Friday, May 21, 2010

Reading and Writing a Series

I'm working on my 22nd novel, which will be the 6th book in the Brody's Crossing series for Harlequin American Romance. I love writing this series but I have gotten some feedback from several readers that concerns me.

These readers wait for all the books in a series to come out, then they read them. Since I don't know how many books I might write for this series, I can't tell them when they should start reading. I don't want to upset my readers but I don't have an answer for them.

Does anyone else have this dilemma as either a reader or a writer? If so, can you suggest how to respond to these loyal series readers?

Series are a funny thing, especially when you didn't expect to write one. My very first book for Harlequin American was what I thought was a stand-alone book, but the editor at the time really liked that town (Ranger Springs) and asked me to write more set there. I never had a true "Ranger Springs" series but they were a continuous story of the heroes and heroines, secondary characters and big events of the fictional town.

I've found when I write books set in Brody's Crossing that I'm always thinking about how to add friends, co-workers, relatives and newcomers who might have their own book. I don't have a big master plan for the town, but I did give it vacant buildings to grow into and some businesses that were missing or could be expanded. Now I'm adding a new ranch that I haven't mentioned before, but I think that's okay because I never said the Rocking C was the only ranch in Brody's Crossing! (The image to the right is an USGS aerial photo near the area where my fictional town is located.)

One of the main things I learned about ten books ago was to give characters some siblings or cousins that I could introduce as possible heroes and heroines. Sometimes I can't because it doesn't work out with the backstory or conflict, but I do try. Right now I have three more potential main characters for future books. I don't know if I'll get to write them, but I'm setting up the characters so they might deserve their own book one day.
I'm trying to soak up more small town life by observing people and listening to their stories. Tonight I stopped by the Mineola Country Club and heard some very lively tales told by some older gentlemen at the bar. I'm not sure how accurate they were, but they sounded real good as background material. Whoever mentioned pelting someone's car with golf balls, please be assured I'm going to use that in a book real soon!

I'll continue to develop Brody''s Crossing and add new characters who might someday fall in love, and I would love your ideas on what to tell avid series readers who email me about when the series will be over. Thanks, and have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day. When you get back from your long weekend, please remember to check out the recipes I'll post on June 4th. Happy reading!


EllenToo said...

Just tell them what you said here~~ that you have a never ending possibility of characters but that you don't know if you will to write their stories or not consequently you can't tell them when the series will end.

Estella said...

I agree with EllenToo.

I don't know how anyone can WAIT to read a series until they have them all.
I dive in as soon as I have the first book and read them as they are released.

Marcie said...

Be honest - tell them how a series works. You'd be surprised how many readers don't understand that side of publishing.
I've learned guessed websites.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I've told them the truth, that it's not always up to the author and sometimes we just don't know how long a series will last. I think many readers are accustomed to the three book series that we see so often in category romances, especially. Personally, I love series like the ones done by Rachel Gibson (hockey team) and Susan Elizabeth Phillips (football team) which are completely open ended and I hope never, ever stop!

Megan Kelly said...

Do you have a printable list "so far" on your website they can take with them to their stores? Then they can read the books in order at least and see the stories, town and characters grow. It would give them a starting point. Just an idea.

Victoria said...

Megan, LOL at your suggestion only because my website is SO out of date. The people who were maintaining it for me got divorced, and I've lost the password and can't remember which site is hosting which webpage - mine, our company's, etc. I'm not usually such a mess, but I am about this. :-)

I LOVE your suggestion, though. When I can get the site updated, I'll make sure I have that added. Mainly, people want to know when the last book will be out so they can start reading.