Back-Burner Books

It’s definitely different to be an “indie” author. When I finish a book I must choose what to work on next. Choose! What a concept.

Perhaps that doesn’t sound momentous to most people, but trust me, it’s momentous. There is no one in New York telling me that I must deliver, say, a 75,000-word romance set in Regency England by such-and-such a date.  It’s liberating, naturally, but it’s also unsettling to find myself drifting, directionless — and having to make decisions that will affect the next couple of years of my life without the input of a team of interested experts.

Like most authors, I have a number of books knocking around in my brain, clamoring to be written. There’s Book 3 of my unfinished “star” trilogy, for example. Also a sweeping historical saga with lots of “sturm & drang” that my agent had me put together years ago— back in the days when we were trying to move me into, well, sweeping historical sagas with lots of sturm & drang. There’s a Christmas Regency that could be lots of fun, featuring two characters I love so much that I want to spread them out over four books and let everybody around them fall in love and marry off, one after the other, until FINALLY Gavin and Felicity get their happy ending in book 4. There’s at least one novella, which I’m drawn to as possibly easier to finish quickly and get out there. And then there’s the third book in my YA paranormal series, The Spellspinners.

So how to choose?

To my (mild) surprise, I find that a lot of my considerations are the same ones that a publisher would have. For example: Which, of all the possible books I could write, is the one most likely to find an audience? The difficulty with putting this consideration at the top of the list, of course, is that the question is unanswerable. Nobody knows what will sell. And the fact that publishers pretend to know, when in fact their guesses are wrong more often than they are right, has driven authors nuts for decades. So it’s ironic, to say the least, that I find this particular question pressing on me so—now that my fate is in my own hands!

I would love to write a Regency again. What’s stopping me? That darn YA series I foolishly started. Because it’s contemporary. Since the Regencies are set in the past (duh), they can be written any time. A book set in the here & now must be written in the here & now. Otherwise you end up with a Sue Grafton problem. She’s the brilliant author of those Kinsey Millhone “alphabet” mysteries, which started out contemporary but have gradually slid into the past … since Sue can’t write as quickly as Kinsey’s adventures happen. Now she’s stuck writing mysteries set in the 1980’s, and it’s not the 1980’s anymore, and it’s more and more difficult to remember exactly how life really was in the 1980’s (what was playing on the radio that year? Did everybody have a microwave oven or not? etc.). Sue Grafton’s writing historicals now, and I don’t think she intended that when she started out.

I had hoped that Scary Cool would be the end of the series, or at least this portion of the series, but alas, all the reviews seem to be expecting another book. Okay, I guess I did leave a few balls in the air at the end of Scary Cool. So Book 3 must be written. And it must be written next. Leaving all my Regencies still simmering away on the back burner. :sigh:

Fortunately, these Spellspinner books are a lot of fun to write.

8 thoughts on “Back-Burner Books

  1. Regencies regencies Regencies regencies Regencies regencies Regencies regencies Regencies regencies Regencies regencies Regencies regencies

  2. I am EAGERLY awaiting a Book 3 in the Spellspinner series. But now that I know you have a half-dozen Regencies knocking around in your head, I’m with Lois up there, too.🙂 But then you already know I’m one of your biggest fans and would read pretty much anything you choose to write!

    • I’m giving this day job of mine just a few more years, and then, by golly, I’m gonna write full-time again. You’ve heard the expression, “So many books, so little time …”? It’s doubly poignant for writers!

      Thanks for your support, Bethany, as always-! I hope you stay put in San Diego for a while. There’s a RWA conference there in 2015 and I’m coming! (How’s that for planning ahead?)

  3. Hello Diane,

    I’ve been a fan of your Regencies for a long while. I picked up my old copy of The Fortune Hunter to read aloud to my mom during the rough weeks after her heart surgery. Sadly, Mom didn’t make it, but I wanted to tell you that she absolutely loved the story and those reading sessions brought a smile to her face. I cherish those memories, now, some of the very last we shared.

    I’m an editor, myself, and have a special appreciation for an author like you, who can write a compelling, witty story with a memorable protagonist. Whenever I’m beating my head on a wall over material I wish I could un-read, I dip between the covers of a Diane Farr or Georgette Heyer and feel sanity returning.

    Thank you for persevering through the tough changes in this industry. I wish I could say the cream always rises to the top….

    Jennifer

    • Jennifer, I’m speechless. Please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother. What an amazing gesture of kindness on your part, to take the time to share this story with me. Thank you.

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