There's this weird period at the end of a book, before the edits, where I feel like I'm in limbo. Depending on the book and the publisher, it can sometimes be a matter of days before I get edits back, or a matter of weeks. And it's a strange time, because I've just finished a book and there's all the "Wait! I should have put that in!" moments of panic, plus I miss the book and start wondering what happens next (please tell me I'm not the only author to have ended a book with Happily Ever After, only to wonder precisely what happens in that After? Do they get married? What will it be like? Will she wear white? Who will give her away? What about children? Do they want them? Will they have them? What will they be called? Will they have to move house? So many questions!).
So I start thinking about what to write next. Do I have anything else under contract? Should there be a sequel to this one (always best to leave it a while before thinking about sequels, I find) or to a previously published book? Can I go back to a languishing project and re-start it?
The thing is, I have so many half-written books and bits of ideas floating around, it's damn hard to pick one. Right now I'm thinking about my fantasy epic, with a warlord and a blind slave. It doesn't have a name and I've restarted the beginning about seventeen times, but I do actually know most of what's going to happen in it.
Then there are various superhero books I want to write. I will do this one day, honest. There's the one with the magic rings, and the one where they're all teenagers, and the one with the movie star. (Seriously, I need to start making better notes than this)
And a couple of ideas set in the Realms universe of Almost Human and Mad, Bad & Dangerous. One about an amnesiac mercenary and a retired courtesan who now keeps a brothel, and then of course, there's Striker's book.
I've actually been asked a few times about Striker's book. When am I going to write it? Am I going to write it? How did Chalia fall for such a psychopath? Did Striker really destroy a city and bring Chalia back to life and travel in time and all those other improbable things? (Yes, he did). But the problem with Striker's book is that it's a prequel. There's all this stuff I've got to put in, or more to the point, can't take out, because it's been mentioned in the other two books.
Top of the list is that Striker steals Chalia away from her fiancé, who is an all-round good egg and not the standard Bad Fiancé of the beloved romance trope. The book, as it was originally written (I wrote five books in this universe while I was still learning my craft; they're unpublishable but the characters obviously stuck with me, and became the backstory for Almost Human and Mad, Bad & Dangerous) was meant to be a romance between Chalia and Tanner, with Striker as the bad guy. Only...I really, really liked him, so after Chalia shot him dead and went off to marry Tanner, I wrote a sequel in which Striker comes back (as one does) and proceeds to prove to Chalia that he really does love her and she should be with him.
A lot of this came out in Almost Human, which means I can't really go back and change it. Which is a shame, because it really wouldn't fit into an Ellora's Cave erotic romance. For one thing, EC doesn't like to have characters cheating on each other; ie, sleeping with someone else after they've slept with the hero. And Chalia and Tanner don't have a dry, sexless relationship. Could I reduce Tanner's role massively and have her leave him at the start? Well, yes, but then where's the conflict? She's not caught between two lovers any more. Might as well write Tanner out completely, which a) I don't want to do and b) would mess up the future continuity.
Then there's the issue that Striker and Chalia's relationship goes back to when they were children. There are several long periods when they don't see each other for years. Where exactly do I start the story? The first time they meet? The first time they sleep together? When Striker returns from his twelve-year exile, during which he's presumed dead? When Chalia meets Tanner? Where does this particular story start?
And how much of the old story do I keep? The bits I need for continuity, of course, but what about the rest? There was an awful lot of story to begin with--Striker and Chalia took up two books all by themselves and they weren't short books, let me tell you.
See? It's impossible. But I'll persevere, because you know how much I like writing about psychopaths. Plus, I'd get to look at this lovely picture all the time. You know, for inspiration.