It Happened One Doomsday

How to Turn a Short Story into a Book Series

Lightbulb Moment

DING! (That’s my lightbulb-moment sound effect.)

Believe it or not, IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY started out as a short story.

I was struggling with another novel, so I switched gears and wrote a fun little story about this awkward wannabe sorceress who ends up breaking the evil curse on a bad-boy hero with a muscle car.

It was half scary, half funny, and people seemed to really get a kick out of it. They kept asking me what happens next.

And I had to say, “There is no next. This is it.”

But I really got hooked on writing these characters, so I expanded it into a novella. My critique group was extraordinarily supportive. I kept bringing them new pages of rough draft as I wrote it, and we tossed all sorts of crazy ideas around.

I just kept expanding the story until it became a novel. The day I finished it, I called my wife to tell her, and she asked, “How does it end?”

And I said, “Guess.”

She said, “You know what would be really cool?” And she sketched out a completely different ending from the one I had just written.

Not just different. It was better, and ultimately it meant expanding the book into a series.

So with a sigh, I went back and changed the ending. And at that moment, everything clicked. I had the feeling that I was really onto something.

This ended up being the first book I’ve ever written that received offers from multiple publishers. My literary agent, Kristin Nelson, sold it in a multi-book deal.

I’ve already written Book 2, which should come out in the summer of 2017, and I have more stories on the way. Get free previews and short stories when you subscribe to my free author newsletter. >

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Coming in 2017: Dru Jasper Book 2

A Kiss Before Doomsday

Did you notice the red glowing tire tracks? Words can’t express how much I love this new cover.

So, this year I did something I’ve never done before. I wrote a sequel.

It was weird, because for the first time, I found myself writing a book with pre-established characters, relationships, settings, etc. Dru’s magic universe (or the “Druniverse” as I like to call it) was already firmly laid out in the first book.

If a story fact made things more complicated, it’s not like I could just change it. I had to work it out. For example, Opal doesn’t have magical powers, but now she’s caught in the midst of these epic magical struggles. What does that mean for her as a person? What does that mean for her friends?

Continue reading

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3 Authors Chat on Night Owl Reviews – Tonight!

Tonight at 6:00 PM MST, I’m doing an author chat with Night Owl Reviews.

Far as I can tell, it’s a text chat. So, apparently we’re going to party like it’s 1999. ;)

Night Owl Reviews author chat time zone map

Join me at 6:00 PM MST (or your local equivalent).

Join me, along with romance author Avery Flynn and mystery author Julia Buckley.

We’ll answer your questions, share excerpts and give away brand new books.

Since 2004, Night Owl Reviews has reviewed over 26,000 books. Here’s what they said about It Happened One Doomsday:

MacNaughton provides a smooth, action-packed read all the way to the end! This could be the start of a new series, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. The characters were great and believable. I loved the car scenes the best (too bad Hellbringer isn’t real!) … Very descriptive, and new takes on old stories had this reader staying up to finish it in one night!

Wow. Come see what all the excitement is about.

Click here to RSVP for the event.

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Beyond the Trope Podcast and Book Giveaway

Beyond the Trope podcast and book giveaway

Have you listened to Beyond the Trope yet? What are you waiting for?

Beyond the Trope is the most nerdly fun podcast you haven’t heard yet.

Click here to listen. >

By the way, not only is it oddly addictive, I also promised to give away a signed paperback copy of It Happened One Doomsday to one lucky listener.

On the latest episode, we chatted about all kinds of crazy stuff including, but not limited to:

* a Metallica mix tape that led indirectly to a book deal

* getting writing ideas at a party with Hugh Howey and Kristin Nelson

* what goes into a good book soundtrack, and that means the best Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” cover you ever heard

* a guy named Mr. Angry (I’m not making that up) who built the car that inspired Hellbringer, the demon-possessed muscle car in my book.

Check out the Beyond the Trope podcast.

You can also listen on iTunes or get it on Stitcher.

More podcasts and giveaways on the horizon! Don’t miss it. Be sure to subscribe to my free author newsletter. >

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“A really great story!” –GeekyGodmother

Holy cow! I couldn’t be happier with this fabulous review from Canadian book site www.geekygodmother.ca:

“The characters are fantastic in what I’m hoping is only the first of a series. Dru doesn’t feel she has the great power of her heroes, but she uses all she has to help out those who do. She becomes the best backup she can possibly be. Her friend Rane, a very powerful sorceress, is outrageous, and hilarious. Same is true of Dru’s shop assistant Opal. She is all attitude, but she has Dru’s back. Greyson too is mighty fine, as Opal mentions many times. Even as he fights for his immortal soul, he is helpful, thoughtful and would love to be Dru’s other half… I really like this book and I highly recommend it. It Happened One Doomsday would make a great summer read.”

Read the whole review >

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“One hell of a ride!” –Foreword Reviews

Foreword Reviews

Seems like every reviewer has a different currency: five stars, five moons, five thumbs up (which for some reason makes me think of Sha Na Na).

