by C.D. Hersh
At some point, in the beginning of every writing journey, we authors wonder if we can really write a book. We ask ourselves: Can I do this? And if I can, will I be able to write a second book? Will my next book be as good as the first book? Will an editor love book number two as much as the first one? And, heaven forbid, what will I do if no wants the next book I write— assuming I can even finish it?
When we started our publishing journey back in 2012, with the pitch of the first book in our paranormal/urban fantasy series The Turning Stone Chronicles to Soul Mate Publishing, we had some of those questions. Book One, The Promised One was taking a maiden journey into the editorial world of queries. And after the rejection stories we heard from other aspiring authors, we truly thought we’d have our first rejection slip. We had ideas about where the remaining books in the proposed series were going, but not much more than nutshells of ideas and a few paragraphs written in a black-and-white school composition book. Book number one didn’t even have a contract, and here we were bold enough to assume we could write and sell a six-book series.
Four years later (2016), with the release of book number four in the series, The Mercenary and the Shifters, we were now more than halfway through our series. Ah, but life had some interesting twists planned for us as we started on book number five. More later.
Son of the Moonless Night, suddenly decided she wanted center stage and took over the plotting process. We also learned, thanks to a lovely review we received, that we can write without the dreaded sophomoric slump in our later books.
If you’re just beginning your publishing journey and you’ve answered “no” and “I don’t know to the questions in the opening paragraph, you are starting your journey off stifling your creativity. If you can finish a single book that has all the elements an editor wants, then never fear. You can write another book as good as the first and maybe even better.
Now for the “more later” promised above. With the release of book four in July 2016 we started on plotting for book five. However, we got asked by our publisher to join a group of twelve other authors and to write a book in the series of The Soul Mate Tree. That book, Can’t Stop The Music happened in February of 2017 plus then a lot of promotion for the rest of the year for the other authors as we tried to get back to plotting book five. The next three years proved to be a health challenge plus being asked to write and direct three Easter dramas at our church. Book five is plotted but still being written. Maybe this year? Now back to writing the next book in a series.
Here are some tips to help you make your goal of book number 2, 3, and more.
1 - Keep a positive attitude. A lot of people want to write a book. Many say they’re going to write a book SOME DAY. You have written a book. You’ve slapped those all-important two words on the last page—THE END. Additionally, if you got a contract from an editor, you have validation that your book was good. So don’t let doubt get in your way.
2 - Don’t wait until your creativity well runs dry to begin the next book. Writing stirs up our muses, and there’s no better time to start thinking about the next book than while you are working on your current book.
3 - When you have an idea for the next book, let the need to write it spur you on. Having a second story waiting in the wings compels us to finish the WIP.
4 - When you get that nutshell of an idea for book number two, write it down! Don’t say, “I can remember that.” Chances are you won’t. Instead, drop it in a computer file or paper file, whichever works for you. Read it often. Think about it before you go to bed, but not if it makes you an insomniac. Let it bubble and stew in the back of your mind until a full-blown story is born.
5 - Capture ANY wild story ideas that come your way. No tidbit you find remotely interesting should be ignored. You never know when inspiration for the next book will hit. The plot could be residing in a snippet of conversation you overhear at your favorite restaurant, a story you read in the newspaper, or even an interesting road sign. The Turning Stone Chronicle series originated from a road sign for a place named Turning Stone that we passed on a long road trip. We said, “What an interesting town name. Could we write a story with that title?” And the rest is history.
6 - Learn from your mistakes. Continued practice of the craft makes you a more skilled writer. Keeping a weasel word list, noting the places where your editor or beta readers say you are weak, and continuous education in the craft will improve your writing skill and storytelling ability. The more we write, the more second nature the job becomes. So, when the next book comes along, you’ll have an easier time putting it down. And who doesn’t want that?
7 - Planning on writing a series be sure to keep a world book. Nothing slows the writing process faster than trying to remember someone’s eye color from book one or any other character’s feature or a place name.
For all the readers out there, here’s an excerpt from book four of The Turning Stone Chronicles, The Mercenary and the Shifters. We hope you’ll like it.
“My home is perfectly safe. It’s my business I’m concerned about.” Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled.
“Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona. They hit the floor as the pottery on the raised fireplace hearth exploded, sending shards across the room. Mike shoved Fiona behind the nearest chair then scrambled across the rug to the blown-out window. Removing his gun from his back-of-the-waist holster, he peered over the windowsill. Seeing no one in the driveway, he swiveled around to check on Fiona. The red laser point danced around the room, searching for a target. Mike followed the trajectory of the beam. The shot came from across the street in something high. He remembered seeing a tree house in the yard across the road from the mansion.
“Who lives across from you?” he asked.
“No one right now. The house is for sale.”
“I didn’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign.”
“We’re in an exclusive neighborhood. The HOA forbids sale signs.”
Another shot rang out. Mike whirled around in time to see Fiona’s head sticking out from behind the chair. The image of her head reflected in the fireplace mirror. “He’s using the mirror to target us. Do these curtains close?”
“Yes. The cord’s on the other side of the window.”
“I’m going to crawl under the window and close them. He’ll probably see my reflection in the mirror and start shooting, so stay hidden. As soon as the curtains close, crawl to the window as fast as you can and follow the wall to the entryway. Then get the hell out of the front of the house. Got it?”
“Got it.” Fiona’s voice quavered up the scale.
“Scared, but okay.”
As Mike crawled along the floor, a volley of shots rang out. The remainder of the pottery displayed on the hearth shattered. When he reached the other side of the window, he yanked the drapery cord. The curtains billowed closed.
“Now, Fiona!” he shouted. As she belly crawled across the floor, Mike held his breath. Bullets sprayed the room, punching through the heavy draperies, the shots veering from floor to ceiling. Don’t ricochet! he commanded. Fiona reached the cover of the exterior wall, and he let his breath out in a whoosh. “Hurry!”
When she came within arm’s reach, he grabbed her hand and yanked her the rest of the way across the room and into the entry. “Do you have a panic room?” She nodded, her eyes filled with fear.
“In the basement, behind the trophy wall.”
“Get in it, and don’t come out until I tell you to.”
“Where are you going?”
“To get the SOB who’s trying to kill you.”
Amazon buy links:
The Turning Stone Chronicles Series page
The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)
Blood Brothers(The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)
Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)
C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.