Help Assess Dark Legacy and WIN!!!

I’m starting to get psyched about writing the second book in my Legacy series.A week of solid planning behind me, and I’m ready to dive into the first few chapters of the book. Then I’ll review and FINALLY, hopefully, be ready to write a detailed synopsis/outline for the rest of the book. That’s how this series has worked for me. I have so many ideas and the storie ideas are so large at this point in the process, I need to be firmly entrenched in character and relationships first–then I can pair down the planning and focus on a story arc that is tight enough to work from.

But first, before I get too far into Book 2, I want to asses Book 1–Dark Legacy: what worked and what didn’t and what I’d planned and what I actually produced and where the story and themes and relationships sparkled and where I wished I’d had more time and space to do more…I do this with ever new book, especially books in an ongoing series, where the world is set so now I can really mine for something magical with the new story dynamic. I’ve just never done it in public before. Or asked others to join in the brainstorming before. Or offered a prize, to be awarded randomly to one of the commenters before… ;o) Like another set of the Godiva Halloween suckers I’m giving away on Fresh Fiction right now ;o)

So, here are the high points of all I’ve thought and heard and learned, then some of the questions I’m asking myself as I begin drafting Secret Legacy. Feel free to add to, answer, challenge or inspire. Even if it’s something that TOTALLY didn’t work for you, that will help me as I stand back and look objectively at everything I have to work with. All feedback is welcome. It will all make Secret Legacy better. And after all, isn’t that what everyone wants, right??? Well, that and another chance to win Milk Chocolate Godiva Halloween Suckers like the ones I’m giving away in my Fresh Ficion “Boo” Contest ;o) Here the are, so don’t be shy!

godiva lollis

Ready. Set. Talk amongst yourself…

Dark Legacy pros (what other yummy stuff did you walk away feeling?)

  • Fast, thrilling pace
  • Suspense up to the last scene
  • Emotionally intense
  • Complex relationships
  • High-impact psychological conflicts
  • Exciting cliff hanger
  • Genre-bending/breaking

Dark Legacy cons/questions (did any other things stop you?)

  • Too fast?
  • Too many relationships (not enough focus on any one)?
  • Plot heavy/not enough romance?
  • Doesnt’ give reader a chance to catch breath?
  • Psychological impact on reader creepy at times?
  • Too much of a cliff hanger?
  • Not a traditional romance

Some initial Secret Legacy questions (feel free to add your own)

  • Now that we know the world and some of the key questions are answered, how will the pacing shift/evolve in Secret Legacy?
  • Maddie and Jarred in Dark Legacy already knew each other and were already attracted, so that relationship arc was  a “pick up in the middle of the story” story. Sarah and Richard barely know each other but are connected through their dream work, so how to handle the dramatic romantic arc that these two will have?
  • In Dark Legacy, the protagonist (Maddie) was losing her mind over the course of the book and never really understood what was happening–so, neither could the reader–until the very end of the story. In Secret Legacy, the protagonist (Sarah) begins broken and spends the book healing. How to handle the thriller/suspense aspect with a heroine growing in the opposite psychological direction as in Book 1.
  • The evolution of the romance in Dark Legacy had to be very subtle, because it mostly had to be told from the male POV–since Maddie was losing he mind, her point of view scenes were scattered and confusing and not grounded in reality. The romance in Secret Legacy will be equally pivotal to Sarah and Richard’s survival, but will have to be played out much more on page. How to handle that, while still keeping the gritty, non-traditional romance feel of the external story itself.

24 Responses to “Help Assess Dark Legacy and WIN!!!”

  1. Lexie says:

    –I really liked the urgent current beneath the story, even when the narrative itself was shattered (due to Maddie or Sarah’s instability) there was a sort of urgent imperative to me that kept me focused.
    –Richard took a little while to grow on me. I’ll admit in the first few chapters I was ready to condemn him and toss him out to the lions, but I suppose because we saw that he was really trying to help and it got out of control, I liked him better for it.
    –The mystery/puzzle kept me thinking
    –The triad of Jarred/Metting/Phyllis was intriguing to me. All 3 were coming at the ‘problem’ of Sarah’s insanity and Maddie’s impending insanity from three different angles. It represented such an interesting overview of the differences in the relationships as well as emotional involvement.

