Monday, May 4, 2009

Thank you, Nora Roberts

I've mentioned before that I grew up reading the series of Nancy Drew mysteries. While they were indeed a series, not much ever changed in Nancy's fictional 18 year-old world. I'm still not sure if she ever kissed Ned Nickerson, George and Bess were her unchanging best friends, Nancy's father, defense attorney Carson Drew, and faithful housekeeper Hannah Gruen were always present in the background. I loved those books at a certain age, just as I grew to love another type of book.

Hey, this isn't the Nancy I remember! Maybe she did kiss Ned! Maybe she dumped Ned and kissed that blond in the background!

Danielle Steel introduced me to the romance novel, with the romance part behind closed doors. Danielle writes stand alone titles, which means not only does she have to come up with one hell of a lot of ideas because she's very proliofic, but also, if we loved characters, like Oliver and Charlotte in Daddy, we never got to see what happened to them in the future. Sure, there were the Lifetime TV movies, but Patrick Duffy and Lynda Carter were never my idea of the Daddy lead roles. *sigh*

Then I discovered Nora Roberts. Not her early category romance stuff (though many of those titles were brought back, spiffed up with new covers and eventually rereleased.) I loved her series. The Key Trilogy, The Three Sisters Trilogy, In the Garden Trilogy, and my favorite, Night Tales, with four connected stories in one. The first book centered around DJ Cilla O'Roarke, who plays requests in the Denver area. One night during the show she gets a threatening phone call from someone who says he's going to kill her. Although Cilla is stubborn and doesn't want to call the police, the manager of the radio station does. Enter Detective Boyd Fletcher... Of course they end up together, and the next three books are about her sister, his partner, and his sister. In each book we get to see how far Boyd and Cilla have evolved: marriage, children, and so on. There was even a fifth book about Boyd and Cilla's grown daughter, now a cop. That was a very satisfying series to read and enjoy.

That was the kind of series I was after. Sex, with a thread of continuing plot line and characters that changed over the years. Thank you, Nora Roberts. Exactly what I was looking for. Those books inspired me to write my Unexpected Love Trilogy.

Three tales of unexpected love and unadulterated lust!

Nothing to Lose: Bailey Montgomery travels to 'Small-town America' with one purpose in mind—settle her late mother's affairs and leave as soon as possible. She doesn't appreciate nosy neighbours, especially Doug Kenny, all around handyman, who meddles his way into her bed and heart.

Worth the Risk: Sarah Stevens isn't looking for romance when Sam Buchanan leases her loft apartment. Her sister-in-law Bailey, almost nine months pregnant, hires Sam to take over her job. Sarah's unnerved to discover her tenant is a very handsome man. Dating with a teenager in the house is titillating, forcing Sarah to re-examine her priorities and decide if Sam is Worth the Risk.

Having it All: Mandy Stevens is away at college when she meets handsome Nick Westchester. She's had little experience with men, but suspects Nick's intentions are less than honourable. Nick is captivated by Mandy, and though he starts out wanting to seduce her, he ends up falling for her, hard.

Three women, one amazing family. Three times the passion, three times the fun!

That feeling of continuity is also behind the new series Jude Mason and I are writing for Total E-Bound, Kindred Spirits.

"Welcome to Whiskers’ Seaside Inn. Do you have a reservation?"

Whiskers' Seaside Inn doesn't sound like the most exotic location for a weekend getaway, but it's certainly intriguing. Ethan Roberts is smitten the moment he sees the weathered clapboard inn and finds out it’s for sale. He’s even more taken with the establishment's hunky handyman, Cade Wyatt.

The inn has two paying guests, but Ethan discovers another cast of characters who come and go as they please. Cade might be nonchalant about the ghosts, but Ethan's not sure he feels the same. He wants Cade more than anything, but Cade won't leave the inn. Somehow, Ethan must find a way to live with the spirits as well as the man he's come to love.

Can I ever make this place my home? He knows he could, in a heartbeat, if the inn was truly as serene as the face it presents to the world. Deep inside, something’s festering. He’s tried to ignore it—or not to believe in it—but he’s past that, now. There are ghosts or spirits at Whiskers’, plus one batty old woman, and he needs to know more about all of them.

"Annie, Laura and Ben," Ethan repeated dully. "The ghosts."

Chuckling, Cade faced him. "Actually, they’re spirits. You really don’t want to believe in them, do you?"

"Ghosts—spirits—aren’t real," Ethan insisted. "I believe that."

"Well, Mr. Roberts, I have a feeling your beliefs are about to be tested."

