The five year plan: Whats coming up with Michael J Melville
The Five-year writing plan
Every author should have a plan; an idea of what they are going to do next with their work, career and projects. Some like to keep these a tightly held secret while others prefer to talk about it. There is no right or wrong way I don’t think and feel It’s just a matter of preference. I don’t mind talking about it now that I have a plan with what’s coming up in the future. Sure things may change; adjustments will inevitably be made over the next few years. If anything though its matter of keeping my eye on the prize and having a goal in mind.
In another post, I was rather abstract about the length of the Oregon series. I was unsure about how long that series would actually be. Yes, I love the state and the area, the characters and the world I am creating in it for my readers but some things must end so something new can be born. Authors if nothing else are a flurry of ideas some good and some bad, some interesting and some…well not so much and I am no different. If I keep writing the kind of story that I love telling, then I will be a happy camper; especially if readers like them too. Also, I am going to try and speed up the process in which I write. At the beginning of all this, I was okay with one book a year but I think now as my ability and dedication has grown I can push myself a little bit more even with a little less time in my schedule for writing. I won’t lie it’s a business decision as well. If anything else it will force me to make the most of the limited time for writing that I have.
I am finally back on track with The Diner: The Oregon Series book 2. It’s taken a few months to beat this massive writers block I’ve had with this story. That holiday break from writing did more harm than good I think because the creative part of my brain for that story didn’t snap back in line. In that that time I worked on other projects, smaller stories, burgeoning ideas and even wrote a few articles for news sites. It’s been a tough little ride getting this thing back going. Now that I have I’m comfortable talking about what’s next.
The Oregon Series
I’ve decided that The Oregon series will, for now, stop at Book four. I could, in theory, pick it up again later down the road after I complete other projects or even in between especially if there is a call for more. Now, if you include Running Northwest in this world I’ve been building (although it’s not an official part of the series) that would be five novels based in Oregon. For now, I am comfortable with leaving it there and happy with the time I spent with the current and yet written characters. I’m still roughing out the ideas and titles of the last two novels in the series so I’ll get back with you later on that.
Projected Release Dates
Book 1 – All the Roads Home (released January 2016)
Book 2 (The Diner):February 2017
Book 3: (The Voices(working title)) November 2017
Book 4: 2018
I’ve had written a partially complete anthology of short stories which I was calling The Dog Stories for quite some time. Still not 100% on the title right now. Originally this was going to come out AFTER Running Northwest was released. After checking I realized I was 80% of the way done with my page and content goals for it. I put this off for the Oregon Series so I think I will be ready to complete and release this anthology rather quickly. It is possible I may finish this anthology during the writing and release of the last two books in The Oregon Series if not sooner. I still would like to have a charity involved with part of the proceeds for this anthology but haven’t set on which one. So keep an eye out for. I thought about finishing it up and releasing it this summer but I would rather focus on finishing The Diner and getting that ready for editing and start on The Voices.
Projected Release Date: 2017
Yet unnamed Florida Series.
I am going to go with a better series title for this one I promise. I’ve been mulling this series around in my head for the last few years since I spend a fair amount of time in the sunshine state and will be for quite some time. Needless to say, I have a lot of source material for this one already. I’ll continue with the theme I started in the Oregon Series where I will be creating a world of interconnected families, lives, and shared experiences. My readers so far have seemed to enjoy this kind of storytelling where the books are tied together by characters and situations rather than by a drawn out plot. More than anything I like the freedom this sort of story telling gives me for each book.
Unlike The Oregon series, however, this next one will not take place across the entire state but rather in a smaller portion of it. This series will also feature some younger characters and stories which are geared toward the NA (New Adult) reader base but interesting enough for the more mature reader. I am anxious to travel around Florida doing more research and seeing what new experiences might inspire this series and the characters. I have several of the character sketches already written. Right now I am planning on 3 to 4 books in the series and no more than that.
