I was writing a thank you note to my readers for the back of my first book coming out June 12, 2019, when I got tripped up over the term ‘first book’ referring to The Traitor’s Touch. While The Traitor’s Touch is the first storyline chronologically speaking in the Mindwiped series and the first of my romance books to be published, The Traitor’s Truth (book #2) is the first book I sold.
Years ago, I wrote The Traitor’s Touch and tried to sell it. After only a few rejections, and some encouraging feedback from Anne Sowards (who was then at ACE/ROC) back n 2006, I essentially put the ms (manuscript) in the drawer while I worked on my career, family and other writing projects (see juliekcohen.com if you’re interest in my math puzzle books). Every so often, I’d pull the ms out, revise, and send The Traitor’s Touch out to a few publishers. I received good feedback over the years, but no offers. I finally put the story in the drawer with the attitude that it was time to move on, write something new. I was convinced I had written a good story with interesting, well-developed characters, but I needed to move on, to write something new, not simply continue revising and revising and revising the same story. Except I couldn’t let go of my main characters, Kira and Tal. Despite the conventional wisdom that you ‘don’t write book #2 until you’ve sold book #1’, I began writing book #2, The Traitor’s Truth.
Let’s back up a moment here… All those years in between writing the two stories, I came to realize what I loved about my stories… the romance between my main characters. Except I wasn’t writing a romance. In my queries, I’d always described my novel as “a science fiction/fantasy novel with a romance sub-plot.” The proverbial lightbulb over my head finally – and let me emphasize ‘FINALLY’ – lit up. The romance was a mere thread of the story when it really deserved to be center stage. This realization was HUGE. Thus, when I began writing the second book, I revamped my entire approach to write not a science fiction/fantasy novel, but a science fiction/fantasy romance novel. And yes, there is a huge difference both in the writing and the marketing between those two genres. To start, I had to learn about the ins and outs (no pun intended) of romance, or rather, of writing romance.
By the time I wrote The Traitor’s Truth, my writing skills, my genre and my style had changed. I felt The Traitor’s Truth was a stronger novel and hence became the one I pitched to publishers in January of 2018. After Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract for The Traitor’s Truth in June 2018, I informed my editor that the story was the second of two novels in the world I’d built. I asked if she’d be interested in seeing the first novel (The Traitor’s Touch). After I took the time to revise The Traitor’s Touch to match the style/approach of The Traitor’s Truth, to ensure a cohesive series, my editor sent me a contract for the The Traitor’s Touch. Now I had a two-book series set for publication in 2019.
As my husband would say, I do everything ‘backwards’. But hey… if it works, don’t knock it, right? Ultimately, I felt I had written deeper, stronger novels without sacrificing plot and world building, and I had finally found the writing niche that I love: Romance.