Do You Like Changes?

| April 28, 2014 | 17 Comments

Ever been through big changes at the wrong time but for the right reasons? Check my latest book. What changed? Oh, the title, the main character, the voice, a couple surnames, that kind of thing. I published Bring It, the compiled episodes of the serialized thriller formerly known as Trench Coats, with all those changes and more.

Marketing 101 teaches us that branding requires consistency. So why did I break that cardinal rule?

Because of you.

Originally, I planned Trench Coats as a serial specifically to experiment with characters, points of view, and voice. Not to pander to shifting tastes but to tweak what my fans liked best. My first book had characters and plots that you liked. I wanted readers to rave.

When I published The Geneva Decision, I knew Pia Sabel was a strong heroine, but she had problems. Men thought (hoped?) a woman could never beat up a man. Women thought she was too beautiful (she’s described only as ‘tall’). My wife’s said, “She’s not fun.” So I set out to form a better presentation.

I sketched an outline of a serial with six episodes highlighting ten different points of view and four varied characters. The first episode featured Pia Sabel in her commanding style.

Then things went sideways.

Enter Jacob Stearne. His intended role was to bring you behind the scenes of a rescue operation. Instead, he stole the spotlight.

Why is he popular? Because he’s not too much of anything. He’s not too smart, not too handsome, not too strong, not too mean. He’s an all-American guy who’s always on the prowl but manages to get the job done. He’s the kind of guy you’d like to have behind you in a bar fight. And definitely the guy you want to lead the rescue if you’ve been kidnapped and waterboarded. You just have to hope there aren’t any women who might distract him first.

My beta readers’ favorite line for this character was, “I lost my virginity in a farm shed. Several times.” I don’t know why that line resonates with you people, but there you have it.

He’s not my alter-ego, he’s my imaginary friend. And, judging from some of your reviews, he’s become an iBFF for some of you too. Jacob Stearne has taken over the lead full time, starting with my next book (working title Blue Death). Pia will still be the driving force in the story, but we will see her through Jacob’s eyes.

So, I figured, if I’m switching the lead character, switching to first person, why not change the title? I know it’s a bad idea but I have such great readers! I know they’ll help me. Right? Right?

How? Please write a review on Goodreads or Amazon*.

If I can get 5 new reviews this week, I’ll make a video of me doing/attempting a stupid-human trick of your choice (please be kind, I’m old and unpretty).

What do you think of the changes?

1)      Title changed from Trench Coats to BRING IT!

2)      Jacob Milik became Jacob Stearne (I ran a poll, Stearne tied with Novak—then my wife voted).

3)      Edited out fun but extraneous passages lowering word count by over 10,000 words.

4)      Changed POV from 3rd person Pia to 1st person Jacob (mostly).

5)      Promoted Jacob to central character.

6)      Made it more fun.

Peace, Seeley


* I’ve gifted ebooks to lots of people but I’m terribly disorganized – if I missed you, send me an email and I’ll get it out to you. (Sorry, the paperback version is still a few weeks away.) If you’d rather eat scorpions than have to read my book, don’t say anything and you’ll be fine.


Category: Great Writers On Writing, Pia Sabel Thrillers

Comments (17)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. smanke says:

    I loved story from Jacob’s perspective. I had trouble putting my finger on exactly why, but his episodes really did resonate with me in a better way. I enjoyed the first book. Pia is an outstanding character. But there’s something about Jacob. He fits particularly well with the 1st person POV.

    It’s a tough call, making these changes right on the heals of book #1. But I think you’re making the right choice. And Bring It should serve as a nice transition book. So the serials were not only an interesting experiment, but they work well as book #2 when turned into a omnibus.

    Looking forward to book #3!

  2. The name change was definitely a good idea. I’m happy your wife weighed in on the issue.

    At least from my female perspective, what makes Jacob so interesting is that he’s ‘raw material’. We women like to get a good guy and change those few flaws in him to make him perfect. He’s a ladies man who needs to find the right lady. All romance novels are about rehab-the-guy.

    As much as this feminist hates to admit it, he’s more fun than Pia. Although, that chair kicking scene in opening was loads of fun!

