After 16 years of being continuously under contract with Big 5 publishers–
which also meant being continuously on deadline nonstop for 16 years—I decided upon completion of my 20th book (not counting several middle grade novels) that I owed it to myself to finally take a bit of a breather.
So I did.
I turned in the last installment of the very long and very complex Inferno Club series, pretty well exhausted by that project, and in need of some time to rest, reboot, reinvent—and digest the seismic shifts going on in the publishing industry.
Behind the scenes, I have been a very busy bee. It might have looked to the world like I was being very quiet (if anyone even noticed), but it was a year of deep work overhauling many of my basic paradigms about what it means to be an author and how to run my business in new ways that’ll better serve my readers and also be sustainable for me for the next leg of my writing journey. Some of my particular areas of focus included:
- Learning to write faster
- Taking a hard look at the content I produce and stripping off the blinders I didn’t realize I had on
- Getting much more organized in the systems that I rely on to create a new novel from start to finish
- Exploring new romance subgenres, thus opening up areas of fresh creativity
- And the biggest and hardest step of all—what I call my Regency reboot—finding a fun, fresh approach to my most familiar subgenre.
. . . .
Within four months, I was nearly done (80,000 words clean and ready to go) of what was to have been a 90,000 or so full-length Regency when…the entire book fell apart on me.
This had never happened to me before. (I can sense my fellow authors’ collective shudder of dread reading this right now. Apparently, most everybody goes thru this sooner or later. A career rite-of-passage, I guess, like getting that first “hated it” review.)
I had sent the manuscript to my wonderful agent to get going on negotiations for a new contract, and she pointed out a few “small flaws” with the story set-up and the characters. They seemed at first like no big deal to fix, but when I dug in to try to straighten things out, I realized these were not little tweaks but huge structural defects. Basically, my book died on me.
To say I was freaked out would be the understatement of the year. I could not fathom how someone who had been hitting bestseller lists consistently for a decade could make such idiotic mistakes and not even see it until the whole project was nearly done.
. . . .
I told my publisher I’d be in touch with them when I was ready to try again, but I realized that could be a while, at least on a Regency, because by that time, I was on the verge of panic attacks over my writing and wondering if I was just a total loser who did not know how to write her way out of a paper bag.
. . . .
Between this experience and the extremely disturbing 50 Shades craze, which kinda goes against everything I stand for, at this point I admit I did briefly consider walking away from romance altogether in favor of the kidlit, which is doing very well.
. . . .
Rather than go thru the long, drawn-out process of submitting the “new thing” to New York and sitting on my hands for 2 years waiting for it to come out and leaving all of you hanging, I just decided to release it under my own independent label, the same way I do the middle grade novels.