Monday, October 4, 2010

To Series or Not to Series with Cindy Spencer Pape

First of all, thanks so much to Heather for having me here today. If you’d like to know more about me or my books, you can check out my website or blog, links at the bottom of this post.

To Series or Not To Series?

You see and hear a lot of authors and readers talking about series, and it’s something I’ve given a lot of thought. I write mostly series, and there are definitely some ups and downs to that. Even the word series can encompass a variety of different things. As a kid growing up, I loved the teenage mystery series—Trixie Belden, the Hardy Boys, even the horribly dated Bobbsey Twins. These books followed the same characters through a variety of adventures. Then I discovered fantasy and science fiction. The Narnia books, Lord of the Rings, and so many more. Similar concept though—same main characters, different stories.

In romance, though, a series doesn’t usually work that way. For a romance to be a romance, you have to take two (occasionally more) characters from not being together, to their happily-ever-after. That’s pretty final. Although I have read a few great books where the romance continues to grow and evolve in a second book, (Jayne Ann Krentz has a couple good examples of this) that’s about the limit if each story is really a romance. So a series takes a different turn. Usually it’s a common world, town, family, or group that have overlapping stories. Each book of the series features a different couple finding that HEA. So each book as a unique hero and a unique heroine. One of the great features of this kind of series is that you get to peek at the HEA of earlier couples. It can be kind of like catching up with old friends.

From a reader’s standpoint, I love series. I love seeing that couple A is still together a few years later, maybe with children, or still helping to save the world. I still have the first romance series I ever collected, Roberta Gellis’ fabulous Roselynde Chronicles. She broke a rule in this series, too. The first two books had the same heroine. Yep. Her first HEA wasn’t so ever-after. Husband number one was much older and died while she was still in her 30’s, leaving her to remarry a man much closer to her own age. I’m not sure you could get away with that in today’s market, but as Ms. Gellis was one of the founders of the historical romance genre as we know it, she did. I had the chance to meet her at a convention a few years ago, and practically genuflected at her feet.

Series have problems though. They can go on way too long. Then they run the risk of being repetitive or jumping the shark. There are a couple of very big names that I used to run right out and buy on release day. Now I get them from the library if I bother at all. I totally respect author Linda Howard who said she wasn’t writing any more books in her MacKenzie family series, because she didn’t want to have to kill off the parents. Sometimes, you just have to let go. And who knows? If she hadn’t, we might not have had all the NEW wonderfulness she’s written since. As an author, I am learning about the pitfalls of series. Writing the last of my Crazy H trilogy or the fourth of my Heroes of Stone series was hard. There was a lot I’d written in that couldn’t be changed, so I had to write around a lot of things I might have changed if they hadn’t been set in stone by previous books. I had to really work to make this heroine different from the other two—can’t have them all blending together.

Next week, I have two books coming out from two different publishers and both are parts of series. Motor City Witch, coming Monday from Carina Press, is book 2 of my Urban Arcana series, and Just for Jess, out Tuesday from Ellora’s Cave is book 3 of Immortal Cravings from Ellora’s Cave. So yes, I’d have to say I’m in favor of the series concept, both as an author and as a reader. But if I ever drag one out to the point of absurdity, will somebody please let me know?

About me and my books:
Cindy Spencer Pape is an avid reader of romance, fantasy, mystery, and even more romance who firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in southern Michigan with him and two teenage sons, along with an ever-changing menagerie of pets. Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator, though now she is lucky enough to write full-time. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the three male humans who share her household.


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Motor City Witch
Urban Arcana, Book 2
By Cindy Spencer Pape
Coming October 4, 2010 from Carina Press
Buy Link

Blurb: She’d left magic behind.

Once upon a time, Elise Sutton had been a powerful witch and paranormal enforcer. Once she’d been madly in love with Fae lord Aidan Greene. But when Aidan had considered his duties more important than their relationship, the love affair ended badly. Shortly after, while on the hunt for a rogue demon, Elise was brutalized and almost killed. Months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. To protect her child—and her heart—Elise decided to live a nonmagical life.

Until she meets Aidan again, and he assumes Dina is his daughter. When Dina is kidnapped by a racial purity movement, Elise turns to Aidan for help. The icy facade she has built around herself shatters at Aidan’s touch. Together they have to hunt through the human and faery worlds to find Dina...and to discover whether or not they have any kind of chance at a happily ever after.

Just for Jess

Immortal Cravings, Book Three
By Cindy Spencer Pape
Coming October 5, 2010 from Ellora’s Cave Exotika
Buy Link: http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-8720-50-just-for-jess.aspx

Blurb: Vampire Jessamy Maitland is a classic workaholic, until her friends team up to buy her a weekend with the incredibly sexy vampire Dermott McMahon on his luxurious private island. Dermott is determined to get Jess to kick back and relax, so he’s enlisted the help of three lion shifter friends.

Jess finds herself faced with three days of no phone, no computer and four sexy, horny males, all determined to wait on her hand and foot and show her a scorching good time. Naked. Together. In ways she’s never imagined. With those odds, what’s a vampire to do? There’s nothing for it but take them up on their offer and discover that sometimes it’s okay to play.

7 comments:

  1. Heather, thanks so much for having me here today!

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  2. That's a fascinating point, and probably the reason I dabble in straight up fantasy as well as romance (and all its subgenres). Some characters are just too close to my heart to want to let them go so quickly.

    Although I do love to picture some in the next book, through others' eyes.

    Nice post, Cindy!

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  3. Agree with you totally about series. When they lose their magic, you just know as a reader. I like it when each book explores a new character but yet somehow still stays tied to the original characters you fell in love with. New, unexpected conflicts are always a plus too.

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  4. LK--that's a great idea. And I think switching genres helps keep us fresh as writers. Liz, I agree about throwing in new curveballs. Keeps things interesting!

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  5. I also love series as a writer and a reader and would absolutely hate to see characters I loved in previous books killed off.

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  6. Totally agree with you on that one, Linda!

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  7. I figure the first book has to leave somewhere to go if there's to be a second or third. If it's primarily a romance I'm a little cautious about more because it often means trouble between the MCs and I like to remember my couple in their HEA. If the author can deepen the relationship and take the characters somewhere else without destroying what they already have established, that's talent and satisfying for the reader.

    Focusing on different characters in the same world works for me.

    I started off writing Lethal Inheritance as one book, it turned into 4 simply because the story was too big to fit into one. I figure that's a good reason for a series.

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