Sunday, May 30, 2010

Series Fatigue

When is it time for an author to end a popular fiction series? This topic has been written about previously at Susquehanna Writers, but I’d like to offer a fresh perspective given my personal experience in living through this decision.

Readers can become attached to characters such that they eagerly await the next release of their favorite series. To name a few, I always look forward to Victoria Thompson’s latest Gaslight Mystery and wonder if her characters Sarah and Frank will finally “get together” this time. Charlaine Harris recently released her 10th Sookie Stackhouse novel. I’m as eager to dive into this story as I was the previous 9. I just finished reading Maria V. Snyder’s Sea Glass and can’t wait to find out what happens next to Opal. In my opinion, what these authors share in common is an enjoyment for writing that carries through in the quality of their work.

What causes a reader to lose interest? I used to enjoy James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels, but recently these installments have disappointed me. With no disrespect to Mr. Patterson, an author I have a high regard for, his newer plots seem stale and recycled, his characters flat. An example of series fatigue. Is it possible that he no longer enjoys writing about Alex Cross?

My latest Perry County Mystery, Dancing Bear, released April 2010 is the 4th book in the series. See:

While outlining a possible 5th and 6th installment, I discovered that I no longer have the same enthusiasm for my characters. Although I still have several intriguing plot ideas, writing about the same cast of characters has lost its appeal. A sure sign that it’s either time to end the series, or at least I need to step away from it for a while. Some of my readers express disappointment over this decision, but it’s better to leave them hungry for more than it is to create a lackluster product. Fortunately, I’m under no contractual obligation to produce a certain volume of work. Wouldn’t it be awful if writing turned out to be just another obligation rather than something we love doing? To be fair to Mr. Patterson, maybe this is the position he finds himself in.

What next? The post-apocalyptic genre is one of my favorites. The appeal comes from speculating about what it would be like to live through a reboot of human civilization. My current project explores this possibility, and I’m having great fun with my new characters. I’ve rediscovered a joie de vivre in my writing and am confident that this new enthusiasm will eventually result in an exhilarating novel for my readers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blogmania is coming!

The Susquehanna Writers are participating in the September 15th Blogmania, so mark your calendars now! It's going to be a manic day of fun. Each participating blog will offer giveaways of at least $100 in value.

Blogmania is an international event, so understand that there will be some differences in time zones, allowing you to access some blogs early and others late.

Each blog will have their own giveaway requirements. Read them carefully, follow through, and then move on as quickly as possible. If you run across a blog that you really like and want to spend some time exploring, be sure to copy their URL and then visit them after Blogmania is over.

Each blog will post their number to help you keep track of which blogs you’ve visited, and which ones you still can visit. You may want to prepare a blog sheet numbered from 1 – 123, then mark off each numbered blog as you visit. All blog links provided will also have a number like: Blog 89 of 100. Look for the blogs that you haven’t yet visited and follow those links.

Blogs of all types are participating in Blogmania, which means that the range of items in their giveaways are diverse and awesome! You won't want to miss it!

Stay tuned for more details as The Susquehanna Writers prepare their giveaway!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's Here!

Yes, the day has finally come. Today I received the first copies of Shadow's Son just as they will shortly appear in bookstores all across the country. It's impossible to describe the feeling. I thank all those who have been involved in this project, beginning and ending with my lovely wife, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pennwriter Conference

Hi Everyone:
The Pennwriters Conference was terrific this year. One of the best workshops, Social Marketing, was taught by Agent Janet Reid. She is a big fan of Twitter and Blogging. She emphasized that in blogging, it's not about you. It's about getting other people to follow you because your blog is interesting and fun.
She suggests talking about books you're read or conferences you've attended. Let others join in on the conversation and learn new things. We need to develop links to other blogs.
I was thinking maybe we could do Blog interviews with people like Catherine Lawrence from the Midtown, and Debbie Beamer from the Mechanicsburg Mystery Book Shop. Get their perspective on what's going on in publishing. Maybe there are other folks we could bring in.
Susan Gourley and I talked about it and agreed we both need to get more involved.
So let's talk about it and figure where we want to go and develop a schedule.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Christy Award Finalists Announced

It's always exciting to see a name you know on a finalist list for a big award. And I was thrilled to see my friend Jill Williamson's name on the Christy award list. Jill's first book, By Darkness Hid, has been getting lots of great press.

