Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: When to End a Book Series

By guest blogger Kim McMahill

I love reading books in a series. A series gives the reader the opportunity to really get to know the characters on a personal level. We get to see the recurring protagonists and antagonists progress emotionally, evolve into better or worse people, and sometimes we see them age. No matter if the story is far outside our real lives, we still often connect to the characters as we share some of the same experiences—a challenge at work, a bully, a crisis of faith, a health issue, or relationship woes or wows.

So, when is it time to let go? It depends on the series. I don’t think there is an easy answer, but there are a number of triggers. Has the storyline fizzled out, has the objective been achieved, or has the protagonist aged to the point that his or her heroics are no longer believable?

I started my Risky Research Series with a clear vision of how the series would develop and end, but I’m starting to realize I may not be in total control. When, and if, FBI agent Devyn Nash dismantles a deadly organization obsessed with controlling the multi-billion-dollar diet product industry and brings them to justice, she’s got more to accomplish. Will her next case be strong enough to carry the series past nabbing Coterie? Will she still have a job with the FBI after A Foundation of Fear? Honestly, I’m not sure yet, but in the meantime she has some very dangerous individuals to track down.

It all began in A Dose of Danger (currently free with Kindle Unlimited), when a call from Wyoming sheriff, Gage Harris, confirmed that someone was behind a string of related crimes happening across the country, forcing the FBI to open an investigation. The cases take Devyn and her partner Nick Melonis from the Salt Lake City Field Office to Wyoming in Book 1, A Dose of Danger. Book 2, A Taste of Tragedy, brings them closer to the killers and to Nick’s ex-wife as they follow clues to a deadly sweetener to Arizona. In book 3, A Foundation of Fear (just released), Devyn closes in on one member of Coterie in Washington, D.C., allowing the reader to get inside the head of an assassin.

In book 4…well let’s don’t go there yet. Devyn still has work and she needs to figure out what to do about the handsome sheriff who has stolen her heart. Until the members of Coterie are brought to justice and Devyn seals the deal with the sheriff, the series must go on. So no goodbyes yet.

[To learn more about the Risky Research Series or to download your copy, visit any of these links:

THE AUTHOR:

Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. She started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense and adventure fiction. Along with writing novels Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel story anthology. Kim currently resides in Colorado, and when not writing, she enjoys gardening, traveling, hiking, and spending time with family. To get to know Kim, you can find her at any of the following links:

Blog: http://www.kimmcmahill.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimmcmahill

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KimMcMahillAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimmcmahill/

Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/849945.Kim_McMahill

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Always Time for a Story: Short Story Month Is May

I’ve stumbled across another commemoration of interest to me. I have no idea who names these “official” dates, but they succeed in focusing some public attention on their distinctive topic. This one is Short Story Month, which, in case you don’t know, is May.

A short story is, by definition, fiction. It drives me crazy to hear wanna-be writers describe a work as “a fiction short story.” Don’t need the term “fiction.” Still, better to talk about short stories than not, even with a superfluous word.

Superfluous words are what short stories don’t have. They enable us to read tales about imaginary people, events, locations minus the length of novels or novellas. Why does this appeal? As we become more inundated with electronic media, videos, selfies, instant photos, self-published discourses, and every form of communication ever dreamed of, some of us feel we’re losing control. Our time is not our own.

But short stories abbreviate their length. While writers hate to be limited by rules or even guidelines, short stories are, indeed, shorter than novels. They still have characters, settings, themes, and conflicts. Some have mystery, romance, puzzles. So they have essentially everything a novel can have but in a manageable amount.

I’ve heard of book clubs whose members are so strapped for time, they’ve turned to only reading short stories. The best writers in the world have created short stories. They’re handy to read when you’re traveling and are squeezing in some recreation on a trip. It’s easy to be introduced to a new writer in a short story. Their succinctness has an appeal all its own. Another favorable point: publishers and publications are starting to post free online short stories to encourage readers to sample their wares.

The day when a writer could actually make a living writing short stories is long gone. The market, however, is still strong, if you don’t mind creating for extremely low pay or, even more likely, none. Literary journals are the home for most.

If you’re interested in my short stories, I have links on my website to some you can read.

Take some chunks of time this month to sample new short stories or re-visit old ones. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the list is fascinating and apparently endless.

Car Troubles and Angels

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I have trouble in cars. The nine wrecks I had in one year as I tooled around Houston qualifies me as a road disaster. Sarah, my haphazard angel (in the book series), causes trouble in vehicles. She has accidents in red high heels too. She often tumbles into someone, knocks them down and falls on top of them.

Not all car disasters have been my fault. Houston has other crazy, inept drivers besides me.

These days, I drive a red car. In fact, my last two cars have been red. If another one is in my future, it will be red too. Why? Not because the color attracts the police, but because others can easily see me. I have no desire to own a gray color. Steely colors blend with the road. If you can’t see me coming, you can’t get out of the way.

