Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Raising the Bar

It’s a done deal. Just this weekend I put my name to contracts for three more Odelia Grey novels, specifically, books 4, 5 & 6, indenturing myself through 2010. Midnight Ink’s plan is to release a book every February. Tentatively, the novels are entitled: Epitaph Envy, Fifty Can Be Fatal and The Goodbye Graves, but, of course, titles can change along the way.

It’s exciting and frightening at the same time.

Exciting, because I’m living my dream of being a published author. Frightening, because I must dig into my gut over and over and produce new and entertaining stories of equal or increasing quality. The plots of the three new books are already planned and I’m four chapters into Epitaph Envy. But with each book I worry. Will it be as good as my last? Will it be better? Will readers like it? Love it? Hate it? As I write, I have no idea. I pound on the keyboard, lost in my fictional world, hoping and striving for the best. Not even when the book is complete do I have a sense of how I did. It’s only after it has sat a little bit and I revisit it with fresh eyes can I judge the true content and quality of my labor.

People often ask me how I can I come up with new story lines over and over. Stories are not the problem. I have more book ideas than Paris Hilton has doggie accessories. The real trick is raising the bar and hurdling it with each subsequent book.

I have a 12-book story arc planned for Odelia Grey. Right now 2 books have been released, 1 is coming out in February and 3 more are under contract. Whether or not the remaining 6 books will be published depends solely on my ability to keep raising the bar so that readers will continue to buy and enjoy the books, and a publisher will continue to want to publish them.

I wonder – have the Wheaties people have ever thought about putting an author on one of their boxes?

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