To Cliffhanger or Not to Cliffhanger

A few weeks I finished another story in a series that I have been reading for the last year. It had it’s moments, and some flaws, and things I didn’t like, but overall it was a fair book. Then the end happened and a GREAT BIG HUGE CLIFFHANGER fell into my lap and I was tempted to throw my kindle. The next book isn’t out, won’t be out for another year, and….it was annoying.

Granted, that emotional response I had was probably exactly what the author was going for. He wanted the reader to hang onto the words, and at the very end he wanted to make the reader come back for more. It’s slightly underhanded, but works really well if the story is good. Game of Thrones (TV series) has that going on. Lots of TV dramas live off cliffhangers. You have to come back the next day to keep watching or you’ll never know who Jared found with his wife.

Small cliffhangers are almost expected in any series. In each book you have the main focus of that specific series, and a lot of resolution to everything going on, but the overall story, the one keeping all the books together as a whole, isn’t done yet. I did this with my Witch’s Trilogy. Each book is a distinct book and you can probably read any one of them and be fine without reading the other two, but there is a thread that connects them all, and it’s a fuller and richer experience as a whole. And at the end of each book there is just a short scene that connects it to the next book. A small cliffhanger, but one that hopefully gets you curious.

There are a few stories that act as episodic structures, like the original Hulk show, Jack Reacher, or 007. The story ends and the main character goes off into the sunset, and you don’t know if you’ll see them again. No cliffhangers. No real cliffhangers at the end of the episodes. Just a story. Almost all of Star Trek was done that way. A few of the series had running plots that ran through the series, but most episodes still had the story of the week aspect.

So should there be cliffhangers? Of course there will be, and in the right area they are good to have.

It really depends on what you’re going for. It’s appropriate for some stories to have an end to each episode because the characters aren’t going to be interacting with those specific people ever again. In the case of Jack Reacher, he won’t go back to that town again. A cliffhanger wouldn’t make sense because if you started a new book with him finishing up the arc from the previous show, then going to the next town with new people and starting a brand new arc, that would be weird.

Stories that end in cliffhangers usually bring the character back to the same area, and interact with the same people. TV drama is a great example. They are all in the same little town, same sets, same other actors, so cliffhangers can work because you can resolve that thread next episode and then move on.

There is one last way to use cliffhangers though, and I think it’s the most common. That is to have a single thread that winds through the story line, the theme of the series, and have that be the cliffhanger each episode. Supernatural is a perfect example. That show has been going on forever. Each episode has it’s own story that is completed in the 45 min episode, and also adds to the over all story that is effecting that season. They get a little closer to that seasons villain with almost every episode. The thing bringing people back to watch it is partly the overall story, but mostly it’s just that they love those characters, and they love the monster of the week format. The overall story is just icing on the cake.

However you do cliffhangers just remember that you need SOME closure at the end of the story. If nothing is finished, and you just drop the book for a cliffhanger and say “go read the next book” I’m not going to do it. I want some closure, and if you give me NO closure then I’m not invested in your story enough to keep going.

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5 Min – Day 6 – What’s free?

Last night I finished editing two more chapters for Dragons Flame, and wrote the last chapter. That last chapter had gone incomplete for a while. But this get’s me even closer to the end of the writing.

I also did a bunch of newsletters to let people know about the free short stories this weekend. If you’re interested you can find them here:  Small Bites 1 and Hidden Treasures for free this weekend, and  Witch’s Sacrifice is back on sale for 99 cents, along with most of my short stories being 99 cents.

 

 

 

But no progress on the declutter front yesterday. Life is about balance, trying to find that sweet spot of work, chores, family and everything else you have going on in  your life. And so I’m trying to do that. I know I work from 12:30 to 10:30 five days a week, including the commute to and from. I know that I have some time in the evenings with Gregg. And I know that in the morning I am carving out five minutes for this blog post. The other things, like writing and reading, and playing a game, or decluttering my life…those all take second fiddle to the facts of keeping a roof over our head, and spending time with my boyfriend so we don’t feel like we’re ignoring one another.

