Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Keeping the Story Going

I am thrilled to once again announce the release of Cas Peace's new book, The Challenge, a Circle of Conspiracy book. This is part one of the new Albia Trilogy. If you haven't read the first three books, now is a good time to start. You will find the world building creative and realistic, the story thrilling and page turning, and the characters...well you'll just fall in love with them. Because Cas writes such engaging books, and because she is brilliant, I asked her to write a guest post on how to keep the story going. So many stories fall flat after the first couple books but Cas' don't. So she's an expert!

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Keeping the Story Going
a Guest Post by Cas Peace

This post is all about epic series, and how you can keep each new book in a series so fresh that your readers keep clamoring for more.

One of the key aspects essential to a successful series is, of course, fully-rounded, complex and believable characters. But you already know that. Never mind a series, no single book is going to be successful without characters that readers can connect with, care about, or love to hate.  Yes, even your antagonists must have something interesting about them. The most clich├ęd baddie can be made fascinating by introducing an unexpected character twist or quirk. Such as a depraved serial killer who dotes on cats and regularly volunteers at his local cat sanctuary. Or a care worker who callously swindles the elderly people she cares for out of their life savings, but who is also a bone marrow donor. Such insights into people’s characters, and the reasons for their foibles, are wonderful tools for piquing readers’ interest.

Another aspect, and this applies especially to my own genre of fantasy, is the world where your action is set. I recently gave a talk at my local Discovery Center about Creating Believeable Settings for Fiction. I had great fun researching the talk, and even more fun giving it. It was lovely to see those budding writers (not all of them fantasy writers) getting so many ideas as to how they could improve their readers’ experiences of the world they were trying to describe. Simply asking them to describe the same scene five times, each time using a different one of our five senses, brought out so many nuances that hadn’t even crossed their minds before. Setting is a vital part of your writing and no writer should ignore, or be complacent about the effect it will have on each character. I could go deeper into this subject but I won’t right now. If you haven’t thought before about how important your setting isregardless of the genre you write inthen I’d encourage you to do some research and find out a bit more about it. 

But the main tool, in my opinion, for driving a series of novels and for enticing your readers back time and time again is: Conflict. You can have the most vivid setting and the most interesting and realistic characters, but if there is no conflict between them, no challenge to be overcome, no opportunity to bring out those characters’ higher morals, or deeper instincts, or baser qualities, then readers will eventually get too familiar with them and will feel cheated.

The other thing Conflict achievesin novels as much as in lifeis your characters’ personal growth and development. We all learn and adapt by overcoming problems in our lives, and you should show your characters doing so too. Apart from anything else, it’s fun! When I wrote my Artesans series, I found it fascinating to pitch my characters into the most convoluted and seemingly-insurmountable situations and watch them struggle to get out. Some failed, of course, as happens frequently in the “real world”. My novels might be fantasy, but I wanted what happens within them to feel as real as possible to readers. If not, I could not expect them to return. 

The first trilogy in my Artesans series, Artesans of Albia, focuses on two main characters: Taran, an Albian Artesan who is struggling to realize his potential, and Major Sullyan, a powerful Artesan and respected military leader. I wanted to show how these two very different people reacted to and dealt with unexpected conflict. In the second trilogy, Circle of Conspiracy, we still follow those two characters, and see how their trials have shaped their natures as they experience a whole new set of challenges and threats to their world. They will have to face conflict in many guises;  personal as well as global. And the theme of Conflict ramps up even higher in the third (and so far, final) trilogy, Master of Malice, where my characters will face their greatest tests so far. I do have to warn younot all of them will survive! 

So keep the conflict coming in your novels and make sure your characters develop and adapt as they deal with them. That way, you will keep readers wanting to find out What Happens Next! 

The Challenge
Book 1 in the Circle of Conspiracy Trilogy

Friend against friend, lover against lover,
ally against ally. Conflict is coming … 
Nine months have passed since Brynne Sullyan helped forge an alliance between the realms of Albia and Andaryon. A fragile peace reigns as both sides recover from the events of the previous year. Then mysterious raiders strike Andaryon villages.

Attempts are made on the life of Albia’s High King. As Sullyan scrambles to find those responsible, unseen enemies threaten to pull apart everything she has worked for, including her marriage.

The alliance begins to crumble, and Sullyan finds herself caught between two monarchs: the king she’s sworn allegiance to, and the man she loves as a father. To betray either one would break her heart, but if conflict is inevitable, she must make a choice…

Cas Peace was born and brought up in the lovely county of Hampshire, in the UK, where she still lives. On leaving school, she trained for two years before qualifying as a teacher of equitation. During this time she also learned to carriage-drive. She spent thirteen years in the British Civil Service before moving to Rome, where she and her husband, Dave, lived for three years. They return whenever they can.
As well as her love of horses, Cas is mad about dogs, especially Lurchers. She enjoys dog agility training and currently owns two rescue Lurchers, Milly and Milo. Cas loves country walks, working in stained glass, and folk singing. She is currently working on writing and recording songs for each of her fantasy books. The song associated with King’s Envoy is “The Wheel Will Turn”; for King’s Champion it is “The Ballad of Tallimore”; and for King’s Artesan it is “Morgan’s Song (All That We Are).” For The Challenge it is “Meadowsweet”. All Cas’s book songs can be found at and downloaded from her website, see below. 

Cas has also written a nonfiction book, “For the Love of Daisy,” which tells the life story of her mischievous and beautiful Dalmatian. Details and other information can be found on her website:
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  1. Mikey, my dear friend, thank you so much for sharing this on your blog! I hope your readers enjoy the post about Keeping The Story Going.

    1. Anytime, my friend. :) It really is a terrific post!


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