Hat-Tips, Links, and Shout-Outs, News, Publishing, Shifting Isles

Unlucky (?) #13

Finally. Addiction is FINALLY here! My 13th title overall is done and behind me.

(Technically, I suppose Matchmakers could have been the 13th title, but it doesn’t really count, since it was a combined edition of books 10, 11, and 12)

And this one really felt like an unlucky 13. The story wouldn’t come together. Then edits took far longer than normal. Don’t even get me started on my indecisiveness about the cover. And then, once all was said and done, and I was ready to launch the book…

It got suppressed.

I logged in to my CreateSpace account to order paperback copies for my local readers, but the book was blocked off, unable to access. I’d never seen anything like that before.

CS contacted me and said there was a question about copyright. Did I actually own the content of the story?

That really threw me. Of course I own the content! I wrote the book. Then, in typical Type A Personality fashion, I got myself all worked up trying to figure out how to prove that. Send screenshots of my files? What? I had no idea.

Then I thought it might be because I’d recently gone through a legal name change, and updated my CS account accordingly. Did they think maybe I got hacked? At least that was a thing I could prove, but it would mean more paperwork. (Ugh, I’m so done with paperwork!)

Nope. Turned out it was just a problem with the title. Too many books with the same title, and it gets flagged. Potential plagiarism issue. In the end, all I had to do was email them a statement that I am G.R. Lyons and I do own the copyright to the content of Addiction. Simple as that. Got myself all worked up over nothing.

But after pulling teeth to get this book done and over with, seeing that little Suppressed line was like the last straw.

*wipes brow* Phew.

It’s done, now. It’s finally released. Addiction, the seventh book in the Shifting Isles series, and my 13th book overall. Wow. If you’d told me, even a few years ago, that I’d have 13 books to my name, I would have died laughing. Yet here we are. I don’t even know where it comes from sometimes.

In Addiction, we meet Princess Seryn of Ceynes, all grown up now after having been raised by Sam and Ithyn from Betrayal. She’s living with her yangkemi addiction and trying to make the best of it, but it’s preventing her from having a chance to take the throne of Ceynes, now that her father, Emperor Phaerel (who had originally disowned her) has changed the law to allow a girl to ascend the throne. She wants that throne more than (almost) anything in the world. It’s her birthright.

But then she meets a stranger from Falsin, the icy land in the north of the world, and he makes her wonder if she can have something she wants even more than the throne, something she never imagined she might be able to attain.

Both main characters are technically bisexual, but their respective cultures have different views on that sexuality. It’s not a huge part of the story, but it was an interesting exercise in fleshing out a culture and what was considered moral or taboo.

Now, I must get back to writing. Blindsighted (Book 8) is already done and in need of editing, and I’m cruising right into writing Libertas (Book 9), as well as a side trilogy, Treble and the Lost Boys, which takes place alongside Book 8 and pulls a few minor characters from there.

And that’s not counting the other 15 books I have planned…

Good gods. Someone get me a straitjacket.

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News, Publishing, Shifting Isles

Living the Dream

Well, I finally did it. I left the day job. For almost two months now, I have technically been a full-time writer.

Technically. As in, not 100% accurate. Besides the fact that I do still go in to the office a couple hours each week (hey, those accounts aren’t going to reconcile themselves), I also haven’t actually been…well, you know…writing.

At least, I wasn’t for the first several weeks. Instead of writing, I found myself sleeping in, watching films, reading (oh my gods, so much reading), playing games on my phone, and generally avoiding the world. If it hadn’t been for paying bills at the office and the desperate urge to hit the gym each night, I probably wouldn’t have left the house at all.

And I was depressed. SO FUCKING DEPRESSED. Which totally threw me off. I would sit on my couch, staring out the window, with absolutely no motivation to do anything whatsoever, and wonder, “What the hells is wrong with me? I’ve finally got what I wanted. I’m away from the day job. I’m home. I have all this time on my hands, and I could be writing, and I should be happy, but I’m not. WHY?!?!”

Quite simple, really. Change is a bitch.

Yeah, I got what I wanted, but even so, it was change. Pure and simple. And my brain does not like change.

