#OpenBook Building a Stand Alone Universe, Connecting Characters

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Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

One of the great things about storytelling is that the worlds that authors create can be as simple or involved and complex as they want. Although I have some stories with less porous worlds, I do like to have some characters show up in other plots, which can be important in the romance genre.

Many romance readers end up falling in love with characters in a book, wanting to see more of them. I developed a series based on the desire for readers’ requests to see more of one character or another. I initially wrote the book Open to Love as one book, when beta readers asked me to also tell the stories of secondary characters Tarika and Aqil. I also got feedback asking what the deal was with Rahma. I hit the keyboard and framed the Open to Love series. Queen of the Castle joined book one, and book three is coming soon.

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While each book treats readers to a steamy standalone, the depth of the characters required that I give readers more. Sometimes the connection happens that organically.

Similarly, the Brothers in Law series started with one story, Simon and Regina’s. The strength of Marcus and Toni’s characters resulted in readers hitting me up for their story. I decided to connect the two stories with others through the friendships of the men. I am so glad I did. The series inclusion of crossover characters enhances the independent stories. Readers vibe off the unique personalities offered through Simon, Marcus, Adam, Brandon, Faisal and Quinn with each bit I give them in the series. People can’t wait for the next brother’s story. Don’t worry. It’s coming.

I also put characters from other series into my short stories. In, And Baby Makes Four, Brandon Hulse from the Brothers in Law series makes a book cameo. And Quinn—Let’s just say he’s going to be popping up in some places. It’s his thing.

Book Hooks (5)I do draw a line. I can’t give every character a separate story. I have a feeling that once Raad Khouri from the soon-to-be-released Building on Broken Dreams creeps into readers’ hearts, they’ll want more of the sexy sociopath. Nope! I’m not pulling back the curtain on all of that dysfunction any more than I already have.  An author has her limits.

So, yeah, I have a whole universe thing going on right now. Like the real world, my stories’ characters don’t exist in a bubble. Their connections make them dynamic, relatable and exciting.

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