The time between finishing one book and starting another is always odd for me.  Part of my brain wants to cling to the last book while another part wants to move on to these other people and their problems and hopes and dreams. With Sentinel out, I’m starting Warrior, Will Davis’s book, and I’m at that funny in-between stage again.  

I’ve spent two novels and two novellas with Will, so I know him pretty well, but I’m still working on getting to know his Audra.  

Northcott-RenegadeAnd then there are all these other people.  Nemesis, the next novel, is plotted. Avenger, the next novella, partly is.  And of course each book has a main couple and supporting characters, many of which overlap.  But not all.

As though they weren’t enough, Griff and Val from Renegade peer over my shoulder and say things like, “You know, we had some interesting times off-page and between books.  Maybe you should write about those.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t,” I tell them.  “Don’t get carried away because you’re in the free stories on my website.  It’s someone else’s turn now.”

They aren’t pouty, but they are persistent.  So is Mel from Guardian, who likes to remind me that Stefan, her mage physician fiancé, is supposed to see if he can help her mom.  This is by way of suggesting maybe I should write that.  You know, NOW.

And then there’s Tasha, the heroine of Nemesis, who keeps muttering things like “I can’t believe you’re matching me up with that guy.  He hates me.  I return the favor. It’s never going to work.  You’ll see.”  

Mixed into all that are various plot ideas for Avenger, which pop up at odd and inopportune moments.  To get anything done (like, oh, the first draft of Warrior), I have to bring order out of this chaotic swirl of ideas.

BillysIsland_Jan2014So I’m dealing with this clamor in my head in three ways.  First, I’m doing the research for Will and Audra’s book.  Warrior centers on an archaeological dig, so I have to learn about the procedures for that as well as the cultures they’d be uncovering (although, this being fiction, I can taken considerable liberties with the history).  

When I’m into my research, I get ideas.  Which help shut all those other books out of my brain for a while so I can home in on the couple who currently belong front and center.

Second, I’m writing in non-linear order.  As a scene comes to me, I write the bare bones of it, no matter which book it belongs to.  I figure that will not only keep me from losing it but stop it from popping up again.  This is a new thing for me, but it’s working well so far.  I’m  still doing my usual scenes-in-proper-order thing with the beginning, too, but I’m also hopping around.

fargoneThird, I’m reading.  Escape also narrows the focus.  It’s as though my subconscious works out my plot or character problems while the main part of my brain cruises through a story that’s not my responsibility.  

I just finished Laura Griffin’s new release, Far Gone.  I’ve enjoyed her Tracers series.  Though I’m not sure whether this book is actually part of it, I liked Far Gone a lot.  It’s about a detective trying to get her brother out of trouble while her career hangs in the balance, an FBI agent trying to nail a mass murderer and stop his next attack, and the case that brings them together.    

One of my favorites of the Tracers series, 2013 RITA winner Scorched, was recently back in stores.  I have the ebook, but I grabbed a print copy.  I like it that much.  The Tracers work in an advanced forensics lab, and Scorched features a forensic anthropologist and a Navy SEAL.

NotoriousA_200As my focus narrows in on Warrior, I’ll read less new material.  Books I haven’t read before will be saved for rewards at various writing or research milestones, and I’ll fall back on familiar favorites like my picks from the In Death series or maybe Nora Roberts’ The Search (a serial killer book but it has dogs and, at least in the beginning, comic relief) her Chesapeake Quartet, or Patricia Rice’s Mystic Isle or Rebellious Sons series.

When you finish a big project, do you ever have trouble letting go and moving on?  If so, how do you handle it?  If you reward yourself at the end of a project or along the way, what’s your reward system?  Have you recently read a book you’d recommend as an escape or a reward?


Posted in , , , , ,



  • Helen says:

    Is he coming to visit with me ?

    Have Fun

  • Helen says:


    I am so looking forward to Will’s story can’t wait I know it will be fantastic 🙂

    I don’t think I have set myself any big projects for a while although we have being getting onto a new system at work that is causing all sorts of dramas at the moment and I am sre when it is finally up and running properly I will reward myself but I am not sure with what yet LOL my reward for a lot of things is to read as always and I have jest read a great debut by author Ella Carey it is called The Paris Capsule and this is based on a true story about an apartment that had been closed up since the Germans invaded Paris don’t miss this one 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Helen, thanks for the vote of confidence! Will is not at all sure he likes the way his story his shaping up, but we’ll see.

      I’ve tried to get away from food as a reward because I invariably used food that was bad for me. Books are much safer! The Paris Capsule sounds intriguing, all the more so because it’s true.

