Thursday, July 31, 2014
Stand-Alones and Sequels and Series, Oh My!
But first, a word from our sponsor. Take a gander at that cover up there. Ain’t it purty? That’s my new ménage, Jessalina’s Pets, and it’ll be out around the end of August. If you’d like a peek at the blog post and photos that inspired the book, just follow the link right here. The story was almost a standard M/F, but that photo of Jensen Ackles practically forced me to add the second hero. Fin’s whole personality is right there in that pic. I probably owe Jensen money.
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Right now I’m in my finished-a-book-and-floundering-around phase, while I sift through ideas and abandoned WIPs in search of the one that grabs me. I could save myself a ton of anguish if I’d just write a series. Then there’d be no question which book was coming next. I’ve got a number of series ideas, and I’ve always been infected with sequelitis. Plus Siren loves series. (Serieses?) I could put together a bunch of characters and a multi-book story arc and fill up my dance card for months.
And yet, I’m pretty sure my next book will end up as another stand-alone.
That’s pretty much how my mind works. I’m always primed for the next new idea. It hits and I run with it. I finish the book. Then something in the book sparks ideas for a sequel, or sometimes a number of sequels. I’ve even written a couple. However, I draw the line at calling these a series. My version of a series is a bunch of stand-alone sequels strung together by a common thread. Read one, read several, read ‘em in any order, it doesn’t make a difference because each book is a world unto itself, with no dangling threads left behind. Even if you come in on the middle, you’ll still get a satisfying read.
What do I consider a true series? Something like Harry Potter or Stephen King’s Dark Tower. The books can each be read on their own, but read in order, one after the other, they tell a single massive story. I had one of those planned out years ago, with a beginning, middle and end. Unfortunately for me, I’m a slow writer, and the first book never got off the ground. I still have all the notes and huge chunks of prose in my closet. Maybe I’ll get back to it someday.
Sequels are easier. Legacy happened because I couldn’t let go of the characters from Belonging. There’s still a third book sitting in the back of my brain, waiting for the plot to gel. I’ve also written a YA offshoot, and I could at some point write the book that wraps up their story for good. Would that make it a series? There’d be more than three books involved, so that lets out a trilogy, and it would tell a single big story. I just feel like a true series should be more than four books and a sidebar. How many “(Whatever) in Death” books has Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb written? Now there’s a series for you.
That’s the other definition of series: a bunch of books connected by a common cast of characters or background, overarching story arc optional. I could probably do one of those. Like I said, I’ve had ideas. The shapeshifters who work at the seaside bar, finding love at the Jersey Shore. The family of cowboy vampire hunters (which also grew out of Belonging. Annie Stanton, nee Colt, is a former slayer, the boys’ aunt, and the one who trained them. Sequels just seem to happen to me). The multi-book story of the alien invasion, with people finding love along the way. That one’s closest to my idea of what a “true” series should be. I’ve already got some vague ideas and characters. All I need are some solid plots and I’d be set for months.
More like years, or decades. I write really slow. I think that’s the real reason I haven’t committed myself to a series. Once I start the stupid thing, it would take me forever. I’m not one of those writers who pops out a new book every month. I wish I was. I could write five or six series at the same time and make a decent living at this. At least a better one than what I’ve got right now.
Until I get the self-discipline in gear, looks like I’m stuck with stand-alones. And sequels, which are basically stand-alones inspired by a previous book. If I do enough of those, I suppose I could call it a series, after a decade or so.
At the moment I’m toying with ideas for sequels to Jessalina’s Pets. I left the villain in a bad state. Yeah, he was a dick, but he also looks like Ian Somerhalder. I want to write a book about him so I can have that image in my head. Then there’s the guy whose shapeshifter breed is practically extinct and the threesome’s plans to rectify that, which is going to require new female characters and a lot of sex scenes. If I write these, I still won’t have a series, but maybe I can squeeze out a trilogy. I want to see how sales for the first one go before I commit myself.
In the meantime, I’m still working through my list of WIPs, all of which are stand-alones. For now. My sequelitis might kick in, or I might end up with an accidental series after all. Hey, it’s writing. Anything is possible.