Please join us in welcoming Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen to Sinfully as they celebrate the release of Phase Shift the fifth and last book in the Chaos Station Series. There is also a fabulous giveaway so don’t forget to enter!
Seven Things About Writing a Series That No One Tells You
I remember when we got the news that Carina Press wanted to buy the series we’d proposed to them. Kelly and I had both been published previously—well, she had; I had a book under contract—but this was a five-book series we were talking about. That’s a big deal!
I don’t think either of us really knew what to expect when we embarked on this adventure. And what an adventure it’s been! Here are some thoughts I wanted to share with other new authors.
1. Selling a multi-book series is amazing—but stressful.
The not-quite two years since we sold the Chaos Station series to Carina Press have been an incredible introduction to the world of publishing—and challenging as hell. We didn’t realize how strenuous the cycle of writing, editing and promoting would be. It’s really hard to write a book while you’re in edits for the previous book and trying to do promo as well. The editing was definitely an experience—we learned some tough lessons, but it’s made us better writers.
2. Each book has to stand alone—to some extent.
Even in a series where each book has the same main couple and builds on the ongoing story, readers should be able to pick up any book in the series and not be too lost—which is really hard to do. Determining how much backstory to layer in, and when, and where, is a skill we had to learn. Rather than try to make each book completely standalone, we concentrated on making sure each book told a complete story. The arc we intended for that book was complete by the last page.
3. Character nicknames that seem simple to you might not work for readers.
We had a lot of complaints about the number of nicknames in the series. Zander was Zed or Loop (which was more of an alias than a nickname) and Felix was Flick, Fix or Fixer. We had counted on the names being used in a consistent context and starting with the same letter to be a guide, but that didn’t work for a lot of people. It was a good lesson, one we’ll take forward into new projects.
4. Don’t name your books after famous quotes.
I love the title of Lonely Shore. It was taken from a famous poem, and it suits the story so much. However, when I do a Google or Twitter search on the book title—because I’m the curious sort!—it’s often swamped with references to this famous poem. Something to think about for future books!
5. Five books in fifteen months was too much for us.
As much as I loved and appreciated the fact that we had the opportunity to tell Felix and Zander’s whole story, five books featuring the same characters is a bit of a marathon. As I mentioned above, we were in a constant cycle of writing, editing, promoting—and doing all that on top of a day job wore me down. It was ambitious for our first big publishing contract, and I’m glad we did it, because now I know that I would prefer smaller chunks.
6. Try to ignore your reviews.
There’s a reason a lot of writing advice tells you not to read reviews. Sometimes, even “good” reviews can put a bad taste in your mouth—I’ve experienced that. Unfortunately, one of the things writers yearn for is validation, so staying away from reviews is tough. If you do decide to read your reviews:
· Have a support network of writer friends who get it when you need to vent about a bad review. Because you will.
· Never, ever, ever respond to a review, good or bad. I’ll often quote a tweet with a review from a blog and say thank you, but that’s the extent of it.
· Remember that reviews are for readers, not writers. You’re not the intended audience.
· Don’t feel you have to change subsequent books in your series based on suggestions mentioned in previous reviews. Tell the story you want to tell—it won’t make everyone happy, but it should make you happy.
7. Saying goodbye is both harder and easier than you’d think.
Over the last couple of months, when people started to realize the end of the Chaos Station series was coming, a common question has been, “Are you sad it’s over?” The answer is both yes and no. I wrote the last scene of Phase Shift, and that was surprisingly hard. I teared up when I typed out that final, poignant line in Zed’s point of view. But…we’ve told the story we set out to tell. We’ve given Zed and Felix their happily-ever-after. It’s difficult to be too upset about it.
There’s also the fact that we’ve lived and breathed these guys for about two and a half years. We rewrote Lonely Shore twice. We rewrote the beginning of Skip Trace three times. We’ve read each book a minimum of 10 times each. As much as we love these characters—and we absolutely do love them—both Kelly and I are ready for new characters, new worlds, new challenges.
Zed and Felix will always hold a special place in our hearts—along with the rest of the galaxy we created—but we’re happy to let them all rest peacefully. For now, anyway.
Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen
Series ~ Chaos Station #5
Publisher ~ Carina Press
Published ~ 2nd May 2016
Genre ~ Science Fiction M/M Romance
Book five of Chaos Station
Zander and Felix’s relationship has always pushed boundaries—personal and professional alike—but their love and commitment is stronger than ever. So strong that Zander’s ready to ask commitment-shy Felix the question of a lifetime when he’s interrupted. The Chaos is being hacked, and crucial, top secret information about the project that created Zander—and his fellow super soldiers—has been leaked.
Neither man could have expected the enormity of what’s discovered at the end of the data trail: an entire colony of super soldiers run by the very doctor who changed Zander’s life forever. And now she needs them both—Zander to train her new crop of soldiers, and Felix’s new crystalline arm to stabilize their body chemistry.
With help from the unlikeliest of allies, Zander, Felix and the Chaos crew must destroy the project and all its ill-gotten information. But when the team is split up and Felix is MIA after a dangerous run, galactic disaster is a very real possibility…and Zander may have missed his chance to ask for forever.
Connect with the Authors
Jenn and Kelly met in 2009 through a mutual infatuation with a man who wasn’t real. After all but crashing the video game’s forums with daily dissection of their obsession, they started writing together, discovered they really liked writing together and began plotting stories in worlds of their own creation.
The CHAOS STATION series aren’t the first books they’ve written together, and they’re pretty sure they won’t be the last. As long as their so-called smartphones keep making autocorrects that trigger brainstorming sessions, they’ll have enough character ideas and plots to keep them writing for years to come.
Prize: The first four books in the Chaos Station series—Chaos Station, Lonely Shore, Skip Trace and InversionPoint—and a $25 gift card to the online bookseller of your choice.
Signing up for our newsletter gives access to our free Chaos Station story, “Graduation”.
Terms: Rafflecopter runs from 12:01 AM EST 5/2/2016 to 11:59 PM EST 5/8/2016. Giveaway is open internationally. Gift card value is US dollars. Winner will be contacted via email.
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