Happy Thursday everyone! The last day of November, & the last day of NaNoWriMo! Today I have Sorchia DuBois on my blog with her book, Zoralda Grey and the Family Stones. She shares her experience and what she learned when writing a series. I haven't written a series, but I have written books that are stand alones but related to each other, and it was a challenge for me to keep track of all the characters. Let's read about Sorchia's experience.
What I Learned about Writing a Series by Sorchia DuBois
Do me a favor. If I ever come to you with stars and unicorns in my eyes and say “I’m going to write a series (or trilogy or serial or anything of similar ilk)” I want you to splash a glass of cold water right in my face.
I’m a serial Not that writing my Zoraida Grey trilogy has been all bad. Here are the good things about it.
The characters became more complex. The way characters react to circumstances keeps plots from becoming cliché. In my Zoraida Grey series, I started out with the idea of taking a naïve, small-town fortuneteller to Scotland and putting her in a haunted castle with a bunch of seductive witches. Pretty much a standard Gothic set up. Nobody was more surprised than I (except maybe Zoraida) to find out how tightly her family roots wind around the black stones of Castle Logan. Her character grows with adversity and as she develops, so does everyone around her.
It’s fun to torture readers. Zoraida Grey is one story with three, book-length parts. Books 1 and 2 do have shorter quests, which are accomplished in each respective book, but the overriding story doesn’t end until the end of Book 3. I’ve taken a certain amount of flak for ending books 1 and 2 with cliffhangers. I crave attention so I love the outcry. I love it so much that I’ve taken to ending each chapter with a little cliffhanger to get readers ready for the big one at the end of the book. Stay tuned for Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen and let me know if it works.
The world building lasts longer. If you are going to go to all the trouble of developing a reality for the story, then it should hang around for more than 80K works. I spent a lot of time researching castles, northern Scotland, witches, and a lot of time writing family history—much of which will never be published in its entirety. But some of the stories were so compelling I had to finish them. Look for “The Witch and the Spaniard” in my Witchling anthology and maybe another one later in 2018.
While I appreciate the positives, the truth is writing a series has driven me to drink (okay, not really since that ship sailed a long, long time ago.) Here are some of the frustrating things about writing a series.
The Details! Keeping track of a myriad character, setting, and plot details is maddening. Just as I get in the zone and am writing a riveting scene, which will guarantee George Clooney an Oscar if he plays the part in the movie version, I suddenly forget the name of the waitress who showed up in chapter three, book one, but who has now become majorly important, and I can’t go on without that detail. My ZG Bible contains things like the name of the local diner where Zoraida and Zhu get their curly fries, descriptions and relationships on a twisted family tree, how to spell the Scottish word for vampire, and which direction the guard tower faces on the front gate of Castle Logan. When I do this again, I will start keeping track much, much earlier in the process.
Sometimes, the characters get bored or the plot hits a dead end. At that point, you have no choice but to resort to murder. That is my best advice. Watch the characters scramble when someone bursts in and announces they’ve found a body. At one point, I’d written Zoraida into a corner and couldn’t find an easy way out. So I killed someone. Problem solved. All I had to do then was figure out who done it, why they done it, and how that would affect the rest of the plot. So I poured myself a Scotch.
New ideas have to be put on a back burner. Well, I’ve had to bank the fire of random inspiration and get back to work. Right now I have a plan for a medieval romance, a contemporary murder mystery, another witchy series, and a couple of short stories in flagrante delicto, so to speak. And I’m about halfway through ZG3 which absolutely must be editor-ready by the end of the January at the very latest. I take notes when ideas hit me, and I think I’ll indulge myself as soon as I get to a point in ZG 3 where I feel comfortable leaving them for a bit.
As you write the last book of the series, you realize you should have hidden more Easter eggs and planted more seeds of foreshadowing in earlier books but it’s too damn late now because they are already published. Ya live, ya learn. The lesson here is to write the entire story before you publish any of it.
Fear that this is the only story you can ever come up with. After you’ve worked on one story for a couple of years, the thought is going to occur to you that this story has used up all of your imagination. Every bit of creativity is gone and you are destined to a life of failure and depravity. The trick is to keep pushing forward. I think this is what makes the difference between wannabes and actual writers. I lurked in the wannabe tribe for a good long time because of fear.
By the time the third book finds its way to book sellers sometime in 2018, Zoraida Grey will have turned into a three-year project. I’ve grown as a writer and learned a million things—most of them things to never do again. It’s really been a lot of fun, now that I think about it.
So that cold water in the face won’t be a deterrent, but it will remind me of the pain and suffering I’m about to step into. With any luck, it will also remind me what I learned the last time.
And then, I’ll do it again.
Blurb from Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones
Granny’s dying, but Zoraida can save her with a magic crystal of smoky quartz. Too bad the crystal is in Scotland––in a haunted castle––guarded by mind-reading, psychopathic sorcerers.
Getting inside Castle Logan is easy. Getting out––not so much. Before she can snatch the stone, Zoraida stumbles into a family feud, uncovers a wicked ancient curse, and finds herself ensorcelled by not one but two handsome Scottish witches. Up to their necks in family intrigue and smack-dab in the middle of a simmering clan war, Zoraida and her best friend Zhu discover Granny hasn’t told them everything.
Not by a long shot.
Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones is the first book in the trilogy. Get a copy here:
A sneak peek at Book 2-- Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen (Not quite ready for prime time—I see a couple of ways to make this better so . . . .)
The smell of fresh dew and mimosa blossoms drifts through my bedroom window on a cool morning breeze. I open my eyes and the sight of Zhu’s quiet house next door snaps me awake. On happier mornings, I’ve looked out my bedroom window to find Zhu hanging upside down from her roof brushing spider webs from the eaves or digging grave-like holes for new rose bushes. Today her house is dead, its soul elsewhere. I can’t bear the sight of it.
An ominous gurgle in my stomach reminds me––as if the ache in my head isn’t enough––that I drank my supper last night. When I shuffle down the stairs on wobbly legs, I find my couch full of Scotsman and black cat. Snoring softly, Shea cradles Johnny Lee in one arm and an empty Laphroaig bottle in the other. His legs dangle over one armrest and his lurid Bermuda shorts clash with my upholstery. Why is he here when Zhu isn’t? For no particular reason, I pull the flowered cushion from beneath his head with a jerk.
Johnny Lee bounds to the matching chair and blinks green eyes. Shea hits the floor with a solid thump and sprawls across my rug.
Wow, Sorchia. Sounds like it was quite challenging for you to keep track of everything in your series. So glad you were able to get through it.
Let's find out a little more about Sorchia!
Sorchia Dubois Bio and Contact links
Award-winning author Sorchia Dubois lives in the piney forest of the Missouri Ozarks with seven cats, two fish, one dog, and one husband. She enjoys a wee splash of single-malt Scotch from time to time and she spends a number of hours each day tapping out paranormal romance, Gothic murder, and Scottish thrillers.
A proud member of the Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at Scottish festivals watching kilted men toss large objects for no apparent reason.
Her stories blend legends, magic, mystery, romance, and adventure into enchanted Celtic knots. Halloween is her favorite time of year (she starts decorating in August and doesn’t take it down until February) and her characters tend to be mouthy, stubborn, and a bit foolhardy. Nothing makes her happier than long conversations in the evening, trips to interesting places, and writing until the wee hours of the morning. Well, chocolate cake makes her pretty happy, too.
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/SorchiaDuBois/e/B00B60NOUQ/
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879978.Sorchia_DuBois
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SorchiaDuBois
Thank you so much, Sorchia, for stopping by. Your stories sound very intriguing and I wish you lots of success.
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