Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sequels Can Be Hard

     I have been getting a lot of positive feedback regarding Dead Stop lately, and naturally that feels really great. But a lot of that feedback is coming with a question that is starting to feel inevitable…

     “When is the sequel?”

     I wish I had a good answer for that. At the moment I’m working on another novel, and trying to focus on it, but I obviously can’t ignore a question that keeps coming up this often. So I admit that while I’m working on Argiope again, I do take a little time here and there to think about a potential sequel to Dead Stop.

     I did leave things where a sequel was possible. But just because I left a group of characters alive in a situation of temporary safety, does not mean that a sequel is easily written. If a sequel is going to be any good, there has to be several issues addressed or it’s going to be subpar. And as a fan of horror movies, I have seen far to many subpar sequels.

     The first problem a writer has to grapple with is character arcs.

     In a well written story, the character has gone through an experience that has changed them to some degree, and the character at the end is not exactly the same one you started out with. So in a sequel, you have to evaluate where you character currently is and what kind of character arc you are going to implement.
A good example of this would be the character Ripley from the Alien series. In the first movie she goes from a somewhat by the book third officer to badly frightened final survivor who is fighting for her life. In the second movie she goes from a frightened survivor trying to get her life back to a woman who is now fighting back and even performing the rescue of a child in the clutches of the monster. After that the series starts to fall apart, and one of the reasons is they had pretty much taken the character of Ripley as far as they reasonably could. There were other problems too, but character was a big one.

     I’m going to use Alien and Aliens again for the second problem as well. And that is the overall tone of the book. Alien was a creepy, claustrophobic, haunted house in space. It was original, and it was very successful, so one would almost expect the sequel to try and recreate that atmosphere. But the sequel had James Cameron in charge, who was wise enough to take things in a direction that was new, but also made sense considering the situation. The second became a run and gun shoot’em up with strong elements of horror. And while I didn’t agree with everything Cameron did, I admit it was effective.
So a writer has to consider the tone of a sequel as well. Can he recreate the feel of the first book? SHOULD he recreate the feel of the first book? What other tone could be reasonably struck with the characters and situation at hand. These things have to be considered.

     Yes, anybody can write a sequel. The question is whether or not it can be a good one that is worthy of the first book. 

     That’s a whole different story.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm Giving It Away!

Over at Goodreads, I'm giving away three free copies of Dead Stop. These will be signed copies of the paperback version. I guess I'm in the Christmas spirit since all the stores are already decorating for it. And nothing says Yuletide joy like a bunch of carnivorous dead people trying to munch on a group of victims they have trapped in a truck stop!

(yeah, I better get to writing a new book or the jokes are just going to get worse)

The contest will run until December 10th, so feel free to enter!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Little More Horn Tooting

Just a little more horn tootin' to get the morning off right :)

Bricks of the Dead, a rather unique blog dedicated to Lego's and zombies, has a a review of Dead Stop. The author of this blog enjoys looking at common situations and cliches in the zombie genre and representing them with Lego scenarios. Check out the rest of his blog.

Headshot Heather over at Doubleshot Reviews has also written a positive review. Doubleshot Reviews examines books and reports on them with a coffee shop flavor...a really cool way to present things.

Other than that, not much to report at the moment. I'm still kind of spinning my wheels, and now trying to excavate my house from under the many layers of kid induced junk in order to try and get it ready for company on Thanksgiving. This is turning out to be quite a tall it seems to buried deeper than normal this year. But I know it's under here somewhere, and I shall keep digging until I find it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Maybe It's the Election...

...but the internet has just felt poisonous lately.

There has been a lot of angst, anger, and bile out there for the past week or so and it's gotten so bad I've felt it oozing out of my laptop. I actually opened it with trepidation this morning.

So I'm going to take a few days and look at some other projects. Something to clean the systems, so to speak. Something positive..

Here's hoping everybody out there finds something positive too.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tooting My Horn!

One of the most intense moments of being a writer is reading a review of your work by somebody else. These are the fruits of your labors, the children of your creativity, and you have now sent them out vulnerable into the world to be greeted with accolades, scorn, or indifference. The intensity multiplies when that reviewer is somebody who runs a website or publication that features reviews. You know that they have gone through a lot of material, and their opinion carries weight.

So it was something of an experience for me to have not one, but two of my works reviewed over the course of five days.

First of all, Majanka Verstraede of I Heart Reading posted a review of Shades: Eight Tales of Terror.

It appears she liked it, and I thought it was cool how she did a story by story mini-review of each work in the anthology. Shades was my first attempt at a self published anthology, and it got sort of orphaned without any attempt at marketing after I published it. Now I've finally sent it to a couple of reviewers so I'm hoping it continues to be well recieved.

Then, five days later, Matthew Scott Baker of Shattered Ravings posts a review of Dead Stop.

It appears the novel was well received as well, which is always a relief. I like that he zeroes in on one of the things I intentionally focused on in the novel...reinventing the graveyard zombie in such a way that it actually makes a little sense, and operates in a fashion that would be rational for such an entity. So it was a bit of a delight to see somebody recognize that.

So now I head into the weekend feeling pretty good about the world. I've dusted off Argiope, and started writing on it again. So far, so good...but as I said before, no promises. I'm also beginning to feel the hint of a short story or two tickling at the edge of my consciousness. So things look promising.

Oh well, back to work!