Let's Talk with Maggie Toussaint

Beginnings and Endings

August 10, 2023

Something many unpublished authors rarely appreciate is the unlimited time to write that first book. Another undervalued perk of beginning to write is there are no reader expectations to meet. Brand new writers have the wonder and delight of working on a clean slate, of starting from scratch.

What I love about beginnings is traveling with the characters through the story world in my imagination and coming to the ending where the mystery subplot ties up in a tidy bow.

However, in time a writing journey, in essence a beginning, will lead to an ending of a polished manuscript. From there, an author shops his/her book to an agent or editor with a succesful ending of a contract (or indie publishes). The next beginning and ending happens as the book is prepped for launch. The next cycle of beginning and ending is marketing before, during, and after the release.

Then, if a publisher acquires more of an author’s books, various beginnings and endings overlap. I’ve been doing this for eighteen years, so you’d think I’d have the juggling drill down pat, but it gets real every time.

I ‘m working on the A Magic Candle Shop Series, which I write as Valona Jones. The first book, SNUFFED OUT, is published and currently being marketed. Book two, IN THE WICK OF TIME, comes out in October. The formatting and editing are complete, and preorders are live. Book three, is polished and on submission. Book four is in the home stretch of its first draft with about 12,000 more words to write.

So, multiple timelines of the publication processes occur simultaneously. To keep it straight in my head, I envision a tall building with everything related to SNUFFED OUT on the first floor. All things about IN THE WICK OF TIME are on the second floor. Book three is on the third floor, with book four not yet assigned a floor.

I’m sure other authors develop their own ways of multi-tasking and keeping their story worlds of series books connected but separate. Just like with any other phase of writing, there is no wrong way to do it as long as the selected process works for the author.

In the same manner that graduation from one school year to the next is an ending and a beginning, the same is true for book publication. I am inspired by both ends of the publication cycle.

With the new school year upon us, please leave a comment on either a beginning or ending of school that you enjoyed. One lucky commenter will win a copy of SNUFFED OUT, in either print or digital format, with print being for US residents only. The winner will be announced on Tuesday August 15.

Our August giveaway contest is collecting entries. Enter before August 22 for a chance to win two full-length cozies, one from Terry Ambrose and another from Lois Winston. ENTER HERE

Want to know more about author Maggie Toussaint (aka Valona Jones)? Visit Maggie’s WEBSITE and Valona’s WEBSITE.

Images are royalty-free from Dreamstime.com

Posted in Let's Talk, with Maggie Toussaint • Tags: , , , , , |  34 Comments


34 thoughts on “Beginnings and Endings

  1. I always excited for a new School year to start. You have new Teachers, new friends and new school supplies. It is all a fresh start to the School year.

    1. I enjoyed that too, Deborah. As a young student, I loved having those new school supplies more than I ever appreciated “school clothes.” I was always a little on edge with a new teacher(s) until I learned to read his/her moods and, of course, understand how he/she graded.

  2. I always loved new school years, the shopping for clothes, school supplies and a brand new year of learning new things. Have a great day.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Alicia. Glad to hear how much you enjoy the beginnings of a new school year!

  3. As a child I looked forward to a new school year. Seeing my friends, buying brand new school supplies, looking forward to new things. By the time May dragged around I couldn’t wait for summer break. Camp, swimming, sleeping late, road trips, no homework. Which was great until summer started to drag and the cycle started all over again.

    1. Absolutely, Pat! It is a cycle. Beginnings and endings are connected. And hopefully the in-between part is enjoyable too!

  4. I always love the school end, summer starting. Some of my happiest memories were camping in a tent at Lake Tahoe, with my parents and cousins. We would use innertubes in the ocean, play in the pool and go to Little Harrah’s for kids.

  5. I loved the last day of school. Summer meant town festivals, my birthday, spending my day doing anything. Every year when the stores start putting out school supplies I still think “am I glad I’m done with that!”

  6. I used to enjoy the start of school in the fall and then couldn’t wait for it to end in the spring. Similar to writing. You start a new book all excited and then can’t wait for it to be done.

    1. Hi Nancy, I love your take on enjoying the beginnings of school and then being impatient for it to end. I enjoy the really creative part of pulling a mystery down from the story ether, and then oddly I enjoy editing (to a point). Then I sort of dread the start of marketing, but once I jump on that train, I’m good to go.

  7. For me, the start of school always promised those beautiful autumn days. Walking to school (or the bus) and then home again with the sound of fallen, crinkly leaves underfoot. After a summer that always felt too hot, I so looked forward to breathing the cool, brisk air again.
    Also, Maggie, I loved your analogy of writing a book series to the floors of a building. Of course, all the subsequent floors must be grounded upon that bottom one and built from there. Perfect.
    Best of luck with SNUFFED OUT (1) / IN THE WICK OF TIME (2)–PLUS+…

    1. Hi Pamela, thanks for loving my writing analogy of trying to keep all the books separate by assigning them floors in my head. In truth sometimes that works and sometimes the stories converge and I have to get a running start at what story world I’m supposed to be in! Fortunately it’s like riding a bike. The information becomes clear once I frame it out in my head. Thanks for visiting!

  8. Ahhhhh school, beginning or end, mixed feelings for each time of year. Beginning is excitement for meeting new teachers and new classes, seeing old friends, and just the new experience. Ending the school is great excitement as well because kids are breathing a sigh of relief from the grind of endless school work, summer vacation, sleeping in and just plain goofing off.

  9. As a school librarian, I worked until July 1 before I started my vacation.The night before we librarians returned to our schools was always an exciting, thoughtful one, but a night of insomnia for the beginning of the new school year. Other new beginings were when my teachers came back to school and the open house for the students. Happy days! Beth

    1. Hi Beth, First, librarians are my favorite people! A librarian literally opened my eyes to the greater world and I became an armchair traveler and avid bookworm. So librarians everywhere have my everlasting thanks. Second, I also get insomnia before big events. It’s like my mind keeps going through all the prep word I did to make sure I am ready. And it’s always nice to see friends. At my recent high school reunion, a few of our teachers were there as well. I wondered what it was like to see the event from their eyes. Were they looking at the lot of us and thinking: I had a part in each one of these students’ successes.

  10. The most exciting thing about beginning the school year has always been all the new school supplies. Just something about having the new things that makes it feel special.

    1. I always LOVED the smell of art gum erasers. They were always better than the red ones on the tips of our wooden pencils. In high school, I loved getting those section dividers set up in my three ring binder. No matter how much I tried, I always ended up running out of space on those tabs! What can I say? I love writing with rounded letters.

    1. I’d be thrilled to have an extended summer vacation in a moderate climate. With the heat we’ve had in the Deep South this year, I’d probably pass! Hip Hip Hooray for another school supply fan.

    1. I hear you, Christa. Especially in elementary school. Everything was so comfortable and so perfect in the current class. Next year loomed a bit scary at that point, but it all turned out fine.


  12. Growing up I always looked forward to school starting in the Fall. I was one of those kids who loved learning.

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