Here's a quote from one review:

"This thoroughly entertaining and smart tale will appeal to fans of Donita K. Paul and J.R.R. Tolkien. Highly recommended for CF and fantasy collections." --Library Journal

If you aren't familiar with the Christy award, here's what the website says about it:

The Christy Award is designed to:
  • Nurture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from a Christian worldview.
  • Bring a new awareness of the breadth and depth of fiction choices available, helping to broaden the readership.
  • Provide opportunity to recognize novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status.
And now, for the terrific lineup:

–Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills • Tyndale House Publishers
–How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
–Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus • Barbour Publishing

–Who Do I Talk To? by Neta Jackson • Thomas Nelson
–The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth • Zondervan

–June Bug by Chris Fabry • Tyndale House Publishers
The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson • Thomas Nelson
Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle • Tyndale House Publishers

The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry • Moody Publishers
–Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent • Tyndale House Publishers
Scared by Tom Davis • David C. Cook

–A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
–Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
–The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey • Revell Books: a Division of Baker Publishing Group

Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
–The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander • Thomas Nelson
–The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group

–Intervention by Terri Blackstock • Zondervan
–Lost Mission by Athol Dickson • Howard Books: a Division of Simon & Schuster
–The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

–By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson • Marcher Lord Press (Yay! Whoo!) :-)
–The Enclave by Karen Hancock • Bethany House Publishers: a Division of Baker Publishing Group
Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik • Tyndale House Publishers

–Beautiful by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma • Thomas Nelson
–The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason • David C. Cook
North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Winners will be announced on June 26.

I was lucky enough to be in New Orleans the night By Darkness Hid took the 2010 Eppie, but I won't be in St. Louis on June 26 to see the Christy winners announced. Instead, I'll be at ALA in Washington, DC. But I'll be able to check it out via:

2010 Award Ceremony Liveblog

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Here there and everywhere

And the official blog tour hasn’t even begun! If you want to know where I’d be if wishes were horses, pop over to the Midnight Seductions blog.

The wonderful Mariposa Cruz interviewed me today – find out where I get my inspiration (or, more accurately, where I don’t)

Over the next month and a half, I'll be touring more than 20 blogs on my first blog tour to celebrate the recent release of my contemporary novel, Fever Dreams, and the upcoming release of my historical novel, Angels Sinners and Madmen, set in 1850s Key West (July 2010), plus a short contemporary from Eternal Press, Winning. Check out the schedule on my web site. Hope you can visit a few.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Do you know how to save the cat?

I have long wanted this writers' how-to book, but already have so many writing books, my shelf is seriously packed full. But now YouTube and Blake Snyder's site are there to provide instant gratification for those like me who need it.

Save the Cat is a great method of redeeming a slightly tarnished hero. I love those kind, don’t you? They may do things you don’t agree with, that aren’t necessarily considered nice, but then they’ll show themselves to be nice guys at heart. The kind you can trust -- in fact, the kind you’d trust your life to.

YouTube to the rescue! Here are Save the Cat examples:

Great example of a Save the Cat example with Clint Eastwood in Hang ‘em High:

I recently watched Strange Days for the first time, and was able to spot the Save the Cat moments in that flick. If you've never watched it, it's a great speculative fiction movie written by James Cameron and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Ralph Fiennes is at his best, and Angela Bassett's amazing too.

Here’s an interview with Blake Snyder, author of Save the Cat:

And another:

Last weekend, I caught part of 3:10 to Yuma, and was again struck by the complexity of the characters, and I mean all of them, from the hero (who had reason to be bitter, but took out his bitterness on the villain at one point for no just cause) to the villain (who had endearing qualities) to the hero's wife (who loved her husband, but was frustrated because he closed her off, and was attracted to the villain), right down to the hero's son (who went through a transformation at the end to finally respect his father). Wow. But the most amazing moment of the movie came at the end - yup, the Save the Cat moment. The villain's gang rescued him, but instead of escaping with this gang of amoral men (who truly had no redeeming qualities), the villain chose not to, in a spectacular way that made me cry out, "No way!" Really. (My husband laughed.) But the plot twist was brilliant, and was not only a Save the Cat moment, but a moment of redemption for the villain. I love the theme of redemption. And best of all, he redeemed himself of his own free will, rather than waiting for forgiveness from someone else, showing great integrity.

So I'd love to hear from you -- do you have a favorite Save the Cat moment?

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.