I was tempted to start off by saying that writing sometimes doesn't go where you expect it to. But, truly, writing never goes where you expect it to. For the last several months, my plan was to write a new Small Town short story every month for the rest of this year--until the third novel, Secrets in Small Towns, comes out. The story for September, "Wonderful Town," was the subject of my last post. But something happened on the way to finishing "Crow Fair," the projected story for October.
First of all, the original title, "Crow Fair" had to be changed to "Indian Summer," for a bunch of reasons that you'll understand when you read it. Second, the story turned into a novella with major developments. And third, it goes into facets of Sue-Ann's relationship with Gina that I don't feel I can give away before Secrets comes out in January.
In the beginning, the stories were just interjections between one novel and another--fun snippets to keep the small town of Pine Oak, Florida, alive. I had not really planned on sequencing them. In other words, "A Question of Breeding" or "Sensei" contain no anachronisms; they could easily have taken place between the second novel and the third, which was when they were published. But then the stories began to demand their own block of time. The action in "Grand Theft" and "Wonderful Town" both take place after the time of the third novel; in fact they might actually make more sense if you read all three novels first. But I wasn't too concerned about this because any anachronisms are insignificant.
But chronology becomes super-important in the current novella, which takes place six or seven years after "Wonderful Town." For me to release it this year would make some of the many surprises in Secrets in Small Towns less effective. In fact, the story itself would be less effective.
So here is my latest decision. The rest of the short stories will be released, as singles, after Secrets in Small Towns has been out for a while. As a collection, they will be released in 2015. They will be shaped into a kind of novel-in-stories, with many different mysteries to solve, but with Sue-Ann and Gina continuing to develop as a couple, with their town and their friends developing around them. There are many surprises in store, believe me. It's just that you're going to have to wait just a little longer for them.
Writing "Indian Summer" has been exhausting. Even if I had decided to publish it as planned in October, I doubt if I could have finished new stories for November and December anyway. The ideas I have for the future need more research and development than I have time for right now. Hopefully you all can bear with me and stick it out another couple of months until Secrets is finally here.
What's that? Why don't I just publish Secrets in Small Towns today and get it over with? Two reasons, both of them pretty major. First, it needs another go-through. I know that when I finished the latest draft I liked it a lot, but I don't know what I'll think of it in November or December. Second, I want to be able to compete in the annual Indie book awards for several years to come. I was fortunate to get two top-5 finalist mentions last year for The News in Small Towns. This year I want to win the top prize. And if not this year, then next year or the year after. But I'll only enter one book a year.
In the meantime, please check out the existing stories and novels in the Small Town series. Tell your friends. Rate them on Amazon and Goodreads. Start up your own reading groups featuring novels about female LGBT detectives. The Small Town series is unique. Talk it up.