by Julie, wintering in New England
Michele Dorsey and I have known each other for a long time. We met through Sisters in Crime New England, served on the Crime Bake committee together, and had our debuts the same year. I’m delighted to welcome her back to the blog to talk about the third book in her series, Tropical Depression, and Saving Sabrina.
What does a writer do when a publisher tells her they don’t want the next installment of her mystery series? I wish I could tell you this is a rare occurrence but alas, it’s fairly common. I had already written a rough draft of the third book in the Sabrina Salters series when I got the news. I had been spending winters on St. John in the US Virgin Islands where the series is set constantly harvesting new ideas. My agent gently suggested I move on to something else. So, I did. Sort of.
I had developed a following of readers who kept contacting me. They wanted to know when the third Sabrina was coming out. I felt guilty disappointing them when I said I didn’t know. Although one publisher had declined to continue the series, I wasn’t convinced someone else might feel differently.
Around the same time, I noticed other authors were in the same bind having series “dropped” as it’s called, as if a lover suddenly stopped calling. A few writers found new homes with traditional publishers, while others opted for hybrid publishing. I decide not to give up on Sabrina so quickly and to examine my options. I learned about the revision of rights, which simply means you can’t do squat with your series until the publisher relinquishes the rights you signed over in your contract.
Readers and a few reviewers who missed Sabrina continued to inquire when the next book was coming. I missed her too. I’ve never shared this before, but the inspiration for Sabrina, who is the survivor of childhood trauma, was a young child I represented during my career as a family law attorney. I didn’t give up on that kid and I found I didn’t want to give up on Sabrina.
I began working on getting the rights to the series back with the generous help of the agency that represents me. Just as things were looking brighter, two massive hurricanes struck St. John with days of each other. The island was decimated. I wasn’t on island when the category 5+ storms hit but quickly learned about the devastation, including the property where I stayed each winter. When I traveled to salvage a few belongings, I saw first-hand how the island I love had been impacted. I knew in an instant that book three in the series could not ignore an event that would forever change it.
Tropical Depression became the new book three. I interviewed people who survived the storm and were committed to remaining on St. John and rebuilding. Their stories are woven into the mystery that happens during Hurricanes Irma and Maria
I finally got the rights back and have republished No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, and added Tropical Depression. Saltwater Wounds, book four will be out June 1st, and will answer questions readers have been asking about.
Writing is about not giving up. The Sabrina Salter series is about survival: Sabrina’s, St. John’s, and mine.
Readers, do you have a mystery series you miss and wish had continued? I’ll be giving away a copy of my books to a commenter!
About the book:
Sabrina Salter returns home to St. John in the Virgin Islands after a disastrous vacation in New England where her grandmother rejected her and her boyfriend, Neil, betrayed her. She discovers an employee at her villa rental agency has been murdered with a machete and her best friend and business partner, Henry, is the prime suspect. If that isn’t enough, Hurricane Irma, a category five-plus hurricane, is racing toward St. John, and her grandmother is on-island to make amends. Reluctantly, Sabrina must enlist Neil and his rusty legal skills to save Henry and help find the murderer while a killer, a massive hurricane, and her grandmother are charging her way. Can Sabrina survive the compounded forces of nature, family, and evił on an island that should be paradise?
C. Michele Dorsey is the author of the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, and Tropical Depression. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.
You go, Michele! I’m so happy you took control. I can’t wait to get my hands on Tropical Depression and am glad you’re writing a fourth.
I’d love to hear about the process you used to rerelease the books. I did a similar thing myself with my first four Quaker Midwife mysteries after their lover – I mean, publisher – dropped them.
Edith, since I wasn’t the first and I’m sure not last author who went through this, I turned to other writers for help. Writers are the most generous professionals I know. Every step of the way, I was guided by them and also by my agency.
I would love to read this book and the entire series. I love the islands. I’ve been to quite of few of them from taking cruises. Thank you so much for this chance. pgenest57 at aol dot com
Since we’re still pretty much stuck at home, books are a great way to travel.
