HELP! Writer Fearing Sophomore Jinx



The question readers ask me over and over again, besides if Aidan and Libby are okay, is what happened to Tony, Evita and Manny. The simple truth is I don’t know exactly. I mean I have ideas about where I want their story to go, but I haven’t committed many of the ideas to paper. I just can’t seem to motivate myself into writing their story when I’ve written a lot of other books since then. Perhaps, since BINDING ARBITRATION is so near and dear to so many hearts, maybe I’m afraid of a sophomore jinx.

A sophomore jinx is the theory (or in my case fear, a deep seeded fear) that the second or sophomore effort doesn’t live up to the standards of the first effort. It’s also known as the sophomore slump, which is psychologically explained as an earlier success having a reducing effect on the subsequent effort, but statistically it can be explained as regression to the mean. I’m worse off now that I looked up the actual definition than I was before! This regression to the mean, yikes, does that mean that if BA is a 5 star book the follow up book will be a 3 star book and they’ll average out to 4 stars? I’ve increased the lump in my throat exponentially! I’m banging my head on my desk and praying it isn’t so. Now I know how my beloved Cubbies feel, after such a wonderful season last year!


That’s it! I refuse to give in! I refuse to FEAR the MEAN!!!

So I’ve decided to actually start writing the full-length second book in the Chicago Series. I’m considering the title EMINENT DOMAIN. All of the books in the Chicago Series have legal terms for the titles. Eminent Domain is the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation. I’m one of those authors who can’t finish a book without the title because I like to layer the title’s meaning throughout the book.


If you recall the end of BA Manny has been missing for months and Enrique has tried to lure Evita back to South America by promising her she could be with her son again. When Evita shows up to say goodbye to Libby at the legal aid office and leaves a letter for Tony we assume that something has separated Tony and Evita. Evita ends up in the hospital with a gunshot wound and Tony shows up in the ER raising hell because Evita’s been injured. Eminent Domain could refer to couple of different plot points in the story: Enrique’s right to have physical custody of his only son, Manny, (even if Enrique is a scum-sucking, drug-dealing pig), Tony’s right to ‘take’ and care for Evita and Manny, or even Evita’s right to keep her son away from his biological father, or it could refer to the City of Chicago seizing Tony’s businesses under Eminent Domain when they are less than successful in prosecuting him for various ‘crimes’.

My questions to you Dear Readers???


What do you think of the title: Eminent Domain? If you hate it, don’t just hate for hate’s sake, suggest something else!
What happened between Evita and Tony?
What’s in the letter Evita wrote Tony and told Libby to give to him if she dies in South America? Yikes!!!
Who is Tony Accardo really? Organized crime boss, misunderstood businessman or ?
What hasn’t Evita told Tony about her past?
What hasn’t Tony told Evita about his past? Or his present for that matter?
Who really has Manny?

So what I’m looking for is real FEEDBACK! Answers from my Dear Readers who love Binding Arbitration. Below is a wonderful example of a conversation I had with a reader a week or so ago on FB and it’s what spurred this blog post.

answers Example:
“Gosh I don’t know where to start. After reading it (BA) the first time I was really wondering what will happen to the both of them most especially to little Manny. I guess that’s the biggest hurdle they’ve got to go through, I mean, how do you go against a man who owns one of the biggest drug cartels around the world, right? And it’s not as if Espinoza’s gonna give up his one and only son. I just really wish though that Aidan and Libby still get featured. Oh, and might I suggest a pairing? Olivia and Avery. I would love to see if Olivia can bring Avery down a peg or two, whew that boy has got a chip on his shoulder the size of Everest. I just hope that there are some unexpected twists and turns that would surprise the readers which, in my opinion, was what made Binding Arbitration such an amazing read.”

GIVEAWAY APRIL 2016 EminentDomain

I will be responding to everyone’s insights, answers and comments. I will also pick the best comment to win an autographed copy of BINDING ARBITRATION, a $10 Amazon Gift card & swag pack! (U.S residents only, if international winner is selected you will get an Amazon GC $20) Your comment must include what you’d like to see in Eminent Domain and enough detail that I know you read BA.

Thanks for your input!

30 thoughts on “HELP! Writer Fearing Sophomore Jinx”

  1. When I think of eminent domain, I think of property and land with or without houses on it. I don’t think of children. I think a different title would be more enlightening. Like The Rights of Little Manny

    1. Hi Joy,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your input! I like your play on words, but it would have to be an actual legal term, for example Binding Arbitration is a legal term that is very common in baseball and since Libby is a lawyer she’s familiar with it and then Binding Arbitration has the secondary meaning to them and their relationship, as Cass forced them both to come to the ‘table’ to negotiate the terms of their relationship. I agree with you about the land with or without houses, but I was thinking that Enrique considers Evita and Manny his ‘property’, and maybe so does Tony!

