Love You Long Time

In Indie as in traditional publishing, series both sell better and hook readers better.

I have experienced the “hook” first hand. In fact, I have read some series that have completely disappointed me on their own subject be it mystery, fantasy or science fiction, but I continue reading to find out what happens to some secondary character, or some minor friend of the main characters.

I have read fifteen book series that I lost interest of the main plot ont he third, to find out what happens to the friend of the detective, the failed magician, or the hopeless couple at the edge of it all.

So, it is amply demonstrated, as it is for me as a reader, that series sell.

And yet, they are very difficult to pursue as series.

Oh, not because I lose interest. In my case, my problem is rather too much interest.

I am arriving at the closure of Bowl of Red (yes, hampered by stupid health stuff) and realizing that I go back to the Goldport of the shifters and find friends everywhere.

Some are really friends and fans and acquaintances, people I know from my online diner, or from various conventions, though of course changed, and not just into shifter forms.

But each of the characters whose lives revolves around the diner in Goldport, are in fact their own person, not matter in what mold they were cast. They have hopes and ideas that come with their condition.

I am now setting up a grand cycle that will take the next several books — poor Rafiel. Poor, poor, poor Rafiel (who is right now experiencing a form of insanity that involves singing “it’s rainging dragons to the tune of “it’s raining men.”) — and some of it is …. bigger than the characters, of course, but there’s also still a lot of …. well, people who have their lives to live, even if some of them, like old Joe’s son, Rod (Nimrod) have been alive for millennia, and some last gathered at Gobekli Tepe.

Which means I should follow their lives, too, even if they are not at the center of the stage.

The problem with this is that at times — and this has happened to me — as the series continues, an author will bet lost, and distract himself or herself with the little unimportant things, and lose track of what the series is supposed to be about.

I don’t think I’m doing that, or at least I’m trying very hard not to do that. This is called “discipline.” I know of at least a series where I lost interest in characters when the series lost purpose and sense. Or when the plot devolved into a series of parties, or amusements.

It’s a deliate balance. As much as we might prefer to simply go into these worlds and have fun with our friends, the story is still a story, and it still needs to wind the proper way.

I hope.

In the meantime, my fairy tales (mostly written on my blog in installments) have been published as a volume.

Odd Magics: Tales for the Lost

Odd Magics
This is a very strange collection of fairytales, recast for modern life. In it the prize isn’t always to the fairest, the
magic is rarely to the strongest.
But lonely introverts do find love, women who never gave it a thought find themselves at the center of romance.
Doing what’s right will see you to the happily ever after.
And sometimes you have to kiss an accountant to find your prince.

63 comments

  1. I know what you mean. Side characters in my current series are calling for stories of their own. It’s very distracting. I managed to do one and keep it short. Another is turning out to be longer than I meant it to, but at least that one can become a reader magnet.

    1. I don’t know… I’ve dropped several series when the author shuffled off the main character and brought other, minor characters up as the protagonists.

      I’m following the original character. And now the story stops, and I got suckered into buying a *different* story about someone else. It’s not the same story; at best it’s a kind of soap opera now, a little of this, a little of that. I have zero interest in soap operas or “cast of thousands” novels. It smacks of authorial laziness. “Hey, no need to come up with anything new, just recycle everything except the main character! Win!” And since I’ve been baited and switched, its dishonest as well.

      1. I haven’t run into that much (not counting romance series, where the default is to rotate through a group of connected protagonists, giving them a novel apiece). I have seen cases where someone tried to write a spinoff series with supporting characters originating in the predecessor, and although I’m fine with it in TV, it doesn’t seem to work for me in print. Cast of thousands stories are something I tend to be okay with in movies but makes me zone out in print. I tend to zero in on a couple of favorites and ignore everyone else. By Book 3 of Game of Thrones I was skimming everyone except Tyrion, Brianna, and Onion Knight Guy. By the time of the middle/late Tom Clancy novels I was skimming everyone but Clark and Chavez.

        1. I’ve always thought I disliked jumping around between a dozen points of view/main characters when reading. So in my current series a book gets spent on one brother at a time. At a certain point the plotlines will merge and they’ll be in the same book.

  2. Point of clarification for our younger or more innocent readers. “Me love you long time” was the classic opening statement common with Vietnamese bar girls when beginning negotiations with American GIs for a bit of independent contractor work. Or so I’ve been told.

