Guest Author Nancy Holzner

Please welcome debut author of the urban fantasy book Deadtown, Nancy Holzner! Nancy will be here all week long talking with readers. I ADORED Deadtown and can't say enough great things about it. It kept me up all night reading and I highly recommend it. Here's a back cover summary to give you an idea of what Deadtown is about:

They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders — but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…

Vicky’s demanding job keeping the city safe from all manner of monsters is one reason her relationship with workaholic lawyer (and werewolf) Alexander Kane is in constant limbo. Throw in a foolhardy zombie apprentice, a mysterious demon-plagued client, and a suspicious research facility that’s taken an unwelcome interest in her family, and Vicky’s love life has as much of a pulse as Deadtown’s citizens.

But now Vicky’s got bigger things to worry about. The Hellion who murdered her father ten years ago has somehow broken through Boston’s magical protections. The Hellion is a ruthless force of destruction with a personal grudge against Vicky, and she’s the only one who can stop the demon before it destroys the city and everyone in it.

And if that didn't convince you, check out my review here!

Book Two and Beyond: Creating a Series
By Nancy Holzner

Deadtown is the first book in a series featuring Vicky Vaughn, and currently I’m in the process of revising the sequel. When I wrote Deadtown, I wrote it as a self-contained book, but one whose story I hoped to expand. As a debut urban fantasy novelist, I knew that I had to prove myself with one book before I started thinking about writing a whole series. At the same time, though, I fell crazy in love with my characters and hoped other people would, too—at least enough to want to know what happens next.

So I was very, very happy when Ace offered me a contract for two books—I could write a sequel! And if readers liked those two books, maybe there’d be more to follow.
Writing Deadtown was the most fun I ever had writing anything. The world-building was absorbing, the characters felt like friends I knew well, and the conflicts they faced were both interesting and exciting to me. It wasn’t a book that wrote itself, but writing it—taking it from idea to sketch to finished manuscript—was a joy.

Writing the sequel has been fun, too. But a sequel presents a set of challenges that I'd never really thought about until one day I sat down to write and there they were, staring me in the face.

The first and biggest challenge, right there on page 1, is bringing readers into your world. In a first book, everyone starts from the same place: No one has encountered the characters or the world before, so you have to introduce those things while telling a forward-moving story. That’s hard enough in itself. But in a second book, you’re now dealing with two sets of readers: those who’ve read Book 1 and those who are stepping into your world for the first time in Book 2. You have to get your new readers oriented without boring those readers who liked the first book enough to come back for more. It’s a real balancing act.

And that’s not all. Because Book 2 builds from the events that happened in Book 1, you need to say just enough about what happened in the first book to make cause-and-effect clear, but without giving away the whole plot of that book. As a reader, I occasionally read series books out of order, and I don’t like it when the author summarizes the previous book before things get moving in this one. For one thing, summary is boring. For another, what if I wanted to go back and read the previous book later, even though I’m taking things out of order? Now that I’ve read the summary, there’s no point.
(And if I did read the books in order, the summary is less a memory-refresher than something to skim so I can find the place where this story gets going.)

The second challenge is continuity. When I was writing the sequel, my memory of the first book wasn’t always as crystal-clear as I thought it was. Shortly after I’d submitted the manuscript for Book 2, I received Deadtown’s page proofs so I could give them a final check before the book went to the printer. Re-reading Deadtown with its sequel still fresh in my mind was an eye-opener. Were Kane’s eyes really that color? And how did I get the name wrong of the politician with a zombie daughter? I had to make a list of things to correct in the sequel during revisions. I’ve started to put together a Deadtown “Bible” that will serve as a reference guide as I go forward in the series.

The final challenge is where to end. Now that I’m thinking in terms of a series—not just a single book that might lead to a series—the story arc has lengthened. I’m thinking further ahead. Situations that arise in Book 2 become seeds for complications and conflicts in Books 3 and 4. And that’s great, because the story becomes richer and more complex. But taking a longer view also means that you can’t give in to the temptation to write a book that’s little more than a bridge between two others. I like a good cliffhanger at the end of a scene, but not at the end of a book—especially if I’ve got to wait a whole year to find out what happens. I don’t mind when the end of a book glances toward the next one, but the story of this book must be wrapped up for the read to satisfy.

As a reader, I know what I like and don’t like in a series. I like a series that moves forward briskly, without a lot of repetition, and that deepens it relationships and conflicts while making each book its own story. As a writer, I’m just beginning to learn how to deliver that.

