Friday, February 7, 2014

Series Idea Starters

Rose Ross Zediker
By Rose Ross Zediker

A book series can be two or more books loosely or tightly linked together by a common thread.  Quilting was a tight common thread in my first book series. Although my last release, A Wedding on the Rocks, and my current release, The Widow’s Suitor, have many differences the obvious being A Wedding on the Rocks is a contemporary and The Widow’s Suitor is a historical, I consider them a series because they are loosely linked by the setting. They take place on the same ranch close to Faith, South Dakota. 

Writing books in a series is fun and many publishers prefer them so in case you are having trouble creating a series of your own, here a few ideas to spark your creativity.

1.       Family/Relatives –This is probably the most popular idea for a book series. You can write individual loves stories for brothers, sisters or cousin with their family ties as the common thread.

Rose's Quilt Series

2.       Occupations –This is a fun topic to base a series on because there are so many choices like rodeo cowboys, newscasters, or doctors.

3.       Hobbies – Basing a series on hobbies is a smart idea because readers love stories developed around their own person interests. A few hobbies to consider are gourmet cooking, quilting or sewing, and wood carving.

4.       Inanimate Objects – Characters aren’t the only way to tie a series together. An inanimate object such as the ownership of a hot rod or Tiffany lamp can be the basis of a story idea.

On Sale for $0.99

5.       Setting – Writer’s usually think setting is a town or a state but a setting can also be Victorian house, a school or a National Park with each story of the series taking place there.

6.       Charitable Organizations – Volunteers come and go in any charitable organization, why not have two or three couples find love while working with an animal rescue shelter, Red Cross or a Big Brother/Big Sister organization.

7.       Personal Missions –With global warming and going green on the public’s minds, use organic farming or recycling as a thread to tie your series together.  Other personal missions you could use might be preserving a historical site or feeding the homeless.

8.       Holidays –This series idea speaks for itself. Have your characters find love in a Valentine’s Day, 4th of July or Christmas themed book. 
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9.       Personal Tragedy –At first glance this series starter looks kind of gloomy, but characters overcoming personal tragedies like an injury, dismissal from a job, or loss of a loved one or pet makes readers cheer for your characters as they triumph over adversities. 

10.   Sports – Football, basketball, and hockey from children’s leagues to the professional level is a great basis for a book series.

These are just a few of my series starter ideas. Please leave a comment with some of your own ideas and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a print copy of my current release The Widow’s Suitor.

Newly Released!
CORA ANDERSON ISN'T LOOKING FOR LOVE. The young widow is just trying to make a life on the prairie for herself and her newborn son. When handsome newcomer Luke Dow shows up at her cabin door, she soon relies on the man's help with her homestead…and dares to dream of the future. Luke came to the small South Dakota town to build a hotel and make his fortune. But he never expected to care for anyone, let alone the beautiful Cora and her baby boy. When Cora's land claim is challenged by a neighbor, Luke will do all he can to protect her and her home—and claim her heart. 

Rose Ross Zediker started penning short pieces for children’s Sunday school take home papers. During the two plus decades she’s been writing, her byline’s been found on over sixty works of fiction, non-fiction and Sunday school curriculum.  When she decided to try her hand at writing a book, it just seemed natural to write inspirational romances. The Widow’s Suitor is Rose’s fifth book and first attempt at a historical story.

Rose and her husband live in rural southeastern South Dakota where she works full-time at the University of South Dakota. Writing occupies many evenings and weekends but she balances both careers with relaxing hobbies, sewing, embroidery, quilting, reading and spoiling her granddaughters. 

You can visit Rose on the web at


Helen Gray said...

Hi Rose,

This is a nice list to get the creative juices flowing. Thanks.

There's coffee a-plenty.

Marianne Barkman said...

Rose, I would love any and all series on these topics. Waiting. . . .
Thanks, Helen. I always look forward to your coffee. For not drinking it yourself, you sure do a great job

Cindy W. said...

I love to read series books, especially if they can be read as a stand alone as well. That way if I step in on the second or third book I don't feel lost, and if it is a good book I always feel compelled to get a copy of the previous book(s). Yep, I am a proud owner and reader of quite a few series books.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Helen, thank you for the coffee. I think I'll have a huge cup before heading off to get ready for work.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Good morning, all!!!!

