May 13, 2022 – 9:24 AM

I was struck, as I so often am in the middle of the night, with how formulaic my next project is. I thought after Vise Manor that I could just keep doing the blending of cyberpunk + genre and have books to write for ages. And over the months, I’ve done just that, laying out a general outline of a genre movie and trying to figure out how it would work as a novel, how to make it interesting, and how to make it that special blend of tech and violence and nudity.

What immediately grabbed my interest but then later became the death knell was how easily existing characters fit into the story. Cynthia Mesquina was back, as was Patrick “Meltdown” Kumanov. Gilbert Reyes and others from Perion Synthetics. New characters had already been alluded to in other stories. All told, there were only one or two primary characters who had never been mentioned before in any of the books.

Last night, that started feeling wrong. Maybe not wrong, but boring. It’s the same people doing new stuff. It’s filling in details of an existing story arc.

I’m 100% sure I overestimate your commitment to Sparkle Motion, err, the Vinestead Universe. Are you happy to see the same characters over and over again? Continuing down the same paths? Fighting the same enemies? The marketer in me hopes yes, please, buy all my books. But the writer in me says… meh.

I mean, it wouldn’t be hard to throw it all together. Write the scenes as they’ve been outlined. But ugh… where’s the inspiration? Where’s the discovery?! Where’s the beef?

This is why I don’t write sequels. Or series.

I despise the subtitles that say, “Book 1 in the Waxahachie Pickle Series.” Especially when there’s only one book out or it’s not even published yet. Don’t tell me you’re planning to drag this out. Tell me you wrote a story with a start and a finish and that I can move on to another book afterwards without this gnawing emptiness inside me Severance.

And there I go being a hypocrite again.

That’s what has always bugged me about writing an anthology–a shared universe. In my mind, it’s all connected, and I want to make those connections plain. But to readers? It’s probably not as important.

When writing gets boring, I like to challenge myself.

I don’t always complete the challenge. The last one was to write a book from a single POV; that still hasn’t happened. But last night I came up with a new one: write a book with all new characters. That doesn’t mean a few familiar faces couldn’t pop up and take a shower every now and then, it just means the primary pillars and supporting cast will be new. Brand new. Sparkling new.

That seems doable. And more fun.

What do you think, Mom?

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