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Saying Sayonara to a Series

Congratulations to the book winners: Crystal Kendle, Sheri Supena, and Barbara Marquart!  Have a great weekend everyone!

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Though fictional characters live primarily in our minds and on the pages we read or write, they find their way into our hearts as well. And when characters have spanned a long-running series, it can be especially hard to let them go when a series wraps up.

My first published series, the Tara Holloway or “Death & Taxes” series, will end in October with the release of the final novel, Death, Taxes, and a Shotgun Wedding. When it’s all said and done, there will be have been 12 full-length novels and 3 digital novellas in the series. What’s more, I will have spent 15 years with these characters, having first created IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway and her gang of zany criminal investigators as an aspiring author in the early 2000’s.

Originally, the working title of what became my first published novel was Filing Status: Single. The book was intended to be a stand-alone novel, a one-off that would see Tara join the IRS, solve her first white-collar crimes in crazy and dangerous ways, and fall in love with a handsome guy with whom she’d live happily ever after. But when an agent suggested a first-time author might have an easier time selling a series, and that a series can be a great way to develop a base of loyal readers, I realized Tara had much more potential. I changed the name of the manuscript to Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure, conjured up a fun ensemble cast who could support Tara on her long-term exploits, and began to plot additional crime capers. A critique partner suggested a love triangle, which added additional intrigue.  

The rest, as they say, is history.  

When I landed my first publishing contract, I had no idea if Tara would last beyond those first three contracted books. As my publisher expanded the series by three more books, then another three, I wondered when the series would end and if I would know when it was time to wrap things up. I decided to use my reviews as an indicator but, rather than telling me the series was getting stale, reviewers remarked on my ability to keep things fresh despite the longevity of the series. But keeping things fresh was becoming more difficult, and the romantic plotline was reaching a logical conclusion. Other characters were parading around in my head, demanding to know when I’d tell their stories. I realized it was time to say goodbye. Fortunately, my editor and I were on the same page.

Though I know it’s time to send the Death & Taxes cast into the happily ever hereafter, ending the series is bittersweet, and I’ll never forget the feisty female crime-fighter who launched my writing career and made my dream of becoming an author a reality.

Share your thoughts about series! Do you like to read each book as it’s released, or do you prefer to wait until there’s several on the bookstore shelves and binge-read them? What are some of your favorite series? What’s a good release schedule for a series? Chime in for a chance to win one of three copies of Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure! Winners will be announced around 9 AM central time tomorrow morning on this blog.

For more information about the series, visit Diane Kelly website.

Follow me on Twitter at @dianekellybooks, and on Facebook at Diane Kelly Fan Page.

Thanks for stopping by!

68 responses to “Saying Sayonara to a Series”

  1. I like to wait until at least 3 books are available, then I’ll binge-read those. After that, I’m ok (depending on where the last book ended) to read them as they come.

    I read THE SELECTION, and I didn’t realize it was a series. It ends on a cliffhanger, and the next book didn’t come out for a year. Not happy about that.

    Congratulations on reaching the final book of the series. Did you share a tear or two when you typed THE END?

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  2. Dru Ann says:

    I love this series. I remember when I first discovered it and fell in love with Tara and her zaniness. I will miss her, but glad she gets her wedding.

    Don’t enter me in the contest as I have all the books in the series thus far.

    I love reading series and my favorite one is the “In Death” series by J.D. Robb, still going strong after 40+ books.

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  3. Karlene Barger says:

    I always love reading the first book of a wonderful new series and then following the ups and downs of the characters as they evolve in later books. Some examples: Them Bones (by Carolyn Haines), Dead Until Dark (by Charlaine Harris), First Grave on the Right (by Darynda Jones), Crocodile on the Sandbank (by Elizabeth Peters.)

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Me, too, Karlene! When we find characters we love and relate to, we want to cheer them on for many adventures. You’ve mentioned several great series. Darynda is a fellow Ruby!

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  4. (((HUGS)) Sister. Writing The End must have been terribly emotional. But congrats on completing the series. When does it come out?
    And what’s next for you?

    I so love your covers. Too Cute.

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  5. Donna Townsend says:

    This series is incredible! I so much enjoyed the characters and their adventures. The plots are so interesting and full some. I’m not ready to say goodbye but am glad you are fine with it and moving on. Will be looking for you inthe bookstores! I do enjoy discovering a series new-to-me and having lots of books to read to catch up. But I also cannot wait for each new addition and try to keep current.

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  6. Barbara Tobey says:

    Not a fan of bingeing, whether it be books or TV shows. Although when a finish a book in a series I am always eager for the next one.

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Anticipating the next release and having to wait can certainly make it even more fun!

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  7. Crystal kendle says:

    I love your books. They all have been do amazing. I can’t wait to read this one. Keep writing 🙂

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      I definitely will! It becomes a bit of an obsession. I go nuts when I haven’t been able to write for a few days. So glad you’ve enjoyed the books!