What are some of your likes and dislikes when reading a series? What makes you feel that a series has gone on too long? What series do you wish would go on and on forever?

Nancy is giving away a copy of Deadtown to one reader who leaves a comment answering the above questions.

Contest Rules:
This contest is open to everyone, everywhere!
Due to unclaimed prizes, you must leave an email address to be entered in this contest if you don't have a blog through which I can contact you.
The contest will run for one week, ending Monday February 15th at 5:00 pm EST with the winner announced shortly after.


  1. When I read a series I like when secondary characters end up with their own books so that I can learn more about them. I feel a series has gone on too long when the storylines become repetitive. I wish Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series or Gena Showalter's Lord of the Underworld series would go on forever :)

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  2. Good point about secondary characters. I like that, too. I plunged right into Karen Chance's Dorina Basarab series because I already knew the world from her Cassie Palmer books.

  3. When i read a series i expect to find a general plot along all the books, not just some short-stories with different characters each time on each book. A series has gone too long when i start to get tired about it and dont feel tempted to read the next book. I think that i could read forever the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton, even if the last books are very different from the first ones in the series.

    battyaboutbats at gmail.com

  4. Sometimes i dont like when in a series, the view point changes for a whole book, i dont mind in little snipets during the book, but im kind of attuned to the character already that it feels weird to change. Separate series, i like-from a different character of the same author. Even though i would like a series to go on and on, i think it has to stop because if it drags, it ruins the mood.


  5. I like continuity betwen one book in a series and the next. And I like the characters to grow from one book to the next.
    I feel that a series has gone on to long when there is either very little advancement to the storline from one book to the next or the author seems to have no new ideas and the stories become repetetive.
    I hope Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series keeps on going.

    sgiden AT verizon DOT net

  6. Hi :)
    Oh the book sounds so good, it has been on my wishlist for a while.

    Series, oh sighs, when it comes to my beloved Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books, well I feel they have gone on too long. They have stagnated and that is never a good thing. Nothing new happens, the characters needs to make some choices, what was once funny is now old.

    Usually with fantasy books I want them to go on and on, even if nothing is happening ;)

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

  7. I like when a series has a clear ending at each book, I hate intense cliffhangers (Fever Series, which I LOVE, have cliffies that KILL me). For me, I wish Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series & Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series would go on forever.


  8. I have always enjoyed series books. I like learning more about the secondary characters and finding out what happened to the main characters in the original book. I think when you start reading a series and they all start sounding alike, it's time to end that series. I hope J.D.Robb's In Death series goes on for a long time, I really enjoy that series.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  9. Wow, lots of responses! Thanks, everyone, for chiming in and sharing your thoughts.

    @Beleth: I know what you mean about a series that seems like unrelated stories rather than a longer story arc. I also like to see how the story develops from one book to the next.

    @bianca: Good point about POV changes, which can be disorienting sometimes. I don't mind them when the new character's POV is branching out into a new series, tho.

    @Sandy: I love the Dresden files, too. It's interesting to watch how an author like Butcher can keep his story fresh through a long series.

    @Blodeuedd: I'm definitely on the same page as you about Janet Evanovich. Great series, great characters, lots of fun humor, but I stopped feeling compelled to pick them up several books ago.

    @Nicole: Cliffhangers aren't so bad if you can pick up the next book right away, but if you have to wait for it to be published, a cliffhanger ending can be downright painful. I always kinda thought that a cliffhanger shows some insecurity on the writer's part, too, like it's the only way they can get readers to go on to the next book.

    @Linda Henderson: I agree about series that start to feel repetitive. I want a series to move forward, not keep circling back.

  10. Series are wonderful, because most of the time I think that individual books tend to leave details out that could be expanded upon, but then most books cannot be over 500 pages each time! Secondary characters that take on challenges many times lead in to new storylines - or fill in some history.

    Series have gone on too long when you have challenged them so much that there doesn't seem to be anything left for them to do but "live their life". Sometimes when you shift a character's focus from what they started out doing in the first book to something totally different, that can cause a lot of confusion.

    Also, if you have reached beyond the third generation of a family story, it might be time to say goodbye to it!

  11. When I read a series, which is mostly what I prefer to read, I like it when there are strong secondary characters that can really support the main characters. Also, I tend to like it when there are small story arcs going over a few books, when series are longer. It keeps me more interested. A series has gone on too long when everything is repetitive, or so many people have to be introduced that the readers have to keep a journal to keep track or who the heck everyone is.


