Basically, a book series generally comes from three possible sources-- a family, a community (i.e. town or region), or a large, underlying problem where it takes more than one book to resolve. Of course, a series can have all three elements but often with one emphasized.
At least where it comes to romances, the series with an underlying problem has each book wind up its own story, find a satisfactory stopping point, but the overall situation is not resolved until the last in the series. I wrote such a book in Diablo Canyon where each of the three novellas revealed more of what was really going on. Each story had its own romance and stood alone, but if the reader wanted to follow what it was all about in the end, it took going to the end. An author I like, Patricia Veryan, used this in her Regency novels where an underlying English conspiracy was being tracked through each of the individual romances. She also had families, friends, and a common locale-- England.
If the romance writer uses a community, they can make it fictional (convenient as nobody can come along and say that wasn't that way) or a real locale, whether today or in the past. The author visualizes it, may create a street map, figures out who will populate it, and then brings it to life, making readers want to spend time there. Within this community will be many secondary characters and always a hero and heroine, who may shift from story to story or be the same as they face new adventures.
Amazon latched onto this idea of a community by giving authors (of any genre) an opportunity to create an Amazon World, where new writers may set their own stories, using some of the original author's characters. Leave it to Amazon to find ways to get readers buying books. Don't underestimate the draw of the community for those who would love to live somewhere, even if only in their imaginations.
My books do have an important locale, but at their core is the family and that might be of kin or adoption. I find family relationships fascinating to explore, both the negative and positive sides. I like how we adopt into our adult families those who aren't by kin but are by soul. Some believe we reincarnate in soul pods, which fits with how someone comes along who just seems to belong to us.
My new book, Bound for the Hills, is the seventh of the Arizona historicals, with common locales and continuing characters with the other books. It is set in a real place which required real research. It also is set into a time period that impacts the story and the family-- 1905.
Some times in history have more change and can have those living then feeling as though nothing stays the same. The dawning of the 1900s was that way for the United States. The day of the outlaws, the way of the Old West was being displaced by new ways and people-- progress dontchaknow. Recently I watched a documentary, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on Netflix, and felt good about how well my research held up. Territories were becoming states or struggling to be. Civilization pushed some out for others to take over. Technology was about to change even more as the horse gave way to the automobile. One of the themes of Bound for the Hills is change for the characters on a personal and community level.
For locale, the book travels between the Mazatzals (Central Arizona) and Tucson. It follows the love story of the third Taggert brother and his unlikely romance. It is about friendship, family, and ethics. This one was fun, having the heroine an author, which led to some tasty bits about the literature of its time.
I love the book. Of course, I do, as if I didn't love writing a book, I'd be deleting it from my hard-drive. For me writing is about doing something for which I have a passion. I always hope readers will find the same thing.
Blurb for Bound for the Hills:
Needing new inspiration, answers to a mystery, and healing from the death of her father, English professor, Wilhelmina Butler heads for the high country of Arizona and a log cabin. In the Mazatzals, Willy hopes to write the great American novel, something she can be proud of, unlike the very successful dime novels she has been publishing under a pseudonym. The lake cabin will give her all she could dream and a lot more.
Asked by his worried sister-in-law, Holly, to check on her college friend, Cole Taggert assumes her friend is a naive idiot to head into the wilderness with little idea how to survive its dangers. Then he sees her swimming in the lake, and Willy’s life isn’t the only one about to get redirected.
Bound for the Hills travels from the Mazatzals to Tucson and explores not only the land but the human heart. It brings together the Taggert brothers as they face a deadly enemy, and their women work to build the kind of life where their children can grow up safer than their fathers did.
Spicy with some violence and strong language, Bound for the Hills is the seventh Arizona historical, a love story for the 'Last' Taggert.