Business…and…Mysteries with Romance

I finally got my official contract from Kensington.  It takes what feels like a long time between receiving a 3-book deal to getting the official 20+ page tome of subject heading after subject heading that I mostly have no clue about.  That’s when I’m grateful I have my agent, Lauren Abramo, from Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.  I think most of what Kensington offers is set in stone–like the Ten Commandments–but what I concentrate on are my writing deadlines. And when do my books come out?  I know my deadlines–and I’ve given myself more time between books now that I’m writing mysteries, but I still don’t know when my books will come out.  Kensington won’t decide that until 2018.

My 6th and last romance, SPECIAL DELIVERY, is due out Nov. 7th, and I wanted to give it a fair shot, so I paid for a blog tour.  In truth, I thought Kensington would promote my romances, but not so much.  MOST writers have to promote themselves these days.  That was a learning experience for me, so I’m promoting this one a little myself.  Of course, BookBub is the BEST, but I can’t afford it, and it’s harder to get accepted by BookBub than to pass through the eye of the needle these days.  The price for my tour isn’t terrible–$60.  But it takes a day or two to decide which tour you want and to get everything ready for it if you want each blog stop to be unique with a different excerpt or blog at each spot.   And, yes, this is time well-spent.  You want to start a good two months before your book comes out.  I’m using Goddess Fish Promotions again, and they’re great to work with.

Now, with the business stuff behind me, I can concentrate on my favorite thing–writing. The first mystery is done and sent.  And this time, probably because I just finished writing them–I’ve added a romance subplot to the clues and red herrings.  This is where it got a little bit tricky.  I’ve been reading (okay, I’m a little obsessed with) Jenna Bennett’s Savannah Martin series.  She mixes mystery and romance into almost a fusion.  There’s lots of TALK about sex (nothing graphic, though), lots of steam, and gritty murders.  It makes for an intoxicating cocktail.

This is the thing, though.  I’m finishing book #10, and Rafe and Savannah still aren’t married.  It almost feels like the TV show Castle.  The chemistry is intoxicating, and they keep growing closer, but how long can you flirt with HEA and not deliver?  I’m thinking they get married in the next book.  Thank God.  But this prolonged tease let me know that even though in romances, the HEA comes at the end of the book, that’s not the way it works in other genres.

I make no secret that I’m an Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs fan–from the days I wrote urban fantasy.  And werewolves and werelions don’t just walk in and sweep the heroines off their feet either.  It took a few books before the hot guys won the hotter women.  So, I didn’t let my characters–Jazzi and Ansel–walk down the aisle in book one and have their HEA.  I don’t think I can come up with one diversion after another for 10 books, but I know that stalling is a good thing.  And dead bodies are great distractions to keep heroines and heroes too busy to plan ahead.  But what happens after the “death do us part” clicks in?  Do things get (yawn) boring?  I’m thinking of Castle and other TV shows.   Can you keep them interesting after marriage?  What do you think?  I was a sucker for Tommy and Tuppence, Nick and Nora, and marriage didn’t hurt them.  Any opinions?

Happy Writing!


My webpage (posted every Thursday):

Author Facebook page:

Twitter:  @judypost






I shared Mae Clair’s blog with you about using memes to promote your work.  (  I’m not trying to drive you crazy with too many posts in one day, but I wanted to follow through on her advice.  If you read the comments under her blog, one of the people mentioned that she didn’t read posts that didn’t have visuals with them.  I think more and more tweeters, writers, and social media users expect graphics, etc. along with your words. And while I was feeling inspired, I decided I’d see what I could come up with.

I went to to get started, and I’m no whiz kid with multiple computer skills, but honestly, canva made it fairly easy for me to create a meme and a twitter header for my accounts.  A meme doesn’t count in your 140 characers for tweets, so it’s an added bonus. Yes, I failed a few times, but if you just let yourself play around for a while and trash your worst efforts, (they supply the trash can for rejects), I had a meme designed before I knew it.  The twitter header took a little longer because I was downloading more covers. But it was pretty easy, too.

Mine didn’t turn out as classy as Mae’s.  If I fiddle more with backgrounds, I’ll get better, but I’m all right with what I came up with in a short time.  I always read Kathy Palm’s blog (, and she always includes gifs in her posts.  I haven’t done that yet, but thought I’d start now with this one, since I’m working on mysteries now:  giphy

It reminds me of the beginning of PBS’s mysteries.  Someone falls.  Someone dies.  Lots of fun.  Anyway, here’s a link to find some free gifs: There are more sites that offer royalty-free gifs, too, but…hey!  I’m new at this.  I’ll start small.

