I have news. Well, it’s not new news—sometime in the last several weeks I actually wrote The End on The Book That Would Not Write Itself. You know, the one I whined about for months. Intended to be the second installment in a 1920s cozy English mystery series, it needed a second look and judicious use of the delete button. I usually write fairly cleanly and edit as I go, so the job was not too onerous. Then, of course, I had to go over the first book to make sure there was continuity. Quite frankly I had forgotten most of it, LOL.
Now that I’m almost done “fixing,” I am faced with a dilemma while I still have some shred of my mind left: what’s next? There have been times when I worked on multiple novels concurrently, but I think those days are over. I have difficulty recalling one book’s details as it is. You would not believe how often I had to consult the cast of characters list so I could get names right.
Quietly simmering away on my hard drive are three things I’ve started at one time or another. All could be considered “books of the heart” and I would be happy to dive into any of them. Each would stretch me in a different direction. Here’s where you can help me decide. I’ll let you know what I choose to do next month!
Behind Door #1: Book Three of the cozy 1920s Lady May mysteries. I’m still familiar with that world and haven’t forgotten everything. Yet. Pitching a 3-book series is better than a 2-book series, and I love the older Auntie Mame-like heroine. It could also be—and probably would be since time is finite—shortened to a Christmas novella, which would be fun and not a 75,000 word slog.
No opening paragraphs yet, but a blurb:
A stranger has moved into the Grange, and all of Woodford Haven is curious to find out more about him. Lady May thinks there’s something very familiar about him, though her memories are hazy. [She and I have a lot in common.] But May knows everyone worth knowing, and it will come to her eventually. In the meantime, she decides to make the poor lonely fellow her Christmas project, and possibly play matchmaker for her widowed niece.
Antony Harland doesn’t want to be anybody’s project, whatever the season, or, indeed, known at all. Injured in the war, he just wants to be left alone to play his jazz records and avoid his family’s interference, especially as they believe he killed his father.
Behind Door #2: a contemporary, Maine-set cozy mystery featuring the owner of a cleaning company. Told in first person—a first for me—and hopefully funny. The titles write themselves…Scrubbed Out, Down the Drain, Clean Getaway, Married to the Mop, etc.
I was an English major. So why was I scrubbing my fifth and thankfully last toilet of the day right before I discovered the body?
Excellent question. Not that English majors don’t appreciate clean toilets. I mean, everyone does—that’s a given unless you’re some kind of weirdo. A good slug of bleach along with a stiff brush, and Bob’s your uncle, as the Brits say.
When I was in college twenty years ago, I did not expect to clean anyone’s toilet but my own. However, crap happens, and now I am an entrepreneur. And yes, I spelled that correctly the first time. A vendor’s-and-DBA-licensed, insured, and bonded Cleaning Professional, I am the owner of Dust2Dust, LLC. I have a team (very small, but still), and a comfortably long list of clients.
We are not solely limited to sweaty Cinderella services, either. A couple of years ago, the company branched out into the downsizing/organizing business, and while we are not competing with Marie Kondo, we are pretty busy year-round from Portland to Bangor sparking joy, throwing a variety of objectionable objects away, and making sense out of the senseless.
You’d be amazed what people shove out of sight, but I admit I was surprised when Brandon Donovan fell out of the bathroom linen closet.
Behind Door #3: a turn of the 20th century, Maine island-set, darkish historical mystery. I’ve “plotted” 2 books and the young schoolteacher heroine has been hovering over my shoulder for a long while. It’s possibly a YA, which would be another first for me.
It is Winter Term. Outside, there is nothing but ice and snow, trees black against a stone-gray sky. The sun is just a rumor.
Inside, the boys are back, and none too happy about it. A scant month ago they were drinking rum and spitting tobacco. Climbing masts like the monkeys they are and sleeping in hammocks under a tropical moon. Seeing the world, even if it meant delivering guano to do it.
Now they sit, the three of them, their long and twitchy limbs confined to the bolted-down desks. Their hair is slicked back, their woolen clothes somber and probably itchy. They must address me as Miss Stuart, although clearly they find that ridiculous. Just last year, I too was sitting where they are, only looking not quite as bored—Calvin Duncan—or mischievous—Samuel Williams. George Foster just looks blank, as if he is not here at all.
Which door should I walk through? I need a push!
Door Number two, although #1 is also tempting.
Well, I would read all three. The humor in #2 did grab me. #3 – the historical elements beckon. #1 The third in a series (as a three unit I always think they always look like good holiday/birthday gifts) seems like a good idea and the plot will thicken I am sure. You’ll figure out where you want to spend the next months of your life – which one grabs you the most?
I fell in love with Door #2. You had me when Brandon tumbled from the linen closet! Jule is right, though, write the one that grabs you the most.
I lean toward the English major cleaner. Maybe because I was one. But they all sound great.
I lean hard into the older slightly forgetful character. My 1st sseries was an older MC. Writing for youth is hot, too, though. I do li9ke a good historical novel, expecially a mystery, so I maybe lean harder on that one.
Door #2 and I would gladly be a beta reader. Ask Kate – – I love editing!!!
No wonder the choices are hard–they all sound fun. It’s interesting that your choices include things you’ve not tried before–venturing into new territory is scary but fascinating. I won’t choose, but I will sympathize–some projects, like a memoir, have been on my possibles list for years. I know how you feel.
Tough one! Door #2 grabbed me, but I love your historical mysteries and would happily read of any of these stories.
They all sound great, but option 2 (the Maine set ‘clean’ mystery’) would be my first choice.
Like the others, all sound terrific to me. But something about #3 struck my fancy.
Thanks for all the feedback! I really appreciate it. Maybe I should just do a random drawing out of a hat, LOL. Everybody have a great weekend!
All of them. No way can I chose, they all sound fascinating. So, good luck!
Historicals are interesting to read for period details. Like the English setting in #1, but I would grab #2 as a first choice. First person has always been my favorite POV. Maybe why Kinsey Millhone is a reread. In the end, you must choose the one or more that interest YOU!
Enter Door #2.