  • Nancy, it’s an interesting dilemma, isn’t it? I go through a mourning period at the end of every book. These people have filled up my head and my heart for months at a time. I know them better than I know most ‘real’ people. Yet now I must abandon them and rent out the space they occupied to new tenants. And I don’t want to do it. Except that the new tenants are often very pushy and they want to talk to me and eventually I give up. But there’s still that little ache for the last hero and heroine. When I particularly love the characters, which was the case with Verity and Kylemore or Antonia and Ranelaw or my duke and duchess from WHAT A DUKE DARES (although it’s true about all of them), it’s a major wrench to let them go!

    • Anna, the rental space analogy is particularly apt. I think that dislike of letting go is part of what fuels my desire to put free short stories on my website. I can play with the characters, show things that don’t belong in any of the books but matter to the characters, and, if I like, indulge any holiday sentiment

  • Shannon says:

    Now that you mention it, I guess my work writing is a little like that–except my projects are “small”– a 10 line article, a 2 page digest article, or a 3-4 page study. The note is written in a day and the editorial process takes up the next two days. The 2 page digest article sometimes is written in 2 days and in others over two weeks. The studies often take a month. I know my main regret is that some important part of the story gets left out because we now only focus on the what/so-what, the why, and the future implications.

    In the in-between times, I guess ideas do talk to me. I know I propose one thing after another. Right now, I actually have two projects in the research phase. My emotions are will I ever sort out the data into a what and so-what.

    My reward for every day at work is reading. And I tell my friends that I got “published.”

    My really big project is to declutter the table and the floor where I put the mail. It does say to me “clean me”. I hate figuring out what I should keep, what I want to keep, and what to throw away. I’m going to have to think up a reward for doing it. Then I can let my sock drawer talk to me. “Yes, I’m a singleton and no my mate is never coming back.”

    • Caren Crane says:

      Shannon, in a weird collective unconscious moment, I was totally on this same wavelength just as I woke up this morning. I had a vision of my (horribly cluttered) dining room table clear and set for, you know, actual eating. I tried to ignore the compulsion to tackle that this morning since I have WRITING to do! 🙂

      • Caren, our dining room table and yours sound like twins! We try to invite people over regularly because that makes us keep the table clear, but we’ve fallen down on that this year.

    • Shannon, I think variety in the tasks would be great. Knocking off something quick always makes me feel better when I’ve fallen behind.

      We’re having people from the dh’s work over tomorrow for a covered dish supper. Which is fine except the table is covered in paper and clutter except that it has islands of space whereon the dh and I eat. So today is a cleaning and, if possible, throwing things away day.

      The dh is much better about tossing things than I am. I tend to hold onto mail, especially catalogues, because I _might_ want it later.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Oh, Nancy, I feel your pain. There is a secondary character in the Cross Springs novels that won’t leave me alone. It’s Connie Burns’ sister-in-law, Lacey. She has been mentioned in all three books and I haven’t plotted anything for her yet.

    Part of it is, she’s been waiting for her son Nate to grow up (for some reason). I even have a novella idea for college-age Nate, but not one for his single, never-been-married mother. It’s a travesty!

    But I also have another series of books that I want to get back to. Okay, two series of books. I hate to leave Cross Springs, though. I love those characters! I may have to cultivate some cross-over between the series to satisfy myself, like Harlan Coben does. 🙂

    Speaking of whom, I downloaded his latest, Missing You as a treat for when I get Baby Steps out the door. After I published Cross Springs In Bloom, I glutted myself on the other Ben Skrewd novellas and THAT was a huge treat! I kind of forgot sometimes that Ben was going to show up. When he did, it was insanely fun! Except in one he was a Very Bad Guy, which was a little disturbing. But he got his comeuppance, so it was good!

    I also just finished Elizabeth Essex’s After the Scandal, which I adored. Her prose is like poetry. I love her!

    • Caren, maybe that means you’re just saving Lacey for something extra good.

      I also have a Nate, short for Nathaniel. He’s Tasha’s twin. It’s funny about names, isn’t it? When I started Renegade, I hadn’t read any books with heroes named Griffin, and now there are a lot of them, some published before Renegade. It’s like the name fairy whispers in writers’ ears “what about” and lots of us hear it at once.

      Just btw, I loved Cross Springs in Bloom and read several of the other Ben Skrewd, including Susan’s wonderful Blake Brothers story, Touch of Trouble.

      • Caren Crane says:

        My Nate is also a Nathaniel. 😀 Yes, those names definitely get into the writing ether. I also have ended up with friends who happen to have the same names as my Cross Springs characters. But I named the characters before I met the friends! Still awkward!

        I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the Ben Skrewd novellas. We had such a good time with him! So far, I think I was kindest to him, though. Ben was swimming in the bad end of the character pool!

