To Write or Not To Write Your Sequel?

With a caique jumping all over my hands and laptop, and a bit of fatigue on my part, this post will probably be more difficult to write than it really ought to be.  It's really a simple topic: should you write the sequel to your novel or the next book in the series, when the first book has yet to draw an offer of representation or publication?

The majority of knowledgeable writers will tell you not to waste your time and to move on to a totally different project while you wait on responses to your queries and/or submissions.

I'm going to tell you the opposite: write what you need and want to write.

When it comes to writing, I am very serious about it.  I have been since I was 8-years-old.  Having a fantasy book published has been my dream for almost 3 decades.  However life in general went more in the 9-to-5 direction, so my writing was done at odd moments, such as 15-minute breaks at work.

Then I got to a time and a place in my life where I could devote more time to my writing.  I became a stay-at-home mom.  The first work on which I seriously focused was non-fiction (not just writing, but acquiring and editing).  In the past 10 years, I have seen several of my articles and reviews published in Pagan magazines.  I also was able to find the time to put into fiction and finally saw 2 of my books released last year.

Currently, I am in the process of querying a novel codenamed "Project Muffin Man".  It is meant to be the first in a series, though can easily stand on its own (and I would have no problem altering the ending to ensure that).  However, because I do hope to see a 3 to 5 book series with it, of course I have already thought ahead to the books that might follow.

Last year I completed its sequel, codenamed "Project Lemon Cake".  Was it a waste of my time to write it, even though "Muffin Man" is neither represented nor under contract with a publisher (yet)?

Not in my opinion, and here is why: I think that when you are immersed in a world and its characters, you should go with the flow of inspiration.  Fighting against this is what leads to the dreaded writer's block, or writing that is so forced it doesn't quite "fit" or flow well (versus those other times when you were writing for the joy of it).

In addition to that, I had very practical personal reasons for ensuring that the second book was completed and ready to go, should I be so fortunate as to receive an offer of representation or publication.

Despite what most writers will say, there is no rule whatsoever that says you cannot write your sequel, or the next book in a series.  If you are "feeling it", then write it.

Simple as that.

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

February: Bring it!

I love the snow.  As far as I am concerned, it isn't truly winter if we don't have at least some snow.  To me, 6 inches or less counts as a "dusting".  Still, enough to cover the ground and turn the world into a shimmering, white, wintry wonderland satisfies me.

On Saturday night during our D&D game, I peeked out the window and squealed with joy.  My friends thought I saw a spider on the wall.  What I saw was snow falling softly from the sky and accumulating to a nice, powdery depth of about 4-5 inches.

The snow drew my son outdoors to play in it.  I really wanted to play in it on Sunday too, but I had Saturday night sniffles.  My husband wanted me to take it easy.  Bah!  But I did anyway, and I felt much better by Monday morning.

February has brought, not just snow, but also responses from agents queried in January.  All in all, I would say that (looking at QueryTracker averages) I have experienced a pretty typical mix of rejections and requests.  I'm honored by the requests and appreciate the time agents take to read material.  The rejections don't actually hurt, because I know they aren't personal.  I smile and say to myself, "My book wasn't for them, but they're going to find some other fabulous books this year that are a perfect fit."

When I see the horror stories about some of the emails they receive from disgruntled rejectees (yes, I made up a word), I wonder just how rational writers are.  How can you castigate somebody for their taste and their opinion when it comes to matters of art?  Art of any type is entirely subjective.

For many years, I was a volunteer for The Beltane Papers.  The work included selecting articles from a pile of submissions, and editing for space and content.  Some articles made me cringe, cover my face with my hands and say, "No, absolutely not."  Some were good...  but not quite good enough.  I had to ask myself if readers would connect with the ideas in the article, and if the answer was no, the submission was rejected.

Agents have to do the same things.  First, they need to weed out the crap.  That is probably the easy part.  "It sucks.  No thanks.  Delete.  Moving on."

Then, when something does spark their interest, they need to consider if there is a market for it.  Some agents specifically say that they need to be able to come up with at least X-number of editors they know who would consider the manuscript.  If they can't, then they need to pass, even if the concept and writing are good.

It's important to keep these things in perspective when you're querying agents.  Be hopeful and optimistic, but also be rational.

Well, regardless of the combination of inclement weather and low odds of landing an agent, I'm looking at February with the attitude of "Bring it on!"  With 2 novels being released this year, a recent genealogical breakthrough, and all of the positive things in my personal life, I really can't find any reason to complain.

Unless the pile of books slowly accumulating on my bedside table is a valid reason...  When will I get to Switched by Amanda Hocking (yes, I had to buy the paperback; I'm not at all into ebooks), To Die For by Amy Plum, and The Mephisto Covenant?

I really don't know, because I picked up City of Bones at the library last month and I'm really enjoying it.  I took a break from it to read some non-fiction for personal reasons, but I'm back to City of Bones now.  Of course I grabbed the next book, City of Ashes, from the library last week.

Where I found Clockwork Angel to be slow and drag (not enough action; thank goodness Clockwork Prince moved forward at a faster pace), I feel that City of Bones is much better-written.  I think Cassandra Clare should stick to modern urban fantasy - she writes it very well.

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan