Category: The System Series

Writing the Final Book in a Series

When I write, I definitely have my readers in mind. Yes, I have a story to tell, and yes, I want the finished book to be a book I’d like to read myself, but if readers aren’t satisfied, I haven’t done my job.

So I’ve got Systems Go, the final book in the System Series, written. I’m happy with it. But something is niggling at  me. Something is preventing me from hitting that Publish! button.

And I think it’s the fact that this is it. The final book. It has to exceed expectations, wrap every loose end up, and leave the reader feeling like the time they invested in the series was well spent. Duh. But there’s a lot of pressure associated with that. I don’t want to screw it up.

One of the things I’ve done that I’m unsure about is using multiple point-of-view characters. I use this technique is a few of my other books (The Go-Between, The Princess, Breaking the Surface), so I’m confident I can pull it off, but readers of the System Series aren’t used to it. There’s a certain amount of work involved when you’re reading – you have to pay attention to the POV switch. BUT, I also know from my fans that other POVs would be welcome – Thomas can’t be everywhere, and he can’t know what’s going on with everyone else all the time. Since this series has always been about the characters, I need multiple POVs to give you everyone’s story.

I’m going to spend another week tightening everything up. And then I’ll let the story fly. I’m praying it won’t be too much of a departure, and that you enjoy getting to know more of the characters intimately. That’s all I can do. Happy November, everyone!

Should I spell it out?

SPOILER ALERT: I’m about to reveal the endings to two of my books – High Maintenance and Honor System. If you haven’t read them – DO NOT READ THIS POST!

I have a pet peeve with books that spell things out. As a reader, I don’t like being talked down to. If the author gives hints or even significant details leading up to something, I want him to trust me that I’ve picked up on these things.

With that in mind…as a writer, I sometimes forget that I’ve lived with my characters a long time, and the story’s been building in my head for ages, and I make the mistake of assuming that my readers are right there with me.

Case in point: the ending to High Maintenance.

It jumps ten years ahead (the title of the last chapter is EVER AFTER, and I mention that Ryan thinks about his accident from ten years ago). Cat, the daughter of Andy and Karen, is coughing and wakes up with night sweats. Ryan comes into her bedroom and comforts her. I also mention that there’s a child who looks like Carly in bed with Ryan and Carly.

So what the heck is happening? Cat is HIV positive (hence the coughs and sweats). Andy and Karen have passed away from AIDS, or at least can no longer care for Cat, so Cat’s living with Ryan and Carly. Ryan and Carly are together (we can presume married), and have a daughter of their own.

I didn’t want to spell it out, because I didn’t want my readers to think I considered them too simple to get it, but now that I have some distance from the book, I realize I should have been clearer. Damn it.

I made the same mistake in Honor System.

At the end, Nicole Calyx has basically taken Emmaleth hostage in order to become a Dweller. Emmaleth’s brother Free, who we know has the power to hurt someone, stands at the locked door and concentrates. Then he collapses. Em screams, and we find out Nicole has had the predicted aneurysm and is dead.

So what happened? Free killed her. I don’t believe Free killed her on purpose, but he certainly wanted to stop Nicole from hurting Em.

So tell me: did you understand what happened? Did you get that Free gave her the stroke? I’d really love your feedback, because the last thing I want is for my books to be unclear.


Systems Go Cover Reveal

I’m super excited about the cover for Systems Go, the final book in The System Series. My talented designer, Jason Walsh, captured exactly what I was looking for.

And don’t worry – it’s not space opera! (I love a good space opera, but that’s not what the series is.) I did go a bit off the rails with this book – more romance, for sure. But this cover hints at what’s coming in the future, not what actually happens in this book. It’s a risk…but all the covers in this series have been a risk. Hope you like!

Systems Go Cover

The System Series Book 5…Systems Go

I got my site all spiffied up, and then I published Honor System, and I thought I’d have tons of time to start blogging again.

Instead, I got caught up writing Book 5 of The System Series, and the title is Systems Go.

I’ve written before about how I’ve had a tough time writing this series. I didn’t intend for it to be a series at all, and I’ve been winging it since book 3, Operating System. I had a vague idea about THE END, but I couldn’t see my way there.

Two weeks ago, I sat down to blog, and Emmaleth popped into my head. She was begging to be with Fifteen, one of the Dweller babies grown in the lab. In Honor System, she and Fifteen share a moment where they both want to explore space. I knew I had to reunite them (ha! I didn’t even realize they were apart!) and get them there.

I starting writing and the story spilled out. One of the reasons, I think, is that Systems Go is a return to my romance roots. When I care about my characters, and there’s an opportunity to get two of them together…I can’t stop writing. I have to see how the relationship develops. I have to get to the happily ever after.

If you’re familiar with my books, then I haven’t spoiled anything for you. Love always wins. It might not be pretty, it might not be the way we expect, but I want my readers to walk away with a smile and a warm heart and a little bit of hope.

So if you like your books heavy on the romance, and I lost you in the System Series because of it…email me. I will give you ebooks of Operating System and Honor System for free so you can catch up. ‘Cause you better believe you’re gonna want to know how this whole thing ends!

New Website – Finally!

After numerous iterations and sweat and hair-pulling, here it is. Gah, the torture.

I took the summer off from blogging, and yes, I was busy, but I think I was also throwing a bit of a tantrum. I liked my old Weebly site. It was easy, so friggin’ easy. And WordPress just isn’t.

But I’ve decided to remove my thumb from my mouth and get on with it. The boys return to school tomorrow, and I have no more excuses. I will conquer WordPress or die trying!

Thanks for hanging with me on this.

Next up, The System Series Book 4, Honor System. We’re nearing the end of the series, as I have one final book planned to be released around the holidays. If you’ve read the series, you know that book one starts when Thomas is six years old, and then book two jumps ten years to when Thomas is sixteen. The final book five will take another leap, this one far into the future. Will it be dystopian or utopian? Any guesses?