a guest post from Lauren Carr
I’ll bet you’re wondering how on earth a person writes multiple books about the same characters. Well, here’s Lauren to explain it:
I’m a mystery writer and have been blessed to write five popular murder mystery series: The Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Thorny Rose, the Chris Matheson Cold Case mysteries, and the Nikki Bryant Cozy Mysteries.
I guess it goes without saying, I love book series. In reality, it is not a love for book series as much as it is a love for my characters.
The most important part of writing a book is character development. Who are your characters? The way I see it, the writer is God in your book’s world. God creates the characters, whose actions play an important role in your book—whether it is character or action driven.
Bad characters—by bad I mean protagonists that readers don’t like or care about—can kill a book. I have bailed on many books after a few chapters because I really didn’t care what happened to the main characters.
Like most writers, I’ll spend a lot of time sweating over my characters before I even sit down to write one word. By the time, I put fingers to keyboard, I know my characters so well, that I can order their coffee in a diner.
I also fall in love with them, which is why I can’t let them go. Thus, I end up married to my characters and a book series is born.
Yes, I am married to multiple murder mystery detectives. You could call me a literary bigamist.
As with any long-term relationship, there are pros and cons to committing to a book series:
- Many writers embark on a series after writing the first book because they (the writer) wants to get to know their character better. They want to dive deeper in who that character is and what makes him tick. If the character or characters are interesting, then the readers will want to do so as well.
- When writing a series, your characters are already there when you move on to write the next installment. You’ve already put in the work of character development.
- When you write a book series, you are expected to know and remember everything about your characters from one book to another. Several years ago, I introduced Archie Monday’s mother in the epilogue of Blast from the Past, the fourth Mac Faraday Mystery. Years later, after Three Days to Forever, the ninth book in the series as released, I received an email from a reader saying that she was never reading any of my books due to sloppy continuity. In that one scene in Blast from the Past, Archie’s mother was tall. In Three Days to Forever, in which she played a significant role, she was short and tiny. Years had past between the two books. To tell you the truth, I had forgotten that I had introduced Archie’s mother in the earlier book because her role was so tiny.
- When you write a book as part of a series, you have a readymade audience, especially if that series is successful. When I recently released Chris Cross Murder, fans of the previous installments were already waiting for the next book. It went up to #50 in police procedurals and private investigators on Amazon during pre-order. I can’t say for certain but I believe most of those pre-order sales were fans who had read the earlier installments in the series.
- On the other side, promoting a new release in an established book series is more difficult. I learned when the second installment of the Mac Faraday Mysteries was released, everyone I pitched Old Loves Die Hard to wanted to read It’s Murder, My Son, the first book, even though are written as stand-alones. One reader I told this to replied, “You all say that each book is written as a stand-alone and that is a lie.” Generally, book lovers are OCD about reading series in order. So, when you release a new book in that series, be prepared to promote the entire series, especially if you want new readers to the series.
- Tips for writing a continuing saga series, where each new book builds on the previous book. My series are standalones. There is no drama or cliffhangers that force a reader to buy the previous book to get the conclusion. However, I have worked with many authors who have written or want to write a continuing book series. Here’s a few pointers to keep in mind if:
- Don’t end your debut novel in a continuing series with a cliffhanger! Personally, I hate cliffhangers! They make me want to throw my kindle across the room. On a non-personal note, I have worked with two separate new authors who embarked on a continuing series. In both cases, their debut novels ended in cliffhangers. In both cases, I advised them to have book two ready to go upon the debut novel’s release. Why? Readers have short memories. If they took too long to release book two with the solution, then readers of book one will forget. They will need to start from the ground up and promote both books. Neither author listened to me and neither one finished book two. A decade later, book one of both series lingers on Amazon with no ending.
- When your book series is a continuing saga, be prepared to promote the entire series with each new installment if you want to continue to build your reader base. Book bloggers and reviewers will want to each installment—which is a serious commitment on their part. You’ll have to really WOW them.
I do confess that sometimes, I can be tempted to stray away from a series for a one-book stand. Stand-alone novels do have their advantages. There’s no commitment. You don’t have to remember your protagonist’s birthday from book one. Nor do you have to remember how tall his mother-in-law is. With a stand alone mystery, you just go out for one outing and then you walk away.
Joyful day! There’s a new Geezer Squad mystery from Lauren Carr, plus there’s cookies!
“Carr is a master at creating unique, complex plots and colorful characters, both evident in her latest cold case mystery featuring Chris Matheson and the geezer squad. The plot is twisted, the mystery unique and the ending a surprise. A must-read!” – Review of CHRIS CROSSED MURDER (A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery, Book Four) byMarilyn R. Wilson, Author, Speaker, Book Reviewer
“Lauren Carr is among my favorite mystery writers. She knows how to write a fun tale while keeping readers engaged. …I would give Chris Crossed Murder one hundred stars if I could. I believe readers who enjoy reading well-written and clean cozy mysteries will most definitely want to read it. I have no doubt they will enjoy it as much as I did. The fifth installment from A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery series is on my radar for when it releases.”– Review of CHRIS CROSSED MURDER (A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery, Book Four) by Amy Campbell, Locks Hooks and Books
It proves to be a Christmas to remember when the Matheson family receives the horrendous news that Chris Matheson’s body has been found in the woods near an international airport.
Everyone is stunned—especially Chris Matheson.
The mystery deepens when they discover the victim has Chris’s federal agent badge and appears to have been investigating one of his old cases.
The Geezer Squad’s latest case is not only a whodunit but who-got-dun. Is this a case of mistaken identity? Was Chris the intended victim? If not, then they must identify the murder victim to find his killer.
With Christmas days away, join the Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad as they race to piece together the clues to their most puzzling case yet.
About the Author
Selling over half a million books worldwide, Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Thorny Rose, Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, and Nikki Bryant Cozy Mysteries—thirty titles across five fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.
The owner of Acorn Book Services and iRead Book Tours, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, and virtual book tour coordinator for independent authors.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions.
She lives with her husband, and two spoiled rotten German shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.Celebrating the Release of Chris Crossed Murder!
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