Cover Reveal and a Timeline Problem

by Barb, who’s enjoying a relaxing time in Key West with fellow Wicked Sherry Harris and her husband Bob

First of all–a cover reveal. Here is the artwork for Yule Log Murder, the holiday novella collection I’m in with Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis coming out October 30, 2018. I really like the cover, especially the effect with skeleton in the yule log cake.

If anything my name is even harder to read than on the first anthology cover, which Amazon, depending on the view, says was written by “Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis” or by “Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and another author.” (Note: There are fewer letters in Barbara Ross than in “another author.” It might as well say, “and another less famous author.”)

I joke, I joke. I really do like the cover.

When Kensington asked me to write the first holiday novella, “Nogged Off,” in Eggnog Murder, I was thrilled. Fortuitously, I had planned a gap between Fogged Inn, which takes place the week after Thanksgiving, and Iced Under, which takes place in February. “Nogged Off,” slid right in, putting Christmas between November and February, as it so often is.

With “Logged On,” my story in Yule Log Murder, I wasn’t so lucky. It will come out after Stowed Away, which takes place in June, and before Steamed Open, which takes place in August. I think I’m even going to slide another book, Maine Clambake #8, in after that, which means Yule Log Murder will be published before Steamed Open and Maine Clambake #8, but will take place after the events in those books.

I THINK I have avoided major spoilers. I hope that dedicated Maine Clambake readers will get a tiny, tantalizing glimpse into the future. Of course, a lot of the readers of these novella collections aren’t my regular readers. They are fans of Leslie Meier or Lee Hollis or fans of Christmas-based stories, or of novellas. So they won’t be bothered by the timeline issues. And a lot of my regular readers won’t read the novella, so they’ll be fine, too.

My biggest challenge is how to position the story in places that give lists of series books in order. I characterized Eggnog Murder as Maine Clambake 4.5, which it truly was. But should I position Yule Log Murder as Maine Clambake 6.5 or 8.5? And do I have to wait until 7 and 8 come out for 8.5 to make any sense?

For those of you who are dedicated series readers, do you have “feelings” about this? Should I address the timeline in the readers’ letter that comes at the end of the novella? (It’s sort of like the Acknowledgments in the books.) How should I position the story?

I loved writing this story. I like working in the novella length and Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. I hope you enjoy it, too. Whatever order you read it it.

42 Thoughts

  1. As a writer, I understand your dilemma. As a reader, it wouldn’t bother me at all because it is a novella with a specific story timeline. I would expect the Clambake novel series to follow a timeline, but the appearance of Christmas novellas in Christmas themed book I would expect to exist out of the novels timelines and would consider them a delightful gift from the author.

  2. If I have nothing else to go by, I use publication date to watch a writer develop, but with a developing CHARACTER, it IS helpful to have a timeline following the character’s lifetime, so 8.5 (which will have those readers who have cash on the lookout for 7 and 8).

  3. I understand your dilemma. I love book series and I try to read them in order as much as Possible. For some reason, though, it doesn’t bother me to read a novella out of order. I think I would number it 8.5 and explain in the Reader’s Letter.

    1. Both my editor and my fellow Wicked Julie Hennrikus had suggested a prequel, and I thought that was a brilliant idea. But last year with all the moving and having the novella due the same day as the book, I didn’t trust myself to have the bandwidth to create that prequel world. But I would sure love to do it someday.

  4. The Maine Clambake series is my absolute favourite cozy series, so I am just excited to have more of your work to read! I wouldn’t be bothered by a novella being out of order.

  5. I just put it on my list with 6.5, 8.5 after it. I just got Eggnog Murder, because I hadn’t known about it. Somehow I had missed it. Most readers won’t mind the order and if they do, the next time they read the series through, they can put it in order. Thank you for a great series, glad to know about #8, but what about #9 – 12+…

  6. As a reader, I don’t mind going off timeline for novellas. I especially ignore timelines when it comes to Christmas novellas, as that is the time I am more likely to grab different authors and get interested in a new character and have to go back to the beginning!

  7. As a reader (and one who loves this series!!!), I would definitely appreciate some sort of explanation blurb included with the novella (but it’s okay that it’s out of order). 🙂

  8. I love this series and like novellas so no problem for me. Glad to see that there is a 9 but would love many more.Would love more about the surprise relations.

      1. The reason I said anything is in 1943 there was a knock at the door. There stood a young sailor and he said my mother is your sister. My mom stood there and cried, she was put in an orphanage when she was 10 and she knew that there was another family but not much else. The sailor was follpwed with 2 more and later my mom met her sister and another one but a brother had already died.I was a only and my sailor cousin had 9 sisters at home. Loved those cousins.

  9. If you look at the “Book series in order” tab on my blog, you’ll see that I list novella collections at the end of a series. (I only have a few authors that this has even come up for, so there aren’t many of them to find.) Like others have said, I consider these special treats and not necessarily part of the series ongoing story lines. I was actually impressed you were able to do that for Nogged Off. It won’t bother me at all for Logged Off. And I think anyone reading your books will quickly figure out it isn’t part of the book chronology. As others have said, a one sentence note at the end of the story should be all you need.

    As to names on books and why people are picking them up – I don’t read the other two authors in the collection. The only reason I will be picking it up is because the name Barbara Ross is on it.

  10. I love the cover! I think that a small noting of the timeline in the readers’ letter will be just fine. I have read all of the Clambake books and I plan to read this new novella.

  11. Great cover! Very eye catching. As a devoted fan of all three of these awesome authors, it’s never bothered me to read these novellas out of order. It’s a great way to still touch base with the characters and wait eagerly for the new books to come out. Also, as a librarian, I’ve noticed these books have a way of hooking new fans who then want to go back to the beginning and read about these characters. Looking forward to this coming out! Woo hoo!

  12. I’m never bothered with reading a novella out of order. If I’m a fan, I’ll eventually get all and start from the beginning. I’m a real paper book and audio fan, not much on the e-books, as it bothers my eye issues. Plus living in a small town and on a strict budget, so either I have to wait or get what’s available to me, so out of order happens. I re-read a lot as well. I normally go by date published. Love the cover! Oh and congrats!

  13. I agree with those who say a novella is a gift from the author. It’s place in the order of the series is not an issue for me. It is a Christmas gift from the author to her readers. So thanks in advance for the gift. I will most definitely download the book and read all three novellas. I a huge fan of books with a Maine setting. I read all three authors.

  14. Great cover! I read the first anthology and enjoyed all the stories. I’ve been a fan of Leslie Meier for a long time. I’d read your first ones too. Lee Hollis was new. I’m looking forward to Stowed Away. It’s next up! Thanks

  15. P.s. timeline…explain it in the author comments…if it bothers some readers…too bad! Their problem, not yours! In your list, put it where it comes in the timeline of the evolving story…not according to when it was published. My thoughts…

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