  3. I like all the changes. You done good. And he is more fun. He can say things like, “Did he also tell you the check’s in the mail and I won’t come…” – I think he was interrupted by a killer or something like that? I don’t recall exactly, but I laughed. I also liked when he said, “They wouldn’t do something illegal and cover it up with ‘top secret’ would they? Nah.”

  4. Miekey Rodriguez says:

    I voted for Novak – obviously your wife is deranged. The book name threw me for a minute. Otherwise, all good.

  5. Courtney Kronk says:

    Mistake. From my perspective, Jacob is a fun character but Pia is a driving-force character. Don’t know if I’ll stick with you after this. We’ll see with next book. Did love the serial concept, though. Interesting experiment that I thought was very well done. Alternating Pia and Jacob made for variety and interest.

    • Courtney Kronk says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention… The waterboarding scene was extraordinary. Possibly the most chilling scene I’ve ever read. Changed my attitude about waterboarding as torture. Few writers are willing to put a heroine through such a harrowing experience. Well done.

      • Seeley James says:

        Thanks for your comments on the waterboarding scene. That was my biggest effort and required a lot of trial and error, mini-outlining, etc. PLEASE MENTION THAT IN YOUR REVIEW!

    • Seeley James says:

      Good to hear from you, Courtney. Pia is not going away. She’s still the driving force character, but we will see her from Jacob’s POV. I’m shooting for a final result similar to Dr. Watson’s view of Sherlock. If Doyle had told the story from Sherlock’s POV, he would’ve come off as unbelievable. Because we saw him through someone else’s view, it seemed more reliable.

      But I have to admit, as a writer it’s like walking a tight-rope. I’m hope I’m good enough to pull it off. At first, I was hoping to make the “Blue Death” (working title, don’t hold me to it) more like Episode V where we had POVs alternating between Jacob, Bad guy, and Pia — but that only works later in a story. It gives away too much when I apply it early. I’m still working on a good balance.

      Tell you what, next week, I’ll post the first two chapters (unedited, so go easy on me) and everyone can chime in on how good/bad it is.

      • Courtney Kronk says:

        Thanks, Seeley. Sounds like a Plan. Look forward to it. I may really like it because I did like J’s segments of the story. The new premise may work just great.

      • Courtney Kronk says:

        I should hold off a moment before hitting “submit”… For what it’s worth, I notice that a number of other commenters are apparently female; despite my first name, i”m giving input from a male’s perspective.

  6. Oh, Courtney has a good point. I was thinking Pia would still have chapters as she did in that one episode.

    She’s also right about the waterboarding scene. I chewed a hole in my t-shirt when I read that one. I kept trying to put it down but couldn’t do it. wow. That reminds me, I should put a review up on GR.

  7. Seeley James says:

    Courtney, I have a friend named Courtney who has that same gender-association problem (he goes by Court but swears he’s going to change his name to Pat or Terry :) so I was wondering. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Julia, you should never ass-u-me!

  8. epscott says:

    I’m looking forward to reading the omnibus, Seeley. It is next in line for me. :) Quick question/observation. I notice that on here, your book cover for the omnibus has a faint image of the White House. Yet, when I click to go to Amazon, it’s not there.

    Was this on purpose? I know some think that that image is a bit cliché, but I have to say I really like it, more so than the one without. Anyway, just an observation.

    • Seeley James says:

      Nothing gets past you! You’re amazing. I released the book with a cover I liked but people kept thinking the hurricane was a galaxy and the book was sci-fi.

      I thought this design change would make it look more like the political-thriller it’s supposed to be. I like it better too.

      I’ve updated the cover on Amazon and in the new version of the downloaded book (I’m not sure if you can refresh from Amazon or not but the new one includes the new cover). Amazon approved it and published it, but my browser still shows the old cover.

      I’m thinking that either Amazon hasn’t updated, or our browsers have a cached version. Hard to say. I’ve asked KDP support and they haven’t answered yet.

      • epscott says:

        Yeah, my browser doesn’t show it either. I hope they get it updated soon. It just gives the book that little bit extra that makes its more mysterious/thriller-ish.

        Oh, and thanks for the “nothing gets past you…amazing” comment…lol.

What do You Think?