Anyway—-and don’t judge—-here’s what I came up with in a short time today.  My twitter header:

MILL POND ROMANCES--Friendly people & a recipe for love

My meme:

First Kiss, meme

Okay, that’s all the excitement I can stand for today.  But if you decide to give gifs or a try, have fun!  And happy writing.

If anyone has more suggestions, feedback, I know I’d appreciate it.  Someone else might, too.


I joined three friends to give a writers’ workshop on marketing and promoting your book yesterday.  It was a beautiful Saturday.  We had a small audience, but that’s never bothered me.  I know and respect some of the writers who came to hear us.  I love and respect my fellow writers on the panel.  A win/win for me.  And then we went to the Outback to eat when the panel was over, and what can I say?  I can be had for a bloomin’ burger.  And the company?  There’s nothing more fun than talking to fellow writers.

All four of us have been writing for a while now.  Kyra Jacobs, the newest and shiniest writer in the group, is probably more savvy than I am at marketing.  I try, but I’m no whiz kid.  The thing that struck me is that we’re all good writers–all in our own way–and it’s just plain hard to get your name out there and find success.  The other thing that struck me is how willing writers are to help each other.  If we learn something that works, we’re happy to share.  We WANT to see other writers succeed.

We shared sites that had worked for us when we advertised.  Of course, the best site is BookBub.  It’s expensive, and it’s HARD to get them to accept your book, but if they take you, it’s worth it.  At most sites, you have to have a set number of reviews to be considered.  Not always true of BookBub.  They factor in lots of things.  And often, you have to have an average 4.0 ranking.  That led me to thinking about reviews.

Every author needs reviews.  If you reach 50 reviews on Amazon, you get more visibility. Amazon might even spotlight your book.  The only time I got 50 reviews was when I was active on Goodreads and BookBub accepted my urban fantasy novel, FALLEN ANGELS.  I ended up with 67 reviews, most of them good.  I really enjoyed Goodreads, but for whatever reason, the group I was in sort of trickled apart and I still haven’t plugged into a new one.  My fault, but I’m writing more, and it’s hard to find the time.  The thing is, good reviews make a difference.  They open doors for authors.  We have more options.  I like advertising at The Fussy Librarian, but you have to have 10 reviews and a 4.0 average ranking for them to accept you.  Since I started over with a new pseudonym, I have trouble getting 10 reviews.

There’s another reason having more reviews helps an author.  It’s sad, but true, that your book just isn’t going to click with every reader.  That’s all right.  You can’t please them all. But some readers are more than happy to write the worst reviews they can to let you know how much they didn’t like your book.  It hurts.  I know people who just don’t read their bad reviews, and maybe they’re smarter than I am.  I still read mine.  I’m curious what worked and what didn’t for readers, but a really bad review feels like an open wound that takes a while to recover from.  On top of that, those reviewers give your book a low rating.  If you only have six reviews to start with, your average rating is shot. When you get a new review that’s positive, you feel like someone gave you a dose of sunshine. It affirms that you might be doing something right.

The other thing that I noticed on our panel yesterday was that every writer on it is hopeful.  We all think that the time is coming when we’ll “make it,” whatever that means to each of us individually.  For Kyra Jacobs and I, we both want to see our print books on bookstore shelves.  For M. L. Rigdon–she loves self-publishing and making all of her own choices–so she just wants to make more money.  And for Les Edgerton–well, he’s already pretty darned successful and writes pretty much what he wants to–he’d just like to sell more, too.

And so, I wish each and every one of us success.  And I wish you success, too, whatever that means to you.  Happy writing!


BTW, my 5th romance, FIRST KISS, ON THE HOUSE, comes out June 27th.  It’s available for pre-order now.  I think it’s pretty darned fun!

cover 5 judy

And, if you’re interested, I started a new Babet and Prosper story on my webpage:


I’m not young anymore.  Things that used to be perky…aren’t.  Gravity takes its toll, and things shift and sag.  The same thing can happen to your writing.  The sales take a dive, and you have to work to lift them again.

When I got a publisher, I thought I could spend more attention on writing and less on marketing.  Not so.  Yes, Lyrical Shine lists my romances on their Facebook page and twitter.  They create covers and do cover releases.  For my first book, they did a great blog tour with Gallagher services    I got good feedback.  For my second book, they only advertised on their own Lyrical sites, and that book fizzled and died.  Any momentum I had disappeared.  For my third book, I got excited because they were doing another blog tour, but this tour listed the book cover, a blurb, and the same excerpt at every site.  People yawned after the second one and disappeared.  For my latest book, SPICING THINGS UP, they did the bare basics.  It was sad.

