Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Guest Blogger - Lisa Bork

What’s My Brand?

I met Molly Weston at Bouchercon 2009, my first fan conference. On day one, Molly offered her card and snapped my picture during the Author Go-Round, where I gave a spiel about my debut novel, For Better, For Murder: a Broken Vows mystery (an Agatha Award finalist for 2009 Best First Novel). On the last day of the conference, Molly picked up my book during the Book Bazaar. Then she took my picture again.

Don’t ask me what happened to those pictures. Molly may be keeping them for blackmail. [Note from Molly: I don't think I'd make much money as a blackmailer for this photo of Lisa!]

This past May I sat next to Molly during the SinC breakfast at Malice Domestic, where she invited me to guest blog. I accepted, not because I particularly like to blog but because I like Molly. So here I am.

I’ve been thinking about branding lately—and by that I mean setting realistic reader expectations for a mystery series. For Richer, For Danger, the sequel to For Better, For Murder, releases this month. So, what is this brand? Or, after writing four books in this series, how can I prime a reader?

My protagonist, Jolene Asdale, lives in a small, touristy Finger Lakes town. She’s married to Ray Parker, a deputy sheriff. They butt heads, mainly over murder and Jolene’s bipolar sister, Erica.

In For Richer, For Danger, after years of ambivalence about parenthood, Finger Lakes sports car dealer Jolene Asdale is now driven to adopt her foster child, the daughter of fugitive robbery suspects. But some major roadblocks arise, including an open hit-and-run case and a recent murder—with the silent, uncooperative birthmother as the prime suspect.

As for the brand…count on lighthearted, fast-paced escapism. Count on Jolene struggling to "get-in-the-know.” Count on Erica to do the unexpected—more than once. Count on Ray to be smoking hot in his uniform and always “in-the-know.” Count on Jolene’s theatrical mechanic, Cory, to steal the show and make the right choices. Count on a page-turner. Count on an underlying heartwarming love between spouses, sisters, and friends.

And I hope you enjoy reading these books as much as I enjoyed writing them.

So, as an author, is it more fun to write a series with known characters? As a reader, what draws you to a series? What keeps you coming back? Can you immediately tell when a series will become a successful brand?

Want to win a copy of Lisa's For Richer, For Danger? You'll be very lucky if you win! To enter the contest, just email Lisa at Lisa@LisaBork.com with "MM Drawing" on the subject line. Entries should be emailed by midnight Friday, September 10.


Vicki Lane said...

I enjoy reading series with interesting that become more real to me with each successive book. And the same is true for the series I write.

I don't know if I'd be happy trying to create a whole new world for each new book. It sounds as though you are happy and comfortable with your chosen cast of character. I suspect that it grows richer and richer.

Lisa Bork said...

I am very fond of these characters, Vicki. They're like old friends.

karen said...

I love reading series in order! The back story, the character development and the mistakes those characters make keep me coming back a series.