Helen, thank you for the coffee!!! Continued prayers for hubby.

Rose, I just sent an e-mail to the class I'm teaching, one of our Night Classes, on writing a series, developing the arc-outside-the-arc and here you come with this wonderful post!!! THANK YOU!!!!

I'm telling my crew they should come read it but they're not allowed to think I'm unnecessary when they're done!!!!!

This is wonderful, get the creative juices flowing for the weekend stuff.

I love looking forward to a weekend with writing time and family time. Note I did not mention CLEANING time.

:) A girl's only got so much time on her hands!!!!

Jenny Blake said...

Hi Rose, I read a series of sisters who meet to scrapbook. each book was a different sister but they all come together to scrapbook. Another used scrapbooking to help heal some wounds with a 3 book series set in one town.
I love scrapbooking as I do it. I read a series featuring a knitting club. I like ones with characters that overlap. I have read a few where they have started in a historical era and each book is the same family but a different generation.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Rose! Thank you for the great series starter tips!

Jackie said...

Hi Rose,

I'm so glad to hear ways to create a series. Before reading your post, I thought characters had to tie a series together.

I'm also excited to see gourmet cooking is popular. My WIP involves a baker, and I recently read eating is boring in books. So I've tried to think up as much drama as possible in the kitchen. As klutzy as I am in the kitchen, it shouldn't be too hard.

This is definitely going in the keeper file. Thanks again!

Rose said...

Good Morning, Helen!

Thanks for the coffee.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome back to post side of Seekerville, Rose! I just love that you wrote stories for the children in your Sunday school classes. God has given you a talent to create and you have not wasted a drop.

I've set several books in the same towns and have with reoccurring secondary characters. Two books are linked by a historical event called the orphan train. Maybe another idea to add to your list. ?

What do you do at the University? I'm guessing you're a teacher.


Rose said...


I'm waiting too for my editor to consider a four book series proposal.

Rose said...


I love series books too. Like you, though I want them to stand alone enough that I'm not lost if I pick up a book in the middle of a series.

Rose said...


I hear you on the time factor and sadly, I have to fit some cleaning time in my weekend schedule, in addition to a tax appointment.

I'm glad my post might help your class.

Rose said...


Those are great series ideas aren't they. Hobbies are always a great series idea.

Rose said...

Hi Glynna,

Sometimes it's hard for me to come up with good information for a blog post so I hope this one is helpful.

Rose said...


I'm glad you liked the post. Sitting and eating might be boring in books, but creating the food certainly isn't especially gourmet food.

Rose said...

Hi Janet,

Nope, not a teacher. I'm a second level program assistant to the VP of Administration and Technology. Sounds important, right? HA! I process all the departments accounting and contract work.

A historical event like the Orphan Train is a great series starter. I hope other people throw out ideas too. We all have interests that would 'interest' readers in a story!

Rose said...


If you want two more chances to win a copy of The Widow's Suitor, stop by my blog: and leave a comment on the appropriate post. The giveaway ends today at mid-night.

I also have a character interview at Shannon Vannatter's blog found here:

Rose said...

I have to leave for the day job in a little while. I'll try to by on my lunch hour to answer any questions and comments otherwise I'll be back later this evening.

I hope everyone shares their series ideas!

DebH said...

hi Rose
i like your idea generating post for series. my series idea stems from your hobbies suggestion. i love scuba diving and i could work with people involved with a dive shop, dive boat and dive instructors. talk about having fodder for story... i met my husband on a dive boat. i was doing my certtification dives and he was a crew member for the dive boat. the rest, as they say, is history. we've got a little guy with the nickname of Guppy (daddy is the big fish - he's the the little fish).

oh yes, i like the hobbies series idea. Thanks for your muse-sparking post!!!!!

Mary Hicks said...

Good morning, Rose, thank you for sharing these ideas. It's interesting how book series have really become popular the last few years.

I suppose that may be in part because we are used to weekly TV programing in the 'continuing' style? :-)

Connie Queen said...

Hello Rose.

I have a friend who wrote a fireman series where they all worked at the same firehouse.

Since I used to be a foster mom, I can picture writing a series about either the kids from the same home/family or about the adults fostering/adopting the kids. I suppose many books have been written the same way except they were from orphanages.

