Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How Do You Like to Read?

Happy Summer, friends! Mona from Arizona, here.

These days, in the age of technology, a question like "How do you like to read?" probably raises the expectation of the familiar question about paperback-or-eBook. But that's not what I'm curious about today.

Instead, I'm wondering if you're the kind of reader who prefers stand-alone stories, or digging into a series? Going even deeper, the kind of reader who likes a series for it's main setting (a trilogy set in Saint Charles or the Grand Canyon), or for it's community feel--the ensemble cast.

I credit the Seasons Under Heaven Series by Terri Blackstock and Gloria Gaither and The Mitford Series by Jan Karon with opening my heart to community-driven stories. It's no wonder that those are the general style of books I'm writing. Set in a historical place and time.



In The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, the four Sinclair Sisters all end up in Cripple Creek, Colorado, in the late 1890's. A gold mining camp replete with a boardinghouse proprietor, a mysterious miner, and other folks in an eclectic cast of characters.


The Quilted Heart novellas feature three women from the Saint Charles Quilting Circle, a cast of characters who are dividing their post-Civil War sorrows and bolstering one another's faith as they each seek to rebuild their war-torn lives.


Prairie Song is a sequel to The Quilted Heart, taking some of those quilting circle and St. Charles community characters and folding them into a new community--The Boone's Lick Wagon Train Company.

Each of those two series (including Prairie Song) offer an ensemble cast, but that's not all. The boardinghouse proprietor and the mysterious miner were too hard to say goodbye to after Twice a Bride, the final novel in The Sinclair Sisters stories. They both serve as a bridge. In Cripple Creek in the late 1890's, they are older adults. Going backwards in time to the mid-860's in Saint Charles allowed me to feature those two characters in their youth.

Will I bridge all of my novels? It's doubtful. But one new series I'm working on as we chat, follows a similar pattern to The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books--family members transplanted into an established community.

Will I always write ensemble casts that span a series of three or four stories? I think not. I'm entertaining a series idea that focuses on a setting rather than a consistent cast.

But for now, I'm enjoying the fact that I can visit Miss Hattie and Boney Hughes in any and all of my published Historical Fiction. :)

So, how do you like to read? 
Series or Stand Alone books? If a series, is it for a compelling setting, or with a focus on a community cast of characters?

If you haven't yet, I hope you'll connect with me at www.monahodgson.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


27 comments:

  1. Hi Miss Mona! I have enjoyed your post this morning as I enjoy everything you write. I really enjoy a series of books with a community cast of characters. When you are pulled in by the lives of compelling characters, nonstop reading occurs in my book!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Good morning, Melanie! Good to see you here, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post. You are a sweet reader-friend! Blessings! Mona

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  2. What an interesting post! When I read the title, I assumed it was going to be the question about whether you like traditional, paperback/hardcover books to e-books. As for your question, if I'm reading a series, I really enjoy "catching up" with some of the characters from previous novels. However, many series now can be read "stand-alone," which is fine with me as well. I'm not too picky. Family series intrigue me because I feel I become so involved in their lives (i.e. The Alaskan Courage Series by Dani Pettrey).

    I've read the "Quilted Hearts" novellas as well as "Prairie Song" and look forward to reading more of your works, as these stories were excellent! Thanks for the neat post!

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    1. Good morning, Shannah! Good to see you here. I enjoy "family series" too. Thanks for recommending The Alaskan Courage Series. I'm so glad you're enjoying my books. Thanks for the kind endorsement. Now, I'm anxious for you to meet the Sinclair Sisters. Blessings and Happy Reading! Mona

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  3. I love to read series. I like to know what happens to the characters. Sometimes, I read a series and it is comprised of only a similar setting and each could stand alone, because the characters don't reconnect with those that have come before, those are a little less enjoyable to me as a reader, because I want to know what happens after the "happily ever after."

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    1. Good morning, Dora! I'm with you...I like to "revisit" characters and catch up on their goings-on. That's why I enjoyed writing four books in the Sinclair Sisters series--had to catch up on the sisters from the previous books. Happy Reading! Mona

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  4. For me, it depends on the genre of the book. I like historical fiction series'--especially ones that focus on a family saga (the best example I can think of is the Love Comes Softly series . . . you can't get much more "family saga-ish" than that!). On the other hand, I prefer that contemporary novels are stand-alone. I don't know why my preferences developed that way . . . they just did!

