A long time ago - as I start all my origin stories - I came up with the idea for a story. It was originally called "Victory" and was inspired by an episode of a history TV show about the witch trials of Salem, and partially inspired by the novel The Kitchen Boy, by August Li. It was about 10 pages long, with only 2 scenes really clear in my mind when I initially wrote it.
For years, it remained nothing more than an idea. A document on my hard drive that got removed from my laptop to free up space, because nothing was going to happen with it for a while.
Then my publisher asked if any of us had fairytale re-tellings for an anthology. I'd been writing MM for a long time, but hadn't really considered a re-telling before, so I though I might try it. I scoured my hard drive for suitable stories, came across 'Victory' and thought maybe it might fit. It would need to be changed, though. So, I sat down, re-read what I had written and didn't like it. Not unusual for me.
The basics of the plot was this - it was a fantasy setting, with a King who was bored and young, who was a bit reckless and lonely. One day, a dozen or so 18-30 year old peasants are brought to the castle as potential servants (a sort of pay-it-back tradition of his family). He sees one boy who takes his fancy, but ignores the instinct and accepts him and a few others to work in the palace. He does indulge himself by placing the boy he likes as his personal assistant. As the plot was originally for a solo novel or a short story, there wasn't a lot of plans for the in between stages. I just knew that one day, the King would step into a huge sunken floor bath and ask the assistant to bathe him, as was the way it should be. But the assistant is all puppy-eyes and the King takes the risk of commanding him to make it a bit more than a bath, if you know what I mean ;) So, they fool around and continue to fool around for about a month or so, the King showing obvious favour and unaware that the other servants take it out on his assistant in jealousy. One particular day, a few of the servants corner the assistant in the kitchens, beat him brutally. But - huzzah! - the King walks in, stops it all and takes the assistant back to his royal chambers to be cared for. Lots of caring, consoling, loving, and confessions later, and the King asks the assistant to be his royal consort.
A little pedestrian, maybe, looking back. Too simple, too nonsensical, and a bit dull. At least, that was what I thought when I re-read it, wondering why I'd ever thought it was a good idea in the first place.
Then I thought about whether it could be changed into a fairytale re-telling, or if I should abandon the idea and move on. What if the King was a little bit hideous? What if he was the Beast, and it was a twist on Beauty and the Beast? Nope. I didn't like that. And, I had actually done that just a little with my Royal Craving novel, so I didn't want to try to repeat it. Then I thought about how the assistant got to the castle in the first place. Maybe it wasn't an accident.
I began to write and came up with a twist on the Sleeping Beauty/Maleficent idea. I came up with the idea that the assistant was the "Aurora" of the story, but instead of being cursed as a baby, and instead of there being the King love interest, I would make it even more interesting. I would make the King the Maleficent figure - the rightful heir to the throne, ousted unfairly, and determined to regain his kingdom. The "Aurora" MC would be stolen as a baby, from the evil new King, and would be - unbeknownst to everyone but me - the soul mate of the rightful heir. It was brilliant. I had done it.
Except, I didn't really anticipate how it would work out, on paper. Sure, I wrote the story. I tried to make it a short story, but there wasn't enough time for all that I wanted to include in the plot. So including it in the anthology was out. I kept writing, anyway, knowing that it was a good story. Believing that it could be amazing. It grew...and grew...and grew...until it was nearly 100k of a novel and had twisted into something I didn't expect, when I began writing.
It sat that way for months. I edited, I re-edited, I added snippets, then had to edit again. I loved it. It was my best work (so I thought) and it was going to be my stoke of genius.
Until, months later, I came up with the idea for the story Ascension of an Eamwulf. Which, in true fashion, took a life of its own immediately after I had the idea and became over 100k of a novel. I was even clever (*cough*cough*) enough to make my 'shifter' species something truly unique - the ancient dinofelis, which was similar to a sabretooth tiger. And, when I was done, and I started editing it, I realised that it could easily have a sequel. Which I started to brainstorm for. Which led to ideas for a trilogy.
