The good news is: I finished the first draft of The Staff and the Blade!!! The bad news is... There is no bad news right now. I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE STAFF AND THE BLADE!
But seriously, I always try to challenge myself with every book because I want to be a better writer. And this book has definitely challenged me from a plotting and planning perspective. Building a cohesive story with four novellas (each with their own plot arc) has been a huge challenge, but one that I'm glad I tried. Will I do it again?
I'll confess I have mixed feelings about this book, because it was hard to write. And I do worry how it will come across to readers. The structure is weird. It's an odd kind of love story where they get together, then fall apart, then get back together, then go fight bad guys. And they're never really EASY around each other because... that's just not who Damien and Sari are as characters. They're difficult people. Especially, I'm going to be perfectly honest, Sari.
We have this weird thing about our heroines in romance-land. We want them to be likable. They can be kickass action heroes, awkward geniuses, hardworking single parents, brilliantly talented artists, WHATEVER. But we want to like them. We want to relate to them and see ourselves reflected somehow in that character. And while I think a LOT about Sari is very, very relatable, I would not classify her as likable.
Sometimes I feel like Wash up there. Everyone who knows me and understands my obsession with Firefly knows that Zoe and Wash are my OTP forever and ever. I adore them. (I still resent Joss for... The Thing We Do Not Speak Of. I digress.) Can't we just hug it out? Can't there just be more kissing? No? Okay, then. I'll let you go fight and kill things together.
So clearly (because I'm Wash), I love warrior women characters. I love Sari. I just don't always like her. But that's okay. She doesn't have to be likable to be a great character. Could that make The Staff and the Blade a harder sell for some? Yep. But I refuse to change who a character is in order to sell more books. My pretend people are too important to me.
So I hope you enjoy the warrior woman I've written, even if you don't always like her. I think Sari is kind of amazing. I think she's a survivor who still manages to love fiercely, which is its own special kind of bravery. I think she makes bad decisions because of her emotions, which I can relate to. I think she's a protector who questions herself and the steps she's taken to survive. I think she's a woman who loves a man in spite of, and maybe even because of, his faults.
Sari is interesting and layered and real. And all those things are more important than being likable. So feel free to not like her, but I do hope you love her. Cause she's a big damn hero in my book.
Preorder links are here for The Staff and the Blade. Everything is set to release on July 12th, as planned, in paperback and e-book editions. Audiobook will come later and will depend on my audio publisher's schedule. (Though I've already talked to Zach Webber about narrating.)