(prepare yourself for infite fangirl mode) (are you ready?) (I love this series)
This series fits the perfect balance of clean fiction, hard topics, intense action, Christian themes, and entirely lovable-to-the-max characters. I read the first few in a row, and then have been reading the others as they come out. My siblings helped me complete the series in paperback, just in time for the new release. 😉
(Can we appreciate the gorgeous colors of this cover??!) This one is set in my home state, which was absolutely fabulous and made me connect to the high stakes of this one a lot more. Some tougher life topics are handled in this one, but with so much grace.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, yessssss. Also some scenes that made me declare this probably a favorite of the series, though I probably say that about each one at some point in time, so my fangirlness cannot be trusted. 😛
Another gorgeous cover, and they look absolutely adorable, arrrghhh. (Sorry, the shipping just gets worse.) This one was a gamechanger, for better or worse, depending on what you think of some bold story choices. It was so tragic but so healing, and I’m happy to have read it.
Better come soon!!! *does fangirl grabby hands*
Have you read this series? Which book is your favorite?
Remember that really good advice Sarah Holman gave us in her interview? I asked her to share her tips for writing a series, and here they are! I’ll definitely be taking some notes…
Who doesn’t love a series where you get to see the characters you love over and over again? I know that when I adore a character, I always wish the author would write about that character forever.
As a writer, creating a series is a huge undertaking. Here are ten of my best tips for those brave authors who embark on this rewarding and daunting journey.
1. Make a plan for your series. This doesn’t have to be a detailed plan with every plot point of every book. Just sketch out the overall plot and character arcs along with an idea of what part of those will end up in each book. This will help keep you on track throughout the writing process.
2. Be willing for the plan to change. While making a plan is important, you might find that your plans have to be adjusted as your series grows. After all, as you delve deeper into the plot and characters, you might discover new twists and turns. Just update wherever the document that holds your plan so you have a reference to what’s going on. This will help you see how the series itself might have to change to fit the new developments.
3. Create a cast of compelling characters. For any story to work, your reader has to like the main characters, even if it’s just a little bit. So, give your reader compelling characters they can feel connected to. While each character will be unique, here are some basic “molds” for compelling characters.
Someone caught between two worlds and doesn’t fit into either.
The leader/protector who’s separated from people because of their responsibility.
The full of life and adventurer who has little to nothing to ground them.
The caring person who’s passionate about their vocation/situation in life, and it makes them a bit of a hothead at times.
The feeler who often withdraws because their emotions can be overwhelming.
The genius who can sometimes be misunderstood, but often holds the solution to the problem if people will listen.
The faithful one who’s there for everyone, and quietly does their job/is a support without many people realizing what is going on in their lives/hearts.
The lovable grump who often has a hard past/hard life that makes them prickly, but they have many redeeming qualities for those who choose to look.
This is not an exhaustive list, but some starter ideas to get your creative juices moving.
4. Let your characters grow and change. There is a verse in the Bible that says man makes his plans, but God’s purposes prevail. Well, in writing an author makes his plans, but sometimes characters have a different purpose. This happened to me while writing the Kate series. Kate changed a lot from what I thought she would be at given points in the series. I think that how she changed was good, even though it wasn’t in my plan. Be willing to let your characters grow and change beyond the original plan.
5. Have long-term issues that aren’t solved in book one. You want to keep your readers needing the next book. In the Kate’s Case Files series, one of the ways I did this is have Kate have a past that’s murky. It leaves the readers wanting the next book to see if I finally tell them what it’s all about. Also, I have personal growth and change in her and other characters that isn’t fixed at the end of the book. Readers what to know if those two characters ever get together, if this character learned their lesson, and why that other character is acting the way they are.
Readers what to know if those two characters ever get together, if this character learned their lesson, and why that other character is acting the way they are.
~ Sarah Holman
6. Have plot points in every book that ARE resolved. You don’t want your reader to finish each book in a series without feeling some things are resolved. They need closure with each story in some aspect. It might be the case the character is investigating, a personal issue that’s brought up, or finally revealing information. Cliffhangers can be fine, but should be used sparingly.
7. Plan running jokes, phrases, and settings that pull things together. Especially in a book that runs more than three books, you want to give your readers things that pull them right back into the action. You need to have characters with unique phrases, recurring settings to help keep their bearings, and even inside jokes that they can chuckle over. This will help pull your reader into back into the story, even if they set aside the series for a while.
8. Give new tidbits every book. Your reader needs to feel progress is made in the overall story plot. For instance, in Kate’s Case Files, I make a big deal in book 1 about Kate’s murky past. I don’t just keep reminding my reader she hasn’t shared about it yet; they get tidbits about what it might be and clues that she’s getting closer to sharing. We also learn more about the characters in every book so our understanding of them grows with each story.
9. Keep a document of facts that you can reference. It’s easy to think that you’ll remember a character’s eye color, last name, or how many siblings they have. However, sometimes those details get forgotten. Make a document or grab a notebook and note down details as you go. Character worksheets can also help with this. If it’s an ongoing detail, write it down.
10. Have fun! Make sure this is something that you will enjoy. Writing a series can be quite an effort, so you want characters, settings, and plots that interest you and you can have fun with for months and maybe even years to come.
