Posted On December 14, 2012 by Print This Post

What’s Worse Than the Sophomore Book? with Tracey Devlyn

Today we welcome back one of Romance University’s founders – TRACEY DEVLYN! To those of us still struggling to write and sell our “freshman” book, it’s easy to forget there are more hurdles to come. Here’s Tracey with a reality check on the “sophomore” book!

So glad to be back at Romance University—Becke, thanks for sharing your week with me! Today, I’m going to talk about the challenges of writing the third book in my contracted 3-book series. Yep, I’m calling it a series, rather than a trilogy, because my contract has an option clause for two additional books.Cover: A Lady's Revenge with an sable-haired heroine and a black-haired hero. The heroine's wearing a beautiful long, orange/peachy dress and holding a knife--which is resting against the hero's half-clad chest. Castle in the background--shaded in purple. Suspenseful, historical and lush cover.

Growing up in RWA-land, it doesn’t take long to hear about the sophomore book. You know, the one you have to write on deadline for the first time and it has to be as great (or better) than your debut novel.

Well, writing my second book (aka sophomore book) wasn’t quite so streamlined. I worked on #2 for a couple months while awaiting feedback from my agent and editor regarding A Lady’s Revenge (#1). Once I received the developmental edits for #1, I had to set #2 aside for several months while I went through a couple rounds of edits. Then I went back to #2 and continued until I finished the manuscript. Confused? Hang on, there’s a method to my blathering madness.

For #3, I had a specific time period in which to complete my manuscript. I tell you, I had it all scripted out—650 words a day, excluding days for vacations, conferences, family get-togethers, etc. I even thought if I could do more words on the weekend that I might be able to hand in the manuscript early. *snort* Oh, pardon me. Sucked a bug up my nose.

What I didn’t account for was having to slosh my way through the middle. Yeah, I hit the middle muddle. It was wicked awful, but I finally made it over the hump and wound up writing something like 30,000 words in the month before my deadline. For a girl who barely ekes out 650 words a day, 30K was, um, an interesting test of determination. LOL

At some point, I was commiserating with Adrienne Giordano about my struggle and she admitted to having many of the same issues with her current manuscript. Which, on the surface, made no sense because she was working on her 5th book and I on my 3rd. After a bit of digging, we realized we were both working on our second contracted book with a deadline. Sounds a lot like another sophomore phenomenon.Author Tracey Devlyn holding her advance reading copies of Checkmate, My Lord. Big smile.

So, to answer my own question of what’s worse than the sophomore book? The second deadline book. J

I’m the proud owner of a shiny new advance reading copy (ARC) of my second novel in the Nexus series, Checkmate, My Lord. If you’d like a chance to win my little beauty, please answer the question below. I’ll use to select the winner tonight at 10:00 pm CST. Please leave your email address with your answer.

What is your most wished for present this holiday season?

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you have a joyous end to 2012!!



On Monday, December 17, author DONNA CUMMINGS joins us. 



Tracey Devlyn writes writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. Her debut novel, A LADY’S REVENGE, released April 2012 (Sourcebooks Casablanca). Book Two, CHECKMATE, MY LORD, will be available February 2013.

For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website. She also loves to connect with readers on Facebook and Twitter. Want information about Tracey’s new releases to be delivered to your email inbox? Consider signing up for her newsletter.  |  |  Newsletter


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30 Responses to “What’s Worse Than the Sophomore Book? with Tracey Devlyn”

  1. Trace –

    Can’t wait for my copy of Checkmate, My Lord!

    So I’m wondering when I’ll hit the sophomore slump – book three or four in the Shelbyville series? I start writing book three next week!

    Hmm…what I want for the holidays…a few days where I can just enjoy my family and dogs. I’d also love to explore my new town as I haven’t had much chance to do that this fall.

    Big, holiday hugs!

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | December 14, 2012, 7:21 am
  2. The kindle paper white! I need to read even more! 😉

    Posted by Jillian | December 14, 2012, 7:40 am
  3. So glad I popped over here to read your post, Tracey. I’m working on my sophomore book (the debut doesn’t go live until next summer) and I’m dealing with that same issue. My first real deadline. The interesting thing is I set the deadline. At the time it seemed pretty straightforward. After all, I banged out 50,000 words in little more than 20 days during NaNoWriMo. How hard could it be to bang out another 40,000 during December? Let’s just say we’re halfway through the month and I have yet to write a word. I definitely underestimated all the other craziness in my life plus art worksheets, titling worksheets, retitling worksheets, etc. for the first book. (Sigh.) But, I am thrilled about my journey to publication and I’m determined to get it done.

    Posted by Reese Ryan | December 14, 2012, 8:13 am
    • Hey Reese,

      Thanks so much for stopping by!! Congrats on beginning your sophomore book. Yes, setting our own deadline dates can be tricky, especially if we’re not currently working under strict word counts each day. Setting that habit early on is on my Top 5 list of writing advice. It’s so worth it in the long run.

