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                                   How do you write a series?

I had to stop and think when recently asked this question, but the answer isn't hard. It's common sense in fact.

1. Characters and relationships that are sustainable. If your characters only have one flaw or one snag to their relationship, it will be hard to maintain interest beyond the first book.

2. An overall, on-going story framework—a recurring problem, a tenacious enemy, a career that lends itself to multiple conflicts.

3. Individual arcs for each book that have a satisfying ending. In my opinion, cliffhangers should be reserved for the overall story arc. The reader needs resolution of a major conflict at the end of each book.

4. A finale that ties up all the loose ends and leaves the reader feeling they didn't waste their time. Easier said than done. You can't please everyone, but if you've satisfied the majority of your readers—and remained true to your characters—you've done your job.

It's the little things that can trip you up: keeping descriptions of people and places consistent, maintaining an accurate time line. The devil is truly in the details. If Jane has blue eyes in book one and hazel in book four, I guarantee your email account will zing with readers eager to point out the discrepancy. :) They know your books as well—or better—than you do.

Despite the drawbacks, it never occurred to me not to write the Guardian Witch books as a series. I knew from day one I loved the characters and Ari had a complex story to tell.

I strongly favor series in my own reading. What about you? What keeps you coming back to the same author and/or characters book after book?

Ally S.



Amazon         B & N         ARe        Kobo         iBookstore         Googleplay         Etopia Press


 
 

While you're waiting for the release of Wild Fire (Guardian Witch #6), I hope you'll enjoy this interview with Ari (fire witch), Andreas (vampire prince) and Gabriel (Andreas's second in command).

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Eddie West, crime reporter for Riverdale's Clarion newspaper, is writing an article on the O-Seven, the vampire elders, who keep dogging Ari and Andreas's steps. He's convinced Ari, Andreas and Gabriel to sit down and answer a few questions. They're gathered in Andreas's office at his supper club shortly after dark.


Eddie looks up from his notebook. "Thanks for doing this. I'll try not to keep you long. Let's start off with Andreas. Tell me who the O-Seven are."

Andreas (stretches out his long legs from his chair at the desk and gives Eddie a hooded look): "The first and oldest vampires. The original seven. Their background is mostly unknown, but they've been around and ruling the vampire world in Europe for thousands of years from a medieval castle in the black forest of Germany. Their whims are vampire law in that part of the world."

Eddie: "Can someone tell me their names?"

Gabriel (looks up from lounging on the leather couch): "Sure, I can do that, but don't ask me to spell them." He ticks them off on his fingers. "Bastian, Porbius, Lucris, Fiorosom, Anselm, Tannen, and the last one is Noapte."

Eddie: "They have a joint reputation for brutality. Ari, does that include every one of them?"

Ari (nods her head vigorously): "As far as I'm concerned, they're all vicious. They tried to kill Andreas, and I wouldn't be alive if we hadn't escaped from them and their hired killers on more than one occasion."

Gabriel (leans forward, earnest now): "But some are worse than others." He appealed to Andreas. "Wouldn't you agree?"

Andreas: "Two or three are more clever, more ambitious...and consequently more dangerous. None of them are to be taken lightly."

Eddie: "What supernatural things can that do that are beyond the abilities of other vampires?"

Andreas: "In most cases, it is a matter of degree. For instance, their mind control abilities are extremely enhanced, and Bastian is the master of them all in that area. They have other talents, but mostly those are kept hidden."

Gabriel: "When I lived at the elders' court, I heard rumors - teleportation, levitation, shapeshifting, calling various kinds of animals to do their bidding—but most of it was speculation. The elders guarded their secrets until they needed to use them…and their victims didn't survive to tell the rest of us. You have to understand, these guys aren't approachable. They're secretive, aloof. I doubt if even they know everything their fellow elders can do."

Eddie (looks at Ari): "So how do you fight them? It sounds impossible."

Ari: "So far we've managed to stay out of reach or used witchcraft or trickery. We've tried to be as secretive as they are. But I'm running out of ideas."

Eddie: "Why doesn't the German Magic Council or other law enforcement do something about them?"

Ari (gives a hands up shrug): "How? First of all, there is no German Magic Council, but the Witches's League over there has tried. The O-Seven is just too powerful. And human law enforcement wouldn't have a chance unless they sent in the military with bombs. Even then, they'd probably escape. Since the elders have mostly left humans alone, police have left the Otherworlders to fend for themselves. I can't really fault them."

