I interrupt our discussion of "writing rules" to announce the release of the fourth and final Kanner Lake novel, Amber Morn. Books begin shipping today from the Zondervan warehouse. They'll start turning up in bookstores in a week or two. In Zondervan's terms (every house seems to have their own lingo for this), Amber Morn's release date is today, March 7. But its publication date is April--because by then it should be on store shelves.Amber Morn features the Scenes and Beans bloggers in Java Joint as well as some supporting characters returning from the former Kanner Lake novels.
I faced a lot of challenges in writing this novel. This was my first ensemble cast novel. I found it's a hard way to go. It's no automatic choice as to whose POV you're in. With three "bad guys" and eleven hostages all in the same area--sheesh, take your pick. I had to balance these choices. First determination for choosing POV--who has the most at stake in the scene? Second--whose POV have we not been in for awhile?
As mentioned a few days ago, dialogue also is tricky with this many people. It's a lot of characters to keep straight as to who's talking without loading up sentences with too many SAs or action beats.
And it's hard simply to keep the location of every character straight. I had to draw myself a diagram. Depending on where the character is--what can he see? Who is in front of him, who's behind him? I had to think about that with every action beat.
Also tricky--the static location of one small cafe for the hostages. To keep the story moving, I had to have a lot of tension in the cafe scenes. Lots of time during a hostage situation is spent merely waiting--but that waiting can be very tense. After all, you've got guns pointed at your head. So I worked to keep the tension high even as a character might be sitting at a table merely observing. I also needed to cut away from the cafe on a regular basis. One continuing cut-away was to the police chief and negotiator as he worked in the command post to free the hostages. Other cut-aways involved a few other characters in town.
Another thing I found tricky was time. When you've got lots of action happening at the same time in various locations, the jumps from one scene to another need to clearly show the passage of time and not confuse the reader. When one scene is done, I'd sometimes have to back up a little to show what was happening at the other location at the same time. I used noises or sights in a scene as indicators. For example, if Character A ends a scene in one location by shooting a gun, at the next location I may need to back up in time--until Character B hears the shots. Then time can continue to progress in Character B's POV.
Finally, I needed to tie up any loose ends in the lives of the dozen or so Scenes and Beans bloggers. That's important in order to satisfy readers of the series, who've lived with these characters for four books now. That's a lot of personal stuff to consider in the midst of all the action.
One note about Amber Morn. Although all the Kanner Lake series books can stand alone, if you haven't read the others, Amber Morn is not the one to read first. In tying up loose ends in the personal lives of the characters, it gives away some of the twists to the other novels, particularly Crimson Eve. I'm usually very careful in a subsequent novel in a series to only allude to the former plot and not give away the ending, but that's impossible in the series finale. Number one priority here was to satisfy the many readers of the series.
I'd be interested in hearing when and where you first spot copies of Amber Morn. Oh--and do check out the dedication. It's been a secret I've kept since the beginning of the series.