So, some crazy things have been happening in my life, and they all started around the same time. For one thing, The Scorpion’s Mate and Into the Dead Fall have gotten a LOT of attention and wonderful feedback! I’m so honored and amazed that so many people have taken the time to read my stories and then share their thoughts about them in reviews and posts.
That kind of feedback is inspiring. When I published those books, I had sequels in mind for both, but I didn’t know if I would get to work on them any time soon, because I wasn’t certain how much of a market there would be for them. I’m not going to lie; these books push boundaries, even for those who like alien romance. Sometimes, I would get concerned that I was pushing those boundaries too far, and a lot of my hesitation about sharing them had to do with that concern.
At the same time, I wanted to do something that I hadn’t seen before. Something a little different. Sometimes, different doesn’t always work for readers. Sometimes, certain characters will rub them the wrong way, and the feedback isn’t as positive. I’ve learned to live with that. 😉 I figure, if my characters are real enough in a reader’s mind that they feel strongly about them in either direction, then I’m doing something right (though obviously, I want people to enjoy my books and love certain characters as much as I do!)
It turns out that not all monsters scare romance readers off, and I am thrilled that people want to read more about Thrax and Nemon, which is why I dived right into the sequel to The Scorpion’s Mate—The Kraken’s Mate. Nemon is a lot of fun to write, though it is a challenge to push boundaries while still keeping it classy. With all his extra equipment, there is certainly the potential to get a little crazy. 😉
Still, as excited as I am about it, I wasn’t able to avoid running into the same pitfalls that plagued me when writing The Scorpion’s Mate. I hit the 50,000 word mark, and also hit the wall. I got it into my head that I wanted to start fresh again, and I was ready to fall to my knees and cry, “Noooo!” to the uncaring ceiling fan. For those who haven’t seen the earlier blog posts on my efforts to write The Scorpion’s Mate, I actually restarted the book five times, and wrote two other complete first drafts before finally finding the right story for Thrax.
My issues with the current draft of The Kraken’s Mate are a bit different. In the first book, my problems arose when Thrax started behaving out of character, plus there were some plot lines that I wasn’t ready to pursue as to the world-building (they involve the Menops species and Earth 😉 No more hints on that, other than to say, Ilyan’s words will probably become prophetic in future sequels.) I will say, the Menops are also insectoid, although quite different from Thrax. I have some plans for them, but we will see if there is continuing demand for books set in this universe. They would not be part of the Iriduan Test Subjects series (or will they? 😉 K, now I won’t give any more hints!)
But on to The Kraken’s Mate! So why did I hit the wall on this one? Honestly, I think it was just burnout. I was consumed and obsessed with this book, and barely took any time to think of anything else. There are some things going on in my life right now that are shaking my foundations and tearing me apart inside, and my writing has become my only escape, but at a certain point, you have to come up for air (no pun intended ;P), and when I did, I realized that I needed a break.
Only, I couldn’t stop writing, because like I said, other things are going on that I want to avoid dwelling on. So, I decided to do some work on the sequel to Into the Dead Fall, which I had already plotted out completely. I was really excited to work with these particular characters because—like Nemon—they are quite a bit different from the usual fare in alien romance.
I wrote furiously for six days straight, from the time I rolled out of bed until the time I collapsed back into it again, late at night (or really early in the morning, sometimes). I managed to finish the 77,000 word first draft, which tells me the book is going to be significantly longer than the previous book. Usually, first drafts are shorter than the final draft, since they are more skeleton than meat in a lot of areas. Revision will flesh things out and add some words (hopefully, only the important ones—I’ll deal with that in final edits. :D) I did notice in the feedback that readers wanted there to be more development of the character’s lives together after the climax of the story—into their HEA phase—and I hear that loud and clear. I will be adding more about their lives after everything goes down and they end up together (that’s not a spoiler. I only write HEAs!) in future books—hopefully, I will find the right balance between too much detail and not enough on that in the next books.
I loved the characters and their interactions in the sequel of Into the Dead Fall! But… (everything has a ‘but’ 😉 ) I’m not sure if readers will ever see this version of the story, because… darn, I can’t say without spoiling some things. I think I can mention that the focus isn’t as directed as I wanted it to be. This is supposed to be Evie’s story, but her sister and her mates play a large role in it. Maybe too large a role? I don’t know. Sometimes, I get frustrated with romances where the focus doesn’t remain on the main couple, but maybe that’s just me.
There are some scenes that further develop the relationships established in the first book that I don’t want to lose, though. I think they are great scenes, and important, but again, I don’t want to take away from the development of the primary characters’ relationship. I’m thinking, the book is just going to have to be even longer, but I’d love to get some feedback on this issue. What do you think about a story where the focus isn’t entirely on the main romance, but also adds in details from a previously established romance?
I should say, I considered writing the parts that involved the other trio into a novella and bundling it with the sequel—at the end of the book —but the events take place concurrently, and without the shift in focus, there would be too many unanswered questions in the main story. Ahhh! Decisions!
Alternatively, I thought of restarting the book and completely changing the plot, which means changing some critical world-building details—well, actually it means changing almost everything that wasn’t already established in the first book. Sigh. The new plot is still good (yeah, I already sketched it out), but I don’t think it’s as good.
Since I’m torn, I have to take a break from this manuscript as well, but I felt refreshed from my time away from The Kraken’s Mate, and figured out a fix for the problems I felt the story had. I re-plotted the ending and stared at it with wide eyes and a big “duh!” going through my head. Can’t believe I didn’t see that was where it was going the entire time. It was little wonder I’d felt the wall of writer’s block. I was trying to force something in a direction it was not meant to go. I’m very happy with where it’s going to end up, and now that I have the ending broken down by scene, I’m going to start working on it, scene-by-scene, taking a little more time on this first draft to avoid burning out.
So that’s what I’ve been up to, lately. Since I’ve been writing almost constantly, I haven’t gotten much else done, nor have I been able to read the ginormous list of TBR books that are in my Kindle. It figures that right around the same time that I get wrapped up in writing my own books, a slew of alien romance novels were released that sound awesome—including the Valos of Sonhadra Series, most of which are written by authors whose other books I absolutely love. There are nine of them, and though I haven’t had a chance yet to crack into any of them, I can recommend checking them out if you’re into alien romance, based on the authors alone. I will be starting at the beginning (Amanda Milo’s other books are keepers on my virtual shelf!), and working my way through all of them, and I can’t wait.
There are also a ton of B-movies awaiting my attention, a couple of Rifftrax I haven’t caught up on yet ( I love so-bad-they’re-good movies!), and some TV shows I also want to get caught up on. Fortunately, there aren’t any video games that just came out that I’m dying to play at the moment, because it would be difficult trying to find the time to breathe at that point (though I can fire up Fallout—3, NV, or 4, Skyrim, or ESO at any time and end up losing hours).
I realize this is all escapism. At the moment, it’s the only thing keeping me sane. 😉 (Okay, winky face means I’m joking, but seriously though, things are pretty rough right now. 😦 )