Eddie (looks at all three of them): "How's this all end?"

Andreas lifts an eyebrow.  Gabriel shakes his head.

Ari: "Good question. Hopefully we figure it out before the series ends."


 
 
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Every Wednesday I interview authors, but today I'm giving the same treatment to my character, Arianna Calin, fire witch and guardian protector of Riverdale.

Good morning, Ari. I usually begin by asking my guests how they take their coffee.

ARI: Black and lots of it. Club Dintero makes a special blend that I love.

Ally:  While I'm filling our mugs, tell us about your job, your hours, your location.

ARI (sighs and sits back in her chair): I'm a cop. My bosses are the Riverdale Magic Council, and my office is in the Cultural Center, next to the Magic Hall. But I only have scheduled hours on Monday and Wednesday mornings. My main job is to keep the Otherworlders and humans in the Olde Town district from killing one another, and incidents can happen at any time of day or night. I work with Ryan, a human cop, on joint cases.

Ally:  What made you choose this work?

ARI (laughs): I didn't. It chose me. See this crescent moon birthmark on my ankle? Anyone born with that is destined to be a Guardian, and we're trained for the job from the time we can walk. Weaponry, martial arts, magic.

Ally: So you use magic in your work?

ARI: When I have to, but I prefer to use a knife or gun if humans are involved. Besides, magic makes Ryan uncomfortable. (grins.)

Ally: I know you said your love life is off limits in this interview, but we have to at least mention Andreas, the vampire in your life. What's it like being involved with someone who can't go out during the day?

ARI: It's gets inconvenient. More than once I've been waiting outside his door for him to wake when we need to be somewhere. But my hours are so flexible that I'm probably able to make the adjustment easier than most could. It helps that he has enough resistance to the sun to be up by mid-afternoon.

Ally: Let's try a few get-to-know-you, quick answer questions.
  • cake or pie? They're both okay, but I'm a sucker for chocolate brownies!
  • favorite season of the year:  Spring. It's fun to see the earth wake up each year.
  • mini skirts or jeans: jeans. (grins) Andreas would pick the mini-skirts.
  • dogs or cats: Two cats, Bella and Dona.
  • daily exercise: I try to run five miles every morning and patrol the town and park on foot every evening.
  • favorite color: It changes. This week I love blue. (points to her blue t-shirt)
  • last movie you watched: Since Friday was the 4th of July, we watched Independence Day for maybe the 100th time. One station was running a marathon. My favorite line: "Welcome to earth," as Will Smith punches the alien in the nose.
  • an item on your bucket list: to visit Italy with Andreas without the vampire elders trying to kill us.

Ally: Is there anything else we should know about you?

ARI: Nope. Why would you want to know anything about me? It's my job that's interesting. Maybe you should read the books. :)

Guardian Witch series:
                       Amazon: http://viewauthor.at/AllyShields
                       B&N: http://bit.ly/10tLGgm
                       Kobo: http://bit.ly/18unCxl
                       ARe: http://bit.ly/1gutLyl    


Watch for WILD FIRE (Guardian Witch Book Six) coming later this summer!

 
 
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The request I get most often... is to know more about Andreas, the main vampire in the Guardian Witch series. I'm hoping he'll share a part of his early history this morning, although it's a touchy subject for him--one hee was reluctant to share with Arianna. 

I turn to smile at him. "Thank you for agreeing to this interview." When he raises an eyebrow, I add, "Yes, I know I threatened to tell the story for you, if you didn't. So, set the scene for us, Andreas. Where were you and what was happening in your life when you were transformed into a vampire?"

The dark, attractive vampire is lounging in his office desk chair at Club Dintero. He gives me a narrowed eye look but answers easily enough. "I was in London in 1815, where I had been living for ten years until I was called home to Italy the year before upon the untimely death of my elder brother. It was my duty to assume control of the family estates." He sighs. "After several months, I hired a manager and returned to my life in London."

"But why? You inherited a position of wealth in a beautiful country."

He leans back, steepling his fingers. "It should not have been mine. My brother Luis had been groomed for the position. I was the younger son, well provided for by my father, but never intended to govern. It was a responsibility I did not want."

