In October the next installment of the Liberty series, Second Chance Grill, will reach Amazon then other sites soon after. The core cast introduced in the award winning Treasure Me makes another appearance, notably the town’s feisty matriarch Theodora Hendricks and her fluttering and rather ditzy nemesis, Ethel Lynn Percible. While they don’t carry the show—something they will do in a future book that reveals the root causes of the bad blood between them—they do interact with the main characters in surprising ways.
The preparation for the Second Chance Grill release started me thinking about the key components of a successful series—and the fact that most, if not all, fall into one of two categories:
A story in stages Think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Hunger Games trilogies. Through successive books we’re immersed in an expanding plot leading to a satisfying conclusion. One hero—or in the case of my examples, two distinctive and strong heroines—carry the action. Pick up the books out of order and your enjoyment is diminished.
Same characters, different problems Think of the episodic works The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency or Sherlock Holmes. The same cast of characters encounters new problems in each book. No matter the order in which you read the novels you won’t risk losing the story thread, which is sure to resolve by the closing pages.
In which camp does the Liberty series fall? Both, actually. You’ll find stories in stages like the bad blood between Theodora and Ethel Lynn, a bit of foreshadowing harking back to family feuds from the 1800s. Liberty, Ohio’s secrets are tied to events in U.S. history as varied and priceless as the Civil War gems Birdie Kaminski hunts for in Treasure Me. One of the town’s characters is the descendant of a spy who ran interference for George Washington during The Revolutionary War. And in case you’re wondering, freedwoman Justice Postell left more fascinating treasures hidden in town than revealed in the series’ debut novel.
Yet even as these secrets unfold, you’ll discover the same supporting cast in each book. New characters will often carry the show, but not always. The skillet-wielding cook, Finney? In a future book her romance is sure to make you laugh one minute and cry the next.
On another note, Treasure Me recently became a finalist in The 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards and was cited by The Midwest Book Review as “highly recommended for those who enjoy adventure fiction.” If you’re looking for an amusing mix of mystery and romance, I hope you’ll give the book—and the new Second Chance Grill—a read.