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Surviving a Sequel in a Series by Debut Author Kaylie Smith and A Ruinous Fate Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday and Happy Holidays Everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season. Today I’m excited to have debut author Kaylie Smith here to share about her YA fantasy A Ruinous Fate. It sounds like a real page turner with great world building that makes me excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Fate does not choose the weak. Fate chooses the ready.

Calliope Rosewood is a witch with a long streak of bad luck. Like all witches in Illustros, her fate is directly tied to Witch’s Dice—powerful artifacts that have blessed her kind with limitless magic but also set them on a path toward destruction. Cursed with unspeakable powers that terrify even the most dangerous witches and fae, Calla deserted her coven four years ago and has been in hiding with her two best friends since. But Calla is also hiding a grave secret: She is only three Rolls away from becoming the last Blood Warrior and starting the Final War that will decimate her people and eradicate their magic.

After a betrayal from her ex leads her one step closer to fulfilling that age-old prophecy, Calla is desperate to do whatever it takes to reset her fate . . . even if that means journeying into the deadly Neverending Forest with said ex and his enticing, yet enigmatic older brother to find the one being who can help her forge her own path. As Calla ventures farther into the enchanted woods, she finds her heart torn between her past desires and the alluring new possibilities of her future and learns that choosing your own destiny may come with deadly consequences.

Featuring a charming and chaotic ensemble cast of characters, this first book in a planned series by debut author Kaylie Smith will sweep readers away with its utterly immersive world building, swoon-worthy romance, and action-packed storytelling.

Before I get to Kalie’s guest post, I have my IWSG Post.

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts this month with me are Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, and T. Powell Coltrin!

Optional Question: Do you have a word for the year? Why?

I’d never thought of having a word for the year. But it’s a great idea. My word for 2023 would be hope. Here’s what I have hope for:

·       Hope for happy new beginnings in my life

·       Hope for a year with less work and volunteering so I can focus my energy on what really brings meaning to my life

·       Hope for wonderful experiences with my daughter as we get ready for and enjoy her wedding

·       Hope that I will finish my final revisions to this manuscript

What’s your word for the day?

Now here's Kaylie! 

The Second Book Curse: My Advice for Surviving Sequels in a Series

By Kaylie Smith

 I’m currently working in my office, the only light in my house during this late witching-hour is from the glow of my laptop screen. I just finished the last round of developmental edits for the follow up to my debut fantasy novel, A Ruinous Fate, after five grueling weeks of pouring over these words until they all began to blur together. It is finally my turn to learn the lesson I’ve been warned about from so many writers who have come before me—sequels are difficult.

            Over the process of crafting the sophomore book in this series I feel like I’ve finally begun to scratch the surface and pinpoint exactly why sequels are so hard to write. Is it the pressure of following up the first book with something better? Is it that the first book has left me creatively drained? Is it that this book is just filler to a more exciting later installment of the series? Truthfully, it’s the fear that it’s a little bit of all of that. It really took deciding to ignore the heavy imposter syndrome that weaseled its way into my mind after finishing book one to come up with a process that worked to overcome my fear of the second book curse. Now, I’m going to share a snapshot of my process with you, though I urge you to remember what worked for me may not work for everyone and my motto as a writer and author is forever: there is no wrong way to write a book!                                                         

How I write sequels:

1. Map out how your characters are different from book one and what their new goals are—both emotionally and in relation to the plot.

Your characters are most likely very different people from who they were at the beginning of your first book, which is why sequels can be so hard to navigate. Their motivations need to change according to the new situations the plot has dragged them into, but they still need to act in-character so your audience can recognize the heroes and heroines (and even villains) they’ve come to know and love. A way I like to do this is making sure each character’s mannerisms and voice stay consistent and grounded even when their emotional states and relationships shift.

2. Make sure the plot of your sequel is accomplishing a main task or goal that is unique to this particular book.

I found it really helped to make sure I wasn’t writing filler by asking myself if the characters’ arcs throughout book two advanced them to a new place of growth the same way book one did and if something in the plot was accomplished that would lead them closer to the final solution of the overarching goal of the series. Making sure my sequel isn’t just a bridge for them to walk across unscathed to get to the action of the next installment is what led to certain plot decisions I hadn’t originally intended, but definitely made the book, and therefore the overall series, better as a whole. Always thinking of a series as having one major overall goal and each installment having different individual ones that build upon each other to create the Final Solution has helped me outline my series immensely.

