Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Cheer for Series! by Valerie Comer | Guest Post


Hands up if you love reading a series!

Me, me! My hand is sky high. Although I admit I sometimes don’t read the books in quick succession, and then I get confused about which backstory character is which. It’s just that authors are so slow! They might take anywhere from two months to a year to pop out another story in that series, and I don’t have time to reread the previous books to catch back up. But neither do I want a recap of the previous story lines dumped into the first chapter.

So what’s an author to do?

Well, let’s start with what kind of a series it is. There are genres where one complete story arc often spans several books. This is often the case in speculative fiction or action-adventure. There are genres where all the books are about one m character, but they can really be read in any order. Like sleuth or police procedurals, for instance.

And then there are the kind I’m most familiar with, namely romance series. Readers expect each book to end in a happily-ever-after, or HEA, and they don’t take too kindly if the author comes back in book two and rips that couple apart and puts them back together. Do it a third time and, my guess is, your career is over.

So, if having an arc that covers several books is a no-no, then what?

Popular series can be created out of a group of siblings or friends, in which upcoming characters play the role of secondary characters in earlier books, while the previous heroes and heroines continue to cameo in later stories. Readers love to catch glimpses of earlier characters’ weddings and babies!

My first series, the Farm Fresh Romance series, was set on a farm in northern Idaho. Each new couple met, worked, and settled right there. The problem was, I’d set it up communally, so they worked together, they ate together, and they interfered with each other. All. The. Time. By book six, I had so many secondary characters I needed to send some of them away on vacations (hard on the budget, I tell ya!) just to narrow down the number of people involved in each scene.

Check out the first book, Raspberries and Vinegar, if you’re curious. It’s free on all retailers.

I got wiser when I planned a spin-off series. How about a community with a group of friends? That way there were more logical breaks. Not everyone is everyone else’s best friend, roommate, or work buddy. Toss in a community church, a community garden, a community bakery (are you sensing a theme yet?), and populate the set with families and characters of all ages, not just young singles.

What did I get? The fictional neighborhood of Bridgeview, set in Spokane, Washington, a city I’m quite familiar with. I’ve walked the streets of the area I transformed and taken hundreds of photos, smelling its air, feeling its breezes, and absorbing its vibe. I imagined the people I’d populate it with and how they knew each other, whether they’d grown up here or were transplants.

Secrets of Sunbeams, the first in the Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, launched last summer. Recently Memories of Mist, the third novel in this series, released. It’s definitely a stand-alone within the scope of the series, the only one so far about a single mom with school-aged kids whose life revolves around PTA projects, which was a total change from the single twenty-something vibe from the earlier stories. Still, the life of the community moves forward, and readers will enjoy seeing Adriana, whom they’ve already come to love, get her happily-ever-after.

Also (sneak peek!), Adriana’s relationship with her sister, Alaina, is introduced here… and Alaina is the heroine of Rooted in Love from another one of my series, Arcadia Valley Romance, and Adriana reciprocates in that story, which releases in November. So not only can characters cameo in other books of the same series, but can cross over. How much fun is that?

_____

Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary Christian romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local foods movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She writes engaging characters, strong communities, and deep faith into her green clean romances.
Connect with Valerie on her website: http://valeriecomer.com/

As memories linger in the past,
so dreams stretch toward the future.

Single mom Adriana Diaz isn’t about to let the new teacher derail the PTA’s hard work in securing a greenhouse and garden area for Bridgeview Elementary School, but taking matters into her own hands turns awkward when she realizes her attraction to the teacher.

Pro-level conflict-avoider Myles Sheridan finds himself against an entire community with his reluctance to incorporate gardening into his classes. The only thing that could make his situation worse is falling in love with the ringleader, whose child is his most difficult student and whose husband had died a hero.

How can Myles compete with the man from Adriana’s memories? He’s not the material champions are made of. Or is he?

Purchase: Memories of Mist