Let's Talk with Debra H. Goldstein

When Is It Time To Stop?

July 21, 2022

I’m a Type A personality. That’s the one where the person is considered highly motivated and competitive. For as long as I can remember, other than needing four to six hours of sleep, I tried to cram as much as I could into my waking hours. That is, until a bout of Covid in late March temporarily reversed my pattern. The need for extra sleep continued for weeks after I tested negative. My doctors explained that it wasn’t long covid, but instead a reaction to remaining inflammation in the body that might last another month. They were right, but the forced downtime made me think about how much I normally juggle.

A recent string on Sisters in Crime Guppy Chapter’s list serv gave me another aspect to ponder. Authors were weighing in on their ability to write multiple books or handle multiple projects and one noted that with age, she was limited to producing one book a year. Another countered that she was “aged (56),” and was publishing three to four books a year. The first responded that when she was that age, she too could write more, but now that she was in her seventies, she’d slowed down. Suddenly, there were a burst of posts from writers who ranged from seventy to eighty-five relieved that they were still being productive but noting that their stamina wasn’t what it once was.

Their comments coupled with my Covid wham made me think about when is it time to stop or reduce all of the things that I’ve been doing? What should I prioritize? Have I accomplished enough in one area that I should focus on another? As I dwelled on these and other questions, it dawned on me that authors should ask the same questions about the series they write. “When is it Time to Stop?”

Some successful writers have series that offer a book or two a year, forever. They and their publishers know that because readers love their characters, readers will stay true even if they complain that a new book wasn’t as good as the old ones or that a book’s plot seems to have been called in. Other writers make a conscious decision to stop. Their reasons range from lack of fresh ideas, a desire to write something else, decreasing sales, or it is unbelievable that the characters haven’t aged into a such a different point in life that the storyline would need to change.

As readers, can you think of a series that should have stopped? Or one that stopped too soon? What makes you believe a series should end? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below for a chance to win a copy of my brand-new book, Five Belles Too Many.

To learn more about author Debra H Goldstein, visit her WEBSITE.

Posted in Let's Talk, with Debra H. Goldstein • Tags: , , , |  22 Comments


22 thoughts on “When Is It Time To Stop?

  1. One that ended too soon was the alphabet series by Sue Grafton. So sad for her loss.

  2. One that ended too soon at least for me was Hillcrest Witch Mysteries by Amorette Anderson.
    Would love to read & review your book in print. Looks like a great read

  3. I loved Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series until he passed on. Your issue is a real one. Traditional publishing no longer determines when a series has to end, because an author who loves her characters and has a readership can continue to write more books on her own. But I agree with you on the aging part. Other priorities, like grandkids, come into play. And things we’d rather spend time on than sitting at a computer. It’s a choice I may be making soon too.

  4. The series I thought ended too soon were always from life events – author passed away (Anne George) or changes or decisions on the publisher side (all too many series). The ones I thought could have stopped sooner, well….I was glad they hadn’t. It’s always the characters that keep me wanting more. They are good friends that live on my bookshelves, and I don’t want to lose them from my life. (Sarah Blair?)

    1. You are kind. I think Sarah is done unless there is a crazy amount sold and Kensington gets a lot of feedback from readers who want at least one more to tie it up. It actually is selling well — and for the first time since 2 weeks into book 2, I can do some live events. Anne George was from Birmingham and was a true loss to the writing community. She died way too young.

  5. Debra, I recently had to make this decision for my Trouble in Paradise series. Once Covid hit, the idea of being cooped up on a plane to Hawaii became a major problem. After not being ‘on island’ for several years, I decided McKenna needed a break. It also allowed me to start a new series that I’d been thinking about. However, now that I’m in my seventies, I am also trying to dial back the amount of time i spend writing. No matter what someone does, whether it’s writing or something else, taking the activity down a notch can be the best decision possible.

  6. I rarely want series to end. Sometimes I get in a in-my-head tiff with an author who might, say, let a love triangle go on for umpteen books, or another one who made the hero so amazing and then broke his heart by time-traveling his love back to her time. After that last disappointment, I couldn’t read any more of that particular series. But those are the exceptions. For 99.99999999% of the time, I will keep reading a series as long as the author keeps writing them. As for the flip side of your question, I try to be objective about how I spend my time. Once upon a time I used to think a life of idling away time would be great. Turns out I like to keep my hands busy. After I realized that, I just go each day until I can’t go anymore. I’m still working at the pace I started out with–about 9 months to birth a submission-ready book–but I must say it is becoming harder to meet that goal. Some days the ideas are elusive. On those days, I trick myself by saying I can write 100 words, so I do. Then I start over saying I can write a 100 words, and so on until I get the full count that’s my daily goal. I call it writing smarter, but it might just be another writing illusion.

  7. I really enjoyed M Z Andrews “Witch Squad” Series. However, it stopped with the second book in “Season 2”. I really hoping it starts again.

  8. Of course, I think all MY series ended too soon! There is one popular mystery series that in my opinion should have ended 10 or more books ago but people are still reading it, so what do I know? 🙂 One series I was sad to see end after 3 books was Steve Hockensmith’s “White Magic Five and Dime” series, but I think it was his choice to put it to bed. Sigh. For me, it’s not so much age as bandwidth — it take a lot of mental energy to write a book, and when so much of that is expended at a day job or other activities, it’s really hard to keep on track. Writing one book a year is just fine.

    1. You make a good point about the bandwidth. I find that distractions – whether family or civic impact my writing energy and then i have to pus h to make up for it.

  9. I hated to see Cindy Sample’s Laurel McKay mysteries end. Watching the character progress from harried single soccer mom to capable, if humorous, detective was great fun. Good news, the new series focuses on Laurel’s cousin and Laurel made a guest appearance in the first one.

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