And life goes on.
A new chapter will begin for me on November 2 when I publish my first collaboration with another writer, a police detective from my hometown of Johnson City, Tennessee, named Mark Stout.
The decision to collaborate was not made lightly. It had nothing to do with money, because I would have made at least twice as much money had I written a book alone, as I've done thirteen times before.
But I've been very fortunate these past few years. We've sold more than three million books, and I've made more money than I ever thought I would. Why not share some of that good fortune with another writer, someone who has spent his adult life serving the public?
Mark Stout is a good man, a good husband, a good father, a good cop, and a good writer. He approached me last year and asked me for advice. He'd written a police procedural that revolved around a serial killer. In fact, he'd written two. He asked if I'd read the first one and tell him what I thought.
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked that same question by indie writers over the past three years. Usually, I would tell them I just didn't have time, and I was telling them the truth. I had my own projects to work on. My wife was losing her decade-long battle with breast cancer and required more and more care and attention. I just couldn't do it.
But something about Mark made me say yes. I could tell he was hungry. I could tell he wanted to learn. And, as I said, he was a good guy.
I took my family to the Cayman Islands in mid-December last year, and while we were there, I read Mark's book. He was a rookie author, it was full of errors, but the core of the story had bones. One thing led to another, and eventually, we agreed to tear the book apart and rewrite it together. I hired Charlotte Herscher, an excellent developmental editor with whom I'd worked in the past, and over several months, she helped us get the manuscript in shape. My wife passed away in June, which slowed us down some, but eventually, Mark and I finished the book. It's called "The Sins of the Mother," and it turned out well enough that I'm not the least bit ashamed to put my name on it and send it out into the world.
My hope is that Mark and I will write two, maybe three books together over the next couple of years and after that, he'll be able to move forward successfully on his own. I know it's asking a lot of you to trust me when I say the book is good, but I hope you will trust me. I hope you'll read it, enjoy it, and review it well.
In the meantime, as I adjust to life without my soulmate, I'm doing my best to continue to work on other projects. The first book in a new series for Audible Original is nearing completion. (It will be available in ebook and print, too. I'll tell you more about that soon.) I've also decided to collaborate with another writer and hope to help him navigate the rough seas of self-publishing just as I hope to help Mark. A new Dillard book will hit the streets next year. That will be a difficult book to write, because as many of you know, Joe Dillard's wife, Caroline, was based on my wife, Kristy. I haven't yet decided how I'll write it, but I can guarantee you this - it'll be from the heart.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have read my work and who have made me successful in this extremely fickle and competitive profession. Thank you to all of you who reached out to me after Kristy's passing with thoughtful words and genuine compassion. The collaboration with Mark is my way of paying your kindness and my good fortune forward.
I hope it turns out well. But like I said at the beginning of this blog, either way, life will go on.