The germ of the idea that became Arcadia Valley Romance began percolating for me in the summer of 2014. Yes, that long ago! Shortly after I began publishing my work independently, the still-new concept of multi-author box sets came to my attention. I thought it would be cool to link books about food and farms with other authors, but the problem was that I didn’t really know anyone else doing such a thing in Christian contemporary romance. Or any genre, really.
A number of months came and went. Elizabeth Maddrey published A Splash of Substance in the spring of 2015. (I reviewed it here.) I loved her take on sustainability set in Washington D.C., and the idea of a multi-author set began poking me again. Still, two wasn’t a big enough number. We needed more. I began to spot friends who might not exactly be writing foodie romances, but who lived that lifestyle with their own families, and contacting them to chat about my growing vision. Several were intrigued but couldn’t carve out the time to mesh schedules with other authors, so it took a few months of attention and focus before I had a group of six who were excited about and devoted to the prospect.
We formed a secret Facebook group and began laying out the parameters. What would the end result look like? How would this be different (or similar) from what other author groups were doing? What would the schedule look like? Where would we set the shared community? How would our stories mesh with each other’s while creating a workable amount of overlap — not too much and not too little? What about covers? Branding? Editing? A website? The questions kept tumbling out, several new ones for every answer we agreed upon.
Eventually order began emerging out of the chaos as we committed to Arcadia Valley and set it near Twin Falls, Idaho. We decided we’d each choose one main aspect of foodiness to explore in our own series and find ways to bring in the other authors’ ideas with a minimal amount of putting words in their characters’ mouths. We agreed on a cover designer, a schedule, etc, and then jumped in and began writing. We chat in our Facebook group nearly every day and often exchange emails with snippets of scenes with other authors’ characters in them.
Has this been completely smooth? Of course not. While a good plan with everything written down for later reference has made a huge difference, there have been some minor conflicts where authors’ ideas have overlapped too much. Keeping on schedule — we’ve agreed to have a completed first draft to the group for critique 90 days in advance of publishing date — has its challenges, too, and likely will continue to do so.
The biggest hiccup was when one of our authors suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. She loved the project and hoped to regain enough focus to write her parts, but it turned out to not be possible. We were so sorry to see her struggle and to lose her from the project. The big questions for those remaining were whether we would continue with five authors, what changes would need to be made to the release schedule — or was it remotely possible to find another author to fit in at such a late date? The rest of us had completed the first drafts of the novellas in the Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley kick-off collection by this time.
It turns out that Lee Tobin McClain loves food and loves a challenge. She jumped in, read all the parameters the rest of us had come up with, and turned in her novella a month later. Due to our ninety-days-in-advance policy, she still had enough time to get her story critiqued then edited and ready to be formatted along with the other five, but it was tight. Whew!
Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley contains six novellas, each the starter to its own series. I’ll tell you more about each novel individually over the next eighteen months as they release. Meanwhile, Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley released on Tuesday in both e-book (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks) and paperback (Amazon only).
Summer’s Glory, the first novel in Mary Jane Hathaway’s Seasons of Faith series set in Arcadia Valley, will release February 14 and is on pre-order on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks. Coming in paperback!
About Summer’s Glory:
After his mother passes away, master carpenter Silas Black returns to Arcadia Valley to help his sister run their small farm. He was the town’s bad boy as a teen and it wasn’t just an image. But although his juvenile delinquent years are behind him, there’s one woman who can’t accept that he’s really changed. As Silas finds himself falling for Violet Tam, is there any hope that she can forgive him and open her heart to the man he is now?
Muffins & Moonbeams, the first novel in Elizabeth Maddrey’s Baxter Family Bakery series set in Arcadia Valley, will release March 14 and is on pre-order on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks. Coming in paperback!
About Muffins & Moonbeams:
Malachi Baxter is happy to hide in the background and manage the business-end of the family bakery. He’d much rather live in the online world of computer games where he can explore the galaxy and no one has to know he’s deaf.
Ursula Franks designs websites during the day and spends her evenings battling alien races online where relationships are easy and uncomplicated. When she agrees to design a website for the local Community Supported Bakery, she has no idea that Malachi is the real man behind her online persona’s best friend and her own secret crush.
As the two work together on the website, they uncover an attraction, but will they be able to put aside past hurt and insecurity to find love?
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Come on over to Arcadia Valley and pull up a seat at our table!