Tag Archives: sequels

Pulling back the veil

I wanted to hold some of this back, but I find myself lacking for things to blog about. I have some goals that are kind of opposed to each other for the year, and I’m going to have to make a small change.

Lisa BurtonOne of my goals was to include more posts from the writing cabin. This is where my robotic assistant and I plan out the day, and write the stories. This is hard to do when she isn’t there, and that’s the big problem.

I’ve started writing a book that includes Lisa Burton. That plays into my year of sequels, and it’s kind of a crazy idea, because it’s a sequel to multiple books. It makes for a fun learning experience, because I have to live with character histories. I also have to make it stand alone if someone hasn’t read a previous book. Actually, it’s a wonderful goal.

Here are the players in this story:

  • The Playground – Gina Greybill, Mohan Gupta, Justine, and Clovis.
  • The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack 1 & 2 – Lisa Burton, and Jason Fogg.
  • Wild Concept – Lisa Burton
  • The Hat – Lizzie and the hat

There are going to be some minor characters who appear too. Others will be a nod within the story, like The Enhanced League. I have a surprise or two along the way that I’ll keep close to the vest for now.

I had a fun teaser idea where I would post some old blues video and a Lisa Burton poster, then stay quiet about the whole thing. Invite followers to guess as to what’s happening. I think that would have worked well, and I can still do it without the guessing.

Part of the fun is making sure everyone gets their moment to shine. At this point, it’s coming out very well, without a whole lot of backstory to clog it up.

Aside from the goal of “Entertaining Stories” there could be some additional benefit here too. Some people love Lisa, Clovis, the hat. Here is their chance to revisit them. Hopefully, the line will work both ways. Maybe someone reads this book, then decides to learn more about Lizzie and the hat, or Jason Fogg.

Best of all, I’m having a good time. If there isn’t any money in this business, fun is all that remains. Fun also translates to the page and makes the books better.

Right now, I’m fast approaching 25K words. So far, Lisa gets along with everyone. Clovis and the hat seem to be finding common ground. Lizzie is fine with Lisa and Gina. Jason is a bit standoffish, but he always was.

Today, Clovis broke off from the group, because he’s like that. He gathered evidence in a way that only Clovis can. After depositing the bodies, he and the dog went out for hotdogs.

When I stopped for the day, the group compared Clovis’ findings with Lisa’s web searches to get closer to an answer. Right now the clues are organized crime, pharmaceuticals, and two kinds of zombies. At the end of this writing day, someone mentioned the word wraith.

I mention this, so you can see how Gina, Lizzie, and the hat might tie in. Gina is a doctor who fights paranormal evils. Lizzie and the hat use a kind of symbiosis to become a paranormal avenger… and to play rockabilly music in a band.

I’m making Lizzie and the hat kind of the lead into the story, but others will have their moments to shine. I’m going to include some fun graphics like I did in The Hat, and even have an alternate ending worked out. I’m going to include this after my author section kind of like the end of a Marvel Comics based movie, because it’s fun, and because I can.

At the same time, I’ve also been writing a book called Serang. This one is a stand alone story, but is previous to Voyage of the Lanternfish. Serang is a neat character from Lanternfish, and she wanted me to tell her story. I’ve taken her from childhood to teenager. The last bit I worked on has her talking to an ethereal dragon. She hates dragons, but might wind up finding some peace with them. It’s also in the 25K word count area.

Not too bad for a weekend warrior like myself. Winter is the best time for me to write, so I want to sling the words while I can.

Eventually, I’ll have to park one of them so I can complete the other one. It would be fabulous to release them both this year. Ideally, Serang before school lets out, and the unnamed team-up somewhere before Halloween.

It’s a tough goal, but it is possible with a bit of luck.

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Checking in today

Hi, Gang! The tour is going well. We’ve had some fun conversations along the way, and there are a few posts yet to come. I hope you don’t mind the reblogs. Entertaining Stories isn’t just about this blog, it’s also about publishing Entertaining Stories a couple of times per year. Publishing leads to promotion, even if that isn’t my favorite thing. If nothing else, every tour stop is unique, so it’s not a total waste of bandwidth.