    –Its possible I swore to kill Sarah at least once. Maybe twice. She did kind of get on my nerves with her meddling, but not OVERLY much.
    –I would have liked more romance, but I’m not certain if that would have made things ‘better’ persay. I just like romance. Since we did jump into Maddie/Jarred relationship development wise, I felt a little cheated.
    –I admit that when I read the last page I had to re-read it to see if I had somehow stumbled into an excerpt for the next book without realizing it. Obviously you’re writing book 2, so the fear that ‘omg this will NEVER have a definitive ending’ is practically gone (I do not trust anything until I have the book in my hands!), but it did worry me.

    Um that pretty much sums it up. I enjoyed the book a lot and had hopes for more so I guess that wish is fulfilled!

    • Anna says:

      Great notes, Lexi! Thanks for taking so much time to write it all down.

      Yeah, I love me some anti-heroes. There’s a lot to dislike about just about every character, with the exception of Jarred (who I ran the risk of making seem clueless for staying involved with Maddie when there was every chance he’d get hurt or killed if he did). The exciting challenge with Jarred and all the characters was motivating their choices so that it made sense in the context of the story and the connections they shared.

      And romance was an expection we knew a lot of readers would bring to the book, because of my Harlequin series that’s done so well. I worked hard when setting up the world of the Legacy series to keep the relationships super stron (including the romance and the family/community connections that I’ve always written) while establishign that these books would be romantic thriller. Hopefully, going into Secret Legacy (Sarah and Richard’s rocky connection and romance will be non-stop conflict), readers will adjust their expectations slightly and be more satisfied with the rich central relationship, even if it’s not traditional romance. And of course, I’ll be working as hard as ever to give as much of the relationship story as possible amidst the other thrilling things ripping you through the story ;o)

      And, yeah, the ending… Wasn’t that fun ;o) Actually, there was supposed to be a teaser included at the end, promising you that Secret Legacy would tie up all the loose ends (at least for the sisters, though things will still be up in the air for the brotherhood of Watchers you’ve only begun to meet). Unfortunately, there was a production issue and the teaser didn’t make it. Sigh… the things writers don’t control about their own books. Don’t get me started!

  2. sylvia kriksic says:

    sounds like a great book

  3. Ashley Domes says:

    Pros I couldn’t put the book down, Cons my husband didn’t appreciate making dinner.

  4. Joan Woods says:

    Haven’t read the book yet but since you wrote it I am sure there are more pros than cons. Happy Halloween

  5. Kelli Jo Calvert says:

    It’s in my TBR pile, so I can’t answer! Sorry!

  6. Hey Anna,

    Never found a con in any of your books so I don’t think I’ll find one now.

  7. sherry pincus says:

    Can’t wait to read the book!

  8. Peggy Gorman says:

    I haven’t read it yet but I will be soon
    Sounds like my kind of book

  9. Linda B says:


  10. sue hieber says:

    i knew after the first few chapters that i would be up later than usual, i didnt want to put it down

  11. amanda says:

    I just started reading it a bit ago so I’m only 50 or so pages in. At first, I had a hard time with the time jumping/character jumping, but it wasn’t so extreme that I stopped reading and after a bit I caught on, so I don’t think it was really a problem. Like I said, i haven’t read much yet and i tried to avoid reading too much info you posted above to avoid spoilers. So far, i like the character of maddie’s doctor and am interested to see what will come there. i also like the scientific-y aspect of things, such as where her sister is being held. I can’t say much more yet as i’m just getting going;-)

    • Anna says:

      I can’t wait to hear what you think, Amanda (and everyone else who’s said DL is on their TBR pile)! Be sure to pop back in and let us know.