I felt completely lost without the routine I’ve held for the past 17 years. Spend that many years getting up at 5 am, getting to work at 7, working straight through until at least 5 pm, then going home and doing it all over again the next day…yeah, it’s hard to train the mind out of needing that schedule. My brain and body expected one thing, and suddenly I’d thrown something else entirely at them, and I didn’t know how to handle it.

So I spent the first few weeks of full-time authorhood doing abso-fucking-lutely nothing.

And in some ways, it was GLORIOUS.

I’ve complained for years that I had no time to really live because I was always working. But now? Now I can do anything. I can go see things I’ve never seen. I can spend time with people I never had time for before. I can go to the market on a Tuesday! Not strictly on Sundays, but a Tuesday! I can walk down to my favorite restaurant and enjoy a plate of strawberry-and-cream-cheese French toast while I write…on any day of the week! I know this probably all sounds so simple and silly, but it absolutely blows my mind.

(Seriously. Don’t become a workaholic. It’s soooo bad for you.)

Still, that transition was rough, and I had a hard time understanding why. One of my CrossFit coaches put it best: “It’s like you’ve been deep-sea diving for the past 17 years, and now you’re coming up for air. Going through decompression is going to take time.”

Brilliant, that.

So, I rode out the transition, learned to stop hating myself for not getting anything done, and allowed myself to just enjoy the downtime. Now, I’m well into the next book. Not as far along as I’d hoped I’d be at this point in the year, but I’m finally making good progress, and having all these days stretched out in front of me that can be filled with nothing but writing — or whatever I want — is making the future look bright.

At this point, Addiction (Shifting Isles, Book 7) is about halfway done, and should be released within the next few months. After that, I’ll be diving into Blind Love (Book 8) and Libertas (Book 9) before taking another side-step like I did with the Matchmakers trilogy and throwing myself headlong into another m/m romance project, which will run alongside Shifting Isles books 8 and 9. Beyond those…well, too many other books to count. I swear, the ideas just won’t stop coming. (Speaking of which, I’ve also submitted a short story to the Agorist Writer’s Workshop 2017 fantasy anthology. Still waiting to hear if my story was accepted, but if it is, it’ll be one small part of the whole Shifting Isles experience. But more on that later…) And I finally have time to pursue them.

This can’t last forever. I know that. Unless the stars align and I somehow manage to become well-known enough that I can sell enough books to pay my bills, I know I’ll eventually have to go back to work. The money in my savings won’t just magically stay there. But, in the meantime, I’m going to embrace this chance I’ve given myself. I could have played it safe. Stayed at the day job. But then, I could die tomorrow and regret not having taken this chance while I could. And the more I think about it, the more I appreciate the idea that this was absolutely the right step for me.

Scary? Yes. Risky? Absolutely. But so worth it. I’m throwing everything on the line to pursue my dream, my passion. Will I succeed? Well, technically speaking, I already have.

I’m not a bestseller, and probably won’t ever be, but I’ve rearranged my life in order to be a full-time writer, and that in itself is the greatest gift I could have imagined.

Inspiration, Shifting Isles, Teasers and Excerpts

Awkward: Party of One [includes an excerpt from Betrayal]

It seems to be a general understanding that writers are socially-awkward creatures. We’re in our heads, making up fake people and fake places and fake scenarios all the time, too wrapped up in our thoughts to be aware of the fact that there’s a real world out there, with real people in it.

Real people who might run into us and wonder if we’re not slightly off our rockers.

I was in the midst of writing Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6) when I had a particularly awkward and embarrassing situation.

Because my brain-mouth connection is just awesome.

I was lying in bed one night, thinking about the plot, when an idea for a scene ran through my head. The dialogue and action played out just right, and I knew it would be a good addition to the story. But did I get up and immediately write it down? No. Of course not. Because I knew, I just knew, I’d remember it all the next morning.

I always do. Somehow, my writer memory is, by far, the most reliable part of my memory. Everything else falls by the wayside. But my stories? Stick like glue.

Except this time. This time, I woke the next morning, and had no fucking clue what the scene entailed.

I remembered an argument, but that was about it. It was something between the main character, Sam, and his fellow mage, Ithyn. But what they argued about, and why, completely eluded me.

Normally, when this memory lapse happens, it only takes a few minutes of thinking it over for the whole scene to come rushing back.

