Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Guest Post by Julie E. Czerneda

Guest Post 
Julie E. Czerneda 

Below is a new Guest Post by Julie Czerneda, one of my favorite writers.

This post was arranged by the Publicist, but Julie and I talk a bit on Facebook from time to time.  So I can't claim to be objective, but I'm telling you The Clan Chronicles is a series you just can't afford to miss.

Now, we have Reunification #3  To Guard Against the Dark.

It is pure, hard science style science fiction -- about a Romance as historically important as Helen of Troy.  Or maybe Adam and Eve.

Transcendental Passion and Doctor Who level time-and-space-reshaping signiificant.  This couple literally save Existence itself - as hapless as they are about the whole problem, as clueless as they start out when they meet, as zany as the ragtag band of heros they collect as friends and allies along the way - they save themselves as well as existence.

They are loyal to their friends, generous and giving Souls who accept the consequences of their actions and do what has to be done regardless of what others (who know nothing about the Situation) think "The Rules" should be.

This is a can-do couple, Soul Mates who matter in the scheme of things, and don't let it go to their heads.

You have to read this series in order to get the full effect.  I have never been able to decide if I love the crazy universe-structure/science behind this series best -- or if it's the Characters and their romance that grabs me.  Which ever way you look at it, this is just plain great reading!

So now I've raved my head off, here is a link to a previous Guest post

And here are two of the books I've discussed:

The Clan Chronicles is a complicated series (why else would I love it so much?), but as vast as the cast of characters and locations is, every time you pick up one of these novels, you remember the previous ones.  

Here is the explanation of the Series:

The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future where a mutual Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, himself a talented telepath, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification concludes the series, answering these question at last. Who are the Clan? 
And what will be the fate of all?

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Here is the short publicity biography of Julie E. Czerneda -- but the About The Author in the back of the Reunification #3, To Guard Against the Dark is much more detailed and illuminating.  I do hope you always read About the Author, and scrutinize all the Acknowledgements.  You can learn so much about the writing craft this way.  Also check out her website at the end of this bio.

For twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s also written fantasy, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Julie’s edited/co-edited sixteen anthologies of SF/F, two Aurora winners, the latest being SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase. Next out will be an anthology of original stories set in her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis, out in 2018. Her new SF novel, finale to that series, To Guard Against the Dark, lands in stores October 2017. When not jumping between wonderful blogs, Julie’s at work on something very special: her highly anticipated new Esen novel, Search Image (Fall 2018). Visit http://www.czerneda.com for more.
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And here is Julie E. Czerneda herself, in her own voice, explaining how it happens that a writer has to write a whole series of novels to get the story told.  

-------------GUEST POST BY JULIE E. CZERNEDA-------------

Footnote: I answer questions and go “Behind the Scenes of the Clan Chronicles” in these two earlier posts: 


Committing Series 


Julie E. Czerneda

So, your story will be told as a series.

There will be consequences. Good ones, and not. 

I say this as a writer who: just finished a series spanning two decades, is working on the next book in a series that hopefully only ends when I do (and maybe not even then), and looks forward with deep poignant longing to writing a standalone for a change. Before jumping back into another series.
I’ve got you covered, in other words. 

What are the good consequences?

There’s a few, all dependent on you. What, you say? Isn’t my publisher responsible? Don’t publishers FORCE  writers into series because they make a fortune? 

The short answer is the same: it depends on you. On your story. A series isn’t an automatic path to glory or financial stability. Contrary to popular belief, books #2…3…4…and so on…typically do not make as much money as book #1. Stores see your numbers go down and order less. Your publisher sees your numbers go down and frets. You see your…you get the drift. While yes, some series trot along making a decent wage for all concerned, many do not. And while it’s wonderful to see a row of titles on a store, if one is missing? 

The rest won’t sell as well. Or at all.

We could tuck “unlikely to make more money” into the “bad” consequence category, but I won’t. There’s this to say about writing a sequel. You’ve done—one hopes—the heavy lifting. You’ve settings, plot arcs, and characters. The next book should therefore take less time and effort, freeing you to write more books. If you do, you please your publisher and make more loot in a shorter time.

Another good consequence? You build a readership, because there’s nothing sf/f fans love more than more of what they love. (Which makes the decline in number of books sold along a series something of a conundrum, I know, but it happens. Often.) Booksellers rely on devoted readers. Publicity departments love them. As do authors.

Until you write something totally new and, “bad” consequence, suddenly the same readers complain. Loudly. It’s terrifying the first few times, believe me. You feel your career is about to end. Then you notice the pattern. While they mourn the loss—however temporary—of their next installment in a series? Lo and behold, they LOVE the new thing.

Only to complain when you switch to something else again. It’s a smidge frustrating, but overall, I’ve come to enjoy the breathless “will they follow me?” moments of dread. (The scotch might help.)

Do you need a plan to write a series?

