Can I run some ideas past you?

I’ve made it through the first fourth of my Karnie mystery. Porter, Karnie’s oldest brother, has already gone AWOL at the butcher shop because he met a girl who likes to party, and he’d rather go out and have fun than work in the shop and hang out with his family while he’s home on vacation. Typical Porter. I’ve buried a meat cleaver in the victim’s head and lined up a few suspects, all while introducing some regular customers who frequent the shop. Not a bad start. I’ve been patting myself on the back, happy with my progress, already trying to decide what I’ll work on next once I’ve finished this one. I like to have the next thing in mind so that I can scribble notes and let my brain noodle months before I start something new.

All in all, I was feeling pretty happy with myself…until Tuesday morning when my agent sent me a brief e-mail, telling me that Kensington isn’t interested in offering me a contract for any more Jazzi mysteries. Kaboom. I thought I’d be upset, and I am a little. But not because of the e-mail. Because that’s the only thing I’ve heard so far. Nothing else. Just that. I’m not sure if my editor or agent will get back to me later, or if this is it. But it’s not a complete surprise that they dropped me. They dropped two fellow writers who I think are really good. If your numbers don’t grow fast enough, you’re doomed. The odd thing is, I thought they’d wait to see how the sales they’re doing next month affected my books. All through February, they’re offering The Body in the Attic e-books free to libraries to promote, hoping to build an audience for Jazzi and Ansel. If they keep their plans in place, The Body in the Wetlands, The Body in the Gravel, and The Body In The Apartment will be 99 cents all month. And last, but not least, in theory, The Body From the Past will be on BookBub on Feb. 13. All building up to The Body in the Beauty Parlor that comes out March 2nd.

Fingers crossed all of the books sell well. But even if they do, Kensington doesn’t want more Jazzi and Ansel. And I’ve already written a seventh one. I decided I might as well since I had lots of time waiting to see if they’d renew my contract. The waiting is one of the reasons I wrote the Lux mysteries. But since I’ll no longer have any publisher deadlines, I’m thinking I might like to try another new thing or two.

Once my critique partners finish inking up The Body in the Trench, I plan on polishing it and publishing it myself a month or two after The Body in the Beauty Parlor goes up. I want to finish Karnie, and I might self-publish that, too. But not right away. I want to finish at least one more before I put up the first one. When I wrote Muddy River and Lux, I just slapped the books up and wished them the best before I started work on another Jazzi. This time, I want to be smarter about marketing. I’m not in a big hurry. I can experiment with a few things.

I’m halfway thinking of starting another series, too, since I’m not sure if I’ll write more Jazzi books or not. Karnie is full of food, like Jazzi is, but I’m itching to try my hand at a straight mystery that’s a little grittier. I’m just not sure how I want to go about making it a series. I’m trying to choose between these two:

  1. An older female whose kids are grown and her husband died, leaving her comfortably off. She volunteers a lot, is serious about making peoples’ lives better, and stumbles into mysteries.
  2. OR, I was debating about writing a series of mysteries that uses a PLACE to hold the stories together, a lot like the romances I wrote for Kensington. Each protagonist lives in the same town or area, and each is involved in solving a crime. Each book would be a standalone tied to the series by a locale. But I’m not sure it will work. Most mystery readers want and expect to have the same main character to follow from book to book.

You can’t see me, but I’m scratching my head. I’m just brainstorming. I don’t want to rush into anything. I want to take my time deciding what to do next. More Muddy River? More Lux? Forget everything I’ve done so far and start two new series–a cozy and a grittier one? Or toss everything and try something else?

I don’t think this is fate, and I’m sure not famous like Ilona Andrews, so a lot of what she shared in a business Q&A on her blog doesn’t apply to me. But she and her husband self-published their latest book, BLOOD HEIR. And she explained why on her blog. Here goes: Flowers and Questions (ilona-andrews.com)

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. And whatever your future holds, happy writing!

18 thoughts on “Can I run some ideas past you?

  1. Iโ€™m sorry you received โ€œthatโ€ email, Judy, but I know you have a million more stories left to write so keep on writing. The publishing industry is a fickle friend indeed. I love the idea of you self pubbing the last Jazzi. As for your 2 ideas, I think youโ€™re on to something with option 1. Or 2. Perhaps even 3…which will present itself to you soon enough ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry about the email. Kensington is tough on their authors when it comes to sales, but I think you have a strong fan base and can be successful whatever you choose. For the options you laid out, I like #2 better. I’m fine with the same character all the time, but I’ve read a number of series where it’s the locale that holds them together and each character (book) brings something/someone different. I really like that. And you know I adore Muddy River.
    Whatever you choose, I’m behind you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you, Mae. I like #2, too. I think every publisher is hard on their authors. Your editor might like you but the number crunchers are only looking for how big the profits are. A tough business. I’m sort of tired of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hear you. My editor left and went to another publisher which became the end for me. Even if K doesn’t want another Jazzi & Ansel you have such a track record. I hope they’ll entertain a new series from you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m going with writing whatever excites you. It’s been years of sticking to deadlines and staying within the formula. Shake off the shackles and WRITE! And while reading the newest (and hopefully not last) ms for Jazzi and Ansel, I was so taken up with their relationship, how it has deepened and prospered. They nourish each other and there were so many LOL moments. That couple is real and living for me. Would hate to see them disappear.

    Liked by 2 people

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