Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Overdoing It

Houses Along the shore--Stanisawa-de-Karowska-1876-1952 I was Christmas shopping for my family last month when I saw an interesting looking top—for me. Since it was on sale, I went ahead and grabbed it. Nothing like shopping for yourself when you’re supposed to be shopping for other people. :)

When I put it on the next day, my husband said, “That top looks great on you!” He complimented it a couple more times before he left for work.

Hmm, I thought. I think I’ll get another top just like this one. They had a whole rack of different colors of the same thing. (This is how someone who is clueless about fashion thinks.)

So I went back to the store since I knew the shirt was still on sale. I got another of the tops (wearing, mind you, the first one I’d bought.)

The next day, I wore the new one. My husband wrinkled his brow. “Didn’t you wear this shirt yesterday? Although I do really like it.”

“No, this one is different, actually. Since you liked it, I got another.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, it looks nice on you.”

The next day, I had the Thanksgiving party to go to at my daughter’s elementary school. I had—important note!—done laundry and both shirts were clean. I decided that I really did need to look nice and I knew I looked nice in those tops, since my husband had so kindly assured me of the fact.

So I wore the top that day.

My husband came home from work and said, “Honey! Do we need to take you shopping? Don’t you have anything else to wear? I’m getting tired of that top!”

And so it goes.

My concern, since I’m writing two different books, is that I need to retain some of the same elements (which, I’m pretty sure, got me my gigs at these publishers), but make each book very different from each other.

Things I want to maintain in both:

Voice Type of humor Tone Vivid/quirky characters The pattern of the murders (usually 2 deaths, no forensic, keeping it amateur.

Things I want to make different:

The protagonist’s personalities (I write two elderly sleuths—but they need to approach everything differently.)

The supporting characters all need to be different.

The settings are both Southern, but different (small town, bigger town.)

One of the books is an epicurean mystery, so more of a focus on food. Actually, there is no focus on food in the Myrtle Clover series, except for Myrtle’s cooking disasters.

For those of you who’ve written two standalone books, or those who’ve got two series, how do you keep things straight? How do you keep the parts that drew publishers and readers to you but retain individuality with the stories?

I’m thinking, with the shirt, that getting the same exact thing in a different color just didn’t work. And the last thing I want is for a reader to say, “It’s the same thing! I’m getting tired of it…”