Endings and Beginnings, Careers, Novels and Quilts

Although I have never started a novel I didn’t finish, I have a host of quilts I’ve begun that are still waiting for their final stitch.  I quilt because it’s fun.  Not because I need warm covers on my bed or bright patches of color on my walls.  The real reason I quilt is because it brings me pleasure to try new things.  Apparently it brings me less to finish them.

Writing brings me pleasure, too.  Rarely does a day go by when I forget that being paid to do something I love is a priceless treasure. I have, for the most part, been able to write what I want to.  I have written family sagas and romances, friendship novels and mysteries.  I’ve added paranormal elements, suspense, melodrama, humor.  I’ve darted here and there, tried this and that.  I’ve prided myself on the variety of my work.  Were I a student today, some concerned teacher might suggest I have mild ADD.  Since many of my most talented colleagues admit that they, too, daydream at the darndest times, I find this a blessing.

Sometimes, though, it is necessary to plan.  Usually I have to be dragged kicking and screaming into a session that begins: “Let’s talk about the future.”  Lately though, I’ve been faced with decisions that require thoughtful analysis.  I have two publishers.  They have other authors and sales figures.  And publishing is changing so quickly that anything written about it today is no longer relevant tomorrow.

While I have never  left a novel unfinished, I have not “completed” two series.  One is the Shenandoah Album series, set in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  Each book has a relationship (a different relationship) to a traditional quilt, but the novels are about the lives of women in the area around Toms Brook. The first novel, Wedding Ring, was supposed to stand alone.  Instead that novel expanded to five books and spawned audio versions and quilt pattern books.  I planned a sixth, but my publisher planned otherwise.  At this time Summer Winds is still unwritten.

At the same time I was writing the Shenandoah Album series, I began a cozy mystery series we called Ministry is Murder, about a free-spirited minister’s wife in a small Ohio town who solves murders.  These books, too, were such fun to write.  I love Aggie and her family and the situations she gets herself into.  I love her harmless flirtation with Detective Roussos, her crazy real estate agent friend Lucy, her aging flower child mother Junie.   I wrote these just because I wanted to.  They are five books I will always be proud I authored, but for now Aggie is in limbo.  When my contract was completed, I didn’t suggest more.

I have submitted a proposal for a new series, because after carefully crafted letters explaining why NOW is the time to finish the Shenandoah Album series, the answer was “no.”  Not “no” as in, “never.”  But “no” as in “not now.”  And while that door may still be cracked, I’m afraid that “not now,” is the same “not now” we parents use when a wheedling child wants us to go outside and play, and we have no intention of leaving our nice warm house.

Still a day doesn’t go by when someone on my Facebook page or in an email asks when the next Shenandoah Album will be released.  Today I have no answer except “not now.”  But here’s what I can say.  I am still working on this, and publishing IS changing.  Who knows what the future will bring for my quilter friends in Toms Brook, or for Aggie and her family?  I haven’t deserted them.  I am just waiting to see what unfolds and exactly how.  Then I can decide.

In the meantime, please come along with me on the next ride.  We took a whirlwind trip to Happiness Key and it was great fun.  I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I can only guarantee I will write the best book, the best series I can, and I hope whenever you read it, you will think so, too.


  1. Marilyn Seitz on January 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

    To whom do we write to make “suggestions” about the final book in Shenandoah? Maybe if enough readers write in……..

    • Emilie Richards on January 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      I’ve written my editor to ask her if this would be a problem, so we’ll see what she says. We definitely do not want my publisher upset. Upset publisher= bad thing indeed. But it won’t hurt them to know there’s a lot of support for more books. So let’s see what she says, and I’ll get back to you. I love that you care this much.

  2. Heidi on January 24, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I am saddened that your publisher is extinguishing your requests for the next novel in the Shenandoah Album series. It was more than a pleasure to read them all. While I loved Happiness Key as well, there was something special about the characters and the quilts in the Shenandoah Album series. Then again, I do have a great appreciation for quilts! I wish I could quilt myself. I hope to learn when my busy life of stay at home mom, and homeschool teacher to my 3 young children subsides to a dull roar!

    I have yet to read the Ministry is Murder series so maybe I will tackle that while I hope your publisher changes their mind about the next Shenandoah Album novel!

