I’m excited to continue this year on the CRAFT OF WRITING BLOG by focusing on authors who write series. Last month I interviewed an author writing his first series. This month I’ve gone to the other end of the spectrum, and I’m interviewing a master craftsman in the series-writing area, Patricia Bradley.

Patricia has written three series, and is currently working on the first book in a fourth, so she has a wealth of information and advice for the rest of us.

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Once again, we’ll do a drawing for a beautiful hand-crafted pen made by my good friend, author and craftsman, Steve Hooley. (Look for Steve’s comment about the history of the pen in today’s post.)

The name of each person who enters a comment today will be put into the drawing, and I will post the name of the winner after 9 o’clock pm CDT tonight. So join the conversation and earn a chance to win. Many thanks to Steve for donating the pen for today’s post.

Former winners are excluded from the drawing. (But not from commenting!)

Multiple award-winning and best-selling author Patricia Bradley shares her insights for writing series on The Craft of Writing Blog. Click To Tweet

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Welcome back to the Craft of Writing blog, Patricia Bradley, and thank you for joining us!

Thank you for inviting me! I love being on your blog.

What was your first series, and why did you decide to write it?

My first series was the Logan Point series, and Shadows of the Past is the first book in it. In fact it is my first published book and when I wrote it, I wasn’t thinking series. I was thinking, God, just one book…that’s all I’m asking. That shows how great our God is—I was thinking one, He was thinking three, which is what my first ever contract was for. I sent in two paragraphs describing what the other two books would be about and they accepted them. Then they added a fourth book.

I will add that none of the other books ended up being what I submitted. As I wrote one book, a minor character would demand to have their own story instead of the one I proposed. But my editor was fine with that.

As for why I wrote that first book, I’d taken a break from writing fiction in 2001 to work fulltime in the abstinence program. While there, I co-wrote an abstinence curriculum and a workbook, and never had a fiction thought in those eight years. Once those tasks were completed, I cut back to part time, and one day a woman popped in my head and told me someone was trying to kill her. I was ecstatic that I could kill people again…well figuratively.  And that was the first book in the Logan Point Series.

Can you tell us about the other series you’ve written?

After Gone Without a Trace, the third Logan Point book, my editor asked if I wanted to send in a proposal for another series. Is the sky blue??? I love cold cases and proposed a four-book series set in Memphis, and my editor accepted, and the Memphis Cold Case Novels were born. Again, I went off script and used only one of the ideas in the proposal.

When I proposed my third series, The Natchez Trace Park Rangers Series, I envisioned writing a story set around the Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee part of the Natchez Trace, but my editor fell in love with the idea of it being set in Natchez. Not a problem. I’d never been to Natchez and I immediately thought Research Trip!  I visited Natchez four times, loving every minute.

You’re beginning a fourth series now. Tell us what this one is about.

The Pearl River Series is set in the Cumberland Plateau near Chattanooga. I love the mountains and was familiar with the area since my sister lives near Chattanooga. Alexis Stone is a detective in Chattanooga when the first book, Counter Attack, begins. Her goal is to become Chattanooga’s first female chief of police, but takes a temporary (she thinks) side road to Pearl Springs in Russell County, after her grandfather, Sheriff Carson Stone, has a heart attack. He asks her to become his chief deputy. Here’s the back cover copy:

No sooner has Alexis Stone been sworn in as the interim sheriff for Russell County, Tennessee, when a serial killer dubbed the Queen’s Gambit Killer strikes again–this time in her hometown. Pearl Springs is just supposed to be a temporary stop along the way to Alex’s real dream: becoming the first female police chief of Chattanooga. But the killer’s calling card–a white pawn and a note with a chess move printed on it–cannot be ignored.


Pearl Springs chief of police Nathan Landry can’t believe that his high school sweetheart Alexis (he refuses to call her Alex) is back in town, and he can’t help wanting to protect the woman he never stopped loving. But as the danger mounts and the killer closes in, can Nathan come through on the promises he makes to himself to bring a killer to justice before it’s too late.

I’m now working on the third book in this series, and I’m talking with my agent about where to set the next one, assuming my publisher will want another series from me. I already have a heroine in mind and she’s an investigative reporter and a minor character in the Pearl River series.

