Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

Creative Multi-Tasking: 5 Tips to Write Two Books at Once

I am currently in the midst of writing two books at the same time, something I have not attempted since I was a kid. Back then, I would write and illustrate several “books” simultaneously because the story ideas just wouldn’t stop popping into my fertile young imagination. Now, I’m working on two books at once for much the same reason: I had two very different story premises that I just couldn’t ignore, and both begged to be written so stridently that it was impossible to neglect one in favor of the other.

One of my projects is Book 1 of a new Amish series. It’s weird that I’ve now released five Amish books and am working on more, because my original intent was to only write a short series and move on to something totally different. But my Amish books have become best sellers on Amazon, and I’ve become fairly addicted to writing them!

My next Amish series will feature the characters of the Amish Hearts books as they face adult life. Rebekah and Samuel are in college, Jakob is contemplating marriage, and Mercy is straddling both worlds, preparing to start her own Amish bakery but still spending time with Rebekah and Samuel in the worldly “English” college scene. There will be four books in this series, one for each of the main characters, and right now I’m writing Rebekah’s Book: Amish Faith.

My other project is a contemporary teen fiction novel based on the characters of my teen novel Winner. Aubree’s bestie Quentyn becomes an overnight celebrity when she is mistaken for Gemma Haley, the hottest teen pop star out there. The ensuing fame and glamour is every girl’s dream–until it starts disrupting her relationships with her family, friends, and smoky Latino love-interest.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been writing two chapters of my Amish novella every day (target release date mid-March) and one chapter of my contemporary novel every day (target release date some time in May), and both projects are blossoming like spring flowers!

Literary multi-tasking is hard work! Image courtesy of www.thejanedough.com

Literary multi-tasking is hard work! Image courtesy of http://www.thejanedough.com

Here are 5 tips for writing two books at once:

  1. Recharge Before You Start – Make sure you’re feeling like your most imaginative self before you attempt to write two books at once. It’s imperative that you’re feeling fresh and inspired before you start this literary marathon. I started both projects in depth after I returned from a long weekend in Mexico City, and found that I was refueled, energized, and raring to go.
  2. Be Passionate About Both Projects – If you’re more excited about one project than the other, it’s going to show up in your writing. This strategy will only work if you’re feeling equally fiery about both books. If you find that you’re favoring one project, put the other on temporary hiatus. In writing, as in relationships, absence can make the heart grow fonder; you will return to the project later with an undeniable spark.
  3. Know Your Direction – It’s easy to lose enthusiasm for your project(s) if you feel like you’re lost at sea without a compass. That’s why, before I even start writing a new book, I write a “description,” similar to the back cover synopsis of a print book, or the Amazon description of an eBook. Once I’ve written my description, the plot unfolds more easily. And as you write, feel free to draft periodic chapter outlines. Sometimes, the events of the stories will flow smoothly and organically, while other times you’ll appreciate the structure and direction an outline will provide.
  4. Have a Timeline – If you set goals, your projects will succeed–it’s as simple as that. After my first week of working on both projects, I was able to set editor deadlines and release dates. My timeline has allowed me to pace my writing, completing my chapters accordingly.
  5. Compartmentalize – Sometimes, despite our best efforts, working on two projects simultaneously can just get mind-boggling. That’s why I always compartmentalize my books. The schedule that works for me is writing the Amish book in the morning, breaking for lunch and / or workout, and writing my contemporary book in the afternoon. It’s all about setting a writing routine that works for you!

So, ambitious and prolific writers out there, have you ever worked on multiple projects at once? What worked best for you? Feel free to share your experiences!

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The Beauty of Box Sets Part II: How Box Sets Drive Up Sales

Last month, I released my first-ever box set, Books 1-3 of the Amish Hearts series. I also wrote a blog post about the beauty of box sets. The post outlined 5 reasons why any author writing a series should consider combining his or her books into a box set.

Here's the book cover from the Amish Hearts boxed set.

Here’s the book cover from the Amish Hearts box set.

Now that my box set has been on the market awhile, I’m revisiting the topic–specifically in relation to how box sets drive up sales of other books. The dream of any author is to get his or her hard work out there by selling tons of books. And today, I will share the story of how releasing my box set allowed me to get three books on the Amazon Hot New Releases, as well as five books on the Teen Short Stories best seller list simultaneously!

