My muse isn’t cooperating

Myrtle the Evil Muse has decided she’s had enough. She’s informed me I am no longer being a good writer and doing as she says. She’s fed up with me looking at things like sales trends, genre and sub-genre rankings and the like. Oh, then there’s her absolute disgust with me for even considering ending a series or two. How dare I! She put good effort into making me write the books in the first place. How could I be so ungrateful?

The above sounds a bit silly and more than a bit concerning where my sanity is concerned, but it pretty much describes my life right now. Destiny from Ashes is the last book in the Honor & Duty series. That doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be more stories with Ashlyn Shaw and company being part of them. It just means this story arc has reached its end.

But Myrtle is NOT happy.

Nor was she happy when Nocturnal Lives came to an end. It didn’t matter there was going to be a couple of transition short stories or novellas. Nor did it matter that it wasn’t the end of stories featuring Mac Santos. All my evil muse cared about was I wasn’t doing exactly–and I do mean exactly–what she wanted.

All this is a way of telling you that there are times when a writer’s business sense might not always align with what their writing heart wants to do. But writing is a business, at least if you want to make money for your effort. That means you have to pay attention to how you promote your work, what your sell through is from one book to another, etc. 

It also means being ruthlessly honest with yourself about where your head is when you’re writing a book or series.

There’s something else you have to take into account as well. Sometimes a writer simply has to step away from an ongoing series to recharge the creative juices. Then there are the cases where the writer starts having to deal with something close to hate mail from fans because they dared write books that aren’t part of th series those fans adore.

This was brought home the other day when I was reading a new-to-me author. I’d discovered this author thanks to an anthology another author I follow was in. I enjoyed this author’s story and searched out a couple of their books in the same series as the novella in the anthology. But what caught my eye was a “letter” to the readers in the back of one of those books. The author was–rightly so, in my opinion–giving some of their fans a talking to about their behavior. It seems these particular fans just love the series I was reading. That’s a good thing. But then they tried some of the author’s other books, books that are darker and don’t have the humor and snark of the series in question. How dare the author spend time writing those books and not giving them the books they want?

Worse, these fans were leaving reviews on Amazon and other sites. Those reviews not only impact the way Amazon and other sites recommend the books in question to other readers, but it impact readers who check reviews before buying.

As a result, this particular author has announced an end is coming to the series in question. As the author stated, it takes a lot more effort–at least for them–to write humor and snark than it does dark and scary.

Veering back onto the path, recharging the creative juices is necessary. I’ve been doing that with Mac Santos and friends by taking a time jump of a few years and changing Mac’s role in the DPD and in the paranormal community. It’s allowed me to bring in some new characters, change the world a bit, and give her new purpose. 

Fire Striker was my recharge book. It was supposed to be a standalone novel. Now it is a series. I’m excited to get going on the next book in the series and show you where the world is going. The world is a darker place than what I’ve written before and Morgan, the main character, is more grey than any of my other main characters. Her sense of justice doesn’t necessarily mean following the law. She’s been shaped by her past and it won’t take much to push her from avenging angel to dark demon. There is still a great deal about her to discover, both for me and for the reader, and I can’t wait to get back to that journey.

Designation: Frejya is another recharge book. Myrtle the Evil Muse is solely responsible for this book. She might try to deny it, but I know the truth. You see, I woke up one morning with the following echoing in my head:

I was five when they came for my brother. I was thirteen when they came for me. At twenty, they sent me to war, an AI embedded in my brain make sure I didn’t remember my past or question my orders. Not that they told me that part.

And that was their mistake. They might have enhanced me, trained me, but they didn’t break me and, with Menhit in my head, I am about to become their worst nightmare. . .if they don’t kill me first.

There was more, close to five pages, I remembered and was able to transcribe–even before coffee. But that was all Myrtle gave me. So I filed it away for later review. Then this summer came along and, with Myrtle pitching her fit because I wasn’t paying attention to her, I pulled it out and decided this was the time to write it.

And boy have I been having fun with it. This book is totally different from Honor & Duty. I feel like I am once again stretching my creative wings. Fortunately (?), Myrtle has let me do so while she’s sulked and tried to convince me not to end H&D. The only thing keeping her from going fully on strike has been a promise that we’ll see at least some of the characters from H&D in later works.

Now I need to get back to work. Until later!

9 comments

    1. Oh yeah. And quit thinking it’s funny to take us down one path to a dead end before going “oopsy!” and giggling hysterically as it runs in the opposite direction.

  1. I had an idea for a story set in Scotland just after the Romans departed. Four years later, having finally gotten boots-on-the-gound and research started, the story is going in a WHOLE ‘nother direction than I’d sort of imagined. My muse said “OK, you’ve got two urban fantasy series, with a spin-off series started. Fine. you need something totally off the wall now.” So here goes . . .

  2. My muse is doing nothing except working on a new idea.

    I can’t even figure out where to carve off the backstory.

  3. Amazon reviews are a strange beast.

    How do I communicate “I will buy every one of this authors books” and simultaneously say “This particular book was probably the worst one of the series, it dragged on too long and the action scenes were sloppy but I enjoyed it anyways and am looking forward to the next” — with 5 stars?

      1. My inner consistency demon screams BUT WHAT DOES 4 STARS MEAN THEN?!?

        And then my programming background kicks in and I want them to define exactly what a star actually represents so each user gives an answer that is appropriate and useable.

        And then the realist pipes up and reminds me that the internet is built on bullshit and paperclips anyways, so just slam that 5 star and stop worrying about it.

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