Thursday, October 22, 2015

Shifting category within a series

I am writing a YA series.  The first story is in my final editing and I am working on the second with ideas for #3. I plan to query in a few months after final touches to #1 mss.  
I decided #1 is urban fantasy / paranormal romance.  There are hints that some people are not from our world in the first book, but it all takes place in a very ordinary town.  At the end of the book, the main character is taken to another world.  I don't get into space travel or aliens (much) in #2, but it isn't our world and the story takes place in a city with a castle and royalty... more of a sci-fi / epic fantasy with still that paranormal romance as another main story line.  .   
I know people like to know what they are getting into when they start a book.   Do you think this shift of genre within a series is a marketing failure waiting to happen?  I couldn't find many examples of a series that change like that.  Would that immediately turn you off as an agent? 

Remember I don't work in YA much. And I really don't work in urban fantasy/paranormal romance.

I will tell you that one of the great truisms of writing a synopsis is to make sure aliens don't suddenly arrive in chapter 14.

While yours don't, they do arrive in the next book.

The question you want to ask yourself here is whether readers who love urban fantasy and paranormal romance are going to love the story in Book #2. Does it have the elements of the kinds of stories your readers like?  In other words, will they go along with you for the ride?

And let's just all remember that it takes the dragons awhile to arrive in Game of Thrones.

And Sookie Stackhouse got much darker as the books progressed.

Write the book you want to write. See where it takes you. Readers will follow a good story. 



Donnaeve said...

This harkens back to the post from yesterday, and I sense QOTKU banging the drum on story, story, story.

Sure, there are rules - but haven't rules been broken (ALL THE TIME) by writers taking the chance because it was the way they had to tell their story, yet it was the story which held up those broken rules?

I'm not saying put your dragons in Chp 14 by any means - maybe you don't have dragons, but whatever is supposed to show up, if the story is absolutely STUPENDOUS, a reader won't care that they're there, they will just want to know - SH*T!!!! What happens next???

Donnaeve said...

Sure is lonely out here.

Unknown said...

Lol...morning Donna.

Nothing really to add. If I care enough about the characters to know what's going to happen to them, I'll keep reading.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

G'morning, Donna and Amanda. Same here. Not much to add.

As Donna and Janet have said, the story is the thing. Tell the story.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Sorry to leave you alone for so long, Donna- traffic was a ... Well you know

OP- don't sub genre yourself this early on. Write the story as you see it. I have seen this kind of thing work - look at Stephen King's Dark Tower series- it weaves in and out of every conceivable genre fluidly. It revisits every story the man has ever written. There are Cowboys, monsters, and trains, mad scientists, and time and dimension travel. Call your book fantasy and let agent/ publisher take it from there.

Again we see the profound wisdom in Janet's query workshops. Give the hook first and then give your best guess at genre. It sounds like Richard Paul Evans' Michael Vey series or even Ransom Riggs' Peculiar Children series could be decent comps for you. YA fantasy is a big category that covers all sorts of oddities and blurred genres. Tell your story. Worry about those pesky old bookshelves later.

Adib Khorram said...

I was thinking of THE DARK TOWER myself! And, in young adult, THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING and its sequel.

I am not well-versed in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, but I am certain there are series that shift genres midstream. You have to keep reading widely.

To the library!!

InkStainedWench said...

I don't know all the rules about genres and categories, but as a reader, I can say that I would LOVE a series that began in a very ordinary town and exploded into fantastic realms. Wizard of Oz, anyone? YA readers are dying to get out of East Bug Tussle, and I think that progression would be magical as long as the magical groundwork was laid in the first book.

Colin Smith said...

Morning all!

As soon as Mighty and Blessed QOTKU mentioned GAME OF THRONES I said to myself "YES!" (I didn't say it out loud for fear of waking my wife--I read the post earlier). But what a perfect example. I've only read A GAME OF THRONES (the first book in the series), and I did so because I wanted to read "adult" fantasy that's a bit more up-to-date than Tolkien. Not that fantasy's my genre of choice, but the best way to understand a genre is to read its most popular authors.

