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.