Great ideas and thanks for the post.

Audra Harders said...

What a great list, Rose. Series are so fun to write. And read. I love falling in love with characters in one book and then am excited to see them back in future stories.

It's kinda like family : )

Thanks for the series starter ideas!

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, Rose, you sure did your homework, girl -- what a GREAT list!! I honestly wouldn't have thought of all these options, but I'm really impressed and looking forward to trying one or two. A definite keeper post, my friend!!


Jeanne T said...

Rose, these are fabulous! I haven't tried a series yet, but one thing I have thought of is a series based on friends. Each book focuses on one's life with the others intermingled in the story.

Debby Giusti said...

Rose, your series list is good for single stories as well and a great way to brainstorm a new idea.

Nice to pull fresh ideas from our creative wells...and you've provided a lovely starting point.

I'm saving your list to prime my well in the future.


Anita Mae Draper said...

Rose, I love having a list like this on hand. In fact, as I was reading your post, an idea sparked and I stopped reading to jot down some notes. Just goes to prove God had a plan for you at Seekerville today...even if I'm the only one who benefits, except I'm sure scads of writers are having the same effect. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...


You've given some great series starters.

Any series coming in YOUR future?

Meghan Carver said...

Rose, what a fantastic post! You already have so many great ideas, I'm not sure I can add to them, at least not without more coffee. :-) Thank you, and I'm saving your post for future brainstorming. Have a terrific weekend!

Crystal Ridgway said...

What a great list of ideas! I love reading series, but I try not to write them because I've heard that the publishing industry doesn't want new writers to write series. Is this correct?
However... I have ended up writing series when it accidentally comes about.
My ideas for series:
A town... When we create a town, we give it quirks. We give it fun secondary characters (who also have quirks). Why can't we follow their stories too?

Mail order brides... Say, have them all finding their husbands through the same company. Maybe even have a bumbling idiot work for the company and have him/her mess it all up and send the wrong brides to the wrong place.
Really, that part just came to me. I might just use that.
Stay warm!

Amber Schamel said...

Sipping my caramel cappuccino with my eyes half open. Stayed up last night working on book two in my series since the wonderful Ruthy so motivated all of us night-classers last night. :)

Great timing for this post, by the way. Series are fun. My problem is that I have so many story ideas free ranging in my head that I have a hard time finishing the current book/series idea before wanting to plunge into the next one!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Amber, I know what you mean. I keep a story idea log just to drop them into so I don't lose them, but I rarely go to it because I keep getting ideas.... and they link to series.


Shameless plug!!!!

But truly, I love reading series, I love hanging onto characters, and that naturally transitioned into writing series.

I remember saying that to Melissa Endlich when we first met in NYC and she probably thought "oh yeah, I've heard this before" but by book five she opened up the series invitation book and put my name in it.

What a blessing that was/is!!!

I love small towns, neighborhoods, hearth and home, and all of the above lend themselves to series, but so do fantasy.... Biblical fiction.... YA/New Adult (any bets how long that will be around, just thinking out loud here...) :)

Janet Dean said...

Rose, I used to think creative accountant types ended up in the slammer. LOL Never dreamed financial wizards could write! My dh and our daughter are accountants and not one bit creative. Love that you are adept with the right and left brain. And I know you're not alone. I'd love a whole brain. :-)


Ruth Logan Herne said...

And I love that both CBA and ABA have such great masters in series work...

Tom Clancy. Ludlum. Nora Roberts. Janet Evanovich, Oh my stars, the list goes on and on and crosses right over into CBA....

So the public's urge to read series is strong.

Brenda Anderson said...

How fun to see you here, Rose! Congratulations on releasing another book. I can't wait to read The Widow's Suitor!

And great ideas for creating a series. Thank you!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Rose, Welcome to Seekerville. I not into writing series, but I know a lot of authors are. So thank you for the great tips. Hope you have fun today.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Rose,

Amazing list which I will save to my keeper file.

I love reading series and that naturally translated into writing series. But I'm pretty sticky about each book wrapping up. I get testy when I reach the end of a book and find out they left you hanging until the next book! I will never do that to my readers!

I have two series so far. My first is based on a small town in North Dakota - two sisters and a friend.

The one I'm working on now is based on a family torn apart by the death of their mother and how each sibling is affected. Of course there is romance galore!!