Anyhow, so I'm chugging through A GAME OF THRONES, expecting elves, dwarves, wizards, and magic (and not expecting it to be "adult" in that sense, which it is), and I'm seeing nothing of the kind. Nothing for seven hundred some-odd pages. The environment smacks of what I would expect of fantasy. I almost expect a goblin to drop out of one of the trees in the forest. And there are hints at something "magical," but Martin saves the big stuff--the dragons--until the very end.

I haven't read beyond Book One, and I'm avoiding the series until I've read further in, so no spoilers please! :)

Yes, what Opie wants to do can be done, and has been done. HOWEVER, I would like to offer a strategy suggestion. Think: how does George R. R. Martin get away with writing a fantasy series where the first novel doesn't sound much like fantasy at all (side question: how would you categorize that first novel?)? He gets away with it because, unless I'm grossly mistaken, George R. R. Martin had already established himself as a fantasy writer before he wrote these books. So, Opie, here's my suggestion. If fantasy is your gig, don't make this series the first one you query. Write something else that is obviously fantasy, and that will be much easier to query. Once you have an agent and a published fantasy novel or two under your belt, it will be much easier (I imagine) to sell a series where the fantasy doesn't kick in until chapter 17. By then, people will know you as a fantasy writer, and will be intrigued by the way you're mixing things up in this new series.

Just a thought. Of course, her most mighty and majestic QOTKU sharkliness is correct. Always. *grovel, grovel* Not that I'm in fear of what awaits me tomorrow or anything... 8-O

Colin Smith said...

Clarification: "and I'm avoiding the series" = i.e., the TV series.

DLM said...

Following the story is always good.

But this is a case for alpha readers, beta readers, more readers, and on unto the omega readers. If your (MANY) readers can go with you, the story holds. If you get two out of five folks stumbling over the new developments, find out where exactly the problem lies - is it the plot alone, does the voice change over this arc, is the believability of the setting stretching too thin, is there a tonal shift that betrays the promise of the first book?

You need to hold an audience. So get a sample audience of people you can trust to competently critique these elements. It's like taking the play upstate before you open on Broadway: they'll tell you whether this can work on a larger stage.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Donna, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Well that was scary.

I am amazed by how many writers think so far down the line it stifles their creative ideas.

I'm a planner, a list maker, I like to know what's going to happen before it happens, but only if I'm throwing a party, food shopping or sitting in the dentist's chair. And this is from a person who wrote the query, and complete outline of my latest WIP before I typed the first word. Genre? Haven't a clue. But I'm having a hell of a ride.

OP, I guess what I'm trying to say is that,(in the beginning), the process of writing is more about the journey and less about the vehicle you're in. Urban fantasy or Ford it doesn't matter what set of wheels gets you there, just that arrive at "the end".

E.M. Goldsmith said...

My little demented Carkoon self is so tempted to send Colin off to the dread nether regions beyond Carkoon with a host of spoilers in Game of Thrones. I have both read all the books and watched the series up to date. I will just neatly hide the spoilers in Colin's laptop bag.

It comes down to the dwarf in the library with a candlestick ...

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: I think Opie's dilemma is that he knows what genre the series is, but that's not what you get from book 1. And since he can only query book 1, if the agent reading the query expects it to be urban fantasy, and all she sees is urban, she might question a) whether the writer knows his Gollums from his griffins, and b) whether the writer has queried the correct agent. And then there's a similar concern with the audience. Hence my suggestion to establish oneself with something undoubtedly of your chosen genre first, and then publish a series like this.

Donnaeve said...

Mornin' ya'll.

Of course, I probably should have mentioned that breaking rules ain't easy - unless you're Stephen King. Then again, there are debut writers who've done just that, and maybe that was not because of that, but b/c the writing was spectacular!

Alice Sebold - LOVELY BONES - Ms. Janet posted the book this week for other reasons, but some would say "don't start the story with the character's name" which Sebold did in the very first sentence.

