Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
News About Shelley Blog Books Extras Contact Small Font Large Font

Archive for 'serials'

Serials and Other Things with Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force Virtual Book Tour

Today I’d like to welcome Susannah Sandlin. She’s in the process of writing a paranormal serial, so I was excited to chat with her about the process. Note – there’s a giveaway at the end of the post. Comment on this post to go into the draw. Over to Susannah!

1. Who is Susannah Sandlin?

Well, the “original” Susannah Sandlin was my gggg-grandmother, who traveled by wagon from South Carolina to the Alabama wilderness in the early 1800s. So I like to think I’m a bit like her, because I figure she was a tough cookie. I’m a focused workaholic who spends my days editing a university magazine and my nights writing fantasy. I’d like to say I’m a world-traveling, jet-setting glamour-puss, but actually I’m a smartass, geeky homebody. Sigh. But after almost fifteen years in New Orleans, I do have a wacky side…and a preoccupation with alligators.

2. Your book Storm Force is available in serial format with a later release date for the full novel. What made you decide to serialize Storm Force, and what differences did you find during the writing of your story?

It’s more different than I imagined when I took it on. I originally proposed Storm Force as a novel, but my publisher had started experimenting with some serial novels in the romantic suspense genre and thought I’d be a good candidate to try a paranormal serial. To write a serial novel, an author has to write fast, hit tight deadlines, and write fairly clean copy that doesn’t need much revision.

The biggest difference from a writing standpoint is in the plotting. I normally plot out a book beginning with chapter one and continuing through to the end. With the serial, I had to plot out nine “episodes” of from 8,000-10,000 words each, with each episode ending at a point of high tension. Kind of like a TV series that has an ongoing story and ends each week with a bit of a cliffhanger.

3. Did you experience any particular challenges while writing your serial installments? Any tricks or tips to pass on to other writers?

Set a daily word count and do your best to stick to it, because there’s no time to make up those lost words and the schedule is brutal. I don’t think a pantser could write a serial without going crazy because there’s no going back to fix anything. The book goes straight from me to copyediting to publishing in only a week or two. Episode Three released this week, and I just turned in Episode Five, so the first part of the book is in readers’ hands while I’m still writing the middle and end.

On the one hand, it’s really cool to read people’s comments on the discussion boards or on review sites because I’m able to see which characters they’re resonating with. So if a lot of people were reacting negatively to a character, for example, I could decide to kill him off, or take him in a different direction. It’s like a “living novel” in that sense, and probably as close as the reader’s ever going to get to being inside a writer’s head and influencing where a book goes.

4. You write dark paranormal stories. Do you do anything special to get in a dark mood?

LOL. No, my mind just seems to go there—I think I take out my day-job frustrations on my characters! I spend a lot of time THINKING about the story before I ever start writing—part of that plotting process. And even with an outline, before I begin writing each new scene I go through what I have planned and think: How can I make it darker? How can I raise the stakes? I play out different scenarios in my head to figure out how I want to craft each chapter.

5. What do you think makes a dark paranormal story? i.e. what are the ingredients of a good dark paranormal?

I think the stakes have to be very, very high in a dark paranormal—either in setting or character, or (preferably) both. In Storm Force, a terrorist bombing in Houston has killed a lot of people, the Texas governor is either dead or missing, and there’s a credible threat of a repeat in New Orleans in two weeks. (Oh yeah, and there’s a hurricane brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.) So our combined human-shapeshifter team has to work fast and, of course, they get in WAY over their heads by falling into the middle of a big paranormal power play. On a personal level, the hero, Kell, is a human Army Ranger coming off a back injury who needs to prove he’s still got the chops for active duty, and the heroine, Mori, is being forced by her family to marry a man twice her age that she hates—and she’s being framed for the bombing. So there’s a lot at stake, and the consequences of failure are dire.

6. What does your writing space look like, and is there any particular thing you must have or do before you begin a writing session?

I have an office at home where I do most of my writing. It’s on the second floor of the house, so I’m away from everyone and everything. I work on a 17-inch laptop and use a big square oak game table as my desk. The room has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along one entire wall next to my desk, so I keep reference books within easy reach. I write to music except on first draft. Right now, I’m listening to a song by French-Canadian singer-songwriter David Jalbert called “Notre Histoire.”

