Usually at this time I do a looking back/looking ahead New Year’s post, but who really wants to look back at the dumpster fire of a year we’re finally escaping? So I’ll just sum up:
2020 sucked for me, like everybody else, for a variety of reasons, but I also feel lucky compared to the shit others have gone through. My husband and I still have our house and our jobs, and our kids are healthy and keeping their heads above water. If they start to sink, we’ll be able to toss a life preserver their way.
Bookwise, thanks to the reserve of finished manuscripts I brought into 2020, I was able to keep my publishing schedule intact this year, despite some major snags in life and in my ability to focus. That reserve has dwindled, but I was able to get some things written in this hellscape of a year, so there’s enough left in the “book bank” that I feel fairly confident I’ll be able to keep my publishing schedule intact next year as well. And maybe, if the universe will just CALM THE FUCK DOWN for a bit, I’ll be able to build it back up.
So let’s look forward. I’m planning to publish six books in 2021, starting with Love & Other Lessons, which goes live this Saturday.
I’m continuing my MMA series with my second release, in March. Book 2 of the Capital City MMA series features Mila Castro, a teammate of Thor’s. If you read Thunder and Rafe caught your interest, never fear–he’s getting Book 3. But Mila’s story caught Lola’s eye, so she goes first.
Thunder is by far my most personal, almost autobiographical, book (if you read it, you know what I mean), but the whole series isn’t going to be me slicing my heart open and laying it out like that–I mean, other than the way all my stories are me offering you pieces of my heart. There’s no autobiographical element to Mila’s book.
And yes, I’m coming home to bikerworld in 2021. The Brazen Bulls Birthright series begins with Eight Ball’s story. This new series is a sequel to the Brazen Bulls MC series and is set in present day–with a twist.
I actually want to talk about that twist.
The shared world of the Night Horde and the Brazen Bulls has been time-bound from the start, when I tied Lilli’s military service to the beginning of the Iraq War in Move the Sun, my first-ever release. I wrote the whole Signal Bend Series, 7 novels and two novellas, in like eight months, and by the time it was over, my storyworld was way out in the future already. Then I wrote the sequel, the Night Horde SoCal series, and published that whole thing the next year, and I was even farther out ahead of the present day.
I published the last SoCal book in October 2015. In the story, it was 2030.
That’s a big reason I went back in time for the Brazen Bulls MC series, setting in from 1995-2007. And it’s the reason I’m returning to the Bulls now, before I return to Signal Bend, though that series is much older. To write about the next generation of the Night Horde, I’d have to open the books in 2030. To write about the Bulls’ next generation, I can open in 2019. Which I did. This sequel series slots into the middle of the NH/BB timeline.
That’s been my plan for years–publish the next gen Brazen Bulls series, then, when that’s complete, go back to the Night Horde and see what Gia and Bo and all the other kids are up to as adults. Maybe after that, go to Montana and get to know that new Horde charter. Or the Laughlin, NV or Eureka, CA Bulls charters. (We’re talking years down the road now. I have publishing plans sketched out through 2028, lol.)
But then 2020 happened. I wrote Eight Ball’s book this year, during quarantine, and it took me a while to get going on it because I knew I wanted to start in fall 2019 and carry into 2020 (there are story reasons for that, taking into account the whole of the Night Horde/Brazen Bulls world and history) , but I couldn’t decide what to do about COVID. This world has been time-bound, and historical and/or current events have figured into it in important ways. Did that mean I had to write Eight’s story as a quarantine romance?
I really, really, really, really, really did not want to do that. Really, really, really, really, really.
But how could I suddenly ignore a big, earth-shattering thing like a pandemic in a series set in a world that’s always recognized such events?
I spent some time trying to imagine how to start a story that basically takes place entirely in the clubhouse. “They’d bubble, obviously.” “They’d be driving each other crazy very quickly, lots of opportunities for them to beat the shit out of each other.” “Probably they’d argue over masks and social distancing” (ugh, btw, to writing all that crap). “Would it be a sweetbutt, then, that caught Eight’s heart?” and on and on, trying to find the door into the story.
But I could not get motivated to write that story–and I couldn’t see what Eight’s arc would be in a story like that. Eight is a man in his mid-50s who needs to grow up. He’s not going to do that stuck in the place he’s most comfortable, even if that place suddenly becomes a trap.
FINALLY, something occurred to me. I’ve been imagining the future almost from the start. I published Move the Sun in 2013. It’s set in 2012. I also published Behold the Stars in 2013. It’s set in 2012-2013. Then I published 6 more books in the first half of 2014 to finish the series–which ends, in the epilogue, in 2026. I was writing an imagined future by the time I wrote my third book.
Yes, Move the Sun references the Iraq War, and yes, Crash and Stand , in the Brazen Bulls MC series, reference the OKC bombing and 9/11, respectively. But the storyworld leaves clear points of factual reality behind by 2013.
Ergo, in my storyworld, COVID didn’t happen. YAY! Can we move there?
So Eight’s book is set in 2019-2020, and dates are referenced, but there’s not even a sniffle of a pandemic anywhere in sight.
Again I ask, CAN WE MOVE THERE PLEASE?
Released from the specter of fictional quarantine, I found my way into his story and I really love the journey Eight takes. He doesn’t get a personality transplant, but he finally sees how much more there is to him, how much he has to offer, and that he deserves good things. All that brings real change to his outlook and his attitude.
He also needed a strong woman who wasn’t going to take his shit and was going to make him face some truths about himself, but who also saw the good in him. Let’s just say he got one.
SO. Eight’s book is coming out this year, as my 3rd release, in May.
Thereafter, things remain in flux a little. I have a standalone gothic-y romance, the inspiration for which came out of nowhere. It’s sort of like a cross between Practical Magic and The Haunting of Hill House, with some Essence of Stars Hollow tossed in. There being ghosts involved, I’ll probably put that one out in October.
What’s happening between May and October? Depends on what gets written. I’m about to start another standalone, another out-of-the-blue idea I had to revise my whole schedule for so I could write it next. And I want to write the second Birthright book and put it out in 2021. But those are only ideas at this point, so I make no promises.
It sure would be nice if 2021 would behave itself.
If it does, my 2021 publishing schedule looks like this at the moment:
2 January: Love & Other Lessons (contemporary standalone)
6 March: Capital City MMA, Book 2 (details coming soon)
1 May: Brazen Bulls Birthright, Book 1 (Eight’s story; details to follow)
3 July (tentative): contemporary standalone (my next project)
4 September (tentative): Brazen Bulls Birthright, Book 2 (Kelsey’s story, with a Bull you haven’t met yet)
2 October (probable): modern-day gothic (sorta?) romance
Let’s all hope we can have a safe healthy, and happy new year. ❤️