Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Welcome, Kourtney Heinz


Highway-Thirteen-to-Manhattan-4-mod1-AmazonToday I’m thrilled to have award winning author Kourtney Heinz here to talk about the challenges of writing a sequel. I met Kourtney several years ago and since our meeting, her writing career has taken off. I’m so happy for her. She’s a hard worker and deserves great success.

The Five Unexpected Difficulties of Writing a Sequel

1) What did those curtain look like?

The curtains in Aunt Ines’s kitchen had a daffodil print in book 1 and in book 2 they were daffodil embroidered. The copyeditor missed it. I missed it until I was working on the revisions to the first book. I have a story bible that I checked to make sure those darn curtains had daffodils. I just neglected to remember they were print, not embroidered. And then I had to fix it in Highway Thirteen’s final ebook and paperback.

Being specific has its pitfalls. Those little details will trip you up. Make sure you check and double-check them.

2) Did I really say that in book 1?

Despite having a story bible, it’s really hard to remember everything in my worldbuilding. So much is inferred and not directly stated in the book. Sometimes I get tangled up in my worldbuilding, and I forget what I said in book 1. My editor had to remind me that Oliver called Caleb to help Kai during her previous mental breakdown.

But I had a little wiggle room because Oliver didn’t know Kai dreamwalked and talked to Caleb. So sometimes it’s what the character didn’t know the other character did that trips me up. That stuff that is only in my head and not recorded anywhere yet. Also, a character can be certain he was the reason something happened when he really wasn’t.
I have to remember all the things unsaid and make sure my next book doesn’t conflict in an way that cannot be explained away.

3) Being Goldilocks when it comes to recaps

In my second draft of book 2, my beta readers demanded more context and background. This meant recapping things that happened in book 1. But then how much recap is enough and where should it happen? It’s been 3 years since the first book came out. Do I assume readers have forgotten everything?

That was my next approach and my editor told me there was too much recapping and background.  First version had too little, second version had too much. She slashed a lot of it. Hopefully this version is just right.

Sometimes you have to underwrite, then overwrite, and finally come to a happy medium with recaps.

4) Being boxed in by book 1

When I wrote the first book, I could create anything and there was no worry that it might conflict with something else. It was all new. Now whenever I want to create a character arc, plot thread, or character action, I have to check back and make sure it doesn’t conflict with what I set up in the previous book.

Kai drinks wine in NYC and she drank rum in the hot tub in Butternut in book 1, but then in book 2 she mentions how hard liquor messes with her telepathy. When she’s in the city she doesn’t drink much—maybe 1 glass of wine because she can’t afford to lose control of her shield and her telepathy. But in Butternut, where her shield was under much less stress, she could drink a little hard liquor.

Make sure there is consistency in character’s actions or a clear explanation for why they are doing something they normally wouldn’t.

5) Fear of readers’ expectations

This led me to write a very timid first draft. I was so afraid that readers wouldn’t like what I was doing that I didn’t do much. My poor beta readers were terribly bored by the version they read.

They pushed me in the correct direction. My editor made sure there was oodles of conflict and that the pacing was right and every scene built upon the previous one.

Sometimes you have to write a bad draft to get to a good draft. Sometimes you have to let your fears dictate a terrible draft because then you realize that letting them go is the only way to get to a better book.



I also wanted to let your readers know, the first book in the series, The Six Train to Wisconsin, will be free on Amazon in October. I hate jumping into a series without reading book 1 first, so if they’d like to try the series out, they can read the first book free: http://www.amazon.com/Six-Train-Wisconsin-Book-ebook/dp/B00CJIXKG2

Back Cover Summary:

His secrets almost killed her. Her secrets may destroy them both.

Kai is recovering from a near-death experience when she realizes something isn’t right. Her body is healing, but her mind no longer feels quite like her own. Her telepathic powers are changing, too. She can’t trust herself. The darkness growing inside of her pushes her to use her telepathy as a weapon.

Oliver clings to the hope that he can save their marriage, even though he was the one who put her life in jeopardy. As his wife slips further and further away from him, he becomes increasingly obsessed with bringing the man who ruined his life to justice.