Nope. Not this time. This time, I agonized for hours. What the hells was the scene? What were they arguing about? Why couldn’t I remember?

I needed just a clue. A keyword. A hint. Something to bring it all back.

And, of course, being the awesome socially-awkward person I am, it all came to me in a public setting. Most likely work (since, let’s face it, where the hells else do I ever go outside my house?), possibly the grocery store, definitely somewhere that involved other people.

“Whore!” That’s it. That’s the keyword I needed.

And, of course, I said it out loud.

Cue the what-the-fuck looks from people around me.

And cue the furious blush on my face.

Yeah, y’all totally didn’t just hear me say ‘whore’ randomly just now. You imagined it. Totally didn’t happen. Wasn’t me. Carry on.

At least–thank gods–I salvaged the scene, but I definitely could have done without that particular moment of revelation.

So, without further ado, here’s part of the scene in question, in which Sam recovers from having taken an unknown substance from amidst the stock of herbs and drugs that Ithyn–a specialist in healing–keeps on hand. The scene references the Erosti Guildmates, who are renowned throughout the world of the Shifting Isles for being highly-trained professionals in all manner of entertainments (sex, massage, singing, dancing, cooking, etc.). To be particularly crass, they are–to some–nothing but glorified whores.

Enjoy!

 

 

WHEN SAM came to, he found a blurry figure bent over him, swimming in his vision.

Shhh-sh-sh. Do not move,” a voice murmured.

Sam tried to lift his head, then groaned and closed his eyes again.

Drink this,” the soft voice said as a hand slipped around the back of Sam’s neck and cradled his head, lifting it slightly as a cup was touched to his lips.

Sam drank, and gagged, but the person holding the cup wouldn’t let him stop. The foul concoction was forced into his mouth, so Sam had no choice but to swallow as quickly as possible or choke.

Finally, the cup was taken away and Sam’s head was rested back down. Panting, Sam blinked heavily several times before his vision began to clear and he was able to make out Ithyn leaning over him.

Gods all around, Samril.” Ithyn sighed, gently pressing his wrist to Sam’s forehead. “What were you thinking?”

Sam tried to answer, felt his stomach lurch in response, and shut his mouth again.

Ithyn shook his head. “You nearly killed yourself, do you realize that?”

Sam’s eyes went wide, but he still couldn’t speak quite yet. Killed myself? What the hells did I take?

Ithyn continued looking him over, checking his pulse, examining his eyes and tongue, feeling the glands under his jaw, then sat back with another sigh. “Thank Kalos, I was able to determine which powder you took. Why did you not simply wait for me? I might have been able to assist you with…whatever it was you were attempting to accomplish.”

Needed,” Sam whispered, testing his voice, “an escape.”

Oh, Sam.” Ithyn sighed. “But to take your own life?”

Sam slowly shook his head, thankful the room didn’t spin when he did so. “Wasn’t my intention.”

What was your intention?”

Just…a break. A little break from the world.”

And you used that?” Ithyn asked incredulously.

Sam shrugged and slowly sat up. He found himself on the sofa in Ithyn’s sitting room, not far from where he’d collapsed on the floor. “It did say For Master Shyford.”

Ithyn gave him a puzzled look, then glanced over at the table where all the herbs were arranged. He gave an exasperated sigh and shook his head. “That note had nothing to do with the powders. It was for the books I placed in your room the day you arrived, and I simply forgot to discard the note. Besides, you had my jars all out of arrangement, anyway. How could you possibly match the note to one of them?”

Sam felt the tips of his ears go red. He really had made a bad assumption there.

The blue one looked like–”

Like what?” Ithyn asked when Sam broke off and fell silent.

Sam shook his head. Father’s love, I’m an idiot. He knew herb lore was not his strong point. “Looked just like the drug the Guildmate gave me.”

A puzzled look flashed across Ithyn’s face before it gave way to a stony expression. “I see,” he bit off. Then he was silent for a moment before he suddenly jumped up from his perch on the edge of the sofa and went over to the table, roughly rearranging the bottles and keeping his back to Sam.

Sam slowly sat up, testing his body for any further pain or dizziness, and turned to look at Ithyn. “Did I say something wrong?”

