My Two-Novel Autumn Plan

The time is here, the time is now. That’s where my thinking is these days while I try to not let the moment become too big. I’m about to write two novels back to back, Riparia’s Bk4 (Aramon Daughters) and Bk5 (A Glorious Past Reimagined). More importantly, I’m about to end a series. That, in turn, will catapult me into another stage in my writing and, hopefully sooner than later, publication.

Cover: CA Hawthorne

Okay, what’ve I been up to since I began publishing the Top Five Writing Moments series?

  • August was dominated by Anthology I – The Techsquanmic Age. I drafted a new short story to open the anthology and a novella to end it.
  • In early September, I drafted preliminary outlines for Bks 4&5 in Riparia’s series.
  • Returning to the anthology, I edited all the stories, lavishing more time on the two new ones.
  • I drafted the novella, Trellis House, which takes place in the Riparia timeline between Bk3 & Bk4, though she’s hardly in it.
  • Leaping back to Riparia’s Bk1, I completed what I’m calling my romance edit, a targeted edit encompassing less than 20% of the novel. It’s the oldest story and the romance was lacking. Not anymore!

There were a lot of smaller tasks in the above, like making working covers for Bk4 and Bk5, but the list is the highlights. The rest of the way, and maybe a little into 2022, my focus is on drafting those last two books.

The definition of insanity, besides drafting two novels together, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That was what was happening with the preliminary outlines for those two books. I was struggling to find the opening for Bk4, Aramon Daughters. The solution was Trellis House, a novella centered around Tryn, a supporting character in Bk3.

The smaller story centered me as Trellis House became a bridge between novels. Since drafting it, I’ve made my way through half of Bk4’s final narrative outline. Why, though, draft the two books together?

  • It’s time. That’s the simplest answer. There are minor elements of the series that stretch back to 2000. I’m serious. Even the first Riparia novel was drafted in 2016. I dearly love this series and all the characters in it, but it’s time to make efforts to set them free while knowing they’ll forever be with me.
  • Because I can. Knowing that I’m capable of doing it is making all the difference. Last year, for instance, I drafted a novel in November and then turned around and drafted 100k words of novellas in December.
  • I have always thought of them together. This is the one I can’t really explain. It began at some point after drafting Bk3. Each time I’d think about the last two books it was always as a pair.
  • Emotionally, it’s better to do it this way. This has to do with tone and the series’ structure. Let me go into this in a little more depth…

I’m assuming anyone reading this post is familiar with story structure and has seen a diagram that shows it. What can be confusing is that there are umpteen names for many of the points along the line. That’s why, back when I was learning structure, I made a diagram I found more visually appealing, provided more information, and spoke to my storytelling preferences a bit more.

Diagram: CA Hawthorne

Even though each novel follows proper structure, each one is also a part of the series’ structure. Maybe that sounds complex, but it isn’t. I’ve made a simple diagram that shows what I’m talking about. Bk4 engulfs the 3rd Plot Point, which is a low point for the series’ protagonist.

While the novel isn’t endless chapters of doom and gloom, of the five novels it’s certainly the most creepy and unsettling. That was part of the dilemma that held up Bk4 for two years. How was I to write an installment that fulfilled the requirements of the 3rd Plot Point while leaving the reader with a satisfying reading experience?

Cover: CA Hawthorne

Looking back, and having solved the issue, it’s now difficult for me to see why I was stumped. Regardless of my solution, I’m aware that I tend to absorb the emotions of any book I write. That’s probably because I spend upwards of a month wrapping myself in each novel’s prevailing emotions while listening to music that sets that mood.

So, at present, I’m most of the way through the Bk4 narrative, which is broken down by chapters. It contains notes outside the plot and snippets of dialogue in places. If inspiration strikes, I write it down. I’m also making a short list of other tasks that must be done by November. Mostly I need to make rough maps of a few locations, like Sa’kotos.

I’m nervous, but oh so excited. I believe in both books and already know Aramon Daughters and A Glorious Past Reimagined will be worthwhile additions to the series.

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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