Tuesday, March 18, 2014

There are definite perks and definite challenges to writing a series, don't you think?

On the negative side:
You have to remain within the parameters you've already created
You may find characters auditioning for parts that don't mesh with the series
You can't choose a different voice style for the remaining books
Your readers want exactly what they want

On the plus side:
You know your story world
You know some—possibly most—of your characters
Your voice for the stories is set
You know what your readers want

Yes, I think every negative has a correlating positive side, and the positive side is stronger. Readers love series, so why not give them a trilogy or a series…or maybe collections?

Wait. There's a difference?

Trilogies: A 3-book series is the most common, but for a set to qualify as a trilogy, they need to take the same story, with the same main characters, and continue the same drama. The earlier books often end in a cliffhanger, and make poor standalones. The reader knows the story isn't complete, even though some subplots are wrapped up, and eagerly looks for the next installment. Technically, this type of series doesn't have to end in three books, but it's the most common length.

Series: An example of an open-ended series is the Nancy Drew mysteries. Each is a standalone. You know just what to expect from Nancy and her friends. She doesn't change much but falls from one scrape into another without a blink, solving each in her signature fashion. Still, when a story is done, everything is settled and she is safe and sound.

Collections: These are stories that are related and set in the same story world. Technically, my Farm Fresh Romance books are a collection. Each stands alone as the romance of one of the young women who joined together to purchase and operate Green Acres Farm with the goal of building a sustainable lifestyle.

The first book, Raspberries and Vinegar, is the story of Jo, the feisty environmentalist, and Zach, the junk-food-loving reluctant farmer next door. In the second story, Wild Mint Tea, which just released March first, Jo and Zach are (married) secondary characters, but the romance story belongs to Claire and Noel. Claire is a local-food chef who's catering weddings at the farm, and Noel is the brother of the first bride.

I'm currently writing the third Farm Fresh Romance story, Sweetened with Honey. I took a break to write a standalone novella (releasing in September in Snowflake Tiara with Angela Breidenbach). But what a treat to return to Green Acres Farm and catch up on Jo and Zach's family and to see how Claire and Noel are faring a couple of years later. It's also fun to contemplate their third friend, Sierra, and the young widower who has stolen her heart.

Old friends like retired plumber Ed Graysen, who's cruised through the first two stories; Zach's dad, who's been recuperating from a debilitating neurological disease; and the unpleasant Mr. Leask, who sells sick cattle, are all hanging around, looking for their parts in this new tale.

In the first book, Sierra's dad and brother came to Green Acres to help build the girls' straw bale house. Now that it's Sierra's turn to find love, surely we'll meet Tim Riehl and his wise-cracking college-age son again.

It's starting to feel like a family reunion! And a group of other inhabitants of Galena Landing, Idaho, feel it's time we got to know the community a bit better.

All in all, I'm pretty sure I won't want to say goodbye to the Farm Fresh Romance gang at the end of Sweetened with Honey. Maybe I won't have to. They have friends, after all, and a good collection can always handle another story or two!

What are some examples of trilogies, series, or collections you particularly enjoyed?

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories. Please visit her at her website to enjoy her blog, connect with her on social media, find her books, and join her e-newsletter list.

Links to:
Valerie's website: http://valeriecomer.com
Wild Mint Tea: http://valeriecomer.com/mint
Raspberries and Vinegar: http://valeriecomer.com/raspberries

About the Farm Fresh Romance books: This unique farm lit series follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods. 

The second tale in the Farm Fresh Romance series, Wild Mint Tea, finds chef Claire Halford hosting weddings at Green Acres Farm, but the first bride comes with a globe-trotting brother. Noel Kenzie's reforestation company provides him the means to enjoy life. This is no time for him to settle down…or Claire to spread her wings.


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