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?
Thank you to the Petticoat & Pistols Fillies for welcoming me to their home on the range.
Let’s talk about series books today. Do you prefer your favorite cowboy books to be part of a series? As you start the book, do you begin to imagine the secondary characters having stories of their own? Have you ever written to an author to ask for a secondary character to have their own book?
I admit my answer is YES to all of the above.
What types of series do you prefer?
A standalone series linked by location or family or an incident? These series books usually include secondary character continuity in each book. The association between books in these types of series can be very loose or tightly connected. However, this series can be read out of order.
Or, do you prefer a series that keeps you guessing and reading each book in the series, in order, until an overall series question or mystery is revealed at the very end?
How many books do you like to see in a series–three, five or many, many more? And what are your thoughts on prologues, epilogues, and novellas connected to the original series?
I like as many books in a series as I can get my hands on as long as it’s easy to keep track of the characters.
My newest release is the last in a four-book series. Though each is a stand-alone, meaning you don’t have to read the earlier books to follow along, they all take place on Big Heart Ranch.
Each book deals with a cowboy or cowgirl who must deal with the pain of a broken childhood. The series, set in Timber, Oklahoma, is based on a children’s ranch for orphaned, abused and neglected children owned and operated by the orphaned Maxwell siblings: Lucy, Travis & Emma.
FYI, Big Heart Ranch is modeled after a real ranch in Alabama. “BIG OAK RANCH – A Christian Home for Children Needing a Chance.” You can find out more about Big Oak Ranch here.
The final book is horse whisperer, Tripp Walker’s, story and probably the most emotional and tender of all the books in the series because it deals with a deeper level of pain and ultimate healing.
I have to admit that I’m sad that this is the last book, though I am enjoying reading the book myself as a reader instead of a writer. But I am suffering symptoms of a book hangover!
Have you ever had a book hangover as you come to the end of a special cowboy read?
A book hangover is a condition in which attachment to a book or series that has ended causes the reader traumatic emotional distress. It usually lasts for one to two weeks, or until a new book of higher-than-average quality enters the reader’s life.– Epic Reads
The inability to start a new book because you are still living in the old book’s world.– Urban Dictionary
The Last Cowboy Song
(Ed Bruce with Willie Nelson)
This the last cowboy song.
The end of a hundred year waltz.
The voices sound sad as they’re singin’ along.
Another piece of America’s lost.
He rides the feed lots, clerks in the markets,
On weekends sellin’ tobacco and beer.
And his dream’s of tomorrow, surrounded by fences,
But he’ll dream tonight of when fences weren’t here.
In honor of the last book in this series, I’ve picked up
To deal with book hangover, and celebrate the release of Her Last Chance Cowboy, I’ve got a few very therapeutic giveaways today for the readers of Petticoats & Pistols. Just leave a comment to my questions above to be entered.
Two readers will receive a copy of Her Last Chance Cowboy and a canister of Romance Recovery Tea from Riddles Book &Tea Company. (US only)
One reader will receive the entire Big Heart Ranch series and a canister of Romance Recovery Tea. (US Only)
One reader will receive an ecopy of Her Last Chance Cowboy (US or international)
Her Last Chance Cowboy
She came seeking family…
Will she find love at Big Heart Ranch?
When pregnant single mother Hannah Vincent shows up professing to be the half sister of the Maxwells of Big Heart Ranch, horse trainer Tripp Walker is wary. Wounded before, he doesn’t trust easily. If only Hannah and her feisty five-year-old daughter weren’t so impossible to resist. Now, despite his doubts, joining this little family is quickly becoming the cautious cowboy’s greatest wish.
A freelance writer for over twenty years, Tina Radcliffe is an RWA Honor Roll member, a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, a three-time ACFW Carol Award nominee, and a 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year recipient. Her 11th book for Harlequin Love Inspired, Her Last Chance Cowboy, released in February 2019. In addition to novel-length fiction, Tina has sold over three dozen short stories to Woman’s World Magazine. A former library cataloger, Tina is a frequent presenter on writing topics and an online instructor. She currently resides in Arizona, where she writes fun, heartwarming romance. Sign up for her author newsletter and her market newsletter at http://www.tinaradcliffe.com/