Irene Vartanoff on Writing a Book Series

Good morning, welcome to the garden. Please take a moment to fill up you plates with goodies and, of course, fill your glass with your favorite beverage. After you've found a chair our guest, Irene Vartanoff, will tell us about her process of creating a series. First a bit about Irene.

Award-winning author Irene Vartanoff combined her love of romances and comic books by working for Harlequin, Bantam, Berkley, and My as well as Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Her first superhero chick lit adventure novel, Temporary Superheroine, was quickly followed by a sequel, Crisis at Comicon. A third superhero adventure for Chloe is on its way. Her women's fiction novels published to date are Summer in the City and A Daughter's a Daughter. Irene recently released a stand-alone sweet contemporary romance, Second
Chance Reunion. She is currently writing the third book in a new series of sweet contemporary romances taking place in the world of opera. A lifelong East Coast resident, Irene lives in a forest of tall oaks in the wilds of West Virginia.

I didn't write Captive of the Cattle Baron intending to create a series, but the moment I introduced Baron Selkirk's younger brother and sister, each of them with their own issues, I knew they deserved their own books. I wrote JD's story, Saving the Soldier, quickly because his is a straightforward rehabilitation tale. Wounded in Iraq, he's been sunk in bitterness. Staying in the hospital for a long time can sap anyone's energy, and so it is with JD Selkirk, until Paula, the family friend who is secretly in love with him, takes a wild risk and jolts him out of his unhealthy mental pattern. Since these are sweet romances, of course it ends happily, but then there's the straight-talking, semi-alcoholic younger sister, Tess, to deal with in Book 3.

Writers often create fun, feisty secondary female characters to be foils for their heroines. What I hate is if the secondary character receives a personality transplant when she gets her own book. She loses her sense of humor or her cynical streak, and she might even lose her dumpy figure and her unfashionable hairdo. In other words, for those of you with a feel for retro, Our Miss Brooks becomes Sandy from Grease. I was determined not to do that with the third Selkirk ranch sibling, Tess, but I didn't want to write a book about a spunky heroine who is a hopeless alcoholic screw-up. Then I remembered that statistics say most people who binge drink around age twenty naturally drop off the habit within a few years, without any intervention. In other words, they grow up. Showing Tess maturing and grappling at last with her problems while remaining true to her bold personality was the challenge of Book 3 in the Selkirk Family Ranch series.

As the story opens, Tess has followed one of her dreams and become a Hollywood actress, but she's still drinking, which gets her into trouble. Taking her back to the Wyoming ranch is Rolf's solution, but once there, she's at odds with Rolf and with the intimidating males of her family who won't deal her in on running the huge ranch operation. They especially don't want her trying to help catch whoever is rustling cattle, but Tess can't be fenced in.

I'm almost finished writing Tess's story, but I still have not settled on a title. I need your votes or your suggestions. So far I've got:
Loving the Cowgirl
The Soldier Gets His Cowgirl
Cowgirl–Soldier Showdown
Cowgirl versus Soldier

Please vote for any one of these titles—or suggest your own title idea—at
Voting will close at the end of February. If you choose to include your contact info, I'll send you a link to the final title choice, and more.

Book 1 of the Selkirk Family Ranch series of sweet contemporary romances, Captive of the Cattle Baron is available now on Amazon.

Book 2, Saving the Soldier is on sale now at Amazon.

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Thank you, Irene, for visiting. Your series sounds fantastic. Of course, I like many love cowboys, soldiers, a man in uniform. I guess I'm saying strong heroes.


I love Alliteration in a title. How about, Courting the Cowgirl?
Just my two cents. Nice interview! Best to you on your career.
stanalei said…
The series sound fun. How about Loving the Cowgirl? Sounds like it will fit nicely with your heroine's journey. Best of luck!
Melissa Keir said…
Congrats on keeping the series going. I love series because when I find an author I love, seeing those characters again makes my heart sing!

I liked the first one... Each story should have it's own focus and this is Tess's...
Irene Vartanoff said…
Thanks for your good wishes and suggestions!

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