In about thirty days another child of mine will be brought into this world. Or rather, launched upon the reading community. But this time it’s not an Odelia Grey novel, but Ghost à la Mode, the first book in my new Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series.
It was just over two years ago when this little idea I had for a short story took root as a novel and blossomed into a full-fledged series. I remember Barbara Moore, my then editor, saying to me: “How soon can you get us a manuscript?”
“Huh?” Quickly, I calculated how much time I needed to write the Odelia Grey novels under contract, how many hours had to be spent at the law firm, evenings and weekends promoting the novels already out, and how much time I would need to eat, sleep, clean the house, and play with the cats. (Forget having any sort of normal relationship or social outings.) In the end, my time looked a lot like my check book – precariously teetering in the red.
“How about September 1st ,” I replied with a confidence that shook in its socks.
I'm pleased to say the early reviews for Ghost à la Mode have been very good and my publisher tells me the orders are strong. But we authors know that the real proof in the pudding is in the final sales. Orders mean nothing if the books don’t ultimately get sold to readers. My 2nd series still has to prove itself, just as the Odelia Grey series did.
Years ago when I set out to be an author, it never occurred to me to write two series. And no where on my radar was there a book or books about ghosts! I had envisioned writing the Odelia Grey series and the occasional stand alone novel. I knew other authors juggled two series, but with my full-time career as a paralegal, writing, and promotion, one book a year was enough. Or so I thought.
I won’t lie. Some days I regret saying yes to writing the second series. Those are the days when I’m mentally and physically cremated. When the brain screams for a little downtime and my fingers beg for some Bengay. Those are the days when being a hamster in a wheel looks like a nice vacation. But if I had to drop one series and keep the other, it would feel a little like Sophie's Choice. They are both my children, with individual personalities, up sides and down sides. Each series brings me unique joy and provides me with specific challenges.
To keep the two series separate in my brain, I write the Odelia Grey books in first person and the Ghost of Granny Apples books in 3rd person. The protagonists are also very different. Odelia is a lot like me - a short, fat, middle-aged, mouthy paralegal. Emma Whitecastle, the protagonist of the Granny Apples books, is tall, blonde, willowy, divorced, and rich, which is definitely NOT like me. It was fun to write outside my comfort zone. More importantly, it was a challenge to see if I could.
In about thirty days, not only will Ghost à la Mode be launched, but I will be turning in the manuscript for the 2nd book in The Ghost of Granny Apples series. Its working title is Hot ‘n Haunting. I will take two weeks off, then it’s on to Body Bingo, book six in the Odelia Grey mystery series, which is due just after the New Year. It's a lot like running back-to-back marathons.
When training recently for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, my dear friend Ashley Ream drummed into my head the following code of athletes:
“You can puke, but you can’t quit.”
Wadda ya know – it applies to writing, too.