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With today’s launch of UNSTOPPABLE: A BUCK LAWSON MYSTERY (Book #2), I have just published my 22nd mystery. For those who are counting (and I’m not; I had to look it up) this is my 115th (or possibly 120th ; sources vary) published novel.
To coin a phrase: Boy, am I tired.
I am now actively writing three mystery series: The Raine Stockton Dog Mystery Series, The Dogleg Island Mystery Series, and the Blood River Mystery Series. I also have two women’s fiction series still in print and actively attracting readers: The Ladybug Farm series, and The Hummingbird House Series. Whenever I announce the publication of a novel from one of the series, I get a slew of e-mails asking when the next book in another series is coming out. When’s the next Flash book? Will there be any more Ladybug Farm books? What happened to The Hummingbird House?
Don’t get me wrong: I love it! How many authors would kill to get that kind of response?-- and I hope it never stops. But I do feel bad when I have to tell readers, “No more books in that series are scheduled at this time” or “Look for the next book in the series next year.” By way of apology, I thought it might be worth taking a moment to explain how these decisions come about.
But first, a brief commercial announcement:
I never intended to be the author of three concurrent mystery series. I didn’t create The Blood River series because I was bored with the Dogleg Island and Raine Stockton mystery series, or because they had reached a conclusion. I wrote Unfixable because I found Buck Lawson(who, as many of you know, originated with the Raine Stockton mystery series) to be such a compelling character that I thought his story needed to be told. And once he was settled in Mercy, Georgia, as chief of police, I realized his story had just begun. Unstoppable picks up where Unfixable left off, as Buck uncovers even more of Mercy’s dark secrets. And, from where I sit right now, it looks as though there will be many more adventures in Buck’s future. Stay tuned.
Back to What’s Next:
Despite the rumors of its demise, The Dogleg Island series is alive and well, and its inhabitants are looking forward to a bright future. While Flash in the Dark (Dogleg Island Mystery #5) concluded the storyline that dealt with Aggie’s search for her father and Grady’s fight against the organized crime cartel that threatened Murphy County, Flash of Fire begins a whole new chapter for the residents of Dogleg Island. Businesses and spirits have been rebuilt since the traumatic events of Flash in the Dark; Flash and Aggie are settling in to Dogleg Island’s new police station and starting to break in a new staff; Aggie and Ryan Grady prepare to welcome a new member of their family. Meanwhile, what appears to be a peaceful group of environmental activists stage a protest on Dogleg Island and are accused of being a front for a more sinister purpose. Aggie and Flash must uncover the truth before the threat becomes real. Flash of Fire takes place in the summer before the events of The Good Shepherd.
Similarly, The Judge’s Daughter (Raine Stockton Dog Mystery #15) wrapped up a significant chapter of Raine Stockton’s life. Her ex-husband and best friend (the afore-mentioned Buck Lawson) remarried and moved away, a family secret was revealed, the storyline of her friend and mentor Maude Braselton was wrapped up, and Raine discovered she has a brother. The fact that this brother is of somewhat questionable character should have clued readers into the possibility of many more adventures to come, but instead many of them concluded this was the end of the line for Raine, Cisco, et al. Not so! A new installment of The Raine Stockton Dog Mystery Series will be coming as soon as humanly possible after Flash of Fire. Raine and Cisco are back in their element leading a wilderness expedition at a corporate retreat. What Raine doesn’t know is that one of the members of their group is a fugitive, and that another member has been hired to kill him. All she has to do is figure out which one is which before anyone else dies.
And After That?
Here’s the part where I try to explain how I decide what comes next. When I finish a book, it’s extremely hard to put aside those characters and turn my back on the fictional world in which I’ve lived for months (sometimes over a year!) My preference would be to immediately start another book in the same series. But, as a professional, I rarely have the luxury of doing what I please. I have a system. Based on the level of popularity, the release schedule for a new book in each series goes like this: 1) Raine Stockton 2) Blood River 3) Dogleg Island. However, I love a good anthology (as in Deck the Halls ) so expect this line-up to be broken on occasion by a collection that features two or more novellas from each series.
But What About Ladybug Farm?
This is where I usually utter those dreaded words, “No more books are planned at this time.” The key words are at this time. In my mind there has always been room for another Ladybug Farm book, probably called “Reunion at Ladybug Farm” and very possibly set at Christmastime (because I love to do that!) But it will not be this year. As for another Hummingbird House book, I personally believe The Hummingbird House was one of the best books I’ve ever written, and Christmas at the Hummingbird House comes in a close second. However, on my hierarchy-of-importance-based-on-popularity, this series ranks in the negative numbers. Because I have so many other demands on my writing time, I can’t justify continuing to write the kind of complex, full-length novels this series demands. Future Hummingbird House installments will very likely be in the form of short stories.
If you ever have wondered why you rarely hear from me on social media or elsewhere, I hope you wonder no longer. 115 (or 120) books don’t just write themselves, you know😊 I like to keep my readers surprised and engaged, and I’m constantly looking for ways to expand my audience, so it is not entirely out of the question that a new series (or stand-alone book) will appear from time to time. And, because all good things must eventually end, it’s likely that one of the series you enjoy now will decline in popularity to the point that it’s no longer feasible to continue it. But as for now, all the characters we know and love are going strong, and I remain one busy girl.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.