This will end up on the FAQ section of this blog, but I thought I’d address it as a blog post so that I can link to it in the future in case someone who doesn’t read my blog asks the question.
The short answer: I’m not planning on it.
The (really, really) long answer:
I’m focusing on historical westerns and Regencies now.
Quick Update on Bound by Honor, Bound by Love
With Bound by Honor, Bound by Love, I am ending the Native American Romance Series. If I ever get the urge to write another book to go with it, I’m open to it, but at the moment, nothing is happening there. I’ll be doing good to finish Bound by Honor, Bound by Love because it’s been a very difficult book for me to write, mainly because the characters are taking forever to tell me what they want me to write next. I feel like they keep writing me into a dead end, so I’ll stop writing that story and suddenly they’ll tell me where to go. So it wasn’t really a dead end but the lack of ideas blocked me. I’m currently going through my eighth dead end with that book, and I’m only halfway through it. I like the story and how it’s going, but it is very slow. If every book was as slow to write as this one, I’d publish one book a year. Thank God most stories are easier to write.
Anyway, when Bound by Honor, Bound by Love is done, it will allow me to focus on the two series I love most: the Nebraska books and the Regencies.
Explaining the Nebraska Collection
These books are not written chronologically. They’re written as the characters call to me write them, which is why every Nebraska book can be read as a stand-alone book. I keep saying it, but I still get this question the most. People want to know if they have to read the books in order. The answer is no. You don’t need to wait for me to write and publish Wagon Trail Bride before you start reading the other books. If you do plan to do that, you’ll be waiting for 20 or so years to start the series because I expect to keep working on these books and writing them out of order since I don’t know which character will want their book written next. My writing is all character driven. I don’t know that makes sense, but it’s how I work.
I currently have 20 plot ideas for the Nebraska Collection. That number keeps increasing every year because the more I write in the Nebraska world, the more ideas I keep getting. At the moment, there are 9 books completed, and it was only supposed to be 1 book when I started (Eye of the Beholder). But when I wrote that one, I got three other ideas (Tom and Jessica, Neil Craftsman, and Jenny’s books).
From those books, I got more ideas. I can’t stop the ideas from coming. Most of the time, they come at me while I’m writing. Like when I was writing Her Heart’s Desire, I got the idea for Vivian and Hugh’s book. I’m sure when I write their book, another character will pop up who’ll inspire another book. Sometimes I get ideas while I’m asleep. Bride of Second Chances was a dream I had one night. I woke up and wrote it out. And yes, sometimes I get ideas when I read another book or watch a movie and think, “What if it ended up differently?”
To sum up the characters I want to write for in the Nebraska Collection, here’s the list (I do get these questions from time to time so I figure I’ll include it here while I’m talking about the Nebraska books):
- Amanda and Richard
- Dave and Mary’s third book (I don’t plan to write any more books featuring Dave and Mary once I write their third book; since they started the whole Nebraska Collection, I feel a strong attachment to them)
- Vivian and Hugh
- Mark (Richard and Amanda’s twin son)
- Anthony (Richard and Amanda’s twin son)
- Annabelle (Richard and Amanda’s daughter)
- Greg (Sally and Rick’s son) and Charlotte Connealy (Joseph and Margaret’s daughter)
- Laura (Sally and Rick’s daughter)
- Nelly (Tom and Jessica’s daughter)
- Patricia (Tom and Jessica’s daughter)
- Erin (Tom and Jessica’s daughter)
- Daisy (Tom and Jessica’s daughter)
- Adam (Mary and Dave’s son)
- Rachel (Mary and Dave’s daughter)
- Jacob (Mary and Dave’s son)
- Harriett (Mary and Dave’s daughter)
- Rose (Mary and Dave’s daughter)
- Eli (Mary and Dave’s son)
- Jeremy (Jenny’s son)
- Carl (Jenny and Owen’s son)
- Emma (Jenny and Owen’s daughter)
- Sepp (April’s brother in Shotgun Groom)
- Nora (April’s daughter)
- Hannah (April and Joel’s daughter)
- Levi (April and Joel’s son)
- Lilly (April and Joel’s daughter)
- Doug (Joseph Connealy’s son)
- Bob (Joseph Connealy’s son)
- Charles (Joseph Connealy’s son)
- Ben (Joseph Connealy’s son)
- Eva (Joseph and Margaret Connealy’s daughter)
- Clayton (friend of Isaac Larson)
- Wiley (friend of Isaac Larson)
- Boaz and one of Dave and Mary’s daughters (Boaz is Clayton’s brother)
- Luke (Sarah Craftsman’s son)
- Elizabeth (Neil and Sarah Craftsman’s daughter) and Greg Wilson (the rewrite of The Keeping of Greg Wilson now titled Lizzie’s Gamble)
- Stanley (Sarah and Neil Craftsman’s son)
I plan to match some of these characters up, which is why I say 20 ideas. For example, Bob and Doug will be vying for one of Tom and Jessica’s daughters. So there’s some overlap. I’m not sure about Ma and Pa Larson. That one is very iffy.
