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A complete series at last!

With A Place in the World, the Miramonde Series trilogy is finished. What will I do differently next time?

It’s hard to describe the feeling that came over me when I completed the final book in my Miramonde Series trilogy, A Place in the World. I thought I would be absolutely giddy and in an outrageously celebratory mood. But instead I felt depleted and, frankly, in horrible shape.

The relentless hours in front of a laptop during those last stressful weeks tweaked my neck so badly that I couldn’t sleep. During the day, I was in constant pain. I stopped exercising because the jostling hurt so much, which is a big blow to my ability to stay positive. The worst thing for my neck was to work on the computer, but I had to log many more hours than normal at my workstation in order to complete it by the deadline. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to paint a room during my breaks from the computer screen, putting even more strain on all my arm, neck, and eye muscles.

Happily, I did manage to complete the book and I absolutely love A Place in the World. It is a rollicking and swashbuckling grand finale to the series, in my humble opinion. I can’t wait to release the book into the wider world on September 26.Cover of A Place in the World by Amy Maroney

But what can I do differently next time? A few solutions are already up and running. I finally set up a large monitor on my standing desk so I don’t have to look down at my screen. My head stays straight and my eyes look ahead. This has been a huge improvement to my stamina and my comfort at the computer. So big thanks to my husband for getting all the tech gizmos in place for me to make this change.

For all of you writers out there, I share the insight of a massage therapist who told me every time you focus on something with your eyes, you trigger a series of muscular contractions that start with your eyeballs and travels all the way down the back of your head, your neck, your back, your legs, and finally your feet. When you are toggling back and forth between documents and a screen hundreds of times in a day, you are putting a lot of stress on those muscles.

Saner steps to a complete series

On the advice of my massage therapist and the other health pros who helped me overcome the neck injury, I am taking a break every 45 minutes or so and rolling out my back and shoulders on a foam roller each time. I’m also back to exercising and stretching/deep breathing, which both help tremendously with physical and mental stamina.

I already have a basic idea for my next historical mystery series and as I begin the planning stages for that in the next few weeks, I will treat this new regimen as a daily requirement even though I’m not in the final franticness of finishing a book. I have to stay healthy and physically functional in order to write. So there’s no point in casting aside these rituals once I’m feeling better. It’s all preventative, in the long run.

A few other ideas percolating in my brain for next time: First, I will write shorter books. The Miramonde Series has a complicated dual-timeline plotline. It was satisfying and challenging to write, but it made for long books. My next series will take place in a single time period, eliminating the need for two plots, two character arcs, and all the other book-lengthening features of a dual-timeline historical narrative. This will make it much faster to complete.

The Miramonde Series by Amy MaroneySecond, and I’m not sure yet how this will affect finishing, I will outline the entire series before starting Book 1. With the Miramonde Series, I outlined each book one at a time, after finishing the precursor. I believe this will help me organize, plan, and complete the entire process of book production, from idea to publication.

Third, I will start the ‘final review’ process earlier. If I plan earlier blocks of time for final revisions and tweaks and final read-out-loud marathons, I won’t have such a mountain to climb as the publication date looms.

Fourth, I will not finish a book during the summer again. This was the second summer in a row when I got to the finish line during the most chaotic and unpredictable time of my year. Kids home from school, travel, visitors—I should know better than to navigate my most stressful part of a book project during summertime. Lesson learned, people!

If any of you have suggestions for other ways to make finishing a book more manageable, I’d love to hear them.

Next steps: I’ll complete the process of publishing A Place in the World and get all of my marketing and advertising ducks in a row for launch time. But before I do that, my foam roller is calling me!

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