How do you keep a series fresh after readers become familiar with the stories?

I’m not sure I have the answer to that question. After Counter Attack, each book features different protagonists with the characters in Counter Attack playing secondary roles, so the reader becomes acquainted with new characters. And every book has a different crime.

How do you handle the situation where a reader jumps into the middle of a series without reading the first book?

All of my books are stand-alones, although there are spoilers in the later books. A stand-alone is a book that doesn’t require a reader to have knowledge provided in a previous book. Each of my series is connected mostly by the setting, and I think it helps that there is a fresh crime to be solved with different characters.

What advice would you give an author who’s considering writing a series?

Keep a series bible with the pertinent information about each character and the setting. I write in Scrivener, and the program has all the characters where it is easy to look back and check details like eye color, age, that sort of thing. Before I had Scrivener, I had a spread sheet where I kept that information, but that meant I had to leave my writing page to go look it up unless I’d printed it out. Which I never seemed to remember to do.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

You can find out more about me on my two websites: and, where I have blog twice a week. On Tuesdays I have a mystery question for my readers to figure out, and on Fridays I blog about books I’ve recently read. I also blog at Christians Read and the Suspense Sisters.

And you can find me at these social media sites:

Twitter: @ptbradley1





Thank you, Patricia, for being with us today.

Thanks for having me! It was fun.

Multiple award-winning and best-selling author Patricia Bradley shares her insights for writing series on The Craft of Writing Blog. Click To Tweet


USA Today best-selling author, Patricia Bradley is the recipient of numerous awards, including an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in suspense, a Selah suspense winner. She was a Carol and a Daphne du Maurier finalist. Her romantic suspense novels include the Logan Point series, the Memphis Cold Case Novels, and the Natchez Trace Park Rangers. She is now hard at work on the third book in her new Pearl River series set in the Cumberland Plateau area above Chattanooga. The first book in the series, Counter Attack was released May 16, 2023. The second book, Fatal Witness, releases on February 6, 2024.
Patricia Bradley teaches writing workshops and has been the keynote speaker at several writing conferences. She and her two cats call Northeast Mississippi home–the South is also where she sets most of her books, and when she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.






  • Loved this interview and peek into Patricia’s writing process. (She’s so talented!)

  • Aww, thank you Vera!

  • Thank you, Kay, for inviting me to your blog! It’s a lovely place.

  • Great post, Kay and Patricia.

    Your comments on handling a series are very helpful, Patricia. I look forward to exploring your books.

    Kay asked me give a little history on the wood and the pen (1815 Left Behind Walnut). Here is what I have on my website. I apologize for it being so lengthy.

    In the early 1950s, a Logan County, Ohio, farmer harvested a grove of large walnut trees for veneer. The logs were 11’-12’ long and 2′-3′ in diameter, but the veneer mill could only handle logs up to 8’ in length. The small ends of the logs were cut off and milled into 1” thick boards and stored in an old wood shed, but they sat unsold for thirty years.

    In the early 1980s, the farmer learned of my interest in woodworking and invited me to take a look at his treasure trove of walnut. I didn’t have the space or the money, but I couldn’t resist seeing the wide boards he described. The dilapidated shed looked like it was ready to fall down, but inside stacks of 24-36”-wide lumber, 3-4 feet long filled the space. I stood in awe and amazement. I had never seen such wide walnut boards. I could afford to buy only a couple of the stacks. I made shelves and cabinets for my son, then the remainder of the lumber sat in a corner to gather dust for another 40 years.

    When I began working on the legacy pen series, I remembered the walnut hidden in the corner. I did the math for the average age of walnut trees with this width of boards. (It worked out to 135 years.) This dated the trees at around 1815 (1950 – 135 years). The age of the trees would have been older if I had been able to measure the butt end of the logs.

    The lumber had been left behind twice, once by the veneer buyer, and a second time by me. Thus, I name the pen “Left Behind Walnut,” and symbolized that with the two rings burned into the pen barrel.

    If you are the winner, I hope you enjoy the pen!

    • Good morning, Steve, and thank you for that wonderful explanation of the history of the “Left Behind Walnut” pens. I loved reading it.

      And thank you again for your craftsmanship and for donating the pen for a lucky winner today.

