Sunday, January 8, 2017

Planning a series the right way

The first thing I learned when creating the American Journey series was that writing a series was much different than writing a single novel. I had to observe different rules and plan much further into the future or run the risk of painting myself into a corner.

Having more or less cobbled together the Northwest Passage series around a few common themes, I tried to do better with the AJ series. The result, I think, was a better collection, one that comes to a conclusion with the release of Hannah’s Moon in February.

Now, as I consider yet another series, I’m faced with the same challenges. How do I map out three or more books that meet the minimum requirements of a compelling collection of fiction? One way is to look to others for guidance. One of the best resources is online.

Now Novel’s How to Write a Series is filled with commonsense advice that every author should take to heart. The writer’s group, which offers a course and resources for budding novelists, advises authors to avoid eight specific mistakes when crafting a series. Its guide stresses continuity, consistency, and openness to change.

These tips resonated with me. When I plotted the American Journey series in 2014, I knew how it would begin and end but not how it would develop. The order of the books was left open every step of the way. Even as I followed a fairly tight script, I wanted flexibility.

I will take the same approach when I create my next series. Set initially in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1888, the collection of stories will revolve around five modern-day siblings, all young adults, who search for their long-missing parents in the corridors of time.

I plan to begin the third series in June. In the meantime, I hope to put the second series to bed and convert The Mirror and Indiana Belle to audio. All three projects should be finished by the end of April.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New goals for a new year

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. All too often, they are not realistic. They are things we should file under "Good Intentions," "Wishful Thinking," or even "Mission Impossible."

Even so, they serve a purpose. When we make resolutions or set goals, we force ourselves to evaluate our respective situations and consider what is possible in the coming year.

As an author, I have several goals for 2017. Some I expect to meet in the coming three months. Others may take longer or prove to be more of a challenge, but I will pursue them nonetheless.

One objective in easy reach now is the publishing of Hannah’s Moon. With a first draft in hand and several beta readers lined up, I should be able to release the novel, the fifth and final book in the American Journey series, in March.

Then I'll have to decide what comes next. Though I'm still keeping all options open, I've started to sketch out another five-book series that will focus less on time travel and more on historical fiction.

The idea I have in mind now is a family saga that begins in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1888, the year before its historic flood. I hope to make a final decision on the series by April 1.

I also intend to do more with my current books. Sometime this month, I will release American Journey: The First Three Novels, my first Kindle boxed set. In the middle of next month, I will sponsor some giveaways in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of The Mine.

If all goes as planned, I should also have two more audiobooks by the end of April. Chaz Allen has already begun production of Indiana Belle. Angel Clark will do the same with The Mirror in a few weeks. I hope to have all ten novels in audio by December.

For now, that’s all. But like anyone who has ever vowed to travel more, lose weight, read certain books, or work on a bucket list, I reserve the right to change my mind. I hope 2017 is a happy and productive year for all of you. Let the resolutions begin!