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 Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a great start to your week.


Jaimie Ayres new YA paranormal, 18 DAYS, releases on January 27th. To celebrate her publisher,Curiosity Quills is running a contest where they post a thought daily from the book cover and ask people to share on social media. Then you can enter their contest for a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Here's a link to the contest:

And I have a winner to announce.

The winner of CITY OF SAVAGES is Maisha at Books Equal Awareness.

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can have your book sent to you. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I'm thrilled to have blogger friend and follower Dianne Salerni here with a guest post on how to write a sequel under contract. Whenever I think of having to do this, I get scared, so I found her advice very helpful. Hope you do too.

And there's a giveaway of THE INQUISITOR'S MARK which releases January 27th. This is a fantastic story. Dianne shares just enough backstory at the start of the book to remind us of things we may have forgotten without making it feel like an info dump. And I liked that we get to see Jax in a new setting with new characters. This is a real page turner. Details of the giveaway will be at the end of the post.

Here's a plot summary of THE INQUISITOR'S MARK from Amazon:

After the all-out Eighth Day war in Mexico, Jax, Riley, and Evangeline have gone into hiding. There are still rogue Transitioners and evil Kin lords who want to use Riley, a descendant of King Arthur, and Evangeline, a powerful wizard with bloodlines to Merlin, to get control over the Eighth Day.

So when Finn Ambrose, a mysterious stranger, contacts Jax claiming to be his uncle, Jax’s defenses go up—especially when Finn tells Jax that he’s holding Jax’s best friend, Billy, hostage. To rescue Billy and keep Riley and Evangeline out of the fray, Jax sneaks off to New York City on his own. But once there, he discovers a surprising truth: Finn is his uncle and Jax is closely related to the Dulacs—a notoriously corrupt and dangerous Transitioner clan who want Riley dead and Evangeline as their prisoner. And family or not, these people will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Now Here's Dianne.

Writing a Sequel Under Contract

In December of 2012, having recently signed a 3-book contract with HarperCollins for my manuscript,
The Eighth Day, I sat down at my computer to attempt – for the first time – writing a book that had been contracted and paid for, sight unseen.

A sequel.

People often ask me: Did I have other stories planned for this series when I wrote Book 1? The answer is yes, sort of, but because of the way this book deal went down, I discarded most of them. Originally, I wrote The Eighth Day as a YA urban fantasy, with my protagonist Jax Aubrey 15-years-old. However, when I submitted the story to my agent, she felt very strongly that the premise and story would work better for MG readers. And as soon as she said it, I knew it was true. I think, in my heart, I knew all along.
So, in a quick round of revisions, I reduced Jax’s age to 13, adjusted his voice, removed darker elements that weren’t appropriate for MG, and before I had to time to recover from that, HarperCollins bought the book in a pre-empt deal and wanted to talk about revisions to Book 1 and sequels!

I was a little nervous taking my first phone call with the head editor at Harper Childrens, but she quickly put me at ease. One of my biggest worries – did I have to change the age of the other two main characters, Riley and Evangeline – was immediately laid to rest. Riley, Jax’s guardian, would remain 18, and Evangeline, the mysterious girl next door, would remain 16. The editor called them “aspirational characters,” and I do believe she was right. Feedback from MG readers of The Eighth Day suggests that kids really like Jax, but they want to be Riley.

However, the editor also encouraged me to shift the focus in later books toward the MG characters. Not that Riley and Evangeline couldn’t be in the books (they are!), but the MG characters needed a more active role. This meant throwing out some of my earlier ideas in favor of making sure the main plot-movers were Jax, his friend Billy Ramirez, Tegan and Thomas Donovan, and Evangeline’s younger sister (whose whereabouts are currently unknown). I couldn’t rely on the older teens to lead all the action.

Staring at the blank first page for Book 2, I considered my options. I knew who the villains of this book would be: the corrupt and deadly Dulacs who were mentioned in The Eighth Day but never made an appearance in that book. But what would the story be?

It was another brainstorming session by telephone that pushed me in the right direction – a conference call between me, my editor, and her assistant. Her assistant was the one who casually mentioned, “I’d love to learn more about Jax’s deceased father. He’s a bit of a mystery.”

And there it was. I already knew the villains. Suddenly I knew how they were connected to Jax. From that point, the plot outline practically wrote itself. There were a few changes along the way; my first drafts always divert from my outlines and some of the best parts of The Inquisitor’s Mark were never part of the original plan. But it all came down to this:

Family ties can be deadly.

You can find Dianne at her Website, her Blog, and on Twitter.

Dianne generously offered an ARC of THE INQUISITOR'S MARK for a giveaway.  To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through January 31st. I’ll announce the winner on February 2nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry.This is for for US and Canada.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. To find all the other bloggers Blog.
today, go to her

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have an interview with follower and blogger friend David Powers King and his co-author Michael Jensen and a giveaway of their fantastic YA fantasy WOVEN.

Next Friday I'll be participating in the Favorites Giveaway Hop. I'll have a lot of your and my favorite books to choose from and will also offer an Amazon Gift Card if you don't see a book you want.

The next Monday I'll have an interview with debut author MarcyKate Connolly and a giveaway of her MG fairy tale story MONSTROUS.

And the following Monday I'll have an interview with debut author Laurie McKay and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAST DRAGON CHARMER.

Hope to see you on Monday!


  1. Congratulations to Dianne! I love hearing how authors work out writing more books in a series. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think this might be where I won a copy of the first book (two, actually!). I certainly have the sequel on order already, and have students waiting for it eagerly.

  3. Thanks for hosting me here today, Natalie! It was fun to re-visit the process and track where the ideas came from.

  4. Dianne, thanks for sharing your process of changing from YA to MG, and about writing the sequel. I'm so happy for you when I see your book on shelves!