  2. The seems to fit the descriptions. I’m afraid I haven’t read the first book so that’s the best I can do.
    Just write! Don’t worry about the sophomore book! You’ll know when it’s right!

    1. Kathleen,
      Thanks for stopping by and the kind words. The sophomore jinx is something that many artists have to live with.

  3. I love the title and play on words,”Eminent Domain”. I haven’t read it yet due to hospitalization but look forward to this new read!! I think you are just awesome!

  4. Hi! I’ve read Cutters vs Jocks and Binding Arbitration and I am really a huge fan, though I have yet to read Signing Bonus. I personally think that you don’t have anything to worry about when writing Tony and Evita’s story because I know that you can put emotions to them that could really be felt by your readers (no this isn’t me putting on pressure, it’s just that I believe you are naturally good at what you are doing and my advice to your block is just to breathe, you might be surprised at what comes to you when you least expect it to).

    As for the title, I think it’s ok but I suggest you try Assumption of Risk, it’s when a defendant can prove that a plaintiff actually knew of a dangerous condition and voluntarily exposed himself or herself to it. The defendant could easily be Tony since he is always accused of being a drug lord and Evita could also be a plaintiff since at the beginning she was wary of Tony due to rumors about him being a drug lord. As a resolution to the lawsuit, if the defendant could make the argument of “Assumption of Risk” stand against the plaintiff, both parties usually come to a compromise and help each other out just like Tony and Evita.

    I think that you have a very powerful material to work with given the current situation both characters are in right now. You could even manage to intensify the emotions readers will feel compared to Binding Arbitration. But, like you, I don’t know exactly how to pin point my ideas into writing. It’s like a lot of things are coming to mind but it just doesn’t fully grow into a proper scene. But the more I think about it the more I feel that you should focus on the rom com part of it then shift to the intense emotions with a climax that will blow the readers away- make it something so unexpected that it will leave us all reeling from shock. I guess for me it was the part when Cass died, it made me so heartbroken to even think that one of the main characters died, and a child nonetheless. It really felt like getting stabbed and then twisting the knife further when Libby broke down during Cass’ funeral.

    If I somehow manage to get my thoughts organized I’ll comment again here, but for now that’s just about all that I could think of. Again, thank you for Binding Arbitration, you don’t know how much I enjoy recommending it to my friends only to end up cursing me for making them cry when they expected to be giddy with love after reading the book. Oh, before I forget, if you’re thinking of making Olivia and Avery’s story I suggest you go for “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” as a title for their story. As for the reason why I suggested that, well, I’ll keep that to myself for now 😉 Until next time.

    1. Karlai,
      You’ve made my day! I like your title idea, wow! ASSUMPTION OF RISK…I’ll have to live with it for a few weeks and see how I can play with it and layer it into the story. I think that title definitely plays into Tony and Evita’s backstory. Your insights are valuable and I’ve already think I’ve figured out what the bomb will be (and no one has to die, trust me people Manny is safe and sound!) for it to work. Always open to hearing what readers think, so stop by any time.

  5. I like Eminent Domain. It seem to fit in my opinion. And it’s eye catching. With just the title, I think it Wilma keep people stop and see what it’s about.

    1. Melissa,
      Thanks for stopping by! I’m not totally sold on EMINENT DOMAIN. Karlai suggested ASSUMPTION OF RISK, which is has an awesome angle to it? What do you think of that? E

  6. How about, Various Crimes, because the guy has so many problems. . The book sounds interesting ,and I hope to check it out.

    1. Hi Deb,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I like Various Crimes but while it’s intriguing I don’t think it’s a legal term. Either way, I’ll keep it in mind!
      Happy reading & reviewing,

  7. Love your books and based on your thoughts, sounds like a promising next book in the series! I’m not a legal expert and actually liked Eminent Domain but Karlai makes a strong case. Assumption of Risk implies all kinds of possibilities, definitely the strongest contender!

    1. Hi Patty,
      Thanks for being a fan and stopping by to read and comment. I think Assumption of Risk is growing on me. It will be fun to play with, but feel free to make comments on any part of the story or where you’d like to see it go. I’m looking for all sorts of input not just the title!

  8. Eminent Domain, while the title itself is great. I can’t help but have a hatred for personal reasons (Grandfather’s property was “taken” citing Eminent Domain so that the rail line could be extended.) I suggest Extradited Protection.

    1. Hi Shelby,
      Thanks for stopping by. I’ve never heard Extradited Protection as a legal phrase, I’ll have to look it up or go to law school. LOL! Although it totally fits with the story ideas I have. I’ll put it on my list.

