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Keeping readers in suspense

A diabolical six month experiment came to a close last week with several bangs from an antique cannon, hissing plasma bolts, assorted sonic booms, a few deaths, a hint of aliens, a murder solved, some HEA and a lot of very happy readers. Read on for background, links and info on what’s next.

I never expected to become a writer of serials – it seemed positively Dickensian. Then just before Christmas 2016, I wrote a scene set in a church on Christmas’ Eve’s eve. I had no intention of doing any more. The scene was in the world of my main Urban Fantasy series, Bite Back, and it referred to things that were going on in the series, but my purpose was simply (1) to give the people who follow me on Facebook and my blog a sort of Christmas present and (2) to experiment with writing styles.

I got a lot of requests to continue with the ‘story’, and after some thought, I realized that there was potential for a novella, based on some ideas I’d had visiting New York earlier that year. And so, over the next 3 months, I wrote and published the novella, Change of Regime , working entirely at weekends and keeping weekdays for progress with my main series.

Of course, no sooner had I finished than I got “what’s next?” messages. So, I put up a list of vague ideas for experiments and exercises in writing and the voting came down to ‘Science Fiction Adventure Romance’.

A couple of weeks later, I put up the first episode of ‘A Name Among The Stars’.

I set out to write a novel of approximate 100k words rather than a novella, to only work at weekends, to post an episode a week (~2 chapters, 3-4k words), and to use a style very different from my main series.

So, how to retain readers over a six month project?

Cliffhangers! Every episode has to leave the poor reader desperately wanting the next episode. See comment list below (thanks to all for their comments).

No! What a place to stop!!! I want more!
How does she get out of this?
OMG, the story is fantastic and I want MORE!
Your cliffhangers are becoming more and more diabolical.
Verbal conflict between Zara and Shohwa just right.
I await the next chapters with bated breath.
Way to keep the cliffhangers coming! I hate you!
Hard to know it’ll be another week before I can read on.
I enjoyed the tea ceremony. Very well done.
Better and better!
Gaaah! No, don’t stop there!
Really liking the fiesty heroine.
Can hardly wait for the next installment.
You have me hooked.
Wow, what a great beginning.
Evil author does NOT feel our pain.

And, worst of all, I stopped the episodes just as the denouement was beginning, and readers had to go and purchase the $2.99 novel on Amazon to complete the story.  A Name Among The Stars

My readers all hate me. 🙂

It’s been enormous fun (for me anyway), and the question has now come back…’what’s next?’

I think the next will be a short novel. I also think I’m better at action cliffhangers, so the genre will reflect that. I have an experimental piece started and I might as well go on with that. It’s Dark Urban Fantasy. I mean it.

Your heart will race.
You will experience shortness of breath.
You will not know who to trust.

Working title: The Hitchhiker.

For some technical reasons (better setup for serialization) and also greater potential readership, these episodes will be released on WattPad or Radish (or both) as well as here on my blog.

Make a comment below or email me using the contact email address on the blog here to ensure you’re on the list for an alert when I start this next project.

Work on Bian’s Tale book 1 and Bite Back book 6 continues.