Let’s Keep This Between Us, Okay?

Here’s the thing, friends. Some of you read The Talents (or maybe you read it when it was called The Candidates). Some of you (a strong but mighty few) read The Marked (or maybe you read the ARC, when it was called The Watchers). And an even smaller, lovely, loyal, wonderful group of you have even asked me (more than once) where the last book in the series, The Chosen, had gone.

And I’ve been putting you off. For years. So I’m going to tell you exactly what happened, but because I’m a real human being and not just a bot, it would be awesome if you’d be nice to me about it, K? Because it’s story of missteps, failures, redirections, insecurity, and laziness. If you share any of these things with me, then please, read on. If not, please continue with your life and pretend you never saw this.

Part one: I write The Candidates (Taking Sides)

In this part, I wrote the book, never intending it to be a series. My lovely agent convinced me to pitch it as a series, which I did. I had one VERY IMPORTANT plot thread that I always intended to be a part of the story that I moved to the third book. This plot thread, you will learn if you read The Chosen, is not pretty. But it’s important. And it was a central part of the story from the beginning. It’s why the school is called Delcroix. It’s why Cam’s role in the book (is he good or bad?) was always intended to be a little bit ambiguous. It’s why I wrote the damn book, to explain something I was thinking about a lot in those days.

Ahem. I can’t explain any of that until you read the third book. So there.

Oh, and my lovely agent got a two book deal for The Candidates. Though it was now intended to be a three-book series.

First lesson for new writers: don’t agree to a two book deal if you’re planning three books. Three book series always lose market share as the series progresses. It’s just the way the market works. So unless the first book is a huge success, you probably won’t sell the third. And that will break your heart in many ways. 

Part two: The Candidates flops 

In this part, despite paying me a large advance and me working with an amazing editor, The Candidates is not a NY Times bestseller. It doesn’t come close to being the kind of success Disney had hoped. My chance of selling a third book becomes very very slim. Book Two of the series is put off, the series is rebranded, we move forward. I cry a lot.

Part three: The Marked flops even harder

Say no more. I cried a lot more. No one wanted to buy the third book in a series that wasn’t a hit. I wrote another YA, which I loved, but didn’t sell. My heart broke in a thousand little pieces.

But sometime during this period of heartache, my adult romance novels (I started writing adult romance first; YA grew out of that) began doing surprisingly well. I didn’t hit any big lists, but I was way more successful with my adult romance than with my YA. Meanwhile, I quit my job as a lawyer (which I didn’t love) and got a new job as a professor (which I did).

Second lesson for new writers: keep writing. You never know what will stick. Also, in all things, follow your heart. That path may occasionally leave you unemployed and desperate, but it may also bring you to the thing you always wanted but never thought you could have. 

Part four: I tried to write The Chosen

Somewhere in here I got about halfway through writing The Chosen. I was going to self-publish it or publish it with Entangled (the publisher of my adult romance) which had offered to bring it out. But I didn’t want to commit to writing it for Entangled because I wasn’t sure if I could keep the deadline. I was starting a new job and also writing my adult stuff. I figured I could just self-publish.

Reality was, I didn’t ever finish. I had a new job that–go figure–I loved. I mean really loved (and still love). The YA that didn’t sell back in part three? I self published it and it didn’t exactly hit any lists. I lost my heart for throwing myself into projects that people didn’t really want to read.

Third lesson for new writers: I regret not signing that contract with Entangled and having a hard deadline to write the book. I was emotionally beat-up after releasing first two Delcroix books, and I let that push me away from committing to write the third, even though I really wanted to tell that last part of the story. I don’t advocate getting in over your head with deadlines you can’t meet, but sometimes it’s important to have someone (an editor, a publisher), telling you to write the story, especially if you’re feeling insecure or unsure if you can finish it. 