          1. See?
            Clean living!

            (Of course I know that line. Sailor, and a target square. I learned aaaaallllll the stuff, and can look bored when someone tries to shock me. 😀 )

        1. Given that the war in Vietnam ended some 47 years ago, and that they apparently no longer teach history in our schools, not that surprising. Of course nearly all of the male teachers in my high school were veterans of World War II, fair number of the ladies as well. But then I have a good ten years on our esteemed hostess.

          1. It’s possible for people to recognize the phrase without necessarily knowing the origin of it. There are lots of phrases and lines that have entered into cultural “slang” for want of a better term, that most people, especially normies, don’t understand the referent for.

            1. A couple of years ago, I encountered the Vietnamese phrase for “run away” in one of John Ringo’s Posleen books. My reaction action was (1) you mean that phrase from the Vietnam war is still current in the US military? (2) so that is how you spell it!

      1. Widely reported to be from “Airplane!”, 1980. Though I’d put a small bet for it to be from a Three Stooges film.

  3. The other flaw is when writers try to make a main plot last forever, the arc turns just about flat. No drama,

    Plus the same for character arcs

  4. Bujold did this a lot in her Vorkosigan series. Ivan Vorpatril started out as comic relief (“Ivan, you idiot!”) but developed into a rounded character with a book written around him (Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance.)

    1. The Pathologist in Dresden. (Also one of my favorite characters, and why the heck am I blanking on his name, except I woke up late and not enough coffee.)

      1. Poka Will Never Die! 😀

        Oh, I’ll have to look up his name (later) but remember the above line concerning him. 😉

      2. Butters as I recall. Eventually became a Warrior of the Lord and turned a broken sword into a light saber.

  5. ….and I thought trying to make a functioning version of White Wedding with teh lyrics “It’s a nice day for a light sweater/ it’s a nice day for a cardigan” was a brain worm.

    1. [cursors over to the far-right monitor, opens a tab to YouTube, brings up the video of 400 musicians doing “White Wedding” at a church courtyard in Szeged, Hungary]

      “It’s rock and roll, Jim, but not as we know it.”

      1. Also KISS’ “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” by 270 musicians in Moscow: https://youtu.be/DUGMUBUJh0w

        1000 musicians doing Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” in France: https://youtu.be/pSN3MO0e4cY

        Another 400 in Hungary, doing Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”: https://youtu.be/lWf-xWv6WIs

        I’ve found some from Spain and Germany, but the video quality was poor. Still looked like they were having a blast, though.

        Mass performances don’t seem to be a thing in the USA, but there they are, performing music in a foreign language, and for most of them, from before they were born.

        “and if you listen very hard
        the tune will come to you at last
        when all are one and one is all
        to be a rock, and not to roll.”

    2. Your worm infected me, darn it!

      Hey little sister what have you on?
      Hey little sister turn the weather on
      Hey little sister cold front coming in
      Don’t want to see you out there shivering
      Hey little sister layer up
      It’s a nice day for a light sweater
      It’s a nice day for a cardigan

      1. The infection hasn’t cleared yet – second verse:

        Hey little sister what do you know
        Hey little sister now it’s gonna snow
        You’re going to need a jacket
        But that alone won’t hack it
        Hey little sister layer up
        You still gotta start with a light sweater
        It’s a nice day for a cardigan

        1. My husband is now saying “you know, I bet I could sing that…” and trying to tweak the second verse to fit what’s in his head.

          Since he’s actively working on a recording room (for audiobooks, but this is the same guy who did the ooo-ahahahaha thing when singing down with the sickness….) this is no idle threat.

  6. For me, the problem is staying interested in working with a particular setting or group of characters long enough to put a series together. It’s one of the reasons why I’m kind of torn about what to do next once I get the space opera put to bed. The gaslamp fantasy mystery idea could *theoretically* reduce the risk of getting bored with the characters if I follow the Golden Age mystery tradition of giving various suspects their own POVs and spending less time in the sleuths’ heads. (And of course, the plots would largely resolve in each book, with only a minor mythology arc/relationship arc following the sleuthing characters).

    On the other hand, the high fantasy quest idea is perhaps more likely to please anyone already reading my space opera, and is grabbing me harder right now in terms of throwing plot bunnies at me. On the Motie hand, the high fantasy quest idea practically demands 3+ books with POV rotating among 4 people who are traveling together, and the arguable main character (loosely inspired by the TV version of Mat Cauthon) being the most flawed/in need of character development.

