Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, August 22, 2008

I finished Book Two!

First, there was fear. Fear and anxiety. My beta readers talked about how GREAT the first book in my series was. How much they liked it. Now that I was starting on Book 2, I had to ask myself: "Will I be able to wow them again?"

That's when a realization struck. This is what it must feel like for the series writer. People LOVE the first book, and they expect the second book to just blow them away as much as the first one. And there's
that doubt, that fear, that nervousness, over being able to give them another great story featuring the same stars of the show.

I already knew how I was going to do this. Each book in this series has to be able to stand on its own. Each book must be a brand new adventure that readers won't need previous books to read in order to understand. Book Two does not pick up where Book One leaves off. It's just another story with these characters. So I didn't have any concerns over the how.

Just concerns over the "what if?"

What if readers hate the second book, and decide NOT to read the next one?

What if I can't come up with ANOTHER great story featuring these same characters?

What if I lose interest?

What if I hate it so much that I don't finish it?

What if the agent/publisher I eventually find prefers the second book over the first one? Am I setting the first book up to be a trunk novel??

Eventually, I literally had to force myself to just write the story. JUST WRITE IT! There were so many fears and doubts and worries.

And false starts. I tried this beginning, but it just didn't seem right. Tried another beginning, THAT didn't seem right, either. Finally, one of the main characters just started talking. Just telling the story -- from her POV! The stories are written in third person limited POV, not first person. So I quibbled over writing it that way. That just wasn't right! But I eventually gave in and, soon enough, the POV went from being first-person to the one I wanted. (Which is why the first chapter in the final draft will be dropped.)

And I hated the first draft. LOL I did. The writing stunk. I kept making marginal notes over areas that needed to be fixed when I revise it.

But, you know what? It got written. The WHOLE thing -- all of it -- was written up and completed. I finished the very last chapter this morning. I DID IT! I wrote the second book in my series! Woo-hoo!!

When I got to the last chapter of this book, I was literally stunned. I kept thinking, 'Wow. I'm on the LAST CHAPTER. Of Book Two. This is it! This is where I finish it!' The funny thing is, I kept pacing back and forth, just STARING at the page reading "Chapter Fourteen." LOL Total nervousness took over. This chapter has to be GOOD. Better than all of the others. This chapter has to make the reader want to read the NEXT book. This was the Moment of Truth! So I eventually sat down to write it and I was satisfied with how it came out. Had a HUGE case of writer's cramp after I was done with it, though. Heh. (Makes a mental note to get some Epsom Salt.)

The only thing hard about writing the second book in my series was how different it was from the first book. The first book is shorter and it has 12 chapters. This book has longer chapters, and the chapters total fourteen. At first, I worried over this. Two chapters more than what is acceptable for this age group? Oh, the scandal! But I decided on two things: I could fix it during revisions AND I will leave the decision over the chapter thing up to my agent. If I ever FIND one, that is. But, that's my decision on that. Leave it up to the agent. There is nothing in there that shouldn't be in there. It's a well-rounded story and ALL of the conflicts get resolved.

There are parts of the story that highlight honesty, friendship, family, teamwork and respecting our elders.

There are parts of the story discussing a piece of equipment used by paranormal investigators. (It's a paranormal mystery series.)

There are parts of the story where the main characters recognize their mistakes and owe up to them.

And, of course, a couple of main characters struggle with a personal issue (one has problems with his mother, the other dealing with bullies at school), and that was resolved, too.

With the first book, I had to do research on EVP detectors and the Shakers. With this book, I had to do research on food poisoning cases and Massachusetts legislature. (The fictional town is set in the state of Massachusetts, though that's never mentioned in any of the books.) That second thing was a learning experience. I didn't know, for example, that towns in Massachusetts don't have mayors. I made a mental note to check out a bunch of books on that state and hopefully I'll be able to make everything appear more realistic. Even though it IS a fictional town! (Heck, I've never even VISITED that state. Well, it's on my "To Do" list. :) )

So, there you have it. How I Conquered the Anxieties of Writing Book Two! LOL Now instead of feeling nervous or fearful of writing the third book, I'm ready to take it on when the time comes. I did it before, and I can do it again!

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  • At 9:31 AM , Blogger colbymarshall said...

    You're braver than I am...I wanted badly to make my first book into a series, but I was so afraid of what would happen if no one picked up the first one. Well, so far they haven't, but I still hope one day I'll write those characters again! Good luck with yours, and congrats on finishing it!

  • At 12:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hi Dawn,

    Congrats on finishing book #2! That's really great.

    Curious- where did you read Massachusetts doesn't have town Mayors? I hail from there and that's news to me. And yes- you should visit it. :)

    take care,

  • At 10:59 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Colby: I have had the same fear. I haven't YET signed with an agent, but I'm still hopeful these books will one day be in print. If anything, optimism is a writer's best friend! :)

    Gypsy: Yikes! Really? Hm, I guess I got the wrong information. Thank you for setting the record straight. I just MAY be asking you for more info. :)

  • At 4:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    HI Dawn,
    feel free to email me any questions regarding MA. You can find me over at Absolute Write.

    The city I grew up in (near Boston) had a mayor. And the current mayor of Boston itself is Mr. Menino.

    Perhaps small "towns" don't have Mayors? Heh, I should google this myself...

    take care,

  • At 4:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hi Dawn,
    Ok. Small towns in MA are governed by Selectmen and Town Meeting. Cities are governed by a Council or Board and may/ or may not have a Mayor. Whether a place in MA is a town or city mainly depends on what form of government it chooses. here's the link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_government#Form_of_government:_city_vs._town

    . There's like 6 different forms of government a city can choose.

    And the State can't decide how many cities it has. They figure between 39 and 50.

    -geesh! they really like to confuse people. (even its own citizens) I miss the place but it sure is nutty! :)

  • At 11:02 AM , Blogger Ronald L. Smith said...

    Wow! What a great post, Dawn. Although I have only written one book (hey, I've never written that before: "Only written one book." That's cool!) I do see how I could do a series on the same characters.

    I hope I can get there. And I hope you have great luck in landing an agent. But more importantly, just keep writing, because it seems like something you just have to do!

  • At 10:39 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Gypsy, thank you SO MUCH!! Wow, you rock for hunting down that info for me! Yay! While my fictional town is based on an actual historical town in that state, it is smaller and more rural. Everybody knows everyone. So I guess it would not have a mayor. It doesn't hurt the story that there isn't one, really. Like I said, I found another way to put the idea I had to good use. :)

    And, yes, I'll probably be emailing you my questions about MA! Books can only tell you so much.

    PB: You are so correct. Writers write. We can't NOT write. Series or not, agent or not, we just WRITE. It's a call we can't ignore. But thank you so much for your kind words. :) I'm glad this blog post was inspiring. I hope you have much luck with your book, whether or not you turn it into a series. At least the series writing is good practice. :)


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