Wednesday, July 11

To write sequels or not to write sequels...

The topic of sequels isn't exactly a hot one at the moment (most writers I know are busy debating genre vs. literary fiction: )

Although certainly no few people are going to be talking about the fact that there will be no Pulitzer Prize awarded for new fiction this year:

But I'd like to talk about something else. You know, just to be different  ;-) 

I've got two Works In Progress at the moment, and at least one has sprung a sequel...or at least a spin off. It could go either way. Or both ways.  Well what did you expect from a lady who bats for both teams?  ;-)

Seriously, though, I have to wonder: 
do romance readers want sequels? (I mean really want, not just think we want.) Isn't romance about that first blush of love (or occasionally rekindling an old flame)? Once we see the first look, first kiss, first hot sex scene, what's left? More of the same? Are sequels to romance novels little more interesting than tired old marriages? 

And yet, there are sequels in the romance world. There are even full series (J.P. Barnaby's Little Boy Lost, a six book series, springs immediately to mind.)  I haven't read them, but they are SO on my "to read" list! So is Ariel Tachna's Partnership in Blood  books, because, well, vampires and wizards, need I say more?

Yet, do readers really want to invest that much time the romantic adventures of one or even a couple of couples? And what if the sequel doesn't live up to readers' expectations? Will it drag the first book down, too?  Is a sequel, by it's very nature, it is bound to be weaker simply because there are no more "firsts"?  

Who wants to read about the continuing saga of our heroes AFTER they've ridden off into the sunset (or wherever it is vampires ride off into)? 

And how many is TOO many sequels...?

Okay, going astray here, I WANT one of these, only with MY book covers....

I know it isn't out yet, but I'm thinking about writing a sequel to my BDSM novel. The material is there--in fact, a lot of the writing is there because I didn't know quite where to end it, so I kept writing, and writing, and writing... and I know what happens after Jason and Henry ride off into the proverbial sunset. But do you, the reader, want to know? Do you care about the Henry's jealous ex, Derrik, Jason's father's wedding, or the woman who wants to occupy Henry's bed--or at least his St. Andrew's Cross, because while he might Top both men and women, he definitely only sleeps with guys--? (And of course that causes a hiccup in the relationship because Jason isn't the most secure kid in the world--but the first book cuts off before y'all even get to see where Henry lives, let alone some of the people in his life, like his mom and her emus. Yes, emus). 
an emu looking at you

Sequels are certainly popular in other genres; they're the bread and butter for science fiction and fantasy writers, and let's not forget the cozy mystery (okay, those aren't exactly sequels, but still...) 

Do you want to see a true sequel for Heart's Home, or do you really just want Robin's story? (Which isn't the first thing I'm due to write about, I'm writing about Thad, that other contrasexual werewolf in Alun's pack, first. Oh, and Rhianna comes back of course because she's not done making trouble for Alun and James. No way she'd slink off that quietly--but I'm guessing you already knew that...) 

So... romance readers, the floor is yours: sequels or spin offs or both or neither... 

And yet again, today's recipe has absolutely NOTHING to do with any of the above...unless you're into food and sex, which quite frankly, I'm not...

Now, I realize that summertime isn't when most of us thing "soup" -- unless you're thinking of gazpacho soup, a yummy cold tomato based soup. 

You’ll need:

  •  6 large-ish tomatoes (brandy wine would be nice) tomatoes that are fully ripened. You’ll need to peel them. This isn’t as hard as most people think. 

To peel tomatoes, all you need is a pot of boiling water, large bowl of ice water, tongs and a little bit of patience. While you’re waiting for the water to come to a boil, you can deal with the rest of the ingredients:

  • 1 medium to large Spanish (or better yet, Vidalia, if you can get your hands on one) onion, peeled and minced
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped; most people also like to scoop out the seeds.
  • 1 sweet red and/or yellow or orange pepper (I like peppers, so I usually do two), also finely chopped. (I usually roast my peppers first, because I love the flavor. To roast peppers indoors, all you need is a gas stove, those tongs you already have out and a little patience. Turn on a burner to low/medium, and set the pepper over the fire, right on the burner. Let it go until it’s roasted, i.e. slightly blackened.)
  • 2 to 3 large cloves of garlic minced fine (depending on how much garlic you like)
  • Most recipes call for chopped celery. I’m not a big fan of celery, so instead of chopping a stalk or two of it, I usually add a little celery powder. My local Chinese grocery carries it.
  • 1 half a lemon, squeezed
  • 1 lime squeezed

Probably by the time you’ve done all this, your water will be boiling. Lightly score the tomatoes (i.e. cut an ex in the bottom with a nice sharp knife). Drop in those tomatoes. Let them sit in the water for approximately 20 seconds. Pull them out using tongs, and drop them into the ice water. You can go ahead and let them rest there while you finish up:
  • Seed and mince very finely 1 jalapeno pepper (or use jalapeno powder, about an eighth of a teaspoon should do)

  • Finely chop up a dozen or so fresh basil leaves (or use about a tablespoon of dried basil)

To skin the tomatoes, simply peel at the score marks. The skin should slide off fairly easily.
Go ahead and give a fine chop to those tomatoes; slide them, juice and all into a large bowl with the rest of your chopped and minced ingredients and citrus juice. To the pot add:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar will do in a pinch; I’m not a huge fan of white vinegar for cooking).
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups of tomato juice (V-8 works, too)
  • 2 cups of roasted corn (or plain corn, but these days, you can get roasted corn in the frozen food aisle… of course you can also roast it and slice it off the cob yourself, if you like)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

If you have a food processor, you can give everything a rougher chop and process it, but I tend to like a nice chunky soup. If you’re going to run it through a food processor, add the corn AFTER it’s been pureed.

Cover and let sit overnight in the fridge. Serve chilled on a hot summer day, maybe with some of those midnight margaritas I gave the recipe to a few months back…. 

Please remember to leave a comment with your thoughts on sequels...or just about anything else.
And I've managed to wet your apatite a little for that BDSM novel I have coming out in September, but if you're afraid your book budget is going to be blown by then, I'll be giving away a signed paperback copy of it in October, during the Howoween Blog Hop!

And just in case you missed it the first time around....


RedAlice said...

Well, now that you've mentioned the emus we'll have to see the sequel!

Seriously, though: I think sequels in romance are similar to sequels in other genres: as long as there are new facets of the characters to explore, you can continue writing sequels. The fantasy folks may say: as long as there are new quests! - but there are always new quests; I didn't slog through 3000 pages of Vance's Lyonesse series because there were new adventures, but because he examined different characters or went into different aspects of old ones in each book.

Of course, when you get to the point where the couple's conversations all concern whose turn it is to do the dishes, it's time to dump those guys and find some new hotties ;)

H.B. Pattskyn said...

;-) The emus are priceless... the idea came from a conversation I had with a friend once. We were merrily chatting away and he had to excuse himself to go shoo his neighbor's llama back home. The neighbor also raised emus.

But I think you hit the nail on the head; there *are* always new adventures. I think what really keeps readers reading is looking at different characters or different aspects of readers' favorite characters.

Unknown said...

I think one thing that drives a lot of successful romance novel series is the delayed happy ending. Each novel resolves some of the conflicts keeping the main characters apart, but not everything, so there's still some tension keeping the reader coming back for the next novel in the series. Once the two characters are together and happy, there isn't really a need for a sequel. And if there IS a sequel, it may ruin the first book for some readers, unless there's an even happier ending in the second book.