Monday, October 17, 2011

Say it Ain't So...

        Two weeks ago I put up a post, KISS KISS or BANG BANG, in which I wrote about how it felt to end an eight year, seven book series. Would I end the Grace Marsden Mysteries with 'happily ever after' or a high body count?
        The response from different quarters surprised me. Some friends who didn't know the series ended with The Reenactor: A Staged Death, jumped on my email with statements of solace and disbelief. Author friends, who know how quirky this business is, asked, “So, what’s next?”
        One reader, whom I ran into at another author’s signing, asked if her calling the publisher would help. I hugged her! Other readers emailed their sadness at no more Gracie stories. I sent them smiley faces and virtual hugs!
        Why does a series end? Just when you get used to the characters and you’re looking forward to the next adventure, the stories stop.
        In the case of Grace, calling the publisher won’t help her ‘ride again’ in what would have been book eight, working title, The Mystery Maven: A Clueless Death. My publisher and I, mutually (I won’t say it was 50-50) decided during the writing of book six that number seven would be the end of the series.
        They look at sales, they look at Return on Investment, and they make a decision. My publisher is doing more with E-books and the possibility that I would continue in E-book format only didn't appeal to me. You look at the options and make the best decision.
        SO, what’s next? That’s the question I prefer to answer. Thank you for asking! I’m excited that to say that Harlequin Worldwide Mystery has picked up the second in the series, The Lion Tamer: A Caged Death, for their mystery catalog. AND what about that great title for book eight? Sometimes, coming up with a title is the toughest part of the book. When you write a series, you have bits and bobs of ideas for new stories running through your head most days. I’ve managed to write down most of them and I’m confident that the title won’t die on the dust heap.

Monday, October 3, 2011


When the time comes do you end your series with sweetness and light or with a high body count? How do you say ‘good-bye’ to your characters when a series ends?

Do you end the storyline in such a manner that you can never go back unless you tap the unsatisfying (in my opinion) ‘revivalist’ trick of a dream sequence, or mistaken identity or a miraculous recovery.

Do you end the series in a manner that leaves the possibility, as unlikely as it may be, that all or some or a few of the characters could return?

Do you choose an interesting secondary character and spin off a new series?

The decision to end my series became reality while I worked on the sixth book, The Innkeeper: An Unregistered Death. I am grateful for the advance notice that gave me the opportunity to start pulling in the nine book arc I’d thought the series could be. Knowing two years ahead of time gave me the distance I needed to begin to find what I hoped would be satisfying conclusions to the characters’ stories.

It was a gift and a curse. 
As I began to write this last book, I started by doing something I’d never done with the other books. I outlined. I outlined points I wanted to make, situations from earlier books that I wanted to wrap up, relationship resolutions. I had outlines for secondary characters even some tertiary characters.

Then, I experienced something that had never happened before with the earlier books…writer’s block. I sat paralyzed by the thought that I didn’t have the next book to expand a theme, develop a character, massage a plot twist or resolve a relationship. I sat dead in the water at my computer, fingers frozen over the keys while I reviewed my outlines. 
Who has struggled with this dilemma? I’d love to hear how you handled, The End.

If you haven't yet read all six of the previous Grace Marsden Mysteries, you can read the first chapter of each one and then purchase the ebooks for just $.99 each -- but only for a limited time -- at