|Image by Joshua Kopel, via Flickr|
Time was when I always met my deadlines, even when I was writing four books a year and had a part-time job. My latest 3 or 4 books have all been turned in late.
My work-in-progress, the 24th Daisy Dalrymple mystery (Superfluous Women) was due June 1st. My editor will be happy if I get it to him by the end of July. We both have our fingers crossed.
I have an excuse. I have multiple excuses.
The most fundamental is the length of the series. After 21 books, I've run through a great many of the possible permutations of plot, character, motive, mode of death, and so on. One of the difficulties of a series such as Daisy's is finding new reasons for her to become involved in investigating murder, and ways to get her husband, DCI Alec Fletcher, on the case. The longer the series grows, the more my powers of invention and imagination are taxed. It takes time to come up with new variations.
I've also slowed down for physical reasons. A herniated disk with two relapses, "trigger thumb", a broken foot and subsequent problems with the opposite leg, leading to months of physical therapy: only the thumb directly affected writing, but the rest made everything else—shopping, laundry, the inescapable chores—take forever. And that's not including time occupied by medical appointments.
On top of that, my dog, extremely healthy since we got past the horrible state she was in when I adopted her, all at once had to have endless visits to the vet.
Another factor is the endless opportunities for promotion now so easily available. It's no longer a matter of a signing tour once a year. It never stops, though I don't take advantage of half the possibilities. That's one good thing about being with a major publisher. They still do a lot of promo that small publishers expect their authors to do for themselves.
My editor has been very understanding. In fact, he said to my agent, "I get the impression that Carola would like to slow down a bit." Actually, I'd already slowed by the time he said that! He adjusts and readjusts publication schedules with aplomb. At least, I don't hear about any frantic hurrying and scurrying there may be behind the scenes.
The only penalty is that I have to wait longer for the parts of my advance that are payable "on delivery and acceptance" and on publication. I'd already gone past due-date a couple of times when Minotaur offered the latest 3 contracts.
All the pressure is self-imposed. I've always been a better-early-than-late person (though when I stunned my dentist by turning up a day early for an appointment, I was not making sure I arrived in good time, I'd simply mixed up the date). Knowing for weeks that I'm going to be late, and for more weeks that I am already running late, makes me uncomfortable.
Self-imposed and reader-imposed, I should say. People eagerly awaiting Daisy's next adventure and the next Cornish mystery are dismayed to hear they'll have to wait a year for the former and two for the latter.
I'm writing as fast as I can!
|Carola Dunn is author of the Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, Cornish Mysteries, and multitudinous Regencies.|