  9. Love the title of Eminent Domain.
    Evita’s feelings for Tony were growing. Unfortunately, her responsibilities as a mom come first. She’s already been down the path of loving someone who wasn’t good for her. And she believes Tony is cut from the same cloth as Enrique – powerful, handsome, charismatic, rich, and always gets what they want. Tony is surrounded by beautiful women who would freely give themselves over to him and his needs. Evita doesn’t feel her place belongs next to him. She’s protecting her heart and her son’s.
    Tony wants the right to both Evita and Manny. He never felt the need to have a family when he has everything he wants at the snap of his fingers. Yet, Evita turns him upside down. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know that part of his business his dirty and he has to engage with dirty politicians. He wants to keep that apart from her and Manny.
    The letter thanks Tony for all that he’s done but she’s walking away.
    Tony Accardo is a complex man who rose from nothing to become the powerful businessman he is. I don’t know who has Manny – maybe Enrique (or he wants people to think so when he is looking himself). But he wants Evita and he’ll stop at nothing to have the family he feels he has a right too.

    I’d like for this book to have those gut wrenching moments that leave you wondering whats next. I think it can be more suspenseful but still have the romance and love we found in BA.

    That’s my two cents! – Eunice C. Kipte-Balangue (aka on Facebook Violet Stark. I had to change my name for 60 days because I lost a bet! LOL)

    1. Violet Stark,
      LOL! Are you a character on Game of Thrones now?

      Wow, thanks for your great comments and insights! You’ve touched on a lot of things that I’m working on. That note to Tony, is going to have to rip your guts out, it’s something more than her walking away from him because she’s already left him, perhaps its for the good of all her children, I don’t know just yet I’m getting there…

  10. WOW, I really like Karlai’s comment. She has a great idea for a name and she goes into great details to explain what the meaning is and how it will work in the story. I really can’t add anything more because I agree with her and she said it best.

    1. Tammie,
      Thanks for stopping by and I think Karlai’s onto something. I really like Assumption of Risk, it just has an edge to it that might mirror the story perfectly.

      Happy reading & review,

  11. Someone mentioned that Tony came from nothing…did he? Wasn’t he the grandson of a crime boss? Didn’t he go to Harvard? I thought he was used to all the finer things in life and would expect nothing less.

    This plot is puzzling because doesn’t Enrique have a right to see his child, even though he took him by force? Exactly what is the relationship between Tony and Evita (ok, we all know where it’s headed, but still…) Libby will have to factor in with her legal help, but she runs a free clinic, so would a mobster be likely to continue to use a lawyer with that limited of a scope? Aide has to be woven in here as well, and of course Jeanne, and Olivia, and Aiden’s brother.

    This is why I don’t write. The talent needed to construct story lines just astounds me. (Astounds me not the word I want to use, but limited vocabulary at 4:30 AM.

    1. Hi Peggy,
      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, Tony didn’t come from nothing he has an Ivy League education and he grew up wealthy and he definately has a taste for the finer things, thus his desire for Evita.

      As to Enrique, do you really think that he has a right to see Manny when he held his mother and Manny himself against their will for the first few years of his life? Held them in a secure compound with armed men and raped his mother. I’m kind of thinking that that kind of criminality has no rights…so…

      Yes Libby will appear, as will Aidan and the rest of the characters. Libby is still the same lawyer she always was (kick ass & take names, LOL) she can go up against the big boys and I don’t think Tony would let her off the hook, he’s very secretive so he isn’t going to want to reveal himself to another attorney, plus he trusts her and he’s not the kind of many that trusts many people. In Chicago many pro bono lawyers take on the most extreme cases, they vie for them, because when they represent these clients and win the cases they get a lot of donations so they can aid more people.

      What were you doing up at 4:30 a.m.? LOL!

  12. I’m not sure I like it for the premise of this book but I’m not sure really what to suggest to put in it’s place the title sounds like property disputes not child disputes or being missing.

    1. Hi Vivian,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yeah, I’m thinking Eminent Domain’s title days are numbered. LOL!

  13. Hi, I’m one of the victims of Karlai’s recommendation, I agree with her on the possibility of making the next title “Assumption of Risk” it could connect to Tony, Evita and Manny’s story, at the same time the title could catch a readers attention. It’s intriguing, it would also be perfect if Libby and Aidan’s new babies are included in the story, and hoping at the end Tony’s dirty little secret could be revealed. Could Cass appear in Manny’s Dream while he is captured by his own father and give Manny hope that “he will be okay” since Manny and Cass are best friend before Cass died? I’m really excited! so love BA, I’ve been reading it for like 8 times already, still it hasn’t failed on making me cry, laugh, and love at the same time. I’m like so addicted to it! and I’ve been recommending this to my friends too.. two thumbs up for this Elizabeth Marx! You are one of my favorite author 😀

    1. Angel,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes, Assumption of Risk is a great title. Libby, Aidan and the kids will probably make an appearance, but I don’t know if Cass will appear again. I like your idea of Cass coming to Manny in a dream, but it would be hard to do as Manny won’t be a POV character so it would be hard to show this unless Manny tells someone about it in conversation. I’ll have to think about it. I’m so happy you love the story and keep recommending it and make sure you’ve posted your review at your favorite retailer and Goodreads. I think you might have read the book more times than me! LOL!


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