Another was THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger, and she broke the rule of writing in first person, present tense.

There are others, but every site I find these rule breakers on, the main thrust of the message is the story is what's important.

Colin Smith said...

Correction: In my last comment I said "he" but I don't think Opie's gender was identified. Correct to "s/he." Thanks! :)

*sigh* it's going to be a long day...

Dena Pawling said...

I will preface this comment with the note that I know much more about adult romance than YA, so this might not be entirely true of YA. Also, if you are an established author, you have much more leeway in breaking rules than if you are a debut author, altho not necessarily romance rules.......

I have a paranormal romance WIP, altho I'm considering calling it urban fantasy because it doesn't follow all of the “requirements” of a romance. And yes, some genres, like romance, have RULES. Sure, we can break some rules if the story is good, but most romance readers have definite expectations and my story doesn't follow all of them. Some examples: the romance is the central story [this is 100% required], must end on a positive “happily ever after” or “happily for now” note [this is 100% required], must be written in the POV of one or alternating both of the MCs [currently alternating both is preferred], and close third person POV is generally preferred. If your story breaks some rules and/or doesn't nail the requirements of a romance, don't call it a romance. Call it urban fantasy. I'm currently deciding on this for my story, because it has three POV and the third one isn't one of the MCs [and it isn't a menage]. I either need to rewrite into just the two POV of the MCs, or call it urban fantasy.

You wrote about book #2 – “more of a sci-fi / epic fantasy with still that paranormal romance as another main story line.” The romance must be THE main storyline, not ANOTHER main storyline, in a romance. Does book #1 end with a happily-for-now? Are they engaged and/or looking like they'll be together forever? And does book #2 go on from there, to a wedding or something like that? Plus you need a crisis/black moment in each book, which must be that they're not right for each other and/or split up [remember, it's all about the romance]. If not, then you definitely need to call it urban fantasy.

My suggestion is to read lots of recent books in these categories, especially if you really want to call it a romance. Otherwise, you can still write the story you want to write, and I would add a few more hints about otherworld characters in book #1, but my opinion is you're better off calling it an urban fantasy with a romantic sub-plot.

Donnaeve said...

Half thoughts this morning. I should know better than to get too close to the keyboard before I've gathered them up because only tossing them about is about as helpful as having half a broom to sweep.

Long as you write the stupendous, spectacular story in Book 1, and the readers want more, more more! you're good to go.

Have we said this ten different ways yet?

LynnRodz said...

OP, I have to disagree about writing something else first. I don't think the switch you make will be a problem because as you say, you hint to your readers what to expect. Therefore, it's not like you're bringing in circus clowns to the opera.

I love your idea of starting in an ordinary town with hints that not everyone is normal/ordinary in book one and then the MC is taken to another world in book two. I'm sure if you've got a great story, your readers will follow. Good luck!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Well Colin, consider my knuckles slapped. I guess I was staring out the window when the teacher spoke.

As I see it, OP is in final edits with book 1, has not completed 2 or 3 and is fretting over genre regarding 2 and 3 which may or may not be a dilemma years from now.
Why worry so far ahead.
Write what you want to write, what feels right, what you know is right and your agent and publisher (for book 1) will guide, and suggest, and share in the rewards if it's as good, and different, as you believe it to be.

Like my mother used to say, don't worry about something until you have something to worry about. Just write the damn books.

Colin you know I love, put down the freakin'ruler.

LynnRodz said...

Donna, mine's the eleventh!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, I meant to say, "you know I love YOU, put down the freakin' ruler." I hate correcting myself, it's just so lame.

Unknown said...

OP: From a sales perspective, you're fortunate in that "Young Adult" trumps other category considerations, at least at the high-level/query point. Everyone else has done a lovely job of telling you to write what you want to and worry about the rest later, so I won't belabor that too much.

