I’m Thinking of a Series…

I’m writing a story now to wrap up the Mischief in Mayfair series (look for a new title on the Coming Soon page in a few weeks), and that turns my thoughts to What’s Next? More happily ever afters, of course! But readers like series, and I like series, and so that brings me to…. Mayfair Blossoms.

I’m pondering a group of tales built around Regency women with super powers (and flower names–Ivy, Rose, Iris, and so forth). One might have a photographic memory, another might have a highly sensitive nose, another might have a gift for encryption puzzles… Not supernatural powers, but powers some humans do have to an unusual degree–in a society that wants women to just be pretty and meek and have babies.

The ladies will also have super-fears or flaws too of course. A fear of heights, dogs, public speaking, and so forth. Though let it be said, I plot and my characters laugh. The gents will have their own issues.

I got to thinking about my dad’s super power, which was, in his words, “Asking elegant questions.” By this he did not mean, “Does my wife need a break from the kitchen such that I should take all nine of us out to dinner?” He instead excelled at experimental design, such that if you wanted to look for or rule out a causal link between, say, the flavor compounds in milk, exposure to light, and a certain off flavor in the milk, he could get that tested forty ways to Sunday and have fun doing it.

A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times by Grace BurrowesMom had a lot of super powers–the ability to make any space tidy and comfy, and the ability to see the best in my dad, just to name a couple. I have some superpowers too, as it happens. I am gifted with a contrarian gene, such that I can play devil’s advocate or yeah-but almost any eternal verity. This is useful for plotting books, as in, “A gentleman never argues with a lady… except for when…” or, “It’s good to be the duke, except for when…”

This business of superpowers pops up frequently in books (St. Just and his horses, Valentine at the keyboard, Guinevere keeping secrets, Maggie being self-sufficient), but I believe it turns up in real life too. My sister Maire almost always defaults to compassion. If you don’t think that’s a superpower, wait until some fine day when you are expecting (and deserve) a lecture or snark, and instead you get understanding. Wow.

My sister Gail, who is also extraordinarily kind, has a talent for seeing fundamental truths. She gets a serious expression, focuses on the middle distance, does a couple deep breaths, and boom–the gravamen of the puzzle is succinctly and accurately summed up.

A Gentleman of Dubious Reputation by Grace BurrowesBut if nobody ever names and affirms our superpowers, it’s hard to know they are super. It’s hard to know they are even unique strengths, or defaults that are so powerful, you might need to rein them in from time to time (like my yeah-but gift). So what’s your superpower?

Lord Julian’s first mystery, A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times, is already available in print, and the e-ARCs are going out this week. If you want an e-ARC and don’t have one by the end of the week, please email me at [email protected], and let me know what kind of device you read on.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

17 comments on “I’m Thinking of a Series…

  1. I’m excited to read the first Lord Julian!!

    My superpower is organization. Specifically, lists (and then the completion of said lists)
    I have wowed all kinds of people over the years with how uber-organized I am. It’s both a blessing and a curse. But I’m so glad it’s my superpower!!

  2. My weird superpower is entertaining guests in my home. I love to cook and love to feed people, lavishly! (I’m Italian; I think feeding people is in my genes.) Seriously, so many of my friends and co-workers cringe at the idea of having a couple of guests for dinner when I have entertained 30 to 60 people in my home and barely broken a sweat. Of course, organizational skills come into play, as well as, obviously, a love of cooking. I would be lost without my spreadsheets! But by planning carefully, choosing menu items that could be made ahead, and allocating my time expeditiously, I pulled off my Dad’s surprise 80th birthday party for 35 people (with three homemade cheesecakes!) as easily as I did my son & daughter-in-law’s engagement party for 60. I am happiest when I have many dear friends sitting around my dining table, enjoying a meal that I have lovingly prepared. Stay safe. Stay well everyone!

  3. Hmm, I don’t know how “super” it is, but I problem solve very quickly in the physical realm.. I mean for example, something doesn’t fit and I very quickly see a way to compensate without making things look patchwork. Does that make sense? Also, if someone can’t do something I am often pretty quick to think of a bunch of ways to help them do it. I really enjoy following through on my ideas until they morph into successful solutions.

  4. Flowers also have “meanings”. People used to be able to decipher what the sender was trying to “say” through the use of which flowers they sent. Like and encoded message.

  5. This is so much fun to ponder! I love all of your series, and the huge, varied universe in which many of them take place.

    My (sorely missed) grandmother had the ability to see to the heart of people – many, many kinds of people. This led to many people giving her their hearts in turn. At her memorial service, I was blown away by the number of people who attended and spoke about her – the impression she made on them, her steadfast friendship, her ability to not judge them. Some of them didn’t know each other, but many were pulled into her orbit and became a multi-hued, -gendered, and -aged family of choice. People trusted her implicitly – and she took any confidences shared with her to her grave.

  6. Superpowers?

    I am organized-especially for work! I found a great stash of sticky notes and ‘to do’ list sheets – I was very happy to add them to my work collection!

    I am a good mediator- resolving work issues and refereeing squabbles between my husband and daughter

    I try to find the positives- sometimes it’s hard when you are overwhelmed or tired but, they are there!

    I am excited to read your new series- my paperback should be delivered this week!! ❤️

  7. I don’t have superpowers but I try my best to do a decent job at work, and to take care of my family. To be encouraging. One thing I had to learn was just to listen.

    Yes, I would love an arc of your book.