A bunch of different people will pass through the doors of the Whiskers' Seaside Inn. (Okay, most of them are hot, gay men.) But we get to see the evolution of Ethan and Cade's relationship, which Jude and I had a blast writing, and continue to enjoy as we work on more titles in the series. As Lisabet mentioned yesterday, a series like this requires a 'big picture' mentality, but to me, that's part of the fun. Keeping track of details can be interesting, but so far there have been no major gaffes.

The other type of series I've done is the similar setting, different cast of characters. Jude and I did this with our Untamed Hearts Series, three sets of shifters in one particular area. While the characters have a common setting, and might touch on each other, their stories aren't deeply interwoven. Same with my Rose & Thorn Society series. All the books share the common backdrop of the same BDSM club, but the tales aren't related and don't have to be read in order.

Saturday, our guest blogger will be Carol Lynne, creator of the Cattle Valley series and many others. Cattle Valley is a town for gay people, which sounds odd until you read the first book and discover the poignant way it came into existence. Carol writes gay and straight novels, but no lesbian stuff. I became involved when she decided it was time to bring some women to Cattle Valley. My first lesbian title, CV: Truth or Dare, was released last fall. My second lesbian title, CV: Fool's Gold, comes out in June. They were so much fun to write. Carol has created a town of memorable characters, and I got to stick some new people in and amongst them. It was great.

I'll continue to do stand alone titles because I don't want to scare readers off. (Get back here, Ray.) But I love writing series!


  1. Series are 100% my fav! I want to see them in the future! They don't have to be in every book but I like them to pop up every now and then.

    And because of that sometimes my characters pop up in other books. Just can't keep a good character down Lol!

    Night Tales from Nora Roberts were awesome. My fav of hers is the Three sisters. I have probably read them hundreds of times!

    Great subject this week Jamie!

    Crissy Smith

  2. Very interesting post, Jamie. I'd never really thought about it, but I do love series and I'm following about 12 different ones at the moment. Although I read stand alone as well, I sometimes feel let down at the end of the book. I want to know what else happened to those people.

  3. I also LOVE the Key and Three Sisters trilogies:)

    My Arbor U series starts in 1984 and goes to 2006. It was fun to write the final book, which brings back characters from books 2-6 and see how their lives turned out.

    And I've discovered I keep making references back to that series, even in the books I'm writing under another pen name!

  4. I enjoy reading a series where characters from a previous book pops up... but I must have the HEA for main characters in each story. I'm so impatient!

  5. Okay, I didn't realize you were so enamored with series's. *G* I think they can be amazing, but they can also fall flat. I never got into the Nancy Drew books, I was more the Hardy Boys type myself. Yeah, surprise, surprise, huh? But even those didn't all work for me. I like variety. Maybe I'm easily bored, or was at the time. If a topic grabs me, or the characters do, I'll read as much as I can about them, but the story has to really be something special.

    Going to be some very interesting reading this week, that's for sure.


  6. Hi Crissy,

    The last Nora books I read before I officially became an author and too busy to read everyday were the Garden books, Red Lily etc. They were fun reads. Couldn't wait for each new book to come out. That's one good thing about discovering a series which is already out, no waiting for the next book! LOL

    Thanks for commenting,


  7. Hi Anne,

    12 series, sounds about right! I've let my NY press reading go since I've gotten busy with online pubs, but I know there are a bunch of series out there I could catch up on whenever I have time. I have to admit, I rent some of them from the library. I don't have a big enough house for all the books I've read. Another nice thing about ebooks! *G*

    Take care,


  8. Hi Molly,

    The Arbor U series sounds great! Where can we find that?

    Series writing does get in your blood. When characters are with you for a long time, they start to seem real.

    Did I say that out loud?





  9. Hi J,

    I totally agree, HEA in each book, for sure. That's part of the satisfaction for me.



  10. Hi Jude,

    Of course I have to be interested in a topic to stick with the series. Nora has several more that I didn't care about- I'm not into historical or series set in Ireland or Scotland or that mode.

    And I still love stand alone books, but I do find it fun to get to take another peek into the lives of characters I enjoyed.



  11. I absolutely fell in love with the In The Garden Triloty, Blue Dahlia, Black Rose and Red Lilly. The love of the three women for each other in addition to the HEA with the men in each book had me looking for the next book each time. I found the series when all three were out. I hate finding out the next book will be out in a year or eighteen months, reading the excerpt in the previous book and then getting the feeling, "Hey I've read this before."


  12. Hi Ray,

    I had to wait for the Garden trilogy, which was painful. LOL A year is too long in between, same goes for Harry Potter. I forget what happened in the previous books!

    Thanks for stopping by.