Ithyn paused his movements, gave a tight shake of his head, and went back to whatever he was doing.

Sam stood. “Ithyn, look, I’m sorry I messed with your bottles there. I just–”

Ithyn whirled on him. “You know, when you cavort with whores, you are no better than one yourself.”

Sam’s eyes went wide. “Excuse me? You’re calling me a whore?”

You have been with one,” Ithyn accused. “You admitted as much yourself.” He paused and gave Sam a quick once-over. “And more than once, if I had to guess.”

He’s not a whore!” Sam threw up his hands.

Ithyn clasped his hands before himself, the posture on him somehow more threatening than if he’d crossed his arms over his chest. “Does he accept payment in return for bodily pleasures?”

Of course.”

Whore,” Ithyn reiterated, and turned back to his jars and bottles.

Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6) is now available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle formats!

News, Publishing, Shifting Isles

And With No Fanfare Whatsoever…

I released a book two weeks ago, and barely posted a damned thing about it.

It certainly wasn’t for lack of satisfaction with the book. I’m much happier than I initially thought I would be with the story, considering how much I struggled with the plot line (shades of Broken all over again). Although, I didn’t really consider just how content I was with the story until I gave it that final proof copy read-through right before releasing it. There was this constant sense of “it’s technically done” until that final reading, and then I was hit with a sense of “I actually really enjoyed reading that.”

A little backwards from the usual, but whatever works, I suppose.

Overall, I think I’m just … tired.

Too much life change going on at once, and I think it just became more overwhelming than I realized. For an introverted Highly Sensitive Person, change is never a good thing, even when it’s voluntarily chosen. Selling my house and moving was monumental enough. Starting hormone therapy and watching / feeling my body change was a whole other level of stress, even though desired. Hiring someone and training her to take over my day job so I could eventually do the full-time writer gig….I think that just pushed me beyond my limit.

It’s all I can do to drum up the energy to go in to work each day, let alone train her. It’s all I can do to simply adult lately. I forget to pay my bills (which NEVER happens). I forget to do my chores. I put off anything and everything to do with writing, editing, brainstorming, marketing.

Because I just don’t want to.

I’m not giving up on writing. Not even close. It’s definitely still my life-long passion, and I’ve still got (at last count) at least 20 more books to put out, to add to the 12 I have out now. I think I simply overdid things, and might need to take another step back.

Which just kills me, considering the nine-month long dry spell I suffered last year, which set my whole writing schedule back in the first place. Betrayal should have been out last year, not to mention two more that follow it, but now they’ll (hopefully) be coming out this year instead. I just need to ease myself through this depressive funk I’m in and get my head back in the game.

As for Betrayal, though…

This is the first book in the Shifting Isles series that is written entirely in one character’s perspective, rather than switching between the two (or three) MCs. In this book, we get Sam’s story, when he goes off to Ceynes to be personal mage to the emperor there after the resolution of the Westfield virus scandal in The Five-Hour Wife. In Betrayal, we follow Sam as he tries to navigate his new post while also juggling a very unexpected new attraction that just might help him get over his long-unrequited love of his best friend, not to mention trying to make sense of the prophecy that brought him to Ceynes in the first place.

One thing I love about this story is the constant mix of places and technology. Sam goes from Agoran (which is more technologically advanced than our own real world) to Ceynes, which is something like medieval England. There’s even a little sprinkling of Jadu’n, the magical Isle where the magi live, as well as Erostil, the tropical Isle where the Erosti Guildmates (essentially, glorified prostitutes) are trained. One minute, Sam’s in a world with electricity and mobile phones, and the next, he’s in a place where the height of technology is candles and horse-drawn carriages.

And the Westfield virus scandal may not be quite as resolved as Sam thought…

There will be magic. And winged horses. And danger. And secrets. And lots of flirting between Sam and a certain silver-haired mage, which is just about the only thing that keeps Sam sane while he tries to deal with a cocky boy king who sits on the throne of Ceynes.

And there will be betrayal.

Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6) now available on CreateSpace and Amazon.com (in both Print and Kindle formats).

