Letting go is hard for me. It always has been. I am all about the status quo. If it were up to me, football season and Christmas would last forever. My godchild, Precious Angel, would still be in tenth grade because that was the best year. (He was playing varsity sports and going to cotillion dances but he still needed me to drive around.) If I’d ever had one, I’d probably still be using a bag phone.
And if I love the status quo, Stephanie worships it.
So it’s no surprise that the thought leaving Merritt, Alabama, where the Gone South series is set, made us a little teary eyed. With the third book in the can and due out November 4 and the fourth (and last) one half written, the clock is ticking. I can see why some writers overstay their welcome in a series. First, sales and reviews are good and that’s heady. Second, we were lucky enough to be chosen to write a short story set in Merritt for an anthology, so we became just a little more immersed in the world. Third, readers are asking for Missy’s story.
Now, Missy doesn’t have a story. She is the happily married linchpin of a group of women friends who make up the heroines in the series. Missy is bossy, opinionated, and—more times than not—way off base. But she always shows up with her big heart and she will pick her friends up out of the dirt and wash them in her own tears. I can understand why a reader would want to hear more about her. Someone even suggested that we kill off her husband and write a second love story.
No. We are not killing off long suffering Harris Bragg.
Determined not to be that writer who produced book number 149 in a series because we couldn’t get a grip, Stephanie and I had already developed a new plan with our plotting partner the Fabulous Lynn Raye Harris. Four brothers. Lots of baggage. Lots of testosterone. Dangerous jobs. Yeah. We were excited.
Still. Hard. Then Stephanie found a way to make it a little easier. This summer at conference, she had been to a workshop where she got a germ of an idea. (Yeah, we go to workshops.)
Why not make our new heroes Missy Bragg’s cousins? The series is new and set in Tennessee, so it would definitely not be Gone South/Merritt centric, but we could check in with Missy every once in a while.
As a bonus, we were able to give our readers a little taste of the Beauford brothers in “Slugger Gone South”, our story in the baseball anthology, Take Me Out, due out October 28.
Sometimes the best way to let go is to hang on—just a little.
Are you sad when your book or series ends? Or are you just glad it’s over?