There’s this author joke that goes around in innumerable forms, ways, means, and varieties. It’s always something to the point of not being able to finish one project for all the other wonderful potential projects out there. Sometimes it’s used by others to mock authors. Sometimes it’s used by authors to poke fun at themselves. I can definitely see why it’s both popular and applicable. The term plot bunny comes to mind…
I’ve been focusing solely on the Black Wolf series since the beginning of 2016, but I’ve had stories bouncing around in my head for the duration of my life. I’ve got notebooks full of random bits of scenes and characters that have come to me over the years. Luckily, as writing projects go, I’ve been able to keep my head on straight (at least thus far) about Black Wolf. I love the world and the members of this series. The universe itself is as visually detailed as a virtual tour, and the characters are as real as the dearest people to me in real life.
As a creative person, I find it rather difficult to focus on a single project for extended periods of time. My mind wants to investigate every nook and cranny, but once I’ve got the general layout, I’m typically also ready to find somewhere new to explore. That’s one of the greatest things about being creative: the opportunity to try something new all the time. It’s also one of the toughest things about being creative: the desire to try something new all the time.
One thing that has helped me stay on track is the ability to compartmentalize my projects. While I’ve got about a million ideas swimming around in my brain at any given time, I do my best to put the ones that keep coming back down on paper. Just a little–enough that I feel comfortable leaving them alone to grow and develop in the background. Then, I turn to the color-coded system I’ve developed for myself. Literally color-coded, by the notebooks (and mostly by the availability of notebook colors I had on hand, haha) they’re in. I’m only using this system for my books authored by J. E. Martin at this time. When I start branching out into the use of my other pen names (more about that in a moment), I’ll likely move this system out to those names, too, because it has worked so well for me.
So far, my J. E. Martin projects have poured over into four groups. The first is the most obvious: the Black Wolf series. This one started out in a five-subject black notebook. I hunted down black on purpose because I already kinda knew where I was headed. I didn’t know the title yet, though, so when I began to make notes about the series, it became simply the Untitled Black Project to me. In fact, it’s still that way in a lot of my personal files, conversations, and some areas online. But what about the other categories? Well, I’ll give you some hints.
Semi-titled White Project: this series involves some characters, Races, and Breeds who have been minorly introduced in the Black Wolf series. I have a title theme in mind, along with the general storyline. This is the only one I’d be willing to work on while continuing my writing on the Black Wolf series.
Untitled Green Project: this series involves some characters who have been very minorly introduced in the Black Wolf series. I don’t have a title theme in mind yet, but I do have a good chunk of the storyline worked out. In fact, before I got serious about pursuing Black Wolf, I put down about eight chapters of the first one in this series. In the end, my gut told me this series wasn’t ready because something big needed to come before it. I’m glad I listened. The growth of Black Wolf has lead to a much deeper development and understanding of the world I’ll be using here.
Untitled Brown Project: this is planned as a single, standalone novel. It’s just a story concept that took hold and begged for exploration. I don’t have specific characters who fit in here yet, and I haven’t developed the world for it, but the idea itself will not let go.
That’s it. Really, not much (although the series do contain multiple books, obviously, so a bit more than it appears). That’s not all I’ve got in mind, though. Which brings me back to pen names. I have many, though J. E. Martin is the only one I currently share with the public. When I publish under the other names, you might never know they’re me. There’s something lovely about that, isn’t there? The ability to start over with a fresh identity and a new perspective as an author? Well, it’s lovely to me, at least.
My pen names are organized into black Moleskin (or Moleskin-style) notebooks with notes for each of their types and thoughts I’ve had. These aren’t well-developed at all, but the thoughts still bug my brain, so I have to put them down someplace. It’s more an idea of “If so-and-so writes this genre, these are ideas she would use.” The pen names I know of so far will write (at some point in the future) contemporary romance, erotica, young adult, and horror. And I haven’t started a notebook yet, but I’ve got some ideas for a couple of mysteries, so I’m probably going to have to add a new notebook and pen name soon.
Why do it like this? Why not just have J. E. Martin write it all? Well, that’s a tricky thing. It’s a bit like having an odd shop. People might like to come and look around because you’ll always have something different–but they don’t know to come to you for anything specific, right? One week, you might have vintage tea sets, but the next week you might be overrun with digital camera parts. Having a variety of pen names associates a mood/genre/brand with each one. When you come to J. E. Martin, you know you’re getting urban fantasy and paranormal romance. You’re not getting a murder mystery (unless it’s a part of an urban fantasy or paranormal romance–which isn’t out of the question). It just makes sense for me.
Besides, isn’t it great that I can be whoever I want? If I want to be (insert name here) author of naughty, naughty erotica, I certainly can be. But if I don’t, well then I have options. And trust me, as a creative, I love to have my options!
So, there you go. A little taste of what you might see from J. E. Martin–or, you know, whoever–in the future.