All of my books and stories thus far are tied together, either overtly or more subliminally. They share locations, characters, ideas, and even more you might discover as you read them. My newest novel is a Night Walk Men book called The Devil's Right Hand and it has its beginnings in the back of my mind at least nine years old. These stories are all part of a bigger world I seem to be creating and my point for mentioning this is that I have a vague map of where all of these different roads will go.
And I've had this road map tattooed on the back of my hand for at least a decade.
Sure, it changes some -- which is counterintuitive to the metaphor of a tattoo, I suppose. But with each new story that's written I get a brighter, clearer picture of the road map. And, more importantly, which way to go.
Once I finished writing my first novel I said to myself, "Well, that wasn't so hard!" But what I really meant was "Oh gawd, that was incredibly painful...but it didn't kill me." Since finishing that first book didn't end with a bag over my head and a farewell note, I could realistically foresee writing a second or third. Or even more than that. In the beginning, and like the tattoo of the road map getting clearer and cleaner with each story pressed into the keyboard, I created an imaginary tally of tales.
I knew I had enough in me to write about a dozen long novels.
At least, I thought I did. Maybe I'm delusional.
How long will it take? Who knows? Will they be any good? Only time will tell. Will I live to see this achieved? Not sure. Short stories and other novellas/novelettes not included, I have this notion that my writing career (if you want to call it that) could entail about a dozen or more long novels. On The Gathering Storm was number one, Thalo Blue was number two. The forthcoming Devil's Right Hand will be number three. The Dovetail Cove series promises to be a set of novellas eventually collected at some point so I venture to call that monstrosity number four.
The novel I'm writing now will be number five in my internal numbering scheme.
For those interested, number five has seeds that go back about five years and will be (hooray!) a bit sunnier in disposition than some of my novels to date. There will be more on that book to share soon.
So, by my calculations, I have five of my dozen or so slots taken up. If the Night Walk Men don't see it worthy to take me in the night for some higher purpose, then I may have enough gas in the tank to write another seven over the next stretch of years. Sure, there might be more. And, it's totally feasible that I'll be chased by an angry mob and no more books will ever be written. But right now, the road map says this is where I'm at.
My question to the writers among you is this: Do you have a road map, not just of each story, but of how you will write sequels or new books in the next three years? Five years? Ten years? Does my tattoo analogy sound familiar to how you picture your writing journey?