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Leigh Ellwood on Writing Sequels…After a While

By Kat @ ARe on March 5th, 2013
Leigh Ellwood

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 Bittersweetthough, 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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12 Responses to Leigh Ellwood on Writing Sequels…After a While

  1. Profile photo of rom_rdr1 rom_rdr1 says:

    I think one to two years is a reasonable wait. It takes time to write and edit etc a book, and inspiration for other stories may come up etc. Of course if the author is on a roll, six months is great, especially for the reader not having to wait that long. I rather have a quality story than a rushed story.

  2. Profile photo of rom_rdr1 rom_rdr1 says:

    Have not read Taste This, which sound very interesting. Will there be a third book after Bittersweet?

  3. Profile photo of rebecca lane rebecca lane says:

    As an bookaholic, I would selfishly say I would love all sequels to come out as soon as possible. I go crazy waiting even six months. However, quality is definitely more important than quantity in my opinion, so I wouldn’t want sequels sooner if it meant compromising in that area. I’d much rather wait for longer for a well written and engaging read. In terms of keeping readers, I’d say generally a year is the longest I can wait before I end up forgetting to look out for the sequel when it comes to most authors. However, I also have my favorite authors that I will wait for no matter how long it takes them to write their next book, and there have been a few where I have waited years. If the book needs time to really turn into something great then I would go with your gut and take risk of waiting longer to publish. Don’t rush if it doesn’t feel right. But, I would say those are exceptions rather than the rule, at least with genre fiction, and especially romance. So, I guess I would stick with 6 months to a year unless you are absolutely sure you can publish sooner without sacrificing quality. And, at least in terms of my experience writing sequels or just a new novel, I would follow your instincts if a certain book feels like it needs more time to develop, or if it just flows out. Sorry for the epic comment. I hope it helps. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the comments! I’m interested to hear what readers think about waiting for new books.

    As for a third book after Bittersweet, I have a few ideas. It is possible. 🙂

  5. I already own at 6 of your books & am looking forward to more. But I warn you if a sequel doesn’t come out quickly enough, I will reread the ones I have & I wont regret it.

  6. I will admit that it bugs me to have to wait for books to come out… after enjoying a story, I want the next one as soon as possible… for me, I tend to move onto other books to get my reading fix… I can lose track of a series and find others to get into.
    Have enjoyed your books! Thanks for sharing! 😀

  7. Profile photo of Kiki O Kiki O says:

    Good books should never to rushed. I don’t mind waiting,
    If it’s years I just reread the previous books again and then carry on with the new one. The only time I don’t like waiting more than a year is when the previous book stopped at a cliffhanger and you’ve only got half the story. I hate that. I like a story to be complete enough to be enjoyed in it’s own right and not be dependent on the next one in the series. If it is then it should come quickly like 6 months, a year max. I’ve read a few books that have left such a lasting impression on me, I loved them so much it wouldn’t matter how long I had to wait. When a sequel turned up I would buy it regardless of the delay.

  8. Profile photo of lore13 lore13 says:

    I think that most sequels are written for all the wrong reasons and that the best ones come unbidden. In that respect, time frames don’t bother me as much as they can make me suspicious. Sequels coming out every 6 months seem too fast, as if the stories were calculated to maintain interest and profit. Sequels coming out years later could be a desperate attempt to capitalize on past success.

    I’m all for any and all sequels that seem truly motivated and inspired!

  9. Profile photo of Yvette Ganoe Yvette Ganoe says:

    I love the sequels to be about a year or so.

  10. From what I read this is going to be a very good book and I can’t wait to read all your books.

  11. Profile photo of Jaxs Jaxs says:

    Hi, although I agree with most that waiting for the next book in a series can be murder, I’m all for quality before quantity!! I usually have to skim the previous book but that is due to the memory problems caused by a head injury. So, even after six months, I’d still need to refresh my mind unless the series has advanced to such a point that I know all the players. I’d prefer that you continue to write well edited novels despite my greedy urge to devour your books faster. Once you’ve completed a new novel, if the storyline summarizes some of the past events, then I’m usually good to go. I’ve noticed many authors putting out short stories that include the series characters and although I may read some, my preference is to wait for the better written sequel. But that’s just me. I just finished Brandon Sanderson’s last book of over 1,000 pages and will certainly wait for his sequel patiently and it can take him 2-3 years. Patience is a virtue, I guess. I loved Taste but then I love sci-fi and have been reading Baen books for years to get my fix. It’s great to see that you can bridge the gap that is sometimes missing with Sci-Fi and that’s lack of romance. If a reader loves your story, they will wait for you! Thanks for your great reads!!

  12. Profile photo of Jaxs Jaxs says:

    Hi again,
    I would also like to thank you for those books that you’ve offered gratis! You have no idea how much that helps those of us who have limited ebook spending budgets due to ongoing medical expenses (or others). If it wasn’t for authors like yourself, I’d go nuts with nothing to read. Reading is one of the only pleasures that I enjoy but the rising cost of ebooks can be prohibitive. Giving free books permits me to see what series I would like to follow. It has been my practice to support authors who give of their work since they have supported my reading habit. My finance manager refuses to let me purchase books over $4.00 therefore I love to see books offered at no cost. When pricing your books, although I know that this is hard work and you deserve great pay, please remember those of us who are disabled and just cannot afford to buy when books get too pricey. There are so many authors that I supported early in their careers but then the sequels started getting priced over $5.00 and I was forced to stop reading midway through. Of course many are not yet at libraries so I’m left with huge cliffhangers and that is frustrating. Again thank YOU for keeping reading fun and affordable!! Kudos to you 🙂

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