REMINDER!!!! SEEKERVILLE WELCOMES GUEST BLOGGER AND LOVE INSPIRED EDITOR ELIZABETH MAZER TOMORROW!!!! AMAZING GIVEAWAYS.... COOL CONTESTS... NO CONFERENCE COSTS, LOL!!!! DO NOT FORGET TO STOP BY EARLY AND OFTEN!!! SEEKERS THRIVE ON YOUR SUCCESS STORIES!
And I had to delete all the fun stuff I had in here about pretending to MISS the conference-goers.... and we did, right??? We missed them while eating RED VELVET CAKE with CREAM CHEESE FROSTING, recipe HERE!!!
And... here is an amazingly great TRUE STORY that happened to me in the past few weeks... Hit the link, travel to Ruthy's Place and then come back... You might need tissues. I'm just sayin'...
Back to series. When I knew the time was right for me to study this craft and try writing, I grabbed every Nora Roberts and Linda Howard book I could find from the library. Why them? Because they were the best-sellers, the people pleasers, the sought-afters. Learn from the best when at all possible...
'Member "Good Will Hunting"? Will's line about "...yeah but you dropped 150 grand on an education you coulda got for a buck-fifty in late charges at the public library."
I had no money so that library became my educational mecca! And I realized I LOVED series.... Nora's "Stanislaskis"???? Loved 'em!!!! The MacGregors, the whole stinkin' clan??? Over the top enamored! Linda's MacKenzie series???? Who didn't fall in love with every one of those heroes?????
Jan Karon's "Mitford" series with Father Tim? Oh my stars, I love Father Tim and Cynthia. The antics of the town. The pacing, the laughter, the tears. Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness series, the Bonner family? Oh take me back a few centuries... Please!!! :) And remember, Christian fiction hadn't started burgeoning as yet, and our library had nothing like that, so I went to the best-selling romance authors and fed my writer's brain.
And what about suspense series? Marta Perry has made an art form of developing successful suspense series. And Mary Connealy's romantic/comedy/suspense books are the rage all over the country because those series create a niche of family, setting, friends, neighbors. She captures that intrinsic "something" that makes a series sing.
But how does a pantser write a series? How would a plotter plan a series? Those are the first things you should ask yourself. Plotter? Pantser? Because your methods will vary and what works for one won't work for the other. (and for the life of me I haven't figured out what fun there is in writing for those plotter folks, but they say... sigh... they're having fun with all their trimmin's and trappin's, and glue boards or cork boards or notebook/notepad/ipad/ibook thingamajiggies.)
Series can be linked by many things and we chatted about some of this in September HERE... And we talked about the over-reaching SERIES ARC that allows each book to form its own arc within. Picture a bridge as the series arc.....
And the "pass-throughs" (supports) are the individual books.
Each support could stand on it's own. They're built strong and balanced and tough. But the bridge can't span the water with one support.... And that's how a series is. Stand-alone books co-existing in a solid framework.
Here are a few of those "links" that tie a series together.
1. Setting (all books take place in a region or town or city or neighborhood) In this case the setting can actually become strong enough to become a "character" in the books. Karon's "Mitford" series is an excellent example of that. I used this framework for my Men of Allegany County series, interconnecting the men and their romances through a geographic region. A larger setting like that allows more room for expansion because counties are BIG. Setting usually allows the author more leeway with less chance of "sound alike" books, a bane to any author's existence.
2. Plot (all books linked by similar plot lines/genre) The Cat Who... series by Lilian Braun are genre linked books. Mystery series follow this formula and mystery readers LOVE THEM. Some thrillers (think of how Dan Brown bought the book on Writing Thrillers for Morons or some such thing, and then WROTE HIS BOOKS based on that outline. There is a reason successful authors employ similar modes, because it resonates with a readership. Remember, throughout everything, a publisher wants your heart, he/she longs for you to bleed red on your manuscript, but mostly??? They want/need sales. Without sales, we go nowhere, and sales/selling/being paid is not a dirty word. It's part of the balance.
3. Siblings (Julie Lessman's series are a perfect example here, where Julie has taken each unique sibling and created a story line for them) Dee Henderson did that with her "O'Malley" series, too. Connealy has employed that in the Sophie's Daughters series, and also in her current hot-selling Kincaid Brides group of books from Bethany House. It's a family saga type book broken into increments and very reader-friendly.
4. Number (Three sisters, three friends, Four brothers, etc. Many series are set on a number like that. Usually in a friend/sibling series, three is the suggested number, maybe four. There are exceptions to that. Sagas are prone to developing more books about each individual character)
5. Crime/Genre/Suspense J. D. Robb's "DEATH" series is indicative of this. Classic work using the same main characters through multiple books but delivering individualized crime stories as presented to these characters. These series can go on for a long time. Mysteries, crime, suspense are often seen with this twist. Think television series like "Castle", "NCIS", "Jag", etc.
6. Time progression (these series may start in the 1800's with early settlers going west and then develop generationally. Mary Connealy has touched on this with her Lassoed in Texas series and Montana Marriages series which morphed into Sophie's Daughters series, three books that tied the previous series together in the next generation. Skillfully done this is a great tactic to bind the reader to the books and the author.
