Thursday, May 8, 2014

Writing Stand-alones vs. Series: YA Author Jessa Russo on her newest novel, DIVIDE!

Hi, sweet readers!

My friend Jessa Russo has a new book out! I first met her years ago when we were both working toward publication. Her debut was the first in a trilogy, but DIVIDE, her latest release, is a stand-alone! So of course I asked her to blog about the difference between her experiences writing a standalone vs. a series.

I'll be giving not one, but TWO e-copies of DIVIDE away at 8:00 EST tomorrow! (May 9) All you have to do is comment for a chance to win! 

For five (5!) extra entries, tweet about it using this text: I'm dying for a chance to read DIVIDE by @JessaRusso! #giveaway #amreading 

 But first, look at this stunning cover and blurb! (And don't forget to stick around for the excerpt at the end!)

From senior class president to dejected social outcast, with just the flick of a match.
After accusations of torching her ex-boyfriend’s home are followed by the mysterious poisoning of her ex-best friend, seventeen-year-old Holland Briggs assumes her life is over. And it is. But not in the way she thinks.
As Holland learns the truth about her cursed fate—that she is descended from the Beast most have only ever heard of in fairytales—she unites with an unlikely ally, good-looking newcomer Mick Stevenson. 
Mick knows more about Holland’s twisted history than she does, and enlightening as it is to learn about, his suggestion for a cure is unsettling at best. Holland must fall in love with Mick in order to break the spell, and save their future generations from repeating her cursed fate. Having sworn off love after the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, this may be difficult to accomplish. 
Complicating things further for Holland and Mick, time runs out, and Holland’s change begins way before schedule. With Holland quickly morphing into a dangerous mythical creature, Mick struggles to save her. 
Should they fail, Holland will be lost to the beast inside her forever.

What are the differences between planning a standalone (DIVIDE) and planning a trilogy (The Ever Trilogy)?

Well, I have to admit that you lost me at ‘planning’. I've never been a plotter, so I can’t tell you the difference between planning a series and planning a standalone. Because I don’t actually plan for any of it.
What I can tell you is this: for a pantser, or at least, for me specifically, the standalone was so much easier to write than the series. With a trilogy, I really think plotting would have been extremely helpful, as even now, I’m up against the quickly-decreasing timeline of releasing the third installment of The Ever Trilogy, and I have no idea how the story will end. With a standalone, I wrote the book, revised a few times, tied up all the loose ends—or tried to—and I’m done. With the series, there’s so much more to think about, from keeping plot holes from popping up halfway through (which, I guess, essentially makes me a bit of a planner, since I do have to look to the future), to making sure characters stay consistent in their actions and habits, while also growing over the arc of the series . . . and so on and so forth . . . it’s a lot more work. In my humble opinion.

I can’t say I love one more than the other, but I tend to favor series-writing. Even after I finished DIVIDE (and soon after, CHLORINE&CHAOS), my brain keeps trying to find a way to throw a curve ball and continue on with these characters. I’ve become so attached to them and their stories—it’s hard to let go.


“She told me the stories about you, as I’m sure you guessed, and obviously I remember the news and everything.” He shook his head. “But seriously, I’m a bit perplexed that you have to deal with it even though no one actually died, and they couldn’t prove you did anything.”
I shrugged. “Well, I guess that’s high school for you.”
“Yeah, I don’t miss it. But, hey, at least you’re almost out. What are you doing after you graduate?”
“I—well—I don’t really have a plan.”
Anymore. I didn’t have a plan anymore. “I imagine Rod and Leslie are still headed off to ASU together in the fall, but I’ll no longer be completing that trifecta of doom.”
I’d never considered much else because that had been our plan for as long as I could remember. Graduate high school, move to Tempe, go to ASU. The three of us had it all figured out. Or so I’d thought.
“Wow. So, Rod and Leslie, those are the people you supposedly killed?”
Shoot. How much of that had I voiced out loud? Way to go, Holland. I cleared my throat. Might as well talk to him. He probably already knew everything anyway, so what could it hurt?
“Yeah. Leslie was my best friend. Rod was my boyfriend. We’d all been best friends since we were in diapers, basically, but sometime in middle school . . . well, Rod and I became more.”
I took a breath, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach that always accompanied this story. I wished I could change it, but the ending was always the same.
“So, just barely into our senior year—what should have been the most important and memorable year of our lives thus far—after the three of us have been best friends our entire lives, and Rod and I had been together for almost five years, something changed.”
“He cheated on you. With her, right?”
I hated that word. Cheated. He didn’t cheat on me. This wasn’t a pop quiz during third period Biology. He betrayed me. It could have been anyone else. He could have hooked up with one of the other cheerleaders on the squad. Or even Sana, Cam’s ex-girlfriend. But no. He chose the one person in the world—aside from him—who I trusted more than anyone.
He didn’t cheat on me.

He destroyed me. 

Don't forget to comment to enter to win a copy, sweeties! For five extra entries, tweet about the giveaway using this text: I'm dying for a chance to read DIVIDE by @JessaRusso! #giveaway #amreading 


  1. Don't enter me for the giveaway, I already read the book and LOVE IT!! Thanks for the mini guest post, it's helpful in a way.

  2. Don't enter me either. I already have my copy. :) Writing stand-alones or companion novels - so much easier than writing a series. I want to pull out my hair writing the last book in my Heroes of Falledge trilogy. Champion of Valor had been a much easier last book in a trilogy to write.

  3. This sounds really cool! Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales and I love the idea of it being gender swapped.

  4. This book looks awesome, loving the cover!! I just bought her book "Ever" on my kobo ereader, can't wait to start it!

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