3. Expand the world-building and build up from the foundation you’ve already laid down.

I found what really helped me get through my second book creatively was exploring more places in the world I had begun to build in book one. Not only the physical places and settings, but the magic system and beings that lived within the book as well. It’s so hard to include every little detail in a first book when you have fewer pages and word counts to work with, not to mention making sure you keep the pace up enough that the reader doesn’t get too board or overloaded with information. Sequels are where you can start to include all the little facts that make the world unique and interesting that you didn’t necessarily have room for before.

4. Advance your character’s relationships and resist the urge to include fan service.

A big part of the reason I choose not to read reviews (aside from the millions of other reasons) is because I want to make sure I tell the story most authentic to the characters and not get influenced with what the readers think they may want. This doesn’t just apply to romance either! As an avid reader myself I can’t tell you how many times I wished an author would’ve just ‘let go’ of a character or two that I loathed. In the end, however, you have to follow your gut, not to mention so many different readers will have completely opposite opinions and you cannot possibly please everyone so you might as well please yourself! As for advancing your character’s relationships—relationships are messy and the bonds between two people are constantly ebbing and flowing. Making sure my characters aren’t trapped in the same cycles with other characters, but are constantly growing and morphing, in goods ways and bad, is always my goal. I want to make sure the relationships in my second books are building on where they ended in the first book and the characters are constantly asking themselves if the people they’re surrounding themselves with are who they want to be around and that they aren’t just there because the plot is forcing them to be, or because they have no other options.

Above all, these four tasks are what really pushed me to write the best possible story for my characters and their journeys. Whether readers will respond the same way to the sequel as they did the first book or agree with all of my choices is out of my hands. The satisfaction I’ve gotten from writing a book I’m proud of and the excitement I feel to share the next part of this series, however, is firmly in my grasp.

You can find me on social media as @kaylsmoon (Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok are my favorite) or on my website at kayliesmithbooks.com!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kaylie.

Giveaway Details

Kaylie has generously offered an ARC of A Ruinous Fate for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by January 21st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter or Kaylie on her social media sites, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This ARC giveaway is U.S.

Upcoming Interviews and Guest Posts

Monday, January 9 I have an interview with debut author Tamika Burgess and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Sincerely Sicily

Monday, January 16 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kortney Price and a query critique giveaway and am participating in the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop

Monday, January 23 I have an interview with debut author Megan Reyes and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Heroes of Havensong

Wednesday, February 1 I have an agent/debut author guest post with Claire Friedman and M.K. Lobb and a giveaway of M.K.’s YA fantasy/mystery Seven Faceless Saints

Monday, February 6 I have an agent spotlight interview with Lori Steel and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!




Debs Carey said...

Natalie, may your first experience with having a word of the year be as effective as my first year. I love your word and you've made it especially powerful by articulating - in some detail - what it is you hope for, so it has every chance of being achieved. I hope 2023 brings you all your desire.

Debs posting today from Fiction Can Be Fun
Also found at Debs Despatches

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

The book sounds awesome -- added it to my TBR!
"Hope" is a good word for the year :-)

Ronel visiting for IWSG day An Author’s Goals for 2023

Karen Baldwin said...

Love the advice on sequels. My hope is that I'm asked to write a sequel for my book. I am taking notes on how to do it. And...thanks always for your upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts.

Michelle Wallace said...

Hi Natalie!

Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG blog hop today.
HOPE is a powerful word. Good choice.

All the best to you and your daughter as you prepare for the BIG day! Exciting times ahead!

Liza said...

Happy New Year, Natalie. Here's "hoping" your New Year hopes come true, and wishing the best for your daughter.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Kaylie, good outline on how to approach a sequel. Been through that a few times myself.
Hope is an excellent word, Natalie. Thanks for co-hosting today!

Melissa said...

Yes! Focusing on what really matters. That's a big part of it for me, too. Also work/life balance. And a wedding! Congratulations! Thanks for co-hosting!

Ugh. Sequels. They stress me, too. It's why I write companion novels...way less overlap and less chance of not remaining true to my canon. If I were to write true sequels, I would have to get them all written before I published a single one, so I could go back and make changes if needed. Domino effect and all that. Best of luck!

J Lenni Dorner said...

Hope is important to have, and painful to lose.
"Without having a goal, it's difficult to score." Paul Arden
I hope 2023 will become everything you need it to be.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

That's a great word for the year! Wishing you all the best! :)

J.Q. Rose said...

