All the writers I know are finishing a book, thinking about their next one and likely marketing another. The first book is ‘the’ book. The idea that just wouldn’t stay off the page. The next one (or 3 or 30) is a different story. I asked my fellow MissDemeanors how they approach that ‘next project’ question and here’s what I learned: Paula: It depends on where you are in your career. I advise my clients to write the project they are most passionate about that also makes the most sense strategically. When it comes to my own writing, I try to follow my own advice! Michele: I’m trying to follow the advice of my agent! I have been living with a new character who is demanding that her story be told and I want to tell it. I’ve been writing it and rewriting it until I feel like I am in her bone marrow. But I am also trying to temper my extreme engagement with Olivia with a sense about how her story will reach people, which means being market savvy. Like it or not, that’s part of the reality. Susan: I think (or hope) that my next project is a sequel, so that makes things sort of simple. However, I always find myself working on a short story whenever I finish up a novel. It’s a way to explore ideas and figure out if there’s something to them. And of course, I always ask Paula! Robin: My fiction projects usually start with real-life situations (cyber threats and attacks) that haunt me. Then I create a main character who’s often an amalgam of relevant perspectives and with a reason for that character to be the messenger. The rest of the story flows from the supporting cast. And a chat or several with Paula, of course 🙂 First drafts defy my initial plot notes every time and I don’t fight it. The characters take me in directions I didn’t expect as the story develops around them. I have a lot of fun with it. Cate: I write standalone novels so I am always grappling with what’s next. Fortunately, I feel as though another idea is always percolating. I am finishing up my fourth book and have tentative outlines for three more projects. Books, both contemporary and classic, are large sources of inspiration for me, as is music. Sometimes I hear a song and combine it with images in my life and stories that I’ve heard and I get another idea. I also have woken up from dreams with an entire three act story (my subconscious is very busy). I can’t wait to read ALL of your ‘nexts’! Thanks for sharing.