Which led to Tephy Brezal.
Finally, right? I thought so too. Until I decided to include my rewrite of 'Victory' into the series, in its new form "Shadow and Shade". Because, then I realised that, to make the trilogy of Tephy Brezal make sense, I couldn't have a sophisticated world such as Shadow and Shade followed by the almost nomadic, Neanderthal existence of Ascension of an Eamwulf. And to combine them into the same series, I would not only have to rewrite Shadow and Shade to include the shifter-creatures, the Eamwulf, in some form, but, I would also have to move them. Which meant making Ascension the first novel in the trilogy, creating a whole new center piece that progressed the world into something more advanced, before ending with the successful, intricate world of Shadow and Shade.
Which led to renaming each of the books. And remaking the covers. And endless edits.
But, it was all worth it. Because, now, Tephy Brezal truly feels like that golden goose, the something different that could make me stand out as an author. The trilogy that could be the best thing I've ever written. It's still huge, it's still stupidly complicated in my head, but on paper, I actually love it. And I hope you will too.
I've said it for the last 2 years, but in 2019 I WILL do it! I'm determined to make sure it happens. I WILL get caught up on my Netgalley list, reading *at least* 150 books. I mean it, this time.
I also plan to publish less in 2019, only because it's necessary. I'll be releasing The Bright Side Brigade, A Royal Legacy: Part 1, and A Touch of Danger, for sure. Those books have already been accepted by publishers, and have set dates. I'm hoping to *possibly* slip in A Royal Legacy: Part 2, as well, before the end of 2019, but that will be up to whether I can get it finished in time, or not. If not, I'm hoping to at least finish my rewrites of Faithfully, a story I've been promising to update and publish for 2 years now, since it won a Watty award. I'd love to have that published in 2019, even if it means leaving A Royal Legacy: Part 2 for 2020.
I didn't include these, last year, only because I don't share much of my personal life. It's a bad habit I have that, as a writer, keeps me a little bit separate. But, this year, I want to make a few changes, starting with:
* Be kinder to myself - by this, I mean that I need to stop putting unrealistic expectations on myself, and stop fretting about the little things that I have no control over. I'm starting this before 2019, by choosing to cut back on how many books I'm publishing. Though I want to put more focus and effort into promoting them, that can be done easily throughout the course of a week/month. It's actually filling my schedule that is the problem. I can't say no to people, and I need to start doing that, by putting myself first.
* Give myself a break. This is something I'm not great at doing, but I've been forced into it a few times in 2018, and it did me a world of good. Though I was forced to take time off a lot, sometimes up to a month, due to bad health, I really think I can do better in 2019. Maybe if I took more time off by choice, I wouldn't be ill so often. So, my goal is to reward myself with 1 week off a month. Whether I binge read books that are *not* for review, binge watch the TV, or just spend time with the family for that week, as long as I'm not actually working, I'm sure I'll benefit from it.
* Reward myself. Every time I finish a story, I want to give myself the *reward* of some time off. This is a sort of sub-goal to the one above. Only, this time it will be a bit more equal to how much time I *need* to take off. So, if I spend a week or a month writing non-stop, then I'll give myself a week off from all work. If I've been writing for a few days, or I finish a short story, I'll give myself a whole day off to watch a movie or binge watch a TV show. I need to find more balance, if I'm going to stick to the long term goal.
* Try something new. Whether it's a new book genre, a new TV show, or a new hobby, I need to try to do more outside of my work. I literally write books for a living, and read books to review. I've left myself little time to do anything else, with my crazy schedule.
* Lose weight. This is something I've been trying to do for YEARS. It's not easy, considering that I'm classed as physically disabled, I have a medications that can make me put on weight, health conditions that can make me put on weight, and I'm disabled enough that I can't make my own meals. That makes it very hard to have a health lifestyle, but I try. This year, I want to break the brutal cycle of getting so sick that I lose weight, only to add on more once I'm better. In 2019, I promise to weight myself no more or less than once a month, to monitor progress and make adjustments as necessary. I'd like to lose a total of 10kg in the entire year of 2019, if possible.
