I love to get emails from fans. I heard from a reader the other day who begged me not to stop writing my SEALed series. She’d read somewhere that I had only one more planned.
In fact, people often ask me will the series continue past the book I’m currently working on.
Here’s the thing. I know writers who have their series plotted out four or five books into the future. I’m not one of them. I’m a pantser.
There’s a sort of good news/bad news scenario that goes with being a pantser.
The bad news is: I don’t know what will happen in a story until I write it. I do a lot of nail biting. I started SEALed with a Ring knowing only three things: that Davy was the hero; I wanted a marriage of convenience plot; and I had a phrase running around in my brain: Sometimes you don’t get what you bargain for. Sometimes you get more. With so little to go on, every book, while I’m working on it, feels like the last one.
The good news is that in my world the future is malleable.
I once wrote Suzanne Brockmann begging her please not to kill off Mary Jo—I could see the setup—even though Mary Jo deserved it, and it would solve another character’s problem.
But Suze is one of those who plans story lines way into the future. By the time I knew about Mary Jo’s peril, it was too late for me to save her—the next book was already at the publisher’s. (Suze didn’t kill her. Whew!)
The bad news for a plotter is that there’s not much they can do with reader’s suggestions for series development—whether they would like to or not.
Me? My next book is pretty much a clean slate. It’s not too late to make suggestions. If you have characters you want to see more of, tell me. Is there a dénouement (the point at which all the strings are tied up) that wasn’t complete for you. One fan feels the senator father of Do-Lord in SEALed with a Promise, hasn’t been punished and should be. Another was intrigued by the “off-screen” love story between Lon and Lauren in SEALed with a Ring. She wants details.
Will I do what they suggest?
If I knew that, I wouldn’t be a pantser and I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I can tell you this much. I was at the dentist’s last year about this time. When I checked out, the office staff gathered around for an update on my books. I told them SEALed with a Promise had just been released and I was working on SEALed with a Ring. The receptionist, listening from her post at the front counter, quipped, “So you have SEALed with a Kiss, a Promise, and A Ring. What’s next, SEALed with a Baby?”
We all laughed and I tried to look mysterious. At that time, all I could think was that the SEALed with a Ring deadline was far too close, given that I had no idea how it ended. I had no plans to ever write another one. Ever.
Once it was finally turned in, my editor asked, as she always does, “Got any ideas for another book?”
“Do you remember Garth?” I asked.
“Of course,” she answered. “Garth was Davy’s commanding officer.”
“On a temporary duty assignment Garth discovers a sturdy, ventilated cardboard box labeled Bananas Product of Ecuador stowed in the rear of a spy transport plane. Inside the box is a sleeping baby.”