Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mid-Series Pros and Cons

Guest Maven Carla CapshawWelcome guest Maven, Diana Peterfreund!

Today, my third book is on shelves. It’s called Rites of Spring (Break) and you can buy it here. Okay. Plugged. It’s the third book in the Secret Society Girl series.

There are pros and cons to writing an ongoing series.

PRO: My readers already know who Amy is. I don’t have to spend much time describing her or explaining her world or back story.

CON: My readers already know who Amy is. I don’t get to spend much word count describing her or explaining her world or back story.

PRO: I finally get to write those scenes I’ve been dreaming about for three years.

CON: I finally have to write those scenes I’ve been dreading tackling for three years.

PRO: I get to create a long, involved story arc that spans four books and several hundred thousand words.

CON: And that story has to be complex enough to not only fill up all those hundreds of thousands of words, but have four smaller stories that can stand on their own as well as fit together into a cohesive whole.

PRO: I get fan mail about what people love best about my series and hope to see in the latest book.

CON: Sometimes the fans are hoping for stuff that ain’t gonna happen. Sorry.

PRO: People who liked the last two books will probably like this one. Yay, built-in readership!

CON: People who haven’t read the last two books might be afraid of picking up this one (Don’t be. The reviewer from Night Owl Romance said she never read any of the previous books, then gave it a five heart “top pick.”)

So it is with great trepidation that I send out my latest -- my little conjoined twin -- into the world. Will they like her? As much as the others? More? Less? I always hope more, since I try to grow as a writer with each book I write, and I hope that with every new adventure, readers become more engaged with Amy and her friends. And I think they will like it, even those who have begged me not to do what I gleefully do in this book. (Those of you who have read it, please keep the spoilers out of your comments below…) It’s out of my hands now. It’s up to Amy and her big mouth, her foibles, her smarts, and her bravery. It’s up to her relationship with the reader.

Reader expectations mid-series is an interesting conundrum. When I go to my signings in the next few weeks, I’ll be speaking to people who have, if I’m lucky, read only through Under the Rose. And I’ll be talking to them about Rites of Spring (Break). But in my head, I’m living in the fourth book. The things that are current to me are two books in the future to everyone else. I first realized what a challenge this would be when my first novel, Secret Society Girl, came out while I was in the middle of writing the third. So much had changed between the characters that it felt a bit like talking to someone you haven’t seen since high school, who is still surprised that you ended up an English teacher after swearing you’d go pre-med in college.

Except catching them up would be a spoiler. And I’ve never been known for my poker faces.

Rites of Spring (Break) is especially challenging in this arena; as part three of four, my characters and storyline are past the point of no return. Everything has been flipped, thwarted, brought to the breaking point. At work every day, I’m neck deep in tying all those strands together. But for the next year, no one will know about that part except me, my editor, and my husband, who has to hear me whingeing at the dinner table.

There’s another con, I suppose. The pro for that one is easy. I’ve got a secret. And I could tell you… but then I’d have to kill you. :-)

YOUR TURN: How do you feel about spoilers? Do you frequent the spoiler sites for movie and television productions? Do you relish knowing what’s going to happen? Or do you, like me, like to be surprised? How do you feel about ongoing series – pro or con?

(Diana asks that you please keep spoilers for Rites of Spring (Break) out of the comment thread. She will be posting a “spoiler thread” for discussion on her own blog later this week.)

Leave a comment and one lucky MaveFave will win a copy of Rites of Spring (Break)!


Diana Peterfreund said...

Thanks so much for having me, Carrie and all the other Mavens!

Carrie Ryan said...

Thanks for blogging, Diana! And Congrats on release day!!

I tend to be anti-spoiler if I'm planning on reading a book or seeing the movie. But sometimes if I wait too long for either I just give up and read the reviews, not caring. I figure that often the book is about the journey and even if I know what's going to happen, it's still interesting to read/watch it happen.

And great points about writing a series! Is it hard to get your head back into the book that just came out in order to do readings and answer questions? Have you ever accidentally spoiled something?

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Big congrats Diana. What a great series. I can't wait to read this one. What's next for you? Any other series planned?

feywriter said...

Yay for new release! I prefer to be anti-spoiler, though don't fret if some are thrown in my face. It's the journey and experiencing the story as the characters do that's the best part.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Thank you, Carrie!

I'm pretty spoiler-conscious, so I do my best not to let anything slip. However, as I said, I don't have much of a poker face -- so sometimes all someone has to do is ask me a pointed question and then wait for my face to give it away!

Anonymous said...

I once read that the ten top reasons you marry are the same top ten reasons you divorce. :) But I've never thought of a series that way before. Good luck with the book. The cover is gorgeous!

Shannon McKelden said...