Releasing a box set is all about timing. I released my box set on Amazon on January 29, and placed it in the Amish fiction and Teen Short Stories categories. Book 3 of Amish Hearts, Mercy’s Fall, had just been released on January 11th, and was already on the best seller list in the Teen Short Stories category, and Books 1 and 2 of the series, Rumspringa Break and Amish Summer, were ranked on the list as well. Mercy’s Fall was currently a Hot New Release.

The box set was priced at $2.99, and started climbing its way up the best seller lists within the first week of release. Even though it had fewer reviews than my previous books, it sold well, probably because people could read the reviews of each component book separately if they wanted to.

On February 7th, I released the fourth and final book of the Amish Hearts series, Amish Valentine. The seasonality of the book, as well as the fact that it was highly anticipated by devoted readers of the first three installments, ensured it an almost-immediate spot on the best seller list. February 8th was the day that three of my books from the Amish Hearts series showed up side-by-side as Hot New Releases. And the week after that, all five of my Amish Hearts books (the separate novellas and the box set) were all ranked within the top 12 of the Teen Short Stories best seller list.

The box set, as well as two of my other Amish Hearts books, took over the Hot New Release list simultaneously!

The box set, as well as two of my other Amish Hearts books, took over the Hot New Release list simultaneously!

Another important business move I made was setting Amish Valentine up to be free on Valentine’s Day; it was downloaded 1600 times that day alone. Predictably, the sales of the box set rose, since free days are the best time to reach new readers. And after the free download day, Amish Valentine continued to climb the Amazon Paid best seller lists. This was when it skyrocketed to #1 in Teen Short Stories.  And when this happened, the box set sales rose as well. Surprise, surprise. 🙂

Here are some takeaways from my experience. I hope you find them helpful when you’re releasing and marketing your own box set!

  • Timing is everything. Release your box set when you have at least one book on the Hot New Releases list, so Amazon’s algorithm will recommend the box set to readers. And if you’re planning to release only part of your series as a box set, make sure to have the next installment coming out soon, so sales of the box set and new book can feed off each other.
  • Set up a free day. A free day on  one of your other books (especially the most current one) will drive up sales of the box set.
  • Be willing to learn. Creating and selling a box set is all trial and error, and it’s different for everyone. The success of the box set depends on the category of the book and a host of other factors. Plus, the learning process is ongoing. I will be releasing another box set in early March, and will have even more observations and hints to share with you then!

Has anyone had a similar success story with a box set? Do you have any more takeaways I missed? I’d love to hear your opinions.

 

 

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Reflections on a Vacation in Mexico City

For the long President’s Day weekend, Antonio and I decided to visit a faraway land…Mexico City, to be exact. Antonio’s good friend had been inviting us down forever, and we decided it was time to just do it already!

My first impression of Mexico City was wow. It is, without a doubt, the largest city I’ve ever seen…much bigger than New York or LA. Flying over la Ciudad de Mexico was like overlooking a sea of lights. It was 11 PM on a Friday night, and the city was glowing with vitality and energy.

We had the privilege of staying with our friends Cristian and Ana, in their gorgeous casa in the north of Mexico City, by Polanco, and they made sure we had an awesome weekend. Mexico City is the perfect amalgamation of ancient past and glittering present, and our amazing “tour guides” showed us exactly that.

Our first full day in Mexico City, we drove to San Angel, an historic community in the south of the city. We enjoyed a delicious outdoor brunch where I tried my first-ever sopa de melon (melon soup), a Mexican specialty that is both sweet and salty. And then, fortified for the day ahead, we attended the Bazaar del Sabado (Saturday Bazaar).

Traditional Mexican music, played by three men on a xylophone-like instrument, emanated throughout the open courtyard as we browsed jewelry, housewares, and art. The prices were reasonable, mostly because $1.00 is equal to 13 pesos, so even though the items sounded expensive they really weren’t. Antonio and I practiced our Spanish and our negotiating skills as we purchased an abalone mask, a ceramic skull, a jade bracelet, and a leather cuff bracelet.

Naturally, being a book enthusiast, I sniffed out a libreria (bookstore), where I bought a book called Con Permiso del Sol (With Permission of the Sun). I’ve started reading it to practice my Spanish, and the experience has been fun and enriching. If you’re trying to learn another language, I’d definitely recommend reading a book in that language. It’s challenging, but, for me anyway, seeing the words in print reinforced all the phrases I’d been hearing scattered randomly throughout conversations all weekend.

At the libreria in San Angel

At the libreria in San Angel

That night we had a house party…Mexican style! It lasted until 6 AM! Antonio and I passed out somewhere around 3:30 AM, though…our day of exploration had tired us out, in a good way.