    Or I could try to write them both at the same time, which for me usually ends up killing both projects stone-dead. *shrugs*

  7. My daughter and I are wrestling with wrapping up the Luna City series at book 12, for a number of reasons: mainly that the viewpoint character and his girlfriend are finally solidifying/formalizing their relationship which almost always signifies the completion of that plot arc. That key character is also finally adulting, after having been basically an self-centered adolescent well into his thirties. The real-life person who inspired another secondary character passed away a year or so ago … so it might be time to write out our fictional version of him. In fictional time, we’re getting up to the start of the covidiocy and the election of Wonder FICUS and his giggling sidekick … and I just don’t think that we can carry on in the same light-hearted fashion.
    On the other hand, our readers for the series loved the rural, humorous escape … so I just don’t know.
    I am considering a stand-alone series of early 20th century historical mysteries with the then-police chief of Luna City and his sidekick, which might be fun…

    1. Continue in an alternate timeline where the covidiocy never happened?

      I know, it feels like writing the party scene at the beginning of The Emerald City of Oz…

      1. Well, it’s set in small-town Texas where the covidiocy never landed as thoroughly as elsewhere, and I have already set up elements for the Cafe to work a bit of business doing gourmet food items packaged for direct sale, and for doing a take-out menu …
        But the natural termination of two different story arcs … I just don’t want to go on flogging a dying plot horse…

    1. Just got done with my New Year’s resolution to re-read back to back to back to back WotG + Directorate + Alliance … oh, wait, now there’s another one … read … whew! New arcs just keep spawning off and there are still lots of places Pam could go.

    2. Please keep spinning! I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly “into” the first book. I became more interested as characters were added in that world line – and fascinated as more showed up from other world lines. Although pretty soon I think we’re going to need to invent a human copying machine (Humanx brand? No, that’s been used…) just for you.

  8. I don’t know whether prior planning will result in proper execution, but I’m trying. Right now, the WIPs have two main characters for three novels, two new ones in the fourth, three in the fifth (although they were introduced in the first three, at least). They start coming back together in number six – although with yet another new main character to follow. Seven and eight merge the lines again to wrap things up – but are proving a bear to even contemplate. Eight full stories to weave together, along with, of course, the usual lesser ones.

    Sigh… I am sequestering myself in the office this summer.

  9. I’m working on the final arc (in plotting) of the Zombie story. There needs to be a satisfying conclusion there. Some of the questions answered, the character arc reaching a certain point, all that stuff. What I’m *aiming* for is to end the dag blasted thing on the fact that things have definitely been accomplished that are positive and hope for the future.

    In a zombie book.

    The conclusion should kind of be the counterpoint to the hook, I think. What drew you into the story, finally resolved. Big bad defeated, mystery solved, romance consummated (meaning defined, marriage, admitted, not necessary teh sex happened), and so on.

    My problem is I have been deceiving the readers. Just a little bit. And totally on purpose. Once I figured it out, anyway. There’s a lot in the story that isn’t being *said* that is happening, guiding the story (hopefully) towards that conclusion.

    (spoiler)We’ve gone from Last Man on Earth (orbit), to actual dialogue. The setting has expanded to include possible outings in outer space. The character is evolving from scaredy cat science nerd to troubled hero. The cast has gone from literally one guy alone to one guy, a tiny infant mutant cat-dog-spider thing, a bunch of terminally ill popsicles, a couple of possibly still alive survivors, a bunch of frozen refugees, a family on a ship with no engines, and all the other surviving colonies out there that he didn’t know existed.

    The zombie mystery has expanded to include other kinds and types of infected and hints about how it actually spread. The other human mystery(or mysteries) is still not quite ready for reader consumption yet, and might serve as a plot point for any possible future books.

    I can do the cliffhanger thing. Moderately well. Semi-competent at best. But that’s not how you do a conclusion.

    There’s still stuff that needs to happen before the conclusion. Stuck on a scene centered around the lower engineering deck in right now. There are two ways I could handle the ending. One is a lot more cliffhangery than the other, and I’m more comfortable writing that one. But I’d rather put this one on a more solid conclusion and leave the latter for an optional epilogue or prologue to the next story, set some time later.

    In my mind, answer the questions that the beginning posed and resolving the conflicts (as much as reasonably possible), coming to new maturity level in the character growth cycle, and solving at least one of the mysteries would be a good conclusion to end things on. Neat little bows, tiny fireworks display, everybody goes home a sleeps off a food coma sort of thing. Happy endings, amiright?

