Anyone who has been following my journey probably knows that I recently finished my first draft of Book #3 in the Power of Four Series. I’m extremely excited not only about where the story ended, but also about my continued growth as a writer. I’ve dedicated the last year and a half to building my author platform and learning all I can about improving my craft. I believe my focus has everything to do with where I am today, versus the place I started back in 2014. I’ve been thinking a lot about the plot in the story I’m telling and have reviewed the first three books in the series to find all the questions that need to be answered in book four. What this process has made me realize is that before I take another step forward, I should really consider taking two steps back.
Sea of Dreams was my debut novel, and while there is a laundry list of reasons why I wouldn’t suggest taking on a series as a new writer, I am glad I went that route for my particular journey, especially at my age. Writing about the same characters and an overall plot that spans the length of 4 books, allows me to concentrate more on my technique and less on the story, since the characters have already been developed, been given personalities and their settings have been mapped out. I am able to pull familiar characters on like a favorite sweater and practice things like accents in conversation, concise description and overall tone. For every comment I received from critique partners, beta readers and my editor, I have made adjustments in my style, which has allowed me to find my true author voice, while creating a world I find pretty darn interesting! And since I only release one book a year, so far, they really show a timeline of my progress.
So what does this mean for my followers? It means that my series has gone from 4 books…to 5! I have decided to draft a prequel to make sense of the backstory for the sisters who teeter between helping and hindering the ladies who harness the elements. As I wrote Playing with Fire, I realized that the story of how Erebos became the Shadowman, and the part the three sisters had to play in that happening, was a story that needed to be told. In telling it, I will make better sense in my own mind of everyone’s motivation and will be able to complete the series tying up every loose end I have left in previous books. At least that’s the plan. I am also considering going back to Sea of Dreams and applying what I have learned over the last 2 years to tighten up the language, but that won’t be until I get the series out of my system. As much as I would like to see this series completed in 2018, I’m not sure I will have the oomph to get a 40,000 word prequel and a 90,000 word first draft completed by December. However, I’ve decided I need to keep pushing myself to see what I am capable of, so am going to give it the old college try!
So the one step forward? I’ll participate more with groups that specifically write Romance and continue to make writing my priority. I am excited to go to the National Romance Writers of America Conference this year for the first time! (More posts to follow on that!) And the two steps back? Because time is limited and I want to write a prequel before the final book in my series, I’ve decided to back off of doing book festivals, spend a little less time on social media and prioritize my projects. Scheduling chunks of time to complete specific tasks will help me manage my time better and allow me to fit in things like spending more time with my family or working in my personal fitness goals.
There is no shame in taking 2 steps back as it allows me to take a breather and look at my overall writing journey objectively. I am in this for the long haul, so I need to be sure that I am always “adjusting fire” as Aleck would say, and making time for the things that will support the life I envision for myself 5 or even 10 years up the road. There is always stuff that can be cut, like so many of the lines I start with in a rough draft. The process will make room for the beautifully edited version of my life, supported by the things I choose to focus on throughout my journey.
What kinds of things are you trying to squeeze into your life? And what things are you hanging on to that could be reduced or given up? Definitely something to think about, don’t you think?