The Year That Flew By: 2017 Wrap-Up

I seriously do not know where this year went.

I’m pretty sure it was just Christmas 2016 a month or two ago, and yet somehow, here we are.

Personally and professionally, 2017 had its ups and downs (what year doesn’t, right?) but overall, I want to thank you guys for all your support. Because you love the stories I write, I get to have the best job ever. Thank you for enjoying my often offbeat, often gray and complicated characters. I already made this long Facebook post about it, so I won’t bother repeating myself, but suffice it to say, I got braver in 2017, I took chances, and I’m so happy I did.

2017 books

I published all those full-length books this year. That’s wild, right? No wonder my wrists hurt. That’s so many books!
I also started a Facebook reader group. If you like my books and want to make sure you don’t miss anything, feel free to join. I have a newsletter, too, but you never know when those will get lost in the spam folder.

I already have my next release close to done, but I haven’t set a firm release date yet because I’m still waiting to hear back from my cover designer. As long as she can get my cover done, it will be late January, though. One month from today, you will have a new Sam Mariano book. My next book is a standalone set in Philadelphia, but you will probably see more of that world, as long as I find time to write it. There are some interesting characters in fictional Philly, and a few in particular have been in my head since before I even met the main characters of this book. The characters in this book aren’t as dark as my Morelli series. On the darkness scale, they probably hover somewhere around my Irreparable characters—not all that dark themselves, but in close enough proximity to darkness that it could occasionally flit in and out of their lives. This book is definitely a love story, though. A complex, unconventional love story between imperfect, faithful characters. I’ve fallen in love with them myself, so I really hope you guys enjoy their story. I think you will.

After this new standalone, other things to look forward to in the coming year include:

  • After You, the much anticipated sequel to my coming-of-age new adult romance, Because of You. Yes, it’s finally coming. I promise.
  • Morelli spin-off books. What is Rafe up to now that he’s taken over Vegas? Smooth-sailing? Kicking back, letting half-naked showgirls feed him bon-bons? Maybe he’s killing all the fools. Is he keeping an eye on Vince? Is anyone (aside from his wife…)?
    What about Dante? If you’ve read Mateo’s POV in Entrapment, you heard the news that had Dante even more of an asshole than usual. The meaner Morelli brother doesn’t live at the mansion so no one got to see how that all played out, but Dante is getting a book, set in that timeline, so you’ll all be able to see how that love story/hostage situation unfolded.
    Alec. We know he’s an amusing drunk with good suits and a penchant for dating strippers, but what does the youngest Morelli brother DO with his time? He does what he can to avoid Mateo’s twisted web, but what if Alec meets a girl he wants to keep? He can’t keep her hidden forever, can he?
    Then there’s Vince’s half-sister, Cherie. Adrian said she was talking about relocating to Connecticut so she could be closer to family she likes. What about that sexy, Irish hitman who had a thing for her? What’s he up to now that Cherie’s legal? And why the heck didn’t he come back and make good on his promise not to let her die a virgin, cosseted and sexytime-blocked by the scary Morelli men?

So many questions.

Colin has some ‘splainin to do.

Also, if you’re familiar with Colin’s assassin friends from my first release of 2017, The Last Boss’ Daughter, you may be thinking, “Hey Sam, we’ve read about Liam, we’ve had peeks of Colin’s sexy self, but what about Ryder? He’s been in TWO books now. Where is he and what is he doing?” *shrug* Maybe he’ll show up in a third. Who knows? That charismatic ass likes to pop up every now and again, whether I invite him or not. (He must have taken a course at Mateo University.)

In short, I’ve released books I absolutely love this year, and I can’t wait to release some more in 2018. If you have NOT met the Morelli family yet, and you like to step outside the cookie-cutter world of love stories from time to time, you should pick up Accidental Witness and start this one. I’m so proud of these books. It’s a series without rules, a love that cannot (and will not) be stopped, and the most interesting, complex, devious, yet sometimes achingly generous character I have ever created. Mateo Morelli is my masterpiece, and I want everyone to meet him and read his story. (And his story is not one book in the series. His story IS the series. All 8 books. You meet him in book one and his story isn’t over until the last book. Different books in the series focus on different people from time to time, but his story is always there, growing and developing. It’s a comprehensive story, an ensemble cast. It is not like other series you’ve read. Avoid spoilers because suspense is one of the things that makes this series so exciting. You don’t want to know what happens until it happens. Just enjoy the ride. It’s not often you get an experience like the Morellis, so don’t cheat yourself out of it! Going in blind is the best. Just know the series revolves around the villain, and not liking him to begin with is normal (he’s a villain, after all) but just wait. By the time you get to the end, you’ll understand. By the time you get to the end, you will ache for his pain and root for his happiness. You’ll want to slap him for destroying what he loves, feel for him while he faces the loss, and rejoice when it comes back to him. He’s messy and damaged, but the love of the right woman makes a massive difference to this man. This series contains the truest pair of soulmates I have ever encountered in any story that has ever come to me. They are truly made for one another. It’s the happiest of happily ever afters, but it doesn’t come easy.

