Hi, everyone. I have some not-so-great news about Into The Fire, the fourth and final novel in the Night Prince series. As many of you know, Into The Fire was supposed to be released at the end of October, but the release date has been pushed back to February 28th. Some of you might have received an Amazon email about your pre-order detailing the new release date, so I am verifying that yes, February 28th is indeed the new, correct date. Below, I’m going answer what I assume the top questions will be. If I didn’t cover yours, please ask it in the comments.
Why was the release date pushed from October to February?
Short answer: I had a lot of personal issues going on, so I was unable to meet the required deadline. That’s my fault, and I want to apologize to all my readers for that.
What kind of “personal issues” kept you from doing your job?
Really, really long answer, with lots of TMI: My mother died on December 30th. I had no chance to get there in time to say goodbye; I just received a hysterical phone call my from sister saying that Mom had dropped over dead while she was putting on her makeup that morning. I went to Florida to help my sisters and my father plan the funeral (not easy under any circumstances, but especially hard over a holiday when all the area florists were closed for New Years.) My father was understandably devastated since he and my mom had been together for fifty years, so my sisters and I spent the week after the funeral going through all the necessary paperwork, returning her medical equipment, and doing other such tasks so he didn’t have to. During this time, I was grieving, of course, but I wasn’t devastated like my father or my sisters. I thought it was because I had been somewhat braced for my mother’s death. After all, she had had major health scares in 2013 and 2014, so I had known, on an objective level, that she probably didn’t have a lot of years left. However, as I later found out, I wasn’t reacting with more objectivity because I had been “braced.” I was just in an extended form of shock and denial.
I returned home to North Carolina in mid-January, and mere days after I got back, my dog Gypsy blew out the tendons in her back leg and needed extensive surgery. Worse, the only qualified veterinary surgeon was over two hours away (we lived in a tiny mountain town.) Thus, we began the long back-and-forth drives for her surgery and follow-up appointments. Soon after her leg surgery, Gypsy developed an ulcer in her eye that needed surgery from – you guessed it – a vet that was also over two hours away. On top of that, winter finally hit the mountains and made driving much more difficult. It was around this time that I told my husband I didn’t want to wait for our house to sell before we moved back to Florida. We had already intended to rent a place in Florida in April, and with everything going on, I thought that waiting would end up being more hassle than our moving immediately.
So, we drove back and forth to the vet for rechecks on Gypsy’s leg and eye, and did extensive prep work to get our own house ready to rent while it remained on the market to sell. About two weeks later, I received word from my agent that release of The Sweetest Burn had been pushed back to June 2017. I understood and agreed with all the “whys,” but I admit that it was still hard because I knew how disappointed readers would be. We moved to a rental house in Florida around mid-February, and as soon as we arrived, we discovered that the washer and dryer didn’t work. The air conditioning broke about a week later, and while the rental agency had everything fixed within a week or so, it was a very stressful week getting the new place set up. However, we were up and running in time for me to leave for my previously-scheduled appearance at ApollyCon the end of the February.
When I got back, I found out that Gypsy’s eye still wasn’t healed, so we very quickly had to find a new vet. Gypsy ended up having her second eye surgery, which also required at-home care consisting of 4 different medicated eye drops four times a day, spacing each drop at least five minutes apart (that’s a total of 16 times a day my hubby and I would have to hold her down, squirt drops in her eyes, then give her the Cone of Shame. She hated it as much as we did, but the vet told us if the ulcer got infected, the infection could spread into her brain and kill her. I love Gypsy as if she were the child I never had, so I was going to do everything I could to get her well.)
The beginning of March, in between helping my husband wrestle Gypsy down for her 16 eye drops a day, I started writing Into The Fire again. Or, more accurately, I tried to. For some reason, whenever I would sit in front of my computer and attempt to write, I would end up bursting into tears. The first few times, I told myself it was an odd fluke and decided to ignore it. When it was still happening after a week, I grew worried, but I didn’t tell anyone because I was determined to muscle through, or – failing that – at least “fake it until I make it.” By the third week, I finally admitted to my husband what was going on. He called our family doctor, who told me that it was likely a case of depression because I hadn’t fully dealt with my mother’s recent death.