I Novel, JA Wood, News, Publishing, Shifting Isles

Back on the Box

Wow, what a crazy few months. Back in October, my entire foundation felt pulled out from under me. Deciding to sell my house with the intention of banking the proceeds so I could afford to try the full-time writer gig was a HUGE change, but apparently that’s how I do things. I trudge along, tolerating, tolerating, tolerating — whatever the problem may be — then finally snap and make a big decision, and never look back.

The process of selling the house, moving, and getting settled in at my new place took longer than I’d hoped, but it’s finally done. And I’ve found a sense of home again, something I was afraid would be always lacking. My entire mental well-being was so wrapped up in my house that I wasn’t sure I’d ever find that sense of stability and comfort ever again, but now that I’m unpacked, settled in, and have a new routine, my foundation is once again stable. I’m home. I have a new writing space, and I love it. It’s perfect.

And, next week, my day job replacement starts training. Which means I’m not far from being able to finally leave the place I’ve worked for almost 17 years (half my life!), and try to write full-time. It’s a scary prospect, but I have to try it. It’s either that or continue in a dead-end, unchallenging job that leaves me feeling like I merely exist rather than live. I want to live.

Now that all the pieces are falling into place, I’m finally writing again. Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6) was supposed to have been out last June, but after releasing the Matchmakers Trilogy, I just seemed to lose all motivation to write. Life, eh?

But Betrayal is now finished, and just getting a last few touch-ups with the red pen before I slog through the tedious process of formatting and setup, getting the files ready for publication. It’ll be so worth it, though. I miss that feeling of having a new proof copy in my hands. I can’t wait.

(Aaaaaand I even got back on my box jumps. Not well, and not every time — I still have to build myself up to them — but they’re not insurmountable anymore.)

As for what’s in store for the rest of the year? All going well, I’m hoping to get back to my previous schedule and also have books 7, 8, and 9 in the Shifting Isles series released throughout the year. If I have time for it, I may even throw in another m/m romance trilogy that the Muse has been teasing me with for several months now. And that’s not even counting the remaining 5 books in the Shifting Isles series after Book 9, and the standalone that takes place before the events in the series, and the other series that takes place before the standalone, and another side series I’m toying with, and…

Yeah. Straitjacket. I need one.

So many books to write, so little time…

Inspiration, Publishing, Shifting Isles

[Insert Relieved, Maniacal Laugh Here]

You wanna know the absolute worst part of being an indie author?

It’s not the editing, even though editing sucks, especially when you’ve got no one to do it but yourself. The long hours, the endless eye strain, the sheer boredom of reading the same story over and over and over and over and– Well, you get the picture. No, it’s not the editing.

It’s not the marketing, either. And I hate that part. I suck at marketing — it’s not my strong point, and it’s not something I’ve been brave enough to do, until recently — so that’s a part of being self-published that I absolutely never look forward to.

It’s not the lack of money. Sometimes it feels like I’m light years away from being a full-time author (mostly because of that damned marketing thing), and as much as I’d love to leave my day job, it’s just not in the cards, because I’m not selling enough books to come close to covering my expenses, and probably never will (again, that whole marketing thing).

It’s not the formatting. All those tedious hours of wrestling with a computer program to make sure the text wraps and indents just right so as to satisfy my OCD. All that time spent trying to get a footer to appear on certain pages and not on others, and trying to get my computer to keep up with every page layout change I make.

No, the absolute worst possible thing about being an indie author is…

POST BOOK FUNK.

Yes, Post Book Funk. A state of being, after releasing a book, in which the mind cannot even begin to fathom starting another project because it just finished a project and holy hell that was a lot of work and do we really want to do this again and maybe we just need a little break. But wait, now it’s turned into no inspiration whatsoever and now I can’t write and good gods what am I doing?!?!

I. Hate. Post Book Funk. So much. Like you would not believe. Like hate, hate, double hate, loathe entirely. It’s miserable. It’s awful. It’s full of so much unbelievable what-the-fuckery…I can’t even tell you. It’s bad. So bad, I’m going to capitalize it. Because yeah. It’s a thing.

