Weighing the Reader’s Ideal Experience

One problem with my weekly blogs is you all witness my decisions in real time, good and bad. Then again, it’s an honest glimpse into my writing and publishing journey. It has to be honest, why else would I sometimes share some really dumb stuff?

So, in keeping with honesty, today I’m going to briefly mention a method update, then tackle two reversed decisions.

Stressing the method

Again, I’m declaring my targeted editing on Pneuma Key a resounding success. It catapulted the novel far beyond any other self-editing I’ve performed. Eventually, I’ll examine novel segments (closely linked chapter clusters) to verify I haven’t caused any confusion. I also want to confirm any magic is sufficiently explained. I sometimes take my knowledge for granted.

While performing the targeted edit, I decided which chapters belonged in which segments. Better to do so now while the material is fresh.

The targeted editing came at a price, at least the first time around. It required two months when I can otherwise perform a casual edit in 7-10 days. I believe I’ll become quicker. Too, the process has better trained my editor brain.

First decision

Since I share (most) everything, I’ll share this embarrassing tidbit. I’m changing the title for Pneuma Key. In 2019, I was so enamored of the title I paired with the picture for my NaNo cover I overlooked that it’s, to a degree, a spoiler.

Case of the Deadly Stroll mood board. ©2022 CA_Hawthorne

Case of the Deadly Stroll mood board. ©2022 CA_Hawthorne

It’s possible the new title will begin with Case of…(something). Sound familiar? As in Case of the Deadly Stroll, Talma’s novel? That’s because the novels are linked. Thus, I’m considering running with an occasional, loosely-connected women’s fiction fantasy series wrapped around mysteries. I’ve those two books already written. Maybe three? I’ve drafted, Following the Essence Stone (more on it in the next section), though, it isn’t directly connected to the other two.

Still, though, the possibilities…

None of this applies to Stealing Light. It functions as its own series because it revolves around Thornwillow School for the Gifted on Cape Caprice.

Second decision

I’d like to blame this one on someone else, but there’s just me here. I’m reversing an idea I floated last March where I considered publishing the Pannulus novels first. My shortsighted reasoning was the first book was farther along the editing road than the last two books in the Kovenlore Chronicles series.

It’s an example of what happens when making a decision while bouncing back from an anxiety episode. My consolation is I stated at the time there was a chance I’d change my mind.

My reasoning at the time, as far as it went, was sound. The problem was, I ignored all evidence to the contrary, beginning with Following the Essence Stone. It was written (partly) to transition the reader from Carrdia to Pannulus.

Ontyre Story Universe

Ontyre Story Universe, March 2022. ©CA Hawthorne

My own diagram even clearly shows the link! Duh.

*I’m well aware readers can read my books in any order they desire. I’m talking about the order that creates the ideal experience. My priority is always the reader when it comes to presentation.

So, what’s that link look like?

That’s a spoiler, but I can provide a vague glimpse. Like the diagram shows, the link begins in Book1, Trust in the Forgotten. Early in the novel, an old mystery is alluded to. I’ll call it Mystery1.

In equally cryptic terms, a related mystery, which I’ll call Mystery2 (how original), is mentioned in Book2, A River in Each Hand. Also in that book, a few more details concerning Mystery1 are noted.

In Book4, Buried Remembrances, Mystery1 is again raised.

In Book6, Aramon Daughters, a different Pannulus link is created. I’m currently writing the revision map for that novel. A late chapter I already knew was troubled, I scrapped. The original had two characters experience a brief, but extraordinary, event together. The new chapter ties to Pannulus. When the idea came I screamed in delight, especially because I couldn’t poke holes in the idea during a long walk.

So, you see, I’ve been planting crumbs since the beginning, though I may add more for Mystery2.

Thus, the correct order would be:

  1. The entire Kovenlore Chronicles series
  2. Essence Stone serving as the bridge
  3. Maybe AnthologyI since it doubles as Pannulus background
  4. The mystery series would then continue (or begin)
  5. The Thornwillow Tales would appear simultaneously with the mysteries

At present

As mentioned earlier, I’ll confirm I’m providing sufficient magic knowledge in each novel. When drafting the early Carrdia novels I was more diligent, but became lax later. Too, it enables each book to work as a standalone if necessary.

Kovenlore Chronicles Series

Diagram: CA Hawthorne

I’m feeling more confident about the Kovenlore Chronicles these days given the revision maps for the last two books are in progress (while also performing a light edit). I’ve passed the 3rd Plot Point in Aramon Daughters while, simultaneously, making notes that’ll remedy the issues in the last book, Wrath of Purpose.

Oh how I’m excited for Wrath of Purpose to come into its own.

I’d not touched either book since drafting them last year. The replaced chapter aside, I’m pleasantly surprised with Book6. Book7 will be another matter, but that’s okay, I already have a plan.


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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