In May, I had the privilege of finishing my first contemporary romance series, Surrendering Time. I’d never planned on writing a series, and the experience taught me a lot. Here’s how I went from writing for fun to being multi-published.
When I started Entrusted (Book 1) years ago, I never imagined I would have it published, much less write a series. As I plugged along, I fought self-doubt with Entangled (Book 2) because the first had been received so well. Readers shared that they were ministered to by that book about regret, and it encouraged me after battling so hard to write it.
When it came time for Engaged (Book 3), there were two deaths in my life that shook me and took me out of writing for a bit. One was a dear friend that had prayed for my writing ministry from the day I started a prayer team. One of our last conversations was about writing. Keeping her in mind helped me meet the deadlines I had set and be intentional about finding and keeping peace as I worked on formatting and releasing the print and Kindle versions.
WHAT I LEARNED
With the series complete, I took some time to reflect on the process. Readers have asked if I will return to the characters or the Adirondacks. What I love about what I do is that, if that’s where God leads me, there are absolutely opportunities to do so. For me, finishing this series meant I finished the elements of time and specific surrender themes (fear, loss, change, regret, and dreams). Although I’m researching and plotting a six-book series based in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, it wouldn’t take much to bring back an Adirondack connection.
I also realized that, while I could return to the mountains and the people from the Surrendering Time series, their story lines had closure. As a reader, I get frustrated when I finish a series and there are loose ends. It’s important to me that each book stand alone, even though it’s part of a series. I worked to make that possible, and reviews seemed to reflect that.
When I decided to create a series, I didn’t know what to expect when I’d have to write two books I hadn’t originally planned to write. When I started writing for fun, I decided to write what I knew, and – at the time – I worked at a senior center; Entrusted was full of experiences I could relate to. By Entangled, I knew I was leaving my comfort zone. Carla was a sheriff pursuing beauty school, and I didn’t know a thing about either one. I researched cosmetology and received great feedback from stylists to make sure the book was authentic. I even visited the Adirondacks to make sure I knew and represented the area with accuracy.
I started a newbie and I’m still learning, but at the end of the series, I felt like a real author. And it feels great!
I can leave my Adirondack characters behind with fond feelings and a strange bond that they are more than fictional creatures – they are my friends. My next contemporary romance series takes inspiration from Surrendering Time; my next series will be about surrendering opinions. Instead of three books, it will be six. I hope to take what I learned while writing Surrendering Time to make my next series more engaging and even better received than my first series. I’m excited to dive into this new series and challenge myself beyond the borders of what I learned with my first series.
What do you look for in a series?
Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and – maybe one day – the chocolate. She’s the author of Entrusted: Surrendering the Present, as well as Entangled: Surrendering the Past. The last book in the series, Engaged: Surrendering the Future, is coming in June. She shares her story in the infertility devotional, A Walk in the Valley. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, and is also a blogger for Inspy Romance. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities.
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