Seriously Obsessed with Series

I wanted to start with a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Femmes Joanna and Michele for their recent contest finals in NJRW’s PYHIAB contest and The Catherines. Check out our ‘Recent News’ page for details. Best wishes, ladies, in the final round. We’re rooting for both of you to win!!

Has a series ever entranced you so much you’ve become obsessed with the characters, the town? In some cases, you get so attached to the story the characters feel like real people—or people you’d like to know. My kids suck me into this scenario all the time. They’ll go on and on about a bunch of people and all of a sudden I’ll ask “are these people you know or from a TV show?” and I’ll get “they’re from XYZ show”. It drives me crazy. But, imagine living in Jill Shalvis’s town of Lucky Harbor with its abundance of hunky men. For me, from a fictional world perspective, it doesn’t get much better than that. Sun, beach, small town, eye candy, all wrapped up with great characters. I don’t recall a lighthouse, but if there was one, I’d buy me a one-way plane ticket.

One of the more recent series I’ve fell in love with (pun intended) is Marie Force’s McCarthys of Gansett Island. The first book, Maid for Love, is a great buy on bn.com. I’m only two books through the series and am itching to read the rest. If you’re getting a sense that I have a thing about beach settings, you’re spot on.

When I started writing, I hadn’t thought my beyond my first story. But as that story evolved, I found myself thinking of the supporting characters and ways to insert teasers of subplots that would eventually amount to their own story. I figure as much fun as it is to read many stories about a town and its various characters, it’d be just as much fun to write about them. As a reader, when the questions raised in those tiny subplots aren’t answered, I want—no need— to know what happens. That’s the kind of interest, as a writer, you want to spark in your readers. A passion to want to know more…to need to read your next story. It’s what builds your readership.

Here are some other series/sequels I’m obsessed about:

  • Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books – Joe Morelli—need I say any more? This series was about twelve books in when I discovered them. I spent months going to the library and reading them in order. It was a sad day when I caught up and had to wait for the next one to be released.
  • Jill Shalvis’s Animal Magnetism
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips – I recently finished The Great Escape and although it’s not part of a typical series, it has characters from several of her other books. I loved the way she tied up the loose ends from Call Me Irresistible.
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars
  • Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold
  • Rachel Gibson’s Chinooks Hockey Team – I’m not a huge sports fan. But I AM after reading these books.
  • Rachel Gibson’s Writer Friends – I recently picked up a book on the unread shelf of my bookcase (I’m In No Mood For Love) and realized it was Book #2 in this series. Unknowing that it was part of a series, I’d already read the last book, Not Another Bad Date. So, of course, I had to reach the other two books.
  • Tina Gabrielle’s Barrister Series – I just picked up In The Barrister’s Bed at this month’s NJRW meeting. What a fabulous cover. I loved the first book in the series and can’t wait to read this one.
  • Robyn Carr’s Virgin River
  • J.D. Robb’s In Death series and Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters – I’m slowly going through these because I’m listening to them when I drive to work. Now, I’m SO hooked in the character’s voices, I HAVE to listen to them vs read them.

How about you? What series are you obsessed with? What is your writing style? Do you plot a few books in your head or write completely separate stories?

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Maria
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21 Comments

  1. hieubietusa

     /  August 20, 2012

    Ok! I am hooked on a series, thanks to you guys. Winning Tina’s book…I never win anything…caused me to read “In the Barrister’s Bed.” I should have been a lawyer like the guy in the book…My wife devoured it in one day and ordered “A Perfect Scandal” which you should move fast there are only 6 copies left on Amazon.
    This from someone that could not read past 5 pages of either Nora or JD or Janet E.
    My wife has a shrine to those authors. After finishing her book and knowing I would read the tale that has the greatest teaser line on the cover…don’t ask…buy it. I compared my own series.
    It is akin to Tina’s work and others…just that my series deals with teenagers in love during War Time. The two lovers are so different and sometimes from hostile societies(one tale centers on the 7 year love affair of a…wait for it…Special Forces Medic and a North Vietnamese female soldier.) Getting them together was a trip…
    If you subtract the significant body count, the sexual violence(this is to identify the villain,) and most things that occur when Earth becomes Hell…it is Romance…I think?
    Remember…in life…Disgrace has never been so delicious…
    That was the teaser line…I could not control myself.
    Joe
    PS: I plot my books in my head…Sometimes three at once…where is the aspirin?