Projected Release Dates
Book 1 – 2018
Book 2 – 2019
Book 3 – 2019
Book 4 – 2020
Southern contemporary fiction
This one I am being a little tight lipped about and is a true standalone novel. It’s another story I’ve had in the works for a while now. It’s set primarily on the South Carolina coast but also a little bit in Georgia. If you liked the some of the themes and scenes in Running Northwest you will like this one. It’s a cozy southern story romance.
Expected release date: 2018-2021
Other Project Considerations
Running Northwest Prequel
After Running Northwest first came out in 2012 a few reviewers and readers expressed an interest in the life of Thomas and his friend Derrick before Sarah, Erin and Stephanie came along or at least before Thomas got custody of Daniel after Sarah died. They wanted to know more about Thomas and Derricks seedy world that I vaguely or not so vaguely referenced throughout Running Northwest. They wanted to know more about their life in Michigan and what they did after getting to Oregon. Now that Running Northwest has been out for a few years and especially since more people are reading it after reading All the Roads Home I have been getting more frequent emails asking for one. There is a disdain from some in the writing business for prequels in modern literature (for some unknown reason) but that wouldn’t stop me from writing one. Truthfully the story is there already since I had to figure out who they were before I could make them into what they became.
This is an idea I have been throwing around for some time. I don’t know that it would be a novel but rather perhaps a novella (I cringe at the thought since I consider novellas lazy writing). Another option in the vain of a novella would be to release it in the form of Serials on my website for people to download or just to read online via a phone, tablet or computer without downloading. That’s an interesting and intriguing idea and one which I will ponder more and research. The only thing is that it wouldn’t be anything like Running Northwest and in fact far from it. It would mean showing a dark and seedy side of two characters that people are now loving. As an author, I have to seriously ask myself whether a project like this could hurt my first novel which still has a lot of potential yet in the book market and its genre.
YA (young adult novel)
This one I started working on a few years back during some boring literature classes at GVSU so I didn’t fall asleep. Generally, I have been against writing anything in the YA category but recently have opened up to the idea. Originally it wasn’t going to be a YA novel but at this point, it might work better that way. It’s a hugely flooded market right now with enough subcategories you could make a bridge from Boston to the UK so this one will be kept on the pile for later. Essentially though it’s about mythological Gods still existing and holding power around the world in various ways and positions while continuing their long-standing chess match with humanity as their pawns. Yea…that whole chestnut. For this novel, I have two college professors helping me with research and making sure I get my facts straight. One is a professor of Greek and Roman mythology and the other teaches Norse Mythology as well as world mythologies/religions.
Standalone thriller novel
This is something I began tinkering with the a few weeks back and even wrote a post about it. This novel will likely be my first thriller and in the vein of Stephen King. This is a long way off however but so far the idea and brief character sketches seem promising enough to work on later. After doing some homework into the genre it’s actually a unique idea…for now.
A Michigan Series
Sigh…I feel like I should because I live in the State…at the moment. I have more ideas for a really great book series OR a bunch of stand alone novels which stem from a lifetime of unknowingly collecting source material and inspiration than I do from most other places where my stories are set. However, the parts of Michigan where these stories would or could be set would not be what some consider the trendy places. So nowhere in west Michigan. Perhaps that’s a good thing though because I know a lot of really wonderful local writers who are already covering that turf in their own individual ways. My favorite places in Michigan are not necessarily the most popular or well known. I am not one of those authors who like to make up fake names for real places. I also have a love/hate relationship with Michigan and have for most of my life and ALL of my adult life and there are only a few places in Michigan where I would want to set a story or series.
Part of me wants to pull the trigger on this badly but part of me isn’t feeling it so I’m holding back for when I do and that is why it’s in this section and not above. In a way I think it’s almost too personal for me…too close I guess. I was born and raised here after all but my heart long ago left this states smallness once I accepted the bigness of the world and all that it has to offer. I think I need to be away from Michigan in order to give this series justice. After all, they say separation makes the heart grow fonder right? After all, I didn’t start writing about Oregon until after I left the Pacific Northwest.
So maybe someday I’ll share this series with the world. I think a standalone novel based in Michigan would end up being what comes out eventually.
Again these are estimates and are not written in stone yet.