The Regency Collection
For the Regency series, I am working on Her Counterfeit Husband (with new characters) and just started A Most Unsuitable Husband (Lord Edon’s book). From Her Counterfeit Husband, I introduce Candace who later goes on to marry Perry (Lord Clement from The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife). I do have plans to write a book for Mister Robinson (from The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife) and Lady Richfield (from A Most Unsuitable Groom). I am sure other characters will pop up, which will expand this series. So I already have one Regency out and am working on two (one of which will be done in a week). After that I have two other ideas. I suspect this is one of those series where I’ll keep getting more and more ideas for as I go along and write the books.
So what does all of this have to do with Suddenly a Bride?
Given everything I want to do for the Nebraska and Regency Collections, I need to focus my energy and time there. I have at least 25 stories between those two collections. I average seven full-length novels a year. That average is based off of four years of writing romances. In that time, I have rewritten a couple of romances (Falling In Love With Her Husband, With This Ring, I Thee Dread, Romancing Adrienne) and experimented with converting the Virginia series (An Unlikely Place for Love, The Cold Wife, and An Inconvenient Marriage) to contemporary but realized it didn’t work and made them historicals again. Doing all of that slowed me down. I currently have 23 full-length romance novels and 3 (A Bride for Tom, A Husband for Margaret and A Chance in Time) novellas out (at the time of writing this post).
This is my fifth year of writing romances, so I have a pretty good handle on how many full-length novels I can write in a year. So far this year, I have published four romances (Isaac’s Decision, Her Heart’s Desire, The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife, and To Have and To Hold). I am almost finished with the first draft of my fifth novel, and I think it’s safe to say two more (hopefully A Most Unsuitable Husband and Bound by Honor, Bound by Love, though Bound is more on the iffy side) is very doable before the year ends.
So if you consider I have 25 ideas between the Nebraska books and the Regencies, we’re looking at 3.5 years for me to write them. Since I keep getting new ideas for those collections, I know the number is going to end up higher than that. And there might be a freakish year where I can get very little writing done. You just never know what the future will bring.
But I keep asking myself if I were to die next year, what books would I want to write this year, and that’s how I decide which books to write. They have to be the ones that interest me the most. At this point in time, contemporaries aren’t anywhere on the list. I can’t say they’ll never ever be, but I tried to write two contemporaries earlier this year and my heart wasn’t in it. That’s why I modified Suddenly a Bride so that there was no lead in for Mark and Lexi’s story.
However, I have a plan for the plot ideas
The two contemporaries I had unsuccessfully started were Runaway Bride and Just Good Friends. The two plots were basically along these lines:
Runaway Bride – a heroine is supposed to marry someone but the hero snatches her away and marries her instead
Just Good Friends – two longtime friends pretend to be a couple due to the pressure from the heroine’s family to “settle down”
What I’m going to do is transfer those plot ideas to my historicals.
Runaway Bride will work great as a historical western. The heroine will be ready to marry a shady character when the hero (who loves her) kidnaps her and marries her instead. I’m thinking it has the potential to be a comedy.
