GUEST: Hey C. J., we loved OLIVE PARK. Loved the girl, you know. Stayed up all night reading it. Kinda didn’t want it to end.
ME: Thanks. (takes a sip)
GUEST 2: Yeah, you bastard. Was supposed to sleep on the flight back from D.C.. Had to finish it.
ME: (haha) (takes another sip)
GUEST 3: I know! Gave it five stars. Damn, man. You should make it a series, you know. Like a …
(wait for it)
GUEST 3: (said in ultra slow motion) …ttrrriilllooogggyyyyyyy.
Writing momentum can be your very good friend. When you’re on a roll, words flowing, the can-do-no-wrong attitude, first draft that is gold, can’t get them down fast enough. You know it. Live for it.
Social momentum (aka peer pressure) can blind you to the cliff ahead.
I know a writer, (let’s call him ‘idiot’), who once wrote a book that garnered 3 awards, mostly five star reviews and racked up adequate book sales for a first novel, self pub, who decided, on what can only be called an alcohol-infused whim, to continue the torture and turn his successful first novel into a trilogy. Why the hell not?
More is better, right. They liked the first one. Just do it again. Continue the sales parade! Build an audience! Think Dragon Tatoo, Harry Potter, Twilight. He was so there. This was a really, really good idea.
Cracking open his personal copy of his novel, he re-reads the whole thing, trying for fresh eyes.
Gets to the last page. Hmm. The damn thing ends. Story stops. Mystery is solved. Kids rescued. Loose ends tied up. Hmm.
This. Could. Be. A. Challenge.
Scene 2: Small Dinner Party (one year later). Wine is served.
GUEST 1: Hey C.J., I was hoping to get a few copies of the second book of the trilogy. You know, for Christmas presents. Yes?
ME: (smiles) (takes a slug of wine)
GUEST 2: Yeah. You are finished aren’t you? I mean it is done already, right?
ME: (picks up corkscrew, good Merlot, retreats to coat closet. Closes door)
Consults Plotting books. Buys a few webinars. Attends a few plotting workshops. Hmm.
Tears apart first book, page by page, trying to read through the flopsweat stains, looking for details, unanswered questions, any teeny tiny little thing that can be ex…tra…po…lated and ex…ploi…ted into a stunning plot twist for the second book.
Burn out first keyboard. Smokin’!
Whew. Got it. Yeah, baby. I’m bad. I’m a writer. Woohoo.
Scene 3: (One year later)(On a high speed Italian train from Rome to Naples. Sipping wine)
Wife of Author: (Turns pages. Leaves no page unmarked with what is now a sad nub of a red pencil)
WIFE OF AUTHOR: (draws slash through entire page)
ME: Pompeii should be fun. Everyone there died a horrible death.
WIFE OF AUTHOR: (slash)
Just realized a problem. (NOW you just realized a problem). Probably should know how the whole thing ends. That means putting aside Book 2 (thank you) and writing the end of Book 3 first.
Okay. This is good. Figure out who dies. Who gets screwed (both ways). Who the mysterious Antagonist really is. This is fun, now. Now that I set aside Book 2 for a few minutes (days, months).
Surprisingly, the end of Book 3 writes itself. Writing momentum takes over. It works. I like it. 40k already in Book 3.
ME: Can I please keep working on Book 3. It is way easier. I like writing it.
ME: No! You must finish Book 2.
ME: (checking mirror) Pretty sure hair loss can be fixed. (takes a sip of wine)
I know! As an incentive, I’ll have the cover made! That’ll spur me on to get my ass in gear. No. Better! I’ll have Book 2 AND 3 covers done. Kick.In.The.Ass incentive. NO! Wait. I’m going to market all three together, right? Better have the first cover re-done to match the other two. Gee. That’ll take some time working with the cover designer. I’ll have to set aside Book 2 while I work on the covers.
Scene 4: (only four months later) (naked in hot tub at night with wife of Author and four friends)
LISA: So, CJ, your wife tells me all the covers are done. When can I read it?
ME: (trapped) Look! A shooting star!
Wake up one morning in June. The sun has come up huge!
Check the word count total on Book 2. 109k. Holy Crap! I have to cut! How did this happen? Who wrote this? Spends the next two days reading it. This is not bad. I mean really. It more than kinda works.
Where are the beta reader’s email addresses again? I mean they’ve read so much of this already, I’ll just send them the new stuff. Wait! They want the whole thing? Not just the new stuff. Cool. Oh. Wait. They want the whole thing because it’s been so f’ing long since they read the rest, they forgot what it was about. Doh.
Results trickle in. Author has to really search for the few red marks. A cautious Yes! They like me. They really like me.
Okay. Get ready for author picture for the back of Book 2. Applies Rogaine. Sips more wine. Aww. Damn. Let’s just go with a younger picture. Back copy done. Picture. Final edits.
Just a frigging moment. What’s that signpost up ahead? I think you just crossed over to the Finish Zone. Yeah baby.
Well shit. That was easy. (Memory is a funny thing isn’t it)
Cost: $1512 in wine. $122 for Rogaine. $142,300 for divorce. Kidding. She decided to overlook my ineptitude but the tentative reprieve will only last until Book 3 I understand. She sits across from me right now twiddling a red pencil. Evidently I’m only as good as my last book.
Author opens a new bottle. Checks the mirror, probes scalp to see how Rogaine is working.
CRIMSON PARK, Book 2 of the Park Trilogy will be out early 2016.
OLIVE PARK won Best Mystery at the 2012 Global E-Book Awards, was named one of the Top 5 Mysteries of 2012 by the Reader’s Favorite Awards and received a Bronze in Popular Fiction at the 2012 E-Lit Awards.CRIMSON PARK, the second book in the trilogy will be out shortly.
C.J. has authored numerous short stories, including ‘Relentless,’ published in Best of Vine Leaves 2013 and subsequently nominated for a 2013 Pushcart prize.
For C.J. writing is an addiction. He splits his time between real life and fiction life and if he is lucky, he is able to shape those stories into something entertaining.
Connect with CJ: Website