Loved your pros and cons, Diana, and totally get it! :-)

I will read spoilers for TV shows with no problem...I figure half of them are wrong anyway, and if they're right, I've probably forgotten them by the time the show is on anyway.

Like Carrie said above, though, if I wait too long on a book (for example the Harry Potter book where a MAJOR character dies?) after a year went by I finally made my daughter tell me. Maybe it spoiled the surprise when I finally read the book, but I was okay with it.

However, if I'm going to read the book soon after publication, like Rites of Spring, I'd be pretty ticked off to hear all the good stuff beforehand.


Diana Peterfreund said...

Thank you, Kari Lee. I'm currently working on the fourth book in the series (which is out next summer). Also next summer, I've got my YA debut from Harper Collins. It's a contemporary fantasy about killer unicorns and the virgin descendents of Alexander the Great who hunt them. Action packed, and quite a departure from the comedy of SSG!

Lynette said...

Congratulations on your new release Diana, and best wishes for huge sales. Lynette

Diana Peterfreund said...

Mary, for me, I guess it depends. You're right, I don't mind spoilers if I'm reading for more reasons than just "what happens?" But if the "trick" is the point -- like with an M Night Shyamalan project, I may get P.O.ed!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to pick up my copy. Congrats Diana on the release of your 3rd book

Anonymous said...

First time commenter, but this is my favorite writer's blog ever. It really is. Also so helpful.

As someone who is cautiously planning a series, I have to ask... did you set out to write a series, or did you suddenly realize at the end of Book 1 that you had way too much story to tell for just one book? I know some series are based on a continuing adventure (i.e loose ends that are not wrapped up, questions not answered), some are written because a secondary character demanded his/her chance to tell their story. For me it seems to be a combination of the two. But there's always the fear that I won't have enough material for a second novel.

What keeps me plotting is the fear that no one will publish a one-shot nowadays. :-/

Bill Clark said...

OK, guess I have to add a trip to the bookstore to my other chores today. Oh, wait - maybe lightning will strike and I'll win a copy right here! But I'll still swing by Borders and snap a pic for you - remember how they put UTR in the kiddie section last time, and I had to read the sex scene aloud to persuade the manager (and the horrified mommies) that the book needed to be re-positioned? :)

Carla Capshaw said...

Hi Diana!

Congrats on your 3rd SSG!!

I don't mind spoilers a bit. I loving reading the last page of a novel and people can tell me the endings of movies all they want. I read and watch for my own pleasure and with my own opinions, so hearing someone else's take doesn't faze me. :-)

Can't wait to read your latest and I'm really looking forward to the unicorns!!

Diana Peterfreund said...

Sue, thanks. This cover is certainly my favorite so far! And of course, so far, my series is way longer than my marriage!

Vicki said...

I'm pretty much anti-spoiler. I'd much rather find out as I read then go in knowing everything. That said, it won't stop me from reading something if I do find out spoilers.

Love the cover!!! I know you already know this, but it really is great!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Congratulations on the release, Diana. I can't wait to read it. (And Rampant when it comes out.)

I'm anti-spoiler. So much so that I don't even like to read excerpts or jacket covers ahead of time. If I can't have the whole book in front of me, I don't want to know what's going to happen.

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

Happy release day, Diana!! :) I can't wait to read it!

I'm veeerrrry anti-spoiler for books. Oddly enough, not so much for TV and movies. But if someone had spilled the ending in the final Harry Potter book before I'd read it, I would have hunted them down. :)

On the day Breaking Dawn is released, I won't be reading any blogs or Internet news until I finish it. Just in case.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Shannon, isn't it funny -- I'll always remember those spoilers, even if I don't want to. ESPECIALLY if I don't want to!

I was always bad about waiting for HP books, too. I'd read as quickly as possible because of the whole "who dies" conundrum. In fact, I barely remember any of book 7, I was reading so fast to find out what happened.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Thank you, lynette and dragonfly!

Darcy Burke said...

Yay for release day! Of course, I'm a book behind, but I loved SSG so much, I'm sneaking UTR to the top of my TBR pile this week and plan to read ROSB asap.

I'm with Shannon. I might read spoilers for TV shows, but that's usually all. Unless it's something that's gotten a lot of hype and I have no plan on watching/reading it. I do remember inadvertently spilling the beans about the movie My Girl years and years ago (I thought everyone knew who died). My friend punched me in the arm. Hard. It really hurt. I've tried to be more careful since then.

Angelina, thanks so much for visiting us and posting your first comment!

Diana, thanks for being with us today!

Trish said...

I think I can re-post the comment I left yesterday on your blog without giving anything away.

I FINISHED IT ALREADY! And I have just one word for you:

OMG! Loved it! And just... YAY!

So maybe that was more than one word, but still...

Fortunately, I have my revisions to keep me busy until book four comes out!

Gina Black said...

