Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Second Story Challenge by Cynthia Sax

A couple of months ago, when I visited you here at Decadent Divas, I talked about writing my first cyborg story, Releasing Rage ( Today, I thought I’d come back and talk about writing the follow up story, Breathing Vapor ( This is a sidequel, which is a term I learned only while writing this story. The action in Breathing Vapor happens at the same time as the action in Releasing Rage.).

For me and many other writers, the second story is the most psychologically challenging of all of the stories in the series. The first story is often the most difficult craft-wise. It sets the tone for the rest of the series. The second story is often the most difficult to finish.


Because two things can happen with the first story.

1)     The first story does very well. A bazillion units are sold. Everyone loves it. (Note:  The definition of very well varies by writer. My very well is quite different than E.L. James’ very well.) Now the writer has the pressure of crafting a second story that readers will love as much as the first. The story should be different yet have the same beloved components. Will it be too different? Not different enough? IMHO… this is what Game of Thrones’ George RR Martin is likely struggling with.


2)     The first story does poorly or just so-so. Sales are okay or could be terrible. Reviews are mixed. (Again, the definition of poorly varies by writer.) The writer wonders what is the point of continuing the series if no one is reading it? What’s the rush to write it? Not many people will be waiting for the next book. (This is where reader emails play an important role.) Would it make more sense to simply start another series, with another premise?

Note: If the series is released via a publisher, the writer usually isn’t the one to decide whether or not there’s a next book. The publisher decides this and this decision is almost always based on sales of the previous book.

How do I overcome the psychological blocks with book two?

I ALWAYS write at least the first draft of book two before book one releases. Once the big story decisions are made and I know the story ‘works’, I usually don’t change the plot points. Since the story has already been written, I am also more likely to have it revised, edited, published.

Some of the additional benefits of this is I stay true to my original vision of the series. Many readers wanted Crash’s story to be told next. I knew I had to tell Vapor’s story first.

Writers, how do you overcome second book challenges? Readers, have you recently read a second book that was better than the first? Share the title with us. Let us know that it is achievable!


Breathing Vapor

Vapor is the most advanced cyborg the Humanoid Alliance has ever developed. He’s a finely honed weapon, a warrior without parallel, half man and half machine. No lock can contain him. No being can stop him. Whatever he wants, he takes.

He wants Mira Breazeal, the Designer’s daughter.

She’s his one temptation, his sexy target. Vapor shouldn’t crave her caresses, steal her kisses, make her scream with ecstasy. The cyborgs want her dead and they would question his loyalty if he didn’t kill her. The humans would shoot him on sight if he dared to touch her.

Their love is forbidden. Their desire could be lethal. One human and one cyborg will risk everything for a moment of passion.

Buy Now:


About Cynthia Sax
USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at:
Twitter:  @CynthiaSax

Never Before Shared Excerpt:

Mira turned a corner and stopped.

A familiar silhouette, shrouded in shadows, blocked her path.

“You smell like him.” Vapor’s deep voice flowed down her spine, along her arms and legs.

“Are you recording this?” It was a struggle to maintain her cool persona. She burned for his touch, her need wild and barely controlled.

He paused for one heart pounding moment. “No.”

She relaxed. Cyborgs were unable to lie. “Which him are you referring to? There have been so many different males.”

There had been. Once. Solar cycles ago, she had tried to lose herself in sex. It hadn’t worked so she had given up on relationships, focusing on her mom’s favorite causes—freeing the suppressed, feeding the hungry, righting the wrongs the Humanoid Alliance had created.

“You lie to me, female.” Vapor stepped into the light. The cyborg was hard—hard eyes, hard face, hard body. His tall, broad form was encased in black battle armor. His fingers rested on the hilts of his daggers. He could kill her before she made a sound and she couldn’t stop him.

That aroused her.

She was truly fucked-up.

“There haven’t been many males.” His dark eyes glittered. “I smell only one on you.”

Could he smell what K017282 had done, what she’d allowed the baby cyborg to do? “Why are you out of your cage?” Mira covered up her embarrassment with aggression.

“I had the urge to kill.” Vapor caressed his daggers, drifting his fingertips over the metal, his hands moving up and down, up and down. “The Designer frowns on us killing other cyborgs.” He leaned over her and lowered his voice. “Would any being miss you, I wonder?”


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me, Cait and my other Decadent Diva buddies.
    (big hugs)
    This is the first excerpt from Breathing Vapor shared anywhere.
    I hope folks like it.

  2. Sounds awesome and I cannot wait to get it!