  • Amy Herring says:

    Since I always have a novel being written, one in revision, several in planning stages, and short stories flitting about like moths drawn to a light bulb, I don’t seem to have intermissions although I worry that my scattered work habits make finishing and letting go harder to accomplish, especially with longer works. I generally write new words in the am and work on revision late in the evenings and on weekends (day job in between).

    I don’t have a separate reward system, don’t seem to need one for new writing, but maybe should install rewards for revision milestones reached? I still detest revision, probably a sure sign of immaturity as a writer! Helpful suggestions much appreciated toward learning to embrace rewriting…

    As to rewarding books, I am still blown away by mystery writer Stephen Booth and devoured his Cooper and Fry series from THE BLACK DOG to ALREADY DEAD. Anxiously awaiting the latest release in the series, already out in the UK, but arriving Stateside in ebook, August, 2014.

    • Amy, you always have many irons in the fire. I admire your ability to write shorts that are fully developed stories. Every time I try, they get longer and looonger and loooooonger.

      I’m not one of those people who’s into the joys of revising, though I’ve noticed that I find it more satisfying than I used to. I definitely use a rewards system for that.

      The Cooper and Fry series sounds interesting.

  • catslady says:

    Sounds like you have no problems with writer’s block which is a good thing. I can’t imagine how you keep it all straight lol. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Grace Burrowes’ books and enjoying them very much!

    • Catslady, I don’t generally have writers block. What I do have is a certain level of anxiety every time I start a book, and I think that’s one reason all these other characters are able to muscle their way into my head. And part of the reason they become less able to do so as the new story absorbs me.

      I’ve started a series bible because I’ve now put enough detail into the world and the characters’ lives that I can’t keep it all in my head. I thought this would be easy and quick until I wrote the first character profile and found that no, it wasn’t. But it has to be done.

      I love Grace Burrowes’ books. One of the things I particularly enjoy is the way the characters weave in and out of each other’s stories. I like doing that with my own imaginary friends, too.

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I always have that weird feeling when I finish a trilogy or longer series. Just kind of out of step with myself.

    Question? When you get the nuggets of ideas and write them down do you keep separate notebooks?

    I have a Nora Roberts comfort read that I go back to from time to time, I think you would enjoy it, it is Sister’s Island Trilogy.

    • Hi, Dianna–

      I know what you mean. It’s kind of a “is that all?” and “what now?” feeling.

      I type much faster (and more legibly) than I write, so when I have ideas spring into my head, I type them up in a document. I have a “rest of the series” document for my spies that has bits of all the books after the second one (which is half done but fully plotted). It’s currently 71 pages and covers 5 books.

      I have document for various scenes from Warrior, and short ones with scenes for Avenger and Nemesis in the folders for those books. When I get to the points in the stories where those scenes belong, I’ll slot them in and then revise so they fit with what goes before.

      I have read the Sisters Island Trilogy and enjoyed it a lot. It has magic but not heavy-duty magic. And I’m a sucker for a copy hero. 🙂

      • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

        I am a sucker for the magic too. Always have been, love my historicals of course but the absolute best is when the historical and magic are combined.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Dianna, like Nancy, I start a new file when I have a new book idea. Often a title will pop in my head, so I’ll give the file that name. Recently, I was purging some files from my PC and came across 5 or 6 files with book ideas. Some of those may even get written one day! They all had great titles. 🙂

      • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

        LOL, not a writer but from what I have heard sometimes the hardest part is the title so you are a step ahead.

  • Jane says:

    Hello Nancy,
    When it’s over I have no trouble moving on, but there are some occasions when I have lingering thoughts about it. I loved “Far Gone,” too. I wish there was more romance and was wondering if the move to hardcover was the reason why the romance part seemed thinner.

  • I have the same problem, Nancy. There are always characters in one book who want their own book and as much as I miss the characters from the original book I try not to go back until I am ready to write the next book. The consensus used to be write the first book in a series and then move on to something different because what if that first doesn’t sell? Now the consensus is write the first three because even if they don’t sell you’ll have three to quick release if you decide to self publish. It is enough to make a writer nuts! Or nuttier!

    The other bad thing is I have index card boxes with snippets notes and ideas for other books and while I am working on one sometimes characters from another one will bust in and demand some attention. I can’t even keep the voices in my head under control! 🙂

    I recently finished Eloisa James’s latest Three Weeks with Lady X and I absolutely loved it. Great read! Another amazing read is Grace Burrowes Trenton, Lord of Loss, from her Lonely Lords series.

    • Louisa, your index card system sounds very workable. You can always pitch anything you decide not to use–or refile it in miscellaneous.

      Yeah, the write one versus write three thing is enough to make a person crazy.

      I haven’t read the Eloise James yet, but I did read Grace Burrowes’ latest and enjoyed it hugely.