In the past, Post Book Funk would drag me down for a few days — couple weeks at the most — and then I’d bounce back and be on to the next project. No big deal. Life goes on. All is well. But this time? Oh, this time…

I must have really done a number on my brain by trying to do three books at once, because Post Book Funk has been tormenting me for weeks. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even think about writing. Couldn’t even jot down notes or outline or anything at all. It got to the point that I wondered if I would ever write again and maybe my life was over and why was I even trying to be a writer.

Post Book Funk turns me into a total douchebag asshole, too, apparently. I was punching things (bad) and snapping at customers (way bad) and not even bothering to hold my tongue with telemarketers (okay, so I don’t really feel bad about that one at all because, really, in sixteen years of working at this day job, not once have we ever actually needed something someone was trying to sell us, and telemarketers take me away from my customers, so they’re nothing better than a complete waste of time). It got to the point that I was hating myself but still unable to stop myself from being a total douchebag asshole, and quitting time never looked so good.

But today…Ah, today.

Today, something snapped. Today, I actually outlined something.

Alright, admittedly, NOT the book I’m supposed to be working on. I’m still having trouble getting my motivation worked back around to the next book in the Shifting Isles series, but at least my mind is finally on something. Anything. Good bloody effing gods, I will take any inspiration whatsoever right now. Anything but the dreaded Post Book Funk.

So, yeah. Today I started outlining three new novels, and brainstorming yet another new book idea (which could potentially turn into a whole series of its own). Still not making any progress on Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6), which was originally supposed to have been released back in June, and is now looking like it might not see the light of day until December, at the earliest, but at least the dam seems to have finally broken and I’m thinking about something.

Thank. Effing. Gods.

Hat-Tips, Links, and Shout-Outs, News, Publishing, Shifting Isles

What Matters Most

So, a funny thing happened on the way to this post. I was all geared up to go into some serious ranting. So much ranting. All the ranting. I had a whole list of people who needed to be eviscerated in print and I was ready to rip into them.

From the guy who got pissed at me because I couldn’t tell him why another business across town wasn’t answering their phones (Seriously? Am I fucking omniscient?) to the SJW morons who don’t know a thing about economics (Hello? Supply and Demand is called a law for a reason, and do you know what happens when you mess with natural laws? That’s right. Bad stuff.), from the woman who let her children run rampant around my office while I was trying to answer the phones and couldn’t hear a damned thing (Discipline, anyone?) to images.duckduckgo.comthe people who get pissed at me for not wanting to work late or on the weekend even after I’ve told them I’ve already been stuck in the office over 60 hours this week and I’m exhausted and can no longer think straight (Apparently I’m supposed to be a robot just because I work in customer service?), from the guy who threw a fit because we charged him for a service he agreed to, signed for, and we performed while he proceeded to tell us we were thieves and must be raking in the dough (What part of “We actually lose money on this service” did he honestly not understand?) to the guy at the parts store who had no fucking clue how to do his job and I wound up doing it for him over the phone (Seriously, what are they teaching kids these days? Nothing?), from the people who assume I’m a Democrat just because I’m trans to the people who assume I’m a Republican just because I shootback gadsend flagpractically run a small business in a conservative town (Actually, if you want to know, I’m neither. I’m anarcho-capitalist, the best of both worlds. I’m more economically conservative than the conservatives and more socially liberal than the liberals.), from…

Well, you get the idea.

Lots of people. So many people. I had a whole list of people who were two second away from getting punched in the dick. Possibly even myself (even though I don’t have one…yet) because all the noise and stupidity of the day had gone well beyond the limits of my high sensitivity (yes, apparently, it’s a thing – complete mental overload, and boy have I got it) and I was quickly turning into an asshole. Hence, the desire to punch dicks.

So violent, right? Like, so much violence. All the violence. There was going to be blood. So much blood. All the blood.

Alright, so maybe I’ve been reading a bit too much TJ Klune lately…

Anyway, moving along.

So I was in a fully misanthropic state of mind, ready to go on a rage-blind rant, because my life, when I got a phone call.

Let me back up a bit, first.