Congratulations on continuing the series—I love your grit! My favorite two-letter words: if it is to be, it is up to me.
Amen to that!
While it had to stink for you to have to fight so hard and long to bring back Sabrina for Book 3 and soon Book 4, for readers your fight paid off. So that’s worthy of a hardy congratulations!
To answer your question about series that I wish had continued I have two past series and three just recent series.
The past: The White House Chef series by Julie Hyzy and the Peggy O’Neil series by M.D. Lake.
The recent: The Sloan Krause series by Ellie Alexander, the Year Round Christmas series by Vicki Delany and the Movie Palace series by Margaret Dumas.
Jay, I love Margaret Dumas’ series. I hope she can continue with it.
I feel your pain, Jay. When a series ends, it’s like losing a friend.
I love this series and I know I was one of those that constantly asked when the third book was coming out. I’m so thrilled that the fourth book is coming out in June. Do you have a release date?
There were a few series that I missed and mostly dropped because of the publishing house.
Dru, your interest in the next Sabrina installment was inspiring and encouraging! Saltwater Wounds will be out June 1st.
Good on you for persevering! I can think of 2 series I’ve finished and haven’t seen any new ones: Mary Daheim’s Bed and Breakfast Mysteries and Charlaine Harris’ Hannah Swensen series.
Horrible what you had to go through but so glad you persevered! YAY YOU! I miss the Italian Kitchen mysteries by Rosie Genova. There were only 3 in the series before the publisher cancelled it, and I loved every one of them.
I hope the authors whose series are missed know it.
I’ve been reading all of Leslie Meier’s series, Lucy Stone. Just waiting for the next book in the series to come out later this month. I hope she forever continues the story. I feel like I’m so invested in the characters! Congrats on your book!!
Bobbi, I know that feeling. There are authors I eagerly await and follow faithfully. I was crushed when Sue Grafton died before getting to Z.
Good for you for persevering! Side note: I was on St. Croix in 1995/1996 after Hurricane Marilyn. I don’t think that one was as bad (relatively speaking), but is any hurricane ever “good”?
I wish I’d gotten more Jane & Jake books out of Hank Phillippi Ryan and I’d love to see another Lou Norton book from Rachel Howzell Hall.
Liz, I went to St. John right after Marilyn when there was still no power. It was a bad one, but unfortunately Irma and Maria were far worse. I think lots of readers miss Jake and Jane.
Good for you for persevering! Side note: I was on St. Croix in 1995/1996 after Hurricane Marilyn, which I don’t think was as bad (relatively speaking), but is a hurricane ever “good”?
I wish I’d gotten more Jane & Jake books from Hank Phillippi Ryan and I’d love another Lou Norton book from Rachel Howzell Hall.
Congratulations, Michele. Tropical depression is terrific. Your fans are in for a treat.
Thank you! I love your new series, so I’m very flattered you enjoyed the book.
I miss the Sherry Harris Sarah Winston series a lot! And, while I understand why it stopped, I also miss the Bay Tanner. I have been through a couple of hurricaines on the east coast, one of which when I was 9 that stranded us for 4-5 days with no power and water, and a big typhoon on Guam, Typhoon Roy, which was pretty powerful and knocked out power for awhile. Never underestimate Mother Nature! I will have to look for Michelle Dorsey’s books – they sound really interesting.
Glad that you will be returning to St. John’s.
I do wish that Julia Hyzy’s White House Chef series has been continued and I miss Edith’s Quaker Midwife series and Sherry’s Sarah Winston!
I know those series are missed by many, including me.
Hi, Michele, I’m thrilled to see Sabrina is back. Good for you for reclaiming your work and getting it out to your waiting readers. I’m listening to a book by Lisa Cron called Story or Die. She advocates authors staying focused on their target audience, not the naysayers. So, BIG congrats!
Hello, Nancy! You always know the right thing to say. Thank you for your enouragement.
Your series sounds wonderful! I love Death in Paradise on TV, but haven’t read books set in the Caribbean.