As far as other actionable advice, make sure that your "hints" in the first book really are there, and maybe amp them up from what you originally intended. As a reader (and having recently been the YA target audience--hi guys, I'm a tiny baby woodland creature--I can distinctly remember how I felt when this happened), if there aren't hints, or aren't enough of them, or I didn't have the context to pick up the ones that were there, and suddenly we're in a whole different milieu with different rules in book 2, I'm inclined to call "Cheats!"

Now if the book or series is good enough, then the more subtle hints shine through on reread, but consistency of tone and rules is so, so important when other things get shaken up.

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: And therein lies Opie's Dilemma (wasn't there a Simon & Garfunkel song called "Punky's Dilemma"? On the "Bookends" album, perhaps? I digress...): Opie doesn't have an agent to love Opie's novel, and Opie doesn't want to scare off agents by saying the novel is X when it reads like Q.

Yes, I am 100% behind "write what you love and worry about genre later." But I also think it doesn't hurt to think career, and strategize a little. :)

Colin Smith said...

Hello, Miri! I don't recall if you've commented before, but in case this is your first time out of the shadows, Welcome!! May your words keep you safely on this side of Carkoon. :)

BJ Muntain said...

I'm thinking that, if they're taken to another world at the end of the novel, there would have to be a heck of a lot of foreshadowing to make that work. Yes, the characters that don't seem quite right are one way of foreshadowing. I think you may need to also include some sort of information that makes space travel possible. If the 'trip to another world' is voluntary for the character, then we'd need to see *in that character* the necessary mind-set that would get them to leave their home planet. Being a romance, I'm going to guess it's because the romance is with an 'alien', and it's that romance that convinces the character to follow them to another world. But does the character also have wanderlust? Or a reason that they don't like where they are right now? I think you'd also want to be sure that your 'hints that some people are not from our world' aren't too subtle. You want this shift to be natural, not suddenly thrown in at the end, "By the way - the reason my hair is green isn't because I dyed it. It's because I'm from Ectos XV111. Come home with me." (Yes, I've known writers who have done this sort of thing.)

If the trip off-world is a natural progression to the story, then you should have no problems.

One suggetion I have is: If these people who are 'not from this world' are aliens from another world, then I would suggest that both novels are science fiction. Labelling it science fiction would prepare the reader for what they'll be reading.

Science fiction romance is also a burgeoning genre. There are people who want to see more of it. There's an audience there who isn't getting enough of what they want.

Come right out and say what the genre really is. Don't try to hide it as 'paranormal romance'. Honestly, if you've got aliens, that's not paranormal.

Dena: 'Big R' Romance (like Harlequins, etc.) does have specific formulas. Once you get into mixes with other genres (paranormal romance, for instance), the rules can be stretched.

Colin Smith said...

Thinking about what Miri said about YA, I'm reminded of an example: UNRAVELING by Liz Norris. I don't recall how this was marketed, but I read it as a mystery/thriller, and was taken a bit by surprise at the direction the novel took at the end. And this was the first in a series. I wonder if Opie has read this--it might be a good template for what Opie's trying to accomplish.

Craig F said...

I think the biggest problem here is blundering into world building. You should pay more attention to where the story line ends. As an example I would consider Mercedes Lackey. She builds wonderful worlds that are completed when she gets her characters there. It is not just another world because it has a castle and royalty. Sounds like Europe from here.

I think a place for the OP right now would be working on the world it will end up in. Expand your horizons and it will make a clearer path for your MC to walk. As in all things writerly what matters the most is the writing and to make the writing flow you need a solid plot line.

E.M.: I am glad someone else has figured out that YA and MG have become sub-genres. I say it because Agents treat it that way. One school embrace it like a genre and another school shuns it like a genre. Therefore they must be genres and not just categories.

Donnaeve said...

Something else to add to what others have said (so this can be the 13th or 14th or 15th way of saying story, story story) perhaps ease into your ending the sort of cliffhanger that distinctly points to the changes about to come in following books.

Otherwise, it's Thursday and time for a reality check. Time to go scrub toilets and change the sheets on the bed. :)

Unknown said...

