Tag Archives: stories

IWSG: Writing the Sequel

InsecureWritersSupportGroup The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts the first Wednesday of every month.

I’ve done it now. My YA fantasy novel Changers: Manifesting Destiny is due out from Evernight Teen some time this summer. (It’s in editing now, and I’m also waiting to see the cover.) Thing is, it’s ostensibly the first in a trilogy. Which means I’m on the hook for two more books.

I’ve outlined what needs to happen in the second book (Changers: The Great Divide), and I’ve begun writing it, but . . . It feels so much weightier to write a sequel. There’s more riding on it, and I keep asking myself whether it’s good enough, which strangely was not a question I asked myself while writing the first book.

What’s keeping me sane right now is having a second, unrelated project—a Regency romance—going at the same time. Yes, it’s more work, but it somehow actually helps relieve the pressure a bit.

So what causes me to seize up when writing a sequel? I do this, too, when writing new Sherlock Holmes stories, and I think it’s the pressure to “live up to” the others. Whatever that means. It’s such an amorphous, subjective thing. But there’s an expectation—one I put on myself more than anything others put on me—and it paralyzes me a bit.

Still, I must trudge forward. Don’t want too much time to pass between books. Of course, if the first book doesn’t do well, maybe there will be no call for a sequel. But that’s another worry for another IWSG.

Meanwhile, please do check out my short story “Aptera,” which was published today on Aurora Wolf. It’s a contemporary tale of mythological sirens. Read it here.

2016 Goals Update

These are the goals with which I started the year. Items in green are accomplished.

1. Finish the revision of Changers.
2. Find an agent or publisher for Changers.
3. With my co-writer, finish the Hard Reset script.
4. Write and release at least one more Sherlock Holmes story.
5. Attend at least one writing conference and/or do at least one reading or signing.

The writing conference hasn’t happened yet, but I’m registered for it. I’ll be attending the Writer’s Digest conference in New York in August.

As for finding an agent or publisher for Changers, there has been some interest, so I have hopes it will work out.

I’m waiting for my co-writer to finish his end of the Hard Reset script. So in the meantime, I’ll be turning my attention to writing another Sherlock Holmes story . . . AND probably also poke at the Peter sequel. I’ve got about three pages of it written.

In fact, I’m doing so well it may be time to add another goal. I’m thinking:

6. Find a home for “Aptera.”

“Aptera” is a short story I wrote on spec for a specific anthology. If you read this blog at all regularly, you may remember that it was shortlisted but eventually rejected because it was too different from the other stories; it didn’t fit in with the overall tone of the anthology. So I’m hoping to find a home for it. It’s been rejected a couple more times, but I do believe in this story, so I don’t want to give up on it.

I’m pleased with my progress so far, despite a multitude of rejections in less than two months. Comes with the territory, I suppose. But I’ll keep my head down and keep plugging away. Ti par ti, as we say back home—little by little, I’ll get there.

Too Unique?

I received some bad news last night. A short story I’d written on spec for an anthology was rejected. It had been shortlisted, and I’d really hoped it would make it into the anthology. But ultimately, though the editor said it was a good story, it “didn’t fit with the others.”

Summed up, it was too unique, too different from all the rest. An odd duck.

I had actually worried about this a bit. I knew the story was a good one, but as the anthology editor began posting about the kinds of submissions she was receiving, I could tell my story was very different. And I knew that eventually, as said editor began whittling down to who and what would make the final cut, if my story was an outlier it would probably end up rejected.

It’s like stew. You want a variety of ingredients, but you want the flavors to all blend, I guess. You don’t want some random mandarin orange in with your beef and veggies. That would be weird.

Though I understand why it happened, I’m really pretty bummed. I’m going to have to start hunting for another outlet for the story. I only hope it isn’t so unique that no one has a place for it.

Insecure Writers Support Group

I’ve never done one of these. I don’t know if I’m supposed to officially sign up somewhere or what. But I feel like it’s fair for me, as a writer, to voice things that make me anxious or nervous about my work.

Like choosing the next project. I get emails from readers every now and then (and I love that!) asking whether I’ll be writing [fill in the blank]. And then I feel all excited that someone wants (a) a K-Pro sequel, (b) another Sherlock Holmes story (especially one explaining Lord Llewellyn), (c) to know where the hell Peter Stoller is and when they can read about him again (A: look at the countdown on the sidebar), (d) more “Hamlette,” (e) something else entirely, possibly that I’ve never even heard of, but will I please write it anyway.

Um . . .

So I keep a list on my desk of potential projects and when I hear enough rumblings from people, I push this or that one to the top of the list. But it IS anxiety inducing because I do want to please my readers, but it’s a lot of pressure! And then I also have directors wanting screenplays and that kind of thing, too.

So, yeah, I worry that I can’t do it all, or at least not quickly enough.

I guess, however, I should look at it from the positive side and be grateful I’m in demand.

But then I get nervous that, if and when I do write these things, the readers won’t like them. I mean, I love Peter (as much as I can be in love with an imaginary gay man), and I’m happy with his story and excited to share it with everyone, but what if they all hate it? *gulp*

So, yeah. That’s what I get insecure about as a writer.

Thanks for listening.

Good News + Monday Music

I’ve just had a look at the final cut of Adverse Possession, the short film made from my play “Warm Bodies.” Rolling Circle Productions has submitted it to the San Francisco Independent Film Festival; I really hope it gets picked up, since I would love to see it on the big screen!

Nice way to start a Monday the 13th. (Well, and I did cross a black cat’s path this morning on my walk. I hope he believed I was good luck.)

Songs for today’s walk were:

1. “Change Your Mind” by The Killers
2. “Crawling in the Dark” by Hoobastank
3. “Human Wheels” by John Mellencamp
4. “Forever December” by Tabitha’s Secret
5. “Love” by American Authors
6. “Bullet From a Gun” by The Script
7. “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow
8. “Read My Mind” by The Killers
9. “December” by Collective Soul

Oh, and I also received the audio version of my short story “A.B.C.” from voice artist Noelle Messier. You can find a link to it on the sidebar. So flattered she chose to record my story!


Today on the Big Reveal, Suzi asked about character names. And it’s funny because not so long ago I was thinking about my use of the name Charles.

I’ve used the name Charles repeatedly, which is weird because I don’t normally use names more than once. But somehow, at different parts of my writing career, Charles has popped up and managed to finagle his way into my work.

In my Sherlock Holmes story “Mystery of the Last Line,” there is a passing reference to a man named Charles who (it turns out) had been in love with Mycroft.

In another Sherlock story I wrote, Charles became a sinister predator who had once been Sherlock’s chemistry instructor and was now one of Moriarty’s men, developing an addictive—and fatal—new drug.

And if you’ve read any of the Peter Stoller books, you know Charles as Peter’s true love.

So what we gather from this is: All versions of Charles in my work are British and gay.

Now what’s interesting is that Charles was the name of my first “official” boyfriend. But he was obsessive, calling all the time (this was before mobile phones), and we had an awkward breakup. So I’m not sure how I carried that name forward into my work, why I imbued it with these foreign qualities that have little relation to the Charles I knew. (Well, maybe the obsessiveness is there in some of these incarnations. But my Charles I met at church. And he was definitely not gay. Or British even, more’s the pity.)

My uncle’s name is also Charles, but he’s always been called by his middle name, so I don’t feel that’s particularly relevant.

Anyway, it’s interesting sometimes to reflect on the underpinnings of one’s psyche. Something about “Charles” is rooted in mine evidently. Though now that I have such a fine specimen in Charles Toulson (Peter’s lover), I don’t think I’ll be using the name again.