I have never tried writing a sequel to one of my novels. This is a helpful approach on how to begin. Hooe is a great word. And oh how exciting to hear about your daughter's wedding!! Enjoy every minute of it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I hope it is a wonderful wedding day for your daughter. I've shot enough weddings to know it can be stressful and fall apart.

Nancy Gideon said...

Great word, Natalie. Hope always struck me as a passive word not an action word but in your description I can see it wielding a sword to get things done (in a nice way!). Hope and its pal, belief move mountains.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great word, Natalie. It has been my word a few times over the last 20 years. Now I have Faith, but I'm still liking your word. Thanks for co-hosting. Your efforts are appreciated. I enjoyed the interview and wish I could NOT read reviews. Haven't reached that level yet.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the tagline for Ruinous Fate!! So good.

Also love the word Hope! I hope all of those come true for you Natalie - and I think with your determination, they will! Wishing you all the very best for 2023!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hope is such a wonderful word Natalie, its full of amazing possibilities. Happy New Year.

Cathrina Constantine said...

You've chosen one of my favorite words ~ Hope!! A perfect word for the world we live in and for all of our lives! Wishing you much success in 2023! And thank you for co-hosting!!

A Hundred Quills said...

Hi Natalie. Thanks for co-hosting. I enjoyed Kaylie's outline on sequels. I'm recommending this to a friend who writes fantasy. Also, hope is such a beautiful word.

Cathrina Constantine said...

You've chosen one of my favorite words ~ Hope! A perfect word for the world and for each of us! Wishing you much success in 2023! And thank you for co-hosting!

Lynn La Vita said...

Love your Hope For list and hope all comes true. Especially for your daughter's wedding.
Thank you for co-hosting our first blog-hop in 2023.
Lynn La Vita @ https://la-vita.us/

Computer Tutor said...

Love love love that tagline!

Jennifer Hawes said...

Excellent advice for writing a sequel! Thanks for sharing. I love your word for this year--hope. Without hope, we'd be sad and depressed!

emaginette said...

Hope is an excellent word. I hope for the same things for 2023. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Diane Burton said...

Natalie, I love your word. Enjoy the time with your daughter. May it bring you closer together. Thanks for cohosting this month. Best wishes for 2023.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Kaylie - I love your tips on writing sequels!
Natalie - I hope all of your hopes come true this year!

kimlajevardi.com said...

Hope is not only a great way to look forward but an amazing outlook on a year. I hope your new year is full of so much brightness!

Jean Davis said...

Hope is an excellent word choice. Love it. May you achieve all of your goals!

Gwen Gardner said...

Natalie, Hope is a great word. Where would we be without it? This is your year, Natalie!

Kaylie, A Ruinous Fate sounds like adventure from start to finish. Good luck with it!

diedre Knight said...

May your every wish come true, Natalie. I just know your faith and the hope it inspires will help you make it all happen ;-)
Thank you for co-hosting!

Samantha Bryant said...

Great choice for your word!

And I'm working on a series ender right now myself, so I feel all this advice!

@samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

Mary Aalgaard said...

Hope is a great word for any year. I chose Journey. Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month!

Pat Garcia said...

Happy New Year!

I hope that your desires come true and be a reality. That this year bring you unexpected changes that will bring you fulfillment. All the best.
Shalom aleichem

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Hope is a very good word to hang onto at any time.

And I think the second-book advice is really good. That bit about letting characters grow while remaining themselves is what I think trips up many writers of series, especially really long series (like many cozy mysteries do). And it's part of why I chose to stop with my first and move on to another.

Oh, and I have it narrowed down to 3 words, which I had to go look up on my blog because I've already forgotten.

Adrienne Reiter said...

I love Smith's bullet points on sequels. I'm a plotter. Tracking the shift in each character's goals and change in psyche is sound advice.

Hope is a great word to add to the collection. I love reading all these posts. Thank you, Natalie. Happy New Year!

Sherry Ellis said...

Hope is a great word for the year. Alex's was Faith. Now, all we need is Love. :)

Have a wonderful 2023!

Chrys Fey said...

"Hope" is a beautiful word for 2023. And I HOPE that you receive all the things you hope for. <3

cleemckenzie said...

Kaylie has the perfect way to nail those characters.

Loved your first word choice for 2023. Excellent.

Liz A. said...

