Notes on Serial Writing…

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“…So, whatcha writing?’ Person stopping to ask what I’m doing.

‘A series.’ I mumble as I continue to type, not bothering to look up at the interruption.

As you can see, I’m not the most friendly of authors, at least not during my morning write session. I’m focused on my task. I dislike the interruptions. That said, I’m often asked how I can write a series with so many volumes and yet have each stand by itself. Earlier today, I was reading up on fellow bloggers and found another author who was struggling with the same issue. It’s a common one, and yet, it’s one that is as individual as the author.

My first series, Designer Disease, had 23 consecutive books. It was written to entertain my nephews. It grew as they grew. The characters aged as they aged and faced the world’s problems as they faced them. No, it wasn’t about them. It was a way to talk to them about issues that they were facing. After all, Science Fiction has always been an outlet for discussing social issues that aren’t normally discussed. In my nephew’s youth the social taboos were talking about gays and lesbians, racial issues, and the subject of war and all its varied ramifications. This series showed these issues in a way that just sitting down and talking to them would never do. In this series, the characters dealt with the issues of youth amid the turmoil of a world on the brink of war. The war was one that our own world has seen too many times. A tyrannical leader, genocide, and segregation. It was the 80’s, still topics too hot to discuss openly. I dropped in a genetically developed race of characters and a fatal illness that was the result of an environmental disaster caused by a simple accident. This series was written in the face of Chernobyl. The boys would start begging for more the minute I sent them the copy. It became a birthday tradition (still continues) that was and is still greatly treasured by them.

The series to follow that one “The Price” series (books 24-28) was written for their teen years. Those impressionable years where questions of life, morality, and immortality are ever present in the young mind. In this series, I introduced them to the atrocities of World War II through the eyes of one experiencing them. I took them to the battlefields through the eyes of soldiers. I took them to the firing line through the eyes of the one being executed. My reasoning was for them to realize that war wasn’t just some game to be played, that life ALL LIFE was important and worth living. My writing was often very brutal, very dead-on, as it often came from real life stories shared with me (and then fictionalized into the sci fi world). When I finished the series, and much to my surprise, the boys were mad at me. Why? Because they had actually enjoyed them! They’d shared the stories with their friends, who had passed them to their friends. I soon discovered that the stories had made their way to the battle front, too. This series was a hard-on, violent, and straight forward as was possible within the realm of fiction. I never dreamed that it would lead both young men to enlist and serve our country, but it did.

From the battle front, my nephews asked for a different type of literature all together. They wanted something light, something that would take their minds away from the realities of the war they were fighting. I hardly felt up to the task, but being the glutton that I am, I did my best. One Nephew wanted me to write him devotionals. He had found God in the deserts of a foreign land, and he craved to know him more. I began writing “Behind the Haywagon” a collection of small, short lessons for him that he could tuck into his pocket on the run. The other nephew wanted, of all things, romance. Now, I’d never written romance and didn’t have a clue. But I stepped out on the limb, and that’s when the current Pine Ridge/Hope Ranch series began.

The first few novellas of the Pine Ridge series were about protecting the valuable things in life like family, children, and finding hope in little things. It was at my nephew’s suggestion that the series really started to form up and take on a life of its own. He had heard from one of his buddies about a ranch that offered therapeutic riding for disabled children. He talked non-stop about this ranch and how it offered hope to these kids when everyone else had given up hope for them. I did some research into the topic. And as I was researching, I began to think… could that be expanded to help Veterans coming home from war? Could a working ranch-style set up be the hope that some lost souls could use to find their lives again? I talked to my nephew about it, and thus the Hope Ranch series was born. I’m using those little novellas from the Pine Ridge series and am now expanding them to full length. My nephew is eating it up quicker than I can type. he’s passing it around the base. And, now that he’s home, he’s sending me little notes from some of his buddies about their experiences so that I can use them for future visitors to Hope Ranch…. I foresee many many books coming in this series.

Currently, I’m working on two manuscripts for this series… This month, I’m focusing on the one I’ve temporarily titled “Make it a double” (novella titles: Timothy’s Triumph, and Widowmaker) for my NanoCamp write. This will be two books in the series, each a stand alone.

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