Tag Archives: part of a series

#SaysTheEditor Series Book Two (or Three, or Four or…)

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I did it. I really did.

Over at GoodReads, I gave one star to a book I’d picked up without realizing it was the second in a series. The book had arrived here years ago, back during my crazy book trading days, and had sat and waited for me to finally read it. And this past week was finally its time.

So I looked it over. “Are you part of a series?” I asked it.

It’s a book, so it didn’t answer. Go figure.

And maybe I should have looked it up online, but it was late, I wanted to crawl in bed and read, and hey, the book wasn’t showing in any way that it was part of a series.

I spent seven pages constantly wondering a rousing WTF before I gave up. I had zero clue what was going on in this book… it was a cluster of words and images I couldn’t make heads or tails out of. When I realized that the first chapter didn’t explain things any better than the prologue had, I gave up.

It wasn’t until I logged on to GoodReads that I realized it wasn’t a standalone book. Which explained much, but…

And here’s the point of my post:

As authors, you owe at least a hint that your reader is now holding Number Whatever. Publishers need to mark books clearly (does anyone think that maybe this is partly why some authors get hit with the dreaded “bad sales” label).

I am often asked by clients how much of the first book or books is enough, how much is too much, how much is not enough. That’s not something that can actually be quantified, because every book is different, every book in a series relies on its predecessors differently, and not every series builds the same way. Like everything else, the answer to “how much” is entirely subjective.

Obviously, that’s where a good editor (ahem) can help. Getting it right can be hard, and an experienced set of eyes is always a good thing.

But more to the point, this is a good one to run past your beta readers. “Do you need more of the past history” is a completely valid question to ask a beta, especially if the beta hasn’t read the previous books. Ask and encourage them to mark up the spots where they get lost, or where a little more explanation (but never an info dump!) is needed. And remember that you may get different answers from readers who’re familiar with your series than you will get from new readers. Finding the balance between those two needs is your goal. Enough to catch a new reader up, but not so much that you bore your reader.

I don’t feel good about that one-star review. I thought about not reviewing the book at all, but I’d promised myself that I’d leave even a short review for every book I read in 2017. And I made it clear in that review that you can’t read this book without having read the first — and that I think the author (and in this case, the publisher) have an obligation to help a new reader into the world. Not that I need a complete recap or background, but it would have entirely changed my reading experience if I’d known even a little bit of what was going on with the swirling colors and the loss of magic and who these people were and why I should care.

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Featured New Book: Fire Storm by ME Sutton

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Starla sent Geoff to tell our visitors that she would receive them in the reception hall. With a situation as serious as this, there was no doubt that she wanted to appear as authoritative as possible.

For my own part, I refrained from chewing my fingernails with a great deal of difficulty. I knew Galen pretty well, or at least I knew Stu’s version of Galen. Was he the same? Or was I about to come face-to-face with Stu in digital form, just as underneath Lyla’s face, I was really Jaycee Hiller, eighth-grade nobody? And how was I to know? Talk about awkward situations.

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Featured New Book: Collide Into You by Kelly Washington

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I can’t recall if Kelly Washington has stopped in at West of Mars before. I know her alter ego, Della Roth (formerly Jean 8), has.

Kelly’s good people. Special people in my world. So don’t just read this post. Be sure you go pick up a copy of her newest romance, Collide Into You. Here’s why.

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What song makes me think of my book? “Afraid” by The Neighborhood.

YouTube link (with lyrics!) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsLMoxa6xZ0, the key lyrics being, “When I wake up, I’m afraid somebody else might take my place.” (Note the explicit version of this song.)

Now, this song is somewhat on the darker/moodier side, and my novel, Collide Into You, is a romantic comedy with a “touch of magic”. Hmmm… these two emotions don’t exactly mix, now do they? However, this is a body swap romantic comedy and, one day, my two romantic leads (Keira and Dillan) literally wake up as somebody else–each other–with hilarious and touching results.>

Sounds good, huh? Here’s the description:

When twenty-seven-year-old Army Sergeant Keira Holtslander, an orderly and rule-loving intelligence analyst, is reassigned to the Pentagon for a special assignment, she agrees to room with her brother’s best friend, Dillan Pope. But there’s a problem. Several, in fact. He’s sarcastic, egotistical, full of himself, extremely attractive, and a womanizer. Within a matter of days, her life is chaos. She didn’t like him when they met nine years ago, and her opinion isn’t likely to change now.

