In Monday’s blog, I talked about Jenna Bennett’s 19th Savannah Martin mystery. I’m impressed how she’s written so many books in that series, and for me, none of them have been flat. None of them feel like they were written because she had to meet a deadline or a contract obligation. I love reading series books. I’ve read them for a long time, and I can’t think of too many authors who never wrote a book that didn’t live up to par with the others in the series. So how do those few rare authors who keep each book fresh manage it?
For one thing, their characters and their relationships grow in each book. But that’s not the only thing. Another thing that factors into it, I think, is that they’re not rushed. A deadline isn’t breathing down their necks. They have the luxury of a little time to let their characters evolve. They even let the tone of their books evolve slightly. Things might get more serious when the characters have to deal with everyday issues besides solving mysteries.
Another factor, at least for me, is not having to write the same series back to back, over and over again. I think that helps. Not always. I can think of a few authors who write as many as three or more different series, but I can still watch the one I particularly like get stuck in a rut anyway. And I think (I don’t know), it’s because their writing gets rushed. They’re in a hurry and fall back on the same old things to move the books along. It’s a tricky balance, though, I admit. One reviewer complained because I use some of the same things in every Jazzi novel, but more reviewers like those aspects of the book, so I’ve kept them but tried harder to change them up a little.
Which leads me to the title of this blog. I just turned in my sixth Jazzi Zanders novel. It fulfilled my second book contract with my publisher. Hopefully, I’ll get a contract for three more, but I never feel secure about that. Publishers sometimes to decide to shift their focus and try different things. Whatever they decide, I still intend to write another book. I have an idea that excites me, and I’ve even started writing plot points for it. I’m up to #22, and I’m aiming for 40. I’m over halfway there. So what am I going to work on today? Finishing those? No, the second Lux Mystery is calling to me. (I’m still waiting for my agent to read it and let me know what she thinks. Publishing is SLOW). Regardless what she decides, today, I have to play with ideas for it. Is it smart to stop work on Jazzi’s book? Probably not. I should finish the plotting for it and THEN move on to Lux.
Am I going to? No. I’ve learned that when my brain sends me in a different direction in the early stages of a book, it’s telling me it needs a break. And thinking about a different book for a while can actually benefit the first book I was working on. I’ve also learned about myself, that when my brain thinks of a wonderful, enticing idea for a new book when I’m in the MIDDLE of the one I’m working on, I can’t trust it. It’s just me trying to avoid the middle muddle that slows me down and isn’t all that much fun. Brains can be as tricky as writing. Anyway, for the time being, I’m pushing Jazzi to the side to work on Lux. And I’m fine with that.
Here’s hoping you know what works for you. We all have different methods and techniques. And happy writing!