Family is my favorite connection!

Your book looks wonderful. Love the hero defending the widow. Lots of books around that theme too. I immediately think of Jody Hedlund's The Noble Groom.

Have a great weekend!


Tina Radcliffe said...

hahahaha, JANET!~~~

I'd love a whole brain too.

Going to check Craig's List.

Linda Marie Finn said...

Oh love your list.... I try use life and the areas we live in past, present and future. Making stories come alive and real to many... Waves to Jules...who makes life come alive... I also love series books and I am so much a prairie loving person, so this book sounds so good to me...
Linda Marie Finn
Faithful Acres Books

Susan Anne Mason said...

P.S. I'm taking Ruthy's course and this ties in so well!

One thing Ruthy taught us last night was that the overall series should have an overriding goal or theme. for example, saving a town's historical building/church, or healing a fractured family. I think I'm doing that on my second series. Not sure about the first.

Lots to think about!


Mary Connealy said...



Missy Tippens said...

Hi, Rose! Thanks for the post!

I've written books set in the same small town. I've also used family members. I think it would be fun to do one centered around big event or charity organization. Thanks for the suggestions!

And contrats on the new release!

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy W, I agree. I think it's important that they can stand alone.

Mary Connealy said...

Series connections.
War Buddies...met in Andersonville prison.

Sister in Sophie's Daughters.
Montana Marriages...residents who lived near a town in Montana.

Lassoed in Texas series, again they lived near each other, although Gingham Mountain was a sister to the heroine in Calico Canyon.

Nosy in Nebraska ... they had some family connections but they lived in the same small town.

Surely I've written more books than this? The current series, with Tucker in it, that's sisters.

Pam Hillman said...

Rose, what great ideas to hinge a series on. Amazing the untapped ideas we never think about.

Thank you! :)

Jan Drexler said...

Rose, what great timing! I'm taking Ruthy's class, and your post fits right in there.

I'm looking forward to reading both of your books set in Faith (on my HUGE TBR pile!). I was hoping you'd fall in love with our part of the state and leave boring east river behind...but no deal, I guess. :)

But Faith is a great setting. The name alone is a winner - and then you have the history, the great ranching families, the beautiful landscape. I could go on and on.

Thanks for the post!

Myra Johnson said...

Wonderful suggestions, ROSE! Thanks for joining us in Seekerville today!

My "Till We Meet Again" series for Abingdon Press is connected by family, setting, and WWI. My "Horseman" Heartsong Presents novels all involve Cross Roads Farm, a therapeutic equestrian center.

I do think it's important that each book in a series can stand on its own, though, without having to explain too much to new readers about what happened in previous books.

Myra Johnson said...

SUE, you mentioned what Ruthy taught about a central theme for all the books in the series. I hadn't thought about it before (pantser that I am), but for my "Till We Meet Again" novels, healing fractured family relationships is definitely a primary series arc.

Rose said...

Hmmm...lots of comments about Ruthy's course and my post....does that mean we THINK alike?

If so, Mary Connealy better keep her guard up!

Rose said...


I'm hoping there's another series in my future! The proposal's on my editor's desk.

Rose said...

I agree with everyone who's said that books in a series need to stand alone too.

There is nothing worse than getting to the end of book and then find out you have wait six months to a year to find out what happens to the characters.

Rose said...

Anita Mae,

It's wonderful my post sparked and idea for you.

And we just never know when or how God will use us or our words.

Rose said...


Scuba diving is a great book topic! And is what I'd consider a fresh idea.

Rose said...

Mary Hicks,

I think book series stem from 'serial stories' that newspapers/magazines used to run.

Publishers know readers will keep buying their publications to see what happens next.

Rose said...

Does anyone think writing series books is a great way to build a back log of books?

Is this a topic worth discussing?

Rose said...

Connie Queen,

Foster children is a good themed topic and could really pull on a reader's heartstrings.

Rose said...


Friends are always a good thing to base a series on. Just think of all the choices: grade school friends, high school friends, college friends, neighborhood friends.....and what about having a mix of three girls and guy friend?

Rose said...


Glad you stopped by and I hope the coffee kicked in. I sure once you'll brainstorm you'll come up with better ideas than mine.

Rose said...