I still like working with Lyrical, but I learned a valuable lesson a little too late.  Even if you have a publisher, you’d better have a plan in mind to promote yourself when you’re a new author with little or no name recognition.  And hopefully, you’ll have a book cover that grabs readers’ attention.  When I self-published my urban fantasies, I never sent a bundle/book out into the cold, cruel world without paying for some kind of advertising.  Sometimes I’d go the $20 or $30 route, and once I went for broke and used BookBub.  NOTHING beats BookBub.  The problem is that it’s almost impossible to get BookBub to accept you, and it’s expensive.  But I more than earned out what it cost.  Using it when you only have one book online is a risky proposition.  It’s useless if you make the book free.  How will you earn back any  money?  But if you have a series, it’s awesome!  At least, it was for me and my writer friends.  I had a lot of luck with the Fussy Librarian, but it did nothing for my friends.  The type of genre you write makes a big difference on which site is best for you or not.

I can’t set the prices of my books on Lyrical, so can’t offer sales or specials on my own, so I’m going to try a different tactic this time.  I paid $65 to start a blog tour with something original on each blog, using Goddess Fish Promotions.  They’ve been every bit as nice to work with as Maggie Gallagher.  I chose a little different approach.  I’ll be featured on a different blog each Tuesday for 8 weeks.  It’s an experiment.  I don’t know what I think works best yet, so it will be interesting to see what happens.  And yes, once April 25th comes, you’ll be pestered by me every Tuesday for a couple of months.  And I’ve answered more questions than I’ve answered for a long time.

Every writer writes for different reasons and has different expectations.  I know some wonderful, talented writers who are happy just putting their books on Amazon and hoping people find them.  That’s fine.  If you want to build an audience, though, advertising has worked better for me than other things I’ve tried.  Social media helped until I switched to romance.  There wasn’t much carry-over.  Urban fantasy readers aren’t impressed with kissing.  I get it.  Kickass battles don’t compare to relationships and angst.  But if you want to find readers for the genre you’re writing, advertising can help.

If any of you have any methods/tricks that have worked for you, and you want to share, I’d love to hear them.   In the meantime, have a great Easter/Passover/holiday and happy writing!




I have a brainy, literary friend who won’t review a book unless he can wholeheartedly give it five stars.  He’s well-read, favors the heavyweights.  Knows all the classics.  Which means he hardly ever writes a review.

I’m not that picky.  I’ve read plenty of classics (not nearly as many as him), and I admire the hell out of great writing.  But in my mind, those authors are the top strastophere of writing.  They stand APART from we regular mortals and shouldn’t even be ranked alongside ordinary writers.  And let’s face it, we’re all biased.  What we consider good writing is subjective.  I’d list Elizabeth George, Alice Hoffman, and Sarah Addison Allen as icons of greatness, and maybe add Caleb Carr and Barbara Hambly, but my friend would list Stephen King, and another friend would add Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor.  We haven’t even mentioned the classics, because who could live up to those?

Today, I only read heavyweight books occasionally.  They demand too much time and emotional energy.  These days, I read books just as often to relax and enjoy.  Agatha Christie was an author I could count on for hours of fun.  Does she compare to Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles?  No.  But would I give her five stars?  In a heartbeat. Because what she did, she did well.

That’s my new test for books I read.  Do they deliver on what they promised?  When I pick up a romance, I don’t expect The Thornbirds.  That book was romance on steroids.  I expect an interesting heroine who meets an intriguing hero and plenty of bumps to keep them apart before a happy ending.  And good writing.  The stronger the writing, the better. I’m talking about ALL the components of good writing–grammar, language, pacing, plotting, description…the works.   The more it delivers, the more stars I give it.

And that brings me to “stars.”  I’m a writer.  I tend to maybe be more generous than the average reader.  I know.  That surprises some people.  They expect me to be pickier, to have a higher standard.  But I know how HARD it is to get the balance right and to hold a reader’s attention for an entire book.

I worked as a waitress for two years when I was in college.  Being a waitress is hard work! To this day, I overtip because I remember all of the times I was tired, grumpy, needed to study for a test, and didn’t really want to wait on people, but had to.  If the waitress doesn’t get my food to me at a decent time, I remember when we were short-shifted, and I was trying to pick up extra tables while giving decent service to my own customers.  I know there are bad waitresses out there, but I still leave them some kind of a tip.