Totally off topic (sorry OP), but how did the name of "Carkoon" come about? Was it a play on Cartoon but used k instead in honour of kale? But the t in Cartoon is for the telling of tales while the k in Carkoon is for the keeping of kale?

Really sorry. Avoiding rewrites.

Colin Smith said...

Amanda: Unfortunately, Janet "borrowed" it from Star Wars (Episode VI). It's the name of the pit inhabited by Sarlaac, into which the heroes were to be thrown and slowly devoured by said monster.

I say "unfortunately" because I'm sure there's a novel or two in the comments here about Carkoon. :)

Dena Pawling said...

BJ - harlequin has even more rules than I mentioned. Things like exact word/page counts and number and heat level of sex scenes, depending on the line. The rules I mentioned above are generic to romance as a genre. Not sure about YA tho.

My story is a fish out of water story. The alien ran away from home and ended up here on earth. She meets this cute guy........

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Amanda, to me Carkoon is a deserted island (except for us) in the South Pacific, with said pit and monsters. The whole island thing seems to soften the stay, even though, it's known for tsunamis, komodo dragons, hundreds of square miles of kale and lima bean fields and a very small helo-velociraptor landing pad.

At the risk of getting my knuckles smacked again, (Colin you task-master), I realize you were inquiring as to Carkoon's origin and not my impression. Actually Colin, I thought you came up with the name way back when you were a bad boy.

Joseph S. said...

My immediate thought was not to books but to movies - specifically to the cult classic (to me) Army of Darkness. I was hooked the first time I saw it on television. I later learned it was the third in the Evil Dead series. I bought the first two. The feel, location, events, etc of the first two were nothing like Army of Darkness. The first two were "horror" in modern times while Army of Darkness was (what?) fantasy in medieval times?? While I was confused as to how Army of Darkness related to the first two (it's very tangential), I enjoyed all three movies.

Bottom line - it can be done successfully.

Also - wasn't the novel Talisman half in fantasy world, half in real world, in alternating chapters?

Colin Smith said...

Would that were true, 2Ns--I'd be writing that sci-fi epic right now: THE CARKOON CHRONICLES. However, something tells me George "Disney" Lucas would sue.

Perhaps I have a sci-fi/horror story waiting for me this weekend: WHAT LIES BEYOND... :\ *gulp*

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Janet mentioned Carkoon in one of her blogs as one of the terrible things we woodland creatures imagine can happen to us when we err in querying. Exile to Carkoon was the 2nd torment. There was also the super secret agent blacklist. I hope that's not what is actually beyond Carkoon. I am not sure if that was first mention of Carkoon. I am still relatively new to this group. Colin, as a long time resident of Carkoon, will know more than I do.

And yes, Colin, there is enough in these comments for a whole new genre of fiction called Carkoonian. The literary version of that genre never uses the letter E naturally.

Janet Reid said...

Amanda,Carkoon is never off-topic. Everything else pales in comparison to Carkoon.

Carkoon is where blog readers are sent (banished) when they make improper suggestions.

Suggestions like "wouldn't it be nice if Janet did ..."

Colin Smith was the first banishee but he's been joined by others.

Tomorrow, we will all learn what happens when, already banished to Carkoon, you make MORE improper suggestions.

Needless to say, Carkoon (and beyond) is not a place you really want to go. Ever.

Janice Grinyer said...

Just stopping by to check in- I have been off the internet as of late.

Every spare minute has been spent writing. I am now around the corner on my current WIP, and its been fun listening to the muses tell their story to me. In fact there is a lot of intriguing pacing that I dont think I could have come up on my own :D

I dont have time right now to decide if this is an appropriate vision; it seems to be writing itself. It wants to be born and if its not me writing it, then someone else will. So I am encouraging it to stay with me by spending time with it as much as possible. Call me insane, but sometimes it really does feel this way!

See you all in a bit - Im thinking at the end of the next of 4 weeks I should have a raw MS in hand...

