Monday, January 30, 2012

Switching Gears

by Kathleen Ernst

My third Chloe Ellefson mystery, The Lightkeeper’s Legacy, has been delivered to Midnight Ink. I’ve also sent copies to content reviewers so that by the time my production editor has a clean copy for me to review, I’ll be ready with their feedback.

Red Pencil

It takes me a year to write an adult mystery. Since Chloe is a museum curator, the plots include historical themes and elements that require some research. The Lightkeeper’s Legacy has two timelines—one in the 1980s and one in the 1800s—and so was more complicated to plot and research than my previous mysteries have been. I spent a lot of time immersed in the story.


I’ve also been juggling a couple of projects, so finishing Legacy in time to meet deadlines was a bit intense. I ended up spending a week with my laptop at a monastery so I could work without interruption. There were moments when I dreamed of hitting “send” so the manuscript was---at least for a while---someone else’s baby. I had thoughts of all the things I’d been putting off: having coffee with a friend, excavating piles and files in hopes of finding the surface of my desk, actually cooking dinner.

As soon as the manuscript was delivered, though, I got itchy to work on the fourth Chloe book. I want to keep to the book-a-year cycle if I can. I also had ideas circling in my head that needed to be captured before they flew away. I missed the main characters, and wanted to get back in touch.

So alas, my desk is still largely buried, stacks of reference books cover much of the floor, and I’m still not cooking and baking as much as I’d like. I am, however, having a lot of fun tiptoeing into a new story. This one will be set in a new location, so I’m getting to know a different environment. Aside from Chloe, her mom, and cop Roelke McKenna, the cast will also be new. So many possibilities to consider!

Writers – do you take a break between books? Or do you dive right into the next? Readers – do you appreciate series that generally add one new book a year? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Please visit me at to learn more about my mysteries for adults and young readers.


Lois Winston said...

Congrats on finishing the book, Kathleen!

I do take a break between books, if you can call it that. But it's hardly a break. I spent the time between Thanksgiving and the first 3 weeks of Dec. writing guest blogs for my January blog tour to promote Death By Killer Mop Doll. This month has all been about promoting the new release. Tomorrow is the last day of that whirlwind promotion. I plan to take the rest of the week off. Come next Monday, I'll begin the 4th Anastasia book.

So yes, I take time off, but it's really not very relaxing! ;-D

Kathleen Ernst said...

Lois, why am I not surprised? I've been trying to figure out how you get so much done!

Robin Allen said...

Congrats on getting that book out the door! It feels so good to call something "done," doesn't it?

This is my first author rodeo. I've been writing under contract for my second and third books, so taking a break wasn't an option. I'm finishing up my third book (way early!) and am either going to a) stop writing altogether and work at Whataburger or b) start working on an idea I've had for quite a while. If I choose option b, I probably won't take a break.

Linda Hull said...

I'm a slowpoke. It takes me a year a book without the heavy duty research. Since I have my first due in May 2012, number 2 the following May and number 3 the year after, I don't anticipate having any time off at all! Any tips on writing faster? Send 'em here.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Robin - you got done early? I'm in awe. I vote you pass Whataburger by and plunge into the next project!

Linda - I'm sorry, I've got nuthin' in terms of advice for writing faster! If you're the kind of writer who enjoys solitude a retreat can be helpful, but that doesn't work for everyone.

Beth Groundwater said...

I used to be a book-a-year writer, but now with two series going, I'm scrunching that schedule down to 8 months. That means I'm working full-time as a writer--this IS my day job!

For each book, I type a weekly schedule of what I have to accomplish each week (research, outline, rough draft word count, edit, etc.) so I know what my short-term goal is each week. I print out that schedule and have it on my desk, visible all the time. Often, I don't quite make it and end up putting some hours in over the weekend.