OK, some major news. I've got both good news and bad news, actually two of each.
The good news is that I've finished writing Book 3 (it's a total of 41 chapters, which is actually shorter than Book 2 was--chapter wise at least). The other good news is that the story isn't completely finished yet. There's going to be another book. I hadn't originally planned another book, but this one was already getting a bit long in the tooth, and I reached a significant point where a lot happened, there was a lot of important happy events, so it made sense to end on a high note. What's more, the next book will begin with a lot of important events, which deserve their own focus.
Now, for the bad news. First, Book 4 will be much shorter. In fact, in order to make sure this time, I've moved up the story ending significantly. Finally, the last piece of bad news is that, Book 4 will take some time before it appears.
As I've explained, I'd planned to outline Book 3 and write a fairly complete rough draft before I started posting any of it. I had the lead time, I had the whole thing planned out, but once I tried I found myself so caught up in the daily aspects of editing, checking for details, covering each small detail, that I found it impossible to simply sit down and write. And I think we all saw what happens when I write without a rough draft to work from.
If I'd had a rough draft, I could have revamped the story, stripping out the slow bits, speeding up certain sections and expounding others (the whole 'healing' aspect of Alex's energy originated during the revision of Books 1 & 2). In order to prevent something similar happening this time, I plan on finishing everything before I start on the next book. That means I'll finish off Book 3, then I'll focus on finishing "Love and Family During the Great Death" (though I'm not sure which will finish first).
Luckily, with Book 3 finished, I can concentrate on "Love and Family", which should make it smoother and help it finish sooner (and hopefully I can start posting once a week, instead of biweekly like I'm doing now), and once one story finishes, the other will end that much sooner. Hopefully I can even polish off the remaining chapters so that I can finish the writing and polishing before the story ends for you, the readers.
Once I have a rough draft written out, I'll immediately start posting again, rewriting each chapter to add in details, improve the flow and add in extra things I hadn't thought of, including foreshadowing of future events. It should help the whole overall story.
I'm very happy with how the book ends. As I said, a lot happens between now and then, and it happens on a happy note without the 'slow periods' that have hampered many parts of Book 3. If you want to complain about delays, about the eventual ending, or to suggest where you see it going, feel free, I always appreciate getting suggestions and comments. Plus, if you have any good ideas, I can include it into the new book.