I didn’t want it to make sense, but it did. You see, I had managed to do everything else while on an emotional version of automatic pilot, but I couldn’t pull off that same feat while attempting to write. When I write, I immerse myself into my characters’ thoughts and feelings, which forces me to get immersed in my own thoughts and feelings. So, when I attempted to write, everything I really felt came rushing to the surface. I had been telling myself that I’d been doing okay after my mother’s death because I had been “braced” for her to die, but that wasn’t true. I wasn’t okay. In fact, I wasn’t doing well at all. Instead, I was hurting and guilt-ridden because I hadn’t seen her for five months before she died, and – most ridiculous of all – I was too proud to admit that I was crushed inside, so on top of everything else, I was ashamed for not being a “tougher” person.
Once I finally admitted what I was dealing with, I called my agent and told her the book wouldn’t be finished by May 1st (my rescheduled deadline.) I also started going to a therapist and took medication to help with the crying jags when they came. It ended up being a great relief to admit what I was really feeling and going through, to the point where I wasn’t overwhelmed when more bad news came from the vet: Gypsy’s eye ulcer still wasn’t healed and she needed a third surgery, which meant the same regiment of eye drops afterward. To sum up the next couple weeks, Gypsy ended up getting a total of four surgeries to fix her eye, and I found out that a few ebook retailers had erroneously released The Sweetest Burn on its originally scheduled release date of March 29th. Worse, some readers who had gotten an early copy then uploaded it onto pirate sites, so the book was being actively stolen over fifteen months before it could be legally purchased. In an effort to stop retailers from continuing to sell it on the wrong date, my publisher took the ebook down from all retailers, but that resulted in a glitch where Amazon (who hadn’t been selling it early) cancelled ALL preorders. As many of you know, Amazon is the largest ebook retailer by far, so this meant that over 80% of my preorders literally vanished overnight.
Doing damage control and dealing with the fallout from that kept me busy for the first week of April. The following week, I felt emotionally well enough to start writing again. For the rest of April and the first week of May, I ended up rewriting the entire beginning of Into The Fire after a friend’s helpful feedback, then wrote another 100 pages. I was so relieved to finally be back into the groove; I called my agent to tell her I expected to have Into The Fire completed by the middle of June. My agent relayed this information to my editor, who agreed to rush it through production in order to ensure that it would still release at the end of October. This is why you didn’t hear me say back in March or April that the book would be bumped. I really thought I could still get it done in time.
May 9th, I received a call from my dad saying that a doctor had found three blocked arteries leading into his heart. This horrified me because a piece of a blocked artery breaking loose is what caused my mother’s fatal heart attack. My dad opted to go with a bypass surgery versus stents, and I left town to be with him. If you read my posts about what happened next, you’ll know that my dad had serious complications after surgery and ended up staying in intensive care for over two weeks. I went back home when he was finally out of critical condition, and I attempted to get back to writing Into The Fire again. However, less than a week after he was released from the hospital, my dad had massive internal bleeding and went into arrest, so I left town to be with him again.
I knew when I left that second time that Into The Fire would have to be pushed back. So, I called my agent and told her that even if my father pulled through, I wouldn’t be able to deliver the book in time. There just weren’t enough writing days left. I didn’t know at that point what date my publisher would reschedule the release to, which is why I didn’t say anything because I wanted to tell you once I had the new release information. I ended up staying with my dad for another week as he recovered from his second life-threatening incident, and I’m happy to say that he is now in a rehab facility working on getting his strength and his mobility back.
I am now back home and working on Into The Fire again (I swear, this book title is starting to feel like a description of the past several months.) But, as I said, there’s no way I can finish it in time for it to go through revisions, copyedits, galleys, and everything else that is required for it to be published in October. I am happy that my publisher managed to squeeze it into their schedule in early 2017 instead of late 2017, and I want to thank them so much for that. I also want to apologize again to my readers for the book being bumped to February, which – two thousand words later – you can see is entirely my fault. However, while I am truly sorry that you have to wait longer for the culmination of Vlad and Leila’s story, I hope this very looooong explanation allows you to understand why. In one of my books, Cat says something like, “Life. You can only make plans for it, not dictate orders to it.”
I made plans for 2016 that got completely derailed and upended. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. As I said in my previous post, I hope that the rest of 2016 is filled with peaceful dullness, but if it isn’t, I’ll continue to muddle through the best that I can. In the meantime, I want to thank everyone for their patience as they wait a little longer to find out how the story ends for Vlad and Leila. I hope to have a snippet of Into The Fire up for you soon, too.
So, in closing, thanks again, sorry again, and I hope that the rest of 2016 treats all of you with happiness, blessings, and some peaceful dullness, too ;).
ETA: Just wanted to say thanks SO much to everyone for your support. You guys made me tear up (in a good way!) with your many, kind comments. I wish I could give all of you a big, big hug!