Friday, November 23, 2018


In the 36 years I’ve been published, I have written two series and many rom/sus standalones.  There are pros and cons to writing and reading both.    The pros for a series are obvious:  You don’t reinvent the characters each time.  The cons:  keeping everything straight, continually developing lead characters, and the danger of too similar plots.

--About titles.   

Obviously, a clever echo of titles has helped Sue Grafton’s alphabet series.    Nora Roberts’ “In Death” series has amazing title echoes.  Or the structure of the titles can be in a similar grammatical format.  The first three titles of my current series have an ‘ing’ word followed by a noun:  Chasing Shadows, Drowning Tides, and Falling Darkness. 

--Cliff hangers between books?

Some readers love that; some throw the book across the room. 

--Plot and place variety
Even in a series, it’s “the kiss of death” to make your story lines too similar.   
I’d also advise a variety of settings unless the series must be tied to a particular place.  But some readers love returning to the same quaint setting.    

--The domestic/romantic side

The relationships between the leads and supporting characters should evolve.  In my rom/sus standalones over the years, the romance evolved during the suspense and ended in commitment, usually an engagement of wedding.  But in a series, an author can’t pull that off book after book, at least with the main characters. 

In my current series, I stir things up by having a heroine who has some very modern ‘complications.’  Forensic psychologist Claire Britten has narcolepsy, is divorced with a child, and her ex-husband is one of the main characters even as her new relationship with Nick, a criminal lawyer, develops. 

--Keeping it all straight.

Obviously, juggling details in a series can really do a writer in.  You don’t want feedback from readers saying, “In book one, that person’s hair was red but now…”  As for all writers and readers, personal choice matters. 

Karen Harper is the NewYork Times bestselling author of contemporary romantic suspense and historical novels about real British women.  Visit her website at


A violent past leads to a present danger…

When an old college roommate invites Claire Britten to join her on an archaeological dig at a Florida peat bog, it’s an offer the renowned forensic psychologist can’t refuse. Claire’s husband, criminal lawyer Nick Markwood, is comforted to see Claire working on a prehistoric burial site instead of an open grave for once. But Claire’s investigative instincts kick in when some of The Black Bog’s perfectly preserved corpses show signs of a grisly fate. What really happened to these people?

What started as an exploration of the past soon escalates into an all-too-current danger. Someone is watching—someone who really doesn’t want Claire digging into the past or Nick making connections to a current, violent murder case he’s investigating. The bog’s corpses may be long dead, but if Claire and Nick don’t figure out who’s gunning for a fresh kill, the next bodies to be discovered will be their own.

1 comment:

  1. Always love your stories. One never knows what the twist will be and where it will take you.


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