  12. I enjoy reading series and like to be able to read more about characters as the series continues! tWarner419@aol.com

  13. I love series. My problem is when the abruptly end. I wish publishers would give enough notice because there have been a few mystery series I have read where things were left hanging. It would be nice to have closure!! But like I said I know 9 times out of 10 its not up to author.

  14. I love a series....I just hate the waiting for the new books and I also dislike the reapeating everything so much....I am looking forward to reading yours...

  15. One thing I do not liek about a series is when the author repeats things for you. Now I know this is good for peope who have not read the previousbooks in the series, but sometimes it can be a little annoying if it is doen too much. I think if you are a series reader, you dont need to be told little details over and over in each book. I like when secondary characters have their own little "storylines" in the book. I would love for Kim Harrison to continue with her Holoows series forever. I also am sad that The Riley Jensen sereis by Keri Arthur is ending.

  16. A series has gone too long when don't care anymore about the characters or when it gets stuck with the same plot for a few books. I like book series to move forward. The series that I wish would go on forever are "The Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher. It looks like the more books he writes, the better he gets!


  17. Welcome Nancy! I am enjoying reading everyone's responses. I'm so happy to have you here on my blog!

  18. When I read a series I like it to have a few little twist that are very unpridictable. I feel like a series has gone on too long when the storylines become bleek and boring and no twist. I really wish the Sookie Stackhouse series would go on forever.

  19. @Blodeuedd I totally agree with you about Janet Evanovich's series. I adored them when I first discovered them at book 8. But now that I've read some fabulous series books, it just feels like her books are going nowhere. The humor is NOT funny anymore and I am not feeling it like I was before. I think what annoys me the most is that they use HUGE font, have tons of blank pages in beween chapters, meaning less story..but then the publisher has the nerve to charge SO much for her books! I think it retailed for $27. That's just ridiculous for a book that is less then 200 pages in normal font. So I agree with you. I am no longer on the Janet Evanovich bandwagon. It just needs to end aleady.

  20. I like character growth in series and a lot of times the longer the series the better :) I'm going to agree with the storylines becoming repetitive as an example of when a series has gone on for too long. I want/wish that J.D. Robb's In Death series to go on and on and on :)


  21. I'm enjoying reading everyone's thoughts on series. I really like booksNyarn's points that a series lets you get deeply into the characters' world in a way that standalone books can't. Series writers have the luxury of developing a world and its characters over many pages in separate books. At the same time, of course, the world (especially in fantasy) has to be pretty well developed from book one, so readers don't get lost or confused.

  22. I'm like Amanda in that, other things being equal, I do tend to prefer series. And I absolutely agree that each book needs its own, self-contained story arc even while it contributes to a larger, unfolding story. That's the moving forward that Spav mentions. It also relates to the character growth that samantha mentions. That growth is essential. If a character stays the same through book after book, the series gets boring and repetitive and loses readers. Lots of people have commented that that's what makes them give up on a series.

    Great discussion!

  23. I also wanted to say thanks to Rachael for inviting me. I enjoy Enchanted by Books a lot, and it's an honor to be here. :)

  24. I love series that has different characters in each book. And I like series when the sames characters coninue on. the only thing with those is the author has to be sure and tell a fresh story. My biggest pet peeve is when the tone of the series changes drastically. Like for instance i started reading a series and then midswing the author changed it and put in a m/m book. I am not fond of them so of course i was disappointed cause imo this messed up the whole series for me. I wish that Jeanne Frost, Kresley Cole, Lora leigh, Naline Singh, Ilona Andrews, and Karen Chance all would continue on with their series.

  25. I love when series keep the action up. But like movies they can be too long. I do not enjoy "filler" books at all.

    A series is too long if someone remarks that your need to read a couple books because they are working up to something in the next books.

    A never ending series, Outlander or Twilight.


  26. Nancy, I'll definitely be adding your book to my wish list. It sounds interesting!

    I really like when a series can keep taking you further into the characters and the world. What I really love is when other characters pop back in. One of the reasons I really love Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series is because she changes narrators so often, but then as you read you get to see what's happening with the old narrators. It's like being able to catch up with your friends that you haven't seen in a while. Her series is definitely one I'd like to see go on forever. Others would be Kim Harrison's Hallows books, and Carrie Vaughn's Kitty series.

    I definitely agree that when the characters have stopped changing/growing and the books get repetitive it's time for the series to move on. I haven't seen that in any of the ones I enjoy. I think I've been lucky enough to find authors that are able to keep finding new ways to freshen things up.