So that's our re-cap.... and now we're into Part "B":
1. Plan the series
2. Write the opening book
3. Plant seeds of upcoming books
4. Leave folks longing for more books, more closure.
We talked about double arcs, an overhanging series arc.... And individual book arcs.
I actually have to PLAN now. Or my bosses will laugh me out of the room when I ask for money, kind of like that Oliver kid, wanting more food, right??? "Please, sir? Might I have some more???"
As if, kid.
So once I figured that out, I played with pre-developing a series. My 2013/2014 "Kirkwood Lake" series is set between Chautauqua and Cattaraugus and Allegany counties in southwestern NY, the Enchanted Mountains region, along the Northern PA border.
BIG REGION. HUGE.
How much do you LOVE the sign tree????? It leads down the narrow road to the lakefront, a true riparian thing that you might also see atop a mountain... Translate: Access limited!!!
That gives me space to grow and develop the stories. I knew I wanted varied law enforcement agencies involved to reflect reality. Current economic woes have towns and villages giving up all kinds of duplicate services... police and fire are among those. So what happens when a town drops its police service? The sheriffs and state police step in to pick up the slack.
Now we have automatic conflict. People are overworked. Job security in the bigger forces is heightened, but so are expectations. And what happens when law enforcement gets spread too thin?
I noticed a HUGE DRUG BUST in this region that linked the Buffalo Police Department, the NYS police and local sheriffs to bring down a big drug ring. And they did it, too!
But it took a lot of quiet work, cooperation, and involvement to get the job done because there are lots of places to hide in the mountains and back roads of these rural, rolling counties.
Bad cops. The papers are full of them, reports of law enforcement abusing their badges in numerous ways. While that's the minority, it's real, so adding that in helps the layering process. Bad cop = BAD.
Good cop = HERO or HEROINE
Simple, right??? (big grin)
So we've got big geographic area, work-related stress for those who lost their jobs and those who have more expected of them....
And life, of course. Whose life doesn't smack them upside the head now and again???
Now we needed a town. "Kirkwood Lake" is our quaint town bordering the lake of the same name, and having the town on the shoreline of a fairly large lake makes it a gathering spot and a seasonal place. For June, July and August, Kirkwood Lake will be different than in the other nine months, because the summer folk go home.
BIG DIFFERENCE, MORE CONFLICT... money, space, empty places, vandalism....
And the small city of Clearwater lies just south of the lake... A setting similar to Jamestown, NY at the lower edge of Chautauqua Lake, which gives the stories another dose of latitude and realism.
So we've set up for ongoing stress surrounding these heroes and heroines in law enforcement...
Now we add LIFE:
Oy. Life. Smackdowns.
He stripped his father's dream away, and now must pay the price... Her dream was her father's nightmare, and now everyone is pushing her to give it up, sell out and she might, because hanging on might just cost her the hero. Which does she want more? Her centennial family farm or the hero's love?
He and his little boy had been abandoned already...and lame excuses hold scant appeal. She abandoned her pretty babies to avoid going back to prison... to get them back, she might have to do just that.
She'd lost her love, her life when her cop husband became a hero... He lost his heart when his wife left with another man's child, a boy he loved as his own. When she comes to town, pregnant and alone, he knows he can't face that again. Ever. No matter how much she needs him.
Once a prisoner, he makes a difference now, physically and emotionally. A cop, she does it right, proving illicit activities don't run in the family. But his present plants her past into the line of fire, and she just can't forgive him for that.
I already have a glimmer of the fifth book.... A book that ties our two lost children who turn up in "The Lawman's Second Chance" (due out May, 2013)... and gives these lost babies a chance at the normal life they've been denied. That's a seed planter, it helps instill in the reader a longing to find out what happens. I work hard to invest the reader in the people, the town, the children, the romance, and yes... the DOGS!!!
This is Derringer, he's the retired military hero's Red Coon Hound in "His Mistletoe Family" available HERE!!!!
|ISN'T HE STINKIN' GORGEOUS?????|
And here he is on the cover of this delightful Christmas tale, with our two orphaned boys, Tyler and Todd. I am continually blessed by the work of the art team at Harlequin. I want to jump into this picture and take care of these boys, these precious gifts of God! And they're just what our wounded hero needs to give him a new lease on life. Oh.... that God!!!! :)
I strove to give this new series mobility and space. It's set across a three-county mountainous region. I picked a riparian setting for the town (bordering a beautiful lake) because that gives me room for story development geographically and seasonally. And riparian land owners are sometimes WEIRD... If you don't believe me, try walking along a quiet, lake-dwelling road as a stranger... and see what happens.
I've developed SMOKIN' HOT HEROES!!!! and the women they need to help them complete God's circle for their lives.
I've made fun of a few people in the process. :)
But just a few!
Here's a pic of the fun basket you're vying for today if your name is picked:
Remembering always that the LIBRARY IS A FREE REFERENCE SITE FOR A REASON!!! Oh, how I love Ben Franklin!!!
|Don't forget to check out those presents!|