  13. Jamie and all,

    I love to read a good series. I also love variety. I tend to stick with a really good author more than a series. I have about 60 authors that I follow religiously. 15 of them are ebook authors. Everything else I read from the library if at all possible.

    With that stated, if its a really good series, I will read it. I read series books from several authors who I don't care to read thier other books. It depends on the author and the series.

    I love CV and everything Carol writes. Your F/F for CV is the only F/F I read, although I have enjoyed many of menage books.

  14. Hi Susilien,

    I love the CV books, too. Carol sucks you in from the beginning and never lets go. It was fun adding characters to her roster.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting!


  15. My fave Nora series (aside from In Death of course) are the Dream series. And the Sisters. And the Key. And and... Yes, I'm a Nora fan :)

    I love seeing characters from previous books - its like revisiting friends :)


  16. Ah, Nancy Drew! I was a huge fan. You're right about the unchanging nature of her world, though. It didn't really bother me at the time, but I'm sure that it would now.

    Getting Carol as your guest was a great coup. I've read a couple of the CV series - a very believable environment. I particularly like the way she shifts focus to a character who only made a minor appearance in a previous book. Meanwhile, major characters from other books make side appearances.

    The covers for Unexpected Love have a clear pedigree, harkening back to "classic" romance.

    Now I understand why you chose this topic!


  17. Hi Fi,

    I've actually never read the In Death stuff, I'm not huge into sci fi and I'm guessing that's what that is. I prefer contemporary romance. And revisiting friends is exactly how I feel about series work, too. Thanks for stopping by, Cover Goddess!


  18. Hi Lisabet,

    Carol has a wide following and the CV series is very popular. I know they aren't for everyone, but I enjoy them and so do a large number of other people. I can thank Carol for great sales on my first CV book, because most of her readers said they skipped the lesbian sex but wanted to read about the characters, LOL

    I adore my Unexpected Love covers. TEB does a great job with covers. Fiona Jayde, who commented above, is my newest cover artist at Noble Romance and I'm very excited to work with her, too. Her covers are gorgeous.

    Take care!


  19. I heard that the author's name on the Nancy Drew books was not a real person, but a group of authors who took turns writing so maybe the reason the world never changed was because there was a blueprint for the series. I could be wrong about the reasoning, but I did read the part about multiple authors.


  20. The In Death series isn't actually science fiction. It is futuristic. It takes plase in the 2050s. Technology is moving so fast that there isn't anything in the books that couldn't be mainstream within the next few years. Being a sex worker is considered a respectable occupation. More or less you meet someone and ask what do you do for a living and someone is as likely say they are a sex worker as to say cop, lawyer, etc.


  21. Holy cow! I've still got a ton of my old Nancy Drew books, and like you, I don't think she ever did kiss Ned. Poor Ned. Oh well, he was just a door post anyway.

    I'm trying to remember what writer first turned me onto the idea of a series, and I think it was Madelene L'Engle. I devoured the first three books of her Time Quartet when I was twelve, but had no idea until a couple years ago that there were actually four books in the series. I bought that last book and loved it as well, though it differed in tone and character from the other three. Those first three books still hang with me - the sense of darkness and danger as Meg and her little brother Charles try to navigate strange worlds filled with both aliens and angels, unicorns and mitochondria.

    Yeah, it was definitely L'Engle that hooked me on the series.

  22. Hey Helen,

    I caved and sold my Nancy Drew collection to a used bookstore. Got some good cash, not great, but my books weren't the originals. I was a 70's reprint girl.

    Take care!


  23. Ray,

    I think you're right about Carolyn Keene. 'She' was the pen name of another group of writers, not sure how many, it might have changed over time.

    Futuristic is different from sci-fi? I dunno if I'm up for that, the Matrix movies totally bored me to death, and I considered them futuristic.

    I loved William Shatner/Star Trek though. hee hee hee

    I know, I'm going.


  24. Hi Jamie,

    In Death is really a lot more about "contemp" then "sci fi". There's a few sci fi elements in there, but if you love strong kickass heroines I would seriously recommend it. Try Naked In Death - its the first in the series :)

    Fi (giggling at the Cover Goddess lol)

  25. Hi Jamie,

    I love the series ideas that you (and you and Jude together) have come up with. Especially the Rose and Thorn society - that sounds especially fantastic :)

    Kim Dare.

  26. Jamie,

    Just read one J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts pen name) book and you will see the difference. I would bet money that if you give the book a chance you will fall in love with Lt. Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke.

    I didn't like the Matrix either.

    I saw the new Star Trek movie this afternoon. I'll wait until more people see it before I give my opinion. No spoilers here.



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