The Process of Picking Projects

On the best of days, my release schedule is a chaotic mess. On the surface, there's no rhyme or reason to my publication decisions. There actually is.

And a lot of it has to do with you, my readers. There are other influences, but you play a huge part in what is released. More specifically, how you choose to support me with your book purchases often helps determine what type of book is published next. There are other factors–and very important ones–that come into play, too.

But what you choose to read does influence what I choose to write and publish. So does vocal interest in projects. Your voice does matter. But there are other factors at play, and I want to spend some time talking about them.

Inspirations & Interests

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my personal interests and inspirations play a critical role in the books I write. Some people call it jumping the shark.

I call it having fun. I write books that interest me. I write books based on the things that inspire me.

I'm going to use a specific book, Karma. This is one of my favorite books. There are lots of readers who claim I jumped the shark on it. I've cheerfully gone with this, because I don't really give a shit if people think I'm shark jumping. I write the stories I want to tell.

In the case of Karma, I wanted to introduce a new type of shapeshifter into the Witch & Wolf world, which has been delivered in the form of Karma. (If you haven't read the book, spoiler alert, spoiler alert!) I love foxes. I've always loved foxes. My love of foxes is evident in the coat selection of several notable Fenerec (or werewolves, for readers who haven't read my Witch & Wolf books.)

Evelyn (Blood Diamond) is patterned like a red fox. Vicky (Inquisitor) borrows a shared patterning from a species of wolf that shares fox traits. There are other hints of my love of foxes in my stories.

I've always intended to introduce new species to the Witch & Wolf world. Balancing the Scales is a series with two goals: to tell a different sort of story, and to write about the inclusion of a newly discovered shifter type. In License to Kill, Karma's identity as a new shifter type will come into direct conflict with the Fenerec–and her mate. In fact, License to Kill will deal a great deal with interracial prejudices, resulting in Jake and Karma separating for a time. This is a big part of the book, and will be discussed right in the book's description, so it's not really a spoiler.

I am writing this specific spinoff series to pursue things of interest to me. It's a series I'm writing for me. It doesn't sell all that well, because it does fall outside of what a lot of people like about the Witch & Wolf world, but I'm okay with that.

But it does mean it's a side project. Because it doesn't sell all that well, I can only justify working on it after pursuing books that will (hopefully) sell better.

(I love Karma. I love Sean from Pack Justice. I love Nicole and Richard… but because their spinoff stories really don't sell very well, they're relegated to ‘I enjoy writing them so I do it on the side.')

However much that pains me… I have to write what might make me enough money to keep writing, and then work on the things that don't sell well on the side.

But I'll still write them, just far slower than I may otherwise like.

Editor Availability

My editor is absolutely amazing, and I love her, but there is only one of her, and she has a life outside of editing. So, I have to cherry pick my projects. I love my editor, but there is only one of her. Assume I've repeated this a few extra times, more despairing there is only one of her. (Because she truly is awesome and a fundamental part of my writing process.)

But because there is only one of her, book releases are dependent on her availability. Since I won't release an unedited book, releases are dependent on her availability. But in good news, that does let me pursue all of those stories I wanted to write because of inspirations and interest. I currently have two completed novels waiting for her love and attention and two nearing final stages of completion.

I release books as they're ready, but the books you're reading and buying help determine which ones reach my editor's desk in which order.

Sometimes I just Need Fun… and we Fall in Love

Playing with Fire started as a crazy idea, one I shared with Diana Pharaoh Francis and my editor. In fact, bribes were paid to my editor to adjust my schedule so Playing with Fire could be slipped ahead of another book in line. (You can blame Di for Water Viper being late. Bribes were paid. I swear, there were actual bribes and stuff. (It was one of my favorite conversations, and something that still makes me laugh when I think about it.))

But really, we all fell in love with Playing with Fire, so it jumped the shark straight to the front of the line. In reality, I loved Playing with Fire so much I've already started another book in the Magical Romantic Comedy set. Two, actually, although the next Bailey & Quinn book won't be happening seriously until next year at the earliest. The next installment will be called Hoofin' It, and there's an angry alpaca in this book. I really love the angry alpaca. The main character's name is Shane, and he's an ex-cop who lost his career when he lost his eye being all heroic and stuff. Then shenanigans happen, because the Magical Romantic Comedies are all about the shenanigans. Unlike in Playing with Fire, where Bailey had the hots for Quinn right at the start of the gate… Shane's by his lonesome for a while.

Then things get crazy and awkward and a woman comes stampeding into his life from the most unexpected of places.

So, when I finish my minimums for the day, I play with Shane.

(I also play with License to Kill.)

Mood Matters

My mental and emotional state influences what I work on. So, sometimes I just drop a project for a while because I just can't get into the right mindset for the book. Silver Bullet was delayed for this reason–and because there was just a scene that wasn't right, and initially… I had opened the book with this scene in mind. I got rid of it, and the book started coming together much more easily.

So, mood matters. Sometimes a book just gets set aside until I'm better equipped to handle it.

In short, you help influence what I write by what you support. Sometimes, people just leave a bunch of great reviews on a book–their love of the title does encourage me to write more of that title. (I try to avoid the negative reviews, since I already have plenty of issues with my self-esteem and don't need more. I really try to write books for the people who will enjoy them, and not everyone will. I write crazy and chaotic and often inappropriately funny and toss in thriller because I like it. It's not for everyone.)

Avoiding negative reviews of people who wouldn't like my books no matter what I do basically helps. (I do look at critical balanced reviews, and I sometimes keep in mind criticisms, but I ignore the flat-out negative ones. My books aren't for those people, so I'm not going to cater to them.)

So, that's it in a nutshell. Want to see the next book of a series? Support that series. Write reviews. Share it with your friends. At the end of the day, I try to publish what people want to read–because that makes sense.

P.S.: I write what I want to read.

I think that one is pretty self-explanatory.

Happy reading, folks!

Leave a Comment:

Kasandra Bailey says February 19, 2017

Gotta say I looove what you write so keep it coming! Forget the naysayers!! Boooo on them! Just from your description I’m going to read Karma next. I just finished reading Playing with Fire and LOVED it! So keep up the good work, I’m loving the Dustin shorts you’re sending in your newsletters and ignore any negative comment! They don’t know what fun is!!

Deborah Roill says February 28, 2017

I absolutely love your Witch and Wolf series. So whenever you write about them I’ll buy them happily.

    RJBlain says February 28, 2017

    Thank you so much! 🙂

katje says May 20, 2017

*laughs* I’ve been blazing through your backlist in the last three days and I keep circling around the Witch and the Wolf series without committing. I love Pack Justice (purring hero? yes please) and Karma (vixen? ahaha yes. Noooo to splitting up Jake and Karma though. Noooo. ) and I really really adore Matia and I would give a lot to see more of a certain gorgon prince…
I’m not sure why I keep skipping over the Witch Wolf series…in fact I’m about to go read about the Dae instead of picking it up, but at this point it might be sheer contrariness.

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