So, after nine months and three novels, I thought it was time to do another update. Oddly enough, it was about 6 months ago when I did the last update.
First, I took a marketing class last fall, which anyone who follows my blog, Twitter or Facebook pages might remember. My professor was great - very supportive and fully embraced my desire to create a marketing plan for my writing. Did you know that self-published authors are responsible for all their own marketing? Either you do it yourself or you pay someone else to do it. One way or another, you have to understand your intentions, and the marketing plan required as part of my grade was a huge help in not only giving me marketing goals, but also giving me publication goals.
With that said, six months ago, when the only book I'd published was Back to December, I had one novel under my belt and one book complete in my Ward Sisters series. I was in process on Ward Sisters Book 2, Only One. Since then, Only One went live on December 21, 2013 (and had a HUGE revision between the update and publication time). Book 3, Right Here Waiting, went live this past Monday, March 17, 2014. I've learned so much in the past year, past nine months, past six months, past four months. It's run the gamut from improving my storytelling skills to finding new ways to guerrilla market my books. So, let's get to the update of future plans. Rather than give you detailed word counts like I did before, I'm going for the overview here.
Ward Sisters Series
Book 4, This Year's Love, was my NaNoWriMo project. It stars oncology nurse Annie Ward, Emily's younger sister, and park ranger Josh Ricker, Em's ex-boyfriend. My muse is refusing to speak about it for the moment, but suffice to say that I know she will talk before it needs to be completed. I'm planning for a June 2014 publication, probably at the end of the month.
Book 4.5, Buying the Cow. I'm still not sold on the title, but until I find an alternative, that's the Work In Progress (WIP) name. This story centers around Rob's former makeup artist Reggie Reynolds, and reporter Eddie Besson, Josh Ricker's best friend from childhood. It will pick up right where Book 4 leaves off. I hadn't been sure before if it would be book 3.5 or 4.5. Now, I've decided and it follows Josh and Annie's story, is almost a continuation of that from two other points of view (POV), but it will expand into a separate story, too. Probably an early fall release, around late September/early October 2014.
Book 5, Just Realized. This story focuses on Realtor Nina Jacobs and Army Sergeant Owen Nichols. Nina appeared briefly in Back to December and she played an important role in Only One. She's also Charlie Ward's best friend and Meghan Miles' cousin. For anyone who wanted a Happily Ever After (HEA) for Nina, this will be where you hear it. We meet Owen in Right Here Waiting. He's one of two soldiers who Captain Neil Murphy considers to be his best friends in the service. Their story is mostly written and I expect that it will be published sometime in late 2014 or early 2015, depending on how quickly Book 4.5 comes together and how other things gel. I'm currently planning for February 6, 2015, but it might come earlier.
Book 6, Think of Me. Bodyguard and former FBI agent, Noah Adams gets his turn, along with Mary Cate Neely, Liam's twin sister. My marketing plan didn't include this book's release date, but I'd come up with a schedule that had a new book in the series every 4 months. If we push Book 5 ahead, this will get pushed ahead. If not, we're looking at August, 2015, which will be 2 years post-Back to December publication. I'd like to get it out sooner.
Book 6.5 Tell Me What it Takes. This one focuses on Dr. Aaron Wallace, who you'll meet in This Year's Love along with his high school flame (and Liam's ex), pharmaceutical rep Ally Carmichael. Again, depending upon everything else, this might come earlier, but expect it by Christmas 2015.
Book 7, Better Be Home Soon. Right now, this story has three POV and involved Charlie (Ward) and Dan Williams, as well as Neil Murphy's Army buddy, Jack Armstrong. That could change as time progresses. For now, while I'd love to get this book out sooner, it looks like we're at March 2016 for a current date on the schedule as it stands. The thing with this schedule is that it was originally generated when I was still writing/editing Only One, and between late last fall and now, I've changed a lot about how I approach my work. Suffice to say, I can't see it taking longer than two years from now to get this part of the series wrapped up, but it could always happen sooner. I'll keep you posted.
Deacon Security and Vega Brothers
As part of the process of finishing Right Here Waiting, I met two new characters whose stories I wanted to write. Rather than folding them directly into the Ward Sisters Series, I'm going to given them an offshoot series. It will be called Vega Brothers and for now, will include Meghan Miles' college best friend, Carlos Johnson-Vega and his older brother (and Meg's ex), Nico Vega. I imagine as I delve into their story, I'll find more characters who want to be heard, but for now, this will be a two-book minimum series.
I was musing recently and realized that a lot of potential existed to explore the men of Deacon Security. This is the company that guards Rob Deacon and his family, the security firm started by Rob's brother, Rick, when he became his younger brother's bodyguard. I'm currently writing a transition story, called Even Now, that will bridge between Ward Sisters and Deacon Security. The idea is that Rick's company, which is based in Minneapolis, will branch out to the East Coast when Rob permanently relocates his home base. They'll need a whole new crop of talent, and some of those guys will come from the men that Neil Murphy and Owen Nichols led in the Army. So, the series will still visit our Ward Sisters friends, but we won't focus on them specifically. I'm envisioning, so far, three stories beyond Even Now, so at least 4 books. But given the focus of the series, there is always a possibility that more could follow.
The book I'd originally thought I would publish first will be part of this new series. It will be completely unrelated to Ward Sisters. I have a first-person, New Adult-oriented novel that's basically complete and needs to be edited, which I will use as a prequel for this series. The current title is Closer to Fine, so we'll see if that survives the editing stage, because this one will get a little bit of an overhaul. It's an existing story I wrote that I'm folding into this series. I'm hoping to have that ready in the next couple months. Then, in late summer, I'll be revealing more about the first regular book in the series, called The Piece I Don't Need. That will likely release between Book 4.5 and Book 5 of Ward Sisters, tentatively in November. After that, I have at least 5 other books planned or in process, I'll Be, In Another Life, Beneath the Stars and two that are thus far untitled, plus a shorter story that might make it into that set.
So, you can see I have a LOT of things coming down the pike. I'm getting quicker with my drafts - for Back to December, I wrote a first draft and went through 5 revisions (and Laurie edited 5 versions) before publication. Only One had as many versions (or more, possibly), but it only got the full editing treatment for 4 of them. With Right Here Waiting, I'd learned so much from the first two processes that it only went through 2 edits with my editor - one for content, the other for the nitty-gritty stuff, like grammar, missed punctuation, typos, etc. But I sought beta readers this last time around (super readers who review like my editor, for content and if they see technical errors, they can mention them), and I liked how the new process improved the flow for me and for everyone else. I anticipate more of that in the future and hopefully, it will streamline things so that I can get more out quicker.
That's the update on where things are currently at and where they're headed in the future. Thanks for continuing to take this ride with me!