For years I’ve carefully plotted the end of my novels before beginning writing. Then I discovered the fun of allowing my characters to derail my carefully laid plans and write their own ending. But with my latest series— Serena Jones Mysteries, about a plucky FBI agent specializing in art crime investigations—I decided to try something radical.
I invited my readers to tell me how to conclude the series.
More specifically, at the end of the first book, A Fool and His Monet, I invited readers to vote for which of the men in Serena’s life she should fall in love with in the end.
Serena is pretty much oblivious to male interest throughout the light-hearted series. But that didn’t hinder readers from quickly drawing up sides. Some even took their campaign to Twitter and Facebook, championing their choice, #TeamNate or #TeamTanner, who were the clear frontrunners thanks to the zany meddling of Serena’s mother and her Great Aunt Martha.
It made for a lot of fun discussions. And since I didn’t know until six weeks before the final manuscript was due (based on readers’ votes) whom Serena would choose, it was easy to keep readers guessing throughout. Fortunately my two critique partners had aligned themselves on opposite teams, as well, so they ensured I kept the odds even. <grin>
The art-crime mysteries themselves will keep you guessing and laughing until the end, with an eclectic array of secondary characters to keep things extra interesting.
At a reader’s suggestion, I also started a private Facebook group for readers who’ve finished the series, where they can chat (or commiserate) about what happened without worrying about giving away spoilers. The discussions have been lively with several readers asking me to do a spinoff series with the runner-up, or with the spirited Great Aunt Martha or even with Serena and her man, perhaps running a PI agency. We’ll see. <wink>
Sandra Orchard—winner of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice, the Holt Medallion Award of Merit and the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence—leaps off the garden trails of her herbal-researcher-turned-amateur-sleuth (Port Aster Secrets) series, to the museum corridors of her plucky FBI art crime agent Serena Jones, in A Fool and His Monet, Another Day Another Dali and Over Maya Dead Body. When not plotting crimes, Sandra plays make-believe with her grandchildren or hikes with her hubby along the escarpment, near their home in Niagara, Canada. Connect at: http://www.sandraorchard.com http://www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard
FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn’t take a vacation, and she’s soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.
When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications–and even a secret or two?
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What Critics are Saying about Books in the Series:
“Another terrifically entertaining mystery by a true master of the genre.” ~Midwest Reviews
“Her quirky characters are laugh-out-loud funny and reminiscent of the protagonists in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum stories.” ~Library Journal Review
“When it’s not just her own life at stake, but Aunt Martha’s and a young protégé’s, Serena does what any self-respecting, government-trained agent does—goes rogue.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“If you want a fast-paced read, “Another Day Another Dali” is definitely written just for you. . .This book was very amusing, as the writer brings together mystery, comedy, love, and family issues to make the perfect story.” ~ Suspense Magazine