Writing: Which Book to Write Next?

Which Book to Write Next?

Choosing which book to write next has to be one of the hardest decisions to make as an author. At least it is for me. I’ve written a few posts on the subject and I always seem to have a plan in place, but I’ve found those plans rarely come to fruition.

Write What You Know

Lord of the Rings - blu rayWe hear this all the time. Writers are supposed to write what they know, or at least something they’re quite familiar with. I’m not sure, but I bet Tolkien didn’t have any hobbit friends running around, or elves for that matter. We can write what we do not know as long as we do the research and keep it plausible.

I Started With Something I Knew

The first two books in the John Reeves series were a mix of the adventure genre and a police procedural. With my psychological background and a love of (learning about) criminal behavior, those stories came easy to me. But what if I try the fantasy genre?

Another piece of advice we don’t see as often is to write what we read. If you’re an avid romance reader who has never picked up a science fiction book in his or her life, I wouldn’t suggest trying to write the next Star Wars. I wouldn’t suggest it, but if that’s what you want, then go for it, but think of the advantages of writing what you read.

Advantages of Writing What You Read

1. You know the genre. It’s a simple truth, but you have experience in the genre, you know what to expect, you know what the reader expects.

2. You know what has been done before; you know what has been successful. You can build off these facts to create a unique story that hasn’t been done before.

3. The most important advantage? If you love to read it, you’ll probably love writing it! Writing in a genre you love is similar to reading. You can’t wait to find out what will happen next. Even if you have an idea of how the story will play out, you never know exactly how those characters will get there, or if they will get there.

Crazy Writer’s Brain

Financially speaking, and to please any of those who enjoy reading about John Reeves, it makes the most sense to write the third book in the series. I wrote the first chapter a few weeks ago and have been plotting out the rest of the story since.

I’ve also had an epic fantasy brewing in my mind for the past year or so. I began world building and wrote the first chapter of that book as well. Yet my plan was to keep focusing on the John Reeves series while working on the fantasy when I felt the need.

Then my crazy writer’s brain had its own plan. Last week I was at the dinner table with my kiddos coloring and working on the alphabet when the urge hit me. It’s similar to the urge we writers feel the first time we need to sit down and write. We may not know that’s what it is at first, but I’ve felt it before and I knew that’s what I was feeling.

I pulled out the laptop, prepared my word processor, and sat with my fingers poised over the keyboard. I didn’t have a plan or an outline. I had no idea what I would write, or if I would write at all, but I knew my brain was ready for it.

Thirty minutes later, I checked the word counter and saw that I’d written the first 1700 words in a new fantasy novel. Now I can’t get it out of my head. As with the other stories I’ve written, it lingers in the back of my mind at all times, collecting ideas and facts to add to the story. The difference this time is that the story isn’t just lingering, it’s LOOMING over me, like it’s something I MUST do, or have to do soon.

I’m reading way too much into this, I’m sure, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about writing it’s that I should go with the flow. That being said, book three in the John Reeves series was just placed on the backburner. Not for long, but it’s there nonetheless. If you’ve read any of my past blog posts, you also know I have a tendency to work on multiple manuscripts at a time.

What Book Should You Write Next?

The one you want to. The one that consumes your waking thoughts and your dreaming mind.

writeBut shouldn’t you write the next book you promised everybody? Shouldn’t you write in a certain genre because that’s what is popular right now? Shouldn’t you write the book that makes financial sense?

Maybe, but I’m willing to bet you won’t do your best work. Your mind will still be on the other story, the one you’d rather be working on. It will probably slow you down as well. My advice is to write the one that you want and come back to the other ones in due time. I wouldn’t be surprised if you finished them both faster this way. It’s good to focus on what your crazy writer brains need.

How do you decide what book to write (or read) next? Is it the one that makes the most financial sense? The one that you can’t get your mind off of? The one everybody else thinks you should?

Kirkus Reviews – Wrath (A John Reeves Novel) by Kirkus MacGowan

Kirkus Reviews? Really? It doesn’t seem possible. It’s times like these that I quietly thank whoever thought of eBooks. This probably wouldn’t have happened without them.

I received my review for Wrath (A John Reeves Novel) yesterday. I submitted it to the indie author review portion of Kirkus Reviews around two months ago.

A Note on Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews is one of the top book review companies in the world. I’m not sure whether they came up with the term, but they’re often considered the “toughest critics” in the industry.

Who are these reviewers?

This is directly from the Kirkus Reviews site.

Our reviewers include librarians, business executives, journalists from national publications, PhDs in religion and literature, creative executives in entertainment and publishing industries as well as other professional reviewers.”


Who reads these reviews?

Anybody can read them on the Kirkus Reviews website which receives over 200k hits per month. However, they also send out a magazine with over 40k subscribers. They only choose the top reviews (at their discretion) to put in their magazine. Here’s what they say about those magazine subscribers.