I think it depends on the publisher. My first three romances published by Barbour were a series.

Rose said...


That happens to me too. My next idea always sounds better than the one I'm workiing's like the grass being greener on the other side.

Rose said...


Glad you stopped by!

Rose said...


Your books sound wonderful and grief effects everyone so differently that you'll have a wide range of emotions and conflicts to cover.

Rose said...

Linda Marie,

I'm glad my story sounds like something you'd read.

Thanks for stopping by.

Rose said...

Janet and Tina,

I'm glad someone noticed I have a whole brain! HA!

Rose said...


Unfortuneatly my husband has a good job in Sioux City, IA sooooo...I don't think he'd like the daily commute from West River!

Isn't it amazing how the landscape changes in South Dakota as soon as you cross that river?

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Rose!

Some great ideas here. The series I'm writing (well, HOPING will become a series) is a murder mystery set around a symphony orchestra. So, setting would be the common link, although the main character will also remain the same.

Hope you're staying warm up there in SD!

Rose said...

Seekerville Ladies,

Thanks for hosting me today. It's always GREAT to talk with you online and in person.

Sometimes it tough to come up with a blog topic, so I'm always glad when they're well received.

Rose said...

Hi Stephanie Ludwig!

I'm trying to keep warm. I like winter time however I am ready for NORMAL temps and no more below zero stuff.

We don't have much snow in my area. How are you fairing down there?

Marilyn Baxter said...

Ooooh, great ideas! I always try to have a brother or sister who can have their own book. I forgot to do that in my book that's out today. I suppose, though, I could use the small town. Or let the meddling grandmothers meddle with someone else's life. Or use the heroine's tea shop. Funny how just last week I was regretting the fact I didn't give my hero or heroine a sibling and now you've just created a whole slew of options for me! Must print this off and add to my idea file.

Thanks for sharing!

Tina Radcliffe said...


On sale too. Thanks again!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

It's sort of funny how the market has turned around.

Used to be only big name authors could "get away" with a series. Now you are dead in the water if you are not writing a series book.

Jenny Blake said...

Mary how about your was it North Dakota Series. They were related.

Rose said...

Whoo Hoo! Who added the quilt series??? THANKS!

They are only available in ebook and for 99 cents on Amazon!

Barbour is issuing this series as a 3-in-1 in September.

Rose said...


Glad to be of help!

Good luck with your book release!

Pat W said...

Hi Rose, Thanks for a great post.My husband and I farm cotton. We live in a small farming community, and I've been thinking of writing a series centered around cotton farming and siblings after I've finished the WIP that is SLOWLY coming along. You've given me lots to think about!

Christina said...

Oh what perfect timing your blog post is, Rose!I am taking Ruth Logan Herne's night class on writing a series here at Seekerville! Your post is definitely a keeper - which means I'll be printing it out to read again and again. Thank you!

Rose said...


Cotton farming is a great idea. I've read lots of books where the hero was a farmer, but not a cottong farmer...and wouldn't a the heroine's being a farmer be a great twist on occupations. I do know female farmers!

Rose said...

Glad to be of help, Christina.

God's timing, I'd say!

Chill N said...

Rose, I totally enjoy what I call stand-alone series. If the first book is well-written, I've invested time in learning about the characters and place so it's fun to revisit and learn more about other characters. Plus, when a character from a previous book pops up it's fun to know what's up with them.

That's an impressive list of ideas. Congrats for coming up with them! Fingers crossed for your proposed series.

Nancy C

Rose said...

Thanks for stopping by Nancy!

CatMom said...

Thank you Rose! This is going into my keeper file, because I've recently tried my hand at writing a series and can use more ideas (I LOVE reading them).

Your book THE WIDOW'S SUITOR is next to me as I type this (my TBR stack) and I must say---I love that cover--so sweet.

Thanks for sharing today, and have a wonderful weekend.
Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

Terri said...

Rose, thanks for the great tips. I really like several of the ideas you shared and it got me to trying to brainstorm more ideas.

Mary Preston said...

I always enjoy reading connected books in a series.

Rose said...

Patti Jo,

You made my heart happy knowing my book is in someone's to be read stack. I hope you like it!

Rose said...


GREAT! I'm sure you'll come up with super series ideas!

Rose said...

Mary Preston,

I read LOTS of series books, too.