That’s probably explanation enough, but I know some of you are also authors or are curious about the creative process, so I've decided to explain the cause for delay in more detail in the hopes that it might help you out in your own creative journey. I’ve had so many conversations lately with part time writers who feel overwhelmed with their fledgling careers and with full time writers who feel the urge to push beyond their limits in an attempt to measure up to their peers. Maybe some honest conversations and transparency will help everyone breathe a little easier.
Writing is fun and wonderful. Writing is something I love with all my heart.
Writing is also really hard at times, and to pretend otherwise does a huge disservice to everyone involved in this creative pursuit. Nothing is fun all the time, even if you love it.
So first, let’s talk about COVID-19. Like many of you, my experiences in this pandemic have been a roller coaster of ups, downs, and everything in between. The world shut down just as I was scheduled to go on a month long international adventure. I was travelling to Japan with a group of friends for a much needed vacation. I was going to Tennessee to see the premiere of a play I co-wrote with a friend. I was presenting at the Music Teachers National Conference in Chicago. All huge honors. All events that involved months of planning.
All of them were canceled.
Once I stopped reeling from those cancellations (and the closure of the music school where I teach), I decided to throw myself into writing. It seemed like a logical thing to do. I was stuck at home. I love to write. I finally had all the time in the world to do it.
But I seriously underestimated the stress all the changes in my life had caused. We’ve all seen the posts saying “Be kind to yourself” or “You don’t have to be productive right now,” but I genuinely love my work and wanted to do it. But even with that enthusiasm, I hit a wall a few months into this new schedule and burned out hard. Part physical exhaustion, part mental exhaustion, burnout is one of those things you have to live through to fully understand. I found myself unable to write anything for a month while I struggled to rebuild my energy and recover, which definitely slowed down my writing.
But at that point, to be honest, I wasn’t thinking much about writing. I just wanted my brain back. I’m pleased to report that I’m doing so much better now. I took the time off that I needed, focused on my physical health, did as many recharging things I could think to do, and started seeing a counselor to learn healthier ways to cope with stress. Out of all of these things, seeing a counselor made the biggest difference, which is why I’m sharing this now. I didn’t want to see a counselor. I didn’t want to admit that I needed help and couldn’t do it on my own.
But sometimes you need help and can’t do it on your own. There’s a unique kind of strength in admitting that. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but the system of support that sprang up around me once I finally asked for help has been absolutely astounding. I’m doing really well now, but the process of going through burnout (twice) since March has slowed down everything.
The other reasons Princess of Roses is delayed are more craft related. To make a long story short… this book is very long! I expected it to be about the same length as Princess of Mermaids, but I reached that length and found the end was nowhere in sight. I’m still drafting the final chapters and adding polish, so I’m not sure what the final word count will be. But it will certainly be more than expected!
Rosemary and Darian had a lot to get through before they reached their happy ending, and I refuse to rush them. I had no intention of writing such a long book, but Beauty and the Beast is a more involved story than the others I’ve adapted. There are more plot points. More characters in the original. I failed to account for the fact that retelling a longer fairy tale would result in a longer book. It’s a mistake I (hopefully) won’t make again. Still, the more complex source material has given me a lot to play with, and I am so excited to release it into the world!
I also tried a few experiments with this book as I tried to refine my writing process. (Ironically, this was meant to make the writing go faster.) I love the idea of outlines for writing, but I rarely (never) stick to them. So for Princess of Roses, I decided to scrap the outline and do more upfront world building instead. I got to know the characters before I started writing. I made charts showing where and why everyone would have conflict. I researched medieval towns to collect details for the settings. I made a calendar to line up the events of Princess of Roses with the past three books in the series. I had a lot of fun doing this. It let me write quickly with a lot more details, which once again added to the length of the book.
Also, this book is rather more complicated than the previous books in the series. The main villains are starting to show their hands. Characters from three books are popping in and causing chaos (I’m looking at you, Stefan and Carina). Some seeds that I planted in book one are finally starting to peep out of the ground. Or to break through in a burst of magic, depending on the seed. The series is developing in an exciting way, but all those plot points took time to sort out. While I’d like to say I’ve learned my lesson and will never write a complicated book again, the real lesson learned is that I love writing complicated books. I just need to accept they take more time to write and give myself the time needed to write them well.
I’m also delaying the release as a courtesy to my team. My previous books have all been solo efforts. I did almost everything myself, only gathering feedback from betas and having keen eyed readers hunt for typos before publication. This time around, I’ve gathered a marvelous team of editors, consistency checkers, and proofreaders to help me polish the manuscript until it sparkles. Sometimes you need help and can’t do it on your own. I am beyond excited to work with these talented people, and it would be completely unfair to ask them to rush their part of the process when I’m the reason the book is behind schedule.
I think that covers just about everything, and I hope this post was helpful. I debated if I should write it or not for a long time. I don’t want to be negative about a career and book that I love. I don’t want to scare anyone away from writing or working hard or trying new things. But I also don’t want someone else to stumble into the mess I found myself in when I had the ability to warn them. I hate seeing my fellow authors burned out and stressed. This is a weird, unique, hopefully not repeated in our lifetime pandemic, but COVID also can’t be blamed for all of these situations. My hope is that we can all learn from this, learn from each other, and come out of this season stronger than ever. We have books to write and books to read, and I’m looking forward to all of it.
A. G. Marshall
Bonus scenes, glimpses into my writing process, and more!
Join my newsletter to get new release updates and free bonus content!