  8. My biggest superpower is seeing patterns and connections between things. That makes me a pretty good problem solver and I used it extensively when I was teaching and doing technical support because it enabled me to think of different ways to express a concept so that someone who thought differently could understand. I didn’t even realize it for a while, but I was usually able to explain how to use a computer program to someone even if I hadn’t seen the program before, just based on patterns in my brain. I don’t get to use this much anymore since I’m retired but I did enjoy helping people that way. I also can remember numeric things so much better than my partner who can’t remember a phone number for more than a nanosecond. But he remembers other stuff I cannot so we’re complementary.
    My opposite “power” is not being able to understand other people’s emotions such that when I think I’m just being “matter-of-fact,” I can be perceived as being condescending or rude. Not my intent at all! I wish I knew how to fix that.

  9. Superpower, eh? I don’t know what my superpower is. I’ve been told I have the ability to listen and make people feel heard.
    I hope I DO help people feel heard!

  10. I think that’s a wonderful premise for a new series–compelling and readable. It reminds me of one of my favorite t-shirts. It reads, “I disappear into books. What’s your superpower?” I am looking forward to disappearing onto your Lord Julian series.

  11. Super sense of smell. I missed my calling to be a perfume blender I think! I’m fairly good at getting smells out of laundry, there have been some parenting years where that felt like a superpower.

    If anyone has any organizational super power to spare, send some my way 🙂

  12. “But how did you know?” “Just call me Cassandra.” It’s the quickest way of saying that I’m observant. Observant people know oddball things like where all the exits are and if they’re alarmed. And I do this because I’m subject to a few phobias. I’ve spent holidays frozen in a chair near the door. Amazing what one sees and hears. It helps to have had good hearing.

    I have known a few spectacular healers, some completely untrained and uneducated. (One made it through 2nd grade.) Some worked in a medical capacity; just as many didn’t. They are/were compassionate, empathetic, interested and observant.

  13. I’m an average person at most everything. My super power is trying something new even if I’m scared. I don’t mind failure as long as I learn something.

    • Hmmm. Such a lovely, and useful, topic.
      I think I’m good at surprising people. Sometimes it’s deliberate, sometimes just a function of my quirky mind and world view. It was an especially useful knack when I taught junior high (middle school?) – a difficult age, still honest enough to be delighted with the unexpected.
      Yes please, I would love an e-ARC. Always such a treat!

  14. Interesting take on super powers! Mine is, I think, attention to details, which manifests itself in the diverse ways of a green thumb, computer trouble shooting, photography & worry warting. Oh, and reading of course!

  15. I think my power would be the ability to listen and not judge people. I don’t give advise because that’s not what’s needed. Most people just need someone to listen.

  16. I don’t know if you read new comments on old posts, but I’m new to your blog and have to give it a shot here.
    Calling a skill a “talent” is an unfortunate part of our society. Some folks look at a pianist or dancer and ignore the thousands of hours of grueling practice that they put in to get where they are. Until I saw the ever-present gymnastics coaches at the Olympics, I had no idea that people were putting in 8+ hours a day after school to reach their level of skill.
    The most saddening part of this attitude is math. I can appreciate and understand people who stop at calculus – it is darn complicated. But math as a “talent” has been clearly disproved by asian students. It’s something that can be worked at and improved. Practice does the job.
    I discovered the “secret” to learning math back in the 1970s when the back of the book contained answers to the odd-numbered problems. I did a problem, then checked the back of the book. If my answer was wrong, I went back to the problem and tried to figure out where I went wrong, and worked at it until I could get to the right answer. Next problem, the same.

    It’s pointless to do math homework without those answers, as you would just end up practicing your mistakes! Checking your answers lets you practice the *right* way. And if you can’t figure it out at home, you ask the teacher the next day to explain it again, and get them to demonstrate.

    Maybe I’m trivializing. People can hit a mental roadblock when they get to algebra. Letters with numbers! I think our schools need to offer more help to get kids past that. Calculus isn’t something most people will need in real life, unless they are an engineer. But algebra – that’s how to solve a problem, and it happens every day, anytime you buy something or sell something. Your brain just doesn’t use the mysterious “x” notation, lol.
    As brutal as Japanese “tiger moms” were known to be – their kids learned math with no dependence on “talent.” Hard work made a difference.

    Having said that – I’m incredibly clumsy. I have no balance and my eye-hand coordination didn’t appear until I was in my twenties. (Suddenly being able to throw a ball was a distinct shock, lol.) Not every skill can be achieved by every person. But choosing to be compassionate, or *learning* to be a good cook, or homemaker, or a mother, is more than a talent. It’s a skill, and a choice, and it takes practice and making mistakes to learn. I can be compassionate, but I did not learn or practice it, nor did I learn to always stop and think and choose the compassionate route. Your sister did, and I am all admiration. You chose the devil’s advocate, and that’s a role many people can choose, or not choose, to learn and practice (and annoy people, lol.) I’ve done it! (I’ve abandoned devil’s advocate in general, but retained a similar “what if” habit. “Risk mitigation” is a Real Thing in engineering. Instead of assuming the User and Product will function as expected, think up what ways it can go wrong and find ways to head it off. It’s why fail safes exist, and if you’ve ever watched the “Seconds from Disaster” show, you’ve noticed that at least three fail safes have to be overwhelmed before a catastrophic accident occurs. Train wrecks, the Hindenburg, etc.)
    Regarding photographic memory: many authors call this eidetic memory now, but when I looked into it, such things are about as rare as amnesia, a trope that is convenient to fiction rather than a reality. I guess that means it’s extreme enough to be a talent. Cryptography is the other thing that is treated as a professional talent. It’s a different way of looking at patterns that most of us miss, and the NSA gives tests to every candidate to try to find these precious people.

    I guess I’ve kinda disproved my own point. I just hope you will take practice and trying and failing into account when you write your “superpowers,” unless they are from unearthly sources (see “Unmasking Miss Appleby” by Emily Larkin, for example.)