Friday, January 21, 2011

How Long is a Series?

I've created two fictional Texas towns for my Harlequin American Romances: Ranger Springs, in the Hill Country (for information on the area see, and Brody's Crossing, northwest of Fort Worth where West Texas begins. Each of them have their own geography, but more than that, they are inhabited by a steady cast of secondary characters who (hopefully) enrich the stories of the heroes and heroines. As I've mentioned in the past, some of these characters come from snippets of stories my Texas in-laws have told about growing up in the area southwest of Fort Worth. This is my father-in-law's homestead near Dennis, Texas on the Brazos River.

One of the frequent questions I get from readers is this: How many books will be in my Brody's Crossing series? The answer is . . . I have no idea! Perhaps my editor has an opinion on how long the series will continue, based on reader interest, but I'm not sure. (Authors don't get sales figures from our books for quite a while after they are released.) As long as I enjoy writing about these characters and don't run out of interesting plots that ring true for this particular town, I see no reason to end it. As soon as I have no more ideas, I'm sure I will move on to another spot, perhaps even (gasp!) another state.

In 2011 I'm very excited about the whole writing experience. I have finished the edits on both books, Suddenly Texan (May 2011) and The Texan and the Cowgirl (July 2011) and now I'm waiting impatiently to see the cover art. At the end of June the Romance Writers of America conference will be in New York City, a place I love. I've already reserved my hotel room; my husband and my daughter will have to "duke it out" to see which one of them is going with me, because they both love NYC.

In the past few years I haven't scheduled any booksignings, but I'm looking forward to having one (at least) at the Wal-Mart near our weekend house in Mineola, TX ( They carry Harlequin American Romances and since I spend so much time (and money) there when I'm in East Texas, I just know they'll want to schedule an event! Because I mention Graham, TX ( ) so much in my Brody's Crossing series, I may see if I can go there for a booksigning. In nearby Weatherford, there is a very supportive independent bookstore and radio program that may be interested. I see several fun events in my future!

Perhaps I'm keeping myself busy and excited because I'm having one of those "milestone" birthdays next month. "A rolling stone gathers no moss" is the old saying that seems most appropriate to me at the moment.

I hope you feel equally excited about your prospects in this new year. Our careers and personal lives are often uncertain, but having something exciting to anticipate is very important as we move forward. Best wishes for a great start to 2011.


Marcie said...

I think readers get comfortable - kind of like visiting old friends -when authors have a series of books that take place in the same town. As long as the stories stay interesting I say keep'em coming!
Congrats on your released in 2011!

Estella said...

I love series books set in small towns!

Gillian Layne said...

So glad to hear about your secondary characters, I just love them, and think they add so much to a story. Your 2011 sounds like it's going to be wonderful.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Thanks Marcie, Estella and Gillian. I'm glad to know you all like series books. I feel bad when I have to tell readers that I don't know how many books will be in the series because some readers won't start the series until they have ALL the books! I imagine I will have two more books in Brody's Crossing after the May and July releases, but who knows? We've talked about a three book series set in my home state of Kentucky.

Anonymous said...

I am interested in knowing more about how you create the fictitious towns like Brody's Crossing. I would also like to know how long it takes you to write one book. I am enjoying catching up with some of your older novels and am planning a trip to Walmart to see what is on sale there! Karen

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to sign in as Anonymous...this is Karen your Facebook friend from Louisville, Kentucky.

Victoria Chancellor said...

Hi, Karen. First, the fictional towns have to "ring true" to the region and the realities of the day. For example, Brody's Crossing has lots of ranches, some income from oil wells, some vacant buildings/businesses. Professional people are school teachers and small business owners. There is one local bank, one local grocery, one independent hardware store, etc. The community center is a hub of activity. The beauty salon is where you go for the best gossip. Ladies meet regularly for lunch at the cafe, which serves daily specials and old standbys. There is a honky-tonk style steakhouse/bar/gathering spot. These are places you'll find in many small towns. I've also given the town a history, which includes some original settlers from the 1880s, a railroad that used to come through town but doesn't any more. That gave me an old hotel that I could renovate into a coffee shop, bookstore, and condos. This is one of those ideal situations like I heard they were doing in Mineola, TX, but they never really finished. (You get to do things ideally in a fictional town!)

Victoria Chancellor said...

Second, you asked about how long it takes to write a book. After I've written the synopsis and perhaps two chapters, I know the characters and story pretty well. Sometimes I'm surprised when I actually start writing the book, but most of the time I stick to what I've worked out. It takes me about four to six weeks to write the book. I don't write in layers and do a minimum amount of editing for word choice, etc. I write in a linear style, from start to finish, whereas some authors write scenes and put them together later. There's no right or wrong way to write a book!
As for my books, they are not in stores right now. A Harlequin series romance is only on the shelves for 30 days - second Tuesday to second Tuesday, when the new month comes out. My new books will be out in May and July. Then they will be gone forever from stores! My old books (historical and paranormal) were out too long ago to be sold anywhere but a used book store or online. Many of them are out as ebooks. So, you won't find my work anywhere right now as a "new" book. Authors don't get royalties on used books but we do on ebooks. If you are considering a career as a writer, you have to think about these factors, especially "shelf life" and distribution. There's a lot ot learn!