Out of Step

As you might expect, I frequently get asked, “How’s your next book going?”

I invariably answer, “Whose next are we talking about?”

Generally people mean their next: the next book they’re going to see on the shelves. But you see, that’s rarely my next. You all are waiting for A Natural History of Dragons to hit the shelves; I’m trying to find a title for the sequel, the first draft of which I should be finishing later this month.

For people who write faster than I do, the discrepancy can get even larger. I’m pretty sure my friend Cassie Alexander was working on Deadshifted (the fourth book of her Edie Spence series) before Moonshifted (the second book) was out. I tried to adjust accordingly; because I read her blog, I went to the bookstore looking to buy Shapeshifted (the third book). Which, of course, isn’t out yet.

Mostly it’s just comical, but sometimes it becomes a bit of an issue. Through wonderfully bad planning on my part, I’ve ended up in a position where I’m trying to finish the second book of my series while also doing all the promotional work for the first. (Because that’s what I need when the end of a draft is eating my head: other things to think about!) At least they’re in the same series, though — writing promotional stuff for one set of characters while trying to tell the story of a completely different set is even worse.

Of course, for people who write more than one series, that sort of thing is going on all the time. If they’re lucky, they can at least stagger it, so they don’t have the copy-edits for two different books landing on their doorstep in the same week. If they’re not lucky . . . well, I’m on several discussion lists for writers, and every so often we get e-mails consisting mostly of caps-locked profanity and exclamation marks. (I exaggerate.) (But only a little.)

For all the writing advice out there, this is the kind of thing those “how-to” books and instructional courses never tell you about.

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  1. 1. Jessica

    The question I get is just: “How’s the book going?” Which could mean how are sales going for the one published fictional work I have out there, or for the non-fiction book that I’ve had published. Or if could mean the book I’m currently self-publishing. Or the one I’m trying to find a traditional publisher for. Or one of the ones I’m currently writing.

    My stock answer therefore is: “Which one?”

  2. 2. Marie Brennan

    Yeah, that too — sometimes they’re asking about the one most recently published, rather than one still to come.

Author Information

Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan is the author of more than forty short stories and seven novels, the most recent of which is the urban fantasy Lies and Prophecy. Visit site.



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