Tuesday, October 27, 2015


1.       Let your characters determine the new plot. Characters—rather than the plot of the original book—are largely what will make your readers want to pick up the sequel. (Which is yet another reason why you should think about creating likable characters to begin with—if readers enjoyed hanging out with your protagonist, they’ll be more likely to pick up book #2.)

In order to plot PLAY IT AGAIN, the sequel to PLAYING HURT, I started with the same general scenario I’d wanted to tackle since PLAYING HURT released: What if Chelsea and Clint weren’t able to meet up again for their second summer? What if several years passed before their paths crossed? In order to determine the course of events that would follow, I simply thought about who Chelsea and Clint were—what they’d already been through in the original book. I asked myself: How would the time apart affect them? How would they respond to seeing each other again? And then how would each of them respond to THAT? And suddenly, I was off and running. (To write a sequel, then, it also helps to be a bit of a pantser. To let your characters, instead of an outline, dictate what happens next.)

2.      Think about cover continuity. Visual similarities will allow your readers to quickly determine which of your books belong to a specific series or storyline. For PLAY IT AGAIN, I knew I wanted a guy-and-girl image (just like PLAYING HURT featured). I also used similar fonts and colors for the title, as well as a title that obviously played off the first—no pun intended. I also pulled out one of the most important symbols from the original novel: the waterfall. In fact, “waterfall” was the keyword I used in my search for a cover image. Using an important carry-over symbol from your original book can be a great place to start in your search for a cover; font and colors of the title easily fall into place after that.

3.      Get your readers out of your peripheral vision. Don’t worry about what your readers will think at every new turn. You can drive yourself crazy with second-guesses (it’s maybe the one aspect that makes writing a sequel harder than writing the original). Don’t try to imagine what your readers will think of every decision you make with this book. Write the book you want to write. Write the book your characters are asking you to write. The sequel will find its fan base, the same way your original book did.

      My original YA romance, PLAYING HURT:

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

My adult sequel, PLAY IT AGAIN:

 Four years ago, Chelsea and Clint had both seen their share of tragedy. Will their second chance at love end in triumph…or will it be yet another heartbreak?

Chelsea was a teenage small town celebrity—a basketball star with the promise of a free ride to college…until an accident on the court shattered her hip and her dreams. Clint was a high school Minnesota hockey player whose first love died in a car accident on the way to one of his pond tournaments; head no longer in the game, Clint was forced to hang up his skates.

On a family vacation to Minnesota, Chelsea met Clint, a fishing guide and personal trainer at her resort. Through their overwhelming, inexplicable, and undeniable whirlwind romance, they began to heal each other—to discover their own strength and resilience. Their summer together was short, but it bubbled over in intensity: stolen kisses, passionate meetings under starlit skies, lovemaking to the beat of a cascading waterfall. And it ended with the promise of a second summer.

Life got in the way, thwarting their plans. Now, four years later, the compass of Chelsea’s heart is pointing her back to Minnesota—toward the strongest love of her life. But can that original heat be reignited, or will old wounds snuff out any chance at rekindling their original passion?

Play It Again picks up as Chelsea’s and Clint’s paths cross again to explore issues of forgiveness and second chances, and to ask whether true, lasting adult love can grow from the fires of youthful passion.

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