J.M. Hackman is on the blog today! She’s the author of the Firebrand Chronicles, a portal fantasy series for teens. The final book in the series, Burn, releases on May 26th.
J.M.’s graciously offered to share her experience writing a series from start to finish. Please welcome J.M. Hackman!
When I first started writing Spark, I assumed it was part of a series. The influential Harry Potter series was a big hit, and every single story I’d written previously ended up being connected. I didn’t do flash fiction or short stories. The three romantic comedies I’d written had extended families, all with single siblings (it’s easier to match everyone up that way), and the small town was full of endless matchmaking opportunities. When I switched genres and started thinking about this teen girl with unusual fire-starting abilities, it seemed obvious—of course, there’d be more than one book. But I hadn’t thought much beyond that.
When Spark was picked up by L2L2 Publishing, I did some crazy dancing around my living room. That dancing ended abruptly at the realization I’d need another book. Brenna wasn’t done growing, and there were so many more opportunities waiting for her in the Jasper Territories.
There are benefits of writing a series. If you’re a plotter, writing a series will require lots of it. This is a bonus if you’re a plotter. Do your planning as early as possible so you don’t write yourself into an impossible situation. Not that I’m talking from experience. Ahem.
Writing a series allows a writer to be immersed in the story world. The characters’ motivations, backstories, and life experiences become very well-known, and more detail can be added to the landscape and the culture. I’ve been with the Firebrand Chronicles for at least six years and I know Brenna, Baldwin, Arvandus and others very well. The corollary of this is there’s less new world building for each book and therefore more time spent actually writing.
In case you think a series is a utopian setup, there are drawbacks. The biggest is avoiding new shiny ideas. As the series is being written, you can’t start anything else (or at least I can’t). You don’t want readers to forget your world or your characters, especially if you’re releasing one book a year. Some indie writers will write all the books in their series first, then release them quickly. When writing a long-spanning series, you could forget a critical death in book one only to have that character alive in book three—here’s where plotting is super helpful. (Do you see a theme presenting itself here?)
If your writing improves (and it should), you can’t go back and fix timelines or character arcs in previous books. I know some indie authors do this to their e-books, but I personally don’t like to look back. I like to keep moving forward and creating new stories.
If you’re a writer set on writing a series, do it! But buy yourself a nice thick notebook with pockets. It will become your series guidebook. Put everything in it—notes, maps, words/language for your world, place names, just everything. There’s probably software out there that does this, but I’m old school and I prefer to carry something like this with me so I can add to it whenever inspiration strikes.
If you’re not leaning toward a series, that’s okay too. Lately, I’ve been looking for standalones because every single book I’d picked up was a series. I can’t keep all the worlds straight sometimes, especially with a year or more between each release.
The most important thing to remember is to write the story in your heart, whatever it is. No matter whether your idea spans multiple books or just one, it’s something you need to share and readers need to read.
Join the Burn Release Party on Facebook!
Life: 1. Brenna James: 0.
An AWOL talent, an enemy-occupied hometown, and a Life Shade boyfriend—Brenna James just wants something to go right. Although her family has been given sanctuary in Syeira, Brenna will never be safe as long as Rune is hunting down and killing Firebrands.
Can someone please wake her up already?
When a prophecy sends Brenna and Baldwin on a confusing quest, they aren’t sure where to begin. They must find the Caelestis Staff, a powerful object that both cuts and mends space itself. Rune wants it too, and he’ll use any lethal tactics necessary to obtain it.
Yeah, nightmare material right there.
A traveling oasis, plenty of man-eating mermaids, and one Skeleton King later, Brenna seriously doubts she has the edge she needs to confront Rune. When Brenna’s faced with the biggest test of her life, will she burn like the Firebrand she is? Or will she burn out?
About J.M. Hackman
J. M. Hackman loves thunderstorms, bookstores, and happy endings. She’s never met a reading nook she didn’t like and prefers soul talk to small talk. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her two munchkins and her handsome husband who supports her in this crazy profession. Her days are filled with writing stories, consuming massive quantities of dark chocolate, and looking for portals to other worlds. You can find her at www.jmhackman.com.
Burn Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, May 18th, Guest Post: “Writing a Series,” K.A. Cummins
Tuesday, May 19th, “Interview with Author J.M. Hackman,” Laura L. Zimmerman, www.lauralzimmerman.com
Wednesday, May 20th, Visual Post: “Burn’s Cast of Characters and Creatures,” Jebraun Clifford, www.jebraunclifford.com
Thursday, May 21st, Behind-the-Scenes Feature: “Four Cool Facts I Learned While Writing Burn,” Pam Halter, www.PamHalter.com
Friday, May 22nd, Guest Post: “Finishing Well,” Tori V. Rainn, www.torivrainn.com
Saturday, May 23rd, Visual Post: “Burn’s Magical Tour of Artifacts,” Annie Douglass Lima, www.anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com
Sunday, May 24th, “Exciting News about the Firebrand Chronicles,” L2L2 Publishing, www.L2L2Publishing.com
Monday, May 25th, Behind-the-Scenes Feature: “Living Chosen,” Tabitha Caplinger, www.tabithacaplinger.com
Tuesday, May 26th, Release-Day Feature, J.M. Hackman, www.jmhackman.com
Wednesday, May 27th, Guest Post: “Going Dark,” Laurie Lucking, www.landsuncharted.com
Thursday, May 28th, Release-Party Feature, Michele Israel Harper, www.MicheleIsraelHarper.com
Friday, May 29th, Visual Post: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” Laura A. Grace, www.unicornquester.com