A few months ago, I thought I knew what I would write in 2014. I planned to write the Christmas novella I didn’t quite get to last year, and I intended to finish the first book in a new contemporary trilogy I’d begun. I’m still determined to do the Christmas novella, but the new series will have to simmer on the back burner for a while. For the first time in my writing career, readers have spoken.
I feel a bit wistful about setting aside the new series about three artist sisters living in Big Sur because I’m passionate about the concept and characters and love the five chapters I’ve already written. However, reader response to UNWRITTEN RULES has rearranged my priorities.
My first three books received very few reviews from ordinary readers. Since I was changing genres with UNWRITTEN RULES and wanted as much reader feedback as possible, I was determined to do what I could to increase the number of reviews. I took the advice of several how-to books and included a polite request, along with a live link, on the last page of the book. It worked. Instead of five reviews, the book has received more than fifty so far—enough to see common threads and draw a few conclusions.
A significant number of readers said they would love to read more books like this. Some asked for more adventures featuring the same characters, others just wanted similar stories. Many of the readers who picked up this book during its free days appear to be primarily suspense fans, including a number of men. Since I’ve always been a romance writer, I had never considered writing an extended series featuring the same characters. Madelyn and Carter had their complete romantic arc in the first book. I’m not sure I’d be satisfied following them on a variety of cases like Eve Dallas and Roarke in the J.D. Robb “Death” series (although I’d be thrilled to achieve that level of success!).
Fortunately, I had already done some basic plotting for two additional books which would focus on different agents of the Phoenix, Ltd. all-female bodyguard agency. The next book in the series SAUTÉED, NOT STIRRED will follow operative Zoë Hargrove from UNWRITTEN RULES as she goes undercover as a personal chef to protect the pregnant wife of an eccentric inventor from violent thieves who may not be what they seem. Throw Detective Dominic “Nick” Rosetti into the mix, and you have a recipe for mayhem.