Dillan Pope, a thirty-year-old career businessman climbing his way up the corporate ladder, has learned to use his looks, charm, and sexual skills to his advantage. There isn’t much he cannot accomplish. Women easily tumble into his bed and business deals come about effortlessly. But when his best friend’s little sister moves in, he knows he’s in trouble. She’s rather hostile toward him, which takes him by surprise. Not even his patented smile works on her, but maybe that’s why Keira, aka Sergeant Prim and Proper, has always been the one girl he hasn’t been able to forget since their first meeting, nine years ago.

When a meddling barista puts a charm on the roommates, causing them to swap bodies, they must live as the other until they both own up to some hard truths. They quickly learn that panic, fighting, and accusations will get them nowhere. Until they can learn the lessons they refuse to acknowledge, they experience life as the other. Along the way they are forced to concede that maybe the other isn’t so bad.

Maybe there’s a reason they hated each other. And admitting the feelings that lay hidden may be the only way to undo the switch.

 

Nice, huh? I’ve … read this one. If you get my drift. Yes, I’m biased.

Get your own copy, exclusively at Amazon.

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Featured New Book: Wedding Bliss by ME Sutton

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This has been a funny week, because I’ve had two authors fighting over the spotlight this week!

Okay, not fighting in the traditional sense, but … oh, it’s a long story. What makes it funny is that the two authors involved have strong ties to West of Mars. I’m feeling very good right now, knowing my plans to build community, not just be an editor, are working. (and yes, there’s room for you to join in. So join us!)

Mary Duncan 1

 

Yes, today’s guest is our good friend M. E. Sutton. You may recognize her. She’s got a new book in her Middle Grade series out today and I’ve read it. Let me tell you: this series is just getting better and better. (Okay, I lied. I haven’t read this one. Yet.)

So, Mary, what song makes you think of Wedding Bliss?

Okay, it is genre inappropriate. It might be age inappropriate, I’m not sure. But I absolutely cannot think of the word “wedding” without thinking of Billy Idol’s WHITE WEDDING. I’m not exactly sure why. The lyrics of the song don’t really relate to the subject matter of the book. But the two are twined in my mind. And maybe that’s not the most horrible thing. When the song hit it’s popularity (1982) I was, um, much younger than I am now. Billy stayed popular while I went through middle school, the same age Jaycee is in the book. So when I went to dances, or hung out with my friends, chances are I would hear WHITE WEDDING. So when I hear it now, on the Sirius/XM 80s channel, it takes me back to eighth grade. Not all of my memories of that time are fantastic, but the song always makes me smile. Here it is on YouTube.

We won’t discuss how old I was before I understood what White Wedding was actually about. So yeah, this isn’t terribly appropriate… but who cares! That’s the beauty of inspiration. You never know what’ll make it take hold or where it’ll take you.
Ready for what the book’s actually about, since it’s not about sneers and bleached hair and bad 80s fashion?
Lyla has long believed that Roger and Lady Starla belong together even though Roger insists that Starla is above his station. When handsome and noble Perry Goodhaven shows up and wins the lady’s affection, it seems at quick glance a more fitting match.

Soon after Perry’s arrival, Roger and other servants close to Lady Starla notice a change. She sleeps a lot more than usual, is lethargic when she is awake, and defers important decision-making to Perry.

With Roger incarcerated over false accusations of treason, it is up to Jaycee, aka Lyla Stormbringer, to clear Roger’s name and uncover the truth about the man positioning himself to rule Mallory with an iron fist.

 

Nice! No Billy Idol in there, indeed. Unless he wants to play Perry Goodhaven in the movie version. (I’m hoping Mary didn’t just spit her coffee at her monitor.)

Pick up your very own copy. Bill Idol not included.

*Note about availability: the book’s right now only at Amazon, but will arrive at all other platforms in the fall. Can I wait that long? Ugh. Perhaps not.

 

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