Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What else did you do in April?

Today Jemima Pett, author of the Princelings of the East series, begins the first of her regular post features on the A to Z Challenge Blog.

If, like my friends, you took a bit of a break last week due to exhaustion, you may by now have forgotten everything else you did in April.  Judging by some of the Reflections posts, many people were like me - totally exhausted by keeping up the blog visiting!

The only thing I HAD to do in April were the chapter illustrations for my sixth book, Bravo Victor, which came out last week.  I thought it would be a nice relaxing thing to do in among all the blogging and visiting.  Then I got into last-minute mode - you know, when you don't have to do something yet, so you put it off?  I steeled myself and got most of them done over one weekend.  Not many writers do chapter illustrations, and sometimes I wish I hadn't started, but in the end I enjoy doing them, and I get great feedback from my readers.

Castle Marsh (c) J M Pett
They aren't great art!  More sort of scribbly sketches.  But my series is set in places I see clearly - the Princelings of the East come from Castle Marsh, which in my mind is in the UK's Norfolk Broads, somewhere between Hickling and Winterton.  It's a low lying area of reeds and cuttings filled with water, used by holiday makers who rent boats for a week to travel around and enjoy the sunshine.  We get a lot of sunshine in Norfolk!  This is Castle Marsh (the improved version, if you have the first versions of the first three books).

One I did for the new book is a view of the road from the dunes through the marsh to the castle, which captured the atmosphere I wanted exactly.

The Road to Castle Marsh (c) J M Pett
The frustrating thing about writing series is that although everyone is doing it (it seems), it gets harder to promote them as you go on.  I mean, if I see a book is part of a series, I want to start reading at the first one.  Sometimes you can enter halfway through without losing too much, but it always makes sense to go back and find out how the characters and their world arrived where they are.  I think it applies to all series, whether Suzanne Colliin's The Hunger Games, Lindsey Davies's Falco series, Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books (I wish he hadn't done the prequels later), Harry Potter, or your favourite series.  You have to announce your new book so all your fans can leap on it (thank you!) but otherwise, the promotion effort goes into the first one or two, to attract new readers.  Is that true, do you think?

I met so many wonderful writers during this year's A to Z that I'm sure there are lots of experiences and opinions on this.  Readers, what do you think?  Have you jumped into the middle of a series? What's your favourite series, or do you prefer stand-alones? 

Jemima Pett, part of #TeamDamyanti for the 2014 A to Z Challenge
Jemima's blog  
Follow on Twitter - @jemima_pett
The Princelings website: 


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I wish I was able to sketch pics for my work! I don't think stick figures count. :)

I've jumped into the middle of series before but not often. One that comes to mind is Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles books. I read maybe the third or fourth one and enjoyed it so much, I went back and read the early ones…and every one since. :)

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Unknown said...

Series are wonderful and for the most part, if I come across one I'm interested in, I start at the beginning and work my way through. I may read one or two out of order along the way, but rarely.

I don't think I got anything accomplished but keeping up the daily blogging. I didn't even visit as much as I should have. Trying to remedy that in the future though.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You definitely have to promote all of the books in a series.
What else did I do in April? Not much else!

Lota said...

Camp Nano :)

Tina said...

What did I do in April? Survive. Met great new people, like you Jemima. So looking forward to all you're going to contribute to this blog over the coming year!
Tina @ Life is Good
On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

Jemima Pett said...

Madeline; depending on the genre, stick figures work fine. I just read a book by Melissa Moraja with very cartoon-like figures which worked well. I don't do figures - strictly landscapes or still life!!

Stephanie and Alex - thanks for your feedback on series :)

Lota - Camp Nano AND AtoZ?? You're a glutton for punishment! I hope you 'won'.

Tina - thanks!


cheerfuloptimistic said...

I try to start from the beginning of a series when I can.
What else I did in April was plan for the next few months.

Birgit said...

The drawings are great I think. I let my house go during the A to Z but I would rather do the A to Z than dust. I have read the Harry Potter series, Little House on the Prairie series when I was younger and Agatha Christie with Hercule Poirot if one can count that as a series. I do since it has the same character and he develops throughout. I have to read the last page first of a book and look at other parts but I have to read the series from beginning to end. I also believe one has to promote every book in the series since it is all connected

Unknown said...

I prefer to start a series at the beginning, though I have jumped in the middle of some on TV, reading is a different matter. When I visited an A to Z sight with a series in the middle, most times I tried to go back and get a feel for the story. However, there was one or two that I lost along the way that I wanted to go back and visit. I hope on the road trip, I will re-encounter them. As far as April goes, I came up for air every once in awhile. Maria @ Delight Directed Living

Unknown said...

The only positive thing about my April was the A to Z. I was involved in funerals, and memorial services and health issues. You and all the others in #teamdamyanti helped keep me afloat!

Anonymous said...

I know nothing of series. What I should have been doing in April was edit my drafts.. what I did was continue to recover from the two month cold I had at the beginning of the year and my day job. Sounds like you're based in Norfolk. I need to head to the coast there again soon.

Unknown said...

Funny but I never thought about that in regards to promoting a series but it makes perfect sense! Thanks for this post :) It was enlightening. AND I love your illustrations!! As for April, I didn't participate in the Challenge: I was busy getting a new blog up and running. Whew! That was enough of a challenge for me :)

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

I soaked up time with my granddaughter, Baby Ruth. <3
Life & Faith in Caneyhead

LuAnn @ BackPorchervations said...

First of all, congrats Jemima, on your first feature on this, the mother of all 'hub blogs' (I think I just made that up). It's easier starting a series from the beginning. But in subsequent installments, if the author can find that happy medium between enough exposition for newcomers and not too much exposition for returning fans, it doesn't matter where I start a series (IMO).

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

I love that picture of Marsh!

As for series, I usually like to read them in order, but most that I know (mysteries, for example) are fine out of order, because each book stands on its own just fine. The first few Princelings books may be a little more closely tied to each other than is ideal (to allow people to jump in wherever), but I don't think anything would be ruined by someone reading out of order.

And what else did I do in April? Mostly promotions related to the launch of my latest at the end of March, and a little editing on my next book. That's about all I've done in May, too.
Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

Shonna Slayton said...

I like to start at the beginning of a series. My book group just did a book 2 in a series and I had all kinds of questions for the gal who went ahead and read the first book, but then didn't have time to read the second before our meeting.

And I just have to say how lovely your "scribbly sketches" are. They make me want to check out your book. I'll just road trip over to your site now...