Happy Release Day Diana!!

I like a fresh read that's spoiler-free. I also prefer movies that way.

Wendy Toliver said...

Great post, Diana! I'm so excited for your newest book.

I definitely do NOT want to know what's going to happen. Rarely do I read a book twice or watch a movie twice for this reason.

Best wishes and congrat's on release day!

tetewa said...

I'm an anti-spoiler, I'd rather see the movie or read the book myself and find out what happens. Congrats on your release!

Courtney Milan said...

Hi Diana! We met at the last meeting of WRW, and I told you what I wanted to happen in RoS(B).

Finished a few hours ago (yay for getting up at 6 and having a Kindle).

Happy dance, happy dance!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Diana! It was especially timely for me now that I'm plotting out a three-part series. Scary stuff, but exciting, too.

Congrats on release day!!!!!! I loved the first 2 books, so I can't wait to read #3!

I tend to be anti-spoiler, myself.

Kimberley Troutte said...


Big congrats on release day! I wish you tons and tons of sales.

No, I hate spoilers. I don't even like to see movie trailers. I like to be surprised and see how the writer has carried the whole thing off.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Angelina asked:
As someone who is cautiously planning a series, I have to ask... did you set out to write a series, or did you suddenly realize at the end of Book 1 that you had way too much story to tell for just one book?

The Secret Society Girl books were a series from the very beginning. I sold the book on the basis of a partial, and it was sold as a series. The contract was for the first two books, then later, after the first book was out, we went back to contract for two more. I'd never even tried to write a series before then.

I know some series are based on a continuing adventure (i.e loose ends that are not wrapped up, questions not answered), some are written because a secondary character demanded his/her chance to tell their story.

This is the first kind. It's not like a romance "series" where subsequent books tell the story of secondary characters. This series is one continuing story, with the same protagonist.

For me it seems to be a combination of the two. But there's always the fear that I won't have enough material for a second novel.

What keeps me plotting is the fear that no one will publish a one-shot nowadays.

It does seem like there are a lot of series on the shelves these days, but I think there are just as many that are NOT series. It's probably because it's easier to remember the groupings rather than four books by the same author that are unconnected. I've always heard it's easier to sell standalones as a new writer.

Personally: I can't WAIT to get some standalones under contract.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Bill, do you do that for the YA novels, too? Because there's sex in those as well.

Poor bookstore manager!

Diana Peterfreund said...

Hi, Carla! How did I know you'd say that? (Guys, she really is one of the more self-possessed women I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.) there's no doubt in my mind that Carla simply decides the spoilers shall have no effect on her, and they are banished. It's like a Jedi thing...

CrystalGB said...

Hi Diana. Happy release day! I love your books. I prefer not to read spoilers because I like to be surprised.

Courtney Milan said...

Oh, man! Amanda would be the only person who would take my comment as a spoiler, and she posted right after me.

Now I feel stupid!

Phyllis J. Towzey said...

Yay, Diana! Can't wait to head off to the bookstore tonight!

I usually avoid spoilers. Unless there's a dog in the book, in which case I go the end of the book and make sure the dog is still mentioned so I know it didn't die -- if the dog's dead, the book gets tossed.

Bill Clark said...

Update from Greenwich:

ROS(B) is safely in the New Releases section at Borders, and I am pleased to report that it is the ONLY double-wide book in the display (i.e., two stacks facing out side by side). A pic has been snapped and will be forwarded in due course.

No, Diana, I'm not the local bluenose patrol. The only time I've ever done this was on the release day for UTR, when I couldn't find it in the New Releases section and had to ask for help...so then the manager (a good friend, BTW, who always keeps my book right by the cash register) showed me where it was, and I gently conveyed the message that it was not a children's book by the aforesaid reading...which, let it be said, certainly hyped the adult interest level in the book that day! :)

Amie Stuart said...

When it comes to books I don't like spoilers and I NEVER read the end first. When it comes to movies and TV I'm a little more flexible. I'm a huge BSG fan so I love reading all the guesswork about the fifth cylon, but would I want to KNOW? NO!

Bill Clark said...

P.S. I then went to the library to see if they had ordered it yet, and they hadn't, so I put in a purchase request. May I suggest that all your other fans consider doing the same thing at their local libraries? After all, that's a great place for new readers to discover your books!

Kwana said...

Great post Diana. I actually leave spoilers on my blog but only after something is common knowledge. I don't like spoilers personally. I hate to know the ending of things. I love to be surprised.

Best of luck with the new book!

PatriciaW said...

Absolutely hate spoilers. If I bump up against one inadvertently, most of the time I'll then pass on the book or movie. Why bother if I know the end?

I'm even careful about book excerpts. Too much and unless I'm rushing out to buy the book, I get annoyed. Don't wanna know anything until it's time to know everything.

