There'll Be Some Changes Made by the Chicago Rhythm Kings (1928)

It was July of 2018 when I released the seventh book in the Southern Watch series. September of 2019 was when the most recent Sanctuary book came out. And December of last year I managed to squeak out Liars and Vampires #7, even though books 7-10 were first drafted by my co-author years ago and simply require me to spend the 3 or so work weeks per book to hammer them into their final form.

Why can't I get these books done? Fans are waiting. Salivating, in the case of Sanctuary. Asking generally politely for Liars and Vampires. (Southern Watch fans have more or less given up hope.)

Short answer: because I have to write other books. Books that pay the bills.

In 2014, I released three books in the Girl in the Box series: Destiny (9), Power (10), and Limitless (11). I also released three Sanctuary books (Sanctuary Tales, Thy Father's Shadow, and Master). I managed to also squeak out Southern Watch 1-3 that year, somehow. 9 books, just shy of the goal I'd set for myself, which was to write 10 books in a year. I was a little tired when that year ended, but satisfied with what I'd done. I'd struck a good mix, and moving from one series to the next left me feeling creatively refreshed, and always having something different to look forward to writing.

Fast forward to 2020 and 2021, and my output looks like this:

Control (Girl in the Box 38), Second Guess (39), Powerless (40), Meltdown (41), True North (42), Hit You Where You Live (Liars/Vampires 7), Innocence (43), Southern Comfort (44), Underground (45), Silver Tongue (46), Backwoods (47 - Coming in October), and Home (48 - Coming in December).

Twelve books, and only one is NOT Girl in the Box. (But it's a co-authored work, which is hard for me because it's basically editing my co-author's first draft of the story we planned out together. What's my least favorite part of my job? EDITING. Which is why it's taking so long for me to get out the last Liars and Vampires books. Also, lack of sales. But if it was more fun, the lack of sales wouldn't be as much of an impediment.)

This is not sustainable.

I don't want this to sound like a complaint, because really it's not meant to be. I'm extremely fortunate among authors, because everyone wants to have a hit series. And not only did I get one that's sold literally millions of copies, but people are still enjoying reading it and I'm still (mostly) enjoying writing it! How lucky is that?

But did you notice the "mostly" tucked away there?

Hard as it is for me to believe sometimes, and as much as I'd like to make a joke of it, I'm actually still an artist (sort of, I think). And I really miss the creative refresh that came from having time in my schedule to write other stuff. 

I don't want to bore you with the details, but because of the way Amazon conducts its business (and because they own something like 80%+ of the ebook market, which is what I sell), sales and income have been on a generally slow downward trend since about 2016. Writing more Girl in the Box helped...for a while. But at this point I'm writing book 47 in a series; it's not a growth industry anymore. Seeing how many books are available is an extreme turn-on for dedicated readers. Casuals, though, which make up a huge majority of the book market, take a look and go, "Yeah...probably don't want to spend my next five years reading one series."

Anyway, this is the long way of me saying two things: NO, I'M NOT ENDING GIRL IN THE BOX. I have years of storylines planned out - China needs to be dealt with, Ragnarok is coming, and eventually the long-promised Sleeper will wake and all manner of hell will break loose.

But I will write less of them next year. Probably four books. Maybe as few as three. Not an unreasonable amount, but enough to give me time between them to refresh, creatively. To finish Sanctuary (book 12 is likely to be the end), Southern Watch (book 8 will be the last), and maybe even Liars and Vampires.

Also, to give me a chance to do something new and completely different. Because I desperately need it. After burnout coming out of the co-authoring binge in 2018, I had just about caught up when 2020 came along. Well, as they say, shit happens, and I don't think any of us had a particular great year. But it did force me to focus with the work time I had, and all that time spent writing in the same series has led me to realize that I need to make some changes. As much as I love Sienna, and as much as I can see myself writing books about her for a good long while, I simply cannot do it at the pace I have been since roughly 2015, when I started writing 5-6 books a year in this series.

So changes are coming. Some old series are getting wrapped up (still aiming for Sanctuary 11 to come out this year, and I've made really good progress on making that happen in the last couple months) and some new things (series, or at least trilogies) will be upcoming. Hopefully you'll enjoy them, but I feel fortunate for every person who's read even one book of mine, so if you move on, I understand.

But my hope is that I can continue to offer my readers something they'll not just enjoy, but that they'll simply love reading, and I'm so grateful that every day I get to wake up and do that. To you readers who make it possible: thank you.