Series vs. Single Title

If you are a blog hopper of author and/or readers' blogs, you've probably seen multiple posts on reading/writing novels in a series as opposed to stand-alone novels. I have nothing new to offer on the subject. It's just something that's been on my mind the past week as it is something I'm personally struggling with.

As a reader, although I very much enjoy a knock-out stand-alone, I absolutely love books that are connected by recurring characters. Johanna Lindsey hooked me years ago with the Malory Family. Suzanne Brockmann keeps me coming back for more of her sexy, rugged Navy SEALs. I didn't read either of these series in order because I didn't realize the book that initially hooked me was part of a series. Although it became apparent as I read, and after, I gobbled up any of the previous books before moving forward.

There's something comforting and intriguing about reading stories populated with people you already know. After recently reading Lara Adrian's KISS OF MIDNIGHT (see detailed thoughts in my previous post), I can't wait to read the upcoming connected books featuring her vampire warriors.

I applaud these authors, and all authors who write connecting books, because--dang--it's hard. Writing any book is hard. But connecting books offer a unique challenge. At least that has been and continues to be my experience. Jinxed, Charmed, and Seduced featured recurring characters and on-going, changing relationships. Everybody Loves Evie (coming 3/08) picked up where All Abut Evie (coming 5/07) left off. It featured Arch and Evie's evolving relationship, as well as her personal journey and several recurring characters and themes.

Currently I'm writing The Fall of Rome (coming 7/08) which follows Romancing the West (10/07) which follows Lasso the Moon (out now). The western trilogy is connected by recurring characters as well. Especially challenging if you are a seat-of-the pants writer like me. You can't simply fly into the mist willy nilly because you are grounded by what you have written before. The process is less spontaneous and more calculated because you must be consistant... with what you've written before. The deeper into a series I am, the harder it is to start that next book. My mind is populated with many characters, their relationships, continuing plot threads and so on. How do you bring a reader, who is perhaps reading the series out of order, up to speed without boring them with back story? Also, you don't want to give away too much about a character or event as it may be a spoiler for a previous story.

So, here I am, on book three, with a colorful cast and on-going relationships and plot threads, suffering from TMI (too much information) struggling with where and how to begin a story that, I'm certain once I'm 'in the zone', I will love. Just now, however, it's causing some sleepless nights. Brain. Buzzing. Although it could be worse. I could be blocked. Wish me luck as I struggle to connect with my connecting books. *g*

As a reader and/or author, how do you feel about series books?


Anna Lucia said…
Ah, I love a good series. Although I hate having to wait this long for more of your Westerns! (And I'd never read a Western before I came to yours via the Charmed et al series....)

I like writing slightly linked books, but I've never yet tried a series as such. I can see that would be much harder work!
Cynthia said…
My problem with connected books is that I HAVE to read them in order. No really, I have to read them in the proper order. It's just the way my mind is wired. If I don't know a book is part of a series when I read it, it bugs me later to find this out. I read one series out of order because I didn't know the books were connected. Now the books were wonderful individually, but because I read them in reverse order, the first in the series wasn't as exciting because I knew the couple got together in the end. Okay so we pretty much know that in romances anyway, but you get the idea.

I guess my biggest issue with some series, or loosely connected, books is they have to be well labels as such. That's what got my into trouble in the past.
FeyRhi said…
I love linked books as well, but I too have to read them in order. I just like the cameo appearences of previous characters. Kind of a little "look, see they are still HEA" Stephanie Lauren's Cynster Family is another of my favourites.
barb said…
love them
Beth Ciotta said…
Sorry I've been absent all!

Hi Anna! So glad I turned you on to westerns. :) Sorry for the wait, but hopefully it will be worth it. I only meant for all of my books to be slightly linked (except for the Evie series) but it never works out that way. LOL
Beth Ciotta said…
Cynthia, I'm sure you're not alone. Once I discover a book is a linked with other, I do try to find out the order of the previous books and then start from the beginning.

As far as some clear marking that a book is linked to another, I think it's about half and half. Sometimes they have a common title followed by an individual title. Initially I had hoped my Evie books would say THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES and then be followed by an individual title. It didn't work out that way. However, 'EVIE' is in every title. So hopefully that's a head's up to readers. :)
Beth Ciotta said…
FeyRhi, I enjoy the cameo appearences to. Always fun!

Barb, :-)

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