  3. Amy Higgins on January 24, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I am wondering if as fans, could we sign a petition of sorts to see if that would sway the publishers to let you finish the Shenandoah Album series?? I am sure there are quite a few of us out here who would LOVE for that to happen!!!

  4. Lynn Ross on January 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I loved the Shenandoah Album series and would love to read another one. Quilting is now an art form, but the quilts I own and love are the ones that my grandmother and mother made to keep their family warm. Every piece of material came from old, worn-out garments or scraps from clothes she made for her family. Their is litte beauty left in Grandma’s double wedding ring now. So many stories in each piece! Just like all the pieces of our individual lives. I hope you get to write that next book in the series.

  5. Debbie Haupt on January 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Emilie, this is from a fan of ALL of your series, I love Aggie, I absolutely loved The Shenandoah Series and I’m a HUGE fan of The Happiness Keys girls and guys. But I also know that to be true to one’s heart is not always an easy journey and sometimes publishers have a way of trying to tell us what our hearts know better than we do, they do of course control the purse strings.
    I just want you to know that whatever you write I will read, and although I’ll miss Aggie and all of the quirky characters that you’ve created in that series they will never be farther away than my already read shelf in my personal library so I can revisit whenever I need to get a little lift from that lively lady.
    Happiness Key I know will come to a close with the completion of your next novel and I’ve already prepared for that.
    You have such a way with words that even though I’ll miss your series that are no more there is always something on the horizon for me to look forward to. And even though you don’t have to tell us what’s on your mind, it just shows me what a conscientious person you are to care.
    Thank You for everything you write

  6. mary ann gumaer on January 24, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    May be the secret to attracting your publishers’ attention is a petition to BUY the next Shenandoah series books (paperback, please, larger size, more expensive trade ones if we must).
    Or some Facebook like thing???

  7. Buffy Joseph on January 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Please, please, please, if there is anything we can do to encourage your publisher to approve another Shenandoah Album novel, let me know! I *LOVE* those books – they are my favorite of all of your wonderful books – and even if another one was your last, it would be fantastic. So keep us posted, ok?

  8. carolyn mirabella on January 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Iam sad to hear the publishers of your quilt series are so blind and will wait until they can see
    I will be eagerly awaiting any other series you begin I throughly enjoy your writing God Bless carolyn

  9. Denise on January 25, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Oh, I have to say that the Shenandoah Album series is my absolute favorite of yours- I love quilts but the characters in this series are the best, and the stories woven about them- just fabulous! I had wanted to request more books to be written in the series but thought maybe that you had decided to end the series. I sincerely do hope that you are able to write more books in that series, but am a fan, regardless! I look forward to seeing what the response is and will certainly write to your publisher if needed!

  10. Denise on January 25, 2011 at 12:55 am

    I don’t know what happened- I tried to post a comment but was given an error message- I just wanted to say that I ADORE your Shenandoah Album series! From the first one I read, I have always wanted more but thought maybe you had decided on your own to bring that series to an end. I will be more than happy to write, beg 🙂 for more Shenandoah Album books if you decide that will be helpful. Regardless of what you write, I am a fan and will continue to read your books, but -oh, how I long for more of those wonderful loveable characters in the Shenandoah Album series!!

  11. Nancy Badertscher on January 26, 2011 at 2:43 am

    Emilie, thanks so much for sharing all the information about the Shenandoah Album and Ministry is Murder series. It was interesting to hear more about the publishing world than most of us know – not necessarily what we wanted to hear, but informative nevertheless. Do you have to stay with the same publisher if you were to to write more in either series?

    I will repeat what the others have said – I have enjoyed all those books so much, still have them on my shelf, as well as several others you have written. I’ll be happy to write pleading for more in either or both. But whatever you write next I’ll read! I’m am continuing with Fortunate Harbor and looking forward to the novellini and the quilt to go with it. We all need more projects to start don’t we?

  12. Shirley in Canada on January 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Looking forward to your venture with Pat Sloan. Hope all works out well for your Shenandoah Album serie.

  13. Sue Thompson on February 2, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I would like to see another book in the series of the Shenandoah Album. It has so many ways it can go, let Emilie write it for us fans. Thanks

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