I’m so pleased with the journey I was able to take readers on with the Morelli family series in 2017. I’m so happy to have finally shared Mateo’s story with the world. Thank you for reading it!

I hope you have a happy and safe New Years weekend! See you in 2018!




#amwriting topic: POV

One of the more important things to decide going into a new story is what POV you will write in.

Me, I generally don’t do much to decide this anymore. However the voice comes into my head, that’s how I write it. (And these days, that’s first person present. I’m currently cycling between a first person present WIP and a first person past POV, and boy, is that going to be a headache in editing. I’m switching up tenses all the time and having to go back and fix it when I realize I’m in the wrong story/tense.) The funny thing is, I really don’t like first person POV. It’s limiting. I prefer third, but in my experience, the readers don’t. I wrote a duet in third person dual POV, but several ARC-readers gave up on it, saying the third person made it hard for them to connect with the characters.

So I switched. (Not that duet, but going forward.) Now I try to write all my stories in first person, but that hasn’t been without its issues, either. I just released a first person present (dual) POV book, and two of the reviewers pointed out what they took to be plot-holes or inconsistencies. An example: in one chapter, the hero’s POV, he is in a separate place from the heroine, so there would be no sense in detailing her specific stops on her way home, where he’s waiting for her. In this story, the heroine happens to live in New Jersey, but she had spent time in the city that day. The heroine has anxiety, and chooses not to drive in the city, so she used public transport while there. The hero is waiting at her house, though, and isn’t along for any part of this, so it wouldn’t make sense for him to detail her stop after departing public transport and getting back into her car to drive home. But when the heroine showed up back at her house in her car, one of my readers thought it was an inconsistency. One scene she’s getting on the subway in the city, in another she’s driving a car to her house in Jersey. But the hero/person whose POV the chapter was written in wasn’t there, so why would he mention that?

My current WIP has some similar issues popping up, and I find it annoying. An early reader pointed out a possible plot hole that isn’t a plot hole, but to tell the audience one thing while showing them another, the first person heroine (immersed in the life, so this wouldn’t jive with her worldview) would have to tell them. Obviously that’s a no-no (and a little insulting to the reader, in my opinion), but not including—in my opinion, unnecessary—information does leave you open to criticism. Including it would, too (boring! Tedious! Telling instead of showing—worse, telling after showing), so I guess there’s just no winning. At the end of the day, I guess all you can do is write what makes sense to you, what you think will make the most sense to the most people, and accept that a few people are going to find fault with it either way. 🙂

The Book You Fall For

I began writing for the same reason a lot of people probably do: it made me happy.
I had stories in my head, characters I wanted to explore, and the easiest way to do that was to write them a story.

The problem with publishing those stories (for me, not for everybody) is that sometimes you lose that feeling, but you still have to keep going. Occasionally you never even get it.

Writing a new book is like meeting a new love. You never love two people exactly the same way or for exactly the same length of time. Every single one is different, and every single one fits you differently. Sometimes (usually when I’m working on a different story) a new story hits me like a tsunami, it’s all I can think about, it pours out of my fingertips, and sleep is the only thing stopping me from writing it all at once.

That’s the best. The absolute best.

I started a new project, a passion project, and I’m certainly not ready to announce anything about it yet, but all I’ll say at this point is that I’m absolutely smitten. I’m so in love with this book. I’m convinced it’s The One. I’m preemptively afraid for every book I have to write after it, because how can I ever love another as I love this one?

I’m in the honeymoon phase. I’m feeling young again! We just got together and things are going great. (Which is funny, because boy, is this NOT how I do love in real life, with actual people. LOL.) Ain’t No Other Book/Hero for me, no sir, no way.

There will be, of course. Because like relationships, the honeymoon will end, there will be struggles, times I have to plant myself in front of the computer and yank words out of my brain. There are days like that with every book (for me, especially at the end. I hate writing endings… I guess I never want to break up. :D) but for now… for now, I’m in love.

Anyway, when I can share this story with you (and I hope that’s soon), I hope you love it as much as I do. 🙂

-Sam Mariano

Fall is Here!

I love fall.

