Monday, June 30, 2014

Dianne: Writing a Series -- What I Didn’t Know

Ever since the first book in my middle grade series released in April, people have been asking me if I’m excited about writing the next two books. When I tell them both books are already written, were in fact written before the first one even came out, they’re surprised. So am I.

The third book hasn’t undergone editorial revisions yet, but it’s due for completion this fall. The offer for the 3-book deal occurred in October of 2012, and by the time the second anniversary of that happy event comes around, the bulk of the writing for all three books will be completed.

I had no idea it would happen that fast.

Right after the contract was signed, there was the usual wait for an editorial letter. At the time, it seemed like the pace would be no different from my previous two book deals – that is, lots of waiting with periodic bouts of frantic activity. It wasn’t until I completed the editorial revisions for Book 1 and looked ahead to the submission deadline for Book 2 that it dawned on me how fast things were happening.

In September of 2013, I found myself working on all three books at once. I had first pass pages of The Eighth Day for proof-reading, my editorial letter for The Inquisitor’s Mark, and I was about a third of the way into writing the first draft of (the not-yet-officially-titled) Book 3 – all while working a full-time job as a teacher.

I felt like this:

"Jane! Get me off this crazy thing!"
It turned out I could not work on all three books at once. I kept getting confused about what Jax, my main character, knew and when he knew it.  So I concentrated first on the proof-reading of Book 1, then the revisions for Book 2. Only when those tasks were finished did I open my first draft of Book 3 again …

… and said, “Oh my God. This is a horrible mess.” Then I started over from scratch …

Writing Book 3 was an uphill battle. Like a magpie, I kept getting distracted by shiny new things: Eighth Day ARCs, early reviews, a cover for The Inquisitor’s Mark, back cover copy for the paperback version of The Eighth Day … (Did you know that was established before the hardback even released? Me neither!) Eventually I produced something I was proud to present to my editor, and right now I’m anxiously awaiting her guidance in transforming it into an even better story.

But do you know what the biggest surprise about writing a series has been? It never occurred to me that people would want to talk to me about the newly released first book – and meanwhile I know everything that happens in the next two.

Me: “You think that was bad, wait until Jax has to … oh, I can’t tell you. But you’re really going to love … no, wait, I shouldn’t say. But what did you think about the part where … um, has that happened yet?”

I’m a walking, talking spoiler. Beware.


21 comments:

  1. Love the cover for The Inquisitor's Mark! So excited to read the next two books in this series :)

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    1. Thanks, Sherrie! I am thrilled about it, too.
      Of course, when it arrived in my In-box (on the Friday night of a ski weekend) it was the newest shiny thing to distract me from my WIP. I spent a lot more time admiring it than I did writing that weekend!

      Delete
  2. Interesting. I never thought about how weird it would be have all the future spoilers.

    I love the cover for The Inquisitor's Mark too.

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    Replies
    1. You bet! I am chock full of things I want to talk about with people ... and can't.

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  3. It's so interesting to see how the time line worked for you! I've read the last book in several trilogies lately, and I have wondered about how often this was the case. Did you already have your plot arc set for all three when you finished writing the first?

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  4. Laurie, I didn't start planning a series arc until after the first book sold. I was asked to plan for a 3-5 book series. (3 contracted with an option for 2 more) Each sequel started as a basic premise, which blossomed into an outline before I started drafting. So, shortly after Book 1 sold I knew basically "what would happen" in Book 3, but all the details and plot outlines didn't happen until it was time to write that one.

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  5. I'd never thought about the secrecy you have to keep. Lol! Kind of like a time traveler ;) I'd slip all of the time! It must have been a nightmare to do 3 books at once, especially all on the same character. Still, I bet you wouldn't want to change any of it ;)

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    1. You are right, Tonja! I wouldn't change any of it! :D

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  6. I love the cover for The Inquisitor's Mark and can't wait to read it :)

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  7. I loved this post and reading about your journey/juggling act. Looking back, you must be so proud that you were able to accomplish all that...while teaching? You're amazing. I'm a teacher too and know how hard that is. ;)

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    1. Kimberly, it was a really stressful year, and I'm not sure how I would have met the deadline for Book 3 without all the snow days in January and February!

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  8. HI Dianne .. things work out don't they - and we're surprised at the route along those journeys ... I'm so pleased for you. Fascinating reading the process etc .. good luck with completing all the bits and bobs ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary! I was amazed by the whole process -- and how far in advance things got done -- and it was a wonderful learning experience!

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  9. Being frantic busy is a really good problem to have, Thanks for the blurb love at Crystal Colliers. It totally made my day :)

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    1. Elizabeth,
      Yes, it is a good problem. Except for the occasional freak-out when I was afraid I wouldn't meet a deadline. (But I always did, so the freak-outs were a waste of good energy.)

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  10. Love the new cover! Looks like another winner.

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    1. Thanks, Tess! I totally love the second cover, maybe even more than the first one!

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  12. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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