      Good luck on your deadline. I suspect you’re one of those determined writers and you’ll make it happen!

      Have a great holiday season!!


      Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 14, 2012, 11:11 am
  4. I’m hoping for a pile of mulch for my rose garden and lots and lots of books 🙂

    Posted by Tyler-Rose Counts | December 14, 2012, 8:17 am
  5. I’m hoping for a really warm and fluffy onesie to lounge around in 😀
    A big pile of books would be fab- I’ve dropped enough hints!

    Posted by Cerian Halford | December 14, 2012, 8:35 am
  6. Morning Tracey!

    I remember we had Susan Sey on here awhile back, and she said the same thing about her second book – it was so much harder than the first!

    My Christmas wish? A cleaning lady? A free day? Or maybe just a nice box of chocolates….=) I’m pretty easy to buy for. =)

    Congrats on your Checkmate, My Lord – it’ll be on my TBR pile soon I hope!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | December 14, 2012, 8:47 am
  7. As an indie writer, I don’t have to worry about formal deadlines, but I do try to set my own. (And one of my New Years resolutions will be to take those more seriously.) I have great awe for those who write with a clock ticking away!

    The present I’m hoping for? That I can make some serious headway on editing my wip so I can turn it in to an editor in January. (It helps that I’ll have no visitors, nor go visiting during the holidays.)

    Posted by Carol A. Strickland | December 14, 2012, 9:25 am
    • Carol, thanks for popping in! I don’t know. I think indie writers have different kinds of stress–you have to do it all! I’m in awe of anyone who can manage the many facets of publishing and still stay sane. 🙂

      Good luck on your editing!

      Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 14, 2012, 7:11 pm
  8. Congrats Tracey,

    I have two books coming out in 2013. I’m editing the one due in March and submitted another this week. My brain is mush, but happy.

    My Christmas wish: for everyone to find his or her corner of peace and quiet.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | December 14, 2012, 9:27 am
    • Hi Mary Jo!

      Two books in 2013? That’s fantastic. Congrats!

      Yes, mushy brains come with the business. But like you said, it’s all good.

      I hope your Christmas wish comes true. More so today than any other. My heart aches for the friends and families of the Connecticut school victims. Can’t even conceive the depth of their pain.


      Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 14, 2012, 7:16 pm
  9. Great post!

    Middles are always where my writing schedule goes kerflooeey. I’m glad you got through it.

    Best of luck!!

    Posted by JB Lynn | December 14, 2012, 10:47 am
  10. Thanks for a great – if somewhat intimidating – post, Tracey! I’m eager to read the result of all your hard work!

    It would be nice to think that practice makes perfect, but I guess writing doesn’t work that way!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | December 14, 2012, 11:36 am
    • To clarify, it’s not your post that intimidates me as much as the thought that completing the first book is only the first step up a very steep ladder. Vertigo!!!

      Posted by Becke Martin Davis | December 14, 2012, 5:16 pm
      • Thanks, Becke! I’ve heard many times from USA Today and NYT best sellers that writing never really gets easier. You learn the mechanics and better understand the business, but writing a great book every time is hard.

        Honestly, I want it to be a “little” hard. Otherwise, I might lose my edge and get lazy. Hard keeps me on the search from greatness.


        Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 14, 2012, 7:20 pm
  11. The present I’m hoping for? A Body Media arm band which will calculate how many calories my body burns naturally and during work-outs (as everyone is different). I find it much easier to keep asking for gadgets than do the obvious: eat less and exercise more. That’s too boring. And it begs the question: how much less? How much more? My husband asked why I would want this since last year he got me a pedometer! This is like asking why someone would want a cell phone when there is a rotary phone that still works.

    Hope I win a copy of your new book as tomorrow is my birthday!

    Posted by Maria | December 14, 2012, 11:40 am
  12. I’ve asked my husband to put some shelves up for me. I hate that I can’t get to all my books!


    Posted by catslady | December 14, 2012, 1:59 pm
  13. Hi Tracey!

    I enjoyed your first book, and I’m looking forward to Checkmate!

    What do I wish for this Christmas? Peace on earth and good things for 2013.

    Great having you with us today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | December 14, 2012, 3:59 pm
  14. Hey Jen! It’s so nice being back on RU. Already looking forward to my February post. So glad you enjoyed A Lady’s Revenge and I hope you’ll enjoy Checkmate. 🙂

    Have a great weekend!


    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 14, 2012, 7:23 pm
  15. I wish for books for Christmas! I’m pretty easy to please.

    Thanks for sharing this info.

    Posted by Laurie Evans | December 14, 2012, 9:25 pm
  16. Sorry, folks! I wanted to post the winner last night, but couldn’t get back on the site for some reason. Here we go!

    Thanks to everyone who joined the conversation yesterday!



    I’ll be in touch. Congrats on winning an ARC of Checkmate, My Lord!


    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 15, 2012, 6:36 am

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