Then I can have the time to fret about genres! :D

Christina Seine said...

You know, I may not always comment here, but I always do read. Every single post. And today was another reminder why I do.

Janet's blog is like a Daily Writing Vitamin. I may not know which particular element is good for which particular part of me as a writer ("contains snark for thicker skin, healthy doses of perspective and trace elements to strengthen one's sense of humor") - but I know that if I keep at it I'll be much healthier overall.

Thank you again, Janet, for all you do!

Colin Smith said...

"Improper suggestions"...

No... please... not... fifty shades of carkoon...? 8-O

Colin Smith said...

I'm trying to think what would be worse than Carkoon to a New Yorker... New Jersey?

Peggy said...

Opie, I think that I've seen Janet say over on QueryShark that if you're not sure about the genre you can... leave it out. As in, your query includes something like "THIS AWESOME NOVEL is complete at 65,000 words" rather than "THIS AWESOME NOVEL is a paranormal romance, I promise, even though there aren't any paranormal things until the denouement, and is complete at 65,000 words" or even just "THIS AWESOME NOVEL is a young adult novel of 65,000 words."

Query widely and let the agent figure out how to label it once s/he's loved your full and asked about the sequel.

(Packing my blender in case I'm misrepresenting Her Sharkliness all the way to Carkoon... I've been known to enjoy a kale smoothie now and then.)

Donnaeve said...

I recollect vividly the day Colin was banished to Carkoon. It was because of a suggestion he made which would have likely added to QOTKU's work load. We won't dig it up again, but I seem to recall her telling him to "pack his bags, he had a one way ticket to Carkoon."

Something like that.

Then, as we commented OFF TOPIC as usual, lima beans came up - totally unrelated to Carkoon, (hated by 2N's, loved by our vegetarian, Colin) and kale was next just for fun because...kale. Next thing we knew, lima beans and kale were served on Carkoon.

And on it goes.

Now I'm wondering about tomorrow. Tread carefully, Colin. I'll do what I can to help you - usually that means it's best for me to keep vewy vewy quiet.

Colin Smith said...

Peggy: You have a BLENDER??! Now you tell me, as I'm getting ready to leave, and you might be coming for a visit? Though I highly doubt QOTKU is sending you Carkoon-ward any time soon. I don't see anything improper in your suggestion. Though not including a genre may seem odd, if it's clear from the query there is a genre, even if you can't pinpoint it precisely, I can see an agent giving you a pass. But we'll let Her Mighty and Majestic Sharkfulness determine that. :)

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Heretoforewithever I shall look upon that day with fondness and warmth of heart. *sniff*

Anonymous said...

I'm going off-topic by bringing this back to the original post. This description reminds me of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. The first book is urban fantasy and takes place mostly in Prague, with a few glimpses of the worlds of seraphim and chimaera. I've only read the first book, but reviews and reports from colleagues who've read the whole series say the later books are set much more in the fantasy worlds. If you (Original Poster) think this sounds like your story, you may want to look at Taylor's trilogy to see how she navigates the different worlds and urban vs. high fantasy.

Colin Smith said...

I've only read the first book of that series too, Liz, but that's a good call. Well done for remembering what the original topic was. Is. :)

Unknown said...

Improper suggestions. I'm screwed.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Amanda, you must also be careful in your characterization of librarians in flash fiction contests. That too will vanquish you here to Carkoon to dwell among the kale plants. Great, if you happen to be a vegetarian and can stomach the odor in the pit of despair, but otherwise it is not entirely pleasant. And trying to find a decent Scotch here is hopeless which is why I started my wee smuggling ring. Colin has kept the authorities distracted so not sure what will happen once he leaves for beyond this weekend. I am concerned. My "go ask Colin" get out of jail free and send Colin there instead card will be useless.

Christina Seine said...

*steals Peggy's blender*

Donnaeve said...

*tiptoes over to Christina's camp. Where blender resides.*

E.M. Goldsmith said...

