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Zara Keane

I write contemporary romance with a Celtic twist, and darkly sensual urban fantasy. My first book will be released in 2014.

The Ballybeg Series

HousesTeaserI've had a few people ask me questions about the Ballybeg series, so I thought I'd put together a brief FAQ section on my website.


Does each book in the Ballybeg series stand alone?

Yes! Readers can jump into the series at any point. Each book or novella features a different couple, all of whom get their HEA by the end of their story. The stories are set in the same town with recurring secondary and tertiary characters. Some characters are friends. Others are related to one another, or simply know each other from work or places around the town.


I considered focusing the series on a particular group of friends or siblings, but decided against it. I wanted to be able to write about different personalities and I didn't want to be in a situation where I felt I had to force characters to be friends with one another merely to fit in with my series concept. I'm also not a fan of couples from previous stories stealing scenes from the current hero and heroine. If they appear in the story, it has to be organic (e.g.: they're a close friend and it makes sense for them to be in the scene). For example, Gavin and Fiona (the hero and heroine in Book 1, Love and Shenanigans) don't appear in Love and Blarney (Book 1.5) because the timing wouldn't make sense.


How many stories will be in the series?

Short answer: probably six.

Long answer: I've written four books and two novellas set in Ballybeg, all of which are either finished or in various stages of revision. I have ideas for a couple of more stories after these, but they might be in the form of a spin-off series set somewhere else in Ireland. While I love the town and the characters I've created, I want to keep my writing fresh. To keep writing stories set in the same place, I need to be sure I have something new to add, and not simply rehash old settings and scenarios with a different couple.


Why is your series set in Ireland?

I'm Irish! After a disastrous attempt to write romance set in a generic American town, my very wise critique partner suggested I write what I know. The result was the Ballybeg series. :D


Is Ballybeg a real town in Ireland?

Although there are several towns named Ballybeg in Ireland, the Ballybeg in my series is fictional. The name stems from the Irish (Gaelic) term, baile beag, which means "little town" or "small town". One of my favourite Irish playwrights, Brian Friel, has set many of his plays in a fictional Ballybeg located in County Donegal.


My Ballybeg is a seaside town in County Cork. Its geography was loosely influenced by a few different towns along the south coast of Ireland. They include Clonakilty, Kinsale, and Cobh (formerly known as Queenstown, the last port of call of the ill-fated Titanic). The picture in the teaser above is a stock photo of houses in Cobh.


Are you self-publishing?



Did you hire an editor?

Hell, yes!  The typos in this blog post should be reason enough why. When I decided to self-publish, I budgeted for editing, copy editing, proofreading, and professional covers. I have no prior publishing credits, no experience working with editors at a traditional or a digital publisher, and no established fanbase. If a reader thinks my books suck, I don't want it to be because I didn't make the effort to put out a professional product. I'm under no illusion that my books will be error free, but I hope to get them as close to that state as possible.


In what order will the stories be published?

This is the plan so far:

Book #1: Love and Shenanigans (Gavin and Fiona's story) — June 2014

Book #1.5: Love and Blarney (Ruairí and Jayme's story) — September 2014

Book #2: Love and Leprechauns (Jonas and Olivia's story) — November 2014

Book #2.5: Brian and Sharon's story — Spring 2015

Book #3: Seán and Clío's story — Summer 2015

Book #4: Muireann and Damian's story — Fall 2015


Where will you sell the books?

They'll be available as ebooks at all the major vendors—the various Amazon stores, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, etc. I'm planning to produce print copies through Createspace.


Will they have DRM?

Not if I can help it. I believe some vendors automatically add DRM, but I'll opt out of it wherever I can. If someone who purchases my book wishes to strip it of DRM, make a back-up copy, or share it with family or friends, I have no objection. I'd appreciate it if people didn't put them up on pirate sites, though. :D


Where's the excerpt of Love and Shenanigans?

I'll be posting the first excerpt next week. :D