First: I want to wish everyone who celebrates it a Happy Thanksgiving! (In Canada, we celebrate in October).
Second: I’m sorry I’ve been off-line. Technically, I’m still off-line, but I get the sense that people are beginning to worry, so I wanted to quickly say: I’m alive.
November 2014 has not been the best November on record. I had expected to be finished GRAVE by now — and in part, I was not writing an update because I had hoped that I would be able to say it was (or at least the first draft was) done. It’s almost done.
Second, I’ve received some email asking about the situation at Harlequin. For those who now wonder why, my long-time editor, MaryTheresa Hussey, was laid off, one of dozens in an internal restructuring. Yes, this happened in November. Cast in Honor came to a grinding, slow halt because of writer anxiety.
I have loved being with Harlequin, first at Luna, and then at Mira. But even I, head down, was aware that very few editors there were acquiring what I write. Margaret Marbury, the woman in charge of Mira and HQ Teen, phoned me the day my editor was laid off, to personally let me know from her, rather than from other sources, and to ask me if I had an editor in mind that I wanted to work with — but, again, head-down Michelle didn’t really know any other editors there. I do know editors at the various SF/F genre imprints, or at least know of them, because I’ve been writing in the genre for a long time.
So: I wanted someone who actually loves fantasy. Not every editor who does love fantasy will like my books; not every reader who loves fantasy will like my books. That’s a simple fact of life. In general, the editor who buys the books does. But when that editor leaves – for whatever reason – there’s no guarantee that the editors who remain will. And even if they did, my editor, who’d worked with me for ten books, both understood my process and, even if it was unusual, supported it.
I can write when angry, when grieving, when happy – but I have a hard time writing when worried and anxious; the part of my brain that creates is also, sadly, the part that does frenzied worry. So I struggle with writing in an entirely different way than the usual. And then I get Even Less Done, and then I get anxious about that… it’s not really a very productive or practical cycle and I don’t recommend it.
Things were up in the air for a while — but there is, in fact, a new editor who is a big fantasy reader; she has only just started acquiring for Harlequin, but she had – before working there – read the CAST books, and she was not only willing to work with me — and them — but actively hoping that she could.
I am now trying to refocus on the actual writing, because the anxiety levels are dropping. I did finish one book review column; I did get much closer to the end of GRAVE, although I have not — as I hoped to do — finished it. I have sent what I have of Cast in Honor to the new editor, and actually Cast in Honor is going well.
And that’s the state of the writer at the end of November, 2014.