*lies in wait outside Christina's camp. Rum in hand. Waits for Donna with stray kitten to distract her from blender*

Christina Seine said...

*reaches out sneakily and steals EM's rum*
*steals EM's kitten*

*forgets to make rum drinks because kitten is so darn cute*

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Coming tomorrow to a screen near you,
Friday the 23rd,
a day to forever live in the days blog-'dumb'.

A day we will remember when on the 22nd off-topic, became the topic, until lizosisek brought us back to the off-topic, which had been the topic.

It is with fear in our hearts, and with fingers poised above the keyboards, we wait with baited (chum) breath for what awaits the multitudes. is whining to go out, have a nice day. Until tomorrow then...or maybe later. I'm so confused.

Theresa said...

Readers will follow a good story.

This was the first thing I thought of as I read OP's post. If I fell in love with the story of that first book, I would make sure to find the next one, regardless of genre label. Sounds very edge-of-your-seat.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Why is the rum gone? And I got a rejection. I need something stronger than rum. *searches for kitty*. Well Colin will just have to spend his last moments on Carkoon in jail. I need to smuggle in some good stuff. Need to play my get out of jail free by sending Colin there instead card one last time.

Colin Smith said...

Wow. With friends like these, who needs an enema? That is the saying isn't it...? :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Oh we love you, Colin. You made my Carkoon exile almost bearable. And besides you can eat your way out of the Carkoon jail. It's made of kale. I will give you a little of the scotch I am smuggling in for your departure to that other place.

Unknown said...

You all are hilarious. If we all end up in Carkoon, I'm thinking it won't be so bad.

BJ Muntain said...

Colin: I don't think Lucas has trademarked 'Carkoon', and since names cannot be copyrighted, you'd be safe.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer. But... do a Google search for Carkoon. You wind up getting Wookieepedia and... kevlar child car seats. Really. Now, it looks like the car seat manufacturer has trademarked that name, so perhaps it is better if you give it a slightly different name in your novel.

Craig F said...

The spaceship is still about two weeks from Carkoon. Colin, if the Queen spaces your ass take a deep breath and make sure you have fresh Duracell batteries in your flashlight. I'll look for you when I'm in the area.

Donnaeve said...

*Trying to sic Little Dog on kitty. These are the things I do while drinking rum.*

LynnRodz said...

Yikes! Do any of us really want to come here tomorrow? Janet, I had a moment of temporary insanity, really! I mean what was I thinking eliminating your Es? Jant Rid sounds like you belong in a punk band with Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols. Can I please stay in my cave here in Carkoon? Water and I aren't a good mix, even in a well.

Okay, I'm off to bed. I may be tossing and turning all night.

Unknown said...

This blog is such a good place to find inspiration to keep writing. I always enjoy all the ideas here from both Janet and the readers.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

I am well-versed in Fantasy and Romance (being a Fantasy Romance author--Google me!) and I've read plenty of the stuff.

For non-Fantasy readers, don't make the mistake of thinking that unless it's got dragons and elves it ain't Fantasy. You can have a perfectly good Fantasy featuring no other creature but humans. It's the "this isn't our world" elements that make it a Fantasy. Could be magic, could be some other alteration of the World as We Know It. COuld be but doesn't have to be magic of some sort, something that alters the laws of science as we know them. After all, Mockingjay and Divergent didn't feature any magic, yet we call them "Fantasy" or more broadly, speculative fiction.

As for calling it a Romance, I don't know if this is the best category (See what Dena Pawling said at 9:04) for an ongoing series based on what you, Opie, have told us. Doesn't matter if it's Adult or YA.

The romance plot must be the central plot from beginning to end over the whole series. If the romance plot is wrapped up in the first book, then what's left for the second?

Call it Science Fantasy with romantic subplot. Yes, this is a thing.

inkStainedWench said the most important thing you need to know: " long as the magical groundwork was laid in the first book."

This is the key.

