Sunday, November 27, 2016

"Mystery Series vs. Standalone" by Jacqueline Seewald






Author Jacqueline Seewald

With a Mystery Series, readers enjoy a consistency of setting. They like knowing what to expect. The setting should be one the author is familiar with, whether it be a city he/she has lived in, a rural community, an exotic place visited, or an historic location that has been researched in detail. This lends authenticity to the novel. For instance, in THE BAD WIFE, 4thnovel in my Kim Reynolds mystery series, the novel is set in Central N.J. where I lived for forty years. Each novel in the series has a different setting, whether it be the university or an apartment complex, but the town itself is the same. 

Readers also like a consistency in the main characters. In THE BAD WIFE, for instance, Kim Reynolds and homicide detective Mike Gardner return to solve another set of murders. They are joined by woman of color, police detective Bert St. Croix. The three main characters are very different in personality and background but each lends something unique to the novels.

In mysteries, people are not as they would appear and so there is an element of disillusionment. I believe that plot is a crucial factor in the mystery novel or any series. In the Kim Reynolds series, there are connected murders that need to be solved. The main characters can become personally involved as in THE BAD WIFE when the woman Mike believed he’d been divorced from returns to wreak havoc in the lives of Mike and Kim. When Mike is accused of murder, Kim and Bert work together to save him and find the real killer.

In regard to characterization, the protagonists are like real people with their lives changing and their characters developing. Ideally, in a mystery series the main characters in the novels are not static but yet remain true to their essential natures. There are more series mysteries today than ever.

The big advantage of the stand alone mystery is that it’s original and unique, a one of a kind book. Many are in the romantic suspense genre. By this I mean that the romance is so important that it may overshadow the mystery. However, my novel THE INHERITANCE is actually a romantic mystery. By this I mean that there is a strong romance between the two main characters. Jennifer Stoddard, a thirty-five-year-old widow with an eight-year-old son, receives a surprising letter which will change her life. Jennifer’s grandmother has passed away and named Jen as sole heir to her estate. To claim her inheritance she must return to Bloomingvale, the town in the Midwest where she grew up. Jen is informed by her grandmother’s attorney that to inherit she must meet the condition of living in her grandmother’s house for two years. Since the estate is substantial, she agrees. However, there are those who will stop at nothing to make certain that Jennifer does not inherit. Frightening things begin to happen to Jennifer. She is forced to turn to Grant Coleman, the local police chief, for help. But Grant and Jen have a negative past history. Nevertheless, they work to solve the mystery of who is out to harm Jennifer.

As a reader, which type of mystery do you prefer? Series or Stand alone? Why?



THE INHERITANCE, will be published by Intrigue Publishing on December 1st. The novel is a mystery that combines elements of the cozy with romance and suspense. As of now, the novel is available as a Kindle book on Amazon for pre-order as well as a print edition:

Also available:
and many other booksellers.


The 4th novel in the Kim Reynolds mystery series, THE BAD WIFE, was published by Perfect Crime Books and is currently available both in print and as an e-book from Amazon at: 

A multiple award-winning writer, Jacqueline has taught creative, expository and technical writing at Rutgers University as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. THE INHERITANCE, a romantic mystery novel from Intrigue Publishing, is her seventeenth books of fiction to be published. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies such as THE WRITER, L.A. TIMES, PEDESTAL, SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE, OVER MY DEAD BODY!, GUMSHOE REVIEW, THE MYSTERY MEGAPACK, LIBRARY JOURNAL, and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.   


28 comments:

  1. Pat,

    Thank you for inviting me to be your guest writer on your blog!

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    1. I'm thrilled to have you visiting, Jacquie! And, I have to tell you how much I love your books!

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    2. Patricia,

      Thank you for your support.

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  2. I love both series and standalones. The important considerations to me are characters I can relate to and an intriguing mystery to be solved. Best wishes for many readers for The Inheritance.

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    1. John,

      I agree with you. Developing interesting characters is most important. I also like an intriguing mystery puzzle that challenges the intellect to solve.

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  3. For me, it's all about the characters, whether in a stand alone or a series. I agree with your point, Jacquie, that each character has to bring something unique to the story. Best of sales with The Inheritance!

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    1. I believe that protagonists should have flaws and quirks much like real people. It's what makes them interesting, colorful and sympathetic.

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  4. Both the series and stand-alone sound intriguing. I enjoyed "The Bad Wife" and look forward to reading more. Good luck with both.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      Thank you for the endorsement! I am hoping that readers connect with the main characters in The Inheritance as they have with the Kim Reynolds mystery series.

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  5. I like to read both. Sometimes when a series goes on too long, even if the characters are great, the story line suffers a bit. It depends on the writer. It's difficult to keep a series fresh when the characters have done just about everything. Your novel looks like a great read. I'll have to put it on my TBR list.

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    1. Evelyn,

      I agree with you about some series mysteries that simply go on for too long. There are several that have gotten disappointingly dull after twenty or so books.

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  6. As you know, Jacquie, I'm a big fan of your work, whether series or standalone. I enjoy those series where I can identify with the protagonist and also enjoy her journey. As a writer of a humorous mystery series, it's always fun to hang out with my characters, and I work hard to keep the plots and personalities fresh. I can't wait to read your new book. Congratulations.

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    1. Cindy,

      Thanks for commenting. I love your humorous mysteries which are fun to read.

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  7. I am a mystery lover and love both a series and a stand-a-lone. And as some have already pointed out, a series can get stale after a while.

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    1. Some readers are comforted by reading a series in which they know exactly what to expect, but it can get dull.

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  8. Great info Jacquie thanks for sharing.
    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

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  9. I don't want to know what to expect. I enjoy a series, but it needs to be shaken up a bit from time to time, and I like a series story that can be read as a standalone. In other words, I don't want it to depend on previous stories. Hard to do, I know. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Marja. I agree that each novel in a series should be able to stand alone on its own merits. That's an important observation.

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  10. Jacqueline, although I like series characters, I rarely have time to read more than one or two books in a series; therefore, a standalone works well for me. In my own experience, I often think I'm writing a standalone only to have readers ask for more stories with those characters...which turns my standalone into the first of a series.

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  11. Hi Maris,

    That's happened to me with several of my stand alone novels as well. Readers loved Tea Leaves and Tarot Cards as well as The Killing Land and wanted more novels with the main characters. But I've only done the Kim Reynolds mystery series. The rest are stand alones as of now.

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  12. Like others who have commented,I enjoy both. It's nice to revisit familiar characters and places in a series. I suppose that's why we have so many regular weekly shows on TV and movie sequels. Once in a while, though, it's good to
    meet new people in a standalone too. So, Jacqueline, you should continue giving us both.

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    1. Thank you, Earl. And I also like to read both series fiction and stand alone.

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  13. Since I write a cozy/Southern Gothic series, I'd have to go with preferring series over stand-alones; that said, I love all the Daphne DuMaurier stand-alone mysteries and Gothics. DUH! Hard to choose! Nice post and I look forward to reading The Inbheritance.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      I myself have written only one Gothic romance, DARK MOON RISING. Like you, I enjoy reading the genre. So my one stand alone Gothic is a tribute to that tradition in literature.

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  14. Series are like new friends. You want to spend more time with them, so I like them for that reason. Stand alones are like the person you met at a convention--interesting as hell and a lot of fun to be with, but you know you will never see h/her again; however, you are thankful for the time you had together. Both are great.

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  15. Good post. I enjoyed The Inheritance but realized at the end that I was saying goodbye to the characters and had a pang. I guess I enjoy living with the characters for longer than one book.

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