Some days I wish I could go back to being a house wife. I had a lot more time then, and would sometimes spend weeks just doing spring cleaning. Sometimes you  have to spend a lot of time to find all those little nooks and crannies where soup or spaghetti found their way. Especially when you have toddlers.

Maybe I don’t have toddlers anymore, but I do have a house filled with stuff.

And that’s my five.

Update all the things!

I’flightofgriffve been slowly working my way through old book covers, updating them and making them look nicer. A few months ago I updated Potion Shop and Prophecy by Barlight. Then I took a crack at Flight of the Griffins.

This week I tried updating all of the “Illicit Gains” series.

The original covers were okay in their simplicity, and in all honesty I haven’t changed them a lot. The biggest thing is that I’ve gotten better at typography. Still not perfect, but way better.

illiI wanted to stay with the theme since each story is about a specific object. A ring that teleports the wearer wherever he is thinking about. A camera that saves things in a denominational pocket. A necklace that changes the persons personality.

And you might have already noticed that there is a fourth book the second set. I’ll be publishing The Mirror by the end of the week.
illicitAll of the items had to come from somewhere, after all.

This also meant renumbering the stories, since The Mirror is now the first in the series, not the ring, but nothing else has really changed. I still have two more planned for this series, The Pocket Watch and Marco.

It’s been a fun series to write. Their short reads, all short stories, so I don’t mind doing them out of love rather than for my career. Each one of them is inspired by Stephen King, Friday the 13, and Warehouse 13. Shows about cursed items, and what they do to people. I loved that troupe, so of course I had to write it myself.

But, alas, I have novels to finish, so this series gets written as I have time. I’m just happy to give it better covers at the moment.

And it’s out!

thisIt’s here! The Scarab Necklace

A prima donna pop star. Her mousy assistant. And a cursed necklace that slowly changes their personalities.

It is longer then the other Illicit Gains Saga shorts and qualifies as a “novelette”, but who actually uses that word anyway? So i guess it’s a really long short story. All I know is: it’s good. I love it, and I’m so happy it’s finished and out for everyone to read.

The next one in the series is going to be a little complicated. It’s about a pocket watch and involves time travel. I’m going to need a timeline and a lot of notes. Thankfully I already have a basic plot.

I also have “Mirror” which was sent to my newsletter a few weeks ago. That is episode zero of this series. I’ll be editing that and publishing it May 27 or Jun 3rd.

Anprophec3yd I think I potionshopshould mention that Prophecy by Barlight and Potion Shop are free this weekend. If you haven’t picked them up yet now is a great time to do so.

 

Even more exciting news! Witch’s Stand should be out in two weeks!!!!! I’ve got the edits back and I just need to do my revision, and send it back to the editor (which takes less time the second time around) and then a quick revision before uploading it. So excited!

Plus, just look how great these covers look together: threecovers

Footprints

footprintsmini And “Footprints” is OUT! Only 99 cents for the weekend.

A short story about a man who loses his father, and goes away to a cabin in the woods to deal with the memories and emotions that threaten to overwhelm him.

But he isn’t alone. There’s something in the woods. And now it’s stalking him.

This story has an underlying paranormal aspect, but like most of my tales it is about the human aspect. The emotion and the lose. The paranormal aspect is just a backdrop.

Designing the cover for this one was fun. The footprints started as bear prints in the snow. I had to add an extra toe, and reshape them to give them the right aspect. The trees, are also free-form with a little texture from snow covered trees thrown in.

Also, I have to say that it feels good to publish something. I haven’t published anything since October. It’s understandable since I’ve been working so hard on my novel, but after putting out so many short stories and novellas it almost felt like I was neglecting my publications. The fact that “Zombie Swarm” has been so difficult to write doesn’t make it any easier.

“Mermaids Curse” is now 85% finished, and getting closer every day. I’m working on the ending at the moment. It’s become a high fantasy novel, filled with magic and curses, with an underlying love story that runs through it.

