Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Never-ending Stories

There has been quite a bit written lately about literary series. Some pro and some con. I myself have had both some wonderful experiences with series and some not so wonderful experiences. The first series I ever read was the Bobbsey Twins. Then came the Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Hardy Boys, and Tom Swift series. Of course, there was the Little House on the Prairie and Little Women, Little Men, and the rest of those wonderful books. I guess you can tell that I loved series books.

When I was older there weren't as many series for a while. I read the Travis Magee series by John D. MacDonald and the Williamsburg series by Elswyth Thane. There were several mini-series by Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels. Iris Johansen had a wonderful series with Loveswept Books called the Sedikan series. And oooh, there was the Arthurian series by Mary Stewart, the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, and the Freedom series by Anne McCaffrey. As you can probably tell, I'm an equal opportunity and genre series reader.

So it's no surprise that I generally write series books myself. Somehow, it always seems that there is another character that I want to know more about--or who insists that I write his (or her!) story. At the moment, I have three active series in the works. Some of you have been kind enough to write to me about Bishop's story in the Mystic Valley series. I can tell you that I've finished it. It's titled Love Never-ending and I was recently offered a contract for it with Ellora's Cave. What will be next for that series? I'm not sure.

At the moment I'm working on another Flower book from Avalon. I've tentatively titled it Magnolia. Maggie is quite a girl. We'll see how this one goes. I'm pleased with it so far. When I finish it, I plan to work on the next angel/shifter book. I believe that will be Zipporah/Sebastian's story.

Why do I write series? Hmmm. I like the worlds that the characters are living in. There are two types of series. One type is a series of stories with exactly the same main characters. The In Death series by J.D. Robb is a perfect example of this type of series. It has a cast of characters that continue from book to book much like a TV series has a cast that remains the same. The advantage is that you get to know all the foibles of all the characters. They become good friends. The downside is that it's usually difficult to enter the series (or TV show) midstream without always having that nagging feeling that you're missing something.

The other type of series is a group of related books/stories set in the same world. They may or may not have repeating characters from previous books, but the world rules remain the same. A very good example of this type of series is the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. Some of her stories are even series within the series so to speak... trilogies that stand alone. In that type of series, once you are familiar with the world, you are comfortable with any of the stories.

There is a third type of series. It's what you might call a "limited" series. It usually consists of possibly four to eight books. Elswyth Thane wrote such a series--her Williamsburg series.

So what category do my series fit in? The Mystic Valley and Flowers of Camelot series are mostly the second type. Stories that take place in the same world. Occasional carryover characters. But in each story the hero/heroine will be different. The angel/shifter series is the third type--a limited series about one family--probably six books total.

Much of the recent discussion has been about authors who "break the contract" with readers by killing off main characters or not providing an HEA. I promise that I won't do that. It's not something I can quite manage. And I refuse to read a series where the author breaks the contract. That's when they lose me as a reader.

Will there be other series in the future? Yeah, probably. I hope you'll give them a chance when I get around to them, too. In the meantime...I have a story to write.



  1. I am not really sure if the people who continue on in my latest contracted EC books make it a series or just a bunch of people who just wandered in and stuck around...we'll see

  2. As you know, Anny, it looks like the Regency world I created in the Marriage series will continue in a bout of trilogies. I'm still thinking of keeping the names we discussed so that the women passing through the marriage books will be the companion trilogy and the men passing through the marriage books, the corinthian trilogy.

    I suppose I'll figure out where to go from there.

  3. I love reading series and I'm glad you mentioned Iris Johansen. I think I have a few of her older books gathering dust somewhere :) I might have to hunt them down! I totally agree, if an author breaks her 'contract' and doesn't deliver on HEA, I'll likely put her (or him) on my don't read list.

  4. Hi Anny. I guess, although I do read single titles, I'm a series addict. ?when I fall in love with a set of characters I want to read more about them, about their friends, about their family. I want to know what happens after that first hot night, after the wedding, after the major crisis. I must confess that in addition to Iris Johansen, Elizabeth owell (love her Joe Faroe) and Karen Rose, I am a closet Diana Palmer addict and have every book she's ever written about Jacobsville, Texas (ssh, don't tell!). I think that's why your Flowers of Camelot appealed to me from the beginning. And of course, you have the required HEA. Without it, I cross the author of my list. And yes, I still believe in Santa Claus!

  5. I also have Elizabeth Lowells and Diana Palmers... Ran out of room in the blog! I love series where you get to see tidbits about characters from previous books.

  6. I was a Trixie Belden FANATIC as a girl. Some of my first romance stories were written in junior high, and were what we'd now call fan-fic: tales about Trixie and company all grown up. Also read all my brothers' Hardy Boys books. Nancy Drew never did much for me--too girly or something. But I still love series. Once you fall in love with characters, it's so hard to let them go. But I'm with both of you. Gotta have the HEA. Series where the characters never quite get there are very popular now, but even when they're beautifully written, they leave me cold.

  7. I didn't know Trixie Belden continued! I LOVED all of those books!

    Anny, did you ever read the Vicki Barr or Dana Girls mysteries?

    I also loved Anne of Avonlea books.

  8. Well, Anny, you are quite the reader of series. I read the Anne of Green Gable books when I was a teenager and my mother's Maxie Books for Girls series. I like series because I want to keep in touch with the characters as they get on with their lives. I hoped to write a follow-up story for two characters in my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. His brother, Randal and the beautiful gypsy fortune teller will travel to Victoria, on Vancouver Island in 1854 to marry. It's a fascinating time in British Columbia. I must think about writing their story.

  9. OMG...The Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew. Oh, I loved those. I have the entire Donovan series by Elizabeth Lowell along with her Enchanted and Only series'. All so good. I love series too because I just don't want to say goodbye to the characters. The whole "breaking faith" with the readers by an author is just so bad. I've blogged about this myself, as you know. I just couldn't do such a thing to my characters or my readers. It's just so wrong.