The Release Date

To those of you who have read my terribly taboo romance, Irreparable Damage, I apologize.

Especially if you bought it when it first came out, now over a year ago. This was never my intention. In fact, a long wait between books was the very last thing I wanted to do.

To explain: I hatched the idea for my Irreparable books the summer before last. Feverishly. I outlined each book in a notebook next to my laptop, and then I spent every night—long into the wee hours, too often, frankly—pounding away at my keyboard, beginning Ethan and Willow’s story. When I finished it, I was so proud of how quickly I’d done it. I launched into writing the next book immediately, and every night bled into morning as I would write and write, and I loved the characters, and I was so wrapped up in their story. It would be the quickest I’d ever completed a duet before (unpublished or published). I was optimistic about what it meant for future book releases.

And then, after 28,000 or so words, I got my heart broken. Blown to bits. Entire world shattered and ripped out from under me. That sort of thing. The sort of thing that doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s catastrophic.

Some people write through their tragedy. I’ve done that before. I couldn’t this time. I’d never been quite so decimated. Making matters worse, there are elements of this series and this story and these characters that…well, I couldn’t handle. For a long, long time, I couldn’t handle any writing at all. For a long time, I couldn’t even drag myself out of bed. I felt worthless for a while. I lost my confidence, a thing that had never actually happened in my adult life, and with it, not just my ability to write but my desire. I didn’t enjoy writing anymore. For the first time in my life, for a whole year of my life, nothing about writing interested me. The characters stopped talking. Inspiration dried up. Just looking at a word document…it felt like sitting in an algebra class (and if you knew me, you’d know that’s bad). Frankly, I began to fear I would never write again. My mindset at the time, I wasn’t even disappointed because I’m a writer, it’s part of my identity (I’d lost so many other parts of my identity, one more seemed almost inconsequential at that point), something I’d found joy in for half my life, but I was horrified at the thought of not finishing a series for the readers who had invested in my book and my characters. There are so many books out there to choose from and they chose mine, and I was letting them down. It was never an option. Even if Irreparable Lives and After You were the last things I ever wrote outside of a grocery list, I was going to finish them.

But I also didn’t want to produce inconsistent garbage just because writing it had become a chore to me. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. My guilt grew, but you know, healing takes time.

Eventually the time came that I opened up my document and I didn’t fill up with hatred. I read what was finished, and then I wrote, just a little bit. A few hundred words. My drive wasn’t back, but it was progress.

Next time—weeks later, possibly even months—I wrote a little bit more.

Now I’m writing it regularly. One year and one month past the expected release date, I still haven’t finished the first draft.

But I’m close. Finally. I know what I still have to write—just a couple of scenes left. Finally.

Then rewrites. Because of the tumultuous journey I’ve been on while writing this book, I expect rewrites to be more extensive this time around. Given the hiatus, there’s some issue with flow at a certain part of the book, I’ll need to fix that.

But I’m finally crossing the finish line.

I was finally able to set a release date.

It’s July 19, 2016.

I’m going to release a box set, as well. (Amazon exclusive, so it will be available to Kindle Unlimited readers.)

I don’t anticipate anything like this happening again, but I also never anticipated it happening the first time. I’m going to attempt to change my release pattern going forward though, just in case. There are still some unstable areas in my life, and my personal circumstances have changed, drastically reducing how much writing time I have. My drive to write and my ideas are finally coming back, but we’re not all the way back to healthy yet. In the meantime, to prevent this happening again, my plan is to not release book number one until book number two has a finished first draft. It may mean I don’t release books as often as I intended to when I began my writing career. I know there are plenty of other books out there so it won’t make a difference to the world, but it does to me, and I’m sorry that I won’t be able to focus on my writing career the way I planned to. I no longer have the support system I had then, and as I’m sure you’ve gleaned, being an indie writer doesn’t rake in Taylor Swift dollars. I will still be writing and releasing books. I will not be writing and releasing 3-4 books a year, as originally intended. :\ If I get Irreparable Lives and After You both published this year, I will consider that a success at this point.

Anyway, I just thought I owed readers who have been waiting an explanation. Setting a 2015 release date and then not having the book out a year later is so not my style. Life just got in the way this time.

Thank you for reading my books! 🙂

-Sam Mariano

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On Writing Characters in Untenable Circumstances

I write things.

More specifically, I write stories that I make up featuring characters I mentally spawned going on journeys I engineered myself. And more often than not, they’re bad. Not the stories (I hope), but the characters, their circumstances, their choices, what have you–something is kinda bad. That’s just how it tends to go.

With some stories it’s harder than others. My Irreparable books, I was sitting on my couch summer before last and I had this idea of this really terrible situation I could put all of these poor characters in, and the whole aim of this series (it was originally going to be 3 installments, but it’s actually only 2 now) was to decimate everything and see what was left. It was to put them through horrible scenarios and then build something with the irreparable pieces of their former lives. Not to say there’s no happy ending, but given the circumstances, given what’s done and what happens and just…all of the destruction, there’s a limit to how tidy things can ever really be. I’m going against nature by tying these characters together, I’m tying triggers into the mix and ensuring that it’s as hard as I can possibly make it to keep these characters both likeable and self-respecting.

It’s hard. Ethan, I’m finding, is the hardest. Because it’s a romance. Taboo, yes, but a romance. And it’s not a straight dark romance, like a WIP to eventually be revealed, where I can sort of unapologetically throw heinous things out there and be like, “He’s a bad guy, what do you expect?”

Ethan’s not a bad guy. He’s not an anti-hero. But sometimes it’s hard as hell to make him a hero, too. Especially considering I don’t just want him to be the good guy for one damaged young woman, I also don’t want him to be a heel to a woman whose years of love and life he completely betrayed. Nothing about his character’s journey is ever easy. He has a road full of difficult decisions and responses to situations he didn’t mean to create in the first place. All the while, he wants to be the hero of two opposing stories.

This isn’t possible. Maybe it is, but I’m probably not going to pull that off. Rather, Ethan isn’t. I know this because I write him, and the more I try to make him a good guy in one respect, the less he feels like the good guy in the other. I’m pulling him in several different (untenable and a bit unnatural) directions, and it’s probably pushing the release date even more (because when I finish doing the Stretch Armstrong on him, I’m gonna have some overall revisions to do), but at this point, this book isn’t the “3 months of fall/winter” writing that I planned it to be, and I just really want to get the ending right. I know it won’t please everyone, I know some people will struggle with his struggle/what inevitably makes him a better man than he could be, but it’s just who he is. The heroine loves him for/sometimes despite it, and hopefully everyone else will, too.

I shared this Facebook post today because it’s so true. Published and unpublished, I’ve written some crazy stuff. It’s just fiction. I’m just spinning a tale, trying to weave some reality and fiction together to tell a story that might entertain you for a few hours. I’m not condoning something because I write it. Some readers have this feeling like we should be punished for writing in distasteful scenarios, but I have news for them: we are, sometimes when we’re writing the story, and definitely later when it comes time to try to find reviewers!

God help anyone who reads my books looking for tips on how to navigate their own love life.

Anyway. It’s 4 am and I should really go to sleep, but I just left Ethan in a really crummy situation…so maybe I should write a little bit more….

Eh, on second thought, that’s Tomorrow Sam’s problem. 🙂