Here We Go

I’ve been trying to talk myself out of blogging about this. It’s way too soon. Ghost’s book hasn’t even come out yet. There are too many things that are subject to change at this point.

But at the same time, I really, really wanna. Because I’m excited about it. I’m having fun, you guys.

Since I have the impulse control of a five-year-old, I’m gonna give it a shot.

A few months ago, as I was wrapping up Ghost’s book, my publisher asked me what I wanted to work on next. And I got incredibly nervous, because the answer was—in my mind, at least—sort of a big, daring change. You wouldn’t believe how wrapped up in my own drama I got. I was like, but it’s changing my brand and readers might not want to follow me to something new and my publisher is going to freak and lots of people don't even like this new subject and I can’t believe I don’t have a sandwich right freaking now.

Told you. Dramatic.

And I came to the conclusion that the new idea—tantalizing and fun though it seemed—was simply impractical. I am a grownup, I reasoned, and I have bills to pay and marketing to do and an audience to build, and none of that happens if I flit after my plot bunnies into all sorts of weird, unrelated places.

So I put it aside.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I tried to put it aside.

But here’s the thing. I really, really wanted to write it.

See, the Woodbury Boys series is a lot of things, but lighthearted it ain’t. And Ghost’s book was especially difficult in terms of subject matter, and by the time I was done with that one, I was completely burned out in terms of suspense and violence and characters with bleak backstories.

At which point I kind of freaked, because romantic suspense, you guys. That’s my thing. It’s my BRAND, and in publishing, BRAND is something you don’t fool around with. It helps readers find you and like you and trust you enough to keep buying your books. And for me that's romantic suspense.

My tagline is "Rough-edged Romance, Sharp-edged Suspense" for crying out loud.

Which, fortunately, is when a very wise lady at Carina Press sorta slapped me upside the head (metaphorically, of course, because she’s nice and also we were on the phone), and explained that I’d been doing brand wrong. Romantic suspense is a genre. Brand is something else.

So what is my actual brand?

I'm glad you asked.

One thing I’ve noticed over the last few years is that reviews of my books (which I try hard not to read, with an obvious lack of success) tend to mention one specific thing over and over that I do well. Characterization. Readers may not always like or agree with my characters, but I’ve yet to hear anyone say that they aren’t well-developed. Which is a massive compliment, of course, and it’s kind of my favorite thing to hear.

The wise lady from Carina Press mentioned my characters too. That was my brand, she said. Complex characterization. We talked about it some more, and we added banter and gritty, real-life emotional stresses to that list as well.

So when it came time for me to propose something new to Carina, I realized that my new idea is completely on-brand after all. Complex characters with hard-to-manage motivations? Check. Gritty, real-life emotional stresses? Check, check. Banter? Oh, man. So much freaking banter. You have no idea.

The point was to lighten up a little, after all. Banter coming out of my ears.

So if you read Bad Judgment because you’re into gun running or if you read The Woodbury Boys because you’re into organized crime and crooked cops, this new stuff is maybe not going to thrill you, because there’s not going to be any guns or violence like that upcoming. But if you read my books because you like screwups who have to deal with complicated life-stuff while being sarcastic and cursing a lot and pining for inappropriate people, then you’ll probably like this new stuff I’m working on.

And because I’m still me, burned out or not, I managed to find a good-looking guy with a bleak background to stuff in there somewhere despite my best efforts.

Now I have a completely, utterly, entirely unrelated question. Total segue. Change of direction. No connection whatsoever to the previous topic. I swear. I swear.

Do you guys like hockey?