What to Do After You Finish Your Series

Last weekend, I typed the final words in the last chapter of the third book in the Heroes of Arcania trilogy. I sent the draft off to my editor and betas and currently (impatiently) await their response and ways to make it even better. Books 1 and 2 are complete, uploaded for my pre-order slot and already making their way into ARC readers’ hands. The cover reveal for the entire trilogy is later this week. HoA is well on its way to being out in the world.

Truth be told, the pukey feeling never goes away. This will make books 7, 8, + 9 on my completed shelf, and despite all the positive response so far, the nerves still get to me. BUT I know in my heart that the trilogy is done and the best it can possibly be at this moment in time. That’s enough for me to know it’s ready for the world.

I’ve spent literally years with the Heroes. Nova’s story came to me 4 to 5 years ago; her first draft was completed shortly thereafter. But with my focus on Donovan Circus, Nova’s story was put in a drawer, hidden away until the time was right. And a year ago, when I finally rewrote the first draft and plotted out the rest of the trilogy, that meant a lot of time with these characters and their stories. Most of the last 365 days have been spent with Nova and Cole; when I wasn’t writing their story, I was daydreaming it, considering all the details, actions, and consequences. I have come home everyday for the last 6 months to type even just a couple hundred words; I have been in Arcania so long that it feels like home to me, too.

I was lost last week. I had a book hangover, one I couldn’t shake because I’ve spent at least four years with it. Without a trilogy to finish, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I opened up another standalone WIP, halfheartedly plucking at a few words, but I didn’t have it in me to jump to another story yet. I wasn’t ready to deal with new characters because I was afraid Arcania was still too fresh, enough that it may accidentally bleed into the wrong story.

So here’s the big question that comes after typing “The End”: What next?

And I don’t just mean the marketing that comes during and after a book release. There’s always stuff to be done there, or paperbacks to order, or conferences to attend. This isn’t what I’m talking about. Let’s go beyond the guest blog posts and ads and marketing the trilogy. For example, aside from that stuff, here’s where my brain is at:

  • Do I work on my next book? (And if so, will it be the already-35K-words-in standalone novel? Or Donovan Circus #5? Or…)
  • Do I sit on my couch and catch up on the 173 episodes of my favorite TV shows?
  • Do I read the 77+ books on my TBR pile?
  • Or do I take some time to myself to do absolutely nothing, instead focusing on naps, dog cuddles, and fruity, alcoholic drinks?

Let’s face it: I don’t have a quiet mind, and while sitting around doing nothing is fun for like, a DAY, by the next day I’m feeling guilty for wasting time or missing a possible opportunity. Sitting around might be my style for a while, but it’ll be short-lived. So yes, I can watch 3 movies on a lazy Saturday, but come Sunday, I’m itching for work in any form.

JLo and I booked a weeklong summer vacation in San Francisco, our first real vacation since going on our honeymoon over 4 years ago. I’ve got plenty of books for the flight and poolside. I’ve already agreed to leave my laptop at home (though we all know should inspiration strike, I’ve my trusted tablet/phone/journal to jot down notes) so that I don’t get sucked into work. I’m excited about vacation, even if it isn’t for another two months. I’ve timed it perfectly between the back-to-back releases and even day-job deadlines.

But I’m still feeling a little lost right now. What do you do after you finish your book/series?

The correct answer is: Whatever the hell you want.

There is no wrong answer here. Every author is different. Some can jump right into another story. Usually I can, and have, but this time feels different. Perhaps because in fun standalones, I can move on quickly; and from Donovan Circus, I always know I’ll be back. But for HoA, the story has been told and I’m not quite sure where to go from here. I know I won’t be lost forever – plot details for DC5 are already beginning to nag at me, and my standalone is fun and halfway drafted, so I know it’s only a matter of time. But I want to take my time; I want to enjoy a few nights not chained to my laptop.

But for now, for this week, or maybe even the rest of the month, my mind will take a break to soak in what’s left of Heroes of Arcania. I will read whatever book I want when I feel like it, or perhaps sketch out the first few chapters of DC5. I will catch up on my favorite TV shows or even start new ones. And eventually, I will throw myself back into writing, but as I’ve spent the last year at my keyboard, I know I’m okay taking a short break. And I hope you know that no matter what you decide to do after you finish your book/series, that it’s okay to do what you want, too. Take the time to relax between projects. I think in the long run, it helps us revive our passions for the next project, too, knowing that the previous one is completed.

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