    I'm also not a fan of cliffhangers, especially if there's a long wait between books.

    johnniecakes at gmail dot com

  27. I really like when each book in the series feels like a complete episode, but there's a continuing story arc that unfolds and shows new layers in each book. Then looking back or forward it still makes sense, but there is a sense of discovery with each new book. Mark Del Franco is doing it really well with his Connor Grey series.

    I think a series has gone too far when the premise for new books becomes preposterous. Cozy mysteries have this problem a lot; how many times can the caterer in a small town get involved in a murder mystery? Or how many men (vampire, shifters) can that poor gal date before it becomes boring and sleezy?

  28. I want only a short summary of the previous book. I'm one who tends to collect all the books in a series and reads them nonstop so I don't want to waste any time getting right into the new book. I love when the secondary characters get their own book and love it when the author feeds us bits and pieces on characters from the earlier book.I like knowing that a couple that fell in love previously may be pregnant or even just a mention of them is nice. It's kind of like getting caught up with family members that you don't see often at a family reunion. When the storyline becomes repetitive, retire it quickly. Some series should only be trilogies with other trilogies that arc off. I have seen this work quite well. And some, like Robb's "Eve Dallas" series at #35 could go on indefinitely. The murders are all fresh and the technology fascinating. I love how even though we are up to #35 only a little over 2 years has progressed so that the romance and love that intertwines through the story does so with humor and believability. i hope this series is around another 35 books.

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  29. I am always about starting at the beginning of a series because I want to know what's going on from day 1. However, between finishing the first book and reading the second, I'm sure I've had about a million thoughts. So, a few little reminders here and there are very helpful so I don't need to pull out the last book to remind myself what happened.

    I also like to slowly learn more about the characters past as the series goes on. Don't dump all their whole life story in the beginning of the first book. I love the slow discovery so there are always surprises out there. :)

    I haven't read a series that has gone to long. I love Kim Harrison's Hollows series, and Angie Fox's Demon Slayer series. I hope those go on forever.

  30. Oh, where to start? Well, in my opinion, there are many things to love in series books. Aside from wonderful characters, setting is important. I prefer supernatural and fantasy books for that reason - because it's a lot easier to image turmoil and upset in a supernatural world. Also, I enjoy having a detailed history with it so that the author has stuff to work with for prequels, short stories, and the like. What I don't like in series books is boring, centered main characters. I like secondary characters with just as much personality that have interesting back stories that may be able to be touched upon. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is a great example of this - her setting is paranormal and has a rich history, she always has a history and a future to work with, she writes interconnected books as opposed to sequels, so all her characters get fleshed out, and every one of them is interesting and worthy of having a book written about one of their experiences. Another author on my to-read list, Kelly Armstrong (who also writes great YA), does this with her Otherworld series.

    As for long series...I think it really depends. Fantasy series are easier for me to except continuation of - but romance series and soap-opera like series I think deserve shorter lengths. I mean, who wants to read about the same people going through cycling drama that's the same? If you have to reuse plot devices constantly in your series without giving them new life, it gets boring and you want to give up on it.

    Series wise, I would have to refer back to Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. As a teenager, YA fiction is one of my mainstays, along with adult fantasy/sci-fi and supernatural. She just does everything to perfection. While her books aren't *technically* a series, they are all set in the same universe and mention back to other characters. The vampires, shapeshifters - they're all just so sexy and thought-provoking, I want to read them forever. Plus, I know it won't get boring because I don't have to think about just a few main characters as opposed to a ton of them, each different.


  31. Robin K makes a great point about "filler" books and series that take a couple of books to work up to something bigger or more interesting in the next book. Here's an example from the movies: I missed the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I'd heard lots of great things about it, and I wanted to see it, but I hadn't yet. Instead, I went with friends to see the second movie without having seen the first.

    Not a great idea. The whole movie was one big "huh?" to me. And it was because it was a bridge story. You really needed to see both what came before and what came after to get much out of it.

  32. Aww you're so sweet Nancy! Thank YOU! :)

  33. I like to read series, when the story is growing and continuing in second book. And The secondary characters can be learned more in the next book.

    i just don't like if the series have some repetitive moments or dialogs.

    i wish Harry Potter and Twilight can go on forever :)

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  34. Likes: characters have to have a lot of depth
    Dislikes: repetition
    When a series has gone too long, is when there is no more action ...you just know...don't you.
    I wish...at this moment that Vampire Diaries would go on forever...I could change my mind in a month. Why? I'm a female. lol

    dorcontest at gmail dot com

    I follow.....dor

  35. One of the things I enjoy about series is catching up with characters I care about--finding out what they've been up to lately,seeing how they've grown and changed. Meeting secondary characters who sometimes step up into main roles is nice, too. I'm not sure what makes a series go on too long, though of course that does happen. I do admire authors who have a clear, contained vision of a series beginning and ending...examples: Colleen Gleason's Gardella Chronicles, Charlaine Harris's Harper Connelly series.

