READER FRIDAYS: Which of Your Books Proved to be the Biggest Challenge?

Which of your books, past or present, turned out to be the biggest challenge for you? Share what made it harder to write and what you learned from the experience.

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About Jordan Dane

Bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Jordan Dane’s gritty thrillers are ripped from the headlines with vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense novels to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag, naming her debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as Best Books of 2008. She is the author of young-adult novels written for Harlequin Teen, the Sweet Justice thriller series for HarperCollins., and the Ryker Townsend FBI psychic profiler series, Mercer's War vigilante novellas, and the upcoming Trinity LeDoux bounty hunter novels set in New Orleans. Jordan shares her Texas residence with two lucky rescue dogs. To keep up with new releases & exclusive giveaways, click HERE

16 thoughts on “READER FRIDAYS: Which of Your Books Proved to be the Biggest Challenge?

  1. The most difficult book I’ve written was my 6th novel. I’d written what I thought was the complete story in a three-volume trilogy. Then the characters tugged at my sleeve and said, “What about the early days?”

    So I wrote three prequels (novels 4, 5 and 6). The third prequel was the most difficult book I’ve ever written because it spanned the gap between the second prequel and the first novel in the original trilogy, so it had to tie-in smoothly to the first novel I ever wrote. (grin)

    The overall saga ended up being 10 novels long, all about the travels and adventures of one man. It wasn’t so difficult tying his parts together, but there were also a host of secondary characters, and tying those in was more of a challenge.

    I never want to repeat that process, so now when I start a novel, especially if I think it might run to a series or a saga, I ask myself whether it’s truly the beginning or whether I should write something earlier first.

    • Very interesting, Harvey. Has this experience changed how you plot or get organized to write?

      I love how you pursued every thread to create so many stories. It shows how much you trust your author voice & gut instinct. Kudos.

  2. My first. Because I’m still working on it. Started it, nearly as I can tell, in October 2017–at least that’s the “created” date for the Scrivener doc. It began with four short stories I had written to prompts, including “Feuds,” which won a little award at The Weekly Knob.

    I’ve got 97,000 words, but the question now is, which of those are the right words? The Writer’s Workshop at Cuyahoga County Library gave me good feedback this past Tuesday. My interp is that as a very strong Myers-Briggs “N” type, it’s difficult for me to show settings, events and character with enough concrete detail.

    (PS–pace Jeff Gerke, I don’t find M-B and similar four-letter typologies theoretically coherent enough to give me much help in defining characters’ core personalities. I do like Gerke’s idea of a “knot,” however. That’s helping me structure a couple of pieces.)

    • The best thing you did (from my experience), is to FINISH IT. That’s a great lesson to create a solid foundation for your future books. We learn from every book we complete. Whether you sell this first one or get it to a point where you’re satisfied to move on–you are on your way, my friend. Good for you, Eric. You’re an author of a book. Celebrate that.

  3. So far, starting book 4 in my current series is the most difficult b/c of the changing relationship between the protagonist and her love interest. In #1, she hates him but desperately needs his help; in #2, she’s working for him and they teeter-totter into a relationship; in #3, she becomes hopelessly tangled in his family. In #4, they’re plunked down together in Florida during Hurricane Irma.

    Each book needs to stand alone and be able to be read in any order. How much history needs to be included w/o it being too much? How to drop enough hints to make the relationship understandable yet not give away surprises that happen in earlier books?

    With #3, I was fortunate to find a sharp beta reader who hadn’t read #1 and 2 and she raised many issues in #3 that needed clarification. When #4 is done, I’ll look for a fresh beta who’s not familiar with previous books to give me guidance about my questions.

    Meanwhile, just have to dig in and write my way through the questions…

    • I love this, Debbie. It’s great that you used a sharp beta reader who hadn’t read your first two.

      It’s key to include enough choice tidbits to make the reader’s experience a satisfying one. It’s also key to ENTICE the reader to buy those other books. As the author, you choose which hints you write about. Make them count.