The book is doing okay. Results could always be better, even when things are great. Early reviews aren’t just good, they’re downright encouraging. This will certainly help with sales. My sales usually involve a spike up front, then the slow-burn starts. This is because my regulars pick it up right away. (So grateful for my regulars.) The tour goes to sites my regulars host, but it allows me to reach their regulars, who sometimes are new to my work. That early spike got me as high as 108 in one of the fantasy categories on Amazon. It’s since dropped down, but it’s still encouraging. (Fantasy categories are a tough nut.)

One of my goals is to continually improve, and I think Lanternfish shows bits of improvement over my previous works. Reviewers will give me some hints to this.

My 2019 goal was to explore the idea of additional works in an already existing environment. I’m currently writing two different stories with that in mind. Eventually, I’ll have to park one of them and focus on the other, but I will finish both. One of these is a prequel for one of the supporting characters from Lanternfish. It seems to be taking on a different tone, and that’s because much of the “comedy relief” didn’t exist at the time of this tale. I’m pretty happy with how it’s coming out so far, even if it is more serious.

About that comedy relief, the root monsters are pretty popular. In fact, they won’t leave me alone. I formulated two new scenes for them during my commutes this week. This is how many of my stories take shape. In fact there are quite a few other scenes involving my pirate crew. There is a good chance of a sequel for Lanternfish too. I may start a storyboard this weekend.

I sent out samples of these new stories for critique, and am getting the results back. My main focus is going to be making improvements to what I’ve already written. I don’t have new fiction on my list at all. The next goal is reading. I’m jazzed to dive into End of Day, by Mae Clair. I don’t usually read sequels any more than I write them, but dang that first book was good.

Finally, I need to check the Story Empire schedule and figure out when I’m up next. I don’t want to drop the ball over there.

Doesn’t seem like much of a list for a holiday weekend. My time isn’t completely my own though. Old What’s Her Face is off too. Between the spaces, I’ll obsessively check blog comments along the tour stops. You guys know how much I like comments.

What do you have planned for your weekend? Do you make a task list, or take it as it comes?

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2019 Business Plan

I skip the whole New Years resolutions thing. If you enjoy it, have at it. What I like to do is outline my plan for the upcoming year. I’ve been known to look back at it here and there to see how I’m doing.

Last year, I pledged not to take on yet another social media platform. I signed up for Book Bub anyway. I like it as a presence for my books. It doesn’t require a lot of my time, and it gives me a nice place to post reviews of the books I read. I’ve transferred over a bunch of old reviews I wrote for people who are also there. I see they’ve done the same thing for me. Technically, there isn’t really a social aspect to it, but I put it in the same category.

Google Plus announced they are going away, and they won’t really be missed. About all I did with it was autofeed my blog there. I monkeyed with it for a few months, but never enjoyed it, or found any value.

The point is that social media has only produced minimal sales for me. I never really noticed a difference in my bottom line. Some of my author friends are even quitting Facebook now. I like the occasional Far Side cartoon, or bulldog video, so I’ll keep mine. With their advertising changing so frequently, it’s become kind of worthless for book promo.

Pinterest I really enjoy. Not for promotional purposes, but for ideas. I have images to inspire characters, paranormal art, science fiction, all kinds of things. I’ll keep my presence there, but for different reasons. It’s nice to forward a few images to my artist when I want a book cover or a new Lisa Burton poster.

Last year, I decided that my best promotional tool was to write my next book. Voyage of the Lanternfish is available as of a few hours ago. This is a pirate fantasy, with all the black magic and monsters you might expect in one of my stories.

I lost my critique group in 2016, then started relying upon beta readers. I like this process, but you have to find people who are willing to kick your butt. (Behind the scenes, of course.) In 2018, I lost my beta readers. This was devastating, but the end result was good.

I’m now part of a new critique group. While there is a difference between critique and beta, they both serve somewhat the same purpose. As a bonus, I get to hang out with a very talented bunch of people who are willing to kick my butt when I need it. (Behind the scenes, of course.)

These people have all written series, and are encouraging me to do the same. My own reading preference is for stand alone books, but I admit to enjoying a series on occasion. I understand the drill, hook them with the first one, then sell them additional stories in the same environment.

I’m still up in the air about writing stories where a previous book is a prerequisite. If I can pull it off, I would like any subsequent stories to be enjoyable even if you haven’t read the previous book. Honestly, I haven’t written a book where someone didn’t mention interest in a sequel.

Having said this, 2019 is going to be my year of the sequel, and possibly the prequel. I intend to write at least one more book in the Lanternfish environment, plus a prequel for one of the supporting characters.