Sunday, we checked out downtown Mexico City, and were completely blown away. It’s a bustling metropolis full of street performers, breathtaking architecture, music, and dancing. I danced in the street twice: once when we passed a stand blaring fun, festive music, and again when we reached a group of street performers doing a traditional Aztec dance. We marveled at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the most important cultural center in Mexico City, which serves as an opera house, theater, and museum. Then, we enjoyed more delicious Mexican cuisine at the well-known Danubio Restaurant. The seafood was extraordinary, and my favorites were the langostinos (tiny lobsters) and the calamari cooked in its own ink. The restaurants of Mexico City have top-notch food and service.

Antonio and me in downtown Mexico City

Antonio and me in downtown Mexico City

As the sun sank lower in the sky, we made our way to a rooftop club, Mundo Joven (Young World). A DJ was silhouetted against the imposing, historic buildings of the Mexico City skyline, pumping out innovative house music. To me, this epitomized the blending of old and new that you’ll find in the bonita Ciudad de Mexico

That night, we ate at a yummy taqueria, where we tried pastor (pork) tacos with pineapple and an appetizer of cactus and toasted cheese (my first time ever eating a cactus), and we fell completely in love with coconut milk. I wish we could import these traditional Mexican tacos into the states…I’ve never tasted anything like them. Then again, they just give us more incentive to return to Mexico City!

Our last day in Mexico, we went to the pyramids in Teotihuacan, the City of the Gods. I remembered learning about this place in high school Spanish class, and was psyched to see the Piramide del Sol y la Piramide de la Luna

Armed with our sombreros and SPF 50 sunscreen, we climbed to the top of the Sun and Moon Pyramids. As soon as I stepped onto the Piramide del Sol, I felt as if I was being touched by history, and a bit of magic. Antonio even found a butterfly, which I carried toward the top of the pyramid. When we reached a scenic overlook, I released the mariposa and we both made a wish. And when we reached the top of the pyramid, we sat on the side overlooking the Piramide de la Luna, and meditated, reflecting on life and love. Seeing this awe-inspiring, enduring piece of the past helped us to appreciate the many things in this world that are bigger than we are…yet, somehow, it also made us reach deeper into our own essences, looking further into ourselves for meaning and inner peace.

We climbed the Piramide de la Luna next; only the bottom set of steep steps was open to the public. But we were okay with this. The first tier of the pyramid afforded us a first-class view of the Piramide del Sol, and we were able to sit on the edge, dangling our feet below as we basked in the sunshine like lizards. It was a pretty amazing afternoon.

Climbing the Piramide de la Luna

Climbing the Piramide de la Luna

We left Mexico City that night exhausted, yet recharged…completely inspired for the work week ahead. And ever since I’ve been back home, my writing has been on fire. It seems that all we needed for a bit of physical and creative renewal was a weekend surrounded with scintillating artistic and ancient culture!

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Author Interview: 5 Things You Never Knew About JoAnne Myers

Today, I’m excited to post my first-ever author interview! One of the best things about the social media / eBook revolution is discovering new authors, and admiring their work and attitudes. Today, I share 5 things you never knew about author JoAnne Myers: a painter, novelist, and advocate for family values and following your dreams!

Author JoAnne Myers knows how to follow her dreams of writing and art.

Author JoAnne Myers knows how to follow her dreams of writing and art.

JoAnne Myers is a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio, and worked in the blue-collar industry most of her life. Besides having several novels under her belt, she canvas paints. Check out her paintings and books here: http://www.booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com JoAnne enjoys spending her spare time with her relatives and her dogs Jasmine and Scooter. She also  volunteers within her community; she’s a member of Hocking Hill’s Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center.

JoAnne’s blog is full of inspirational posts for writing, art, and life. Check out her “Never Give Up” post, and feel instantly empowered!

Now, on to the interview…

KL: In your “Never Give Up” blog post, you state that you put art and writing on hold for years, then returned to them. What steps did you take to do this? What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to “pick up” writing again?

JM: When I decided to go back to painting, I took lessons from an artist living in my area. I needed that help since it had been many years since I painted. He taught me the basic rules of painting; what size brushes to use with what images, mixing colors, and not to be afraid to experiment. With my writing, I began with poetry, then country songs, short stories, and then full length books. My advice would be to just start writing something. Taking a writing class never hurts either. I think many who want to write don’t, because they are afraid of failing. One must find a subject they are interested in. Write what you want to write, not what others want from you. Joining writing groups and book reading groups are good because members give support to one another. To write anything you must take the “plunge.” Nothing ventured nothing gained. Forget about failure, and what others will think of your writing. For some it takes years to complete a book, but they stayed with it. Sometimes when I got writers block, I stepped away from my computer for weeks until an idea came to me, and I went back and added it to the book. The secret to anything you want to do, is to never give up.