I pre-ordered this book and gobbled it up just days after it released. It was definitely worth waiting for. 😍
Kate and the team head to Maine to assess the possibility of a terrorist cell operating near a college campus. She has to help decide whom to trust, who’s a danger, and who’s just spouting empty threats. Of course, things are never as easy as they look, including the battles she’s facing in her own heart.
Struggling to untangle the threads of this case, Patrick finds his personal feelings clouding his judgment. With the stakes so high, he can’t get it wrong. But when the case takes a sudden turn, he knows he and the team will never be the same. (from Goodreads)
My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
It’s been a bit since the last book, so I was over the moon excited for this one! I just completed my collection of the first five in paperback, and I can’t wait to add this one to the shelves. ❤️
I slipped back in easily to this world and the characters, and any important details I forgot were included seamlessly. The team was quite lovable, as always. I enjoyed the further character development of Brian and Logan especially, and my boys Thomas and Patrick have some big things to work through. I’m looking forward to seeing what shakes out with Kim too.
Kate was so great undercover in this one! She’s getting to be quite the natural. 👏👏 I’ve heard there’s ten books confirmed for the series in all, so I’m very excited to see where the story continues to take her.
This book had even more gravity and emotional depth than I’ve previously seen from the author, and I could feel that she poured her heart into it. I especially loved how the characters and readers were given space to feel the impact of some pretty big changes. Definitely good writing there. 😭👏
Best quotes: Thomas cleared his throat. “Brian, you’re going to play the part of a college dropout, a bum, a purposeless nobody who has just arrived to Orono.” “And with cutting words like that,” Brian said, putting a hand to his head, “I’ll have very low self-esteem when I get there.”
Maybe, this time, evil had won.
CW: terrorism, injuries (some descriptions of blood, not detailed), death. A nuanced discussion of Islamophobia.
Altogether, I will be reading book 7 the very second it comes out, because #cliffhanger 😳
UPDATE: Congratulations to Amelia S. for winning the giveaway! Thank you everyone who entered.
Today we get to catch up with one of my absolute favorite indie authors, Sarah Holman, and I couldn’t be more excited. 💛
Welcome back, Sarah! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi Kate! It’s so fun to be back here!
Nine months ago, I married my best friend and moved to the big city. I’m loving married life more than words can say. It’s pretty amazing to be married to Scott, who’s been my best friend for years. It’s worth it even if I do miss living in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve been an avid reader from a young age and started writing down my own stories around eleven. I love writing and sharing the truths God teaches me in a story form. I’m passionate about encouraging my fellow believers, especially my sisters in Christ, through stories and in my life.
When not reading or writing. I can often be found hiking at Texas State Parks with my husband, hanging out with my awesome family (both the one I was born into and the one I married into), or working on some sort of craft project.
Congrats on your latest release, Kate’s Informant! May we have a brief introduction?
Of course! In this story, the team members are trying to determine if the threat of terrorism is real or just talk. As in real life, they struggle with sorting who is telling the truth and who is telling lies – who’s a friend and who’s a foe.
As a loyal fan of the Kate’s Case Files series, I’m always excited to hear more about the series. What is your inspiration for it, and what are your long-term plans?
The original inspiration was Sue Thomas FBEye, which was a pretty cool show based on a true story of a deaf woman who went to work for the FBI. I also wanted to write a series that delved into how complicated friendships and relationships can be, but still be good.
My long-term plans are to get the next book out ASAP (I’m working on a rewrite at the moment). I have a total of 10 books planned in the series and my hope is to have the last book come out in late 2023 sometime. We shall see if life cooperates with that goal.
What other projects, writing or otherwise can you share about right now?
I have a lot of fun projects in the works. I’m currently editing my epistolary novella I wrote for my newsletter readers and plan to put it on Kindle Vella. I’m also hoping to release my 4th of July story that was part of A Very Bookish 4th of July last year on its own in the next couple of weeks. Also in the works is the next A Very Bookish collection and a new story for my newsletter subscribers.
How long have you been an author? What advice would you give to newer/breakout authors?
I started writing when I was 11 which was twenty-one years ago. I published my first book in 2011. Time flies!
Here are my best pieces of advice for writers:
Read all the time – both fiction and non-fiction
Be willing to see some of your work as unpublishable stepping stones. You probably won’t write an amazing story on the first try (or maybe even the 5th time). Keep writing and improving.
Find people who will be encouraging and honest with you about your stories. You want people to both build you up, but also help you improve.
Most of all, stay connected to The Author. God is writing your life story. You want to make sure you are listening to Him.
What is your favorite way you’ve seen God work in a seemingly ordinary moment?
Ooo, what an awesome question, but a hard one. It happens so often. I think maybe it’s when someone finishes one of my stories and then tells me how God used it in their life. Or maybe it’s when I share something God has been working on in my life and it impacts someone else. Or maybe it’s the conversations I’ve been able to have with others just because of a simple act of kindness.
I love this answer. Thank you so much for coming!
Thank you for having me. This has been so much fun!
In honor of her newest release, Sarah is giving away two (2) signed paperback copies from her Kate’s Case Files series! Winner gets to choose from books 1 – 5. (Alternate international prize is audiobook codes.)