Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The challenges and fun of writing a series

Hello, everyone. I'd like you to meet my friend, the prolific Melanie Atkins. When I found out how many series she'd written, I asked her to share her process. What she doesn't mention is that she's a finalist in Lee Lofland's Writer's Police Academy's Don Knott's Silver Bullet Writing competition. Please welcome guest blogger, Melanie Atkins to the Five Scribes.

Hi, everyone! My name is Melanie Atkins, and I write romantic suspense and thrillers for Desert Breeze Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Whiskey Creek Press. I'm excited about blogging here today. Thank you, Donnell, for the invitation to blog about writing a series.

Some of my books are single titles (SKELETON BAYOU, The Wild Rose Press, and FLASH BANG, coming soon from Whiskey Creek), but others are series titles -- my own series (New Orleans Detectives and Keller County Cops, Desert Breeze Publishing) and not ones designated by my publisher. My first series came about totally by accident. Or maybe I should say, because of one very sexy character: Detective Slade Montgomery.

I wrote the first book in the N.O. Detective series, CHERISHED WITNESS, as a stand-alone title, but Slade, the hero's former partner at NOPD, captured my heart right away and demanded his own book. So I wrote PRIME SUSPECT just for him.

A series was born. The books are loosely connected via District Six Homicide. I set up a new detective character in each book to be either the hero or heroine in the next one, and I bring back characters from previous stories throughout the six-book series. It's so much fun to revisit them and let the reader know what has transpired in their lives. They've married, had babies, and in one case, gotten a new job. It's like writing an epilogue long after the book has ended.

At first, I had trouble keeping up with all of the characters, which is a major challenge, so I set up an Excel spreadsheet with all of the names so I wouldn't get mixed up. I fell in love with all of them...and I have just as much of a blast figuring out what's happened to them later as I did when writing each of their stories. I haven't yet tried entwining plots much yet, but I do bring up plots from earlier books when old characters return. Readers seem to like it.

I recommend writing a series not only because I like revisiting my characters [but because] series books sell so well. Each time a new ebook comes out, I see a bump in all of my titles... and that bump just gets better with each one. So, hell, yeah, I'm all for writing series. That's why I've started another one. The first book in my new Keller County Cops series, MARKED FOR MURDER, comes out in April 2011. So far this series contains four titles, but I hope to up it to six at some point as well.

For more info on all of my books, check out my website and my blog, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to e-mail me as well. The address is on my website.

My New Orleans Detective Series:

CHERISHED WITNESS, available now!

PRIME SUSPECT, available now!

CHOSEN TARGET, available now!




My Keller County Cops Series:


SHIELD OF VALOR, September 2011



Website: http://www.melanieatkins.com

Facebook: http://www.face-book.com/melanie.atkins


Edie Ramer said...

I'm halfway through a book right now by an author I know. I emailed her last night and said I hope she has a story planned for a secondary character, because he really sprang to life.

I'm planning two series, so I guess I'll have to learn spreadsheets. Not something I'm looking forward to.

Mary Marvella said...

Good morning, Melania and Donnell. I love hearing about the way writers develop series. Have a fun week and learn a lot to share with us.

Dale said...

I've used spreadsheets to plot some of my more twisted RS books but haven't used that system for continuing through series. It's a great idea.

I should set them up for all the stories in theory, then I have them if a character demands his/her own book.

Barbara White Daille said...

Donnell - thanks for inviting Melanie here to blog.

Melanie - great post, and I'm in awe of all your accomplishments.

Would love to see your spreadsheet and try it out. My question is, do you find it challenging to keep it updated?


Gillian Layne said...

Congratulations on such a prolific career so far! I love connected books. And agree the spreadsheets are a very smart idea.