  5. Dianne is awesome, and I love the sound of these books. I'm just sad they're not audiobooks. I know. That's the dead horse I keep beating.

  6. I agree, Natalie, this is good advice! It is nice to meet Dianne and get her advice. Appreciate her insight on this; it is something I've thought and wondered about.

    I'll pass on the giveaway this time around. Although I am actually making headway on the TBR pile. There may be light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe. LOL Have a great week!

  7. I've never even wanted to do a trilogy... I think I'd be terrified if I were contracted to do one. That you got to brainstorm with the editor was a huge advantage. Congratulations!

  8. Very interesting post. Please let someone else win, though. I am so buried in books.

  9. Great interview! I think my students would go nuts over this story, in a good way :-) And thanks for sharing about my Amazon GC giveaway, Natalie!! <3

  10. thanks for a great post - but like others, my TBR basket is overflowing, so give me a pass on the giveaway.

  11. Glad the idea for the first sequel came so easily. I never planned on sequels for mine, so I was in a bit of a panic.
    Looking forward to its release, Diane!

  12. I loved hearing about your process, Dianne. So cool to get your book snatched up sight unseen. Also, wanted to mention that I loved your article the other day about pacing. Wonderful!

    Hi Natalie!

  13. This was great. I loved how the sequel grew out of something you had in book one and that your editor was intrigued by. Congrats, Dianne! This sounds like a great book!

  14. Having been privileged to read an advanced copy, I can attest to just how good The Inquisitors Mark is. I adore this whole saga.

  15. It's amazing how one change can lead to so many more and those sequels suddenly look very different! Can't wait to read this one!

  16. Loved reading this, how you were able to change the focus and come up with a sequel. Congratulations on your books.

  17. I have wondered if a major publisher picked me up and asked me to make major changes would I do it. And the answer is obviously yes. Going from YA to MG is a big shift but you have to trust the publisher they know what they're doing.

    Good luck to Diane and Jamie and may 2015 be the best year yet!

  18. Loved reading this! I love hearing about the collaborative telephone call and the one comment that sparked your creative juices :)

  19. I can only imagine the excitement and anxiety of having a sequel under contract with no need for submission. But it sounds like the process worked out. And as for the story, well, lets just say I look forward to sharing my review very soon :-)
    (no need to enter me in the contest)

  20. The Inquisitors Mark sounds like a goodread, i would like to read this book. Thank you email isisthe12th@gmail.com

  21. Writing a book already under contract is a little intimidating to me, too. Probably because I write slow and have young kids that often take over my writing time. Thanks for the insights and congrats on the books!

  22. Thanks for sharing the summary of your phone calls with your editor. I would be very nervous too. After all, writers are supposed to be good with words. Thanks for the giveaway--I enjoy series! I will tweet this contest to spread the word.

  23. This is a great behind-the-scenes account of what goes on with authors and editors. I don't know how I'd feel about writing more books under a contract. It seems like pressure, but can work out.

  24. This was an amazing post! I loved hearing from Dianne about her experience writing the second book in the series. I have the first book to read and I am getting to it very soon! I would love to read The Inquisitor's Mark. Thanks for the awesome giveaway! :)
    Google +d and tweeted

  25. Yay Dianne! I'm waiting for summer to start reading your series with my littles. They're going to love it! (And they won't be the only ones.)

  26. Writing a sequel to one of my books is giving me the jitters.
    Glad your sequel came out so well, Dianne. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your writing process with us.

  27. Congratulations Dianne! How exciting and scary to be looking at book two and and blank page knowing the story has to come. I'm glad you have a supportive editor and assistant to give you that little nudge. Sounds like you have a good team to work with and that's a gift for a writer.

    I'll be honest. I don't normally read books from this age group (or even YA) and it's not first choice for reading material, but the story sounds good. I want to check out the first in the series.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  28. Congrats to Dianne! This sounds like a great book!

  29. This is really fantastic advice. I'm bookmarking this page if the days comes when I'm in a similar spot. Great post, Dianne! :)

  30. The art of a writer - shaping stories as they come. Congrats Dianne. I'll read your work for inspiration for a MG series.

  31. Awesome, Dianne! I'm glad everything turned out the way you wanted for this book. I can't wait to read it!

  32. Interesting to learn of the process 'under contract'. Congrats to Diane.

  33. Exciting books, I'm sure. Congratulations to the authors.

  34. I always appreciate good Middle Grade ideas, sometimes it can be hard to discover on your own. Thanks!

  35. Dianne is awesome! I read THE EIGHTH DAY and I adored it! I can't wait to read her next one. The behind-the-scenes of sequel writing was so interesting. Have a wonderful weekend, Natalie!

  36. I'm still trying to decide if the MC in one of my stories should be MG or YA. Probably somewhere in between, but that's not really an option. And since the style of the story kind of depends upon the age of the character, I'm having a difficult time writing it. Thanks for the insights, Diane.

  37. Hi Natalie! I hope your Christmas/New Year went well, knowing it must have had its difficult moments.
    I found the article on writing sequels fascinating. How lovely to have all that input from the professionals!
    Looking forward to David Powers King's spotlight on Monday.

    Denise :-)

  38. This would be amazing to win! Thank you for the chance!
    heatheranne99 at gmail dot com

  39. Writing a sequel already contracted sounds daunting! Well done!

  40. Oh! Soo excited to see this giveaway! I'm already planning on picking up the book, but a signed copy would be totally squee-worthy!

    Great interview, too. I've watched a couple of writing friends face down the first sequel-under-contract and think the process sounds terrifying. Great insights here to make it all less frightening!


  41. I think knowing I HAD to write a certain book might be paralyzing for me, so it was very interesting reading how Dianne worked her way through it. Thanks for sharing!