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By 2013, I’d been published for four years, but success had been checkered. While my Rod and Cane Society domestic discipline series sparkled, several non spanking romances fizzled. Body Politics had come out in January 2013 and did very well. In May 2013 I had three releases–none of which produced any significant income. Destiny’s Chance, my main book and the one I’d counted on, bombed. Disciplinary Measures (Rod and Cane 4), a short story, was released initially on Loose I’d website only. Once it dropped off the home page, so did my sales. (In October 2013 Loose Id finally released it on Amazon and sales took off). And after splitting royalties seven ways, the Coming to Terms anthology income was negligible also.
I had to get Rod and Cane 5 out in a hurry. I was chiseling away at it — had 20K written– when I got an idea for a sci-fi story, inspired by an idea of women as sex slaves. These wouldn’t be consensual BDSM slaves protected by hard limits and safewords, but women who were by law without any rights. Of course, I could not set such a story in present times, so it had to be sci-fi.
Sci-fi? What did I know about sci-fi other than watching Star Trek and reading The Andromeda Strain?
But the idea wouldn’t leave me alone and gradually the kinky domination tale turned dystopian. What if society were a caste system and women existed on the lowest rung? What if women had so little value that men partnered with each other used women only as breeding incubators? What if one of the highest ranking males of the society purchased a slave for breeding, fell in love with her and rejected his male partner? What if everything these people were taught and believed with unshakable certainty was bullshit?
Between the time I first got the idea for Rod and Cane 5 and when I finally got around to writing it, my enthusiasm for RC 5 had cooled, while Breeder was shouting, “Write me! Write me!” But I was worried. And had reason to be.
Of three books that had bombed, two were paranormal. I figured it was because I had no paranormal fan base. I damn sure had no science fiction fan base. Furthermore, people either like sci-fi or they don’t. I had serious doubts that my contemporary spanking fiction fans would follow me into a sci-fi world, and feared that science fiction readers would be turned off by the spanking.
I wasn’t even sure if I should include spanking. From the beginning, I did not see Breeder as a spanking romance. It was too dark. I saw it as a dystopian science fiction romance set a violent, misogynistic world. Omra isn’t secretly thrilled by male dominance, she fears it. She’s been brutalized by it. Can I/should I include spanking alongside vicious beatings? Could I write story that included domestic discipline and domestic violence? Would people confuse them?
Would Loose Id even want the story? M/M romance is one of its mainstays. Between the lines, Breeder has a pro-gay social message, but in the actual story the lead character rejects his M/M relationship for an M/F one.
I foresaw an M/M sex scene. Would M/F romance readers be turned off by M/M content, brief though it was?
I felt like I was taking a big risk with everything. I could make myself crazy thinking about all the what-ifs so I decided to write the story exactly as I envisioned it and worry about what happened later.
From the onset, I felt Breeder had the most compelling opening chapter of any book I’d written. My gut told me if I could get people read the first chapter, they would buy the book. With previous works, I always had used the blurb as the marketing tool. With Breeder, I knew it was the excerpt.
So I broke one of my key rules of not releasing unedited excerpts, and I ran a first chapter of Breeder on my blog while still writing the first draft of the novel. (However, I combed through the excerpted material meticulously). The reaction I got to the excerpt was heartening. People liked it. They were intrigued.
To save time in case Loose Id didn’t accept it, I submitted a partial and synopsis rather than the complete manuscript as was my practice. I had a contract in a week.
Breeder was different from all my other book projects. I truly mean no arrogance when I say this, but for first time I did everything right. I took a more active role with the cover art, and I changed the way I promoted the book so that there was a demand for it before the book came out. I also had huge support from my Street Team and my author friends. Many, many people shared Facebook posts, wrote reviews, tweeted, blogged. I had an entire village supporting this book.
Breeder released in October 2013 to instantaneous success. I made money more on Breeder in three months than I’d made in the previous year. It has become my most successful book to date.
In typical fashion, I started writing Breeder thinking it was going to be a stand-alone. But I got into it and realized it had series potential, and envisioned a trilogy: Breeder, Terran and Enclave. When I told my editor to expect a series, she asked if there would be five books since there were five Alphas of Parseon. Duh. I hadn’t even thought of that! I gave it serious consideration, but when I realized that two of the Alphas were hardcore bad guys, I knew I needed to stick with the trilogy.
As soon as I’d had Breeder finished (but before it was published), I’d begun working on Rod and Cane 5 again, but when Breeder did so well, I set Rod and Cane on the back burner again (poor Liz Davenport!) to write Breeder 2: Terran. That was something else I did right–this time I did not break the momentum.
I knew at the start heroine Tara would be injured and would be taken to hero Marlix’s domicile to recover. What I didn’t know was how to get her there. It was the equivalent of a Walmart checker being brought to the Lincoln bedroom of the White House to convalesce. And then, unbeknownst to me, Marlix kidnapped her. Problem solved!
But then he moved her to the Enclave. New problem created. The grand battle of book three was supposed to occur at the sooper sekrit Enclave, but Marlix revealed too much in Terran. Not to mention that Qalin burned it to the ground! Between the two of them they destroyed the setting for my third book. Now what was I going to do? To to complicate matters, I’d tagged Anika as the heroine but I had no idea who the hero was! Urazi? Commander Ilian? Tarbek’s replacement? The first two books starred Alpha Commanders. Shouldn’t I continue with an Alpha as the lead of book three? When I realized beta Urazi needed to prove himself—that he was in fact a mis-assigned alpha, I had my third book. Warrior.
All of the changes that have begun to occur in books one and two come to a head in book 3. I think readers will be surprised at what occurs. There are scenes in Warrior readers might find disturbing, but I chose to write it as I envisioned it. If Breeder was dystopian sci-fi and Terran was romantic comedy, Warrior is romantic suspense (and maybe a little erotic horror). It is the most action-packed of all the books.
I am in editing mode on Warrior, and will be submitting to Loose Id in a couple of weeks. I anticipate a fall publication date.
Coming tomorrow: a sneak peek excerpt from Warrior and some thoughts of what I might do after the Breeder series.
Tomorrow’s Amazon gift certificate will be $30, plus a secret prize! A “surprise prize.” And remember, every time you post a comment, you’re entered for a chance to win a bottle of Spanking Bottom Red Wine. Be sure to leave your email address.