Because I’m a writer, I can’t make myself write a review that’s under three stars.  A decent book deserves three stars.  A good book deserves four, in my opinion.  And an exceptional book that keeps me entertained, even if it has a few flaws, I give five stars, because it made me happy for three or four nights before I fell asleep.  It stood out for me in some way.  I wish there was some giant, gold star you could give to books that stand far above the rest, but there isn’t, so I try to say that in the review itself.

One and two star books?  I probably don’t finish, and I’d never review them.  I know some people would say that’s being a coward.  They’d say I bought a bad book and wasted my money and I should warn other readers not to go there.  But books are sort of like movies.  Some of the ones I didn’t enjoy at all, someone else loved.   Plus, I just can’t do it.  I know how many hours and how much effort went into those books.  I can’t make myself trash them.

As for reviews, in general?  Every writer needs them.  I think the magic number is 50 to get Amazon to notice your novel.  25 is good, but that might have changed by now. Kensington put my fourth romance up on NetGalley to try to get advance reviews, but there are a LOT of books to compete with.  Some authors get reviews with book tours.  I found this article that I need to read:  I don’t know if you write reviews when you read books or not, but it’s the best way to support an author you like.  That’s why I make an effort to do it–as long as I liked the book.

Happy reading and happy writing!


Author Facebook page:

Twitter:  @judypost

Nothing’s simple

You know, when I first started writing, it was a hobby.  I was serious about it, because I don’t seem to be able to do something half-ass that I care about, but I really didn’t expect much to come of it.  In the beginning–before God created computers and editing was a pain in the rear end–before you could move paragraphs and add and delete by hitting a button–I wrote short stories and writing was about having fun.  Writing is STILL fun for me.  Yes, it’s work.  Yes, it takes commitment.  But doggone, it’s fun to get inside other peoples’ heads and make their stories come to life.

I still love writing and writers.  But as soon as you go to your first writers’ conference, the rules change.  You don’t just think of a story you want to write, but now, you think about markets.  What are the odds that my story will sell to X market?   What are editors looking for?  I was horrible at marketing for a LONG time, because I wanted to write…what I wanted to write.  And guess what?  No one was buying it.  Did I care?  Not really.  Not until I got serious about getting a book in front of readers.

That’s when I got serious about what was selling.  And that’s when I learned that when I tried to write for the market, I was always a few years behind.  By the time I decided to switch from cozy mysteries to serial killers, that market was glutted.  I have to say, though, writing two books with really creepy villains was one heck of a lot of fun…and it taught me a lot.  Next, I tried a couple of mixed genre books, and that’s when I learned that those don’t have a prayer in the publishing world.  Publishers like books that can be stuck in an easily definable slot.  When they have to ask, “How would I market this–as mystery, supernatural, horror?”–kiss your sales goodbye.

About that time is when I met Anna Genoese at Tor, and she asked me for an urban fantasy novel.  It’s risky to write something when you’re not sure what it is.  But yes, you guessed it, it’s pretty damned much fun!  By the time I figured out what the market was, it was already glutted.  Windows of opportunity don’t stay open very long.  But FABRIC OF LIFE, my “sort of” urban fantasy, got me my agent–the wonderful Lauren Abramo.  And when we realized that writing urban fantasy was beating a dead horse, she suggested I try romance.  As you can tell, I’ve never shied away from trying something new, so the Mill Pond romances came into being.

There HAVE to be smarter, quicker ways to reach your goals, but I don’t know what they are.  I didn’t try them.  A lot of my friends didn’t either.  I belong to a writers’ club, and it pains me how much talent so many of our members have.  We’re so diverse, and so GOOD. But publishing is no easier than taking a bus to Hollywood and expecting to be a star.  It takes work and perseverance.  And you suffer lots of disappointment.  It’s HARD.  But if you’re doing what you love to do, it’s WORTH it!

I used to attend workshops where the SELLING writers would say, “If your work’s good enough, it will find a home.”  Bull pucky!  The odds are against you.  Know that.  Know the markets.  And you’ll do better if you know how to promote yourself.  Crappy writers can become bestsellers.  Great writers can be ignored.  So realize that writing is a business. The inventor of the hula hoop probably made more money than a lot of his fellow inventors. Part of selling is luck.  Part is providing what people want.  There are no guarantees.  So, if nothing else, enjoy yourself!  Love what you do.  And happy writing!