Part four: in which my life changes

This July, my family moved to be closer to my new job. I continue to love it. I do a LOT of writing, but it’s academic stuff. I write about climate change, and corporate social responsibility, and renewable energy. I am working with undergraduate students who want to make a difference in the world. They inspire me and make me want to be a part of making a better world.

I’m not trying to make a living writing anymore. I love my job way too much. And that means I get to do what I really want. Write books that thrill me and make me fall in love. Have fun. Not care if I don’t sell many copies.

GIVE MY BOOKS TO THE 10 PEOPLE WHO WILL LOVE THEM AND FORGET THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T.

It’s been eight years since I wrote The Candidates. That’s a long time. Though Dancia and Jack are still very real in my mind, the story is dim. I want to move forward, and honestly, I wish I could have said two years ago that Delcroix was done and I could move on. But there’s one thing that really holds me back: remember that thing I moved into book three? That was an important part of the story? I needed to write it. I needed to share it.

 

Which brings us to…

Part five: in which I put my heart in your hands

So here’s the honest truth. I’m not going to make this into a pretty, polished, finished story. I’m not. But I’ve got about 5/6 of the book written, including The Thing I wanted to share with you. So I’ve decided to put that up on Wattpad and let you all read it. I haven’t edited it. Other than a basic spell check, it’s not copy edited. There’s stuff in it that doesn’t make sense. But if you really really want to know what happens to Dancia, Cam, Jack, and the rest of the gang…well, read it, and you’ll know as much as I do.

I don’t know anything about Wattpad. But I’ve heard it’s a great place for people to post their work and share it (free!) with others. Tonight, I posted The Chosen there. The part I’ve written. It’s not finished. But the important stuff is out there. I’m totally okay with you deciding for yourself what happens next.

Check out Wattpad.com. There’s apps and whatnot, or you can visit on the interweb. Just search for Inara Scott and you’ll find it.

So that’s my story. I’m glad I finally get to share it with you.

Now, I’ve got some Christmas cookies to make.

Inara, over and out

 

A Novella and an Announcement

Seducing-The-Girl-Next-DoorIt’s here! Simon and Jenna’s love story, Seducing the Girl Next Door, has finally arrived. And with it, I have an announcement.

First, let’s just take a moment to enjoy Simon’s gorgeous, thoughtful, passionate face.

Yep. He’s a keeper. :-)

Seducing the Girl Next Door is a Bencher Family novella, and with my usual crackerjack sense of the romance market, it’s about a divorced, 30 year-old mother of three who rediscovers her self and a lost love while on a business trip in Beijing.

(Ha! If you think there’s a big market for romance novels about a divorced mother of three, you’ve got about as much sense of what sells as I do!)

This novella, as usual, speaks to my core optimism about love, rebirth, and second chances. There’s also some naughty bits that are definitely not child-appropriate. :-) If you’re looking for a romantic getaway in the midst of a busy holiday season that celebrates finding yourself (and you’re over 18) this may be the book for you.

You can find all the links and publication info here: http://www.inarascott.com/adult-books/seducing-the-girl-next-door/

And now the announcement.

I’m taking a break from writing.

I’ve debated how to say this, and finally decided simple is best. It’s been an amazing four years: ten releases, five languages, twenty incredible covers, and thousands of readers. I love and adore all of you, my friends, and I appreciate your support more than I can say. I definitely won’t say I’m never coming back to writing. I love it too much. But I need a little break from the mountain of time, energy, and heart that publishing demands. I just wanted you to know.

What about Delcroix III?

Some of you might have seen my post on Facebook a few weeks ago about releasing an unfinished version of The Chosen on my website. I will probably do that soon. But I don’t plan on selling it, and you won’t be seeing a polished, published version of it.

Wait, for reals? You’re going away?

Not completely! I just need to step away from the romance/writing party for a while to recharge my batteries and focus on my family. While I won’t be tweeting or Facebooking much on my author page, please feel free to friend my real self on Facebook, or email me at inara.scott at gmail.com.

