Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Figuring Out What to Write Next in a Series

I'm going to refer to my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and how I come up with the next book to write.

For those of you who are not familiar with Tempe, she's a resident deputy in the large area surrounding Bear Creek, a small village in the Southern Sierra. (Sierra means mountain.) It's in the central part California.

Tempe is part Indian, one of the Bear Creek Indian tribes. (There is no such thing, but the Bear Creek Indian Reservation that appears in the story is much like the Tule River Indian Reservation. The Indians who live there call themselves Tule Indians but most of them are Yokuts.)

 Because of Tempe's experience using an Indian ritual to call back the dead, she is sometimes visited by the ghosts of those who have passed on. Not a comfortable experience. 

Tempe is married to Hutch Hutchinson, the local preacher. He doesn't approve of some of native ceremonies she's participated in, though he's become more tolerant through the years.

Tempe has an Indian friend named Nick Two John who she often consults when she can't figure something out. At times, Hutch, has experienced a bit of jealousy over his wife's friendship--but now he and Two John are friends.

I've written about murders in and around Bear Creek and even on the reservation. I've taken Tempe away from the area to investigate crimes.

While thinking about what I was going to write next I thought it might be fun to write about a haunted house.
When I began writing more ideas popped up concerning devil worship, evil spirits, old crimes, and of course, murder.

The book, Spirit Shapes, is done and at the publishers awaiting the editing process.

While waiting, I'm working on the next in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

Readers, what do you expect in an ongoing series?

Writers of series, where do you get your ideas for the next book?


Available now as a print book and ebook.


  1. The great thing about a successful series is that you already have a following. But keeping things fresh is hard work. Still I believe it's worth the effort. I just signed a contract for the fourth novel in my Kim Reynolds mystery series and am excited about it. Congrats on your new novel.

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline. Yes, I'm glad to find out what my characters are up to next and the only way to do that is to write the next book.

  2. Hi, Marilyn!
    Writing a series: great way to flesh out the detail of your characters! Here's a few of my thoughts, based on my own writing.
    1) I started 'pontificating' about the poor choice of "decent" storybooks for children in a staffroom a few years ago. One of the other teachers challenged me to "Put my money where my mouth was" if I thought I could do better ...
    Six months later I had a pirate-themed yarn (aimed at 8 - 13 y o readers) published by a small local press. It sold well, and I've now completed a sequel and am working on a third. Kids seem to lap up a series, and as I've set the books in a 'real' place (my home town, Liverpool UK) it's been easy so far. Toss in a talking pet cat, and a few time-slips (there are plenty of 'recorded incidents' of time-slips in Liverpool, BTW) and it gets progressively easier.

    Inspiration for my first adult novel "The Chapel of Her Dreams" came from a half-remember recurring dream. Research (family history, for the most part) identified the Chapel as a REAL PLACE (in Ireland) and the short snip of a dream has become a 3-book Celtic mystery. Here's a blurb:


    Music written by the blind Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan features throughout the story, and also inspired me while I was writing.
    Paul McDermott

    1. The books sound great, Paul! Glad you are writing for kids as well as adults.

  3. Hope you'll bring the ghosts (and, of course, the ghost hunter) back again. I'm sure there are lots of haunted places in Tempe's world.

    1. I'm still waiting for the edits from the publisher. But I suspect the ghost hunter might show up again.

  4. The book I'm working on now was inspired by an email joke, which surprised me. The next one is going to be based on an odd house some friends are moving into.

    I'd be interested to hear what readers have to say, too.

  5. Having read the first Tempe Crabtree book, I know you have a great sleuth to work with. I think plots relating to Tempe's indian heritage would be most interesting to me. I'm in the process of creating a new mystery series. It's lots of fun coming up with various characters and situations, victims and suspects.

    1. I've used many Indian legends in all the previous books and this one has some Indian rituals.

  6. Here I go again--a Facebook author friend linked to this article, I read it and now find I must read your book! Awesome sleuth and setting!

    Can't wait to begin the series.

    1. Oh, I hope you will try out my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

  7. Marilyn, it's always good news when there's a new Tempe Crabtree book written.

    In a way writing a new book in a series is easier. You know a lot about your main characters. But you have to find ways to make everything new, and you have to be sure you haven't used that murder/event/scene before. Even tougher, you have introduce new characters who'll play a big part in the book and still bring in, at least for cameos, all or most of the regulars--which gets tougher and tougher to do as the series gets longer.

    Struggling with all this as I finish the third Skeet Bannion novel, EVERY HIDDEN FEAR, right now.

  8. With my Agnes Barton mysteries I also went into a ghostly place and theme. Readers seem to love it and right now is the right climate. For my third book I gave my ladies a warmer climate and sent them to Florida for the winter while I'm contemplating my fourth, I'm thinking it should be election time.

    Good luck with your series!