  36. What are some of your likes and dislikes when reading a series?
    Likes: Finding out what's been happening with favorite characters or what new monkey wrench is about to be thrown at them.
    Dislikes: The wait between books.

    What makes you feel that a series has gone on too long?
    When it starts to feel like I've read the latest release already because of similar plot lines, etc. Or when the writer changes the main characters so drastically that I don't care for them any longer.

    What series do you wish would go on and on forever? The Dresden Files and Savannah Vampires.

    Thank you for the article and giveaway.
    cheleooc at yahoo dot com

  37. Please count me in. Thanks for the chance.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  38. I love reading series, because there is more time for the reader to get to know all of the characters and the depth of the world they live in. I also love the anticipation of waiting for that next book in the series to come out! I really can't say that I have any dislikes unless as the series goes on the books become less engaging. I feel that a series has gone on for too long when you are no longer interested in the series. If the plot is no longer engaging and the book makes you feel like the book didn't have a point. Right now my favorite books are Rachel Vincent's Shifters Series, I would wish this series to go on forever if possible!

  39. First off I want to say that even if I wanted a series to continue forever it would no doubt get tiring after a while, no matter how much I loved it at the beginning.

    What I like about reading a series is the length, the possibility to revisit a beloved place and set of characters. What I hate about reading a series is the time it takes for new books to come out, many times I lost interest in a series as it took years and years to complete. People are always looking for something new and better, and if a series gets repetitive readers will move on. And no one likes to see once favorite characters become trapped in a redundant world.

    patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

  40. My biggest dislike when reading a series is a cliff hanger ending. I don't like to wait months or years to find out what happens next.

    A series has gone on too long when it gets predictable. I think it helps a series a lot to have a strong main character with secondary characters who come and go, so things stay fresh and interesting and not predictable.

  41. Too many characters is definitely one thing that tends to have me walking away from a series--when I start having to have a list when I read, it's too much.

    I prefer to have the series set on a small group of characters, not the whole city where the story is set. It gives more insight into each character and allows the reader to get more attached to them.

    If the story arc goes on for upwards of 20 books but it never seems like we're getting anywhere with it--the author should find a way to wrap things up and end it on a high note, leaving the readers satisfied.

    I love Christine Feehan's Carpathian series, because as many characters as she has, they're not all piled up into each book. I hope they go on for a long time. :)

    Email: mireyahwolfe (AT) hotmail (DOT) com

  42. I think writing a good story with lots of characters is hard to pull off but if you can do it right, the story is amazing! so it's up to the writer...


  43. I am not much of a series person due to the fact I must follow up for the most part. It definitely kills when it goes beyond a trilogy in my opinion. But the only series that I do like and wish for more novels is the Morgan Rawlinson series by Maryrose Wood.

  44. I love reading about secondary characters when they get their own books. What I don't like in a series is when the characters don't grow, or they stay the same from book to book.
    I love Kresley Cole's IAD series, Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series, and Kristin Cashore's Graceling books.

    jenlilley at hotmail dot com

  45. When I read a series, I want every book in the series too be strong enough to be a Stand-alone book.
    Every new book should add something new to the series, and characters should develop.

    when the story lines become repetitive, and the book doesn't add anything new to the series, the series have gone on for too long (Read Janet Evanovich's Steohanie Plum series)


  46. What I Like About Reading A Series Is You Get To Know And Love Familiar Characters Plus You Get To Delve More Into Their Lives Than You Would With Just One Book. I Dislike Series That Have No Real Story To Them. Also I Dislike A Series Were You Get Like Four Or More Plus Pages Of Description. I Mean I Love Details And All But Enough Is Enough. If An Author Is Just Trying To Stretch A Story To Fit Some Sort Of Series Quota It Will Show And That Kind Of Series Is A Big Turn Off. That Means Your Series Is Too Long And Could Have Ended A Lot Sooner. The Twilight Saga Is A Series I Wish Would Go On ANd On Forever. I Just Can't Get Enough Of Edward Cullen And Bella Swan. I Have Read All Four Books Twice And I Am Planning On Reading Them All Again In The Near Future.

    Those Were Really Great Questions. I Have Been Wanting To Read Nancy's Book For A While Now. I Would Love To Be Entered Into This Giveaway.



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