You can also find me at my website www.inarascott.com, which should remain active for some time. If and when I do put The Chosen up somewhere, I will link to it there.

Love to you all,

Inara

Winter Rain is Here!

Winter Rain is Here!

WinterRain-500x750
Hey everyone,

What a great day! I’m thrilled to let you all know that Winter Rain is here. Winter Rain is book 2 of the Love in the Rain series, and is an anthology of short stories by a group of fabulous writers. I feel incredibly lucky to have been asked to join in. And the best part? All the proceeds go to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (www.rainn.org), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States. So this project is truly a labor of love for all who were involved, and I’d love to share with you our stories.

My story is called “Sales Tax Not Included,” and besides being an honor to be asked to join in with such an amazing, talented group of writers & editors, it was an absolute blast to write. It’s a sweet, quirky glimpse into the lives of two people I would love to get to know better. They aren’t picture perfect romance hero and heroine, but I think they will touch your heart.

Winter Rain is available for an introductory price of only $.99 (digital). It will be available in print in a few days.

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think!
Inara

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PPC8F8M
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00PPC8F8M
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id941882008
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/winter-rain-delp…/1120788608
kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/winter-rain-1

Why You Shouldn’t Take That Big Advance

Why You Shouldn’t Take That Big Advance

Much has been written about the death of traditional publishing, the rise of self-publishing, and the steep road ahead for the Big Six-Five-Whatever the Number is Now (Are We Down To Two Yet? Amazon v. Everyoneelse?). There is much talk of the finances of self-publishing, and whether authors can be more successful holding out for a traditional contract with an advance or publishing themselves with no advance but much higher royalties. One thing that isn’t talked about is the emotional aspect of this–specifically, how the advance system can be devastating to the soul (and career) of young writers.

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Illustration by Paul Sahr

A few days ago, young adult author Jessica Spotswood wrote a heartfelt and emotional post about managing expectations and rising above the feeling of failure when you don’t meet a publisher’s expectations. In short, Jessica got a major deal for her debut series. The books did well, but not well enough to meet her publisher’s HUGE expectations (which were reflected in the big advance she was given). Jessica saw her promotional opportunities set up by her publisher decline, even as she went through rebranding and efforts to bump up sales. She then had to struggle with the feeling of failure for not living up to her publisher’s expectations, and the sad reality of not getting the same level of promotion for future books.

What she hasn’t yet experienced is what will happen with her next series. Several authors in comments mentioned moving publishers or self-publishing after a similar experience. The reality is that bookstores stock books according to prior sales. If you didn’t sell according to expectations, the numbers follow you. Jessica is a top-notch writer and will have a long and successful career, I have no doubt. But the legacy of the overshot expectations will follow her, and her writing will have to carry her over an additional (and entirely unfair) obstacle in the future. From the comments, it’s clear Jessica isn’t the only one to have faced this. Add me to that list. My Delcroix Academy series (now The Talents–rebranding anyone?) went through a similar (heartbreaking) series of events.

But here’s what makes me angry about Jessica’s story: the current publishing system makes it inevitable. Traditional publishers don’t know which books will be huge hits, which will be moderate sized hits, and which will flop. They really don’t. No one does. They have good, educated guesses, which turn out to be wrong 70% of the time. So the system works this way: as a publisher, you identify a handful of books that might be big hits and throw the authors big money to get them to sign with you (aka, gambling). You know most won’t meet your expectations: 7 out of 10 books don’t earn out advances. It’s part of the game.

The system continues because every now and then publishers get it right and someone makes it big. This is how they survive. They give the other, less successful books a good old college try, and then quietly disentangle themselves from the authors.

It’s all well and good for the publisher, who writes off the losses and starts gambling on the next crop of debut authors. But the emotional legacy for the author is huge. How can an author not feel like a failure when her book fails to earn out that advance? When, despite all the promotion, it doesn’t hit a list? When she is faced with the uphill climb of finding a new publisher and a new deal, after not earning out the last one?