Anonymous said...

I'm anti spoiler when it comes to books. But as for movies bring them on. LOL

Gerb said...

Happy release day!

I'm firmly in the anti-spoiler camp. Half the joy of reading a great book is being surprised, IMO.

Meanwhile, I can seriously relate to the pros and cons of series writing!

Diana Peterfreund said...

thank you, Vicki. I feel the same way as you about spoilers. I'd prefer not to find out, but if I still want to read/see something, knowing the spoiler won't stop me. I think I knew in HP5. And HP6 was pretty darn obvious. ;-)

Diana Peterfreund said...

B.E., thank you! I can't wait for everyone to read Rampant as well.

You're hard core spoiler free! ;-) I have to admit, I love trailers and jacket copies. Like little tastes at ice cream parlors. Though I do hate it when jacket copies are highly misleading or spoilerific.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Jessica, you need to stay away from MMORPGs, then. My husband and I turn off the chat windows of WOW the day these big books come out, because there are always jerks around saying what happens.

I even heard a story about people driving by bookstore lines when HP came out, shouting spoilers from the windows. Can you believe it?

Diana Peterfreund said...

Yes! Darcy! Read it now!

I watched THE USUAL SUSPECTS without knowing that I already knew the big twist ending. I didn't realize it was supposed to be a twist. Oops. I still don't think my husband has completely forgiven me.

Diana Peterfreund said...

thank you, Trish!

(btw, we are all vastly curious how you got your hands on it so early...)

Darcy Burke said...

Diana, that's awful! I would've been mad that I knew. The Usual Suspects is one of the best twists EVER. (And maybe the best character name ever.) Anyone disagree?

Anonymous said...

Diana, So excited to get your new book. Maybe I'll be the lucky one to win it here, but in any case I can't wait to read it and hope it's super duper successful for you!

Karen Lingefelt said...

Congratulations on your newest release, Diana, and another fun, inspirational blog.

I'm definitely anti-spoiler. I love to be surprised (as long as it's in a good way, of course).

I don't like it when I can figure out what's going to happen before it happens. But I really like it when I think I know what's going to happen--only to find out I was waa-aay off!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating post, Diana! As an author, I don't think I could write four books with the same characters -- I'd be bored to death with them by the end, LOL! But as a reader, it's a great enticement, because you already know the characters and want to see what's going to happen next in their lives. (Kinda like a favorite soap opera...)

RE: your question, I'm the kind of person who likes surprises (I enjoy trying to figure things out in my head) so I don't want the surprise spoiled beforehand!


Diana Peterfreund said...

Thanks, Gina. It's interesting to see how many folks on this thread distinguish between spoilers for books and film, isn't it? I wonder why that is.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Oh, Wendy, rewatching and rereading old favorites is one of my foremost past-times. Growing up, I used to reread the entire Anne of Green Gables series (except Ingleside), the entire Narnia series (except The Last Battle) and A Girl of the Limberlost every year.

And I probably shouldn't talk about how many times I've seen season one of veronica Mars, or all seasons of How I Met Your Mother or Buffy...

Marley Gibson said...

As I've already said...HAPPY RELEASE DAY!!! This is my favorite of the series so far...and you know why. = )

I hate spoilers. I remember when I was little, my friend Melissa went to see THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK before I did and called me to tell me "Darth Vader is Luke's father!!!" B*tch. I often tell friends not to e-mail me about shows without putting a spoiler on it because I'm such a DVR queen these days.

I *do* love re-reading favorite books and re-watching favorite movies. Like I can't get enough of it. Like if I watch it just one more time, I'll see something I've missed, or catch an important line of dialogue. I also love to recite movies and books, so that helps with the memorization.

Hope it's been a great day!!!

Marley = )

Erica Ridley said...

Yay release day! Love ROSB, love the series, and I lurrrve... well, I can't say it b/c it would be a spoiler, but yes. Lurve. (And I have a voodoo doll that says you will make all my book 4 dreams come true...)

Like Carrie & others, I'm generally anti-spoiler. Perhaps even rabidly anti-spoiler. I'm that person who plugs my ears, closes my eyes, and mumbles lalalalalala during previews at movie theaters if the film seems remotely entertaining. (I probably look like I need medication...)

Anonymous said...

I don't like spoilers for books. I love to be surprised. Or movies. But since I tend to wait for DVD it's hard to remain spoiler free unless one stays off the Internet. Heh.

Congrats on your book release Diana! Already have it ordered and on its way and I can't wait to read it :-)

Aimee said...

Happy release day! I can't wait to read the book and I am glad this is a spoiler-free thread because I love being surprised!

Trish said...

Diana, I reserved a copy through B&N, which also happens to be where I work. So as soon as it came in the back door, I bought it. It DID come in Monday, though.

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