New feedback

HC thumbOne of our beta readers confessed to me today that he couldn’t finish The Hangman’s Cross. It was too dark and pushed too many buttons for him. I apologized and promised that the next book I sent him to beta read would be a happier, lighter one. I think I can deliver on that.

I’m not surprised that this happened. When I send The Hangman’s Cross out to the beta group, it came with a big long list of trigger warnings – abuse, rape, child endangerment, torture and more. Hangman’s Cross and Burning Noose are probably the darkest things we’ll ever write. George RR Martin we are not, but there were times working on these books that I felt pretty uncomfortable or cried. I’m not sure if being one of the authors makes me more or less sensitive to the contents.

The Hangman’s Cross won’t be for everyone. Some readers won’t like the darkness and some won’t like our take on religion. But for us, these books were about saying something that was important and resonated deeply with us.

Some books are written for fun, some for money, some for art and some to explore. They’re all worth writing and they all have their audience that will love them. They’re all beautiful.

The-Last-Samurai-Screenshot

Damn it

BN cover 3DInsert every explicative known to man here.

I’ve been struggling with The Burning Noose for weeks and making very little progress. I couldn’t get traction and now I know why. It’s my own fault – I kept pushing back information in The Hangman’s Cross. I kept thinking that the readers didn’t need to know that yet. Now I’ve hit the second book and realized that the reader won’t have almost any of the information that they need to in order to make sense of what’s going on. The result has been massive info dumps that are bogging down the story and throwing too much data at the reader far too fast.

That doesn’t make for a very good book. You can’t put 4/5 of the filling into half of a pie, 1/5 into the other and call it a good pie.

This is my own damned fault. We didn’t do enough world building ahead of time, and the world of The Hangman’s Cross is complicated. I didn’t accommodate enough for that. What I hoped would be fun and different is just coming across as confusing. Need to fix that. And Aron seeded more info through the first books, but I was the one who kept cutting it and telling myself “Later. We’ll revel that later.” Well, it’s later and we’ve got a lot of problems.

So that means I need to go all the way back to the beginning of The Hangman’s Cross and fix this. I’ve got to bring in more world info, more backstory and in-world mythology much earlier on. It’s going to take weeks or rewrites. Perhaps months. I’ve screwed our schedule royally, and we didn’t really even have one.

I’m not a happy author today. But you know what? I’ll get over it. And I’ll get back to work. It’s better to have a good book than a fast one. We don’t have a contracted deadline to meet and I’m so grateful for that. It’s worth the time to make these books right.

The Burning Noose draft done!

BN thumbYesterday, Aron finished off the first draft of The Burning Noose! That’s both books written down, out of our heads and turned into actual words. Thanks, Aron!

Now, there’s still a lot of work to do. I need to do a pretty comprehensive coauthor pass, which involves heavy edits and rewrites. That usually takes a couple of months. And if The Hangman’s Cross is any indication, it’s going to take a couple of extra drafts before it’s ready for you guys to read. The hardest part is done, but I doubt we’ll get Hangman’s Cross and Burning Noose out the door this year. Probably more like early 2016, but we’ll hope for an earlier release than that.

Yesterday, we finished something else, too! After combining book ten and eleven into one book and then adding in a new book four – with a water spirit, as popularly suggested on Facebook – Lily Quinn is all outlined. Each volume will be only about 20,000 words long, so we should be able to put out a few of those this year, I hope. We’ll keep everyone updated.

Hm, it seemed like I had more to say than that, but I can’t think of anything else. Yay, books! (Also, I donated blood this morning, which always makes me more than a little lethargic. I’m honestly amazed I’m even conscious.)

A quick update

BN thumbI won’t keep you long, but I figured at least a couple of you will want to know what we’re up to right now. Well, I’m finishing up the last bit of a personal writing project  that I expect to wrap up in the next week or so. (In case you’re wondering, I’m novelizing a little Eberron story that wasn’t enough to build a game from, but I still liked the idea enough to write it out.) After that, I’ll begin work on the second draft of The Burning Noose. Aron’s working on the last few chapters of draft one, which will be long done by the time I get my slow ass that far.

We’ve also recently finished up the second of three outlines of a 12-book erotica novella series, tentatively named after the protagonist, Lily Quinn. I’m beginning work tonight on that third outline, which includes all of the world details and scene-by-scene breakdowns of each book. That should be done by the end of the month, I hope, which will have it in Aron’s hands for drafting in February. We really don’t know how quickly we’ll be producing Lily Quinn books.

Also of importance, we will not be publishing the Lily Quinn books under our standard Erica Lindquist & Aron Christensen names. Most of our mainstream stuff is pretty clean. (Not everyone agrees, though – we’ve had some complaints about the sex scenes. And compliments.) The Lily Quinn books will be something else entirely. If you’re offended by the words “cock” and “pussy,” these are not the books for you.

That’s why we’ll be publishing then under a different pseudonym: Natalie & Eric Severine. (Currently, both Aron and I write under pen names, anyway.) That way, it’ll be a lot harder for our mainstream readers to accidentally end up with something on their ereader that might make their poor eyes bug out.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Our current catalog of books is hardly universally beloved. We’ve got plenty of really painful one-star reviews lying around the internet like caltrops. And erotica isn’t exactly a commonly accepted genre. It’s growing in popularity and acceptance, but it’s hardly standard summer reading yet.

But we’re really excited about Lily Quinn, so screw all that. Wish us luck!