…read by librarians, booksellers, publishers, agents, journalists and entertainment executives.”


Yes please!

I’m lucky. A review has never made me nervous. Until now that is. I could barely open my eMail from them yesterday. It probably didn’t help that my wife was hopping up and down next to me.

Here’s what they had to say about my book.


Wrath (A John Reeves Novel) by Kirkus MacGowan


Cover Design by www.ethinkgraphics.com, Copyright 2012

MacGowan’s fast-paced thriller blends crime procedural with interpersonal drama and supernatural elements.

The novel opens dramatically, with the ghastly death of a local farmer, seemingly caused by a mysterious voice on the telephone. The farmer had convulsed, turned purple and bled to death from long gashes down his arms. From there, things get even stranger for private detective John Reeves, who has agreed to help the recently deceased man’s wife find answers about what exactly happened to her husband. However, a second murder quickly follows the first, then a third, each more gruesome than the last. Sinister forces flood the town, and John, along with his brother Alan who works at the local police department, decides to figure out who (or what) is behind these crimes, no matter the personal cost. The tale speeds along and thrills from start to finish. The risks only increase, especially as Alan discovers he has a more personal stake in this case than he thought. In fact, personal drama escalates along with the book’s central mystery. Some crime-focused novels get mired in procedural elements, but MacGowan weaves emotional sequences with hard, procedural drama in a realistic (despite some of the book’s more fantastical elements), satisfying fashion. Characters come alive, which also helps the novel’s authenticity. This is the second book in MacGowan’s John Reeves series; we can expect much more from this author, which is a treat indeed for readers who enjoy thriller, supernatural or crime genres.

An expertly crafted murder mystery that will delight readers with compelling characters, smart dialogue and some truly unexpected supernatural elements.

-Kirkus Reviews

What do you think? I almost followed suit with my wife and began jumping up and down.

One of the best parts about all this one of the books the critics chose to compare with Wrath. Remember that guy, Stephen King? The one I’m always talking about? They put his book, The Stand, as a comparable book beneath mine. Just writing that gave me butterflies.

I Needed Sleep

Now the embarrassing part. In my hurry to get the Kirkus Review published on their home page, I sent them the wrong cover… seriously. They were very quick about adding the incorrect cover, so I’m hoping they’re as quick adding the correct one, haha!

Click here to see the actual review on Kirkus Reviews. Take note of the great looking cover… that belongs with another book.

On a final note, I know this review doesn’t guarantee any sales, or that some movie executive will call me about rights tomorrow, but it does give me some validation as a writer. I also believe it will look beautiful when they publish it on Wrath’s Amazon sales page.

Coming to you live from Cloud Nine,

Kirkus MacGowan

(4th) Cover Reveal for The Fall of Billy Hitchings (A John Reeves Novel)

The Fall of Billy Hitchings (A John Reeves Novel)

Yes, this is the fourth (I think) cover reveal for The Fall of Billy Hitchings since its release in November of last year. Each one better than the previous, and this should be the last one.

I released Wrath (A John Reeves Novel) in late August of this year and the cover art was designed by Amber McNemar from ethinkgraphics.com. I instantly fell in love with the cover and Amber’s ability to create exactly what I was looking for. That led me to the decision about updating the cover for The Fall of Billy Hitchings.

Since they are both part of the John Reeves series, I felt it worked better if they were similar in both style and feel.

Here it is, the fourth and final cover reveal for The Fall of Billy Hitchings (A John Reeves Novel) with some details below.

The Fall of Billy Hitchings - A John Reeves Novel

The John Reeves Creed: “Kill them with kindness. Unless you have a gun.”

Voted a 2012 Best Indie Book of the Year Top 5 Finalist in Mystery and Thriller on The Kindle Book Review!

Book Description:

John Reeves, an ex-Marine, drives to Myrtle Beach hoping to repair a damaged relationship with his fiancée. Instead, he finds her unconscious in the hospital, the victim of an unexplained explosion at a local restaurant.

Reeves meets Billy Hitchings, a teenager who knows more about the explosion than he should. Their questions lead to an ancient legacy best left alone.

Pulled into yet another crossfire, John Reeves fights to protect his friends and keep a primeval power from falling into the wrong hands.

What Readers are Saying:

“…the characters are superbly written, their intertwined relationships riveting and the actual source of Billy’s “fall” is nothing short of creative genius.”
Ashley Fontainne
Amazon Bestselling Author, Eviscerating the Snake Series

“…his moments of descriptive brilliance will leave you wanting more.”
S.M. Boyce
Author, The Grimoire: Lichgates

“I found myself, literally, on the edge of my seat hoping that one of my favorite characters did not just bite the big one.”
J. Scott Sharp
Author, Not Even There (A Short Story)

“If you want tried and true, staid and predictable, read something else.”
G.A. Albrethsen
Author, The Foolish and the Weak (Age of Restoration)

#ANA2012 – America’s Next Author Contest – I’m In!

