It’s finally here.
The day that I announce that Runner: Book II of The Chosen is available.
It’s been a long journey, filled with interruptions too numerous to count, medical issues, family problems, and repeated revisions.
It started eight years ago, when I finished writing Watcher: Book I of The Chosen. As the final words of the first book in the series hit the page in May 2009, I realized I needed to keep going. So I wrote the first section of Runner—about 20,000 words—and saved the file at what I felt was a good stopping spot. I then spent the next year and a half trying to learn how to write properly, and in October 2011, published Watcher.
Anyhow, I had one of those moments. And in that moment, three characters walked into my head: a tall, massively built Native American male; a stocky, red-bearded Scot with a wee bit of an accent; and a diminutive, chocolate-skinned Creole woman every bit as lethal as the other two.
I had no idea who they were, or what role they’d play in Runner. I just knew they’d be pivotal.
And boy, did they turn out to be—in ways I never expected.
In June of 2011, I attended a self-publishing workshop in Oregon put on by Dean Wesley Smith. At the workshop, one of their recommendations for those of us working on a novel series is to write short stories that tie into the novels. The appearance of these stories in anthologies, periodicals, and other mediums provide an additional avenue through which to funnel readers to your series.
As my husband and I started the 16-hour drive home, I thought about that, and recalled the trio from my shower inspiration. The most interesting of the three was their leader, and so I decided to write his story about how he’d become a Chosen and how he winds up encountering Sunny, the series’ main character.
The result of that was The Last Trace, the first of three novellas that explore Taz’s life up to the time of Runner. But writing his story gave me more than just another book—it gave me a deeper insight into who he is and why he does the things he does.
But writing The Last Trace also delayed the writing of Runner, and the novel languished while I focused on historical research, editing, and publishing the novella.
Once Taz’s past was out of the way (at least the first part), I was able to dive back into Runner and made substantial progress on the novel.
A second major interruption (a wonderful one) was an opportunity to participate in a vampire anthology edited by Gabrielle Faust, noted author of the vampire series ETERNAL VIGILANCE and other dark fantasies. The theme centered on vampires and the games they play with both their prey and with each other, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to submit a story.
I didn’t even have to think hard about what to write. I had a ready-built world with The Chosen series, including characters. What I didn’t expect was the entrance of a character previously unknown to me—Colin O’Neill.
The story that ended up in 2013’s High Stakes: A Vampire Anthology, along with stories from nine award-winning authors, was The Games Monsters Play. And when the rights reverted to me after a year, I expanded the short story and published it as a novelette.
Again, all of that brought my work on Runner to a screeching halt. But I’m glad it did, because it allowed Colin to infiltrate my psyche, and he did it so surreptitiously that I was stunned when he walked onto the pages of Runner.
In early 2014, I sent the first completed draft to my core beta readers—Lex, Janine, Mellie, Edd, Earl, Vanessa, and Odette. The feedback was glowing, and contained wonderful suggestions for improvement, which I promptly incorporated.
But that draft was missing an early chapter—a chapter dealing with a complex medical emergency for one of the characters. I’d simply labeled it as “Surgery??” with the intention of researching that scenario once the first draft was finished.
That ended up being more complicated than I expected. And the more I researched, the more I realized I needed the expertise of a medical professional.
I found one later that year. Janeane was an emergency room nurse, and when I gave her the first part of Runner, she excitedly dove into her own research. Her critique of the chapters both before and after the missing one was invaluable, and I realized that I would need to completely rewrite the first section of the book in order to keep somewhat medically authentic.
That same year, and the one following it, was filled with my own medical issues, along with family problems and other distractions. The rewrite haunted me, and it wasn’t until 2016 that I completed it. I ran it past my sister-in-law, Gazelle, who is also in the medical profession, and after a few minor adjustments, she gave me the green light.
The second draft went out to another group of beta readers, including the wonderful Jeannie, my fox friend who read it several times and provided great insight and suggestions.
With a few changes and a last bit of polish, I handed the final draft over to a third group of betas, as well as my editor, Jodi Renee Lester.
At her suggestion, I sent it to a few readers who had not read Watcher. We wanted to ensure there was enough flashback and other references to the first book that someone starting the series with Runner wouldn’t feel lost—and yet, not be boring with too much rehash for current fans.
Another milestone in this journey was the discovery of a cover artist who captured the kind and quality of look I wanted for these books. I’d been looking for one for years, and though a couple were promising, I still kept looking. I was so thrilled when I found Deranged Doctor Design and fell in love with the covers done by Milo.
The timing couldn’t have been better—DDD was able to fit the first two books into their summer schedule in time for me to meet my publication deadlines in October. They’ve been awesome to work with, and I highly recommend their services.
And so here I am, with both of my main goals for the last six years just weeks away from achievement:
- Watcher: Book I of The Chosen – with a professional, high-quality edit, additional content, and a shiny new cover, this book is finally what I’ve dreamed it could be, and, for the first time, I feel proud of it. The second edition premiers October 7. The ebook version is available now for pre-order.
- Runner: Book II of The Chosen – after a journey as arduous as that of the main character, Runner will debut on October 25. Pre-orders for the ebook are available now.
What a long, strange trip it’s been. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
In Part II of this post, I’ll talk about some of the folks who’ve helped me along the way. Be sure to check back – you may find yourself in the story!