Maybe. How’s that? Let’s say there are consequences—an echo in the room!—either way. 

Consider my first series. I wrote A Thousand Words for Stranger and sent it out in the world. No plan whatsoever to continue with a series. In fact, before Thousand found her home at DAW Books, I’d jumped gleefully into Beholder’s Eye and, oh yes, that was meant to be a series from the start. I’d titles. A theme: well-meaning Esen arrives in predicament only she can understand (being about weird biology), muddles through with her innate charm and some explosions (personal in nature and typically messy), but prevails in the end. Repeat. Esen Episodes. Boom and done. I’m on book #4 of those, because my editor/publisher also loves Esen Episodes. My planning? To this day, it consists of a file drawer of, you guessed it, weird biology.

Next, I’d thought to write a standalone. (And did slip one in there, In the Company of Others, a story for another blog.)

Meanwhile, Thousand came out, launching me into the unexpected: I’d readers. People wanted more.

Honestly, I could have ignored them, having so many different books in my head to write, but this thing happened when I wrote Beholder’s Eye. I liked it better. Much better. (Confession you may have heard before: I called my dear editor to suggest she publish it first or instead. She chuckled fondly and ignored me. Whew.) Why? Well, practice for one thing, but the big difference? I’d written directly to the core “what if?” of Esen’s story. I knew the hows and whys of my shapeshifting aliens, laying all that in front of readers. 

The good consequence? There’s not a word in that book I’d change. Or in any Esen that followed. In Thousand? Don’t get me wrong, I loved it and still do, but back then, the story I told was of the two main characters. I’d set up the “what if” of the Clan—then pushed it aside. No explanation of how or why. The characters were shown as heading into the sunset, leaving an entire species to fend for itself.

Bad consequence. Esen would be ashamed of me.

So I made a few wee notes on what might happen next—not a series, oh no, but another book. Ties of Power. At this point, my wise editor flabbergasted me by asking for a series title for the catalogue. (The Trade Pact Universe) How did she know? Sure enough, midway through writing Ties, I called to say I needed more room. How much?

Well, another book in the Trade Pact.

And, shortly after that, I asked for four more.

Yup, that’s how series pounce on you. To complete my little adventure story from Thousand properly, I finally had a plan: I’d write a two-book prequel (became three), and a two-book finale (became three—why did I ever think I wrote in pairs?). Nine books in sum. 

If I’d thought this all through before sending out Thousand—planned to commit a series with Sira and Morgan et al—it wouldn’t be the series it is now. I would likely have continued forward with them, filling in backstory in other ways. It could have worked, but at what cost? I’d probably have written those books in a row, pushing aside Esen (no!) and the standalone (no!) and even the fantasy (toads erupt in rebellion!).

Consequences multiply. Here, most importantly, I’d have started without a plan. I wouldn’t have conceptualized the series as it is, as separate chunks of time and space, as three trilogies (because I’d done the middle first) with unique elements and characters. I wouldn’t have created the Clan as a species from scratch, with their layered history, all of which matters—ALL of which shows up in the final book.

Because the other thing about my finally having a plan? The biggest part?
This series, this story I was telling, this “what if” that consumed me? Demanded resolution. An ending. 

(Esen, not so much.)

 The Takeaway

At this point in my career, you’d think I’d have perspective. Could look back and see what worked and what I'd do differently. Make better plans and, above all, to be able to offer you sage advice.

Nope. Sorry. Oh, I’ve perspective. As it happens, I spent three years going back through every word of the Clan Chronicles—to write that ending. I spent another year going back through every Esen Episode (having great fun) to be sure I haven’t lost any of her voice during the ::coughs:: decade or so since. I haven’t, by the way. 

Oh, and I started that new series: Night’s Edge. 

All of which informed me that a story is as long as a story needs to be. (Something my editor kept pointing out.) If it takes several books to tell—i.e. a series—that’s what it takes. (Okay, I have learned if that’s my plan that I should keep records of everything from names to lists of objects to help with sequels.) If it takes one, that’s fine too. I wrote A Turn of Light as a standalone, having no proof I could write fantasy at all, but also as a series starting point—by adding world details and backstory throughout--simply because I loved writing Marrowdell so much, I hoped to do more. And will.

(Toads rejoice!) 

The plan? More episodic, as each title is its own adventure, but the whole will have more continuing threads, because I did plan ahead. Five books (what can I say, you start somewhere).

If it takes one book? That’s what it takes. I’ve two new tales in the works I know will be singles—no matter what readers may want. How can I be so sure?

I’ve no idea. I just know. Which is the takeaway, my fellow scribes: trust your instincts. Only you can tell if your story is going to need more room—be a series--or be perfect in one.

----------END GUEST POST BY JULIE E. CZERNEDA------------

So the bottom line -- make sure the ongoing Character you first write about is a personality you want to spend time with.  

Read the books mentioned here -- then read this Guest Post again, and you will learn a lot (no matter how much you already know.)

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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