One marvelous side benefit of the e-publishing revolution is getting back to old favorites, or in some cases, old troublemakers that turn out to be favorites. I've got my backlist scattered all over the place -- my agent put some up in cooperation with Amazon, I'm doing some with Jess Lewis, I put a short story up on my own, and I'm doing a whole bunch with Belle Books. With the first ones I put up things seemed to be in a great hurry so I didn't get a chance to look them over and make changes. When I first did (with NIGHTFALL, possibly my all-time favorite book) I had a great time. Not only was the book as good as I remembered (at least, good for me. Obviously my books are written with me as a reader and NIGHTFALL was near pitch-perfect) but I got to clean up messy little phrasing and anything that makes me cringe.
Trust me, now matter how good a writer you are, there is always stuff that will make you cringe when you read something twenty or thirty years old. Good god -- NIGHTFALL was 30 years ago? Naaah. 1994, 2004, 20014. Oh, 20 years ago. That's better.
Anyway, let me tell you about PRINCE OF MAGIC. I was working too hard, writing really good books (it was one of the most creative times in my life) for two publishers who couldn't figure out how to publish me. A fair amount of publishing is simply dumb luck -- getting the right book in front of the right editor or agent on the right day. Getting the right cover, somehow hitching on to something that captures the public's attention, making sure a princess doesn't die or a train doesn't overturn when your book's coming out. Sometimes with the best will in the world a publisher will manage an Epic Fail when it comes to publishing an author. I was in the midst of that, writing some of the best books of my life (one of the most creative times of my life) with far too many publishers (I was doing novellas for everyone as well).
So needless to say I was late on delivery. Very late. Very very late. Trying to do too much while family members were dying and my career was in crisis and one of my children was in crisis. Not the best time in the world. And with PRINCE OF MAGIC I fell in love with the opening line. "Beware the Dark Man." Great opening line, right? Well, there's a reason Faulkner (I think it was Faulkner) said "kill your darlings." I wrote and rewrote and rewrote the beginning of that book, determined to keep that opening line, and I kept stalling out. It wasn't that I wasn't trying. It was just going nowhere. I finally gave up and moved the opening line to later int he book, but I was still moving at a snail's pace, and I needed another extension. My editor blew up at me, and my agent passed it along.
Here's a tip. I do not like it when people blow up at me. My mother had rage issues and I freak out when people get angry at me. They can have a problem with me and discuss it, but anger and fury ... nope.
So I packed my bags, kissed my husband and children goodbye, and moved into motel in Burlington just after the big ice storm. I decided I would only eat healthy (healthy being brie and french bread and strawberries) and I would swim (but the pool was in another building) and I wrote the second half of the book, about 200 pages, in 5 days. I first overhauled the first half so I could move on ahead. I listened to forest music, since the book takes place in the woods (George Winston, Into the Woods, etc) and I kept a running commentary which is hysterical but now I can't find it. I think it'll turn up and I'll type it up for people to read.
I wrote that book so damned fast my brain melted. I turned it in, had few or no revisions, and the book came out to excellent reviews. But it was as if I'd written it in a trance -- I forgot all about it. So when it was time to get it ready for reprinting it was as if I found a brand new Anne Stuart book, one that needed editing, of course, but a real treat, with ridiculous villains, a lovely secondary love story, a couple of ghosts, and I set it at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. It was almost as if I'd been reprieved from a dire sin. Books shouldn't be written so fast you can't even remember them. Or, if the book calls for that kind of speed you should at least get the time afterwards to read and reread and rewrite. Of course, not having the time was nobody's fault but mine.
So anyway, I now present you a brand new (to me) Anne Stuart entitled PRINCE OF MAGIC, with false Druids, real ghosts, a dissolute, disillusioned ex-monk (our hero, of course) and a heroine who keeps getting into trouble. With half of the book written in five days.
See what you think of it. It's in all formats, though I've got the Amazon link up there because it's easiest.
http://amzn.to/1qHPKYH (cut and pass in your browser if your link doesn't work, or go to Kobo, Nook, Smashwords, whatever and check it out).