For anyone who's ever written or read a book series, no matter how deeply loved the setting, the town and the people, there's always one small complication.
Characters and character names.
By the end of three or four books, let alone thirteen or fourteen, there are a bazillion characters. You can't use the name Joe because he was the plumber in Book Three and if you introduce another Joe, the reader will assume he was the same plumber ten books back. And trust me, the reader will remember because Joe Someone out there in Reader Land had an Uncle Joe who was a plumber and they were so pleased to see a writer mention their Uncle Joe.
It's not only the readers who need a refresher course when it comes to remembering five thousand different characters. By book six, I needed a bible for my Cedar Cove series. It took up as much space on my hard drive as an entire manuscript.
For this reason, when I decided to create another series, I needed to devise a way of limiting the amount of characters. That's not as easy as it sounds. I briefly considered establishing a settlement on the moon, but that doesn't exactly live up to my branding statement: Wherever you are, Debbie Macomber takes you home.
Then I had the idea—brilliant, if I do say so myself—of using a bed and breakfast as the location for my new series. A lovely inn, a place of healing and of hope. But most importantly, the guests will come and—after telling their amazing stories—they will drift away, never to be forgotten but never to appear again. If Joe does come for a stay, I won't need to remember that he was a plumber ten books ago and what connections he has to the community. He's simply a guest. In an inn with lots of other guests who come and go. But as with any good inn, hopefully they'll feel right at home during their stay. And hopefully readers will too.