Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Writing and Maintaining a Series

Right now, I am the proud writer of three different Paranormal Series. The first one, I'm sure you've heard me talk about before. It is the Westervelt Wolves series and I'm prouder than I can say to have published the first book Her Wolf: The Westervelt Wolves Book 1 with Liquid Silver Books.

I bet you've even, at this point, heard me talk about the second book Summer's Wolf: The Westervelt Wolves Book 2 which is releasing September 28th, 2009 from Liquid Silver Books. (Anyone interested in participating in a contest to win a Summer's Wolf t-shirt should go here.) But this is actually not a blog for self promotion today, all evidence to the contrary. Instead, what I'd like to talk about is writing a series and why I can't let my characters go, my interest in reading really well written series, and my frustration when I do devote myself to a series and I am hugely let down by the last book in the series.

In other words, I suppose, I have a lot to write about today.

All of this kind of goes back to how I found Paranormal Romance and what got me writing it in the first place. Ultimately, it came down to the amazingly talented Christine Feehan. Reading her books is like swimming in comfort food for me. I know that is not an actual metaphor. One cannot swim in comfort food. You eat it. Except you can't really eat Christine Feehan's book. They're too disturbing. Truly. But you can, if you let yourself, swim around in them for a long time.

We were on vacation in the caribbean. When I travel, before I had my Kindle, we always had to pack half a suitcase just to maintain my need to read, especially if we were mostly sitting on the beach. I would literally read 1-2 books a day before I had children. That's a whole other story...

So I'd finished all of my reading material and I was perusing the gift shop of our resort to see what they sold that I might want to read. They had a book sitting there by Christine Feehan. It said she was NY TImes Bestselling author and that this was a Carpathain novel. I had no idea what that meant but decided I didn't want to start reading her in the middle of a series. So when I got home from vacation, I looked her up, got the list of her novels and started reading the Dark series in order. The first one was Dark Prince.

I was hooked.

By the time I got to Gregori's book I was so in love with these characters they practically existed in my mind. (I obsessed with Gregori, hurt for him.) Boy did she write some dark themes. Book 1 was seriel killers, Book 2 was mental illness, Book 3 had a child getting kidnapped. She's not stopped. In the years since, she has filled my mind with unapologetic heroines who have suffered child abuse, rape, death, and illness. In a recent book, not the most recent, but a recent one, the heroine even attempts suicide during the book.

I thought wow. Look what she has managed to do because she is writing a series. The main characters change book by book but wow by maintaining the characters she can really say something. If she let each book just be a simple story of the characters in the story, she could never do that.

My critique partner is an amazing writer. I never would have sold a single book without her. And I drive her crazy. She thinks I am incapable of writing a stand alone story. In some ways she's right. I am incapable of writing a stand alone novel. Short stories are a different matter all together.

But when I'm reading Feehan or Nalini Singh or Laurell K. Hamilton or JR Ward or Sherrilyn Kenyon or Gena Showalter or Lora Leigh or TJ Killian or Patricia Briggs or most recently Pamela Palmer what they give you by exploring the same characters over and over is the opportunity to change and grow with them even if where they take you is sometimes very disturbing.

So back to my own recent journey into series writing. I wrote the first two books of Westervelt with very little difficulty. Her Wolf flowed into Summer's Wolf. Someone commented that I changed the perspective on Tristan from book 1 to book 2. Made sense to me, Book 1 we see Tristan from Ashlee's perspective. Book 2 is from her sister's. I would argue that anyone with a sibling knows we frequently see things very differently from them.

Then I got to book 3. It was Theo Kane's. I'd known that the second I wrote book 2, Theo had to have the next story. But Faith was not related to Ashlee and Summer and everything felt darker. It made me nervous. Was it okay to go this direction? I knew it was. Was I strong enough to do it? Wolf Reborn made me work hard. It tested me and challenged me. I hope I succeeded.

But what I've discovered is that every series has its own problems. Writing the second book in the Love Beyond Series has been hard. The main characters are not as in tune with each other as the ones in the first book had been. Like Wolf Reborn, it is making me push the series, challenge it, decide what it is I want it to say by the time I reach the end. What do I ultimately want to have happen at the end of the series?