KL: You write many paranormal books and murder mysteries. Where do you find your inspiration?

JM: I watch a lot of television and read the papers. Two of my books, The Crime of the Century, and Twisted Love, are actual homicide cases from Ohio. To find that information I went to the courthouse for the case documents, and witness and police statements.

KL: I’m fascinated by mystery authors and their abilities to create suspense. When you’re writing a mystery, how do you sprinkle clues throughout the story without giving anything away? Do you outline your mysteries in advance, or let them evolve organically?

JM: I try to outline each paragraph and keep track of what clues and activities the main characters did in past chapters. You don’t want the same incident such as a shooting, happening several times. Mix up the killings a little. Throw in a fist fight, or poisoning, or an incident with cut brakes lines to put a character into danger.

KL: You not only write, you also paint. Do your paintings influence your books and vice versa? Have you ever created a painting for your own book cover?

JM: No. My paintings are of happy thoughts; sunsets, sunrises, ocean scenes, lighthouses, pretty things and pretty places. My book covers are mostly designed by others. I did though choose the cover for Wicked Intentions and The Crime of the Century, which was derived from a photograph I snapped of the Hocking River, where my two victims were discovered at.

KL: Tell us about your latest book. What is it about, and what inspired you to write it?

JM: The next book to go into print is Twisted Love, a biography true crime anthology due out this coming spring by Black Rose Writing. My influence came from my love of true stories. I find the forensic part of the crime interesting. Why the crime occurred. How the crime occurred. Was the culprit caught, or is the crime still unsolved. The crime that happened in The Crime of the Century, took nearly 30 years to solve. Originally the wrong man was prosecuted and convicted of the homicides. He spent 9 years in jail, 5 on death row before he was cleared and released thanks to DNA.

JoAnne has an exciting new book, Murder Most Foul, available in eBook and paperback versions. Check out the blurb here:

When two dismembered torsos wash up on the banks of the local river in the small industrial town of Pleasant Valley, residents are horrified. Between contradicting statements, police ineptitude, lust, lies, manipulation, incest, the motorcycle gang The Devil’s Disciples, crooked cops, and a botched crime scene, everyone becomes a suspect.

The young beautiful Jackie Reeves, a registered nurse, believes the killer is a man from her past. She contacts the dangerously handsome FBI Agent Walker Harmon. An arrest is made, but Harmon and Jackie believe an innocent man is being railroaded by local cops. Determined to find the truth, before anymore killings, Agent Harmon and Jackie are forced to run a gauntlet of deep trouble and turmoil, which marks them for death.

JoAnne's book, Murder Most Foul, contains fascinating characters questing for truth.

JoAnne’s book, Murder Most Foul, contains fascinating characters questing for truth.

Check out these other books by JoAnne on Smashwords: 

Wicked Intentions-a paranormal/mystery anthology

Loves, Myths, and Monsters-a fantasy anthology starring the Mothman, the Chupracabra, Mermaids, reincarnation, time travel, and etc.

Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between-a poetry collection written with love and respect for others.

And get pumped for her upcoming releases:

Twisted Love-a biography true crime anthology

Flagitious-a detective/mystery novella collection

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Valentine’s Day Books: Not Just for Kids

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! V-day has always been one of my fave holidays. When I was little, I loved the heart-shaped cookies with shiny icing, conversation hearts, and valentine cards from my family and friends…and the beautiful cameo chocolate my dad brought home for me every year. As a teen, I adored the color scheme and overall sparkly, girly theme of the holiday, the surprise “love” notes and flowers from not-so-secret admirers, and, of course, the candy. V-day during my school years was always associated with a sugar high. And now, of course, V-day is the most special of holidays for my husband Antonio and me. What’s better than a celebration of love, after all?

Naturally, being such a V-day enthusiast, I searched Amazon for books related to the holiday, and most of the ones I found with direct Valentine’s Day themes were for children. However, in my opinion, Valentine’s Day books are not just for kids!

I have written about Valentine’s Day in two of my eight YA eBooks, which are read by teens and adults alike. My first-ever eBook, Unlucky 13, takes place over the course of a year in the life of thirteen year-old Jordyn, and has an entire chapter devoted to her Valentine’s Day hijinks. And as I wrote my Amish Hearts books, each of which are set in a different season, I decided that the best way to wrap up the series would be with a book taking place around Valentine’s Day.