  • Patricia, loved your comment: “I was ecstatic that I could kill people again.” 😀 😀 😀
    I know your work is usually character-driven and that you use Scrivener. How much outlining and plotting do you do? If you are a plotter, are your outlines detailed or more of an overview to keep your focus or somewhere between? If you are a pantser, how often and how deep is the revising you find necessary?

    • Good morning, Rachel, and thanks for your insightful questions.

    • Hi Rachel. I started out a plotter and gradually slid over to the panster side. Which poses a problem when my publisher wants a one-page synopsis of my story, especially if I haven’t even begun the story. lol

      At least with the book I’m working on now, I had 13,000 words when they asked for the synopsis. Writing the synopsis at this point helped me to visualize the story and triggered a plot twist I hadn’t even considered. I’m still not certain who the villain will be…

  • Fascinating interview, Kay. Thank you, Patricia

  • I can’t stress how important a series bible is. I have 4 series, and by the time I realized they were series, not stand alones, I was overwhelmed by the thought of creating a bible for 4, 5, or 8 books. I have a spreadsheet for names, but the closest I have to a bible is notes I copy and paste for things that show up in a subsequent book.

    • I feel your pain, Terry. I didn’t start using Scrivener until the middle of my second series–The Memphis Cold Case Novels–and I had notes everywhere. At least I had the foresight to put them in a notebook I kept for each book.

      • I tried MANY times to get into Scrivener. Books, tutorials, in person classes … just didn’t work for me. I’ve stuck with Word, and it’s working fine. If there was a way to use ONLY the corkboard without having to have a manuscript to connect it to, that would be all I’d need. A foamcore board and post it notes works fine, and it’s portable.

    • Morning, Terry. I agree with you about keeping at least a record of names. When I wrote the second book in my series, I inadvertently changed the name of one of the detectives! Fortunately, I caught the error before I sent the book to beta readers.

  • debbieburkewriter

    Wonderful interview, Patricia. I’m glad your editor recognized great stories, even though they weren’t in your original proposals, and gave you the leeway to follow through.

    Looking forward to reading the Natchez Trace series–an intriguing location.

    Thanks, Kay, for hosting Patricia.

  • Barbara D’Antoni Diggs

    Good interview, Pat. I got in a chuckle or two as well as learned something new. I didn’t realize you used Scrivener.

    Thanks Kay, for hosting Pat and also for having Steve give the history on the “Left Behind Walnut” pens. Always fun to learn new facts.

  • Thank you so much, I loved reading this interview! Have a great week.

  • Thank you for a very interesting interview. I was really amused by the line “I was thinking one, He was thinking three … Then they added a fourth book.” It recalled Douglas Adams and his trilogy of five.
    And thanks for sharing great stories!

  • Yes, for marketing purposes, a series is far superior to stand-alone works. But I dread the idea of writing a series. As a result, my books are each a different genre: (1) a coming-of-age novella, (2) a dystopian work, (3) a high fantasy, (4) a picaresque work, (5) a WWII thriller. WIP includes (6) a postapocalyptical work, (7) a mystery/western/romance. I’ve got a title for a sequel to the novella and an introduction to the fantasy sequel, but have not taken either one further. Non-fiction is currently taking up most of my writing time.

    • Hello JG! I see in you a fellow experimentalist! I admire the breadth of your reach.

      Glad you stopped by.

    • Wow, JG, you have quite a few to choose from! I find a series easier to write because I already have the setting and know some of the characters.

  • Patricia is one of my favorite authors! I’ve heard her say before that she may kill people but she kills them nicely. LOL!

  • Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment on today’s post, and a special thank you to Steve Hooley for supplying this great gift and to Patricia Bradley for being my guest today.

    I listed all the people who commented today who were eligible to win, and gave each of them a number that corresponded with the order that they commented in. Here’s the list:

    1 Rachel Hills
    2 Terry Whalin
    3 Terry Odell
    4 Barbara Diggs
    5 Alicia Haney
    6 Jan Lerner
    7 J Guenther
    8 Tracy Crump

    Then I ran a random integer generator to pick a number between 1 and 8. The number that came up was 3. Congratulations to Terry Odell for winning the pen!

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