Just today while my little one was riding bikes with her friend outside, I noticed the leaves crunching beneath my feet for the first time this season. Sigh. 😀


This fall is far busier than usual for me. I’m taking night classes 3 nights a week and I work 2 jobs outside of authoring, so my schedule is ridiculous. On top of that (and normal life stuff, like my little one and the time I lose every day mindlessly scrolling through Facebook) I’m also working on writing projects. I’ve been brimming with ideas lately. Seriously, I wish I still  had the ability to just spend hours of every day writing, because if I could, I’d be able to bang out so many manuscripts right now. I don’t, and most of these ideas will dwindle away (my ideas don’t linger if I don’t start on them right away; that would be too easy!) but one in particular struck with a vengeance and stuck. I wrote down the outline immediately, started writing it, and despite my schedule, I’ve invested many hours pounding away at my keyboard instead of studying. Whoops.

But that means I have a new release right around the corner!

I’m a few thousand words from a finished manuscript, I just have to find time to write them. (I should have that time this weekend, so it should be finished and ready for a read-through and revisions by next week!)

That’s really exciting. Because two months ago? I didn’t even know these characters yet. I love when I get carried away and write a story that fast. (There’s plenty to fix in edits, but there always is.)

I have a proofreader all lined up for after edits. Evelyn over at Summer’s Eve Reads has started proofreading, and she kindly booked me for November. That means by early December… I should have ARCs ready!

This book is called The Last Boss’ Daughter, and it’s a modernized, dark re-imagining of Snow White. (Loosely. I don’t follow the fairy tale exactly or anything, but it was part of my inspiration in many respects.)

I’m really excited to introduce Annabelle and Liam into the world. I’m really, really excited to have a finished manuscript to build on.

Yay fall!


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

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. 🙂



What? I wrote a blog post? No way!

Hi guys!

Okay, so we could talk about how I posted a year ago all like, “hey, my personal shitstorm is over, on with the book stuff!” But let’s not. Let’s just acknowledge that sometimes I’m super wrong about things and move on.

Anyway. I have a super secret project I’ve been working on. It has a working title, but let’s not mention it anyway just in case someone decides to release a book by that name a month before I’m ready to release or something. Super Secret Project is a long time in the making; I’ve known the characters for somewhere around a decade now, but I always said that one was only for me (mostly because it was before dark romance/dark erotica was a thing, and I was pretty sure nobody would like it). Well, not anymore. I did crop out and reign in the story and the characters quite a bit in consideration of the readers, but there are some elements I just can’t do away with without sacrificing the meat of the characters (and frankly, the plot of the story).

And that got me thinking. Why do I have to? (I mean, because I would like to actually sell some books, I guess, but…) Why is it that authors who write gruesome murder mysteries or fantasies wherein they slaughter ALL OF THE PEOPLE (you know who you are…) are cool, but you tack “romance” onto ugly things, and suddenly you’re a sadistic, twisted hater of all things sane.

It’s all fiction.

I’ve seen readers leave comments on a dark romance author’s Facebook page saying that they hoped someone kidnapped her from her home and raped her so that she could see how much fun it was–just because she wrote a captive romance. Suddenly writing a piece of fiction means you advocate everything between the pages.


Anyway, amid the murder and mayhem in Super Secret WIP, I’m writing the unthinkable: a love triangle. I know, I know. Originally when I was working out the plot, I decided to try to filter it out, rewrite the story in a different way and dilute the love triangle until Dude #2 (boy, would he loathe being called that) only toy-flirted in a couple of scenes but was largely harmless.

But you know what? It didn’t work. It didn’t work because it wasn’t true to the character, it wasn’t true to the story, and I just couldn’t do it. So I put it all back, listened to my characters, let them scorch and salt the earth beneath their feet. And now it works.

I’ve still been angsting, as these scenes pour out of my fingertips, how am I going to get people interested in this book? How will I market it? I’ve anticipated the apology/PSA I’ll have to write like I did with Irreparable Damage, I’ve wondered, could I somehow downplay this part enough that people won’t turn into the before-person in the Snickers commercial?

I realized the answer was no. I realized instead of trying to “I’m sorry don’t hate me I’m sorry you know what maybe don’t even read the book you’ll definitely hate it” the people who aren’t going to like my book, no matter how much I dress it up, because it just isn’t their kind of book, I’m going to embrace the love triangle. Target it to people who may like it. What a concept, right?

What about you? Are love triangles an automatic no for you? What are your hard limits on a book?


First Blog Post of 2015?

So, I realize that March 23rd should not be the first blog post of 2015.

I realize that’s a fail.

