Failure is Sometimes an Option

lightbulbsFrom May of 2013 to the end of August 2015, I completed thirteen books. It wasn’t so much that I had a system, or anything like that; I just had plenty of time on my hands and a burning drive to use that time for writing. The point here is not to brag, because fast writing is not a guarantee of quality writing. The point is I had reached a state where I was confident in my ability to finish what I started.

Then things changed. In August of 2015, I was having trouble with the middle of the Willow North novel (which will probably be a trilogy, in the end), so I decided to work on something else for a while. I’ve done that before, writing an entire novel while giving my subconscious time to work out problems with a different one. And I’d had plenty of people ask me what happened to Zara after the end of Servant of the Crown. So I thought it would be interesting to tell that story. I worked out the bones of a plot, created a new culture for the continent south of Tremontane, and dug in.

It fought me the whole way. I made it to about 85,000 words before realizing it was a really stupid book. There were some great characters, but Zara herself was dull. My husband insisted that she didn’t read like an 86-year-old woman, which I think now is true–at the time I resisted that feedback because I couldn’t face the fact that the problem was with the whole book. But the 85K mark represents the point where, having written the same chapter three different ways, I realized the book was a dud. That none of the endings I’d forced into existence–and it took force–had any resonance.

Thirteen novels is enough to make you feel invincible. I was incredibly demoralized by this setback, not least because I had no idea what had gone wrong. Later analysis suggested that I’d written myself into a corner and that Jacob was right about Zara not behaving like an old woman, but at the time it was just frustrating. And I admit to being prideful. Most authors have at least one trunk novel–the kind you finish and lock away in a trunk because for whatever reason, it’s not good enough to see the light of day–and there was no reason I should be different. So I locked Voyager of the Crown in its own file (I am too superstitious to just delete it) and went on to write the four interrelated short stories that became Exile of the Crown.

But I couldn’t get the idea of a Zara novel out of my head. Willow was still giving me trouble, the only other idea I had was stalled out, and I got to a point where I hadn’t written anything in weeks, which was a nightmare. So in January of 2016 I started planning a new book. It was an exciting opportunity to explore Veribold and to finally allow Zara to reunite with her family, and I was looking forward to it.

It was worse than the first one. At 47,000 words I had to admit it was another failure. Once again Zara didn’t behave like an old woman, and the plot was just stupid. This time I was quicker to realize the problem, but it was every bit as demoralizing. I wanted to tell this story and it was clear it wasn’t working out.

At this point, there should probably be some kind of revelation. After all, if I wanted it badly enough, I should be able to figure out the problem, right? Problems are just opportunities in disguise, right?

In this case–no.

For someone who depends heavily on outlines, I’m also remarkably dependent on instinct. I can feel when the shape of a story is working and when it isn’t. And I could tell these were not books I was going to be able to save, no matter how much I wanted to, because they were fundamentally broken. I had to admit to failure. And then I had to move on.

So what makes the difference between a total loss and a temporary setback? I’m still not sure. Wondering Sight, my alternate-Regency-era fantasy with psionics, had a very rocky start where I was working with the wrong plot, but I fixed that and the book turned out fine. Willow North’s book, which I’m currently working on, turned out to have trouble related to the balance between the three plotlines–also fixable. So it’s not as if a problem with writing is always a sign that you should give up. With Zara’s books, I eventually realized that a major part of the problem was that Zara was never intended to be a POV character. When I created her, I was experimenting with ways to make side characters powerful, and part of that experiment was not letting any of the story be told from her perspective. The final story in Servant of the Crown, “Long Live the Queen,” was a departure from that, as were the stories in Exile of the Crown, but Zara was not meant to carry the weight of a novel.

The other problem was that much as I liked Zara, I didn’t actually want to write her story. I was doing it because I felt it would be popular. And that’s not the best reason for writing–trying to game the system. There’s a fine line between having an audience in mind when you write and writing not because you love something, but because you think it will sell. The latter is perfectly acceptable if you’re that kind of writer. Turns out I’m not.

Nobody sets out to fail. I’d rather either one of those books had worked out. But if the alternative was ending up with an awful but completed book, I’d rather take the failure.

Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

  How would you like to win one of four $200 AMAZON GIFT CARDS? That’s right, $200! Just click on this link to go to The Kindle Book Review’s giveaways, running Feb. 8-22. There are a lot of authors sponsoring the giveaway (including me!) and this is a great time to discover new favorite reads and get some spectacular discounts. For the duration of the giveaway, I’ve discounted SERVANT OF THE CROWN to just $2.99, and my fellow authors have similar deals going on. You even get bonus points for every purchase! So go ahead and enter, and good luck!

Blog tour ends today!

Today is the grand finale of my book blog tour! Make sure you scroll to the bottom to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for copies of each of these books–I’m really pleased to be in such good company!

On tour with Prism Book Tours.

It’s the Fantasy Prism Tour Grand Finale for
Spindle
By W.R. Gingell
Servant of the Crown
By Melissa McShane
The Frey Saga
By Melissa Wright

If you love fantasy, we hope you enjoyed the exclusive content shared on the tour. 
If you didn’t get a chance to check out each book and their stops now…

SpindleSpindle
by W.R. Gingell
NA Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 300 Pages
August 10th 2015

She’s not a princess . . . but then, he’s no prince.

