on your agenda for 2015? Would love to hear your reading or writing goals for the new year.