Saturday, December 17, 2005

Let's talk series...

Jeri Smith-Ready brought up an excellent writing point when she posted about having difficulty writing the second book in her LUNA series. It got me thinking ("A dangerous thing." "I know..."). Book #2 in a series is damn hard to write, and it's damn hard to find good ones, too. I've done it twice, and am almost ready to add a third 2nd book in a series (now that's confusing sounding) to my resume with the middle book in my YA contract. I'm not particularly looking forward to it. Here's the problem: the 2nd book needs to be able to stand alone, so the author must give enough info about the first book to fill in the new reader whilst not pissing off/boring someone who has already read book one. See - it's damn hard to do. I struggled hard with this writing Brighid's Quest. I wanted the book to stand alone - and from the reviews and readers' comments I think I managed that - but I did have to pay homage to Elphame's Choice. Of course what was more difficult was writing Divine by Choice - the sequel to my first book, Goddess by Mistake (which is going to be re-released under the title Divine by Mistake in September), because when I wrote GbM I didn't have a clue I was going to end up writing a sequel...let alone the 5 books I've sold to LUNA set in that world. Sigh. I can tell you that today I would have done several things different in GbM and made my life much easier later on...

So - what sequels have you found that are as good - and maybe better - than the first book? What jumps out at me first is Anne McCaffrey's classic Dragon Quest, which I loved even more than the first fabulous Pern book, Dragon Flight. I also adored Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' second Hawk book Snakecharm. Oddly enough, Diana Gabaldon's second Outlander book was just okay, but the third kicked ass.

What do you guys think?

15 comments:

Crystal Jordan said...

I loved Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Quest, too! Probably as a tie with the first one though.
Also, Heart Thief, Robin Owens' second Heart book was just awesome! Of course, my personal fave is the newest one Heart Choice, which is #5 in the series. Go figure.

Kathy said...

My personal favorite of Anne's was her "Talent" series. All the books in that were really good. I never quite was able to get into the "Pern" series. And to be frank, since her son started writing her series' they just aren't that good anymore.

Jeri said...

For the record, in case my editor is reading, I'm not having difficulty writing #2 in my Luna series, because I haven't started writing it yet. :-) I just turned in the outline.

In a way, I'm particularly looking forward to this one, because I tend to like "middle children." In movies, Empire Strikes Back and Two Towers were my favorites of their respective trilogies. The middle volume tends to be overall the darkest and the least requiring of a happy ending.

However, I think #2 of a trilogy has a different feel than a #2 of a longer or indeterminate length series. Is Partholon meant to be a trilogy or a longer series? Can't wait to read BQ!

PC Cast said...

Jeri - at least you have the outline done, which tends to be the most awful part for me. I'd rather work on 100,000 words than write a 10 page outline any day!

Well, Partholon began as just one book, and then I decided, 'hummm...this could be a trilogy.' So I planned 2 more, and finished the 2nd book fast (which I actually like better than the first), and then began the 3rd. But I couldn't get the rights back from the small publisher to book #1 (Goddess by Mistake) so I got pissed about those books just collecting dust under my bed, and I brainstormed until I figured out a way to turn book 3 into a new book 1 - use the same basic plot, but set it 100+ years in the future. So that became Elphame's Choice, which I sold to LUNA as book 1 in a trilogy. I already had a vague idea for book 2, Brighid's Quest, but no f-ing clue about book 3. Thankfully, I finally wrestled my rights back to GbM, so LUNA bought it and its sequel (which have become Divine by Mistake and Divine by Choice). So the 3rd book in the original LUNA contract is actually going to tie the 4 books together. What was once a trilogy has become a 5 book series. Did that totally confuse you???

Oh, and my daughter and I just finished book 1 in the YA series, so we're now starting on book 2. Sigh...but it doesn't really feel like the middle book of a trilogy to me because even though I sold 3 to St. Martin's I'm planning on this being a long series, which writes way differently than a trilogy. It doesn't wrap up. A major conflict gets resolved, but there's ALWAYS another one set up. Really if feels like I'm writing a long book in several parts. Or at least that's what I tell myself because it seems easier.