First, I had to do some research about the Amish and Valentine’s Day. I wondered if, being relatively non-demonstrative people, they would celebrate a holiday of hugs and kisses. Luckily, there are a wealth of Amish blogs out there, and I found that Amish do celebrate the holiday, although differently than us Englischers. Here’s an interesting article about an ex-Amish woman’s recollections of V-day.

My research confirmed my first instincts about the Amish and V-day; they don’t go out for fancy dinners and movies, but they do have special Valentine’s Day treats (i.e. cookies, cakes), and their children exchange valentines and sweets in school. They also have many winter community activities, such as ice-skating and sled-riding parties, many of which are geared to teens on Rumspringa.

There, I had the foundation for Book 4 of Amish Hearts, Amish Valentine. It’s free today, 2/14/14! In it, sixteen year-old Mercy, an almost pathologically flirty Amish girl, decides she’s finally ready to settle down…with Samuel, the sweet, smart Amish boy she’s fallen in love with. The only problem: Samuel hasn’t forgiven her since he saw her kissing the English boy last fall, and he’s even starting to court another girl! With the help of her twin sister Rebekah, Mercy concocts a perfect plan  to get Samuel back in time for the Valentine’s Day sled riding party. But will her plan work? Will Mercy have the Amish Valentine of her dreams? If you love V-day as much as I do, be sure to check it out!

 

Download Amish Valentine for free Valentine's Day 2/14/14!

Download Amish Valentine for free Valentine’s Day 2/14/14!

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Life is an Uphill Battle: The Elusive Journey to Success

This past weekend, Antonio and I finally bought bikes! We had been talking about it for months but kept putting it off; this is basically a crime in SoCal, since almost every day is biking weather.

Naturally, we decided to celebrate our new purchases by taking them for a spin around the neighborhood, to the beach, and back. We’re not hard-core, Lance Armstrong-type cyclists; we’re just in it for fun and exercise. And believe me, I never realized how many steep, looong hills there are around us!

Biking near the beach

Biking near the beach

The most massive hill is on the main street heading toward our house. By the time we reached it, we’d ridden about 6 miles: we’d circled the beach, cruised up and down hills, and looped by the outlet malls. So, of course, we were pretty tired. The last hill was a steep and steady workout: almost a whole mile of constant incline. We were ready to pass out, but we pressed on, motivated by the prospect of going home and immersing ourselves in the bubbling waters of the hot tub.

We only took one break, and that was to snap some pictures by this even steeper hill. For those of you who are Facebook fans, you may recognize this picture from yesterday’s Motivation Monday post.

"Life is an uphill battle. Be determined" - Antonio Challita

Antonio’s “uphill battle” picture

When he saw this picture, Antonio said, “Life is an uphill battle,” and he meant it in the best possible way. In order to rise to new heights and challenge ourselves to accomplish things we never thought possible, we have to fight daily battles and commit ourselves to continuous improvement. And, just like our first bike ride around Carlsbad, there will be moments of exhaustion and doubt, but the key is to keep pushing. If we do, we’ve truly earned the right to soak our tired muscles in that cozy hot tub.

I was surprised how much our “uphill battle” on the bikes reminded me of my daily commitment to writing professionally ever since I became serious about it in October 2012. It has been an uphill battle, especially at the beginning, as I learned new skills, built my platform, and fought to make time for writing with my crazy schedule of travel and working as a pharmacist. And now that I’ve been writing full-time for 5 months, the battle continues. There’s a lot more pressure to succeed when you’re focusing on something full-time; I’m feeling it, and working to evolve as a writer and a person everyday.

Readers and writers out there, what is your “uphill battle?” How are you able to rise to the challenge? And what is your favorite “reward” when you accomplish your goals?

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Happy Twitterversary: Reflections on 2 Years of Twitter

This morning, I got an email from Twitter, proclaiming, “Happy Twitterversary! You’re 2 today!” I had to giggle. I guess that makes me a Twitter toddler. Hopefully, I’m not in for the terrible twos any time soon.

twitterversary

This got me thinking about my experiences with Twitter over the past two years. As we all know, Twitter is an amazing social media platform. I think its strength lies in the ability to build casual contacts, discover interesting and relevant articles, and see new blog posts. It’s a fun way to connect with people in basically any field. And, when used wisely, it’s a wonderful medium to promote your business.