I was saddened when the Quaker Midwife series ended, I had hoped to read about Rose & her growing family adapting to the technology of the 20th century!
Judith, if it’s as cold where you are as it where I am, it’s a good time to start reading books set in the Caribbean!
Congratulations, Michele and I love your determination. I can’t think of the name of the author or series at the moment, but they are set in Boston, the protagonist is a PI with a family of lawyer brothers. There were four books and I loved them. I think the titles were one word. It will come to me in the middle of the night. Yeesh. UPDATE: It came to me with a bit of research and it’s not even the middle of the night — Ingrid Thoft!
Thanks, Sherry. Yes, that was a great series. Ingrid was a Jungle Red, if I remember correctly.
I’m glad you persisted. I miss the Lou Norton series by Rachel Howzell Hall and the Detective by Day series by Kellye Garrett. Both ended too soon. But both authors went on to fabulous new creations.
That’s an interesting point, Delia. Some authors move on to other books and series by choice. It can be a sign of creative growth. But it also can leave readers a little sad.
I loved the Detective by Day series! Such great characters, plots, and just the right amount of snark. There are very few books I can quote a line from but that is one I can.
As others have mentioned, I too miss Sarah Winston in Sherry’s Garage Sale Mysteries!!! And, I miss Philip R. Craig’s character J. W. Jackson in the Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries. Craig’s death in 2007 meant no more J.W. and his delish recipes and untangled mysteries. Good luck Michele with your series!
Judy, I loved J. W. Jackson and Philip R. Craig. He almost made me like bluefish! And I miss his buddy, William Tapply and the Brady Coyne series. A sad way to lose a favorite series.
So good to hear that you did not give up and you continued with your series! I love book series, I love to follow the book characters and find out how their lives turned out. I love reading the series of the Clan of the Cavebear, I would have loved it if the series would have continued . Thank you so much for sharing about your books . I have always instilled in my 2 now grown up children with little families of their own to Never Give Up , especially on something that they want to accomplish and dream of. I was fortunate to live in Puerto Rico for 6 months of which I really loved and enjoyed and I was able to visit the Virgin Islands. Have a great week and stay safe.
Looking forward to June 1st now! It was worth the wait for book 3. (No need to enter me in the giveaway.)
Thanks, Mark. I appreciate your support for Sabrina and me!
Inspiring story and gives one a lot of thought about managing the business of writing. Heavy duty business to understand and how entangled it is! You accomplished a lot!
Doris, thank you! I swear the business of writing is harder than writing and not nearly as much fun.
What a great post. I love the first two Sabrina books. Can’t wait to read this one.
Thanks, Barb. And thanks to all of the Wickeds for having me back. You have great followers!
Michele, kudos to you for persevering and getting your rights back, which can’t have been an easy process. I look forward to reading this newest installment~congratulations!
Congrats on the release and getting back your rights.
I miss a series by CC Bennison about a vicar solving mysteries. The first three took their titles from the 12 days of Christmas, so I was hoping for 12, but alas, there are only three.
Thank you for the chance to win!
Congrats on getting rights back.
You are new to me so I would love to read & review any of your books including Tropical Depression in print format.
A series I miss and think it could have gone on is The Hillcrest Witch Mysteries by Amorette Anderson.
I can’t wait to learn more about you and your books
I’m thrilled you have your rights and are continuing the series. The first two books brought back so many memories of my trips to St. John during the 6 months I worked on St. Thomas. I look forward to reading Tropical Depression – if I win it, great! – if not, I’m ordering it. And I love the title Saltwater Wounds – and just in time for summer! Thanks for persevering with this wonderful series.
I really miss the Cajun Country Mysteries by Ellen Byron. I was glad she mentioned it was going to be the last book in the series so I won’t be looking for a new book this year. She wrapped up the storyline well, but I’ll still miss the series. It’s like losing an old friend.
I miss Rizzoli and Isles by Tess Gerrison. Thank you for sharing.
I still wonder what has become of Lord and Lady Peter Wimsey.
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