* I want to finish 5 books from my WIP list, whether that's stories that have been started or that haven't, it doesn't matter. I just want to have 5 books completed by the end of the year.
* I also want to get about 10 books edited for publication. Mostly, this will be the Surviving Vihaan series, as book 1 has been accepted by NineStar Press, and will be released in Summer 2019. I want to make sure the others are up to scratch before I submit them, later.
* It sounds a bit silly to say it, but - I want to finish the Surviving Vihaan series. Yes, Book 1 has been accepted by NSP, but I only have the final book in the series to write and I want it finished before book 1 is even released, if possible.
* If I can finish Book 6 of Surviving Vihaan: Through His Veins, then I'd love to get a head-start on the follow-up series, Rediscovering Vihaan. This series will take my previously published series; The Belesone Pack, and The Secrets of Avelina Chronicles; and reimagine them as part of the Surviving Vihaan world. This will take major rewrites and may end up resulting in entirely new novels. I may even scrap the old novels, who knows?
* I'd like to re-write at least 1 book from my "re-write" list. There are less than 10 on the list, but I want to have at least one completed by the end of 2019. For this, I'm not counting Faithfully, as I started rewriting that in 2018. This means it will either be: Surrender, Evanders Trilogy, Courage in the Kiss, or the Holiday Collection.
* I want to read at least 10 Agatha Christie paperbacks. I have them all, so it's about time I actually sat down and read them in order. I'm thinking that I'll read 5 Miss Marple and 5 Hercule Poirot, to keep it even.
* I also want to read at least 150 Netgalley books, though I'd love to double that number. I have so many books approved on there, some of which I wasn't aware were series books, that I plan to read the entire series in order, even if I was only approved for book 3 or 9. I'm a series reader and I can't abide reading them out of order, even if it does mean doubling my TBR list.
* I plan to cut back on my Divine review list, only so that I can get more Netgalley books off my list. I'm getting better at saving my money for books I really want to read, so the ones that I don't have time to read (if it's going to compromise my "time off" goals) will be added to a buy list, instead. Because of that, I'll keep this list to 50.
* I'm never really bothered about how many books I get off my TBR list - despite how large it is - because I need to focus on my review/Netgalley books. However, inevitably, some of the series I'll be reading/reviewing will have books I don't *need* to review, so they'll be placed on my TBR list. Plus, it would be awesome to get some of my Kobo/Amazon purchases finally read. So, I'll keep this number to 50, though I smashed through that number last year.
Keep your fingers crossed for me!
There are a lot of books on my laptop that are started, in note form, or in a total mess and need to be fixed, rewritten, or completely scrapped. Either way, I plan to get a few of them off my list and finally sorted properly. I hate to have things unfinished, yet I'm notorious for getting distracted.
Hopefully, 2019 will be the year to fix that.
These are the priority books that I MUST get finished in 2019. I had hoped - and promised! - to have "Faithfully" completed so that it could be published in 2019 and that isn't going to happen, unfortunately. So it must get done for 2020.
Barely Even Friends is a follow-up of sorts to The Bright Side Brigade. It focuses on slightly older students, the bad boys instead of the good guys, and how they meet their match.
Hollow is a YA standalone novel with zombies, while Esthim is a standalone 18+ sci-fi novel. Secrets is the first book in the Evanders series - renamed, rebranded, and waiting to be rewritten. Demon of Ash and Ink is the first in a planned-trilogy of paranormal novels with a twist, while the top left image of a skull is the logo for The Enemy of My Enemy, book 1 in my contemporary-gang trilogy, Friends & Enemies.
With all that to do, as well as current ongoing series to finish, 2019 is going to be a busy year!
Top 10 Book-to-Screen Adaptations