Polyhymnia is deep in enchanted sleep. High in a tower, behind an impenetrable barrier of magical thorns, she sleeps, dreams, and falls ever deeper into her curse.

Woken by a kiss, Poly finds herself in an alien world where three hundred years have passed and everyone she has ever known is dead. Luck, the enchanter who woke her, seems to think she is the princess. Understandable, since he found her asleep on the princess’ bed, in the royal suite, and dressed in the princess’ clothes.

Who cursed Poly? Why is someone trying to kill her and Luck? Why can’t she stop falling asleep?

And why does her hair keep growing?

Sometimes breaking the curse is just the beginning of the journey.

“What If…” Guest Post @ Mythical Books

With Spindle my what if? was what if Sleeping Beauty wasn’t actually the princess? From that first little seedling of what if? I also ended up with what if she slept for more than three hundred years instead of one hundred? I was fascinated with the thought of how much life would have changed for her. Language would have evolved and passed her by, her loved ones and family would almost certainly be dead, and both the political and social aspects of life would have changed completely.

More at Mythical Books.

W.R. Gingell

W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.

Website – Goodreads – Twitter

Servant of the CrownServant of the Crown
(The Crown of Tremontane, #1)
by Melissa McShane
Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 405 Pages
July 15th 2015 by Night Harbor Publishing

Alison Quinn, Countess of Waxwold, is content with her bookish life—until she’s summoned to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Tremontane’s mother for six months. Even the prospect of access to the Royal Library doesn’t seem enough to make up for her sacrifice, but Alison is prepared to do her service to the Crown. What she’s not prepared for is Prince Anthony North, Queen Zara’s playboy brother, who’s accustomed to getting what he wants—including the Countess of Waxwold.

When the fallout from an unfortunate public encounter throws the two of them together, Alison has no interest in becoming the Prince’s next conquest. But as the weeks pass, Alison discovers there’s more to Anthony than she—or he—realized, and their dislike becomes friendship, and then something more—until disaster drives Alison away, swearing never to return.

Then Alison is summoned by the Queen again, this time to serve as Royal Librarian. A threat to Tremontane’s government, with her treasured Library at stake, draws Alison into the conflict…and into contact with Anthony once more. Can they work together to save the Royal Library and Tremontane? And can she open her heart to love again?

Exclusive Excerpt @ Brooke Blogs

“Without thinking, Alison whipped her hand out of his grasp and brought it around hard to slap the Prince’s face. The sound of her bare palm striking his cheek carried unnaturally far in the crowded, overfull ballroom. The dancers nearest them stopped to stare, and their stillness spread outward until half the floor was occupied by unmoving figures. The music went ragged and then stumbled to a halt. The Prince stood with his hand pressed to his cheek, his eyes wide and unblinking in surprise. Alison felt her breath coming in short, quick pants that left her dizzy…”

More at Brooke Blogs.

Melissa McShane

Melissa McShane grew up a nomad, following her family all over the United States, and ended up living in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains with her husband, four kids, and three very needy cats. Her love of reading was always a constant during those uncertain years, and her love of writing grew out of that. She wrote reviews and critical essays for many years before turning to fiction, and was surprised at how much she liked it. She loves the fantasy genre and how it stretches the imagination.

Website – Blog – Goodreads – Pinterest

The Frey SagaThe Frey Saga
by Melissa Wright
YA/NA Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 779 pages
February 1st 2013

This collection includes The Frey Saga Book I: Frey, Book II: Pieces of Eight, the short story Molly, and Book III: Rise of the Seven.

Unaware she’s been bound from using magic, Frey leads a small, miserable life in the village where she’s sent after the death of her mother. But a tiny spark ignites a fury of changes and she’s suddenly being hunted by council and forced to rely on strangers for protection. But the farther she strays from home, the more her magic and forgotten memories return and she starts to suspect the band of strangers are not what they seem. They help her find her rightful place and destroy the bonds, but securing her future might be more than she can do with magic alone.

Exclusive Excerpt of book I, Frey, & Sneak Peek of book IV, Venom and Steel @ Beck Valley Books

    “The library was chaos. Books and pages, precious scrolls and ancient casting ledgers strewn over the wood plank floor. I’d never seen this room molested by their madness and the shock of it had me stumbling to a standstill. They had lost all regard for it, broken their own rules. They were a wild people, but they did have at least some barriers.

    If there was one thing the fey respected, it was knowledge.”

More at Beck Valley Books.

Melissa Wright is the author of the Frey Saga and Descendants Series. She is currently working on the next book, but when not writing can be found collecting the things she loves at Goodreads and Pinterest.

WebsiteBlog – Goodreads – Twitter – Pinterest – Instagram

Tour Giveaway

$30 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
Signed copy of Spindle (Us only)
Print copy of Servant of the Crown (US only)
Ebook of The Frey Saga (INT)
Ends September 18th

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