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  8. Becke says:

    Wow, Diane,
    I can’t believe it’s been that long. Our friendship started near the beginning of this series so I was floored when you gave the timeline. On the other time congratulations on its success. I loved fiesty Tara and her antics. I always thought your publisher did a good job with the covers and your titles were so catchy.
    What a great ride!
    B

    1+
    • Diane Kelly says:

      It’s been a fun ride, that’s for sure! I agree about my covers. The artists have done a top-notch job. And I’m so thankful for my writer friends like you who’ve been so supportive along the way!

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  9. Leslie says:

    I hate it when a series I love ends…but I guess it has to happen. But maybe Tara will come back in a novella or something?

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      I agree. A year can feel like forever between books! I too enjoy the faster production schedules these days.

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      I’m hoping to sneak her into some cameos in the other books. Always fun to do that as an “Easter egg” for readers to find.

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  10. Joanne Kocourek says:

    You have in ester significant time and talent in this series! It is hard to say goodbye to old friends. I’m glad you will be starting a new venture. I like to start series at the beginning but will go back and read other books when well written. Dependent on the series time frames can be long or short. I will admit I hate having to wait a year for additional books. My favorite authors typically release additional books every 2-3 months.

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Hi, Joanne, I’m glad publishers have gone to faster release schedules, too. When it’s too long between books it’s hard to keep track of the more subtle threads. But it’s a good excuse to re-read those favorites!

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  11. Cecilia says:

    This has been my favorite series! I love reading each book as it becomes available. I can’t pick a favorite though because they have all been great!! I will be sad to see Tara go but I’m really excited for the next series. I’m enjoying your K9 adventures series too!!

    I didn’t start JD Robb’s “In Death” series until 2 years ago. I enjoyed reading those books from the beginning. I do binge read when I’m late to start a series.

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Thanks, Cecilia! I’ve found writing two different series allows me to work on a book for one of them while letting an idea for the other series percolate for a while. It keeps things fun for me to get to go back and forth. Sounds like you like that, too! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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  12. Sheri Supena says:

    No no say it isn’t so! Death & Taxes have been some of my favorite chick-lite books!!! I will truly miss these characters. Sure hope they have a happy ending….one that you might decide to pick up again in the future perhaps! Thanks for all the laughs!
    (And my reading habits vary – love to binge read when finding a new series but when I get closer to the last one that’s available I like to savor it on my to-read shelf for awhile waiting for the perfect time to start it).

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Hi, Sheri,

      Sounds like you’ve got a great system worked out! A little bit of binging, but some savoring, too. That’s a healthy ready habit. : )

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  13. Darynda Jones says:

    You and me, both, Diane! After numerous books, novellas and short stories, #13 will be the last Charley book, though I am hoping to do a spinoff.

    It’s such a bittersweet thing to do, bringing a series to an end. I had all of your concerns as well and then some. Trepidation is a great adjective to describe how I felt. But also a tiny sense of, “Wow. I can do something else, now. This might be very cool.”

    Cheers to a wonderful, fun, sexy series. I will miss Tara but I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve for us next.

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  14. Congratulations, Sister Diane, on a long and lovely run with Tara. And double fist bump that The End came so organically. What a wonderful show of respect for your characters AND your readers. Good thoughts on the next leg of the journey!

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    • Ken Bass says:

      Love these type of books; even though I’m a guy. Two questions: How do you, as a writer, know when to finish a series? May I be entered in the contest (I followed a link about it) to win a book? Please. Wishing you future prosperity no matter what career (or book writing) path takes you.

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      I feel lucky that it wound up so well. Not too long and not too abruptly. And Tara will definitely go out with a “bang!” ha ha

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  15. Penny Mettert says:

    I don’t need to binge read a series, but sometimes I get impatient waiting for the next one. 😉

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Hi, Penny,

      Patience isn’t one of my virtues when it comes to books, either! ha ha When we want the next one, we want it NOW! : ) Good luck in the drawing!

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  16. Lori says:

    A new series to read. Excited to start.

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  17. Elaine Roberson says:

    If it is an established series that I have just discovered, I will read a couple to catch up with the series. But I don’t like to binge read a series. I like to mix up my reading. But once I find a series that I really like, I continue to follow that author. I’m not familiar with your series, but it sounds like a series that I would enjoy.

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      If you want to get a sample for free, check out the “Cozy Case Files” samplers for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. My publisher put them out with samples of both of my series (as well as books by many other fun authors). Also, some of the novellas in the series are only $1.99. What a deal! Good luck when I draw tomorrow!

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  18. Nettie says:

    To start, I love the series. I was hooked on one book of the series and then I had to read the previous books and followed the series. Of course, waiting impatiently for the next to be published. I inteoduced my family to the series by serving Peach Sangria, a family favorite!