The sequel to The Six Train to Wisconsin is a genre-defying tale of love and consequences. Once again, award-winning author Kourtney Heintz seamlessly weaves suspense and paranormal intrigue into a real-world setting, creating characters rich in emotional and psychological complexity.


Kourtney Heintz is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Six Train to Wisconsin (2013), the first book in The Six Train to Wisconsin series. She also writes bestselling young adult novels under the pseudonym K.C. Tansley. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

She has given writing workshops and author talks at libraries, museums, universities, high schools, conventions, wineries, non-profits organizations, and writing conferences. She has been featured in the Republican American of Waterbury, Connecticut; on WTNH’s CT Style; and on the radio show, Everything Internet.

She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amok at night, envisioning a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

114 thoughts on “Welcome, Kourtney Heinz

  1. Fascinating, and generous, Jill

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This was really interesting to read Jill. It makes me aware there’s a lot to be said for writing one off novels! And blog posts 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Kourtney you continue to amaze me. I enjoyed The Six Train To Wisconsin, but never thought about the pitfalls/time lag between writing book one and book two. I can see there are challenges, which you have undoubtedly overcome. Looking forward to reading your newest book.

    Thanks Jill for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great recap of the challenges in writing books in series, Kourtney. Sounds like your story bible is a tremendous asset, along with beta readers and editors. Thanks for introducing us to Kourtney, Jill. Wishing you both a glorious weekend! xo

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, and 3 Golden Retrievers? Awww! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: The Girl Gets a Moonbeam Award and the Blog Stops Start for Highway Thirteen | Kourtney Heintz's Journal

  7. Thanks, Jill, for featuring Kourtney. And Kourtney, thanks for your honesty. I’m working on a series too. I also have a series bible, so I totally get that sometimes some things get missed. I revised a book several times, before I realized that I had described the same character two different ways. 😦

    I totally agree that you have to write a bad draft to get to a good one!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reading you Five Unexpected Difficulties of Writing a Sequel, has given me greater appreciation for writers like you who write sequels. Respect!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Internal consistency is important in books, plots, timelines, sequels, and characters. When authors lose that thread of consistency, I tend to lose interest. Glad you and your editors make consistency a priority.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks, Jill. The consistent factors play a role when they are obviously off the rail. This is what makes series do hard. Thanks Kourtney for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This sounds like such a challenge to try to keep it all straight and consistent with the first one. It must be fun to revisit those characters and get to know them all over again too. I’m looking forward to reading about them again!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have 3 series inside my brain that I’ve worked on this year. And two standalones that are begging to get written. Whenever someone asks me to remember anything, my answer is no. There’s just no more space in there. I do love coming back to the places and the people in Butternut. This series is character driven and so I spend so much time in their mental landscape. I swear they all exist outside the page. Aw thank you so much!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Sheila! I’m with you, it would be fun to revisit the characters. I usually miss mine once the book is finished. Speaking of….CONGRATULATIONS on your book! I’m so happy for you. I’ll be paying you a visit later.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Always enjoy your posts that feature a writer so that I have a new book to look forward to. Thanks Jill and Kourtney!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is wonderful, Jill and Kourtney – there are so many things to remember when you write a sequel – I’m not quite brave enough to attempt doing one just yet, but I’ve bookmarked this post just in case! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. A fascinating read! Thank-you so much Jill and Kourtney.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Great article to read now because I’m currently drafting book two in a series. Haven’t done this before, so I’m trying to make sure I keep things consistent!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I remember Kourtney from before Jill. Great to see how prolific she is becoming. Wishing her every success with the latest in her series.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Jill, I’m so glad you hosted Kourtney on your blog – it’s been lovely to learn about her thoughts on writing book 2! Blimey the pitfalls are numerous and I’m taken with her dedication and passion for the project. It sounds difficult to get the balance right between too much recap and too little information – thank god for beta readers. I haven’t heard the phrase ‘story bible’ but love it! Great final advice of ‘Sometimes you have to write a bad draft to get to a good draft. Sometimes you have to let your fears dictate a terrible draft because then you realize that letting them go is the only way to get to a better book.’ I can see these words becoming famous across the writing community! Lovely post and thank you for the introduction to Kourtney.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi, Annika. I’m so glad you enjoyed the guest post. Beta readers are critical to a book’s evolution. It was a very tough lesson to learn. I really struggled with my anxiety over readers’ expectations. But when betas saw the draft and told me what they thought, I dug deep and tried again. And then my editor explained why the story wasn’t working and I rewrote it again. Aw thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Annika! I’m happy you enjoyed Kourtney’s post. Yes, she is extremely dedicated to her craft and I’m thrilled her hard work has paid off. I have to tell you, I just love when you say “blimey!” It makes me smile. Have a great upcoming week, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. This was such a great list of questions, Jill. It was definitely an eye opener about situations which could go amok and characters who may be led astray by their author! 🙂

