Long time coming

My alter ego is at it again:

Book three of my Elementals series, Fire Witch, is now available!

Aura Fairweather has played many roles – from queens on the stage to the real king’s most scandalous mistress. But now she must play the most difficult part of her life. An old love has come back, bringing news of her long-lost family, and to rescue them she must embrace her power over the wild element of fire – a power she has always hidden before.

Fire Witch, like Earth Witch, is a standalone volume in the series – a new heroine, new adventure, and new romance, all in the same setting with some overlapping characters and events. You don’t have to read all the books or read them in order, although you’ll be in on all the references if you do.

(More here.)

I might be prouder of this than I should be. (And I should delete that last remark, because of my last post about taking yourself seriously even if you’re writing stuff that’s “not serious”). To explain why I’m so proud of this, I have to explain how this is a long time coming.

Way back in the olden days – before publishing got turned upside down in 2008 and the years following, and I had some optimism about making a living writing – I was trying to come up with more story ideas. To make a living writing, you have to turn out books on a regular basis, and I had finished one trilogy and was wrapping up a duology, with nothing new on the horizon. What might sell, I wondered. The obvious answer was romance novels, if I could come up with one that I wanted to write. Around this time, Harlequin spun off numerous imprints, unexpectedly challenging some of the longstanding romance formulas. Their Luna line** published a book called Poison Study, with a premise like I’d never seen in romance before – the heroine has been framed for murder, and her only alternative to execution is to accept a job as a poison taster. If the romance world is turning out stuff like this, I thought, I can write romance!

So I sat down and wrote Water Witch, drawing on the copious research I’d done on ships and sailing while writing the Gbahn and Archipelago books. It turned out well, I had fun writing it, and I almost immediately sat down to write a sequel. I turned out the first draft of Earth Witch in seven weeks; it went so smoothly it practically wrote itself. My then-agent was enthusiastic about the project (she submitted it to Luna, in fact, although to no response), and I had hopes of launching a new series. The obvious follow-ups would be Fire Witch and Wind Witch, but I didn’t want to get too far ahead if an editor was going to come in soon and potentially suggest changes or a different direction for the series. I decided to pause there and wait to see what the publishers would say.

And they said nothing. The whole publishing world practically ground to a halt. My career certainly did. I won’t recap why it took so long for me to get it moving again here, but my production did fall off during this time, between pessimism about the industry and frustration with some manuscripts I was working on. It was a lot of bad timing all clumped together in a toxic cloud of inertia.

Finally I decided to shake myself out of it. I had to write something, so I wrote a draft of Fire Witch. It was like pulling teeth and the results were not good. I made a few attempts to fix it before giving up. Book 3, I figured, was going to have to go down as a failed project.

This, of course, was a reserve psychology moment. As much as I consciously resigned myself to giving up the project, my subconscious resolved to finish the damn thing. It didn’t know how or when, but it was going to do it.

Finally I decided to dust off the first two books and self-publish them. They were done, and with a final round of editing, they were ready to go. There was no point letting them go to waste, and it seemed like a pretty effortless way to (maybe) make a few bucks. Unexpectedly, a coworker (thanks, Stephanie) turned out to be a rabid fan, and it was her sheer enthusiasm – and a little begging – that persuaded me to sit down and write Fire Witch for reals this time.

And this time, amazingly, it worked. My subconscious had spent the time busily hammering away at the problems in the first draft, problems I couldn’t see well through the pessimism and inertia, and the final attempt flowed almost as easily as the first two books. Fire Witch is done. It will not go down as a failed project.

From 2007 (or so) to October 2015. Whew. Long time coming.

**Later republished under their Mira line.

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