Knight Errant is available for sale. Wow. It’s hard to believe.
Taro has been with me a long time, you see. More than…wow. More than fifteen years. He first appeared under a different name and far more bland aspect, in the book about his sister Eve Marcori, former Marine. It wasn’t until years later that he came alive.
Oh, I tried. I changed his name. I invented a background for him, more than just “Eve’s long-lost adopted little brother.” I investigated his family, and the years between Eve losing and finding him. I changed his name again. I said he was sneaky and mouthy, but I couldn’t seem to make him be either. So I followed time-honored avoidance techniques, and I moved on. He didn’t matter that much anyway. Minor character. No big. I finished the book. Over years, I edited the book. In my new novelist happy shiny glow, I sent that book off to DAW–all 249,000 words of it.
Guess what happened. It took them a week–and some of that was transit time.
I got angry. I got determined. I got to writing.
In my second novel set in the Dream’verse, I wrote about Donte. Taro made a brief appearance about two-thirds in, plotting with Selene and not reacting at all. Hmm, thought I. Fourteen-year-old boy with limited exposure to slightly-dressed sexpots, and he’s not even looking? Is he gay?
Well, yes. And suddenly he was mouthy, too. The moment I realized he was gay, Taro came alive. It’s not so apparent in that book—it wasn’t his story—but by the time I reached the end of Donte’s story, Taro had hooked up with another character floating around my head—Rafe–and was demanding to be written.
The rest, as they say, is history. Except I still had only half a plot, and I didn’t even know it. I finished Donte and leaped right into Taro. (Rejection = swift kick in the rear)
Back then I wrote without a plan–possibly part of why Eve’s book was rejected. Knight Errant was supposed to end when the rescue happened. As I neared that point, though, Taro veered off-course (not a rare occurrence for him) and I followed. My book went on. My story grew deeper.
I tried to plan. I needed more conflict, now that the “Survive!” imperative was relaxed. I tried to make the conflict about “the gay,” giving Eve the attitude of “I don’t care about over there, but not in my family!” That, of course, didn’t work. Being a hypocrite requires lying to oneself, and Eve has never been one to soften the truth.
No, the real issue for Eve was knowing that a partner for Taro has to be one special person. Taro, like his sister, is one smart, competent, highly-motivated person. Eve knows just how important a true partner is, and Rafe is not that boy.
That’s how it played out, of course, because Taro is soon convinced that Rafe is just the man he wants. So it’s Taro and Eve, head to head. Two determined, honorable people–two Aries–butting heads over love. What could be more natural?
I loved it. It was awesome. And this time I was ready. I’d learned about publishing, and learned to edit, and even knew I was in the wordcount ballpark. This time would be different.
I sent targeted queries. I revised. I sent more queries. I revised. (Read that a few more times if you like, because the cycle went on a while.) Finally I started getting partial requests. I got some glowing rejections! I was told things like “Science fiction romance doesn’t sell, but send me any fantasy you have.”
Well, that’s lovely, but I wanted to get Knight Errant out there. I kept trying, and I searched for ways to improve my chances.
Could this be the way at last? Had I been patient long enough? Was my book ready? I decided yes to all. I decided if I really believed in Taro, I had to give him a chance to shine. That no, old acquaintance should not be forgot. That Taro was, and is worth my time–and, I truly believe, yours.
Here’s hoping 2011 is a marvelous year for all of us, and that old acquaintances stay true friends.