November 2023 Update!

I spent some time in early November attending the 20Books indie author/self publishing conference, and it clarified a few things for me. The first is that boy, do I need more audiobooks. So I'm going to be exploring putting the rest of Sanctuary, The Girl Who Ran Away, Southern Watch, and maybe even Liars and Vampires into audiobook. I'll likely start with the Girl Who Ran Away, so expect an announcement about that as soon as I can make something happen.*

Also, I'm quite pleased with the reception for The Girl Who Ran Away. It's the best-received start to a series I've ever had, and it's not particularly close. So I've moved up production on books 2 and 3 to get them out ASAP.

The second takeaway is something that's been bothering me for a while, and something I've been working at, but am going to be prioritizing this next year (or few years, in some cases): finishing series.

There's no way to say this without pointing a finger: George R.R. Martin has almost single-handedly changed the buying patterns of the book-reading public, at least in the fantasy category. He's had some help from others, but in the interest of not breaking my fingers angling them in several different directions, I'll just leave it with him. Honestly, it's kinda unfair to George, since he's also working on eight different TV shows, but the point remains: people have been waiting a looooooong time for the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire, and it doesn't sound close to complete.

Which has resulted in a slew of fantasy readers who simply won't give a series a chance until it's finished. And fair enough, I suppose; I have a couple series I've been waiting to read or progress on until they're finished, but I have bought the first books to support the authors/series so it actually gets finished. Which would be a wise thing to do, because I believe author paychecks are generally on the wane, almost industry-wide.

All this is a long way of saying that I need to wrap up three currently outstanding series, and my priority in 2024 is to do so with two of them and start bringing the third to a close in the next two to three years. Priority one is Southern Watch, and to that end, I've commenced work on HALLOWED, the final volume of that series. I plan to have it out by December of 2024, but hopefully will get it done sooner. If it's done sooner, I'll release it sooner. I don't see any reason to hold it longer than necessary, but having a firm deadline means it will get done. Also, not having the Sanctuary Series on my plate any longer has freed up some time.

After that, I'm going to be prioritizing finishing the Liars and Vampires Series. I don't think I'll be able to finish it in 2024, but hopefully I'll get book 9 out, and be well set up to finish book 10. We'll see.

Which leaves us with one more little detail...the Girl in the Box. I've decided to only release 2 to 3 books in the series next year to be able to wrap up other projects, but book 59 will finish up the China storyline, and leave us with (I think) one major, final storyline before the series wraps up, probably at book 65. I'd originally thought I could maybe make it to 75, but it's become glaringly obvious to me in finishing the Sanctuary Series that, as mentioned above, a great many readers have changed their buying patterns to not start series until they're concluded. Which I understand. But it does make it hard for authors to justify continuing to write a series when the sales aren't there to support it. Besides, 65 books is a pretty good run, and most of the audience has faded away at this point.

Does this mean the absolute end for Sienna? No. She's got an upcoming appearance in book 2 of The Girl Who Ran Away, it seems probable I'll write other spinoffs in that universe once I conclude The Girl Who Ran Away, plus I've got ideas for a mystery-of-the-week type series for her, a Sienna Nealon Casefiles thing I could write one or two books in per year, one that hops around the existing continuity of the books already written (and one that will not definitely, but likely, never progress past the end of The Girl in the Box series, so as not to negate or fiddle with the ending of her story). But all the main storylines I've been teasing, in some cases since book 10 of the series, will get wrapped up in the next two-three years, including China, the Sleeper, and one other that's been waiting in the wings, soon to be revealed. I feel I need an exit point and catharsis for the fans who have been waiting for the series conclusion, and I intend to give it.

Anyway, there's still some time and flex in there, but I think it's obvious we're getting close to the endgame with Sienna. 2-3 books a year in the Girl in the Box until we reach the conclusion seems the right move. I always said I'd write it until I couldn't find any fresh angles, and I think we're getting pretty close on that basis, at least for the type of grand, sweeping story arcs I've been writing with her. So gird yourselves, because as with all these other series, the end is near.

*UPDATE to the update: When I originally wrote this, I was planning to use AI voice to create the audiobooks. Since then, Amazon included me in their Virtual Voice Beta program, which is pretty close to what I was intending, except maybe a bit more easily executed, and can be sold on Amazon. (No other AI-generated audiobooks can.) So that worked out nicely. Find the full listing of Virtual Voice books HERE.