America’s Next Author Contest (AKA #ANA2012)

America’s Next Author, or #ANA2012, is a short story writing contest hosted by eBookMall, a growing eBook retailer. I won’t go into too much detail here, but if you’re an author interested in joining, click here to go to the #ANA2012 FAQ page for more information.

You may have noticed that I’ve tweeted about the America’s Next Author Contest (AKA #ANA2012) and my short story entry, One Night in Jail, non-stop since Wednesday. I finally have the chance to sit down and talk more about it.


There are rewards for the avid reader as well. If you contribute four reviews and/or ratings to the #ANA2012 contest, you’re entered to win a FREE iPad! The best part is they are all short stories between 2500 and 5000 words. It shouldn’t take long at all!

I admit I was tempted to review others at first just so I could enter this aspect of the contest, but I have a funny feeling they would frown upon that.

Oh, and if you’re worried many of the short story choices will be terrible, they read each entry before beginning the contest. They chose 181 finalists out of over 300 entries.

This is me after finding out they accepted my short story…

headstand for #ANA2012

Okay, not really, but you get the point.

America’s Next Author – #ANA2012

An interesting aspect in the #ANA2012 contest is that it’s based on multiple factors including social media. What this means is that every time an author’s page is tweeted, liked, shared on Facebook, or shared on LinkedIn, it contributes to that author’s final chance at winning.

The contest runs for eight weeks and each week will see a final contender. It starts new every seven days so if you haven’t entered yet, you’ll have seven more chances. They’re sure to emphasize that having a huge social media base isn’t the only way to win (though from what I’ve seen, it certainly helps).

At the end of the eight weeks, the “Jury” (as they’re called on the eBookMall site) chooses four more stories. The Jury then pits their four picks against the eight picks chosen earlier. I believe the fans vote again at this point to narrow it down to three winners. The Jury chooses the final winner.

What’s in it for the authors?

The obvious reward is the $5k dollars offered as the grand prize. Oh what I could do with an extra $5k… or any of us for that matter!

First place and second place both get $500, still some nice padding I’d appreciate in my wallet.

On top of this, the Jury is made up of publishing professionals. These professionals have contacts throughout the literary field that they may contact in case they truly love whomever they choose as winner.

I was ranked number four last night, but dropped down to number ten overall today. I’ve got to get in on that social media frenzy! Vote for me?

Worst Case Scenario

We all have a lot of fun, some lucky writerly types walk away with cash in their pocket, and the rest of us enjoy the publicity that came with the contest. I, for one, am having a blast.

I don’t write many short stories so this is a chance to showcase a comedic piece I posted on my blog awhile back (edited of course… kind of) named, One Night in Jail. For those of you who don’t remember the story, it’s based (loosely) on a true story.

If you get a chance, stop over to vote for America’s Next Author and help an indie or aspiring author out. If you’re bored, you can even start with One Night in Jail (approximately 2800 words) by clicking here.

As mentioned before, be sure to tweet, share, like, and do it again, because each one of those counts as a vote in some way! Also be sure to log in once a week and write reviews again to increase your chances with that iPad.

If you’re a reader, good luck with the iPad! If you’re a writer, good luck with the $5k!

Writing Update – What I’m Working On Now

I thought I’d throw out a quick writing update to let you all know what I’m up to these days.

Short Story Contest

I’m in the midst of writing and editing a short story for a contest I recently heard about. My original plan was to submit In Search of Nectar until I read the instructions more carefully. The short needs to be a completely original work.

writing with penSo far, I really like what the my new short story has to offer. It’s almost a suspense/drama type work. It’s strange compared to what I’ve written in the past. I’m not sure if it’s because of a book I’m reading right now, but I chose first person present point of view. Not as easy as it looks.

As part of the contest, we’re supposed to promote our page on their site and get readers to check it out. I’ll put out updates as I learn more.

If you’re an author interested in submitting a story, you can find more information here: America’s Next Author.

Novel Ideas

I’m in the idea stages for the third John Reeves novel, and the world-building process for an epic fantasy. My goal is to write both simultaneously, but it really depends on how my brain works since I have issues switching between genres when writing.

Other Writing Formats

I may, let me repeat that, MAY release my first two books as audio books some time in the next year. I’m about 90% sure I’ll do it, but it’s more a matter of when. I’m also undecided about whether I’ll read them myself or hire a professional. It depends on whether my past acting experience allows me to read my books at the quality I prefer.

Random Works and Ideas

I’m also designing covers for a couple short stories I’ve released on my blog already. I hope to have those published online by the end of the year.

On a final note, it’s been suggested I begin converting The Fall of Billy Hitchings to a movie script. This wasn’t in my plans when I began writing, but I certainly see the benefits. This isn’t at the top of my list, but we’ll see how things go.

If it seems as if I disappear for a few days at a time, now you know why! Gotta go. Time to finish up my new short story.

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