As for Just Good Friends, this will also probably become a historical western. Take a woman who everyone thinks of as a spinster with a younger sister who is getting married and her family feels sorry for her because she’s never going to get married convincing a friend (who is planning to move somewhere else) to act like they’re going to get married (and she is planning to move out of Nebraska to homestead somewhere else–women back then could homestead without a husband, Laura Ingalls-Wilder’s relative did). But she comes up with the scheme so her family won’t talk her out of homesteading and will finally leave her alone. My younger sister got married before I did, so I know what a pain it is to hear, “Don’t you have anyone yet, Ruth?” So I could see why the heroine would come up with such a plan. For the record, I didn’t make anyone up. I was tempted to, just to get relatives to back off, but I was good and stayed honest–and went to college away from home so I could have my own life. This is another book which would make a great comedy.
Who knows what the future holds?
If (and that’s a very tentative “if”) I ever write the contemporaries, it’s going to be off in an unspecified time in the future. I can’t predict when or if I’ll want to write Mark and Lexie’s story. I have no idea. All I know is that the desire to write it today isn’t there. I tried; I failed. If I forced it, the book would suck and who wants to read a book that sucks? It’s not the right time, and maybe it never will be. I have stories in my head that I’m not writing. Some examples of books I have up in my head that I’m not writing is a sequel to Return of the Aliens; a prequel to Return of the Aliens, a couple of erotic romances, more fantasy books in the Queens of Raz series, fairy tale adaptations like the idea I have for how I wished Snow White would have gone, and more. There are more ideas in my head than I will ever be able to write in a lifetime. All I can do is pick the stories I want to write the most right now and focus on them. Time is a finite resource, so all I can do is make the most of the time I got.
You’re doing great Ruth…keep going with the stories you love:) You write great books!
Thanks, Lorna. I keep thinking of the authors who have contracts with publishers so they have to keep writing books in a series and are tired of the series so their writing goes downhill. I don’t want to be that kind of author, and since I don’t have a publisher, there’s reason for me to become that way.
I think Suddenly A Bride was the book my mom really liked and asked me if I could find the sequel for her. LOL. You have to write what you can write. I started a book in Round Two of ROW80, and my heart just wasn’t in it. Then suddenly, I got an idea for the book I was SUPPOSED to write. So I understand exactly what you mean. You can’t force it or it will most definitely suck.
LOL Tell you’re mom I’m sorry.
I have a sinking sensation that I’ll need to put Clayton’s Win on hold. I hate to do that when I’m halfway into it, but I feel that the story isn’t ready so my motivation to write it has gone to zero. *sigh* I do have another book calling out to me, so I think I’ll try working on that instead. Do you ever want to scream when you put all that time and energy into a book that halts so you have to put it aside? I know we can get to it later and it’ll be better that we waited, but it still drives me nuts.
Well, I completely understand your writing process. It’s why I have become such a fan. Your plot for Just Good Friends seems like a great one! I can’t wait to see where the characters take you. I’m getting ready to get The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife. Can’t wait o read that one. The Regency genre has just started piquing my interest and I was ecstatic when I saw that you wrote one, too! Keep up the great writing and take your time. A true fan is always patiently waiting for the author to publish her/his best. And your best is why I remain a true fan of yours!
Thanks, Toyette. You’ve been with me through the years. Whenever I read over the scene in The Wrong Husband where Sally and Rick are having dinner at Jenny’s house and Owen falls through the ceiling (from the attic) and on to their table while the dog chases the squirrel, I think of you and how you helped me brainstorm that subplot. 😀 Those are good memories. I tried the Regency as a test to see if I’d like it or not, and I was delighted to find out I did. I guess sometimes you don’t know what will “click” until you try it.
Just reading over that list of names and book ideas made me feel overwhelmed…. And like a slacker! LOL At least you won’t be wanting for ideas anytime soon!
There’s no way I’m tackling all those characters in just 3.5 years. It’ll take longer than that. In fact, I don’t think I’ll be able to write all of the Nebraska books in my lifetime. The series keeps expanding. The nice thing it’s easy to slip a new plot into a world that is already familiar to others. The downside is that I don’t think the series will ever be complete. That’s why when people ask me if they should wait until the series is complete to read it, I tell them don’t wait unless they want to start after I die and who knows when that will be?