While finishing the draft for Hogtied, an idea for a sequel emerged from the depths of my imagination and swam just beneath the surface, shark fin poking through to announce the presence of another story. Some of my best books began like that.
By "best books," I don't necessarily mean those that sold the most copies or received the most reviews. I mean the books I enjoyed writing the most: the stories I liked best.
The sequel to Hogtied isn't shaping up like that. It began with a bang, strong and loud in my brain. I knew the main characters and where they were going. As usual, I just wasn't sure how they'd get there. They must have taken a detour, because the story has been difficult to corral and guide and just write. I initially expected to be ready to publish this as-yet untitled sequel by the end of August. That, my dears, ain't gonna happen. Then I delayed release until the end of September. That probably won't happen either, but I'll work on it.
It would be helpful to know which of my books readers liked best. That would at least give me an idea as to whether the ones I found easiest to write are also the ones readers prefer. Does level of difficulty equate to reader preference? That would be interesting to know. Whether such knowledge would change what I do or how I do it is entirely beside the point. Sometimes, satisfaction of curiosity is its own goal.
In the meantime, I've got yet another idea shark circling in the depths of my imagination. It's a new story, not intended as a series starter; but then, none of them ever are. It returns me to the paranormal romance sub-genre where I really like to play. It also involves a literary device that I strongly dislike: time travel. That aspect occurs only once and in the beginning of the story, but I dislike it all the same. Unfortunately, I can't figure out a way to make the story work without it.
Before I started scheduling (more or less) production of books, I'd table an idea if it didn't inspire me. I've got scads of such story starters saved. Most will never be developed. Focus was actually one of them and I think it turned out pretty well. Of course, I had a running story in my head for years that I started writing and quickly shelved. I may yet return to it. Writing such a long-running story in which I starred as the protagonist removes me from that lead role. Oh, the heroine will still imbue aspects of my personality, but she will no longer be me. I think there's a part of myself that dislikes relinquishing the association, to make the heroine someone other than yours truly.
That's a hazard, I suppose, of being an undisciplined "pantser." We can't plan a story for love or money.