A while ago, I blogged about trying to keep up with writing a blog AND a webpage.  At the time, I was behind on my writing and sweating a deadline, AND my publisher had sent me pages to proof.  I felt buried, but thanks to my awesome critique partners, I got everything done on time.  And I started rethinking what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. And, once again, I decided I like both the blog and the webpage for different reasons.  I’m not toting this as something any sane writer should do or even telling you that it will increase readers or boost sales.  I’m just saying that I like it–for me.

When I write my blog, I think about the craft and business side of writing.  When I first started working on the blog, I shared writing advice that worked for me.  But let’s be honest.  You can find writing how-to tips online from Chuck Wendig (, K.M. Weiland (, and occasional articles by Stephen King (, so I feel a little out gunned.  Now, I don’t even pretend to be an expert, I just share what’s happening with my writing–the good, the frustrating, and the ugly.  I figure other writers can relate to most of it.  At the  moment, my third Mill Pond romance just came out, and I’m working on the sixth one in the series. My goal is to finish it, turn it in, and then squeeze in enough time to try to write a mystery. I have the mystery all plotted out, and I’d like to start working on it in January.  I’m thinking snow will be on the ground, temperatures will be cold, and I’ll be in the mood to hibernate and pound on my keyboard.  It sounds good on paper, doesn’t it?  My worry? When I write a romance, I have at least 40 plot points (or chapter ideas) to move the story and come up with 70,000 words–if I’m lucky. For my mystery?  I came up with 23 plot points, but they’re more involved, and I HAVE to have 70,000 words.  Will that work?  I sure as hell hope so.

When I go to my webpage, I switch gears.  When I write my webpage, I think of readers, not writers.  And it’s sort of my “spill” zone, where all the random, little ideas I have for characters or series that I can’t use in a book, spill out of my head.  For instance, when I wrote Wolf’s Bane, I fell in love with Wedge and Bull, the two werewolves who help Reece and Damian protect Bay City.  But they’re always supporting players, so I wanted to write short stories that featured each of them.  But what would I do with those stories?  Easy.  I’d put them on my webpage.  And sometimes, I put snippets from the novels I’m working on on it, too.  I even posted my one and only YA witch novel–The Familiars–on my webpage, because–why not?  Sometimes, I use my webpage as a place to experiment with writing techniques I’d never dare try in a full novel.  For Perdita’s Story, I wanted to write a story where the protagonist made one bad decision after another until the end.  I’d never do that for a book, but it was fun to play with for a short piece.  For Mill Pond, I introduced characters that would never get a full novel of their own, but I liked them and wanted to give them a happy-ever-after, so I did–in a short story.  Another thing I like to do on my webpage is introduce fellow writers whose work I like and think they might like, too.  In my  mind, when I go to my webpage, I think of readers more than writers.

As for marketing?  Well, I do my best, but I’m no wizard, so I post any new news on my author Facebook page or twitter.  It’s not the most efficient system, but it makes me concentrate on different areas of my writing:  fellow writers, readers, and marketing. Marketing, right now, is probably my weakest.  I still haven’t learned how to do rafflecoptors and give-aways, and I think I did better when I tried a blog tour and paid for advertising, but I’ve never had a publisher before, so I’m learning as I go.  One step at a time, right?  Hope you’ve found what works for you.  Happy writing!

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twitter:  @judypost


Images and Inspiration

I wrote a short novel and put it on my webpage, one chapter at a time.  I expected to have River City Rumble pulled together and online at Amazon by now.  Only, I’ve never had to format any of the novellas and novels I write.  Michael Prete designs the covers, and I love them!  Sharon Pelletier at Dystel and Goderich formats them for me, and I love that, too!  I’ve been spoiled, so I didn’t think twice about sending her what I’d merged.  What I didn’t stop to consider was that I put an image at the beginning of every chapter.  I thought they added a unique flavor to the book.  They did!  BUT, they’ve been a pain for Sharon to format for Amazon.  And I feel really sorry about that.  I didn’t mean to make extra work for her.  She didn’t want me to yank them, though, so hopefully, the entire manuscript, put together, will go online next week.  And Sharon deserves a medal.