"You were close to your brother?"

"Yes."

"How did he die?"

"A hunting accident. His horse went one way over a barrier, Luis went the other. It was a typical death for a young bruising rider." The words are said in a monotone, and I don't pursue the details.

"So tell me about the vampiress, the one who sired you. How did you meet?" He hesitates, and I prod him. "Was it the old story of sexy vampire lures unsuspecting victim into a sexual encounter?"

That gets a response. "Not at all. I had been drinking with friends and was walking home in the early morning hours when I witnessed what I thought was the mugging of an elderly washer woman by two ruffians. I attempted to intervene but was overpowered by the three vampires."

When he didn't go on, I finished the story. "After the vampiress drained you, taking your life, she chose to share her own blood but left you in an ally."

His eyes flicker. "Yes. She was not the maternal type."

"Isn't that unusual, for vampires to abandon their newborns?"

He shrugs, and I can see that our conversation is nearly at an end for today.  "What was it like when you first woke as a vampire? Did you know what had happened?"

"Mostly it was terrifying. Unknown sensations and urges. It was days before I figured it out, and only after I ran into another of my kind." He glances pointedly toward the papers on his desk.

I try one last question. "Have you seen the vampiress since? Where is she now?"

His eyes flash a warning, and he picks up the top paper on his desk. "She is dead."

I take the hint and leave.

 
 
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      Ari Goes Shopping With Her BFFs

Ari may be a tough cop, but when you've had a bad day, there's nothing like a little shopping therapy. 
So Claris, Lilith, and Ari went shopping for new boots (and I tagged along). You can't imagine the dozens of open boxes and discards they left behind, but at the end of the day each of them had a new pair of boots. Out of the photos
* below can you identify the boots that each woman chose?

(For those of you who haven't yet read the Guardian Witch series, these characters are all in their mid to late twenties. Ari is a witch cop, Claris is a human who runs an herbal shop, and Lilith is a werelion security guard.)

They tried on tall boots...

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And short boots...
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Even some practical choices...
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#7
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#9
Designer boots...
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#10
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#12
Unique boots of all kinds...
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#15
When the last purchase was made, we were exhausted (and my feet hurt just looking at the height of some of those heels), but they were happy with their choices. 
Think you know who bought what? Try to guess first, then you can check your answers HERE.

                                                         Thanks for shopping with us!


(*Footwear images from www.1234f.com)
 
 
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                    Q & A on the Guardian Witch Series

I'm frequently asked about background issues in the series. Since many of these will never actually make it into the books or you might have missed the quick reference, I'm going to tackle some of those questions today.

Q:  What happened to Ari's ex-boyfriend?
 A:  If you're talking about her long-term relationship with Simon, the wizard, he cheated on her, and Ari dumped him. He was a teenage crush, and they eventually outgrew one another. She hasn't seen him in two years when the series starts, and I don't expect him to make an appearance in the books.

Q:  When and why did Andreas come to America? 
A:  He left Italy and came to America in 1845 when his failure to age could no longer be concealed. He was 29 when transformed to vampirism in 1815. By 1845, he should have looked 59. It's hard to convince people good genes could knock off that many years! :)

Q:  What happened to Ari's parents? 
A:  They were killed in a boat incident when she was six. The details have not been addressed in the series, but I'm still considering a short story or novella to reveal that event.

Q:  Will Ryan ever find a steady girl? 
A:  Wait and see. I intend to answer this question before the series is over.

Q:  Are Hernando and Bella just cats or familiars? 
A:  Maybe, maybe not.

Q:  Where are Ari's siblings? 
A:  She has a brother referred to as Robbie, and a sister, we only know as Sis. They are both married and raising families out of state. Neither is a practicing witch/warlock.

Q:  Where is Riverdale? 
A:  My fictional city was inspired by the resort town of Galena, Illinois. It is quite hilly, with old buildings, a Victorian mansion or two, horse drawn carriages, and antique stores in the tourist area. I made the town bigger and moved it onto the cliffs, over the vampire caverns!

Q:  Where can I explore the vampire caverns? 
A:  Only in my books! They are a compilation of dozens of caves I've visited, including Mark Twain Cave in Missouri and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

So there you have it. The insider information. Hope you enjoyed this series extra!

Thanks for stopping! I hope to see you again soon!