Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some Thoughts on Writing a Sequel

So the website isn’t ready yet, because as usual with all things technology related, it’s taking longer than I wanted. In the meantime, I’ve been working on and off on the sequel to The Nightmare Affair. I won’t say I’ve started writing in earnest, because I haven’t. Earnest to me means dedicated, recorded daily word counts, and I’m not at that level of devotion yet. Soon though.

But I have done enough to share a couple of things I’ve run across even so early in the game. Please bear in mind this is the first time in my life I’ve ever attempted to write a sequel, which means I’m feeling my way along and learning by trial and error. Still, what I’m learning might prove helpful.

If you’re currently working on the first book in a series, here are some activities you might want to do to make writing the next book easier. Some of these are things I did automatically when writing The Nightmare Affair, and some are ones I wish I had done.
  • Lay the groundwork in book 1
This is definitely the hardest activity on the list, by far. It requires that you think ahead and that you allow yourself to envision the possibility that the current story you’re working on might live long enough to make it into the next story. But once you get past the worry of whether or not the book is ever going to get published, it’s easy to lay this foundation.

Mostly, what I do is drop little details and clues here and there of ideas, character motivations, events, etc. that I might want to explore in the next book. If writing a book is like weaving a tapestry, these are threads I intentionally leave sticking out. They’re small, small enough that none of my critique partners or beta readers will complain that I didn’t explain the significance of that thread. Again, these are minor, minor details. The best example I can think of is how J.K. Rowling mentions the locket in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, one whole book before it becomes significant.
  • Keep a timeline of events
This one is easy. As you go along, make a note of the relative time when something important happens as well as the time in between. If you’re writing something set in the modern world, this is extremely easy. For The Nightmare Affair, I made notes on my day calendar of when important events would take place in the story. Nowhere in the book do I reference the actual date, with the exception of Halloween, but being able to reference a real date made keeping tracks of events significantly easier.
  • Keep a glossary of all names of people, places, and things
This is an activity I’ve done from the very beginning. No matter how insignificant a name might seem, I try to record it in a glossary. Names are pretty easy to forget, even for the writer. This is especially true when you’re talking about the second book. Referencing those same minor names in a second book is a nice way to provide coherency to the series. In addition to recording the name, I also copy and paste any relevant descriptions into the glossary. And trust me, remembering the appearance of characters can be tough. A glossary takes some of the brain work out of it.
  • Write Chapter Summaries
It’s nice to know where exactly things happened. And this is something you should consider doing even if your book isn’t the first in a series. Writing chapter summaries will help you write the dreaded synopsis. And depending on how detailed/analytical you make your summaries, it can also give you a visual guide to how the story progresses, which in turn can help you identify areas where you’ve gone off on a tangent or when you need to hurry up/slow down.

So there you have it folks. Be sure to stick around for the website reveal and query letter contest!

Happy Writing

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Header Reveal and Spotlight on Artist Cat York.

I’m so happy to be writing this post and showing you the fantastically awesome new header for this blog designed by artist extraordinaire Cat York. I have also commissioned Cat to design the header for my website which I hope to have up and running soon. I’m planning on holding a query + 5-page critique contest for the unveiling. So stay tuned.

Now about Cat. A few words come to mind: talented, professional, super-easy to work with, imaginative, genius, expedient, enthusiast, fun. Seriously, I could go on and on. I’ve enjoyed every single minute of this process, and I recommend her to anyone even remotely interested in hiring a professional artist.  As someone with zero talent for drawing, I’m completely in awe of Cat’s abilities. She has also been extremely generous throughout this process. For example, just as we reached the final color stage, I realized that the size of the design wouldn’t fit in the website template. Cat graciously came up with a new design which you’ll get to see with the website unveiling. And it is beautiful. I’m jumping up and down with excitement to show it to you.

You can find more about Cat here. Her work speaks for itself!

Now about the header above. This artwork not only represents me as a person (hello beautiful horses and adorable kitty cat) but also my work, specifically The Nightmare Affair (duh!)  I’d like to tell you more, like what the story behind the power button is, but I’m afraid of being spoilery. I guess you’ll have to read the book (wink, wink).

One of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do is settle for just one of Cat’s stunning designs. In fact, I liked all the different looks so much that I’m showing casing some of the different color designs below, not only to give you an idea of how difficult choosing was, but also to showcase a small measure of Cat’s talent.

So above we have what would’ve been an individual header page for the website. The initial plan was to have differently labeled headers depending on where you navigated, such as Short Stories or Bio. I adore the “open book” and how inviting it is. I think the black-on-black on this one is wickedly awesome and dark. It’s actually kind of scary, and that’s a win in my eyes.

Here we have a stone-colored background which really sets off the intricate design. It’s a minor variation of the header I ultimately chose.

This one is just completely different, but still stunning. I think it looks like an actual engraving. Maybe on the side of tomb…?

And finally, this one has a more purple background, which once again highlights the beautiful design.  

Thanks so much to Cat, and happy writing!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Big congrats to the winners of my first ever book giveaway on the blog. Jaye Robin Brown won a copy of ARTICLE 5 and Larissa won a copy of TEMPEST.

Jaye, please email your address at

Larissa, I'll be emailing you soon for your address.

Congrats again and thanks to everyone who participated!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Book Giveaway: ARTICLE 5 and TEMPEST

Hi All,

As promised, I'm holding my very first book giveway (somebody hold me, please; oh the terror of contests). Just kidding. Both are Advanced Readers Copies. See below for descriptions.

To keep things simple, all you have to do to enter is mention this contest somewhere on the internet (twitter, facebook, blog, you know the drill) and then leave a comment on this post. You don't have to follow me anywhere, but you'll get extra entries if you do or if you already are. Just note in the comments. They'll be two winners, one for each book. Contest is open until midnight January 7th. I'll announce winners here and on twitter. Good luck!

ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons, release date 1/31/2012

From Goodreads:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.
My thoughts: Somewhere between dystopian and post-apocalyptic, ARTICLE 5 is completely unique. This world is easily recognizable as our world, which makes it all the scarier and moving. Great, fast read.

TEMPEST by Julie Cross, release date 1/17/2012

From Goodreads:
The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.
My thoughts: This is a fast-paced, emotional read with a male protag easy to adore. Oh, and watch out for the wickedly awesome, heart-breaking ending.