There was a year where I truly wrote 15 books and stories that were published that year, some by a publisher, some by me. This is not that year.
Good news, though! I’m 17,000 words into writing Witch List (Witch Detectives #5). I have had seven false starts that I completely trashed, but this current version in progress is THE ONE. It’s taken me months to tie a certain important plot arc into this novel to keep the series consistent and not just have a bunch of random standalone stories. This thread has carried through the series and I figured out something amazing, or my protagonists figured it out and told me the secret. I thank you all for being so patient and kind while I bring my best books to you!
I’ve written dozens of books (at least 40) and I can attest to a certain professional pressure from the writing community to be a productive writer every day. For years, I worked 10, 15, even 20 hours a day. Hardly sleeping. Just writing, editing, sitting at my computer, not sleeping well, not eating properly, not exercising.
Things are different now. I’ve shed 40 pounds (I have more to go!), changed my diet, found new exercises that worked better for me (because I like them), and am not at the computer as much. I took care of a loved one for months before she died, I have 5 grandkids and am sometimes the transport to/from school. I have Sunday dinners with family. I am finding balance, finally. But, readers have noticed my books are coming slower than they like.
I really want to say it’s okay to set aside a book in progress, and to not have a writing quota. I feel a lot of pressure when I have a book contract and a deadline. I once contracted to write a book in 18 days for a specific special launch and I got it done, but it had a serious impact on my health and future creativity. I set aside everything and everyone else to get it done. It was a #1 book in its category for a couple of months, and it’s really good, and I am proud that I did it.
But there was a book that I finished 27 years after I started it and it remains one of the favorites I have ever written because it took me that long to work out the various endings until I had one that satisfied me.
I’ve written a cowboy romance novella in 5 days that was super fun to write and I did not have a contract for it. It’s sexy and heartfelt and I had no real idea that I would make it a series until I wrote book 2.
I also wrote an 85,000-word novel in 3 months because I had a book contract and I was agonizing that I very nearly missed my deadline because I had spent the advance! I delivered it, late, but it was very, very good. I worked at least 10-12 hours a day and at night, I slept with ice packs on my poor wrists so they would stop awakening me with their protests.
I also wrote a very long book over 3 years that had 3 agents and 5 editors and by the time I wrestled it back from the publisher (after I found out a colleague only got a $5,000 advance from this mega-publisher for her bestseller, and no money for years afterward), I published it myself and am so, so proud of that book.
I learned that if you write for the love of it, at your own pace, the quality of the book is better. Writing is a fine balance between supporting oneself and enjoying the process.
Everyone finds their own speed and path. I don’t presume to tell people that they should write a certain amount of words per day because they often end up being words that get cut by an editor. With good reason. They seem like filler. Seriously, thank goodness for good editors.
I love to not have these scary deadlines and consequences if I don’t meet the deadlines, and I feel sick that some writers believe that word counts spell success or failure, instead of what I believe is more important: the readers’ enjoyment and readers’ experience. I strive to write books so good that even at 85,000 words, readers feel like the book was too short and they want MORE. They forgot that they were reading, and instead became immersed in a world I created with characters that resonated and endings that brought out the tissues and the tears.
These days, I opt in for reader enjoyment and reader experience above word count. I write more slowly than some other authors because I don’t want to write endings that are about typing THE END–instead of building reader satisfaction. If you love my endings, you’ll buy the next book. I do thank you for that! And if I seem slow, it is not that I have not been working. I have! WITCH LIST is growing slowly and carefully, and I am making good headway. I am the kind of writer who might re-write the beginning dozens of times and the ending a hundred times. You can probably tell. I hope you can!
I know it’s been a long time since I put out 15 books in a year. Since then, stuff has happened. Two people that I dearly loved died and it has thrown me for a loop for a little while, but that’s normal because everyone has people they love and when they are gone, a piece of you, even a writing piece, goes with them. And a writer has to build new things inside the mind. Beautiful things again. Dark things, in real life, impact productivity.
I want to ensure that WITCH LIST is the continuation of the Witch Detectives series and not the end of it, so I strive to bring you the very best plots and characters I can. I even research my competition and purposely avoid imitating what has already been done in the genre. Hence, tossing out all of those false starts when I saw someone else had released something similar. I don’t write to a trope. I mix genres all the time in my books. Usually considered a no-no, I want to write books that transcend any one genre and have a uniqueness that, if you are a reader, you could recognize my book in a crowd of others because my style is unique and my plots are not some oft-used trope. My wish is that my characters feel real to you, and hopefully, the heroes and heroines are people you grow to like, maybe even love. And cheer for.
Nor do I begin writing by cribbing parts of previous books. I start with a blank page. And that is intimidating, but also, the most rewarding for readers. I do it for you.
Thanks for sticking with me while I work to bring you WITCH LIST. When you read it, I think it will blow your mind. I hope so!
p.s. I have multiple Vampire for Hire books in progress as well. You know me. I like to have a lot of irons in the fire. And readers, you are my flame-fanners. The reader experience is more important than cranking out a mediocre book every two or three weeks. I don’t do that because, seriously, I love you! And I respect that when you spend your money for a book I wrote, it better be good, very good or even great!
I’m getting older now. I’m in my 60s now, and I don’t (want to) write crap. Amazing books take me a while. I promise, the wait will be worth it.
I fear the reaper, but it’s on my bucket list to have 100 books and stories published before I die, so, back to work. For you…