In addition to all that, Lizzie and The Hat are going to make a return. The Hat is my most popular title, and I have multiple ideas that would be fun to explore. One at a time though, and with some dependence on whether the next one is popular too. The next one promises to bring back a few other old friends, and I’ve already started writing it.

That’s a big list, but I may be able to release three titles in 2019. Things would have to fall into place, but it could happen.

In a perfect world, I’d be about to start that cyberpunk novel I’ve been talking about for a couple of years. This one is intended to be a stand alone title. It went on the back-burner again, because I really need to explore the advantage of sequels.

Finances are a big concern. Book covers and promotional art are one thing, but advertising is getting expensive too. I would like to hire a promo company at least during the time around the book’s release. This is a push on multiple fronts in addition to any blog tours I might set up.

My mentality is to bounce around a lot. When I read, I change genres with every title, and I like that. When I write, I do the same thing. I’m starting to realize that many people are not like me. An author sparks their imagination with either a character or world building, and they want more. I intend to deliver some of that in 2019.

I’ve bounced around with promotions in much the same way. It all becomes somewhat like Whack-A-Mole after a while. My blog will remain my main focus, it will auto feed to other sites, but if you really want me you can find me here.

It’s all kind of calming to make these decisions. My focus will be on production of good fiction. There will be blog tours to help promote, and even some new Lisa Burton posters. I’m not going to spend time making graphics for Twitter, or figuring out how often to make Facebook posts about my stories.

I hope your 2019 is productive, positive, and enjoyable. I think mine will be too.

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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.

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Onward and Upward

I decided to visit the writing cabin today. To tell you the truth, I’ve been avoiding Lisa* all weekend.

She met me at the door holding her pet rabbit, Bunny. “Are you here to start on my sequel?”

“Um, no honey, we need to talk about that. Let’s go inside.” I headed for the creepy room she designed for me and threw the switch. I pulled on my lab coat and she opened the valve on the boiling flasks and retorts. It smelled just like Hoppes #9, like I requested.

This wasn’t going to be easy. Lisa’s such a perfect assistant I hate to hurt her feelings. I sat down in the easy chair and slid the ottoman under my feet. “You know, I left Patty in a pretty awful predicament. I thought I’d find a way to get her out of it and take a breather before torturing her some more.”

“But Wild Concept has been published,” she said. “I thought it was time for my sequel.”

“You know I’m not a big believer in sequels. It makes me a better writer to come up with new things every time. Besides, we aren’t exactly burning up Amazon right now. If it starts selling really well, maybe we’ll do it.”

She pursed her lips and said, “Fine. I’ll put on your coffee.”

“Don’t be like that. Remember all the hell you had to go through? Do you really want to put yourself through that again? Besides, what if the sequel turns out to be a tragedy? I can’t make any promises where it will lead, I haven’t written it yet.”

“Patty is a nice girl. Work on her story. Do you want the Will ‘O the Wisp loose again?”

“Sure.”

She opened the bell jar and the Wisp careened off the bone chandelier. It got stuck inside the hippo’s mouth and picked up speed; like a Pong ball before it goes speeding away.

I booted up my Mac and went to work on Will ‘O the Wisp. Lisa came back in wearing her Elvira dress and carrying Doubt** the raven. She set a cup of the creepy bubbling coffee on the desk and went back out.

Doubt convinced me to read back through the last twenty pages or so before I wrote anything new. There were some typos and small items I’d forgotten and I made changes.

By the time I’d finished for the day, I’d written 1886 new words. This isn’t great by my standards, but I had other things going on this weekend. The word count is up to 43,449.

Patty got a breather, and a hot bath. It’s about time to put her through the ringer once more.

Lisa slid onto the couch and crossed her legs. She shined her nails on her dress and said, “So what about your other novels?”

“Those are supposed to all get published this year. I’ve finished six, but the first two stay in the trunk. They say having more stuff online will boost the sales of all the books.”

“So my possible sequel could be tied to those idiot Marshals, that arsonist woman, and a bunch of dwarves?”

“It could work out that way. I just don’t know. I’m learning this stuff as I go along. I got some great tips from a blogging friend and have some research to do that might help.”

She slapped her hand on the arm of the couch and said, “Well I’m here for the long haul. Whatever you need, just let me know.”

“Thanks, baby. You’re the best.”

* Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s also a robot.

** Doubt is a raven. he was a gift from my Muse.

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