Thursday, February 20, 2020

What is a series bible…and why do you need one? by Lisa Phillips

Hello, fellow writers! *waves*

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Lisa Phillips. That is a COMPLETELY ACCURATE photo of me. (Guess who just realized she needs a headshot that’s not five years old?)

I love writing series novels almost as much as I love dogs. Don’t even get me started on my giant adorable Airedale ball of crazy. I’ll be here all day. I write for Love Inspired Suspense, and I indie publish on the side.

That’s two whole blogs right there. And who wouldn’t want to read one about dogs? I’d love to write about being a hybrid author—it’s a great way to make this writer career thing work. But it probably wouldn’t be as good as the dog one.

So…series bibles.
Instead of telling you why you might need one, I’ll do the writerly thing and SHOW you.

Here’s a quote from a book I wrote a few years ago. My first full series (so be nice, lol.) The first book is called Sanctuary Lost:

John looked at the guy in line ahead of him. Early thirties but he was nearly bald, his glasses drooped on his nose and he gripped his plate of mostly bread and green beans. “I’m Terrence Evangeline.” He pointed at an older couple by the salads. “That’s my mom, Shelby and my dad, Aaron. They run the town’s community arts programs.”

Now here’s a quote from book three, Sanctuary Breached:

“There is also the problem of Andy.”
Nadia glanced at the man for the shortest possible amount of time. Sure enough, Andy Evangeline was staring at her. Why, Lord? He’d been nursing a terminal crush for months now, and it didn’t seem to be easing off. Nadia was the focus of his attention every second he wasn’t at the recycling center. Who knew what he thought about when he wasn’t watching her or following her around. It was the last thing she needed in the middle of this.

See the problem?
Somehow *cough-distracted mom writer-cough* a secondary character who was Terrence Evangeline in book one, was suddenly Andy Evangeline in book 3.
Oh what, oh what, is a writer to do?

Here’s where genre came in super handy. See, I write romantic suspense. This particular series? It’s about a town of people all in the witness protection program, also known as WITSEC (witness security). People change their names in witness protection all the time, right?

Enter the solution. Book 5, Sanctuary Forever, we were back in town and ready to wrap things up—which of course meant I needed a solution.

“Hi, Andy.”
He crossed his arms on the counter and smiled. “It’s Terrence. I’ve decided to go back to my first name again instead of my middle name.”
He looked like he expected her to say something, but she didn’t. Why would she care if he was having an identity crisis? She didn’t even like the man and never had.

Two more series and a lot of books later, I’ve decided to make life easier for myself.

This is my new series. Aren’t my covers AWESOME? Seriously, my cover designer (now that I’ve decided to quit doing it myself *blog post alert*) is so good!
Me? More like, meh. But that was a solid business decision.

Another business decision I made with this series?

One designed to save me hours of headache?

A series bible.

Right now it looks a lot like a messy spreadsheet, but the moment the first character walked onto the page in Expired Refuge, I wrote down her name. Age. Occupation. Hair color. Defining features. Key personality traits. Family members who live in town.

And so on, and so on.

Every time I open that first draft document, the spreadsheet gets opened too. Is it foolproof? No, because I’m a human and we all make mistakes. But this will cut down on SO MANY continuity problems I don’t need and don’t have time for.

Businesses in town. Street names. People who lived there years ago. The name of the vet, who won’t get a novel about him until next year? All of it gets noted down.

So how about you?
Do you have a series bible, or a way to keep track of these details? I’d love to know your secret. Or maybe you could just tell me what the plural of “series” is, because clearly I have no idea.

And after you’ve left a comment, feel free to swing by Amazon, KOBO, Nook or Apple Books and grab a copy of Expired Refuge!! You can find out more at