Six years and seventeen days ago, I moved into Burton Cottage. Six years and fifteen days ago, I became a full-time author. It was an exciting time.
Since the day I made those two drastic changes, a lot has happened. I have written and published twenty-five books (I actually had to go back and figure this out. I could not remember. LOL) I wrote eleven novels, thirteen novellas, and one short story.
My most prolific year since going full time was 2017, when I wrote six books. Two of those were the first two novellas in my racing series, Darcy’s Race to Love and Georgie’s Redemption. I also this year wrote my only Regency series, the three-book Darcy Marriage Series. I ended that year by publishing my first Christmas book, Darcy’s Perfect Present. Looking back, it sort of feels like I worked my tail off for a bunch of books that were not well-received. LOL
My least prolific year, not counting this year, was a tie between 2020 and 2021. I only wrote three books each of those years. The stress of the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions/insanity, the social unrest, and the jarring change of routine that came along with all of it threw me for a loop, and as I learned when I first went full-time, I don’t respond well to change. The effects of those two years are continuing to be felt, to be honest. I’m still not back to where I need to be.
Anyway, I had a goal for 2020 to publish six books. I had proven in the past that I could do it, and in 2019, I had four published (three of them novels) and one half-written. I contented myself in December of the year we all wish had never happened with the three I got done and moved on from there. LOL
This year, I have so far published two books: a novel and a short story. I have a work-in-progress, but progress has been slow. There have been consequences to only publishing three books a year, and my world is currently not stable, which means I struggle to be creative. I’ve been working on the new book since May. I’ve not taken this long to write a story in years. LOL
My favorite of the 25 books I’ve written since I went full-time is probably Darcy’s Bodie Mine. That one involved a lot of research, but it was so much fun to write. I love westerns, and this was as close as I may ever come to writing one. It was not well received, because it’s not Regency (though to be honest, the mores of 1880 were not that far off 1810, so I’m not sure the reasoning behind this.) However, it’s a great book and I’d love to write more of those. The same with A MUCH Later Meeting, which is set in the Victorian era and is a silver fox-type story, where Darcy and Lizzy don’t meet until they’re in their 50’s: I greatly enjoyed writing it and would love to write more of that kind of story.
My least favorite of the books I have written in the last six years is much harder to choose. To be honest, I like all of my books to one extent or the other. I guess if I have to pick one to dislike, it would be Caroline’s Censure, which is book three in the Darcy Marriage series. I remember having some serious struggles to get that book written.
Some of these books took a lot more out of me, emotionally, than others did. I think the one that hit me hardest was Darcy’s Unwanted Bride. As an adult survivor of childhood abuse, it often felt as though I were reliving some things. It is, however, the book I am most proud of.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the course of the last six years. First of which would be not to quit your “real” job after just using all of your savings to buy a house. LOL
I’ve learned that my world has to be stable in all areas for me to be creative. Any change, good or bad, will throw me off for months.
I’ve learned that, for me, thinking is writing. I can’t officially “outline” (what I do is somewhere between making a full-blown outline and flying by the seat of my pants … I have a list of things I want to happen in the story, any of which may or may not happen, depending on where it takes me), and I can’t write 5,000 words every day. I have to have thinking time between writing sessions, which means I don’t write every day and the days I do, I limit myself to 3,000 words or less. Generally. There have been times when I was unable to stop and got closer to 4,000 or even a little more in a day, but those are rare. I love them, but they’re of necessity rare. This means that I may never again write more than four books in a year, and I’m okay with that. My goal now is to be consistent.
I’ve learned that JAFF readers want what JAFF readers want, and if I expect to sell books, I had best be giving them what they want. I’m sure it’s the same in all genres. On the one hand, that’s fine, because I do love writing Regency Darcy and Elizabeth. On the other hand, I have a whole lot of excellent ideas that may never see the light of day, unless I decide to write them as non-JAFF. I also have a butt-ton of already-published books that contain brilliant stories that people are missing out on, because their reading requirements exclude them for one reason or another. shrug The part of me that wants to fix problems wants very much to open their eyes, but the rest of me understands that I can’t change other people.
So what is to come in the next six years and fifteen days? The answer is, I don’t really know. I stopped making goals and resolutions long ago, because I never meet them. I hope to finish the current book I’m working on and at least one more this year. Because I’m not producing as many books as I need to, my income has dropped and I’m actively searching for a part-time second job. I have an interview this afternoon, as a matter of fact. I’m hoping the additional income will ease some of my stress and allow my brain to focus when I sit down to write. Also, the high adaptability part of me tends to need something to adapt to, so knowing that my days have parameters to them may help, as well.
As for the future beyond this year, I would love to write four novels in 2023. Again, it all depends on regaining my stability, but I think it’s a definite possibility. It’s something to aim for and look forward to, anyway.
Which of the above books did you like best? Are there any you missed reading? Have you re-read any of them?