    Reply
    • Hi Joe. Yeah, when I read the words “war”, “body count”, “sexual violence”, and “hell”, the first thing I think of is Romance :-). Seriously, though, real life is tough. If you only write about happy things, your story will a) be boring and b) not realistic. It’s great that you can find a creative way to combine all those elements into a romantic story line. Tell your wife she should have ordered “Lady of Scandal” as well.

      Reply
  2. R.A. DeFranco

     /  August 20, 2012

    Hi Maria – Great post! I encourage you to add Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles to your list of series worth reading. Her writing is beautiful in capturing setting and human emotion. Her fictional town of Avalon in upstate NY has remained with me ever since I read the first book in the series back in 2006. Her newest release, Return to Willow Lake, is the latest in the Lakeshore Chronicles. I haven’t purchased it yet because I’m hoping she will be signing at the NJRW conference this year. I’d encourage everyone to attend her pre-conference workshop. I will be there…trying to contain my inner fan girl!
    RoseAnn

    Reply
    • Hi RoseAnn. I have read several of Susan Wigg’s books from that series and agree that they are good. I’m excited that she’ll be attending our conference. I’m signed up for the pre-conf workshop. Can’t wait.

      Reply
  3. nettrobbens

     /  August 20, 2012

    Great post Maria! I’m glad I’m not alone with my series obsession. I’m in good company with you and Joe!

    I have an unhealthy attachment to Linda Howard’s, “Mackenzie Family” series. I loved all the characters, so much so I wanted to live on the mountain with them. 🙂 I’m also hooked on Christine Feehan’s “Dark” series. I was never a paranormal, vampire type reader, until Mikhail Dubrinksy, the hero in the, “Dark Prince,”–the first book of the series. I also love Rochelle Alers’ “Hideaway” series. I felt like I was a part of the family and their suspense-filled lives. Hmmm … (There are a few rereads in my future).

    My obsession with the series has a big influence on the way I write. I believe the reader needs/wants to know what happens to the other characters they meet in the first book (I know I do). So my mind always veers in the series direction!

    Nett

    Reply
    • I’ve heard of Linda Howard but haven’t read any of her books. I’ll have to check them out. I like some paranormal books, although I generally don’t seek them out. But I’ve been getting more into romantic suspense. I agree that I like to keep reading about the characters from earlier books. I’m a big fan of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series. It’s great writing when you start to feel sad when bad things happen to the secondary characters because you read what challenges they overcame 3 books back. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  4. I do like series, Maria, and I am reading Jill’s Lucky Harbor series now. Of course, there’s Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and I loved Nora Roberts’ flower series. I think as a writer it behooves us to think in series format. How many times have you been asked by an agent or editor, “Do you have ideas for other books?” Writing in series is one way for new authors to plan ahead, even if they are working on a single manuscript at the time, so that they can answer yes to that question.

    Reply
    • You’re absolutely right, Jaye, editors & agents always want to know what else we have cooking. They want to know that we’re not just a one-time writer and that we have other stories. I haven’t braved the Outlander series yet but definitely plan to. And you had me at Nora Roberts. She has a lot of trilogies, some more on the paranormal side but more of the magic sort. The Bride Quartet is good as is the current The Inn Boonsboro trilogy. So many things to read. This is why between my Nook and my bookcase, I will NEVER have nothing to read.

      Reply
  5. Jenna Blue

     /  August 20, 2012

    Maria,
    I just knew you’d mention Robyn Carr’s Virgin River Series. I just LOVE those hot ex-military guys who protect their women and that little mountain town so far removed from the hustle and bustle of our own lives.
    I’ve always enjoyed series, but my biggest obsession is of course, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. A new (new to me, I mean) series for anyone wanting something a bit similar is Sara Donati’s “Wilderness” series.
    There’s lots of these in romantic suspense as well, like Suze Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, Inc series, all those navy seals, yum. And the Maya Banks’ KGI series, or Roxanne St. Claire’s Guardian Angelinos….
    I feel like I could go on and on! But suffice it to say, I’m happy when any characters I’ve come to know pop up in subsequent books–even when it’s not a full-fledged series…
    Thanks for posting Maria!
    Jenna Blue

