Please welcome Kathy, er…Kaitlyn, who will try to explain how she juggles so many fine books!
The Scottie Barked at Midnight (208x300)

Keeping More Than One Book in the Air
(or, How to Juggle)

byKathy Lynn Emerson (aka Kaitlyn Dunnett)

It isn’t at all uncommon for writers of genre fiction to produce more than one novel a year, nor is it all that rare for the same person to write more than one series.

Sometimes they do so under more than one name, but not always. I’ve been juggling two or three books a year for a long time now, going way back to the late 1990s, when I alternated category romances with historical mysteries.

How do I keep more than one book in the air? By not trying to do everything at once. By that I mean that I focus on Book One but never completely lose sight of Book Two. I write myself notes about Two and let my subconscious noodle plot problems. I can see Two out of the corner of my eye even as I’m spending my actual writing time on Book One.

Inevitably, the day comes when I need a break. Perhaps I’ve hit a snag and don’t know what comes next. Maybe I’ve completed a draft and just want a little time to pass before I try to revise it.

Whatever the reason, by then I’m more than ready to tackle Book Two and, because I took a break from it, my enthusiasm for that project is high. I’m brimming with fresh ideas that occurred to me while I concentrated on Book One, so I’ll work on Book Two until, as with Book One, I come to a point where I need a break. That’s when I go back to Book One, armed with a fresh perspective and renewed enthusiasm.

All that sounds fairly simple and if I was completely in charge of my writing time, it would be. It’s both good news and bad news that I currently write for two different publishers. They set the deadlines. Despite my best efforts, those deadlines can end up being uncomfortably close together.

Then, too, time has to be budgeted for revisions an editor asks for, line edits, copy edits, and reading page proofs. When each book is published, add in blogs, interviews, and other publicity-related tasks. Some of that is ongoing. I also chime in twice a month at and maintain a presence on Facebook (as Kaitlyn Dunnett) and at Goodreads.

I admit there are times when all the books and book-related tasks I have in the air threaten to fall and land squarely on my head. It can be downright dangerous to juggle too many things at once. I have been asked to write faster and produce more than one book in a series in the same year. I resist. That way lies potential disaster. Yes, I could come up with 75,000 words in three months, but they wouldn’t be the best words. I firmly believe that any manuscript needs time to rest before it is revised. Without a break, I’d skim right past trouble spots without noticing them. Ideally, I’d like a year to write each book. I produce two a year by alternating between them. Each manuscript undergoes several complete revisions before I’m satisfied with it. The end result is the best novel I am capable of writing.
Murder in the Merchant's Hall
What am I juggling right now? Book One is the third Mistress Jaffrey mystery set in Elizabethan England. It’s due in June. Book Two is a proposal for a new contemporary mystery series—synopsis, first three chapters, and brief pitches for future books. Kilt at the Highland Games, the tenth Liss MacCrimmon mystery will be published at the end of July, so it is in production with assorted edits and page proofs still to come. And I’m still doing publicity for the second Mistress Jaffrey mystery, Murder in the Merchant’s Hall, which came out in ebook earlier this month. That’s four books in the air.

Maybe, if I’m very careful, I can add that short story I’ve been meaning to revise . . .

Kathy Lynn Emerson (224x300)
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of over fifty books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award in 2008 for best mystery nonfiction for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2014 in the best mystery short story category for “The Blessing Witch.” Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (The Scottie Barked at Midnight) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in the Merchant’s Hall) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” series and is set in Elizabethan England. Her websites are and