This is a stop of the official Clockwork Mafia tour schedule. Here you will find a guest post by Seleste deLaney, and information on her books.
One of the best feelings I get as an author is when a book comes out and readers want more. Of course, when that happened with Badlands, my reaction was a little along the lines of, “More? There is no more. What do I do with that?” Cue panic for a while. And then I started thinking and realised my readers knew more about my story than I did. Of course there was more – I just had to figure out what exactly it was, and if you’ve read book one, you know Henrietta tends to be less than helpful most of the time.
And I knew book two had to be her story. Which meant I had to sit down and plot not only that book but at least loosely the rest of the series.
It’s a tricky thing building a series from what was intended as a standalone. It means finding an over-arching story to go with each of the individual books and works with what was already presented in the first one. In this case, knowing that book 2 would be Henri’s, I decided to focus on the bad guy from book one. (I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers here for those of you who haven’t read Badlands.) His “visible” motive in book one was greed. Nice, simple, understandable within the confines of a novella, but as soon as the story got bigger, his motivation had to be adjusted accordingly.
That means plotting the series became less about the Dark Hawk, the Badlands, or any of our heroes than it did about figuring out what really drove the antagonist of Badlands. Oddly, I think I was watching Captain America when things started to gel in my head. What if someone was trying to create not one super-soldier, but an army of them? And what if our antagonist was the primary scientist behind their creation? Now what would the people in charge do?
Suddenly, I had my big bad and my far-reaching external plot. Dividing it up into pieces for the other books was simple enough: A happens in 2, B happens in 3, C happens in 4. So I wrote. I fought with Henri. Then I wrote some more. Anyone who follows me on Twitter likely saw me complaining about Henri when I drafted book 2. She was not cooperating with the story at all.
Turns out there was a good reason for her to be so obstinate. In all my careful external conflict plotting and planning…I’d forgotten that these books are romances.
Fortunately my editor reminded me. So I went back to the draft and took a steam-powered chainsaw to it. I hacked it to bits. Saving this, discarding that, re-working a ton of it. Note to writers among you: do not forget the genre of book you are writing. Even with these romances that are heavily action-adventure, the romance still needs to rule the day a little bit. Plot that in. Plan it.
At the end of the day, I got my external plot and my romance and Henri was much happier with me. So was my editor.
The other tricky bits of plotting a series like this are setting up the later books without giving too much away and remembering that characters are seen through others eyes until they take centre stage. My first review for Clockwork Mafia was…perfect. The reviewer mentioned how differently she felt about characters seeing them through someone else’s point-of-view. What that means is I did my job…and hopefully that my plans for books 3 and 4 should work.
Which means all my evil plotting won’t be for naught
Badlands (Badlands, Book 1)
Harlequin Carina Press (US: 28th February 2011)
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After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation’s border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union. Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen’s assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever’s reluctant ally. As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands – if death doesn’t find them first…
Clockwork Mafia (Badlands, Book 2)
Harlequin Carina Press (US: 29th April 2013)
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Inventor Henrietta Mason is retiring from airships and adventuring to return home to Philadelphia. Determined to erase all trails leading to her late father’s duplicity, she dismantles his lab and removes all records of the Badlands gold. While in the city, she can’t resist the lure of a charity gala but winds up regretting the whole experience. Well, everything except a heart-racing dance with a certain U.S. Marshal. His career and vengeance on the line, Carson Alexander must prove a connection between Senator Mason and the mafia. He lucked out happening across Mason’s strikingly beautiful daughter, only to have her slip through his fingers. On a desperate hunt to track her down, he never expects his search to take him into the brutal Badlands. With a mechanically enhanced enforcer after them, only Carson knows the extent of the danger they face. He’ll have to win over Henrietta’s trust, and her heart, before it’s too late…
Author photo from SteampunkScholar.blogspot.com