Today I am so pleased to welcome Poppy Dennison to Joyfully Jay. Poppy has come to talk to us about her latest release, Belligerent Beta. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

Keeping It All, er, Straight?

When the delightful Jay and I were talking about me stopping by for a visit to celebrate the release of Belligerent Beta, the second book in my Pack Partners series, Jay asked me a question. How did I create two different paranormal worlds between Triad, my Dreamspinner series, and the Pack Partners books?

Now, my first instinct was just to stare blankly and say Uhhhhhhhh. But I can’t do that, now can I? Well, I suppose I could but that would make this a really short blog post. Unless you want a short blog post? Nah, probably not, huh?

Truth is, the series came from very different creative places which helped keep the worlds different. For the Triad series, the concept of the plot came first. Three types of magic: mind, body, and soul. Starting from that point made it easier to develop the “rules” of the shifters in the series. In contrast, the Pack Partners books came from the idea of a character first. I knew Lex, the alpha of the pack, was a human turned alpha werewolf. The world he entered needed to be built around that idea.

Clear as mud?

You’ll see a lot of authors answering the question of plot first or character first. Basically, what we’re being asked is if we come up with the idea of the plot and then create the characters, or do we have the characters in mind first and then come up with their story. It’s a pretty important difference. In my case, I’ve done both.

For me, creating a plot first is my preferred method of outlining. It gives me a basic idea of the action and then I can let my characters react to the situations happening around them. For example, in the Triad verse, I knew that the magical species had been kept separate. Simon, my apprentice mage, wasn’t supposed to interact with shifters. But rules were made to be broken, and when Simon breaks the rules, his character is taken on a bumpy ride with a pack of shifters.

Creating a series in this vein can be challenging because you have set rules from the beginning. The plot is formed. You can’t change your mind in book three and say “Dang it, I should have made them able to do this!” I knew from the beginning what was going to happen with Simon’s magic over the course of the three books in the Triad series, so I knew what would happen to Simon in book three by the time book one was written.

A character based series has its own set of challenges. For me, that means keeping the stories fresh. I prefer series where the main characters from the first book make appearances in the rest of the series. Character driven plots are a bigger challenge for me. I’m an action girl. I usually know what happens first and then I plop my characters in there and see what they do. In Pack Partners, however, the journey was all about Lex and how he came to be alpha in every sense of the word. The plot was his, his experiences, his learning, and his mistakes.

In the end, the two series ended up with unique worlds because I approached them from different angles. Not sure what I’m going to do when I write my next paranormal world. Create a third approach perhaps?

So what do you guys prefer in your series? Do you want to see the same characters repeated? Do you prefer one long plot arc over a series or do you want it all wrapped up at the end of book one?

Let me know what you think!


Belligerent Beta 2When a human is chosen to lead the pack instead of him, Beta Dan Keller struggles to find his footing in a rapidly changing environment. Committed to his pack and not one to turn away from a challenge, Dan follows his Alpha’s request and works with Nathan Ross, the new pack Omega. Though he is initially concerned that Nathan’s weakness will harm the pack, Dan learns there is more to the shy wolf than meets the eye.

As Dan struggles to balance his growing feelings for the young wolf with his responsibilities to his pack, new threats emerge and Nathan’s loyalty is questioned. Not understanding the basics of being a wolf leaves Nathan vulnerable and the pack at risk. Can Dan embrace the true role of a beta so he can protect the man he has grown to love and save his pack?


Poppy Dennison 2A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.

You can find out more about Poppy’s books on her website