I don’t know how many of you have searched for images for your books/stories, but that’s a process in itself.  I didn’t stay true to solid marketing for my urban fantasies.  If you go to bookstores, my covers are off the mark.  My favorite urban fantasy authors all have heroines on the covers who look like warriors.  Ilona Andrews has Kate Daniels with her sword.  Faith Hunter has Jane Yellowrock in black leather.  And Patricia Briggs has Mercy Thompson with her tight abs and tattoos.  Their images say “Don’t mess with me.”  But I wanted covers that connected more with the stories I told.  That’s how I chose the images for all of my Babet and Prosper novellas.  When I finally gathered them into bundles, though, I realized I was doing it wrong.  So I looked for images that would fit my two characters.  That’s no easy task either.

I finally found an image that fit my idea of Babet–long, unruly, dark hair.  A wand to show she’s a witch.  All I could find for Prosper was great bodies.  Not one face fit the Prosper whom I see in my mind.  So sadly, Prosper was reduced to a wonderful torso, because no matter how many men I looked at on the royalty-free sites, none of them were the wonder I imagine when I think of him.  Finding a gargoyle to portray Damian in my Wolf’s Bane novels proved impossible.  A fallen angel for my Enoch series?  Forget about it.  And no one could capture Tyr in Empty Altars.

Patricia Briggs did an interview recently in which she talked about writing urban fantasy, and she explained what she thought a good book cover should offer.  It’s about halfway or more down the Q&A column, but worth reading.

A good cover can sell your book.  It’s a marketing tool, worth thinking about.  If you self-publish, the image has to come from a site where you can buy one, royalty free.  The cover needs to give a reader the feel of the genre you’re writing, the tone of the story, and tie novels together if you’re working on a series.  Choose wisely.  I love mine, but I didn’t follow the rules.  You should.

When I signed with Kensington, the publisher chose the covers for the books, and that proved interesting, too. Publishers think about marketing.  They think about how readers will react when they look at your book.  Will the cover pull them in?  What emotion will it convey?  Will the cover make them pull the book off the shelf and read the blurb, maybe glance at a few pages?

Here’s the cover Michael Prete designed for River City Rumble.  He did exactly what I asked for.  It fits the story–the battles that escalate as the story progresses.  I love it.  Would a publisher use it?  Probably not.




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Twitter:  @judypost



Writing: My Experiment

I’ve put up 12 free chapters on my webpage for Babet & Prosper’s short novel RIVER CITY RUMBLE.  I have at least nine more chapters plotted.  It might go longer.  And I have to say, this has been an interesting experiment.  What have I learned?

  1.  As far as marketing, I’ve read on other blogs that offering free stories on your webpage helps increase sales.  I thought that if readers liked the chapters and free Babet and Prosper stories in the side column, they might spring for some of the bundles on Amazon.  I’ve gotten the occasional hit, but I’ve had better luck paying for advertising than offering free stories on my webpage.  I’ve had a lot more visitors, but that hasn’t translated into sales.  For now, I’m just happy I have more visitors and reach more people, so I’m okay with that.  But as a marketing tool, advertising seems to work better.
  2. As for writing, telling a story as a weekly serial has made me really concentrate on what I put in each chapter.
    1.  Have I kept the characters interesting and alive in the reader’s mind?  It’s been a week since they’ve thought about them.  Do they remember Viviane, Jacinta, or Hennie?  Have I made them distinctive enough?  How do I jump start their personalities again?
    2. Something significant has to happen in every chapter.  There are no “down” chapters that link from one event to the next.  Whatever happens has to be important enough to hold the reader for another week.
    3. Is there enough variety?  Yes, a chapter has to be significant, but I can’t write a battle for each of them.  Yet I want an event that’s significant, that makes the reader feel satisfied that it’s going to impact the final outcome.
    4. Have I offered the reader a variety of emotions?  Have I made the characters complex enough that they care about them?  Worry when they’re in trouble?  Be surprised about how they react?  Have I offered some laughter or amusement to buffer the tense moments?  Some warm or poignant moments to touch the heart?
    5. I try to permeate the feel of River City into the story.  I hope to show the bond between the protagonists who live there, so that each character is part of the whole.  The series is long enough, the cast of characters has grown, and it’s hard to give them each a part and let him/her shine.
    6. Am I cranking up the conflict and tension, so that things just keep getting worse, so that the final showdown will be big and bad enough to satisfy the reader?  Zanor won’t go down easily.  Defeating him has to test the protagonists past anything they’ve done before.

I’ve written other serial stories, but they’ve been short–four or five chapters, and I like them because they challenge me.  This is the first time I’ve tried a serial novel, something longer with more characters and events.  And it’s challenged me, too.  But I’m enjoying it.  Whatever you’re working on, I hope it stretches your writing muscles AND brings you joy.  Happy Writing!