I've only written the first book in my third series, First Dimension. I had never intended to write these books. It flowed out of me like it had a life of its own and when it was over, I could barely write anything else for a month.

As I become more and more pregnant, writing is becoming harder for me. I'm tired, its hard to get comfortable. I have strange pains. This is my third baby. I knew it was coming. So I downloaded a lot of old 'favorites' onto my Kindle and when I can do nothing else, I reread them. I don't have to think about plot, I know what is going to happen in these books. The entire Dark series resides on my Kindle right now.

Thats another thing about a series. You can always go back and journey with them again. They give you more than one book to do that with.

Best to all of you in your own love of reading and writing, if that's what you do. Do you have a favorite Paranormal Series? I'll always take the recommendations.

Also, next week, in anticipation of either having the baby or being really really really tired I have asked my cousin to blog for me. Stop by and say hello to him so we don't put him off blogging forever.

All the best


J Hali Steele said...

I'm am such a fan of Feehan and Singh...they are spectacular. Try Kerrelyn Sparks and Lynsay Sands - the series, the vamps and the shifters - all with a good dose of humor and hang your angst at the door. LOVE them.

Nice post, Rebecca, and a great view by an author on the birth and growth of series.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Well, I can say I've never read either. I know, gasps and jeers, right? I just ordered a an anthology from Paperback Swap with a few of those names in them to even see if they're my thing.

For me, I'll read a series if the author keeps it tight and moving. I hate when an author drags out sexual tension just for the sake of keeping interest. I'll chuck the series. Make a decision already. :-)

The only series I have read (outside of Katie MacAlister) are mystery series.

And as an author? I did a holiday series, but I'm not overly invested in doing another. :-) I like the challenge of moving on. :-) Maybe it will change. Maybe it won't. I'm just having a good time.

Godspeed with the birth of both, Becca!

LM Spangler said...

I love the Carpathians. I agree with you about Gregory! Feehan is a master of series writing with the Ghost Walkers and the Drake sisters. The sex is always hot and will keep you interested in that aspect. Each book pulls you in and hold you prisoner until the last word.

Best of luck with the birth of your child, Rebecca. May you recover quickly!


Serena Shay said...

I too love Feehan's works. She was the first paranormal I ever read and from then on was hooked! Yep, Gregori was ~sigh~

You hit all the others I love as well, Ward, Hamilton, Kenyon, Leigh. I also enjoy, Lara Adrian's vamps and I've just started Kessoca Andersen's Keepers. They are proving very enjoyable as well! :)

Rebecca Royce said...

I cant find the Keesoca Andersen's Keepers. What is this series??


Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey Rebecca

I too like Sandi haven't read those, but that's mostly because we don't get those books in Mauritius. Sad. I'm waiting to get a Paypal account soon so I can order from Amazon and the likes.

The one paranormal series that had me hooked was YA, Christopher Pike's Last vampire series. In retrospect, I know the heroine was too super, but as a teen, she rocked my world. I totally dig this one.

You're right about writing series. I'm doing a 'loose' one on 3 sisters and I love the continuity that flows in them. Also totally rocked that I found a plot point that will connect Book 3 to Book 1 and make the whole thing come full circle.

Hang in there, hope all goes well for you and baby. Hugs


Rae Lori said...

It's so sad how far behind I'm on for all the PNR series! I keep hearing such good things but they keep moving back on my pile. One day I shall get to em!

I don't think I've read a series all the way through. I get kinda impatient when I have to wait, although there's one I'm working through now (Outlander!) and one I enjoyed in the past before it went downhill (Anne Rice's Vampire Chrocnicles woo hoo). I was also an R.L. Stine nut back in the day. I'm now waiting for the awesome Rebecca Royce to continue her Westervelt Wolves series. ;-) Oh and I'm working through Harry Dresden via the audio books but the next ones aren't available yet so I have to wait. :-(

My hats off to writers who can maintain a series throughout. I can't for the life of me do it because I start thinking about other characters and my genre ADD kicks in. Ack!

An early congrats and welcome to the world to you and the baby! Hang in there! :-)