One thing about writing about a dynasty--it covers a whole lot of territory and a whole lot of people! When I decided to write a family saga, I took the easy way out. Writing about the rule of the kan Ingans of the Emeraunt Galaxy, I decided to tell only the stories about the beginning and end of that particular reign. My series, The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic (Bloodseek, Blood Curse, A Singing in the Blood, and Barbarian Blood Royal) recorded their origins. My series, the kan Ingan Archives, told of their scandal-laden and inglorious end thirty-one hundred years later. The second series didn't start out as a series, but--as usual with characters with whom I have dealings more than once--Aric kan Ingan and his Black Shield friends yanked the book out of my hot little hands, and, in their superiorly militant way, took over. If they'd let me handle things, the story might have ended differently; then again, knowing my penchant for Unhappily-Ever-After endings, perhaps not!

Suffice it to say, writing a family saga isn't easy. Whatever is said in the original book has to be maintained in all the others. It can't be changed unless there's a very good reason. If a character is taken on an ocean journey by his father and he's five-years-old at that time, you can't have another character state dogmatically in another book that he was seven when it happened. Don't think some eagle-eyed little nit-picker of a reader won't catch it and promptly fire off an e-mail to your website, pointing this out. (I know; I'm guilty of doing just that.) Same with spellings. A character's name has to be spelled the same way throughout; if it's italicized in one book, keep it consistently italicized in all of them. A person's character may change, his faith and his philosophy may be converted--indeed, that's the stuff stories are made of because they involve conflict--but unless you state specifically there's hair dye or colored contacts involved, make certain his blond hair stays blond and his brown eyes brown. (Of course if it's science fiction, you can change his appearance with impunity.) I always think of Stephen King's example when he was writing Christine: A specific make of car drove into an alley, a different make of car came out. I did that once myself. Not with cars, but I had a character who was blond only to suddenly become a brunet without explanation (or the use of Clairol for Men.) Thank Goodness for the delete/replace button!

Family sagas are a lot of work because you have to keep track not only of the characters' names and physical appearances, but also of their ages, especially if each novel encompasses a number of years. Sometimes it's easier to make a chronological chart, a family tree or spreadsheet with all the relationships, ages, etc., so it can be referred to from time to time. In Blood Sin, the main character, Aric, goes from age twenty to thirty; the second novel (tentatively titles Sinner's Exile) opens ten years later and covers five years of his life. In the third novel, at the age of 46, Aric returns to Arcanis. When Aric left his home, the woman he will eventually marry was six-years-old. When he meets her again in the third book, she's twenty-two, and his decision to marry her scandalizes his friends because he's now twice her age. (They consider he's having an Arcanian mid-life crisis.) Age plays a very important part in these stories so I had to keep close tabs on how old everyone was and when.


And what is all this leading to? Haven't you guessed by now? To the promo for my new book, of course! Blood Sin, the story of a man who falls in love with the wrong woman. (Don't they all?) A man who was destined to be the most powerful person in the galaxy. A man whose anger--or benefice--would make worlds tremble. And then that winged troublemaker Cupid skewered him with one of those pesky little darts. Instead of gaining a throne, he became a man accused of committing a crime, a man unable to prove himself innocent because to do so would reveal he had committed an ever greater one. It's got plenty of love, sex, and violence. A real winner!

Check it out.

Blood Sin is available as an e-book and in print from Leucrota Press.


  1. Mary Ricksen // August 16, 2009 at 3:03 PM  

    Good luck with all of your sales. I can't keep track of them all!

  2. Mona Risk // August 16, 2009 at 3:39 PM  

    Toni, you must be really organized to keep track of details through various books and a whole family saga. So often my hero starts with sky blue eyes that change to midnight blue in a love scene. Or my heroine has brown hair in the first scene and blond locks in the last. LOL. My editor told me to write their physical descriptions on a card next to my computer and check it regularly.

  3. Scarlet Pumpernickel // August 16, 2009 at 7:31 PM  

    Toni,you're amazing. I would love to write a saga, but like Mona, I can't keep the details straight for so long! Get stuff mixed up in real life, much less my fiction work.

  4. Mary Marvella // August 16, 2009 at 8:51 PM  

    You are the most prolific person I know, except for La Nora, my bud. (Like Nora Roberts really remembers me unless she sees me at a conference.)

  5. Nightingale // August 16, 2009 at 10:56 PM  

    Writing such an intricate series must be quite a challenge. My hat is off to you, Toni. The continuing plot sounds intriguing.

  6. Judy // August 17, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

    Hi, Toni...I made my comments on another blog but am glad you posted here, too. You're right, keeping track of ages, along with everything else can be a challenge when you're doing a saga-type book!

  7. Toni V.S. // August 17, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

    Like I really keep up with things! Otherwise, I wouldn't have posted the same blog to two blogsites! Anther argument for keeping a chart.

  8. Joanne // August 20, 2009 at 4:46 PM  

    Good God, Toni. All these books written, and a sage. You are one amazing writer.