    Reply
    • Hi Jenna. There’s something about a Navy seal that just…well…gets me. I have a Roxanne St. Claire I bought at last year’s Nationals at the recommendation of Joanna and, sadly, haven’t read it. I’ve heard many of you rave about the KGI series and always mean to read one. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  6. Nicole Doran

     /  August 20, 2012

    I’m with Jenna – Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is my ultimate obsession..just wish she’d hurry up and write more! I also enjoy JR Ward’s Lover series – about the Black Dagger Brotherhood…good vamp books.. Lara Adrian has her own version of vamps that are great too. Robyn Carr is a master and her Virgin River makes we want to live there…and Suzanne Brockmann’s SEALs..oh my so many! These characters make such an imprint on me – they become real and I feel like I know them all…and anticipate more…that’s the sign of good writing. A good character in a series sticks with me sometimes more than their actual story. Great post…I love you Femmes…your posts give me those little breaks from all the Con stuff and writing too..okay back to work!
    Thanks, Nicole

    Reply
    • Hi Nicole. It’s amazing how you can completely get sucked into their world. I get so excited to find a new author/series. Reading is such a great way to temporarily forget real life and the pile of work waiting for you. I’m glad you like our posts. I ditto Jaye, drinks at the conference! After all the work you’ve done, YOU’LL certainly need one (or several)!

      Reply
  7. Thanks, Nicole! We love you, too! I missed talking to you on Saturday. We’ll have to make time for a drink at the conference in October!

    Hugs,
    Jaye

    Reply
  8. Oh boy….do I love me a series, or what??? My husband teases me because at the end of a good book or a good movie, I always ask, “Well, what happens NEXT?” I never want anything I love to end.

    This year, I’ve been blown away by 3 series, two of them m/m and one of them paranormal. The m/m are the Adrien English series (by Josh Lanyon) and the Cut & Run series (by Abigail Roux). The paranormal is the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. Lanyon stopped his books at five, preferring to wrap up the series arc where he wanted. The other two are ongoing, and I’m DYING for the next installments.

    That’s the problem with a series: waiting for the next book to come out!!!

    Reply
    • Yes! I agree with you that it’s so hard to wait for the next book. Patience is NOT my middle name. Sometimes authors just sort of end the book quickly and I’m disappointed because they didn’t tell me enough about what happens after the HEA. With a series you can read that, which I like.

      Reply
  9. Hi Maria,

    So many series, so little time. I loved Elizabeth Hoyt’s series that included The Raven King, etc. I particularly enjoy when authors work in secondary characters, who you grow to love, and then they have their moment in the spotlight in the next book – Sabrina Jeffries does a wonderful job with this.

    Happy reading. Michele

    Reply
    • I completely agree. There’s so many great authors who are great role models for this type of writing. Layering in the secondary characters is fun. It allows you lay the foundation for your next story early. Of course, that means you need to have a sense of the next story. But I already know you do 🙂

      Reply
  10. I like the kind of series where they are connected through setting, secondary characters, etc., but it’s not necessary to read in order or read the other books at all. In fact, I get turned off by books that end with cliff-hangers/ lack of resolution and expect you to buy the other books to find out what happens. I usually specifically DON’T read on out of sheer rebellion.

    I made an exception for Danielle Harmon’s de Montforte Brothers series. After reading “The Wild One,” which was excellent, that last shocking chapter compelled me to buy “The Beloved One.” However, that one wasn’t quite as good and when she tried the same kind of cliff-hangery trick it just annoyed me, because I knew she was going to do that with every single book in the series, so I stopped reading.

    Reply
    • I don’t like cliff-hangers, either. That’s not to say I don’t want some loose ends that aren’t tied up. That’s fine, just please make sure there’s a HEA. Please don’t give me that bittersweet ending. Usually that just depresses me. I was so bummed out when I read Nicholas Sparks’s book The Best of Me. My heart just broke and all I wanted to do is cry. I want tears of happiness! Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
  11. I’ve loved series ever since I read Nancy Drew books as a kid! Cara Summer, who writes for Harlequin Blaze, usually does 3-4 book series and I love her books. I also love Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series (which take place in regency England) and her new series about the Smythe-Smith family. I’m looking forward to Beth Ciotta’s new Cupcake Club series and Nancy Herkness’s series about a small town in West Virginia, with horses.

    Reply
    • I find a series gives the author a chance to really develop the characters. I can’t wait for Nancy’s new series. I’ll have to check out Beth’s series. I love cupcakes!

      Reply

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