I ASSURE YOU THIS IS NOT MY OFFICE.
I debated for a long time about whether or not to write this note to my readers. After much reflection, I decided I wanted to go forward with it.
As authors, I think sometimes we like to have a little mystery to our lives. It can be nice to have our readers think of us as dreamy writers who work diligently all day in our offices creating stories. The truth is often quite different, and sometimes it can be tough to be honest about it. But this is me, peeling back the curtain.
I have made the difficult decision to not write any more ghost stories after I release the final book in the Williamsburg Ghost Series. I’m not saying “never”, but as of now, I have no plans to do any more. Please understand that it isn’t that I don’t love writing them – because I truly do. They are quite difficult to write, though, with the inherent limitations of writing about characters who cannot touch, taste, breathe, or feel anything physical. Plus, the books require extensive historical research which, while fascinating, can be time-consuming and difficult at times.
The truth is, after writing these complex, difficult, and often heart-wrenching (while hopefully also being heartwarming!) stories for many years, I have never made a dime on any of the ghost series books.
The truth is that I have a full-time day job and two kids. My alarm goes off at 4:45am every day so I get writing done before my day job starts at 9am. Please believe me, I certainly did not become an author for the money.
That being said; I’m tired, my friends.
I’ve reached a point in my life that I feel I just can’t work for free anymore. (Less than free, really, since each book costs around $800- $1000 to produce because I refuse to cut corners on things like covers, editing, and the like).
One problem is that Amazon greatly rewards “rapid releasers'”, meaning if you publish a book a month or even a book a WEEK, those books get pushed to the top of the visibility pile. Even if I had the luxury of writing full time, I doubt I could write anything meaningful in a month’s time – and definitely nothing as complicated as my ghost series.
Another issue is that in RomanceLandia, “trope” trumps EVERYTHING. Though I don’t really understand it, it seems most readers would prefer to read the same type of story over and over again rather than give something new a try. In that kind of world, my ghost series never quite fit in. Instead of being one thing, they are a mix of historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Many readers don’t know quite what to make of them, therefore advertising my books is prohibitively expensive. The good news is that, once people actually give Somebody’s Darling a try, the read-through rate for the rest of the series is pretty high! You could even say I’ve developed somewhat of a cult following (in the very best sense of the word. Sincerely.) I really felt like I’d “made it” when someone told me she was writing fan fiction! But getting people to even give the series a shot in the first place has been a persistent, uphill challenge.
For historical romance, readers often expect Regency (think Bridgerton) romance with heroes like dukes, rakes, and rogues. I wrote about a poor farm boy from Texas.
With paranormal romance, people want vampires, demons, witches, angels, and otherworldly creatures. I wrote about chivalrous Civil War soldiers who just happened to be dead.
The American Historical romance genre might seem ideal for my books, but those tend to be Western/ Frontier type stories and are often squeaky clean. As you know, I like to include sensual scenes in my books. As much I try to warn readers about the sexual content in my stories, I still get angry reviews about it (check out the ones on Darling Soldiers…)
With contemporary romance, obviously, readers expect romance in a modern-day setting. I wrote about sexy soldiers from long past who exist in towns that are somewhat frozen in time.
Unfortunately, my little misfit stories have a really hard time finding a home.
They did, however, find a home with you.
I can’t tell you much it has meant to me over the years that the Gettysburg and Williamsburg Ghosts Series did find readers. They may have numbered in the hundreds instead of thousands, but they’re out there. Many times, it’s been hard to get out of bed hours before I had to in order to write these books, but knowing that my words would be read by you is what kept me going. Believe me, these books made me cry as I wrote them with their bittersweet tales of love and loss, and hearing that my readers often had the same reaction is incredibly meaningful to me.
In some ways, writing out this letter makes me feel like I am admitting to being a failure. If I had not told you the truth, you might have gone on thinking that perhaps these books were a great success. In the end, I guess I really wanted you to understand that I would no longer be writing them not because I didn’t love writing them. I plan to continue writing, but you will see me writing more commercial stuff in the future.
There’s still a part of me that worries that people will think I’ve “sold out”, but I just don’t have the strength…or the means…to keep taking money from my own pocket to produce books that simply do not sell. At this point, the harder I work, the more money I LOSE. Again, that’s very tough on the writerly soul no matter how incredible my readers might be.
The easiest way (and sometimes it feels like the only way) to turn a profit in this business is to write a very common story, like fake marriage, alpha billionaire romance, etc. That’s hard for me because that’s really not what I want to do, and it’s not something I ever thought I would do.
So, for my next series, I’m trying hard to compromise. There are certain things I WILL NOT do even if they are guaranteed to make money. I won’t write cliffhangers, and no matter how popular they are, I won’t write bad boys, cocky alpha jerks, or God forbid, bully romance. Ugh. I despise those “heroes”, and I find them really stressful to read let alone write. I feel like the villain gets the girl! I’m trying to find a balance of what readers want to read and what I want to write. For example, I don’t mind alpha males as long as they’re not mean. The strong protective type? Yeah. That works for me. I also really love baseball, so my next series will be a baseball series featuring strong, sexy heroes and equally strong and smart heroines.
I understand that many of you won’t be along for the ride in my next adventure. And I understand. Please know that it has been an honor and privilege for me to write those ghost stories for you all. Knowing that you enjoy reading them and often are eagerly awaiting the next book is what has kept me going all these years.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the “mistfits” who have been with me on this most incredible adventure. And thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for loving Jesse and Lucy, Sean and Theresa, Avery and Remy, Gregory and Rebekah, Jackey and Anthony, and Paige and Orlando as I have loved them. I look forward to introducing you to Silas and Kendrick in the final book in the series, and I promise you will see several other familiar faces in that final book as well. I have done the best I could to wrap up the series well and give you the finale you deserve.
Thank you for taking the time to read my message. I truly hope you understand.
Lots of love,
P.S. I caved, and I will be replacing the new cover for Eternal Hope with the Orlando one 😉
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