For my next amazing stunt…

Story Empire is the group blog I belong to. Today, I’m holding down the fort over there and discussing those times when an author isn’t drafting new material. This post is intended to be a companion piece to that post. I’d appreciate it if you guys would also check out the Story Empire post, because it goes over other things than where I’m taking this one.

I have a bit of soul searching about what I might tackle next. I have no intention of starting a new draft before December, November at the earliest. It takes time to whip the storyboard into shape, and I want to be as productive as possible when I finally open a new project.

One of my mantras is: “Write the story you want to read next.” It’s served me well over the years, and keeps the task fun. The downside is that my mind moves around a lot. I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories. I like to switch things up.

The beauty of a group blog, like Story Empire, is that I get to hang out with people who are smarter than I am. Some of them have pointed out that I don’t have a series. I’ve covered a lot of bases; short story collections, novella, novels… no series. Some of my characters have returned via the short story, like Lisa Burton, or Pete from Will O’ the Wisp.

Still, they’re right… no actual series. I can’t see myself being focused long enough to write a long series, but still; throw JK Rowling kind of money my way and I’m your huckleberry. I might take a stab at a trilogy, but that would likely be my limit. Part of the problem is keeping the setting, characters, and plot entertaining.

I’m going to write this next part out as much for myself as you guys, but it opens the topics up for debate. I’d kind of like to hear what you have to say. Here are the things in my pipeline.

The one I may never write: This is an African adventure set in the colonial era. It will involve black magic, at least three kinds of opposition, and a bit of romance. (A new test for me.) It will also involve the safari. Because people have unrealistic views about hunting today, I may never write it. I don’t want to deal with knee jerk reactions to the hunting of fictional animals. I have some wonderful settings, scenes, and deceptions for this one, but I may have to add it to the scrap pile.

Score this one as more down side than up.

Grinders: This is a cyberpunk tale involving those who perform enhancement surgeries on themselves and each other. This stuff goes on today, and I can push it to an extreme in a science fiction environment. Imagine lots of neon, holographic advertising, and way too many people. I can dabble with where the internet world may take us one day. This might include cyber shut-ins who never leave their apartment. Drone deliveries, vitamin D deficiencies, and more.

Score this one as a plus in the story department, but not maybe career enhancing for me at this point.

The Group Project: I’ve had a lot of requests for a return of both Clovis from The Playground, and Lizzie St. Laurent and The Hat. It occurred to me they could exist in the same universe. They need other characters to interact with, and there are quite a few of my existing characters who could play a role here. This evolved, in my mind and on a storyboard, into something like an Avengers story only with a paranormal background.

Score this one in the middle somewhere, because I’ve never seen anyone do something like it before. The benefit to my career could be to interest readers in my backlist. Maybe a fan of The Hat picks it up, because it will be a sequel to The Hat. As they read it, they decide Lisa Burton is more interesting than they thought and want to pick up her novel. Or it could irritate readers, because Lizzie and the hat have to share the stage with other characters.

Another Lanternfish story: I just finished the draft of Lanternfish yesterday, but this world is ripe for another story. There is a war going on, and involvement of the pirates in the war could prove interesting. Yes, it’s a fantasy, but real things happened along this line and adds some credibility to them getting involved.

Score this one a bit of plus and a bit of minus. I feel this way, because nobody has read Voyage of the Lanternfish yet. If it flops, I don’t want to put six or seven months into a sequel. If it succeeds, the time for a sequel is upon me. It would head me down that path toward a trilogy. Lanternfish is the first one I’ve written that I feel could support a trilogy. (Sequels yes, but an actual trilogy is what I’m talking about.)

***

Those are the main possibilities, but they have to be looked at with a longer vision too. It is possible to write another Novella about Lizzie and the hat. This might be done a bit faster and satisfy their fans. Then I could focus on one of the other stories. I have an additional idea that could become a story pretty easily.

I could look at a third Experimental Notebook. That lets my mind bounce from tale to tale, which I enjoy. Then I could knuckle down and focus on some kind of sequel.

I also have a loose idea for a novella called Serang. She is a character from Lanternfish, and this would be her prequel story. The merit here is to satisfy any Lanternfish fans I might get while then writing one of the other novels.

Are fans willing to wait on sequels these days? I know all about George RR Martin, but I don’t quite have his kind of fan base. Would readers be satisfied with a trilogy that takes three years to deliver? These days, authors are pressed to publish more rapidly than ever before. If readers would stick around that long, I could squeeze some other stories between these and keep myself happy at the same time.

Keep in mind that I’m good for about two publications per year. With Lanternfish finished, I might put out three in 2019… maybe.

These are the things I have to sort out between now and late November. Before that, actually, if I’m going to spend some quality time on that storyboard.

What do you folks think? I know there is no correct answer here, and that I ultimately have to decide. I’m open to a bit of debate, and it may help me figure something out.

42 Comments

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42 responses to “For my next amazing stunt…

  1. This was a big gulp of stream of consciousness. I think a series would be nice. You could pick any of your latest books and do a few more (hats, Yak guy, Clovis ) for example. A trilogy is tricky. A story or series with multiple characters from other books is also tricky. I think I would argue for another book with Lizzy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Serang is an excellent giveaway to entice readers to your newsletter. (And I know you don’t have a newsletter, but you need one.)