I apologize, not only for that, but for generally disappearing off the face of the planet since this year started. Basically, if anything at all has happened since January began, I don’t know about it. If you have read/reviewed/rated my books, thank you so much! I have done exactly zero promoting this year, so the few books that have sold have been a lovely surprise.

Unfortunately I’m really behind at life right now. I had planned (though only a few people knew this anyway) to have the sequels to Irreparable Damage and Because of You out by April. This is not going to happen for a few reasons. One, my cover designer also disappeared for a little while and I couldn’t get in touch with her, and I cannot release After You (Because of You #2) without a cover even if it was finished. But also, it isn’t finished. It’s half-finished, as it was in January, which is the last time I touched it. Irreparable Lives is in exactly the same place–first draft half finished, hasn’t been written since January. I already have the cover for Irreparable Lives, so that one is under control. As soon as I finish writing/editing/etc, I will be able to release that one. After You…I’m not positive when it will be released now, because I haven’t heard back about the cover yet. (Also I have to finish it.) The cover is my main concern though, it usually takes a few months because the designer is pretty booked.

I’m very sorry the books haven’t been released. I’m sorry they haven’t even been finished. This was very much not my plan, but as the Fresh Prince would say, “my life got flipped, turned upside down.” (Are you too young for that reference? You might be; I’m getting old.) The start of this year was the start of a really destructive shitstorm in my personal life and many days just getting out of bed to take care of my kid seemed like far too much to ask. I don’t usually get writer’s block, and I wasn’t technically even blocked, my brain was just fried, I had no motivation, and my plate was just too full to add writing to it. Particularly what I needed to be writing. The themes of my books made writing them during this time particularly impossible, so rather than force little bit by little bit to meet an arbitrary deadline that was only in my mind, I decided to steer clear of both manuscripts until I could get my head back in the game.

Which I think was a good call.

I am finally getting my personal life back into some semblance of order, so if not today (probably not today, as my schedule is pretty full) then tomorrow I am going to get back to work on Derek and Nikki’s story, as well as Ethan and Willow’s conclusion. If you’re one of the people who has been waiting for them, I’m so sorry they aren’t ready for you yet. I will do my best to get them finished as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to have a little surprise sale!

On Wednesday, March 25th at 7pm PST, Because of You will go on sale for $.99! If you miss that, on Friday it will go up to $1.99 before finally returning to its original price of $3.99 early Saturday morning.

If you haven’t met Derek and Nikki, here’s your chance!

Once again, I apologize for the unexpected delay. Life just sucker punched me and I wasn’t ready for it.

Thank you for your continued interest and support! My readers are pretty much the best. 😉

The Book I Swore I’d Never Write

On September 1st, 2007, I finished the lengthy prologue of Because of You.

It took me literally years to finish that story, not only because of school and work (mostly because of school and work) but because the characters in that book, Nikki and Derek, took an immense toll on me. Also because when I started that story, I didn’t know how it was going to end. (I was a true pantser back in the day.)

The ending that I initially intended would have made it a completely different book, as I would have changed a major part of the plot, but over time I realized that was cheating. I wanted Because of You to be authentic; I could not compromise the overall vision, no matter what. I knew what role I wanted Nikki to play in Derek’s life (especially from the outside) and I knew how important he would be in hers. I knew Nikki’s love story, and I wanted to share it. I had a very specific audience in mind for that book, and I wanted to be honest with them…but I also wanted to write a story people would like.

I did come up with several suitable endings, and the one that I was honestly leaning toward for probably a year, maybe even two was WHOLLY AND COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. It was also an epilogue, but it would have taken place during college…it would have also completely undermined certain aspects of Nikki’s relationship with Derek. I came up with it at work one day when I was feeling particularly pissed off/empowered, but it was not right for Nikki or the story.

At the end of the day, I decided not to do it. I had a new idea, one that I liked much better/suited them much better, and I thought, “Hey, you never know, maybe I’ll do a sequel where Nikki and Derek are background characters” (which is insane, and I don’t know what I was thinking). I wrote one chapter of that sequel, realized it was a horrible idea, and scrapped it. I thought I was done with the characters (although I’d say roughly 90% of the people who read Because of You have always disagreed with me on that).

That was when I began doubling down on the whole “guys, I’m sorry, but this book is never, ever, ever going to get a sequel. Seriously. Ever. I’m not going to write it. Not ever.”

And I believed that, because the sequel that went with the epilogue was not right, and because of the epilogue, it was the only one I could actually do.