The thing I dislike about some sequels is how they try to retell the story of the first book. The only way a sequel works is if it expands on the story of the first. It sounds like that's what you've got going here. So, I'm sure the 2nd book will be even better than the first.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Hope. It's what keeps life interesting; keeps us moving forward. Thanks, Natalie! And great advice for creating sequels in a series, Kaylie. Thanks so much for sharing this advice. All best to you both in 2023!

Megan said...

Thank you for the giveaway - I'd love to enter :)
Email: megan(dot)clarsach(at)gmail(dot)com
I tweeted here: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/1610755881796309005

Tonja Drecker said...

It sounds like you have quite the year coming up. Hope everything works out splendidly (which I'm sure it will).
And what an interesting read today!

Olga Godim said...

I like your word: Hope. We all need it. Hope is what stays with us to the end, even in the most harrying circumstances.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You always have so much great information. I like your hope for the next year. Congrats to your daughter on her wedding. Now, that is a big job!

Angie Quantrell said...

Oh, a wedding! Yay! So much fun! Our daughter just got married in October. It was beautiful!

My word of the year is JOY. :)

Sounds enticing! Congratulations, Kaylie!

Carol Baldwin said...

I can't imagine writing a sequel--but this blog post was very interesting. Thanks.

Denise Covey said...

Hey Natalie! HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hope is a great word! We all need it!

Steph W. said...

A very positive word! I love your sequel advice.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Hope is absolutely my favorite heartfelt word.

Great information from Kaylie. Her book sounds good. If I ever do sell books and receive reviews, I'm pretty certain I won't read the reviews. :)


Nicole Pyles said...

If I was to choose a word for the year, hope would be mine too

Fundy Blue said...

"Hope" is a wonderful word, Natalie! I couldn't live without hope. It's what keeps me going. I certainly hope you enjoy your daughter's wedding! I enjoyed Kaylie's piece, and I wish her success with her debut book. I continue to marvel at all you accomplish. I'm traveling to Hawaii in a few days, so I know better than to sign-up for the give away ~ lol. Take care!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Happy New Year, Natalie. I like your word! In my opinion, "hope" is probably one of the most powerful forces in one's life and can make all the difference between giving up or forging on. Best of luck on your plans in 2023.

I enjoyed Smith's points on sequels. (I'm starting my third book in a series now, and I think her tips will come in handy.

Margaret Aitken said...

This book sounds incredible and I think readers are going to love it!

Danielle H. said...

This is the best discussion about creating a sequel that I've ever read. I've read more fantasy lately and the sequels; sometimes the first book is much better than the second because, as mentioned, the second book feels like/becomes a bridge just to get to the good stuff in book three. I shared this post on tumblr and follow Natalie on Twitter: https://at.tumblr.com/yesreaderwriterpoetmusician/surviving-a-sequel-in-a-series-by-debut-author/y46rz7iceeob

chickangell said...

Hope is a perfect word for all of us. We have to keep hope alive! Here's to an amazing 2023 for you!

Loni Townsend said...

Hope is such an inspiring word. And I hope 2023 is a wonderful year for you!

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

May all your hopes come true.

A Ruinous Fate sounds great!

kjmckendry said...

Natalie, thanks for co-hosting. Hope is a wonderful word for the year! I hope your 2023 is all that you wish for!
Congratulations on your daughter's wedding, may it bring you many moments of joy and happiness.

Autumn said...

I am sooo excited for a Ruinous Fate. It sounds really intriguing. And Hope is a great word for the new year.
(I follow you and Kaylie via Twitter- @akilley)

Tonja Drecker said...

Hope is my new favorite after reading the posts. And great tips on sequel writing!

sburdorf said...

What a great article. Thank you for the giveaway chance and the article - both of which are appreciated. Have a wonderful day!
Susan B (@sburdorf)

Bish Denham said...

Hope is such an important and powerful word. We must all be our own Pandoras and open that box just a little bit more to let HOPE out. Here's to 2023 fulfilling all our hopeful dreams.

Jennifer Lane said...

I love your word of the year, Natalie! HOPE is so important. Interesting post about writing a sequel--I hope you finish your manuscript so that you can start thinking about writing one! :-)

mshatch said...

Great tips for sequels! Thank you Kalie :)
Natalie, hope is a wonderful word. I hope you finish your final revisions, too!

Lidy said...

Thanks for co-hosting this month!
Hope is a good word for a WOTY.
I wish you luck that all your hopes will come true.
Congrats on the sequel Kaylie!