ARe Cafe welcomes guest blogger Leigh Ellwood! Leigh is giving away a $10 gift credit to All Romance / OmniLit this week to a random reader who comments on this blog. Good luck!
Today I am pleased to announce the release of my latest novella, Bittersweet. This book is special to me for a number of reasons. For one, it is the follow-up to my story, Taste This, and of all my works I believe I get more feedback on that book than any other. I’ve received a number of kind notes over the years about Taste, and queries about the sequel. Finally, Bittersweet is here, and this was perhaps my most challenging work to date.
I imagine when many authors sit down to pen a sequel or a book in a series, they don’t have much trouble putting together a story. Titles in series may each concentrate on a specific character from the first book, so everybody gets a story to tell. There are also familiar settings and supporting players that can contribute to the writing, so the words come easily. This is the case with my Dareville series. Truth or Dare set up a number of books and shorts, and I’ve found I haven’t had problems coming up with new ideas for that world. Writing Bittersweet, though, was different, and I should explain why.
When Taste was first accepted for publication, I had every intention of beginning the next book in a timely manner. Time, however, had other plans for me. I was only an author, but soon took on a responsibility that forced me to set aside my writing until I could balance my work and my craft. When that eventually happened, numerous plot bunnies attacked at all corners, and my writing took me away from the sci-fi manlove of Taste This into other worlds.
I wrote other stories, many of which sold well and received acclaim. During the time between releasing Taste and writing Bittersweet, though, I couldn’t think of where to take the characters. Taste centered around two men – an Earth baker and an alien ship captain – who find pleasure in each other’s company, in an environment fostered by passion. When the story ended, I knew I needed to continue their story but years had passed…literally. I had to concede that I needed to show obvious changes in their world. Some, readers might or might not accept. This was probably the first time in writing a story where I had to decide if a darker tone seemed more appropriate.
Bear in mind, Bittersweet is not overall a sad story, but sad events do occur. I spent much time re-reading Taste This in order to keep continuity intact. That’s another challenge an author must face in writing a sequel – hair may grow longer, but eye color shouldn’t change! In Taste This our hero Kelly operates a popular bakery cafe, and I made sure the names of his family and employees stayed the same. His relationship with Tobin, the sexy alien who captured his heart, hits a few speed bumps in space, but there is also some smooth…uh, sailing. It’s my intention, too, if I continue in this universe that readers won’t have to wait another six or so years!
I can definitely sympathize, however. It took Thomas Harris ten years to deliver Hannibal after writing The Silence of the Lambs, and unofficial sequels to Gone With the Wind showed up decades after Margaret Mitchell penned her masterpiece.
Which brings me to a serious question: how long is too long to wait for a sequel to a story? In romance and mystery, authors tend to space out trilogies and series well – maybe one a year or every six months. Is that a reasonable time to wait? Would you like them sooner? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and you could win $10 in eBook Bucks for answering!
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