Whatever they are, whenever there are FIVE of them, I sit up and take notice.

Which brings us to this exquisite “five heart” write-up from Foreword Reviews:

“The story unfolds in bold, cinematic strokes. Action sequences, particularly the final car chase, thrum with tension as Dru and her team streak through urban decay, mountains, high desert, and occult landscapes in sexy, demon-possessed muscle cars. Well-executed imagery and pacing make this a joyous thrill ride with a sense of peril.”

Plus, somewhere in there, they call Dru “adorkable.” Which is both funny and sweet. And so true.

Love it!

Haven’t read the book yet? Subscribe to my author newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback for free. >

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“Quite clever.” –Bookpushers

BookpushersHere’s another fantastic review, in case you’re wondering what all the buzz is about.

This particular review comes from the mysterious yet discerning E over at The Bookpushers:

“MacNaughton provided a very interesting twist on some myths about the world ending and the signs of the apocalypse. I really thought how he modernized some of them quite clever and loved the additional personality aspects, which went along with his modern twist.”

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Muscle Cars

Hellbringer 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

Don’t try this at home. Really.

True story: before I wrote this book, I was a professional prototype vehicle test driver.

So when I set out to write about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse tearing up the highways in Christine-ish muscle cars, you can bet I had fun with it.

Check out this interview on MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape where I not only talk about cars, I also go pretty deep into the cool quirks of my characters, and what exactly Dru’s universe (or the “Druniverse”) is really like.

Plus, I share some cool insights about the “magic” properties of crystals (including how the pharaohs of ancient Egypt used to protect themselves against the evil eye).

And the surprise fan favorite character that everyone is talking about. Hint: this particular character has four wheels. (!)

Check out the interview here on MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape.com >

Don’t forget: free short stories and more in your email when you subscribe to my author newsletter. >

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Until we get lightsabers, here’s the next best thing.

Not a lightsaber, but an actual real-life shard of selenite.

Not a lightsaber, but an actual real-life shard of selenite.

In my book, Dru fights demons and creatures using magical crystals.

Here’s what’s cool: all of the crystals she uses are magically charged versions of actual, real-life crystals: quartz, amethyst, galena, pyrite, etc.

Being a writer who writes about crystals, I’ve naturally built up a modest collection of crystals over the years.

The towns in the Rocky Mountains are rife with rock shops and lapidaries, some of them little more than a room in someone’s house. If you know where to look, you can find some pretty cool stuff.

Here’s a picture of my biggest crystal find yet: a natural selenite wand. Because of its mineral structure, selenite is fiber-optic, which my lovely wife is demonstrating here with LED lights.

In the books, this wand belongs to Dru’s ultimate nemesis, an evil crystal sorceress bent on destroying the world.

Fun stuff! Especially because, hidden in the between all the fancy magic, there’s a little bit of science. Neat-o.

Did you know I’m giving away some actual crystals from It Happened One Doomsday? Enter to win by subscribing to my newsletter. Click here.>

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The #1 Weirdest Thing about Writing a Book Series (and It’s Not What You Think)

Greyson Carter - It Happened One Doomsday

Greyson Carter. Restores old cars. Rescues stray animals. Often forgets to shave. Happens to be cursed to bring about the end of the world.

In my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series, one of my lead characters is Greyson, a half-demon mechanic with a possessed muscle car.

He’s your archetypal tough guy. He always wears a black leather jacket and aviator sunglasses.

Which is cool. Right up until the moment the leather jacket gets destroyed.

Torched by magic. Slashed by an evil monster. Burst apart at the seams as Greyson himself is transformed into a hulking evil creature by the forces of darkness.

This causes a major wardrobe problem.

Because what is he going to wear now?

Does he run around half-naked? Borrow someone else’s shirt? Go shopping for a new leather jacket?

When you write a standalone short story or novel, you can pretty much do anything you want with the characters without worrying about how that impacts the story in the future. Because there is no future.

But when you write a book series, that all changes. Bizarre things start happening.

Suddenly you start worrying about continuity like you never have before. Little creative decisions that you make on the spur of the moment can have a ripple effect that impacts the story in every book to come.

It’s silly to think that losing a leather jacket in Book 1 turns out to be a real headache in Book 2, but it’s true.

In the movie The Last Action Hero, there’s a funny moment when Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up a closet and it’s packed with nothing but identical leather jackets. Because that’s all his character ever wears.

Such an elegant solution.

How did I eventually solve my problem? Greyson spends a good chunk of the book without a shirt, which leads to so many great moments: funny, sexy, awkward, but mostly a lot of fun.

Now, it’s too soon for me to reveal how I solved the wardrobe conundrum in Book 2. But I had to figure out a convincing way to get a half-naked Greyson back into his signature leather jacket and sunglasses — fast.

Trust me, it wasn’t easy. But it was pretty amusing.

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