    If I were you, I’d get that cross-world novella done (Clovis, Hat, Lisa, etc.) and release late 2018/early 2019. Then Lanternfish 2, planning to release April or May 2019, followed by Experimental Notebook 3 for October 2019 then Lanternfish 3 early 2020.

    This may be tight, but it gives series addicts something to look forward to while still making other releases in the same calendar year manageable. And the crossover story should spark interest in the backlist.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That sounds like an excellent plan, but it’s petty tight. The biggest obstacle is getting the group story and Lanternfish two finished by May. I’m good for one in that timeframe, and employment claims many of my hours.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The nice thing about self-publishing is you can push your dates. I know you don’t like to release in the summer, so I tried to plan around that. But you have to do what works for you.

        I’m selfishly hoping you write all those things, because I’d love to read them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d like to too. I know where I’m leaning, and working out a secondary plan to keep things relevant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You know, now that I think about it, my publisher is trying rapid releases (one a month per author). It’s a brutal pace, but it occurs to me that you set your own schedule and you don’t HAVE to publish Lanternfish now. Why not write books 2 and 3 while working on other novellas and shorts, and when you have the full series done, you can release them a month or two apart (great for reader retention) while still dripping new (shorter) content in the meantime?

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s possible too. I may do a hybrid of that idea. Still plenty of time to mull things over.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with Staci. She’s given you a solid schedule to work from too, but I understand it’s not easy to juggle writing with a full-time job. True fans will wait, IMO. I only released one book per year in both my series. Although, I did write crossover novels in between. This year, I decided to stop the novellas in order to concentrate on my novels. What I’m trying to say is, do what works best for you. Worry about sales later.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Okay–(shame on me)–I haven’t read your books, but just from your post on your own blog, you said you were going to write some short stories to post on your webpage. That might help you clear your mind with new stuff. I do think writing a series is a good idea, and if you have an idea for a 2nd Lanternfish, I think I’d write that and publish the first at the end of this year or early next year and the 2nd four or five months later. If you get enough done to squeeze in the Serano novella between the two books, why not? You’d have three stories in that series to advertise. And then you can go from there. But every writer’s different. You have to decide what works for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read Lanternfish yet, but based upon what I’ve heard about it, I think I’d love to see more of that world. And a series doesn’t necessarily have to be 3 books. I just finished reading a 2 book series that was fantastic. Given the length of Lanternfish, there’s a possibility you could divide it into two books. I realize you’re going to probably cut some of that length in editing, but you might also find yourself adding to it. You’d have one release ready to go, and another waiting in the bag while you’re working on the next in the series. You could even include the first chapter of book two at the end of book one to spark interest with a “coming in month/year” notice. Just an idea to consider.

    My publisher sticks to 6-8 months between releases to keep the interest steady. It seems to work pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For me, the time between books is when I reformat social media, get in touch with groups I might have strayed from, and etc. Just now I’ve finished the second draft of a novella. I’m letting my daughter and husband read it, and then looking for a beta reader who’s done military service to tell me how badly I got all the soldiers wrong.

    I also have a novel in progress that was derailed around Christmas. Really should get back to that one. But, the way I see it, any writing is good and the publicity stuff is good, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I read a lot of YA, and writing a series seems to be the norm. There are some where I can’t wait for the sequel, and some I’ve dropped due to lack of caring what happens to the characters., but I’ve never felt that way with your characters. I was going to vote for Grinders, until I saw the mention of Clovis and Lizzie – so they win.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read ‘Lanternfish’ yet but I’d say go with your gut feeling. Now, ‘The Hat’ is the perfect book to turn into a trilogy in my opinion. First of all, the hat is able to travel or last through the ages, so your setting, characters and plot can change drastically. What if an astronaut alumni from the United States Naval Academy finds the hat and gets lost in space? Or you can go back in time and the hat could fall into the wrong hands, like Jack the Ripper’s? I mean, you can do anything with a character like the ‘hat’. Good luck! You got this! 😉 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. *hops up and down and waves arm madly* Umm, Mr Boyack, I would very much like to read about Colonial Africa including safari and romance. I think you just tapped into something I never put together, but I can name at least five books I’ve loved along the same lines, and there are surely more, every one delicious.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. So much this: “Write the story you want to read next…” Great advice. I’m completely unfocused at the moment and this is what I say to myself. What do I want to read? Then write *that* one.

    I think writers are being pushed to publish rapidly. (Say that three times fast.) I see it all the time. Another book then another. And lots of experts telling indies to just write another then another… That said, I do think readers are willing to wait for sequels. But perhaps not as long as they used to. ???

    The Hat would make a good trilogy but, like you said, it’s a challenge. I actually like that you write different things…novellas, collections, novels, etc. It’s kind of your thing. But I hear what you’re saying about a series.

    (I’m leaving. This comment got way too long. Apologies.)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. More from Lizzie and The Hat would be cool. Also, if The Lanternfish is half as good as it sounds like it will be, a sequel to that would be great. Ultimately it all depends on what you’re happy working on, and what you feel you can deliver though.

    Liked by 1 person

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