The other reason, and I forgot about it until I got a couple chapters into After You, is this: writing these characters is HARD. Emotionally. I can’t even tell you how taxing it is. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the easiest explanation is that I have to pull from very deeply within myself to become Nikki. She isn’t easily accessible. Her feelings, especially now, are so difficult to coax out of her, and she’s ashamed of even having feelings—so she doesn’t want to let them out/own up to them. Nikki is a damaged character. But I also wrote her in first person POV in the first book, and I can’t change the POV to third (which I’m much more comfortable with) just because it’s easier for me. Consequently, I have to become Nikki when I write her story. (I suspect Nikki is the reason I dislike writing in 1st person to begin with.)

I had forgotten how many tears I shed writing Because of You—buckets and buckets. I can remember very distinct instances of trying to type, but not being able to see the monitor through the tears. Just setting the laptop aside, curling up in bed and crying, because I was so emotionally spent.

I only remembered when I got back into that mindset and started writing the sequel. I don’t like to cry, that’s probably part of why I was so adamantly against the sequel and I just blocked it out, but… it is what it is. It will be tough at times. It’s easier on readers, I’m sure (I’ve gotten reports of crying from Because of You, of course, but reader crying and writer crying are different levels of agony) but channeling the right emotions to evoke the scenes necessary to do this couple justice…is a pain. Literally.

At the end of the day, I do want to give my readers what they want, but I can also only write the stories my characters allow, otherwise it’s Writer’s Block City, population: me. I have some very stubborn characters, typically one per story. Some are flexible, some are not. Nikki is not flexible. I have almost no control over her. Nikki will tell me and the rest of the world to fuck off if I try to manipulate her. She may be interpreted many ways by many different people, but let me tell you, at her core, Nikki has a quiet strength; she has a spine of steel and she wants what she wants. She feels what she feels, and she’s not sorry for it.

The good news is, my characters are all cooperating right now and I believe pretty much everyone will be happy with this sequel. I hope so. I’m aware that I’m too emotionally biased while writing it to know for sure, but I’m not going to rush the release, because I want to be able to revise the hell out of this book if I need to. My priority is making sure that as many readers as possible are on board and satisfied with the conclusion. When I first started the book, that felt much more daunting than it does now (characters were hassling me) but I think I’ve finally hit that “Eureka!” geyser that I needed. I finally understand everyone’s motivations and what’s going on.

So, I know some people were wondering why now, after years of saying no, I suddenly announced a sequel. It’s because the characters are finally ready for one. Because, when I was making the paperback version of Because of You and I thought, “Hey, I wonder what would happen if I removed the epilogue” the answer popped into my head almost instantaneously. This is what would happen.
After You, coming sometime in 2015.

“Been a long road since those hands I left my tears in, but I know it’s never really over…”

-Sober, Kelly Clarkson

Finishing Stories

Finishing stories has always bummed me out.

I’m referring more  to writing them than reading them—that sucks too, but when I have to finish writing a story with characters that I love, my entire being rebels against the idea. They aren’t just players taking the story from Point A to Point C for me by this point (and if they are, I’ve done something wrong) they’re people with lives that I’m interested in.

When I used to write only for myself (occasionally I still do) I wrote content that would be unreadable to anyone else—anyone who isn’t invested in them like I am, and that’s fine, because that’s on par with a journal. If I want to write it upside down and in Latin I can; it’s meant for my eyes only.

When I make the decision to share my characters and their story with everyone else, however, there comes a point where I have to say goodbye. And that makes me sad.

Last night—I should say this morning, because while I hadn’t slept yet, it was definitely morning—I was pounding out an important part of Irreparable Damage, and when I finally finished the last of the “night’s” to-do-list scenes, I heaved a sigh of accomplishment, shielded my eyes from the intrusive sun peering through the slats of the blinds, and then realized… I’m almost done with this book. Provided I get some writing done this weekend, the rough draft should be completed by Monday.

I expected to feel excited—this is the fastest I’ve ever finished a story before, and I already have a cover ready and waiting…this brings me one step closer to putting one more book out there into the world!

But it still made me sad.

Which is weird, because in this particular instance, there’s a book two featuring the same characters! So it’s not even goodbye, it’s just, “see ya later!”

Still, book two is not book one, their lives won’t be precisely as they are now, and even though the characters will come back and I will get to write them again, for now…it’s basically over. Just a few more crucial scenes to write, some things to tie up or set up, and then the journey is over for a while.

Plus, then I have to start editing. I hate editing.

That being said, I expect Irreparable Damage to be released in the very beginning of October (maybe even a little sooner, depending on how editing goes) and I’ll get to try out the pre-order feature for the first time!

Look for a blurb and maybe some teasers to pop up very soon! 🙂