However, speeding in a red car does gain a patrolman’s attention. I once was going about 95 on Texas Highway 6, speeding to meet a friend for lunch. I was late, as usual, and even though I’d been there many times, I didn’t remember how to get to the spot. Like Sarah, the scatterbrained, dyslexic angel I write about, I have no sense of direction, and it makes no difference if I’ve been to a location before.

The nice patrolman pulled me over. After the identities, he asked why I was in a hurry.

“Well, officer, it’s like this, I always drive fast when I don’t know where I’m going. I have to hurry up because I’m so lost. Going faster means I have a better chance of finding my destination before time runs out.”

He scratched his head and smiled. “What are you trying to find?”

After I told him, he said the place was up the road and if I traveled the speed limit, I’d get there in ten minutes. He was super nice. I drove slowly away with a warning instead of a ticket.

Sometimes, I’m totally innocent. Like the day I went to court.I was called for jury duty and left early enough to wander about Houston’s freeways. The bizarre experience that followed was my red car’s fault, not mine.I arrived at the court annex, parked, gathered my purse and grasped the door handle to get out. Oops! No way!The lever was broken. I was trapped!

I decided to crawl over the console to exit on the passenger side. Oh, my goodness! People were walking around and would see me.Should I go feet first? Bottom first? Those small car spaces aren’t made for tall people. I finally made it out. Plenty of people inside the courthouse were on their way to jail. I didn’t tell them how I escaped confinement. It’s my secret.

In my humorous, Sarah books, some of the episodes are based on my life experiences. Sarah is a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans find romance. In Sarah: Laney’s Angel, Sarah, masquerading as a bride, is dressed in a wedding dress and veil. She doesn’t know how to drive, but she’s in a car. She accidentally thrusts the thing into reverse and totals the hero’s car as he sits behind her in his expensive sports vehicle. She tells him she was on the way to her wedding. Being the kind, Texas guy that he is, he offers to take her to the church. As they ride along, he discovers Sarah doesn’t know where the church is. Oh my. I enjoyed writing that scene. Stuff happens in Sarah’s adventures. Count on it.

A new Sarah book comes out in July 2018.  Sarah must help a young woman lose weight and gain confidence. She also must find a mate for the lady. Just wait till you read her adventures in the gym.

All the Sarah books are set in Texas.My Sarah Series has ten books, but two books have three stories in them. Novellas were combined into a print selection. In Sarah and Three Times a Charm, or Sarah and a Family Affair, you receive several stories.

I’ve written two serious books. The latest is Mattie’s Choice. It’s historical, Christian, women’s fiction, loosely based on family experiences, and helps the reader consider attitudes and social mores. My mother-in-law was married to a demanding man who refused to let her see her family. Research shows that controlling men do this, even today. In 1925, women had few choices, but more are available today. Women can choose not to live in an abusive household. There’s humor in the book, but there’s also a lot about faith, or the lack of it.Clue into Kindness is a contemporary novella with a similar theme.

Want to know more about my books? Here you go. http://amzn.to/2hwc6nB and http://gaynlewis.blogspot.com/

 

(Guest blogger Gay N. Lewis, a Texas minister’s wife, writes about angels and romance. She and her husband primarily have served churches in Texas. Before becoming a full time author, her livelihood embraced interior design, photography, and communication.)

 

 

 

 

 

A Second Independence Day

 

    The last Saturday in April has been declared Independent Bookstore Day, I assume by the American Booksellers Association, although I can’t find anything to confirm that. Regardless, April 28, 2018, is the day to give a cheer for independent bookstores, those locations owned and operated by humans rather than huge corporations. (Another caveat—sponsors are giants like Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, and Ingram, which, granted, aren’t bookstores but are big guys as opposed to little guys bookstores.)

I have some favorites here in Denver. The one that springs to mind is West Side Books, owned by a friend of mine, with an eclectic mixture of used, new and collectibles. Owner Lois Harvey and her friendly staff help you find nearly any book you desire plus some you never thought of but decide spur-of-the-moment you can’t live without. Lois, indeed, does all the activities mentioned in the p.r. materials about the commemoration. She sponsors readings, art shows, special events, exhibits. You can drop by for five minutes or linger five hours.

West Side is just one of hundreds of indie bookstores across the country. Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party. Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.

In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism.  They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.

 

 

How Marketing a Book Is More Labor-Intensive than Having a Baby

NeverRetreatCover200x300Lots of guest appearances on blogs and review sites. with the publication of my new book. I appreciate the opportunity to connect and would love to read comments. Sample some:

* Marie Lavender: what romance means. https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/…/new-release-featu…/
* Writing and today’s book world, Author Krinhttps://kristinastanley.com/blog/
* Author Laurence St John, http://laurencestjohn.blogspot.com/ , the Thrill of It All
*Karen Docter with my hamburger soup receipe as well as a shout-out. http://laurencestjohn.blogspot.com/ 
* The New Book Review, nice overview, https://thenewbookreview.blogspot.com/…/bonnie-mccune-blend…

This is building your own little hive of people interested in women’s fiction that takes on serious issues while adding humor and insights.