7. Do you have a question for visitors to help them interact with you?

I love to chat with readers! This is, as far as I know, the first paranormal romance to be published as a serial (and as a regular novel on July 9)—so I’m curious as to what people think of the idea of being able to influence the story and read it very soon after it’s created? Or would you wait until all nine episodes were available to start reading?

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment, and a winner will be chosen on April 12 to win either a copy of Storm Force or their choice of one of the Penton Legacy novels (print, digital or audio). International entries welcome.

Storm ForceStorm Force

Omega Force #1

Susannah Sandlin

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Date of Publication: March 19, 2013, in serial form for Kindle; July 9, 2013, in print, digital, and audio.

ISBN: 978-1477807576

ASIN: B00BI0M8OM

Word Count: approx. 90,000

Amazon

Book Description:

As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

Short Excerpt

Kell spotted the bird as soon as its wingtips cleared the edge of the cypress stand at the eastern rim of Bayou Cote Blanche. For a moment, he indulged a hope it might be a hawk in search of fish, or a pelican, or a cormorant, or a fucking giant mutant hummingbird.

Anything but an eagle.

“It’s her.” At the sound of his voice, Gator raised his spotted head and focused sharp, mismatched eyes on the horizon, barking furiously in his Catahoula big-dog voice, usually reserved for alligators and swamp rats.

Kell had been sitting on the porch of his cabin at Cote Blanche since Nik’s phone call from New Orleans two hours ago, waiting to see who’d arrive first—the man or the bird.

Should’ve known it would be the freakazoid eagle with the deceptively sweet name of Robin. He’d come to think of her as Razorblade Robin. Nik would have to rent a boat in Jeanerette and navigate the serpentine waterways of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Swamp to get here. Razorblade Robin could just sprout feathers and soar.

The midday sun glinted off the glossy reddish-brown wings of the golden eagle as it swooped over the smooth, murky water of the bayou and landed with a harsh caw at the end of his dock. Gator rose to his feet and looked up at Kell, asking permission to chase.

“Sorry, buddy. You don’t want to mess with that one. She can take you.” Hell, she could take both of them.

Kell took a final look at the pile of papers he’d been reading—notes about his team’s new assignment. Mostly, he’d been studying the photo on top of the stack. The woman, Emory Chastaine, an environmental activist well known in tree-hugger circles, had been photographed from a distance with a telephoto lens that gave the image a grainy feel, made worse by his generator-powered printer. But he could tell she was tall, athletic-looking in a t-shirt and jeans, shoulder-length blond hair, pretty in an all-American kind of way.

Not his image of a terrorist. Which made her even more dangerous.

Gator sprang off the porch as the eagle strutted down the dock toward them. He approached the bird in a crouch, his growls echoing off the still water. Damn dog never did listen worth a flip. Kell leaned back in his chair to watch the show. With a screech and a blur of feathers seconds before Gator reached her, the eagle morphed into a petite, waifish brunette.

Make that a naked, waifish brunette with a snark-tastic attitude who arched an eyebrow when Kell’s vicious watchdog turn into a slobbering, tail-wagging fool, jumping up and down so vigorously his black and white spots seemed to blur. You’d think the hound saw birds turn into people every day.

If Gator went the crotch-sniffing route, Kell might have to die of pure humiliation.

Not like the naked bird-woman came as any big surprise. He reached for the t-shirt he’d thrown across the other porch chair and tossed it to her as she approached, Gator dancing around her legs. “Put this on.”

Robin Ashton, five-foot-nothing of shapeshifter and the tracker for Kell’s new Omega Force team, caught the shirt and used it to wipe the sweat off her face. “It’s like a sauna out here. Pretty, though, if you’re into the primordial.”

She turned to study the bayou, a minor niche in the massive Atchafalaya basin, and Kell made it a point to keep his eyes away from her ass. It wasn’t that he wanted to look at it, exactly, but he was a guy, and it was right in front of him.

