I thought I’d talk a little bit about connected books today. As a reader, I’ve always enjoyed series – it gives me a chance to revisit characters and locations I’ve already come to love in prior books. There are a number of different approaches to creating a series. There are those connected via characters – siblings, cousins, team members. Or maybe themes – marriage of convenience, holidays, lawmen. Then there are those connected by location – a small town, a cruise ship, a wagon train. But whatever the connection, we as readers often enjoy the chance to revisit a familiar world created by the author.
But regardless of the connections, there is another way you can categorize a series – those that are author conceived, and those that are editor conceived.
Author conceived series are where an author comes up with a concept for a series of connected stories and develops each one on her own. The are sometimes planned for ahead of time, and sometimes they just happen organically. I’ve had this happen to me both ways. The second book I wrote for Love Inspired Historicals, The Christmas Journey, was originally conceived as a single book. But by the time I was half way through writing it, both the sister of the hero and the sister of the heroine were clamoring for their own stories. I immediately pitched those to my editor and ended up writing not only their stories but one for the other brother as well.
On the other hand, back in 2005 I had a book out with my previous publisher titled Lady’s Choice. The storyline for that book featured a Texas heroine who was being forced to select a husband from among three city slickers sent to her by her grandfather who lived in Philadelphia. The three potential grooms were escorted to Texas by a fourth man, the match making grandfather’s agent. I conceived that storyline with the intention of writing four books, one for each of the men who traveled to Texas from ‘back east’. Unfortunately that publisher and I parted ways before I could write more than the one book. However the stories for the other three men stayed with me, begging to be written. I discussed it with my current editor and, after she read that book and my concepts for the other three, she enthusiastically gave me the green light. So I’ve refreshed that first book, tweaking it to not only fit the Love Inspired Line but to incorporate other changes I wanted to make, and Handpicked Husband, a Sept release, is the result. It will kick off my Texas Grooms series, one I’m very excited to finally bring to life.
The other type of series, an editor conceived series, often known as a continuity, is where an editor comes up with a concept for a series of books and invites authors in to develop the stories. The editor will give each author a one page overview of the concept as it applies to their book and the threads that tie the books together. Then the authors go off and figure out the details on how to bring the concept to life. They keep in close touch with each other to ensure the final stories flow seamlessly together. One of the advantages to this type of series, from a reader standpoint, is that the books will normally come out back to back and there is very little wait time involved. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at one of these for a number of years, and finally got the invite from my editor last year. This was for a three book continuity and the other two authors in the project were Renee Ryan and Cheryl St. John, two fabulous writers who also happen to be good friends of mine. Writing a continuity proved to be much more difficult than I had imagined. Developing a story that sprang from someone else’s imagination, with threads that had to span all three books was tricky. And there were certain elements that each of us had to change in the original story overview as we went along. But in the end it was worth it. That particular continuity was dubbed The Irish Brides, and centered on three sisters who immigrated from Ireland to America in the 1850s. My book, which told the oldest sister’s story, was the third in the series which means I got to wrap up all the story threads – it was one of the more challenging and fun parts of the project. That book, A Baby Between Them, came out in June of this year.
You can learn more about both Handpicked Husband and A Baby Between Them on my website at www.winniegriggs.com
So tell me, do you enjoy book series? If so, do you have a favorite type?
And to celebrate my two releases, I’d like to offer two folks who leave comments here their choice of either of the two books mentioned above. (The winners will be announced next week here in the comment section of this post.)
Winnie Griggs has written historical and contemporary romances for three different lines. A small town girl herself, Winnie’s books focus on family and community and matters of faith – all subjects that are near and dear to her heart. In fact, the tag line on her website reads “Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace”
Winnie has been married for over 35 years to her college sweetheart and together they have raised four children and a too-numerous-to-count assortment of dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, turtles and 4-H sheep. Besides reading and writing, Winnie’s favorite activities include cooking, exploring flea markets and pretending the growing army of dust bunnies who have invaded her home will disappear if she just ignores them.