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    1. Good morning, Esther. Thanks for joining me here. Indeed the Love Comes Softly series is a great example of a family saga. Good point. I tend to be fine with stand alone contemporary novels. Happy Reading and Blessings, Mona

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  5. I won't usually read a series that leaves you with a cliffhanger until all the books are out. I don't like waiting a year for the next book. I do like series that are stand alone books. And I like catching up with characters from previous books.

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    1. Good morning, Patricia. Good to see you here. You're not alone. I had a group of readers who were anxious to read The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, but waited until they could get their hands on all four books. Happy Reading and Blessings! Mona

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  6. I like both stand-alone books and series. Since I don't usually buy books when they first come out, but wait until they go down in price, a lot of times I wait until the whole series is out before I read it. That way I can read it all at once.

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    1. Hi, Susan! Good to see you here. FYI, since you prefer to buy a complete series at a discount, all four Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek novels are only $28.99 at Christianbooks.com, a %50 savings. Blessings! Mona http://www.christianbook.com/sinclair-sisters-cripple-series-vols-1/mona-hodgson/pd/205902?product_redirect=1&Ntt=205902&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

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    2. Actually, I have the first three in that series. Can't wait to find the fourth. It looks like a great series.

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    3. Thanks, Susan. Happy Reading! Mona

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  7. Good morning Mona. I love either but a series is great feels like you are keeping up with the friends you made of the characters in the book. Like family and need to know what is happening with them. Your books are great.
    Blessings
    Diana

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    1. Hi, Diana. I'm with you...compelling characters start to feel like old friends you want to "catch up" with. I appreciate your encouraging words concerning my books. You are a dear reader-friend! Blessings, and Happy Reading. Mona

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  8. Hi, Mona! I adore a series!! One of my favorite things about a book series is the opportunity to really get to know the characters and become invested in their stories. I love revisiting these special friends!

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    1. Hi, Britney. Like you, if the characters and the setting are compelling, I become invested in their lives and want more stories. Blessings, and Happy Reading! Mona

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  9. I like either when the book is stand-alone. My problem with some series, especially mystery series, is when the main character doesn't continue to evolve and/or the situations get predictable, boring, or outlandish. In those cases, I give up on the series. (I can be a grumpy reader. Chuckle.)

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    1. Hi, Dana! Good to see you here. I'm nervous about writing a trilogy that features the same main character(s) in each story. Although Joanne Bischof pulled it off with delicious artistry, I'm concerned I'd get bogged down in predictability and redundancy. But I do have one series idea.... Happy Reading! Mona

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  10. I prefer stand alone books, because I feel sometimes my library doesn't have the first book in a series so when i start reading the second one, it's hard to get into the book.

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    1. Great to see you here, Karen. Happy Reading!

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  11. I love a series with a community cast of characters I love different settings though
    I loved your article
    God bless you
    Chris Granville
    granvilleATfrontiernetDOTnet

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    1. Hi, Chris. Thanks for joining me here. So glad you enjoyed the post. Happy Reading! Mona

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  12. I love a good series! Stand alones are fine too, like in a novella, but with a series, it's not as hard to see the book end if you know you might see some of the characters again. :) I didn't realize that the Cripple Creek series was linked to the St. Charles one. I'll have to read those; loved the Quilted Hearts and Prairie Song books!

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  13. Dear Mona,
    I work in the church library and have for 35 years. Our webpage is www.churchatthemall.com/library We have both series and stand alone books in the library. Our readers love them all.
    Hope your week has been a good one.
    Janet E.
    von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

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  14. Hi Mona! Visiting from Arizona. :) Had to pass along a similar greeting.

    I love a good series, but I especially love it if it can stand alone. The reason I enjoy a series is I really bond with the characters. I like to see what goes on in their world. It is kind of like they become family. For example I love Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries. She is up to V, and I have read each one. I am never bored because the mystery changes, but I feel like I am keeping in touch with characters I love.

    For the most part though, if it is not a series, I am drawn to certain genres and whatever happens happens. Right now I am reading Sky Zone by Creston Mapes and it is a series. I love the main characters and I have even found myself longing to hear from some of the minor ones too.

    I guess it really is almost all about the characters for me. :)

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Kelly

    KellysShining(at)gmail(dot)com

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