Each Heavenly Daze novel is almost like two novellas–Lori and I each had to write a 35,000 word story revolving around the inhabitants of one house. In the first book, I took the story of middle-aged Pastor Winslow Wickam, while Lori wrote of Annie and her aunt Olympia.
I had a ball writing about Winslow’s toupee, but I have to be honest–I could never have dreamed up that plot if parts of it hadn’t happened to a pastor I know. 🙂 Lori tried her hand at writing the more serious story of Annie and Olympia, two women who really don’t understand each other.
While we were writing, we were also doing research on Maine, especially the “Maine-isms” that populate the book. (Ex: ayuh). We haven’t lived there, but we surely used our copies of “Maine Lingo.”
And on it went. In the second book, Grace in Autumn, I wrote of Babette and Georgie, while Lori wrote of Bea and Birdie and the trouble with all the letters.
A Warmth in Winter had me tackling the story of Salt and the children; Lori write about Vernie and Stanley.
In A Perfect Love, I wrote of Buddy and his pet sugar glider; Lori wrote about Cleta, Barbara, and Russell.
And finally, in Hearts at Home, we brought the story full circle–back to the original buildings, but we traded roles. I wrote of Annie and Olympia; Lori wrote of Edith and Winslow.
Why did we stop writing at that point? Because the books weren’t selling well enough to continue.
I hate to take time for an economics lesson, but here are the hard facts: in a co-written project, the authors do the same amount of story work for half the salary. Sometimes it’s even more work, because you have to work hard to be sure the stories don’t conflict. And after five books, writing about 23 people in a town became COMPLICATED. We not only had to keep track of what the townspeople were doing in the present book; we had to keep track of everything they’d done in their entire lives! (Trust me, it’s harder than you’d think when you have two authors with two different sets of notes, plus characters who jabber all the time about their past histories).
We had hoped the series would take off, but though we get lots of lovely letters about the Heavenly Daze series, sales figures seem to indicate that everyone is reading copies from the library or half.com. Not that we have anything against those outlets, but a series needs to sell if it’s going to continue. The sale of used books doesn’t pay the authors or count as a sale with the publisher. That’s just a fact of the business.
(Moral: if you love an author, buy his/her books as soon as they’re released if you can. Brisk sales make the publisher PRINT MORE.)
That’s why we’re hoping that this new mass market edition (which will sell for much less) will breathe new life into the series.
Tomorrow: the editing