Susannah SandlinAbout the Author:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

Website: http://www.susannahsandlin.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susannahsandlin

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susannahsandlin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5828129.Susannah_Sandlin

Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781612183541

New Episode Release Schedule for Storm Force

March 19–episode 1

March 26–episode 2

April 2–episode 3

April 9–episode 4

April 16–episode 5

April 23–episode 6

April 30–episode 7

May 7–episode 8

May 14–episode 9

The release date for the complete book is July 9.

Review: Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm ForceStorm Force

Omega Force #1

Susannah Sandlin

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Date of Publication: March 19, 2013, in serial form for Kindle; July 9, 2013, in print, digital, and audio.

ISBN: 978-1477807576

Word Count: approx. 90,000

Amazon

Book Description:

As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

Review – Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force is episode one of a serial.

A terrorist attack starts Kell and his paranormal team, Omega Force, on a new assignment. He’s new to the job and new to the reality of shifters inhabiting the world along with humans. The team members are feeling their way and gradually growing into a cohesive force. Mori Chastaine is part of an environmental action group who are suspected of the terrorist attack. Kell arrives to join the group and hopefully learn the truth from the inside. Meanwhile the FBI arrest Mori.

This first episode introduces us to a lot of characters, both human and paranormal, plus the aftermath of the terrorist attack. There’s a lot happening in a short time. The last chapter really shook things up, raising my curiosity. I ended the serial thinking, “What????” so the author did her job well. She’s made me ponder what happens next. How will Omega Force handle the situation? What happens to Mori, to Kell? I’m presuming that there might be a romantic connection between Mori and Kell, but so far it’s not hinted at. I’d definitely like to read the next episode.

This serial was provided by the author in exchange for a honest review.

clip_image004_thumbAbout the Author:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

Website: http://www.susannahsandlin.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susannahsandlin

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susannahsandlin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5828129.Susannah_Sandlin

Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781612183541

New Episode Release Schedule for Storm Force

March 19–episode 1

March 26–episode 2

April 2–episode 3

April 9–episode 4

April 16–episode 5

April 23–episode 6

April 30–episode 7

May 7–episode 8

May 14–episode 9

The release date for the complete book is July 9.

Serials – An Old Idea Made New?

There has been a lot of talk about fictional serials during the last few months with both publishers and Amazon embracing the idea.

A serial is a single book broken down into instalments. These instalments go on sale one at a time with the ending hook of each serial prompting readers to purchase the next. According to Wikipedia, serials have been around for a long time, but they were at their peak during the Victorian era. Writers such as Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were two of the many successful serial writers during this era.

Radio serials were popular from the early 1900s. One long-running radio serial you might have heard of is The Archers, a British soap-opera. The first episode of the Archers ran in 1950 and they are still producing the show on a semi-regular basis. If you’re interested several episodes are available as podcasts on iTunes.

These days we’re more likely to get our serial fix on television, although as a child I read comics done in a serial fashion. Soap operas are a common form where we follow the lives of our characters and become invested in what happens next. We even have a local soap opera in New Zealand called Shortland Street, which has been running for as long as I can remember.

Author Beth Kery has written an eight part serial called Because You Are Mine, an erotic story along the lines of Fifty Shades of Grey. Her serial is currently available at Amazon etc.

Writing a serial is different from writing a book.

1. The process is a lot quicker with the serial coming to market, often before the writer has completed all the instalments.

2. Feedback from readers is a lot quicker too.

3. The writer can change the direction of the serial after reader feedback.

4. The writer can’t go back and change things in already published instalments. This would be a problem for me since I think about my plot and characters as I write.

5. There is a short period of waiting on the part of the reader, which can help build word-of-mouth. Readers are wondering what will happen next and where the story will go. The build of anticipation is present.

6. Pricing can be controversial. I noted on some of the Amazon reviews Of Because You Are Mine there were some unhappy readers who expected more “book” for their money. Each instalment is two chapters.

As a writer, I think writing a serial would present a challenge. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to stretch in this direction in the future.

What about you? Have you read a serial? Have you tried Beth Kery’s Because You Are Mine series? Would you like to write a serial?