It has been a very long time since words intimidated me. The first time I was paid to write, I was fifteen. The first time I was paid to write full-time, I was twenty. I’ve been a professional writer, editor, and designer for more than half my life.

Sure, I was a little nervous in 2009, when I realized a short story from a class I didn’t want to take was about to turn into a novel. Cut me some slack! I had never even entertained the idea of writing fiction, and had only barely written the short story under duress. I was stunned when I realized the novel was going to be the size of four novels, weighing in at 400,000 words, disturbed when I realized I could only break it in two, not four—The Stolen Child and Concrete Loyalties.

But since then, I’ve written two additional novels, Blind Tribute and Royal Regard, and most of a novella, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess, and published a book of poetry, Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness.

Published or not, I’m not a novice novelist anymore.

Since I started writing Regency romance, about eight months ago, I’ve been trying to envision a cast of characters that could stand up to a series of three or more books. On one hand, it is an industry thing: romance publishers like series and I’m told creating a well of inspiration isn’t a bad long-term plan.

On the other, it’s personal. I have been bouncing around among casts for five years. I never feel like I have closure with my characters when I finish a book, but there is never a full sequel left in the throes. (I tried for months to continue Blind Tribute.) So, for personal and professional reasons, I’ve been looking for the cast of a box set.

Until today. This afternoon, I stumbled on the series.

Six titles, each with its own hero, heroine, and basic premise. The Family Follescroft, who can traipse with me through Regency England, and their ancestral homes, for the next couple of years, at least.

This is the same sensation that started every other book: the tiniest twinge of a spark of an inkling that something magical is in the air, that the breeze will soon bring me a new troupe of characters. The same instinctive mood of blank openness that will invite them to have a cup of tea with me. The same mild, almost imperceptible buzz of expectation that means a story is starting, somewhere, that will be pulling me along like a kite inside a month.

By the time I began La Déesse Noire two months ago, the anticipation was old hat. I patted myself on the back for not being at all intimidated by another large project. I was smug—SMUG—about how well I recognized the signs and got to work. This time? I have to admit, I’m at risk of losing my stomach, only keeping my dinner down by focusing my attention entirely on a blog post.

For now, better that than considering the implications of knowing more a year from now about the Follescrofts than I do about my own family.

Come tomorrow, though, I have a viscount, a privateer, a cleric, a cavalry officer, a farmer, and a spinster to welcome into my life.

I hope they know better than I how they are going to fit in.


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