Sunday, March 4, 2012

So what do you think about series?

*Contest Info is at the bottom of this post!*

Series can encompass a variety of different things.  As a kid growing up, I loved the teenage mystery series—Trixie Belden, Donna Parker, the Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, heck, even the horribly dated Bobbsey Twins.  Nancy Drew was the one exception. Never could stand her. These books followed the same characters through a variety of adventures, hopefully learning a little something with each episode.  I graduated to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and the Mrs. Pollifax books when I was a little older, and those are much the same, except with adult characters and situations.  Then I discovered fantasy and science fiction. The Narnia books, Lord of the Rings, Robert Aspirin’s Myth Adventures, and so many more. Still the same concept though—same main characters, different stories.

But in romance, series usually don’t work that way. For a romance to be a romance, you have to take two (or sometimes 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 (a Navy Seals team, perhaps) that have overlapping stories. Each book of the series features a different character 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 last year’s RT convention, 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 (sp?) 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 still learning about the pitfalls of series. Writing the last of any series is hard. There’s always a lot I’d written in that can’t be changed, so I have to write around things I might have changed if they hadn’t been set in stone by previous books.  I have to really work to make the final heroine different from the others—can’t have them all blending together.  Even names are a bigger challenge. But sales-wise, there’s a definite plus. When a new book comes out, sales do spike again for previous books in the series. And when you’ve written a character who’s just too cool to say goodbye to, it’s nice to be able to give them their own HEA. Today I’m here celebrating the last (planned) book in my Urban Arcana  series from Carina Press, the first of which, Motor City Fae, introduced a whole new world, with elves and werewolves and wizards in Detroit. Motor City Witch was number two, and book 3 Motor City Wolf, came out last October. Motor City Mage, out March 12 wraps up the story arc. It is hard to say goodbye to old friends.

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?

* * * * *

Motor City Mage
Urban Arcana Book 3
By Cindy Spencer Pape
Coming to Carina Press, August 29, 2011
Preorder link:

As a cop who keeps paranormals in line, Des has a hard time trusting them. So why does he want the beautiful werewolf Lana more than his next breath? She's mouthy, flamboyant and distractingly sexy—not the type of woman for a reserved mage like him. Lana admires Des, but she can't be with someone who won't take her seriously, no matter how much she'd love to rip off his dress shirt.

When a dangerous new drug shows up in Detroit, Des must locate the source, and Lana is determined to help. But their plan goes awry, trapping them in a demon dimension. To return home, Lana and Des must flee through a series of unpredictable alternate realities, fighting enemies while trying to shut down the drug trade. But if they're going to survive, they'll have to rely on each other, even though getting closer will add fuel to a fire that's already burning out of control...
* * * * *
Contest Info: Comment on this or any of my posts from today and be entered to win a download of your choice of any of the Urban Arcana books. Up to one entry per person, per post.


Debby said...

I enjoy reading series. Often it is like visiting with old friends.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Berengaria Brown said...

I'm a big fan of series too. I love revisiting old friends. I also love your books, Cindy.

Hales said...

I have to get the third but I loved the first two incase I forgot to tell you :P

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks Hales and Berengaria! Debby, I agree completely.

Catherine Lee said...

I have mixed feelings about series. I generally don't have a whole lot of time to devote to reading (unfortunately) and series take more time...especially if they are not entirely stand alone. I don't want to be required to keep up with each one, in order, to get everything out of my read. I also don't like to tax my brain to remember details from one book to the next in a series--like some die-hard fans do.

catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

MomJane said...

I love a good series ... I'm always sad to say goodbye to a character I love, so a series puts that off!

Michele said...

Oh, COOL! Des is next!
He has SUCH a chip on his shoulder!
I can't wait for his story.

I've loved this series since the first book- it's fresh, fun and not too dark. Just the right balance of excitement, suspense, loving and great dialogue.

I. am. so . EXCITED!!!!

Michele said...

Ok, I got my excited squeal out of the way. touch base on my opinion of a series.

I agree, hands down, that series can be GREAT - and I like your example of the Navy SEALS - sort of a la Suzanne Brockman.

I was involved with two series by two different authors. Both were great and the beginning.
Then as it went on, the cuteness, the charm, the quirkiness of certain characters faded into the background to be shrouded and stomped by evil and darkness and the all-encompassing omnipotent "evil" dudes that seem so much larger than life, only the most grievous and deviant story line would or could do them in and the tone is so desperate and's a downward spiral where it's not fun anymore. In fact trying to reach the HEA had become so stressful, I stopped. Just stopped reading the series. Why do they push so hard?

I don't know..the experience is rather fresh in my mind hence my rant which jumped off on your very wise comment that some series do need a stopping point.

That being said, I will be sad when this particular series is over, but does that mean the world that you built will never be visited again? Or will you have someone who needs loving and saving in a different part of the city that these characters have no idea about, and we might , Just might meet a few characters from this series as a treat?

And by the way, WHAT is " jumping the shark"?????

Thanks, and sorry about the length...

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks so much for the kind words. I'm leaving the door open on this world, but right now the publisher isn't interested in more. Maybe if this one sells really well... (wink)

Jumping the shark is an old term for when a TV show goes off the deep end into stupidity, as demonstrated by "Happy Days" when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on water-skis.

Michele said...

Well then, I hope you get Cruise ship sized sales!

And Wow! I guess I must have stopped watching Happy Days because I missed the Fonz jumping Jaws. What a silly sight that must have been. :-)

Thanks for answering. I love learning new things!
Sooo, what's next after Des? More paranormal shenanigans or mainstream?
I like your storytelling voice so I'm looking forward to good news.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

More steampunk romance at the moment, as Carina has contracted 3 more in my Gaslight Chronicles. And thanks so much!

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Michele, you were my winner for today's contest. So I guess you get to read Des's story for free. Congrats!

Shadow said...

This series sounds awesome! I really need to read it. Im adding it to my wishlist now! :) Thanks for sharing!

Michele said...

Oh my Goodness!
If I was excited before, I'm over the moon now!!!
Thank you!!!!

I get to read about DES! Yay!

So...what do you need me to do?

And congrats on your other series ...!

Michele said...

Oh! you probably need my email


thank you thank you thank you!!