This is such a weird time, isn’t it? Every writer I know has been talking about how they can’t focus on their work and they’re finding themselves revisiting old projects or scattering their thoughts over four or more at a time. It’s totally uncharted territory for many of us. We’re all sort of used to having this issue during times of stress, mental and physical health challenges, life stuff, etc. We’re also used to knowing deeply in our hearts that we’re the only one who has ever experienced this because every single other author in the world has never, ever had to take weeks off from work and just stare at the walls and those of us who do that are lazy frauds because we can’t expend the rigorous mental energy it takes to focus on a pretend world inside our heads. And now we’re all feeling exactly that same way and asking each other, “Is it just me?”
Nope. It’s just everybody.
I’m sure this applies to more than just writers but as this post is all about me, the center of the universe, I’m just giving the writer perspective. This chaotic inability to corral thoughts and feelings and make them into interesting words in an order that makes sense has actually been kind of good for me because it’s forcing me to confront some truths I was avoiding and, in the process, making myself miserable. I’ve been open about the fact that I’m struggling to finish The Daughter. I’ve been working on it for almost a year now. Yes, I had a serious mental health crisis that postponed the release. Yes, I have struggled with writing a billionaire romance in a world where billionaires are killing the planet and everyone we love. Yes, I’ve made it clear that internal politics within the genre have changed my feelings toward romance. But a couple of weeks ago, I admitted something to myself that I had been avoiding thinking about for a long, long time.
The Daughter will be the last Sophie Scaife book.
It broke my heart to type that sentence, by the way. I’ll probably cry like a baby when I hit publish on this post. But it’s time to face facts. I’ve been writing this series for something like eight years now, haven’t I? Isn’t that weird, that I can’t even remember? And that’s what’s taking me so long to write the book. I don’t want to let them go. I love these characters. They’re full-time residents of my mind. And I’m grieving because I know I can’t keep the story going. Their happily ever after is going to happen in this book, and I’m going to have to move on.
That scares the absolute shit out of me.
Years ago, I wrote a series of vampire novels that consumed my entire being. Like, all I thought about from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep were these characters and the world I’d created for them. I had so much enthusiasm, especially writing that first book. I knew that because it was something special to me, it would be special to other people. When it got published, I tattooed the heroine’s initials on my wrist. But how could I ever forget Carrie and Nathan and Max and Bella and Cyrus and Ziggy and all the characters that I hardly ever think about now? I was never going to forget them. But I did. And that’s going to happen with Sophie and Neil and El-Mudad and Holli and Deja and Rudy and Valerie.
And I’m not ready. I’m not ready for them to fade away. I’m certainly not ready to grieve the end of a series while I’m in a constant state of grief over [insert frantic gesticulations to indicate every fucking thing around the world]. Since I’m not ready, I can’t make any progress. And the more time that passes, the worse the imposter syndrome becomes, and the harder it is to fight around the block, the harder it is to push.
So, as much as it pains me to disappoint people who have been waiting for it, I have to put The Daughter on hold. Again.
I promise you: it will come. It’s completely outlined, researched, and about 3/4 finished. It won’t be five years. I’m not George R.R. Martin-ing this shit. But for right now, I need to focus on other stuff. Escapist stuff, not just from the current state of the world, but from the reality that this is the last time I’ll be with these characters. I fell in love with them. I didn’t want to let them go and that was holding me back. Now, I need to grapple with that before I can finish the book.
In the meantime, I’m going to start shifting my focus away from billionaires. Jenny Trout is going to continue writing about centaurs and will be releasing the YA serial Nightmare Born in ebook and paperback (before, you could only read it on Radish). Abigail Barnette will have a series of stand-alone, small-town romance novellas set in the fictional Upper Peninsula town of Blackhawk Bay. And some of Abigail Barnette’s out-of-print backlist will be published under a new pen name, beginning with my 2011 vampire novel, In The Blood.
Yup. I absolutely chose that pen name because I’m a Lucifer fan girl.
Why a new pen name? Because I want to keep Abigail Barnette a name where you know you’re getting romance with overall healthy messages. Jennifer Morningstar will be writing more dark erotica/erotic horror/paranormal erotica and Jenny Trout doesn’t like it when books with extreme content or dodgy topics are miscategorized as erotic romance because Jenny Trout does not like it when she buys a book and it romanticizes stuff that is super harmful to romanticize. Also, it’s for Jenny Trout’s personal comfort level with how she marketed her own work in the past; “Can a human consent to a vampire who is capable of mind control?” was a thought that came up when considering what to do with In The Blood and Ravenous once the rights reverted back to Abigail Barnette. There will always be content warnings for readers who don’t want certain topics sprung on them, but readers who aren’t interested in straight out erotica or erotic horror will know, oh, hey. Jennifer Morningstar. Fuck those books, I’m sticking with the warm fuzzies.
So, that’s what’s been going on in my world while the world outside is in shambles. I truly apologize to anyone disappointed by the postponement of The Daughter but please understand, it’s coming from a place of love. I love those characters as much as you do and I’m going to grieve the end with you. Unfortunately, I just have to do it before I can finish the damn book.