Organizing a Book Series

Organizing a Book Series

When I first started writing books, I thought I would write a single title and then start a totally separate book. When Warriors Within reached 500 pages, I knew I had to break it into a series. I ended where most of the book’s plots were tied up and kept some open for book two. I published it and began the second book, realizing that I limited myself by not seeing the whole series.

I knew my latest book, The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs would be a series, but I wrote the first one somewhat knowing what would happen in the next three. Now that I am writing book two, I have discovered the importance of mapping out the series’ plots, themes, and developing a storyboard. By looking at the series as a whole, I end up writing all three books at the same time.

Shimmer’s Eggs focused on the main character Luke, who has been challenged to fulfill a quest in exchange for a wish. I introduce all four characters, but it focuses on Luke’s personality and how he grows. Book Two, Saving Atlantis is based on Rose’s point of view. I had a hard time adjusting to writing the story from Rose’s frame of mind. I had been so used to knowing what Luke would do in every situation. I needed to understand where Rose was coming from, what she wanted to accomplish, what her struggles would be, and how she would or wouldn’t change from them.

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Rose’s character board

This led me to thinking about what Mark and Peter’s themes would be and what they were looking to do in their books. I knew there would be a quest, so this forced me to ask the question: What are their quests? How will the quests move the books and series along? What is the overall theme of the series and in each book?

This is what I came up with for my current series:

Shimmer’s Eggs: Luke overcoming a health crisis and having a wish not come true the way he would have wanted.

Physical theme: Castles, knights, and dragons

Saving Atlantis: Rose learning patience and that people don’t deal with life struggles in the same way.

Physical theme: water, sea animals, palace of seashells

Book Three (Untitled): Mark building his confidence to try new adventures and not be afraid of failure.

Physical theme: Jungle, meteors, dinosaurs

Book Four (Untitled): Peter learning to let go and be the person he is meant to be.

Physical theme: ships, treasure, pirates

These themes give me an idea of where I’m heading. I update ideas for each of the books as I’m writing the current one. Even though each of the characters is dealing with their own problems and growth, I need to understand the overall theme and goal of these books. What is the end result and theme? Why did they go through all of this? Why were they particularly chosen to bond with these dragons? This is something I’m still working on, but it has to do with giving back and sharing their stories of hope. Through their connections to the dragons, they have been given a tool and inspiration to journey through one of life’s toughest lessons.

The beauty of doing this is that it’s fluid. It can change as my characters grow. Nothing is set in stone until that book is published! So make sure you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face as the saying goes. Or get rid of a storyline that you end up needing in the last book. Look at the big picture first, then break it down into the smaller ones.

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Memories in Writing

Memories in Writing

It only makes sense that when you are writing a creatively fictional memoir, to look back at photos for ideas. I recently did this while writing Book Two of The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis. It’s told from Rose’s point of view–the darling in the pink hat, pictured below.

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February 19, 2009

Hopefully I am forgiven for sharing this photo, but it’s special in so many ways and launched a couple chapters in my book. This was taken on my dad’s birthday. He had been gone for 12 years already, and only four months after my son, Nick, had passed. Family came over often. It reminded me of how supported we were and still are in our journey without a son, brother, best friend, cousin. There is this gap without Nick that can’t be filled, but the gatherings we had soothed it. Losing my dad at only 57 didn’t help either.

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In addition to games, there was some serious manicotti training. At least for some!

In Saving Atlantis, I actually change these scenes to Easter. It reminded me of this special holiday that has been at my house since we moved to Clifton Park 27 years ago. Everyone always came to the Cammarata house for food and a savvy Easter egg and scavenger hunt. The children had different colored eggs to find. In addition to candy in the eggs, there would be clues to the location of the basket of treasures. Or there would be a word puzzle they would have to be solved to find the treasure. It makes sense that I am writing books about quests and finding lost items.

Each year was something different, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. My heart broke a little when they were done with the hunting, but when the youngest three were 15, I figured I kept it around long enough!

A scavenger hunt is the perfect way for Rose, Peter, and Mark to escape through their puzzle to help Luke and Natalia in Atlantis. In Book Two, cousins Quinn and Mackenzie get involved. Quinn distracts the older cousins, while Mackenzie protects the portal.

The plot is unwinding, twisting, and sometimes falling back on itself, but these photos give me inspiration and precious memories.

Ask Away!!

Ask Away!!

 

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My favorite part of promoting a new book is connecting with my readers and hearing their questions. I especially love watching kids burst with questions and ideas. The questions they come up with are interesting and sometimes mind boggling, because of their insightfulness.

One of the kids on my husband’s soccer team started reading Shimmer’s Eggs and had a ton of questions for Luke today at his game. Luke said he wished I had gone to the game just so I could answer them for him.

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I want to give kids and anyone who has questions a chance to ask away. Of course, I hope you come to my upcoming book events on November 18 from 3-4:30pm at The Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza. This is a book signing, but you can definitely ask questions and buy a book!

My book launch party will be on December 10 from 1-2:30pm at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. At this event, I will share the inspirations for my book, talk about my writing process, have a group writing adventure, and save a lot of time for questions. You can register for that at www.cphlibrary.org.

But if you absolutely can’t wait to ask a question, there are two ways you can get some answers. The first is to email me at j9camm@gmail.com and follow this blog. I will post the answers here with your questions in the title.

Another place you can ask questions and get the answer is on my Goodreads page. In addition to asking questions, you can check out my other books and until November 30, enter a giveaway to win one of five of my autographed books!

Comments, reviews, suggestions for book two, which I have already started, as well as questions are more than welcome! I look forward to hearing from you!

When your Book is Done

When your Book is Done

Start Another!

The most important task a writer can do upon completion of a book or story is start another. When we finish a project it’s a good idea to take a break, especially if edits still need to be made. But when that book is complete and off to production, you have to jump right in and start the next.

Why?

Writing is like swimming, lifting weights, yoga or any other sport. If you don’t exercise those muscles you lose them quickly. Plus, if you’re like me, you have a myriad of other ideas you’ve been itching to begin.

The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs is getting closer to print. Carol Coogan, my fabulous graphic designer, is working on the cover and a couple illustrations that will be inside the book. There’s still so much to do to, but I have started the third book in my Fianna Cycle.

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visit http://www.janinedetilliocammarata.com to get on my mailing list for publication news!

It has been a long time since my second book in the series, Eyes of the Goddess, came out. Life sidetracks us and I wrote my non-fiction book, What Makes Them Amazing, and then tried many times to write what I thought was the third book in my series about Maecha’s daughter Eibhlin. But with the help of my Super Cool Writer’s Group, I realized that Natalie Fischer’s story still isn’t down. She has to meet her biological mother, time travel to 3rd century Celtic Ireland, free her druid father, fall in love with the knife-wielding warrior, Caoilte, all while being threatened by those who resent her.

That’s a lot for a young adult, but she is up to the challenge and so am I.

I’m excited to start this venture along with the first session of my 6-week writing workshop about creating characters to propel plot. We met last night and there are some fabulous ideas!

So if you are ready to write your story, get to know your character. Writing a story without knowing your character is like getting married after a one-night stand. Yes, there may be something thrilling about that person, but you do not know who you are marrying! Last night was the first date with our characters, and I believe there will be a second!

Keep exploring and writing!