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  19. Michelle DeLand says:

    Hi there! It all depends on when I start the series. If I start as the series is starting then I just read as they come out. If I start after a couple are out I will read to catch up and then as they come out. I have started and read more series that way. And I love reading series, Finding out more about the characters.

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      I’m a huge series fan, too. Even when it’s a series that might focus on a locale or theme, like DD Ayres dog series, which features different characters in each book but a dog plays prominently in each of them. So many ways to do a series!

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  20. Dianne Casey says:

    I like reading series and I like starting with the first book in the series. If it’s a new series I try to read the books as their released. If I get interested in reading a book in an existing series, I will binge read the books in ordeD

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Great name, Dianne! I see you got the extra N. ; ) I especially love binging when I’m on a long road trip or having a weekend to myself. Good luck in the drawing!

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  21. Amanda Wilcox says:

    I haven’t read this series but it looks great and I love having so many to look forward to. Characters definitely grow on you after that long. There are a couple of series that I love and wish the places and people were real. They would just be good people to be around…aside from them finding dead bodies a lot. 😉

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      I’ve had that same wish, Amanda-that I could step into some of the fictional worlds in my favorite series. But I’m with you on the dead bodies. Eek!

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  22. Diane Kelly says:

    Yep, they did a fantastic job with the covers. Loved all of them! Time certainly does fly! We were just kids back when we met . . . : )

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  23. Diane Kelly says:

    I’m a fan of the faster release schedules too! A year is a !ong time to wait.

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  24. Linda says:

    Oh, wow, I’m going to miss this series – it’s one of my favorites.

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  25. Naomi Sifuentes says:

    Omg, of course I am so sad. I love reading about Tara and from time to time I find myself with the itch to read the series again and when it hits I have to do it, even when I’m in the middle of another series. I had given Stephanie Plum another go and was at book 23 when Tara came to mind (probably bc Stephanie is a dunce and Tara is intelligent) and I put down that book down and started on your book one.
    I am sad to her go although I understand the reason. I have lived the series and can’t wait to continue reading more of your work.
    When I’m watching a tv show, I like to binge, when I’m reading a book, I will re-read the series every time a new part comes out.

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  26. Barbara Marquart says:

    Once I find a series I enjoy, I eagerly await each new book in the series and read them right away. It is nice to find a series after several books have been released so I can binge read. Sad that this series is ending as I love reading about Tara and the gang but I’m sure your next series will be just asuch fun.
    I’m currently reading “Enforcing the Paw.”

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  27. Kay Hudson says:

    Diane, I would be sadder to see the last Tara novel (which I have pre-ordered, BTW) if I didn’t have Megan and Brigit to enjoy. I do hope Tara will make an occasional guest appearance over there. I’ve been known to binge on series books, but I’ve also been known to save the last one (or even two) because I don’t want to get to the end.

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Thanks, Kay! I feel the same way – I’d have a harder time letting Tara go if I wasn’t also so embroiled in Megan and Brigit’s world. Juggling two series definitely has some advantages. Hope to see you in Orlando this week!

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  28. Angie Froglia says:

    I found your series a few years ago, and I’m in love! I have read each book as it comes out, ordering pre-orders there and there and adding the rest to my wish list. I absolutely love your books!!

    I’m a big fan of a great series. If you hook me in with a great book time after time, I’ll come back always.

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  29. Brittany says:

    I LOVE Tara and am sad to see her go, but I’m excited about other characters, too!

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  30. lisa says:

    I enjoy series, esp if I read them in order or if they make note that they don’t nec need to be read in order. I enjoy series (like Taxes) that have fun chapter titles; I read it when I get to the chapter, but then I go back and reread the chapter title after I read the chapter, and it usually solicits an extra chuckle. For series, I like when the publisher puts the # on the cover or in the synopsis on the back; otherwise, if I’m in the library, I have to try and guess the order by publication date, else hop on the www to actually look up the order to see which to get first. Finally, I enjoy a series that knows when it’s over. Some go on too long. Sorry to see Tara go…thought she had a few more stories to tell, but there’s always Paw Enforcement

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  31. Vivi Andrews says:

    I love series, especially binge reading them, but I do sometimes get series fatigue and drift away when they go on forever. I’m impressed by your ability to gauge the right moment to close it out. Congrats on your final Tara adventure and all the new opportunities to come! 🙂

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Thank you, Vivi! Yep, knowing when it’s time can be a challenge, but this one seemed pretty clear, fortunately. And I’m super psyched about the new series I’m working on.

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  32. Marilyn says:

    It must be hard to let a character go although in Agatha Christie’s case she had to kill Poirot… drastic measures so people didn’t keep begging I guess. I like to read them as they come out although once several are out and I find the series for the first time it is fun to get some cheese and crackers and settle in and just read. Those characters in your head sound like fun too.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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    • Diane Kelly says:

      Good point! I remember when the Walking Dead TV show killed off a beloved character and viewers were begging to have her be resurrected. Of course that could only work in a zombie show! ha ha Thanks for stopping by!

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