    The answers were so clear and helpful, things I may have never thought of in sequels came up. Thanks, Kourtney! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Good posts, beautiful blog.
    Welcome to see my creations:

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I think after reading this, I’ll never write a book with a sequel 🙂 So many things to think about and to us it will all seem effortless!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. What a fun post! Thank you Kourtney and Jill. I worked with a beginning writer years ago who kept a huge 3-ring notebook with pictures of her characters and settings so she’d always have the details right. The funny one was a picture she’d taken out of a magazine because it was perfect for her main character. Except for a mole on the right side of her face, so she glued a black “mole” on the picture to remember which side it was on. She was showing it to the writing group, and when she opened to that page, the mole had fallen off and stuck on the chin. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Read the first one and loved it. I was fascinated how I could tell the difference between Kai’s telepathy thoughts and her own thoughts. That’s very difficult to do. All I can say is, it’s a good thing Kourtney is the one writing this kind of genre and not me. 😀 Looking forward to reading the sequel.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. My books are non-fiction, but I can still relate to this post, and had some similar concerns. Thanks for a very interesting post, both of you!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Whether we’re writing non-fiction or fiction, it’s important to keep those details straight. I’m glad you enjoyed Kourtney’s post, Cynthia. Thanks for stopping by.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi Jill and Kourtney! I really enjoyed reading this post, thank you Jill for hosting. Kourtney, I remember you from a previous guest post (I’m pretty sure…!) and am amazed at all the books you’ve written! I’m still plodding away at my memoir and haven’t even got to the beta reading stage yet (very soon, I hope!), but even though I’m writing non-fiction, I can see how it is still very important to check those tiny details. I realised I had made summer autumn in different chapters…yikes! Great post, thank you lovely ladies both 🙂 xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  26. What a great list. I hadn’t considered these. I have to say, the first is probably the one I resonate with the most–what DID I say in book 1?

    Liked by 2 people

  27. This post was so fun to read as I’m working on my sequel to The Right Wrong Man now. I kind of knew about some of the pitfalls, but Kourtney’s explanations here are perfect. Thank you thank you for the offer of the first book-I’ve just downloaded it and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. That’s an intriguing insight into writing a sequel, the planning that will go into it and of course once a book is published work arounds become even more complex. It’s always good to read about how a book is formed through the trials.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Fascinating and engaging interview Jill. Really enjoyed reading about Kourtney’s journey and process.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. What a great reading! I’m writing books myself – at the moment just for myself … But I’m always willing to learn and to grow. This post definitely helped me, thanks so much!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Goodness, the lady sounds formidable, Jill! (in a good way 🙂 ) The moral of the story seems to be don’t write sequels unless you have a huge brain. You’ve piqued my interest though. Thanks for the intro. Hope all’s going well with yours?

    Liked by 1 person

  32. What an interesting review. Those same problems plague me when I’m still on the first book. It’s hard to remember all the details. I just bought Scrivener, which is supposed to help with details, but I haven’t tried it yet to know for sure. I’d like to post a link to this on my A+ Book Reviews page.

    Liked by 2 people

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