Sure, your fantasy may take place in the contemporary world. But what is it that makes it different from the contemporary world? Make those elements very present for the reader in the first book. Then, when your characters head off to another world, it won't come out of left field.

You said you're writing a series. That suggests to me undertones that more is happening than what appears in the first book. Have you drafted out the series outline? Does it have an uberplot like Harry Potter or Twilight or the Belgariad? Or are you writing self-contained episodes?

If you have an uberplot, you will have an easier time of having the first book set in a contemporary world and the second in an otherworld because you would have dropped clues in the first book that support the uberplot. (Foreshadowing, as BJ Muntain suggests.) When Our Hero takes Our Heroine back to his homeworld to meet the folks it won't have come out of the blue because you will have established in the first book he's from this other world. You will also have established the idea of unfinished business in the other world as a motivation for him to return. Granted, this may mostly be in character development in the first book and may not come to fruition in the second, but it still needs to be there.

Consider this: what if your first book was really Act I of a three-act story? How would that affect its structure? How would that affect elements that may not come to full play until book 2 or book 3? This is how your first book will ultimately behave if you are writing a series.

If you're writing episodically, you're setting yourself up for grief. If your first book is completely self-contained, anything else you write is going to feel tacked-on. You don't want your second book to look like you're milking a dry cow.

Your best bet is to have loose threads in the first book that can be woven into the second and third.

As for my fellow Reiders who advise "Write whatever you want", I add a caveat. Sure, you can write whatever you want. However if you are seeking publication (commercial or indie), you're going to have to employ some quality control and consistency for your product.

Are you writing a series because there's a tale to be told, or are you writing a series simply because you like the characters too much to let go?

Karen McCoy said...

I'm really glad this was addressed, especially because YA is a genre-blending arena and will probably become more so. You can't even go by genre signs in B&N because all the YA is grouped together. And the vendors I buy from don't always get it right either.

So, write that story! We can worry about logistics later. In the meantime, I'm going to watch the Donna's little dog play with EM's kitten.

Karen McCoy said...

Oh, and definitely listen to Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale! So much wisdom. *feverishly jots down notes*

Pam Powell said...

As Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said, "If you have an uberplot, you will have an easier time of having the first book set in a contemporary world and the second in an otherworld because you would have dropped clues in the first book that support the uberplot. (Foreshadowing, as BJ Muntain suggests.)"

So we started this day with an uberplot called "What's the day's question?" in a genre called Blog, with a familiar cast of characters: Janet Reid et al. Then we finished with a genre called LC (Leaving Carkoon). The same cast of characters, but two - Lynn and Colin - are headed out to BC (Beyond Carkoon).

And so, we have proven Janet's thesis. Give us a good story, with good characters, and we will follow it anywhere!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Carkoon, Leaving Carkoon, Beyond Carkoon.
Love it. No Es.

LynnRodz said...

I woke up this morning and found a blender outside my cave with a bunch of little paw prints, and other things I couldn't decipher, in the sand. I didn't question what was going on last night here on Carkoon, I'm just delighted to have a blender! It's almost lunchtime and I'm getting ready to make some frozen margaritas. Finally! (Don't know if I'll look at Janet's blog post today, it all depends on how many drinks I'll have.)

Oh yes, OP, listen to Her Grace, very good advice about loose threads and all. I think the Duchess may become lady-in-waiting to the QOTKU after that comment.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Seriously, does that kitten still have my rum? There's a writing contest and I will be needing it back. Apparently, there is also a party at Lynn's cave as she has the blender.

OP - I echo the Duchess advice. I too write fantasy but am currently without title and kitten. Best listen to her Grace.

BJ Muntain said...

Poof: Julie Weathers is already in BC... oh wait. Different BC. I think. Still not sure I'd want to live there, but then, I was born on the prairies. Mountains are pretty, but not as pretty as the sky.

Checked out the contest for tomorrow. New rule #9 worries me. Does that mean someone actually asked that their entry be taken down - along with all comments regarding it? This makes me sad. Or is this just something legal that someone suggested the Queen do?