A good friend and I shared the same publishing time frame for several years; we often swapped manuscripts each fall to edit one another's work before we both turned in our stuff. Then each fall, we both had our new releases at the same time.
She got her September 2008 release. I didn't. Mine was pushed back to the next "spring," whatever that meant (a window of about three or four months: February through May).
It also meant I wouldn't have a book out in 2008.
For most of my career, I'd worked hard to get that book out every year, and except for the gap between books 1 and 2 (which, if you've read this entire series, you know wasn't because I wasn't working my tail off, but because LWY had an unusually quick push through the pipeline), I'd done it:
Lost Without You: 2002
At the Water's Edge: 2004
House on the Hill: 2005
At the Journey's End: 2006
Spires of Stone: 2007
And then . . . 2008 . . .
At first I was a bit irked, especially when my dear friend got her usual slot. But, then, I couldn't blame her for a marketing decision. The following is purely my conjecture as to why the decisions were made, but here's my guess: her books simply sell more books than mine do. This is a business, and her books are money in the bank for the publisher, much more than mine are.
Fall is the prime release slot, and she's more of a sure thing. Spires didn't have the sales it should have, and in this business, the past predicts the future. That's why I think I lost the slot.
Plus, with the stupid economy the way it is, all publishers are putting out fewer books each month. As a result of that, a lot of books are getting release dates that are farther out. It didn't affect her, but it affected me.
It's complicated. On the other hand, I knew of some writers whose books were being pushed back several times (a few months and then a few more months and then a few more months) or canceled altogether because of the economy.
So I stopped whining. Sure, I didn't get a 2008 release. And yes, by the time Tower of Strength came out, it was almost 2 years old. But at least I still had a book coming out!
One big result of all of this is that I volunteered to be on the Whitney Awards Committee. The rules might be changing soon, but at least for last year, if you were on the committee, you were ineligible for an award.
I was ineligible anyway since I didn't have a book released that year, so I figured I might as well help out. And I'm so glad I did; serving on the Whitneys was a fantastic experience, one I'll never forget.
Moving forward: When it came to the deployment book and its timeline, Kirk gave me serious hope. If I could turn it in by Halloween, he would try to push for a fall 2009 release. It the powers that be went for that, it would mean Tower would come out spring 2009, and the deployment book would come out fall 2009.
I'd have TWO books out in 2009! That would make up for not having a book out in 2008.
How cool would that be! Yes! But I'd have to get it in quick for a shot at that happening.
I worked hard finishing it up. It was truly a joy to work on; I learned to love the women in the story, and I really feel that I learned a lot about women and female friendships in the process. I turned it in, as promised, on Halloween.
And then waited and waited to hear back. Eventually, I did, although it took longer than I expected. But it was accepted, and that was a thing to celebrate. But the timeline?
Let's just say . . . head + wall = lots of banging thereon.