Posted in Blog Tour, Characters, Guest Post

Guest Post and Blog Tour for Hiding Cracked Glass by James J. Cudney

How do you Keep Track of Characters in Your Series?

What a great question! When Shalini and I decided to make this an open opportunity for bloggers to ask any questions they wanted, I knew it would be fun. Big thanks to Debbie for asking about character tracking… it’s definitely not easy. In my Braxton Campus Mysteries, of which there are 6 current books and 1 in draft mode, there are 137 characters. If you ask me any questions about them, I will know the answer off the top of my head. I am actually really good at keeping these details in my brain. I sometimes forget how to walk, pour a glass of water, or open a door knob, but I don’t forget my characters. Mostly, they feel so real to me, I picture them as though they are alive. Hopefully I’m not caught talking to them when wandering the street; that would be embarrassing.

In the combo of Watching Glass Shatter and Hiding Cracked Glass, there are ~50 characters. This series has been more complicated to keep track of because I wrote the first book in 2016/7 and outlined the second book at the end of 2019… with 2 1/2 years’ hiatus between. While I noodled ideas around in my head, I actually had to go back to my original outline to determine the key points I wanted to focus on in the sequel. I began with circles for each main character. Since these two books actually alternate chapters by character, everything had to be lined up. I did the exact same thing style-wise for the sequel, and each main character needed 2 or 3 supporting characters to pull off the story and the threat of ‘who wrote the letter and wants to hurt someone in the Glass family?’

In the Braxton Campus Mysteries, I keep an Excel spreadsheet and a Word document for tracking the details. Excel has names, parents, key relationships, ages, descriptions, whether they are a murderer, victim, suspect, or something else. I actually go a bit more detailed in terms of balancing the suspects, victims, and murderers so that it’s generally split across genders, ages, ethnicities, etc. I’ve intentionally tried to bring in at least two non-traditional characters so that I can help move books and the genre toward a more diverse cast. I also try not to stereotype nor make this too obvious. Names and descriptions must be strong but not overpowering so it appears fake.

In the Word documents, I cut/paste all detailed descriptions and a summary of the person’s role in each book. I need to know that I don’t mess something up… I’ll confess two things though… two changes I actually made between the first and second book. I swapped the birth order of Kellan’s siblings while writing the second book. The first was with beta readers and during launch week, when I went back and updated the final format. The other is to change the details on Kellan’s grandfather’s death (before the books started) because I wanted to leave a bit of mystery around it. There might be a plot in the future that focuses on what happened to Nana D’s late husband!

When I draft the outline for each new book, I start out with ‘where did all the major characters end up’ in the last book. I’m famous for my cliffhangers, so I also have to focus on closing those loose ends. It’s a lot of work, and I have to think about journeys in between books; everything needs to be documented in my main tracking sheet, especially birthdays and facts that sometimes mean very little but could be problematic if I say Kellan’s brother graduated from college in a year that wouldn’t line up to his proper age… or I said a certain skin tone that is different between books — that shows the writer isn’t thinking about consistency, which is important to me. Mistakes happen, totally understandable… but it’s critical to think of both short and long term before committing to a character action or description.

Quite honestly, in the last Braxton book, I backed myself into a corner with the ending… and now, although I have the plot worked out and who will die… I am thinking about how I could change it without causing any disconnects. Why did this happen, you ask? Because us writers can be highly creative, and sometimes a new brainstorm pops up and you can’t help but want to find a way to incorporate it. So… the big question is:

At the end of Hiding Cracked Glass, did I leave room for a third book in a trilogy? Or will it end at just the two? And just like all my Braxton books… yep… you guessed it… I’m ending this guest post with the cliffhanger. I might’ve left room for a third Perceptions of Glass book… and you’ll just have to wait to find out in the coming years!!!

At the end of Hiding Cracked Glass, did I leave room for a third book in a trilogy? Or will it end at just the two? And just like all my Braxton books… yep… you guessed it… I’m ending this guest post with the cliffhanger. I might’ve left room for a third Perceptions of Glass book… and you’ll just have to wait to find out in the coming years!!!

Thanks for sharing that wonderful guest post, James. Here are the details for your blog tour, author bio, and social media links.

ABOUT THE BOOK

An ominous blackmail letter appears at an inopportune moment. The recipient’s name is accidentally blurred out upon arrival. Which member of the Glass family is the ruthless missive meant for?

In the powerful sequel to Watching Glass Shatter, Olivia is the first to read the nasty threat and assumes it’s meant for her. When the mysterious letter falls into the wrong hands and is read aloud, it throws the entire Glass family into an inescapable trajectory of self-question. Across the span of eight hours, Olivia and her sons contemplate whether to confess their hidden secrets or find a way to bury them forever. Some failed to learn an important lesson last time. Will they determine how to save themselves before it’s too late?

Each chapter’s focus alternates between the various family members and introduces several new and familiar faces with a vested interest in the outcome. As each hour ticks by, the remaining siblings and their mother gradually reveal what’s happened to them in the preceding months, and when the blackmailer makes an appearance at Olivia’s birthday party, the truth brilliantly comes to light.

Although everyone seemed to embrace the healing process at the end of Watching Glass Shatter, there were hidden cracks in the Glass family that couldn’t be mended. Their lives are about to shatter into pieces once again, but this time, the stakes are even higher. Someone wants to teach them a permanent lesson and refuses to stop until success is achieved.  

HIDING CRACKED GLASS BY JAMES J. CUDNEY

Series Name: Perceptions of Glass

Book #1 Name: Watching Glass Shatter

Book #2 Name: Hiding Cracked Glass (cover reveal for this one)

Publication for Book #2:

Next Chapter, October 8th, 2020

Amazon Link:

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54399989-hiding-cracked-glass

About The Author

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Author:

I'm a librarian at a public library and author of the Cobble Cove mystery series and other novels, short stories, articles, and a novella. My books include CLOUDY RAINBOW, REASON TO DIE, and the 5 books of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A STONE'S THROW, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, WRITTEN IN STONE, LOVE ON THE ROCKS, and NO GRAVESTONE UNTURNED. I've also written a romantic comedy novella, WHEN JACK TRUMPS ACE, and various short stories of different genres published by Solstice Publishing. My standalone psychological thriller, SEA SCOPE, was published by Next Chapter, and my medical mystery, MEMORY MAKERS, was released by them in July 2020. I have also completed the first book of a new cozy series, THE CASE OF THE CAT CRAZY LADY, Buttercup Bend Mystery #1, for which I am currently seeking representation. My non-fiction cat book, PET POSTS: THE CAT CHATS, should publish in Fall, 2020. I am a member of Sisters-in-Crime, Long Island Authors Group, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writers' Association. I live on Long Island with my husband, daughter, and 3 cats.

6 thoughts on “Guest Post and Blog Tour for Hiding Cracked Glass by James J. Cudney

  1. Well done, Jay, to keep track of all your characters in your head line this. I can remember all of mine until a book is finished. Then it dies for me and new characters take their places. I can’t remember the details any more. This is why I haven’t tried to write a series because I loose interest in the characters at the end of each book.

    Liked by 1 person

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