Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baby Projects

No, I'm not talking about photo albums or scrapbooks or knitting booties. :-) I'm talking about a writer's baby - the project that, for whatever reason, is a little bit closer to his or her heart than all the others. For many writers, it's their first (often badly written) novel, or the "book of their heart" that they haven't shown to anyone because either agents or editors are saying that type of thing doesn't sell, or it reveals too much of themselves for comfort.

For whatever reason, the writer's baby often spends years in hiding. It might be shoved in a drawer or tucked away in some rarely visited folder on a computer, or even locked inside the writer's head, because the writer fears the exposure even to him or her self. The simple act of putting those precious words into readable form, the writer thinks, might destroy them forever.

Eventually, though, the writer begins to feel an urge to bring that baby out. The labor period for the baby project might last months, or even years in the case of a trunked novel - one that needs so much work, it seems easier to simply start a new project. But sooner or later, the writer cannot resist the cramping, the push of the baby project, and one way or another, will find a way to introduce their baby to the world.

My baby wasn't my first novel. I wrote two entire manuscripts before I realized that the genre I was writing, at the time, wasn't right for me. The third novel I wrote became my baby - and not just a novel, but a series of six. I had such grand plans for my baby. I was going to take the reading public's breath away, amaze them with this epic, intricate tale populated with tough but lovable (or at least sympathetic) thugs, street fighters, dealers, prostitutes, murderers and monsters. I wrote, abandoned, rewrote, revised, wrote again. Eventually I had book one finished. And it was grand. Exciting. Amazing.

Or so I thought. Unfortunately, agents and publishers did not agree with my assessment. Hundreds of them looked at my baby and said, "It's...um, well, ugly. We don't want it."

I ranted and railed against the system, as foolish new writers are wont to do. I would show them. I wrote the second book in the series, and the third. Then I destroyed the third book and wrote it all over again. Eventually, I realized something: all those agents and publishers were right. My baby was ugly. For a while I ignored it and wrote the fourth book--and then, faced with the daunting task of another complete overhaul of the first one, I turned to yet another genre.

I wrote more novels. From time to time, I revisited my baby, tweaking it, making it look and sound nicer. I had a ton of help along the way. Some of it, from my fantastic crit partners and from editors I didn't end up getting to work with, was great. Some of it was...well, not so great. Some of it was abrasive, cruel, and downright insane.

Working in my new genre, I secured an agent! At last! And my agent rocks, but the first book she represented me didn't sell. This time it wasn't because of the writing. The book was a little too quirky to shelve. So I wrote yet another novel - and my agent sold it! I had a two-book deal with a big NYC publisher!*

But my baby wasn't going to New York. By this time, it had been through countless revisions and only resembled the original crap--er, novel in the most basic plot form. And I decided that it was finally time. Time to introduce the world to this poor, abused, battered, time-worn series that I'd been chipping and hacking away at for an entire decade.

Yesterday, my baby was born into the world. Please allow me to introduce you: BROKEN ANGEL, book one of the House Phoenix series, an epic and exciting tale of tough but lovable (or at least sympathetic) street fighters, prostitutes, thugs, killers and monsters. And my baby is not so ugly any more.

One rule: don't lose.

When Gabriel Morgan's sister disappears somewhere in New York's underground, he'll do anything to save her. But finding her is only the beginning, because Marcus Slade won't let her go for less than ten million dollars – earned through Gabriel's blood.

Slade, one of five ruthless leaders of an organization identified only by a symbol, runs hookers and street fighters, and never gives up what's his. Including Gabriel's sister. To win her freedom, Gabriel is forced to undergo a brutal training program with Slade's top fighters in order to become one of them. He is branded, broken, given a new image, and a new name.

In the ring, Gabriel is known as Angel…and he does not lose.

Because the price for losing is his sister's life.

Available from:

Lyrical Press


Amazon (Kindle format)

Coming in print, summer 2010

*Oh, I love my "big" urban fantasy series too! And all my other novels that don't suck. :-)


Kim Smith said...

Congrats!! I know how much it means to send our "babies" into the world and how we struggle not to scream too loud when they take off and fly. You deserve the scream. GO on! DO IT!

s.w. vaughn said...


There. I feel better now. :-)

Marta Stephens said...

It's about time someone out there woke up to the reality that it's a great series! A huge congrats!! Should we have a baby shower?

Rhonda Leah said...

Congrats SW!! I totally get the first ms or even first published book not being your "baby" or whatever, I was pretty detached from the 1st one, the next that's my baby - aaaaaaaaaaahhh!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

I must be some kind of a sick voyeur, because I've been waiting and watching for this baby to be born for quite a few years. I loved the first, second, and all versions of the book, frankly. I think you could have successfully sold it as it was and it would have been a screaming success. You were a helluva writer then, and are - incredibly - even better now. But it's often all about timing and luck, as we all know. I'm thrilled that Angel, Shiro, and yes... even JENNER will be introduced to the world now. I bought my copy and encourage everyone out there to do the same!