    Just gotta dot all them i’s and cross all them t’s before then.

  10. That’s something I’m struggling with in the space opera sequel. I collapsed the projected series from 3 books to 2 due to not quite enough plot and not quite enough interest (on my part), and now I have to make sure I wrap up everything reasonably well.

    For “next project after that,” I’m caught between doing something I feel like I can plot pretty easily (high fantasy quest, long on hopefully exciting travelogue), but is going to require me to spend 3+ books with characters who I might get tired of before then, and something where the plot mechanics are going to be a bear (gaslamp fantasy mystery) but I can at least limit the risk of character fatigue by changing up most of the characters (the suspect pool) every book and limiting the sleuths’ POV. High fantasy is currently winning in terms of dangling useable plot bunnies in front of me, and possibly appealing to people who liked my space opera, but the dreaming subconscious seems to prefer the gaslamp fantasy.

  11. Yeah, I’ve been outlining book 2 of the ‘Republic of Texas Navy’ series and found that there are currently two side stories that need to be written at some point. One is a romance about the main character and the lady he met in book 1, the other is a courtroom / legal story where one of the secondary bad guys in book 2 gets what’s coming to him.

  12. My first book was going to be a stand-alone novel, then it spawned a ten book series that’s, alas, still mostly in my head. I also have a couple of unfinished regency series that do the usual ‘each character gets their own novel, and so do all the siblings’ setup.

    I’m beginning to realize I need to finish each series, then put them up in quick succession. I can work in a world for a long time, and step away from it for short periods of time, but if I step away for too long, I have a lot of trouble coming back to it.

  13. I am writing the 13th book in the April series. I’m pretty sure there will have to be a 14th to bring the time line up to the first Family law book. Once that is accomplished there is room for a seventh Family Law book I’m sure. I know that is a LONG series but people keep throwing money at me. SOMEBODY likes them. I’m almost 75. I hope I live long enough to wrap them up.

  14. I’m writing a series. I have a main protagonist. Who I am rather fond of.

    I’ve gotten a few friends asking about stories about my side characters. Mind you, one of them is a David Tennant fan and I’ve described Charles as “what happens when you take every David Tennant character, stick ’em in a blender, hit puree, pour into a David Tennant-shaped mold, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, and use ginger frosting”…

    I don’t think she’s going to be too happy when I point out how many villains and not-nice people David has played over the years got mixed up in this…

    (And, yes, Great Aunt, you have an open story slot if you want to grab one of my cast to have fun with. Got a general character preference?)

      1. He does not so much chew the scenery as devour it with great gusto, in the time-honored English tradition of having a chance to eat anything else other than traditional English food…

  15. I don’t have the hang of series. I committed one accidentally, because Twitch turned up when I wasn’t expecting him. And then dragged AJ into the next book. Fortunately, romance has this “couple per book” thing that makes it look like I know what I’m doing, as long as the reader doesn’t look too close (or ask me.)

    But then I’m breaking that trend, because the WIP is further adventures of AJ & Jenna, this time dealing with problems from AJ’s past, and his point of view. Either the readers will forgive it, or they won’t. They probably will. A chunk of them have clearly decided that rotating through minor character in one book will be major in the next means I’m going to keep doing this, and are asking for Crane’s book. And I’m slowly starting to piece together maybe how I could do that.

    AS Neil Gaiman put it: “When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.

    This is great. People who know what they are doing know the rules, and know what is possible and impossible. You do not. And you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can.”

    …Well, people do tell me the rules, but I don’t know how to follow them. So I’ll keep at it the series that isn’t really following them, I guess, until it’s not speaking anymore. If the readers wander off, I can always write it just for myself.

  16. Remember you’re writing Tactical romance, not Romance, which means the rules are different 🙂 And that’s a good thing!

  17. Folks with long memories may recall the “Horse Clans” series. The series fragmented into so many sub-arcs that the author died before finishing what i took to be the main story arc.

    1. Oh yes, I remember those. I am SO glad my parents never glanced at them to see what was tucked in with the Doc Strange books (and John Bellaires) that I was lugging home from the library. I came for the talking cats and stayed to find out what happened next. And next. And next, and next, and . . . . His horror story about the ghosts of the buffalo still sticks in my mind, too. Dang, he could write a story.

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