Since 2008, I have published seven young adult novels
I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME
FAR FROM YOU
THE DAY BEFORE
FALLING FOR YOU
THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU
ALL WE HAVE IS NOW
and eleven middle grade novels
IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES
SPRINKLES AND SECRETS
FROSTING AND FRIENDSHIP
CHARMED LIFE #1, Caitlin's Lucky Charm
CHARMED LIFE #2, Mia's Golden Bird
CHARMED LIFE #3, Libby's Sweet Surprise
CHARMED LIFE #4, Hannah's Bright Star
MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS
SEALED WITH A SECRET
THE GIRL IN THE TOWER
2017 MG title not yet finalized
In eight years.
Starting in 2010, I worked hard to publish two books a year, one YA and one MG. Then, I had the year where I wrote all four of the CHARMED LIFE books, because my publisher wanted them to come out quickly, one after the other.
The thing is, if I'm not regularly selling books to publishers, I'm not making the kind of income I need to pay the bills. You're probably wondering, don't you get lots of royalties on all of those books? Well, no, not really. Some of them haven't even earned out their advance, and may not ever do that. Others give me a small amount of royalties every six months, but once books are gone from the shelves of bookstores, they aren't selling enough copies to make much of a difference.
I have a couple of things on submission now, and I'm crossing my fingers something will sell. In the mean time, I decided it was time for me to mix things up a bit. Stretch myself. Write something that would make me forget about the stressful business side of publishing and fall in love all over again with the act of writing.
If you're a writer and feeling like you'd like to mix things up a bit too, but don't know what that means or how to do that, here are some things you can try.
Write for a different age-group.
Write a different genre.
Do something new with point-of-view.
Do something new with timeline.
Play with voice.
Write in a different form - short story, poetry, essay, etc.
If you've never outlined, try outlining.
If you've never gone without an outline, try drafting without one.
I've always been a pretty fast writer. Also a lean writer. Perhaps the two go hand-in-hand?
But this summer, I am mixing things up by first and foremost, slowing things down. I'm also trying a different genre (historical fiction), although it's a book that alternates between the past and the present so it has other challenges besides the research aspect. Talk about mixing things up!! I started the book I'm working on now at a writing retreat back in April, and I'm probably one-fourth of the way through a first draft right now. I am letting things simmer more than I usually do and giving lots of thought to decisions I make about what happens next. I'm trying to write two pages a day, but if I only get one done or even a couple of paragraphs, I don't sweat it.
There are times when things are hectic and chaotic and dinner at my house consists of soup and sandwiches. Other times, I can spend an hour and a half in the kitchen, making a really nice home-cooked meal. No doubt about it - the dinner I spend more time and care on is usually a much more special meal. That's not to say the soup and sandwich dinner is bad - I can make a pretty tasty sandwich. I guess my point is that life doesn't always allow us to spend an hour and a half on dinner every single night. Similarly, life doesn't always allow authors many months and even years to write books. I've done what I've needed to do over the years to feed my family, and did the best I could with the time/resources I had at the time.
But right now, with this particular book, I know I need to take it slow. It is the kind of book that deserves care and attention and a lot of thought. So that's what I will give it.
Eighteen books in eight years may be great or it may be slightly insane, I'm not quite sure. What I do know is that it's okay to slow down once in a while. Hopefully this particular story will be better for it.