Kathy said...

It makes sense to me P.C. Another of my favorite authors, Lynsay Sands had similar trouble with her vampire series. The first three books that came out were actually released out of order. She had originally written 4 books but her publisher only bought 3. The 3 men's stories even though the girl's story was first. She has only JUST finally released the actual first novel in the story which is great for those of us who had gotten confused thinking we had skipped a book.-:)

PC Cast said...

Kathy - yeah, I know that kind of thing is frustrating for readers, but it drives authors totally crazy crazy crazy! I was insane when I couldn't get my Partholon books out in order, and I still have original fans of Goddess by Mistake (which came out in Aug 2001) emailing me and shrieking about how long they've waited for the sequel. Maddening... It's ironice that the LUNA edition of GbM, Divine by Mistake, will be out in Sept 06, then new readers will only have to wait till Dec 06 to get the sequel some fans have been waiting 5 years for!

Sasha White said...

Hey there!

I'm scared to attempt a series. :)

AND, I'm delurking to wish you a MERRY CHRSTMAS!!

Kathy said...

I just want to say to all I hope you had a wonderful Christmas/Hannukah and you have a fantastic and safe New Year.

Kelli McBride said...

Nora Roberts tends to write strong series books. I can't remember ever thinking that the second or third books was lesser than the first.

I also like Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series - they just get better.

Raymond Feist's RIFTWAR is one of my favs, though I did not care for the books he co-wrote with another author in the middle of this series.

Kay Hooper's Psy-FBI profilers series are fantastic - each just as intense and scary as the last.

Gena Showalter's Alien Huntress series and her Atlantis books - each better than the last.

Jessica Brown's 3 books about mer-people are excellent.

Kathy said...

I agree about Nora Roberts writing strong series. She's famous for her trilogies. If you go to her website she has up a list of 2006's releases including this year's trilogy which looks like it's gonna be interesting. I had trouble getting into her garden series though and that is rare. As for Raymond Feist, yeah his "Riftwar" series was great but he hasn't done anything in a long time. Real bummer. Also, the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling are great and the way they are written they are just not for kids. There are a lot of dark themes in the books and really a lot of adult problems like war facing kids. They're great.

PC Cast said...

I'm with you guys on Nora's trilogies. I got into the garden trilogy easily, but that might be because I was listening to it on CD, and the reader was excellent (Nora's readers are almost always very, very good). I'm waiting for the 3rd to come out on audio, and looking forward to it. I haven't read Feist's books, though I should. And I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter series. Unfortunately, right now I'm not reading much of anything - too swamped with the second of the YA books. So I'll slink back off to my writing cave...

PC Cast said...

Oh - P.S. - I ADORE GENA SHOWLATER! Thanks for mentioning her Kelli. Her books just get better and better!

Kathy said...

Red Lily is out now on both disk and cd. At least it is through Amazon.com. I have it on hold through the library. I was 68 in line and am now down to 7 so I'll get it eventually.:-)And I have to agree about Gena Showalter. I read my very first novel of her's, The Pleasure Slave and it was hilarious. I now have her website bookmarked in my favorites section.

If you'd like to read a really funny romance series I suggest you all try Katie MacAlister's Aisling Grey series. It's awesome. She's only released two novels in that so far but I know she intends to do about 7 in that series. Really funny.

PC Cast said...

Kathy - thanks for the info on Red Lily. I checked before Christmas and it wasn't available yet. Right now I'm listening to Brockman's Hot Target, so as soon as I finish that I'll get Lily!

Kathy said...

Anytime. I haven't been reading anything for over a week and I am so bummed about. My mom and I just got a whole bunch of new books that I really wanna read, but I can't right now. I have an awful cold. I tried reading but the words are all fuzzy. I finally got Brighid's Quest after having waited for more than a month for Luna to get it to me and I can't focus to read it. Total bummer.