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Monday, September 2, 2013

Wrangling the Plot Bunnies

I envy the authors who can sit down to a book and never think of another book from page one until publication morning. How they strive tirelessly, forsaking all other plots for that one beautiful Work In Progress I don't know. I was born a plot whore. I will die a plot whore. And, perhaps, in between I can fake plot fidelity long enough to keep a pre-set schedule.

To be honest, I never understood the oft seen lament on writing forums, "What should I write about?" or "Does anyone have a story idea?"

In years past I've gladly donated story ideas (just ask!). I have two or three a day. The smallest thing will turn into a full blown novel in my head. If I let it incubate, I get a series. Chasing after these sparkling storybeams is the luxury of a new author.

When you first start out you're encouraged, almost required, to write widely. Try a few different books. Try new styles. Write in wildly different genres until you find your comfort zone. It's wonderful, and a little bit frightening. And just the tiniest bit addictive.

I love chasing after new ideas.

But, with publication comes expectations, both from your publisher and from the readers. Publishers want a brand, and very often they want a series. Fans don't want to jump between horror, romance, and mid-grade fantasy, they want you to pick a book and take them back to their favorite places. I have a hybrid career, so perhaps I worry about publishers a little less than I should.

Fans? I worry about you a lot.

I want to make you happy. I want to write a book that you'll love. I want to fulfill all your wishes.

When TALES FROM THE SFR BRIGADE came out one of the first comments I heard was, "When's the next Apex War book come out?" I cringed. I have four short stories/novellas outlined (very, very roughly outlined) for the Apex War universe but they aren't written yet. If I dropped everything (which I can't) the soonest you would see one is next summer. And, like I said, I can't drop everything to work on those exclusively.

In fact, the pretty calendar with the writing schedule? Yeah... that's changing along with my Panster ways. Editors like outlines for books. At least mine does. So while EVEN VILLAINS GO TO THE MOVIES comes out November 15th the plan is to have Book 3 in my editors hot little hands by December 1st. In between she needs an outline and a word count estimate (remember how that went with MOVIES?).

But I'm trying. And more books are coming. And if you are a fan of one of the series that isn't making major strides toward publication yet, please, pleasepleaseplease, know that I am working on it. You will get that book some day. Lana and Kaleb will be back. Adrian will get his escape.

Good things come to those who wait. 


  1. Sometimes those characters stop talking to me also. If I've gone onto other stories, other worlds, the Voices become strangers and then I have to re-introduce myself.

  2. The question all writers love and dread to hear "When is your next book in this series coming out?". It is loved because it means the series has FANS and it is dreaded because it does take time to write each book.

    Some authors seem to be able to produce new books within weeks of each other and that is what fans start expecting from every author. But, I would bet there are some tricks behind those fast turn out books. Like maybe they were written (and edited) a while ago and simply held on to until the author had a buffer (like comic artists do) and then a publisher was found to begin selling the books.

    Whatever the reason, in the end fans have to realize that the authors are not there solely for their entertainment. Authors have lives and take time to finish their work. Fans will understand, although that doesn't stop them grumbling, and if not, they don't live in your house so you can ignore the grumbling.

    One of the authors I follow has what I think is the best reaction to fans who want him to write faster and write what they want into his stories. He points them to the various fanfic sites and tells them to write for that.

    You can only write the way you feel is best for you. So if that means you're working on seven or eight stories - novels, novellas, whatever - then you are writing several stories on your schedule. Trust me, the fans will come flocking as soon as they hear that another story has been released and pester you for the next one before going away again and keeping an ear out for the next release.

    That's been the way of fans and authors since we started publishing books.