ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When he's not writing, FRED WARREN works as a government contractor in eastern Kansas, providing computer simulation support for Army training. He’s written 26 short stories published in a variety of print and online magazines, and his first novel, The Muse, debuted in November 2009 from Splashdown Books. It was a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award finalist for book of the year in the speculative genre.
Fred married the girl who should have been his high school sweetheart, and has three kids, three dogs, and a mortgage. You can find him online at http://frederation.wordpress.com.
by Fred Warren
Published by Splashdown Books
ABOUT THE BOOK
Stan Marino needs a muse. He's written himself into a corner...again. A shot of inspiration is all he needs to finish his story ...where is he going to find it? What Stan doesn't know: Inspiration has found him. And it's about to take over his life. Ripped from reality, he must lead a band of lost souls in a life-or-death battle with a merciless enemy. Stan has found his muse, but will he survive it?
Readers, buy your copy of The Muse today!
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR
Writing the Sequel, or, You're Probably Going to Want Some Milk With That Cookie
One of my family's favorite books is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff. A mouse comes to visit, and a little girl gives him a cookie, which of course requires a glass of milk to wash it down, which sets off a cascade of other requests that get bigger and bigger until they take over the entire house. It's the story of our life. If my daughter has track practice, they're probably going to want a case of juice boxes to go with it, and so on, ad infinitum.
When I wrote my first novel, my goals were modest. I was a short-story writer. I wanted to challenge myself to write a story longer than 8000 words. When I passed 10,000 words, I was ecstatic, and the writing got easier once I'd broken through that mental wall. After I finished, to my great surprise, I had something in excess of 50,000 words that I thought somebody else might actually want to read, once I'd cleaned it up. To my even greater surprise, one of those somebodies wanted to publish it.
Then I discovered that when somebody publishes your book, chances are, they're going to ask you to write another. Sure, nowadays it's common for people to write with visions of seven-volume epic franchises dancing in their heads, but that never occurred to me. I'd met my goal, written my novel, and now it was time to get back to my beloved short stories, right?
Wrong. It wasn't just my publisher asking. Friends, relatives, strangers who had enjoyed the book--people had expectations. So, okay, I thought. I can write a sequel. I've got an idea that will work, and I've already done one of these, so it won't be very difficult.
It turned out to be a lot harder than I figured. Here are some speed bumps I encountered on the way to finishing the manuscript for my second novel.
You Can't Go Home Again - I knew my characters cold, I thought--their personalities, fashion sense, favorite ice cream flavor, everything. The only problem was that time had passed since the first story, and they'd grown. Everybody was five years older. They were living with the consequences of their choices in the original story. Their problems and ambitions were different. I had to get to know them all over again. This led quickly to the realization that my audience was also different. I couldn't write the second book assuming everybody had read the first. I would have to orient new readers to my universe without boring the loyal folks who were familiar with it. I had to catch up with the original cast and introduce interesting new characters. I had to revisit the old stomping grounds, but I also needed to take my characters, and my readers, to places they'd never been before.
Couples Skate - Writing the first novel was like free-skate time at the roller rink. I could go wherever I wanted, at whatever tempo I enjoyed, getting as crazy as my imagination (and the limits of good form) would allow. The second book was a couples-skate session that joined me with a lovely but demanding partner named Backstory, and we were going to skate at her pace. I had to link the sequel with what had come before. I had to be consistent with the facts and events I'd already established. My universe had rules now, and I had to obey them. What happened in the first story determined, in part, what could and would happen in the second.
Revenge of the Self-Editor - I learned a lot writing my first novel, and it was only natural that I'd want to apply that knowledge to the second. I certainly hope my growth as a writer will be reflected in this new book. Unfortunately, knowing more also made me more inhibited. Writers talk endlessly about the perils of self-editing, and I'm a first-class offender. It's very difficult for me to write more than a few sentences without going back and tweaking them. Part of my success with the first novel was in suppressing this tendency, getting the words onto paper with reckless abandon. Now I found myself with a whole new database of problems to beware and a catalog of weaknesses in the first story to avoid in the sequel. My self-editor re-emerged with a vengeance, and it was harder to beat him down because I was invested in the story. It was more important to me this time to get things exactly right.
Despite all the new challenges I hadn't expected, I pressed on and finished the manuscript a couple of weeks ago. It took me about twice as long as it did the first time around. I've still got a long way to go—editing, critiques, rewriting—but I'm happy with the story and optimistic about its potential. Yes, there will be a third novel. At the end of Ms. Numeroff's story, the mouse wants another cookie. If you write two novels, chances are, somebody will want you to write one more.
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Thank you, Fred, for sharing with us today.
Guest Question: You can answer as either as a writer or a reader--What do you think is the most difficult challenge for an author to overcome in a sequel?
ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book above PLUS a copy of Fred's next book, The Seer, releasing later this year. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.
This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.