Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reading A Mystery Series





I recently had the privilege of participating in the “Ohioana Book Festival” at the main library in downtown Cincinnati, an event to honor local writers. I was thrilled to have been invited.

As I stood in line to sign in and get my name badge, one of the librarians looked up and said, “Oh, Patricia. I read both of your books and I loved them!” Music to an author’s ears! My smile was as wide as the state of Ohio. It doesn’t get much better than that. Later that afternoon, we had an opportunity to talk for a few minutes and she told me, “The only thing I wish is that I’d read them in order.” Apparently, she read Unfinished Business before reading Mixed Messages.

I knew exactly what she meant. I love to read a mystery series from the beginning because it isn’t just about an intriguing plot for me; it’s about the lives of the characters. In a series, we get to know the characters and care about what happens to them. I always want to know what happens to them next

But, sometimes, it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, a book by an author I've never read will attract my attention (it's often a new release) and I'll order it and read it. If I really, really like the book and want to spend more time with the characters, I then go back and read the whole series, starting with the first book. Here are two recent examples:

I read Old Murders Never Die by Marja McGraw and I loved it. So, I went back to the beginning and read the four novels that preceded it and I'm so glad I did. What a great series! A Well-Kept Family Secret is the first book in Ms. McGraw’s Sandi Webster Mystery Series for those of you who would like to start with Book One.

Another example: The Rocky Bluff PD series by F.M. Meredith. After reading No Bells, the eighth book in the series, I knew I wanted to read all of her books. I read Final Respects, book one, and went on to read the other novels. I recently learned that Ms. Meredith is working on the tenth book and I can hardly wait to read it.

If you’d like to read my mystery series from the beginning (I’m working on the third book now), I’m offering a chance to win a paper copy of Mixed Messages to someone who leaves a comment on this post. Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. Happy Reading!
And the winner is Sharon Arthur Moore!

21 comments:

  1. Patricia, I enjoy series, too, and agree that it is about much more than the mystery. I have asked this question of other series authors--Do you struggle with how to fill-in background in succeeding books so you inform those who pick the series up in the middle without boring those who know the characters? Do you have tips for the rest of us on how you do it?

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    1. Sharon,
      I think "struggle" is a good choice of words to describe what you're asking. Writers walk a fine line when it comes to that. The only way I can answer your question is to say that I go with my gut. I ask myself, "If I were a reader and I hadn't read the other books in the series, what would I "need" to know to understand the characters and their motivations?" Then, that's what I try to include.

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  2. Thank you so much for mentioning my Rocky Bluff P.D. series. I don't need to be in the drawing because I've read both of your books and loved them. By the way, my comment about how to bring a new reader up to date is I write each book in the series as a stand-alone. I don't fill in the total background of each character, but enough to let the reader know what he/she is like.

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    1. Marilyn,
      You do an excellent job of filling in just enough background to let readers know what they need to know about each character. Your series is fantastic! Hurry up and finish the tenth book. :)

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  3. Patricia! I just finished writing a first draft of the second in a series. This book is a mystery while the first wasn't. Yesterday, a friend who read the original draft a couple of years ago, asked when I was going to have my "Woman Found" novel published. I think I'll dust it off and see what I've got. This was a very encouraging post.

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    1. Theresa,
      I'm looking forward to reading the first book in your mystery series. I hope to see it published soon. Also, I'm happy to read that you've already finished the first draft of the second one. Way to go!

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  4. Good post, Pat. I try to briefly fill in backstory from previous books in my Logan & Cafferty series with dialogue from my two protagonists by referring to pervious events or characters. I agree that it's a fine line that we walk when we try not to bore readers with repetition.

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    1. Jean,
      Using dialogue to accomplish the task is very effective.
      By the way, I love your series too!

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  5. Hi, Patricia,

    It is tricky writing a series that can be picked up and read forwards or backwards. I've made an effort to make my
    Kim Reynolds mysteries each a unique mystery novel and yet at the same time the main characters grow and their
    lives change just as real people do. Writing a good series is complex.

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    1. I agree, Jacqueline. Writing a mystery series can be challenging - but so much fun! Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Pat, Thank you so much for commenting on the Sandi Webster series! Like Marilyn, I try to write each book as a standalone, with just a few references to the characters' backstory. Don't know if I always succeed, but that's the hope.

    I've read both of your books and I'm anxiously awaiting the next in the series. I love your writing style and the stories.
    Marja McGraw

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    1. Marja,
      Thank you! I also want to mention how much I enjoy your Bogey Man mysteries. I think of them as "feel good" books because I always feel good when I'm reading them. The plots are intriguing, the characters are always wonderful and your incredible sense of humor comes shining through in your novels.

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  7. I loved both of your books, and I read them out of order.... You write well and I'm looking forward to the third!! Thanks!

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    1. What else can I say, Chris, but thank you!!!

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  8. I've read Mixed Messages and loved it. Now I'm going to read the second in your series. I love all you gals, Marja and Meredith as well.

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    1. Thanks, Lesley! I hope you enjoy "Unfinished Business."
      I love your microbrewing mystery series and your Big Lake series. I'm really looking forward to reading your new consignment shop novels. Writing one series keeps me busy. I don't know how you do it!

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  9. Thanks, Pat. I love your books as well.

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    1. Thank you, Jean. I hope to have the third novel in my Malone mystery series finished and sent to my publisher by the end of September. Then, we'll see.

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  10. That is just so great the librarian told you she loved your books. And well deserved!! And I'm also sure, Patricia, the best for you is yet to come...

    Madeline

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    1. Madeline,
      Thank you! I certainly hope you're right about the best being yet to come. Any idea when?. . . Just kidding.

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