A few months ago, the outside sales rep for one of our suppliers came in for one of his usual visits. He brought along a representative from one of their manufacturers. This representative (read: Completely Stereotypical Salesman) proceeded to give his little presentation, all the while spewing obligatory compliments and flashing cheesy grins like any Completely Stereotypical Salesman would do. Since I have a little ad propped up on the counter for my first book, BookCoverImageThe Prisoner, he of course had to filter into his sales pitch some gushing remarks about how wonderful it was that I was a writer and self-published and how proud I ought to be of myself. I’ve had lots of salesmen behave exactly like this when they come into the shop, and it always falls flat. No matter how much they gush, it’s obvious they don’t mean a word of it. So I did the polite smile-and-nod thing like I always do in this situation, just knowing he was spewing bullshit (shows what I know), and the conversation went on.

At the end, just as he’s about to walk out the door, he turns back and pulls out his wallet, saying he wants to support a budding author and buy my book.

Now, I was pretty sure he wasn’t actually going to read it, but…hells, a sale is a sale, so I sold him a book and he left.

Then, yesterday, completely out of the blue, I get a phone call.

You probably don’t remember me, but I was in there with Larry…bought your book…finally got a chance to read it…”

I was just starting to get a vague memory of who the guy was when he completely bowled me over.

I just…wow. This book … It’s absolutely amazing. Like, I couldn’t put it down. I just totally got all the relationships between the characters and the tragedy of the guy feeling like he failed his son and how the woman died and it all just worked and…”

Jaw, meet floor.

Please tell me there’s another book out because I have to have more.”

Jaw now permanently married to floor.

The phone call left me giddy and grinning and, quite frankly, a little bit stunned.

And it made me realize a few things.

One, I did exactly what I accuse so many other people of doing: categorizing a person into a particular box just because of a particular trait. I should have known better, and I was wrong.

Two, all that ranting stuff, in the long run, doesn’t really matter. Yeah, stupidity and ignorance and rudeness pisses me off, but life is too damned short to be angry. Why let myself get sucked into those moments when I’ve got moments like this to revel in? Why let myself get mired in despair over the fact that this country is never going to be free and people as a whole are never going to understand how things work (though I keep trying to educate them even when I know better), when I could be enjoying what life I have while I have it? Why dwell on all the negative when I’ve got so much beauty in my life because of fiction?

Three, it made me remember just how great a story The Prisoner is. Not trying to be an egomaniac when I say that, but just reflecting the reactions to it that I’ve gotten over the past year since its release. The response to it, though small so far, has been overwhelming in its intensity. People who read the story call me at work to tell me how much the book meant to them, how great the story was, how much they want more. And it reminds me just how much I loved that story, how much I enjoyed writing it, how many emotions it invoked as I wrote it. The Prisoner is a great story, and I’d forgotten that.

I think I’ve pushed myself so intently on always getting to the next step, the next book, that I’ve lost track of the depth of feeling I originally experienced when I started the series. I got that back somewhat with the Matchmakers trilogy, even if those books did get me completely off-track, but when I try to think of continuing the Shifting Isles series, I get bored, to be honest. I’d lost my love of the series because I’d lost track of the beauty of the stories that I first clung to when the series started.

MatchmakersThat probably has a lot to do with why I got so far off my writing schedule when the idea for Matchmakers came along. The stories in Matchmakers just called to me in a way that the main Shifting Isles series no longer was, because I’d lost touch with the feeling that The Prisoner gave me, the feeling that carried me through to S.P.I.R.I.T. Division (S.I. Book 2) and Return to Tanas (S.I. Book 3), but started to slip away with Broken (S.I. Book 4) and The Five-Hour Wife (S.I. Book 5).

Clearly, I need to dive back into The Prisoner, reconnect with it, and get that feeling back. No wonder I didn’t feel as excited about books 4 and 5 as I did with the first three, nor as excited as I felt about Matchmakers (hells, those three novels went from Idea to Published in just about five months, so if that doesn’t scream passion and excitement, I don’t know what does). Outside of Matchmakers, I lost track of the emotion, the story, the experience. I need to reacquaint myself with those stories and those characters, or the next books are going to suffer, and neither I nor my readers will be happy.

So the next book, Betrayal (Shifting Isles, Book 6) will probably be even later coming out than planned, even though I’ve already pushed back the release date, but I’m not going to rush it. I’m going to dive back into the world, and instead of rushed and forced, it’s going to be good. It’s going to get to people the way The Prisoner does.

Because The Prisoner is a great fucking story. And I need to remember that.