Lessons From the Cafeteria of Life

Long ago in a world that has passed away, I grew up in a small town in northern Illinois. In our town was a cafeteria, Bishop’s Buffet (now closed), where the motto was “Cook it like Grandma,” and hungry diners could choose from an eye-popping panoply of dishes—beginning with the desserts, of course. That’s where I first understood the phrase “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” Everything looked so delicious, and if left to my own devices, I would end up with twice as much food as I could possibly devour in one sitting. The result was a rule (made especially for me, I believe)—no dessert until you’ve finished your meat and vegetables.

I’m experiencing something similar today but in another realm. With the third book in my Kate Hamilton Mystery series now launched and the fourth in the final stages of editing with a May 10, 2022, release date, I’m hungry to begin something new. But what? The next in the Kate series? I’ve got a great plot simmering in my head. Or should I work on a new historical series about an emotionally damaged woman who takes in waifs and strays and solves mysteries with the help of her eccentric household staff? Or maybe I should map out that standalone domestic suspense I’ve been noodling over for a couple of years.

Oh, dear. With my options nearly endless, settling on one book to the exclusion of all others is painful and difficult. As the British would say, I’m spoiled for choice.

I want to fall in love with my next book—with the characters, the setting, and the plot. Some writers are able to work on multiple series at the same time, moving seamlessly from the present day to the 1700s and back again, keeping all those characters and their voices separate and distinct. I admire that ability—I really do. But when it comes to writing books, I’m afraid I’m a serial monogamist. I can’t give my heart to two books at the same time.

Now the question is, to which characters, setting, and plot will I commit, forsaking all the other tempting possibilities? That’s my dilemma.

What about you? Are you a writer who can juggle multiple series without losing your mind? Are you a reader who keeps two or more books going simultaneously and never loses the plot?

Join the conversation here. All comments welcome (I need help)!

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