What Do You Like in a Series?

Recently in my Facebook group, The Posse, a reader asked me this question:

“When do you begin planning a new series? What is that process like?”

Unlike some authors who have a constant fount of ideas bubbling through their creative centers, I tend to have tunnel vision. I focus on one idea at a time. So I always feel a bit anxious when a current series is coming to a close and I’m faced with the prospect of coming up with a new idea. In fact, that is exactly where I am right now. I’m writing the last Horseman book, and I need to have a new series idea ready to pitch to my editors in April.
My goal is to keep my stories and series ideas as fresh as possible. So I start with the very basic element of deciding what will connect my stories. The idea behind Hanger’s Horsemen was the A-Team meets the Magnificent Seven. The four Horsemen are former cavalry officers who are bonded by war and their desire for redemption.
The Archer Brothers series had a family connection. The Ladies of Harper’s Station series had books that were all set in the same place, the women’s colony of Harper’s Station. My Patchwork Family series was linked through a group of orphans who bonded after surviving a traumatic experience.

Once I know what core bond the series will be built upon, I can start brainstorming the individual characters and stories. And since my books don’t release in rapid succession, I steer away from series that utilize cliffhangers at the end of each book. All of my series books can be read as stand-alone novels, each complete with an adventure, romance, and happily ever after. However, I do have fun bringing characters back from previous books for cameo appearances in subsequent stories for readers to enjoy.
As I brainstorm ideas for my next series, I’m leaning toward having the bond be a theme instead of a particular group of characters. I’m toying with giving some classic fairy tales a Texas twist. We’ll see what happens with that.

What kind of series do you like best?
Do you have any ideas for a western romance series that you’d like to read?

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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

32 thoughts on “What Do You Like in a Series?”

  1. I love reading books in a series that feel like pearls strung together perfectly on a thread. Some series just feel like life, you know, they feel like this whole another life you live in a course of five or six books with characters that feel like family and friends to people who sometimes don’t have either in real life. I think my most favorite series are the ones that have the found family trope; because that trope gives me such a rush of serotonin and makes my heart all giddy. Also, I can’t wait to see what you come up with for your future series, I just know it will be wonderful whatever the story is. <3

    • Hi, February. Characters really do start to feel like family in a series, don’t they? And I want all of my family to have their romantic happily ever afters. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I love series, I love getting to know the new characters and town or area they live in. But the most important part is when the author keeps the characters from the previous books in the story. As each book comes out we learn more snd More about the previous characters, even if itโ€™s just cameo visits. But when previous characters are involved in the storyline, I really pump my fist in excitement.
    I love your ideas about a series with a theme. That sounds intriguing.
    Have a wonderful day and happy brainstorming your next series.

    • Thanks, Tonya. I adore a good character cameo. They make me grin every time. It’s like getting a shot of endorphins from your memories of the previous read. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I really enjoy a series that is well thought out. I have read some series that by book 4 or 5 Iโ€™m wondering where everyone I have โ€œmetโ€ in the previous books vanished to! Even a brief appearance, or the mention of a couple expecting is smile inducing for me. Itโ€™s sort of like catching up at a family reunion would be. I would love to see more books set in my ho e state of New Mexico. Lots of cowboys and cowgirls roaming the range there!

  4. Good morning! I love books in a series! I love to revisit a town, learn more about what’s going on in the lives of previous characters I’ve gotten to know in a previous book. When a series is really good it’s like a death of friends when it’s over so I like for it to go on as long as possible. It’s really fun when we get to know the kids & grandkids of previous characters. I even like it when a notorious villain is in each book and is finally taken down in the final book, whether it is arrested or the villain is taken out by either a hero or heroine in the series.

    A theme book is very intriguing. I can only imagine one that is based on a fairytale with a Texas theme! Wowza!

    Stay safe!

    • I had so much fun writing my Archer Family Christmas novella for just that reason. It gave me an excuse to bring the clan back together again and see all the kids who had been born and see the individual personalities coming out. It was definitely a family reunion.

  5. I enjoy reading series but I don’t like to wait on the next book to come out so the book had to stand alone. I do love meeting old characters later in the new books.

  6. When I read At Loves Command, I fell in love with the Hangerโ€™s Horseman series. In fact, I canโ€™t wait for the next book to come out. I enjoy series when characters are built upon and weaved into future books. Stories with grit, adventure, romance, horses, cattle, cowboys, rangers, etc are my favorite to read. I really enjoy historical western books and 1800โ€™s is my favorite genre. Women who are strong in character appeal to me because women are stronger than we think. Thank you for your blog today Karen.

    • I couldn’t agree more about those strong female characters, Kathy. I have very little patience for stories with weak, weepy, helpless females. Women are incredibly strong – of mind, of character, and even in body when we work together.

  7. I love reading series because I can prolong saying “goodbye” to the characters I’ve fallen in love with.

  8. I love reading series because I fall in love with the characters in your books and in a series I get another glimpse of my favorites. Thank you.

  9. I love series! You can find out so much more about characters in a series, especially when some characters keep coming back. Plus, I usually then fall in love with where ever the story takes place!

  10. My daughter and I will read anything and everything you write, Karen. ? Not very helpful, but we love your stories. And we love fairy tale retellings too, so we can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  11. I love when previous characters come back around…I even enjoy when a child in a previous book gets their own story. It keeps things from that book or series going and you can see old characters years down the road. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I love reading book series because I get to read how the book characters have grown and what is going on in their lives. I especially love book series about siblings and how they were raised and then go on to making and starting their own lives with little families of their own. Your book series sound like Very good reads. Have a Great week and stay safe.

  13. I think your idea of fairy tale adaptations is wonderful. They are such classic story lines and lend themselves to such a wide variety of interpretations. As a children’s librarian, I enjoyed pulling out the many variations of a fairy tale we had. Cinderella was a favorite. The variations from a male Cinderella (Bubba The Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman) to a young woman whose Fairy Godmother shows up ta bit late (Fanny’s Dream by Caralyn and Mark Buehner) – my favorites – show just how different a take you can use. I look forward to seeing what you do with this idea.

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