Maybe that’s what my stories are. Stories of heart, lose, and love, set in fantastical places. I love the idea of creating new worlds, and creatures. I love using magic or advance science to do things that aren’t quite possible in this world. But the human aspect, the heart, is just as important.  Now I just need to come up with a tagline for that.

A little update

I’m at 80% into my first novel to be published. After lots of polish and editing, of course. Longer story means lots more work to make it publishable.

I started this back in November, and while six months doesn’t seem like a horribly long time in the grand scheme of things, it’s been a long road for me. Just sitting down and plowing through a thousand words on a project I was some days thoroughly sick of looking at. Knowing what happens but telling myself “now show the reader”. FINISHING! I’m not quite finished yet, but I can see the end of the tunnel and the light is very bright.

I’ve learned a lot doing this. I’ve started to write faster and just let go and let the story happen. Some days its easier then others. Sometimes it means just throwing out everything I have for a specific chapter and redoing it. But the end result is worth it.

When I took a break from “Mermaids Curse” I worked on writing the beats for the next Eternal Tapestry book, or the beats for my Silo novella. It means that when I finish “Mermaids Curse” I can go onto the next project, and possibly write it even faster.

The thing about MC… I didn’t have beats written for it when I started. Just a very general outline. So much has changed from the first sketchy outline because I didn’t really know what was going on in certain parts. I wrote a lot of it by pantsing. Figuring out that this prisoner needed rescuing. Realizing how the original curse got cast, and then changed. Knowing that a sylph would be be causing mischief and cause some of the characters to run for their life. All of it discovered while I wrote.

I am hoping that by finishing proper beats and knowing exactly where I am going with the next book, and how A leads to B, and C leads to D, that I will actually be able to finish a book, a WHOLE book, in two months. That’s my goal, at least. Two months to write. One month to edit, design, format, and make a cover, and then finally… PUBLISH! Every three months.

I’ve decided that I need ten full length books out, plus my three series (Eversword, Eternal Tapestry, and Illgotten Gains) in order to feel like I’ve given a writing career a real stab. Till then I just need to keep plugging away. And hopefully faster each time I pick up the keyboard.

That’s What He Said

I use to use google reviews as ways to check out new businesses. They aren’t scammy like yelp. But right now my company is trying to get google reviews. And boy are they pushing it.

“Look at this as an opportunity to practice promoting yourself” said my boss. He knows that I’ve published books, and that I’m struggling with getting noticed, reviews, and basically anything that says ‘hey look at me, I wrote this, you should read it’.

And he isn’t wrong.

It’s incredibly difficult to draw attention to myself, or anything I do. It goes against everything I was trained… stay unseen. Stay unheard. Your opinion isn’t valuable. No one cares. You’re not worth it. No one likes you. No one will ever love you.

So I find myself confronting all these things I heard for all of those years. And some days I make little breakthroughs and I can say ‘see, I did this and I think it’s good.’ (Well, mostly I say I think it’s ‘okay’ because I don’t want to disappoint anyone.)

And other days I freeze. The words get stuck on my tongue. I want to run, hide, cry, and just get everyones attention off of me somehow, anyway possible.

I recognize that this was caused by years of abuse. I recognize that the whispering in my head telling me that no one cares, and no one wants to hear what I have to say isn’t right. DEPRESSION IS A LYING BASTARD!

Half the struggle is recognizing this. Before I knew why this was happening I let my fight or flight system kick in and I would retreat. Get quite. Go unnoticed. After 30+ years of practice I’m really good at it.

But I don’t want to be that person anymore. I want to write, and I want to share my stories with people. I want to know that my words will live on even when I’m gone. I want to inspire others to follow their passions, and their loves.

And really… I don’t want to be broken anymore. I don’t want what he did to me to be what dictates my life from here on out. This is my life, and I am worthwhile, and I have something amazing to say. People do want to listen to me. They do want to talk to me.

So… I wrote a book. And I’m really proud of it. I hope you read it some day.

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