Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Series and Non-series books

It's been quite a while since I posted anything about my own work. I've been interviewing and showcasing others. But this morning, I thought I'd post about my own series and the current project, a non-series book. When I wrote my first book, I ran into the same problem so many of us face:  plenty of rejections. After months of trying to write the sequel and getting nowhere with the first novel, Genesis Beach, I self-published. I had a fairly good experience with it until I tried to get the book into chain stores and got the cold shoulder at every turn. To shorten the story, I was thrilled when L&;L Dreamspell, a small Houston-based publisher, signed me. They picked up Genesis Beach, much to my delight, and gave me the opportunity to rewrite and strengthen sections of the book. They also created a cover with major impact. There are currently four novels in the Logan Hunter Mystery series.

Genesis Beach is set along the North Carolina Crystal Coast with a quirky and gutsy young female SBI (state bureau of investigation) agent. The second novel, Just North of Luck, is set in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and showcases Madison County and Asheville. I really upped the ante in this one by having a serial killer and getting into his brain or rather having him in mine. It truly was a scary time for me since I carried this character around in my head for months. I was relieved to finish the book and have him move out of my space. In this book, Logan meets Chase Railey, a Madison County detective who works with her on the multiple murders, all gruesome and not fitting a serial killer mold.

In Hell Swamp, Logan thinks she can take a few days off, her supervisor assigns her to investigate a murder at Black River Plantation, four miles from where she spent her childhood. She heads to Pender County begrudingly and confronts a sheriff and deputies who failed to contain the crime scene, creating a nightmare for Logan. As she begins to question deer hunters in the area, she learns that the victim had many enemies and nobody is stepping forward to help her find the murderer.  When she eventually finds the killer, she and the entire rural community are shocked beyond belief at the circumstances that led to murder.
Chase comes in to help her with this case, but a misunderstanding leads to a strained relationship. When the couple are trapped and nearly fried by an arsonist's forest fire, they vow to work things out if they survive. By the end of the book, Chase proposes. He is sworn into the SBI.

As Logan leaves her bridal shower in the fourth novel, Sin Creek, she is paged to a local university campus where the body of a young student has been discovered. Even though she and Chase make it down the aisle, they are often assigned different cases across the state, and Chase's terminally ill mother dies in Asheville, sending him home to handle the arrangements and leaving Logan to work with an obnoxious agent sent in to help. Logan and Farris McCracken (Crack) don't get along. The tension is deafening and distracting, but the investigation moves along...right into the pornography industry. Logan is incredibly uncomfortable about having to follow Tit (Thomas Irving Trollinger)who appears to be the porn king. She ends up on a ferry dressed as a bar maid and discovers that Crack is also onboard. When she has to make a hasty retreat in a lifeboat, Crack jumps in and drives her 4-inch heel through the raft, causing it to spring a leak. They end up swimming to a small island in the middle of the Cape Fear River, hoping the river alligators don't notice them. Logan is relieved when Chase returns to help, but she has no idea how her life will change before the investigation is over.

All of the Logan Hunter books are set in North Carolina, where I've hung out all my life. There's so much beauty here, so many dialects and personalities. I love this state!

I'm in the planning stages of the fifth Logan Hunter Mystery, tentatively entitled Punch Street. But I have been working on a non-series novel about lifelong friends, Mackie Sue Beanblosson and Daisy Marie Hazelhurst, in their sixties, going through hot flashes, weight gain, marital problems, and trying to hold down jobs. You know, a day in the life sort of thing.  The book is entitled The Goose Parade of Old Dickeywood. It's entirely different from the Logan Hunter series, but I am having fun with it. I hope to have it ready for publication in 1212, but I really need to get busy.

Video trailers for Just North of Luck, Hell Swamp, and Sin Creek are over at  All books are available in print and ebook from the publisher, online stores, or through my site,  I hope I've whet your appetite. Leave a comment for a chance to win the book of your choice!


williamdoonan said...

Hi Susan,

Enjoyed your post. I've written two books featuring the same protagonist, Henry Grave, an eighty-four year-old detective who solves crimes on cruise ships. I've found that series fiction allows writers to delve much more deeply into characters, trickling out far more backstory than would otherwise be possible. And readers who enjoyed the first book were quick to snap up the second. I'm looking forward to writing the third.

William Doonan

Susan Whitfield said...

Hey, William. Thanks for visiting the site. Let me know if you'd be interested in being a guest yourself.

WS Gager said...

Susan: I loved the post. A great recap of your writing. Your SBI agent follows a similar arc as mine in the first three books but mine is a newspaper reporter. However, he won't get getting married in book 4. He is so not ready. I would love to guest blog. Sunny said you were looking for guests and my third book just came out.

Thanks, Wendy who loves Michigan as much as Susan loves North Carolina!
W.S. Gager on Writing

Joanne Costantino said...

Great recap of your series. I love the idea for the non-series book. I can sooo relate. I've lived all of those phases and in this year, in particular, lost a few compadres to early death. I'll be looking for your cast of characters in The Goose Parade....

Kat Hinkson said...

I love series or non-series books. I enjoyed learning about your non-series and am looking forward to reading them. I'm not published as of yet, but I do have a mystery series and two paranormal mystery series in the works.

Susan Whitfield said...

Ha! I just saw where I planned to publish my next book in 1212. Hopefully you figured out that I meant 2012! Duh to me.

Susan Whitfield said...

Thanks for visitng, Wendy. Good luck with your writing. Get in touch when I can showcase you here on the blog. Joanne and Kat, I'm enjoying this departure to work on non-series The Goose Parade of Old Dickeywood. I've finally come out on the other side of hot flashes and can now laugh at some of the awkward experiences I've had. Some I continue to have and others will come, I'm sure. I'm getting these two gals into all kinds of jams and then I'm letting them figure out how to get through it. I'm calling it a "menopause in the country" kind of thing. Stay tuned!