      The way I handled the beginning was a calculated risk. I actually patterened it after what I’d learned from studying several thrillers that were on the shelves when I first began to write DL. The idea was to establish a “thriller” pace and a sense of not knowing what was going on, that would serve the book and the plot for the rest of the story. Like I said, it was a risk: to intrigue without being too confusing; to draw you into the madness of Maddie and Sarah’s world without driving you nuts, too ;o) My editor really helped me craft and recraft the opening chapters, until we thought the reader could follow along and want to know more, and then more, and then more…

      And if you life the paranormal and scientific-y aspects, you’ll LOVE what’s coming in Secret Legacy. Because we finally know what we’re dealing with, sort of, just not how to control the psychic gifts and dream theory still taunting and haunting Sarah and her sister… Bwahahahaha!!!

  12. RobynL says:

    it isn’t a traditional romance as I see it; I would have liked more romantic accounts personally.

    I have to admit I did find some parts of the story confusing as I tried to understand where Maddie was coming from.

    • Anna says:

      Yep, you nailed it on the head Robyn. It’s NOT traditional romance, and we knew that would startle some folks at first. Hopefully, there was enough in the characters and relationships to hook you on this new venture for me, and to leave you wanting to know more about Sarah and Richard’s journey. I really think the next book is going to be even richer and more nail-bitiing.

      I hear you on the confusion and heavy plot, leaving less time for as much romance as I’ve been able to paint into my classic Harlequin stories. The challenge will be to keep Secret Legacy thrilling, while delving more into the characters and relationships now that the new world and it’s built-in conflicts are in place ;o)

  13. Claudia M says:

    just like a roller coaster up & down :) i loved it , had to make myself put it down and go to sleep :)

  14. Linda Henderson says:

    I enjoyed the book very much. I can’t really think of anything I would change. I look forward to the next one.

  15. i knew after the first few chapters that i would be up later than usual, i didnt want to put it down.

  16. etirv says:

    Nothing substantial to add right now, DL is a TBR… soon!

  17. cc says:

    From your excerp’s sounds like a wonderful read;leaves me curious with anticipation for how it ends! Keep up the great writing!

  18. Ezzy Languzzi says:

    Things That Worked for Me:

    Your story was based on an intelligent and thought-provoking premise. I found myself on several occasions after having put the book down, asking myself where I would go if I could “dream project?.” Would I pay a visit to a friend’s or an enemy’s mind? What if I could travel to another part of the world? The possibilities are endless.

    I liked how you laced together the romantic elements with the mind-bending paranormal. Can’t say I’ve ever read a “traditional” romance story. I tend to gravitate to stories like this that have an aspect of romance in them, e.g. mystery, suspense, etc. So, that Dark Legacy wasn’t a traditional romance was a bonus for me.

    The characters were complex. Of all the characters, I found Jarred the most sympathetic and easiest to relate too. Maddie, I got mad at on occasion. Sarah, I wanted to kill. Richard, I’m still on the fence about.

    I liked the cliffhanger ending. Can’t wait to see what the little secret revealed in the last page will develop into with Secret Legacy.

    Possible Areas for Improvement:

    *spoiler alert*

    Definitely would have liked to have seen a little more romance : ). In fact, I don’t think it was until quite a bit into the book when Maddie and Jared finally got together.

    I wanted to know more about Jared’s and Richard’s backstory.

    Transitions between the “awake” states and “trance/dream” states were jarring at times — kind of like the rug being pulled out from under me. Seeing the branches swaying in the wind alerted me that a freaky scene was coming up, other times I didn‘t have any warning. I found myself losing my place and having to reread passages.

    I would have liked to have learned about Dream Weaver maybe a little earlier — then again, you kept me guessing. I was on a mission to find out what was happening to Maddie and why her sister wouldn’t leave her alone.

    Anna, for aspiring writers, it’s refreshing to see an established writer solicit feedback publicly. You’re literally holding a public critique! Good for you.

    Looking forward to your next installment. Happy Halloween!


  19. Minna says:

    I haven’t had the chance to read your book yet, but Lexie said she would have liked more romance. I just read another book that initially made me think the same way: I would have liked more romance! But after I had thought about it, I changed my mind. But now I know that when I do get your book in my hands, I won’t read anything with a fast paced romance in it first.

  20. Diane Pollock says:

    I really liked that it was not a traditional romance, very genre-bending and exciting read. I loved the plot and cannot wait for more!

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