  4. As usual, I’m out of step here. My most difficult novel is neither past nor present.

    It’s the one after next in my paranormal–not necessarily supernatural, but it could always turn out that way–series.
    The story deals with the issues of what’s running wild at night out in the deserts of Arizona and California, where American immigration enforcement forces are forced to deal with evidence left by what local people call frightening creatures that have dragged a Mexican drug cartel lookout who had been set up to track the drug-carrying mules, down the side of an Arizona mountain. He was slashed to death, torn to pieces by what the Mexican drug mules that carry cartel packages of illegal heroin and fentanyl north have come to call las bestias caninas y los horrores negros, the dog beasts and the black horrors.

    The story is based on the local folk rumors of American Indian citizens and illegal Mexican immigrants, and the accounts of one or more U.S. Federal government agents. But wait, don’t these accounts and tales belong in the mouths of upper midwest Americans? Well, apparently las bestias caninas y los horrores negros don’t care where they live.

    The tale is difficult because it pits the accounts of frightened people against the wild, arm-waving hysteria of American media personalities that deny illegal immigration and las bestias caninas y los horrores negros exist .

    But could las bestias caninas y los horrores negros come to invade the backyard sleepovers of our children, or the evening barbecue parties of Americans, who are being kept from the truth?

    The tale is difficult because I’m not a lawyer, and I’m trying to understand immigration law through the eyes of a liberal mind-set media determined to prove that illegal immigration is not a bad thing, and that las bestias caninas y los horrores negros are merely ramblings of a frightened, indigenous people who haven’t had the benefits of an Eastern liberal education.

    Sleep well, because the 3 a.m. rattlings and noises at the back door of your house may only be the neighbor’s cat looking for something eat.

    • Chupacabra. Ha!

      I’ve traversed the present political & news environment in my stories & found that it really helps to focus on the human factor–an emotional story that let’s the reader see the dilemma without you coming up with your own views & sharing them. Let the story stir discussions without providing a “lesson.”

      Your world view may be woven into the tapestry of the world you created but subtlety is key if you focus on a compelling human story.

      Thanks for your thought provoking post, Jim. Your story sounds amazing.

  5. Hands down, the most difficult book I’ve written was SIX MINUTES TO FREEDOM, the nonfiction book about Kurt Muse, an American expat who was arrested in Panama during the Noriega regime. His children (12 & 15) had to flee the country alone. While in prison under hellacious conditions, Kurt managed to smuggle intelligence to the American military that aided in the eventual liberation of the country during Operation Just Cause. The firs shots fired during the invasion (literally, the first shots fired) were in support of Kurt’s rescue from the prison by Delta Force.

    I’m not a journalist, so I had to feel my way though countless interviews of the various players in both the civilian and government worlds. Over four years, I finally amassed everything I needed for the first two acts. All I needed was access to the Unit operators who rescued Kurt.

    Yeah, right. You might notice that unlike, say, Delta Force’s naval counterpart, they take operational security very seriously. It’s part of their culture not to speak of any of the ops they’ve performed. (And we’re talking history-making stuff here.)

    Finally, after Kurt and I had a face-to-face with President Bush (41), something happened behind the scenes and the Unit guys got permission to speak, and I got access to information I never should have seen.

    The book came out in 2006, and started my relationship with Kensington Publishers. That research and those connections continue to make the Jonathan Grave thriller series possible.

    • Holy cow, John. I didn’t know the story behind your non-fiction book. What a challenge for a fiction guy. I’m going to buy that bad boy.

      You should do a post on the challenges of writing non-fiction. Seriously.

  6. I have written crazy characters with ease. I’ve had people back away from me, a noticably nice and not threatening Hobbit matron, when they talk about one of my characters who was a sociopath. Readers love my heroic characters. So I can write a decent range of personality types. The hardest to write was an extremely innocent nine-year-old boy. I can add evil or bad traits to my own by mentally magnifying myself to create a character, but subtracting to the point of total innocence was very difficult. Plus, I had to let the adult reader know what was really going on in his viewpoint.


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