When I joined Twitter in February 2012, I was a full-time pharmacist and aspiring indie author. I’d published one eBook on Amazon, but I had no idea how to promote it since I didn’t have much of a platform. I wasn’t into Facebook and I’d just started my WordPress blog, so Twitter was arguably the first social media platform in which I became truly active. I started out following some of my friends, and then a few famous authors. Before long, I reached 25 followers, where I was stuck for several months.

My first writing conference in October 2012 fixed all that. I attended the Writer’s Digest Conference West in LA, and met several aspiring indie authors. We all followed each other on Twitter and on our blogs, and pretty soon I cleared the 100 follower mark on Twitter.

I’ve heard it said that the first 100 Twitter followers are the hardest ones to win, and I definitely believe that. After I hit my first 100, my followers seemed to grow exponentially. There were various factors behind this–since I’ve joined Twitter, I’ve published six more eBooks, grown my blog, started a website, built a Facebook page, and become active on Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Social media is synergistic, and I truly believe that all these social media channels have fed off each other. I’ve also discovered and followed hundreds of writers on Twitter, in various genres. And we all know that if you follow a lot of people on Twitter, many of them will follow you back.

The follow-for-follow principle is one of the cornerstones of Twixplode, Sean Malarkey’s program that helps businesses and individuals to build honest Twitter followers. Now I’m at almost 1200 followers, which puts me in the 96th percentile of Twitter users. Here’s an interesting article about businesses with over 1000 Twitter followers and how they make an impact.

Another huge benefit of Twitter is Twitter Advertising. I’ve implemented several targeted tweet campaigns, especially when I launch a new eBook or want to promote my KDP Select free days, and I find that the eBook downloads increase when I add the targeted tweets. I would definitely recommend Twitter Advertising for any small business, especially indie authors.

Since I’ve built my Twitter followers, I’ve seen more downloads of my eBooks, more blog visits, and more likes on my Facebook author page. It’s fun to be active on Twitter, engaging with interesting people from all over the world. I think the proverbial 80-20 rule is super important for Twitter success–here’s a recent article that discusses the 80-20 rule in relation to social media and business growth.

Writers, what do you think of Twitter? How often do you use it, and how would you say it helps your platform?

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Reflections on Finishing a Series

Woohoo! I just finished writing Book 4 of the Amish Hearts series, Amish Valentine, and am currently immersed in final edits.

I couldn’t be more excited about this dramatic, satisfying end to the series, but at the same time, I have a feeling of emptiness. My brain, which has been caught up for months in the lives and loves of the Amish twins Rebekah and Mercy, is fairly reeling with questions like, “Is this it? But where do I go from here?”

It’s the “losing your best friend” feeling for sure.

Finishing writing a series often brings questions like, "Where do I go from here?"

Finishing writing a series often brings questions like, “Where do I go from here?”

Like many authors who have been sucked into writing a series, I started Amish Hearts with the idea of it being just one book. But by the time I’d written a few chapters of Book 1 (Rumspringa Break), I knew there was much more to tell. As I wrote Books 2, 3, and 4, the characters developed, secondary characters took on lives of their own, plot twists spun and wove their ways into the stories, and everything combined into a rich tapestry of Amish society. The books felt like life itself: I never would’ve imagined how the circumstances of the storyline would unfold when I was writing page 1 of Book 1, but looking back, I’m happy everything turned out the way it did–and the beauty was in the journey.

Now, I feel like I  know the characters as well as my family or friends. We writers really bond with our characters–and we have to, in order to make them multi-dimensional. Now, the only question is, “How do I immerse myself in other characters? And do I want to?”

The answer is, or course, yes. Writers have to constantly evolve. So, I’ve decided that my next project will be to write the teen fiction novel I’ve been psyched out of my mind about ever since the idea came to me last year. It will be called Starstruck, and it will center around Quentyn, Aubree’s best friend from my teen eBook Winnerwhich I released in December 2013. After the Amish fixation, it will be ah-mazing to immerse myself in contemporary culture once again!

But I loved writing my Amish novellas so much, and Amish Fiction is such an awesome niche genre. So naturally, even though Amish Hearts is finished, my work in the genre itself is not. I’ve decided to write a spinoff of Amish Hearts; familiar characters will be thrown into unfamiliar situations and new characters will have the opportunity to take center stage. I anticipate the first book of the spinoff will be out this spring…and knowing that my beloved characters will be able to come out once again kind of eases the pain of finishing the first series.

Authors, how do you feel once you finish that long-awaited series? I would love to hear your reflections!

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