The really sad thing is, this experience isn’t limited to authors who get major advances. It’s heightened for those authors who get the big advance and attention paid to them, but there are hundreds of authors getting smaller advances who experience the same failure to meet expectations, the same loss of confidence and crushing doubt. As a lawyer, I can’t help but wonder if we should include a new clause in the publishing contract boilerplate:

DISCLAIMER: In accepting this advance, I acknowledge that my book has a 70% chance of not meeting expectations. I acknowledge that this may result in significant emotional turmoil and distress (for me). I acknowledge that my publisher has the right to drop me like a hot potato if a new and shiny debut author comes along who has a similar 70% chance of failing, but a 30% chance of being the Next Big Thing.

Is it fun to be on the right side of the publishing gamble? Well, duh…of course it is. If you think staying at the Four Seasons, being jetted around the country on a rock star book tour, and seeing your book front and center at a bookstore is fun. But that’s not really a fair question. I’m sure meth is fun too, until you get ulcers on your face.

But here’s the thing–there are ways to avoid the advance-expectation-failure trap. Writing for a boutique publisher is one, where advances are low and quality and artistic expression are high. Self-publishing is another. Taking a lower advance with a guarantee of on-going promotion is another. And of course, 30% of writers will actually earn out those advances. So there’s always that route!

The publisher I write for now, Entangled Publishing, doesn’t give rock star advances. They give higher royalties instead. Promotion is lesser, but more equivalent across authors. Though no one would claim all books are treated equally, no one (as far as I know!) is staying at the Four Seasons. Of course, this is still a business, and we all want to earn our living. But these days when I write a book I can ask myself–did I write the best book I could write? Did I love the process of writing it? Did I make some readers happy? Did I give them the take-me-away experience that we all need?

If so, then hell yes, it was a success.

Are there things you miss by turning away from the Big Advance? Yes, absolutely. See above. But can we please start telling debut authors that chances are they’re walking into a trap when they accept that big advance? That they’re taking a huge gamble that will most likely result in heartache and disappointment, and possibly do long term damage to their careers? Can we (established) authors start telling everyone that there are other ways to success, and start seeing it in our own careers?

Publishing is a hard, hard business. My husband often shakes his head in wonder that anyone makes it through the gauntlet of negative reviews, rejection, and uneven or non-existent paychecks. My advice to young writers: do this because you love it. For all that is good and holy don’t do this for the money. Find joy in the process. When the bad reviews come (and they will!) focus on the good ones. And most of all, don’t live by someone else’s expectations.

With love,

Inara

 

100 Review Giveaway!

IMPORTANT UPDATE! First of all, let me say that I am overwhelmed at the response this weekend to my Bencher Family, especially Melissa and Garth! The Boss’s Fake Fiancee spent time in the top ten on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble bookstores, which is just unbelievable! And then just a few minutes ago, review #100 came in, which means it’s time to give things away.

First, a $25 gift card goes to ESTHER!!!! I’ll be emailing you this afternoon with your prize!

Because I am so excited, I am also going to give away THREE copies of book 3 in the Bencher family series, Falling for Mr. Wrong, to Claudia De La Fuente, Rosangela Jones and @Dandelionns!

Thank you times 100 everyone!!! :-)

dreamstime_m_22823869********
I was surprised and incredibly touched when The Boss’s Fake Fiancee first released a year ago, and we found that it really struck a chord with a lot of people. The hero, Garth Solen, is not the traditional romance novel alpha male. He’s a sexy billionaire, the head of his own company, and firmly and deliberately single–that’s all pretty standard. But when you start to get to know him, you realize there’s more under the surface. Garth loves deeply and fiercely, but he doesn’t open up easily.

He can’t. It’s far too frightening a prospect.

You see, Garth is on the autism spectrum. He finds social situations painful, and after some tough childhood experiences, has a very hard time trusting. He’s one of the most complex characters I’ve written, and one of the most dear.

He’s also hot. Let’s just be upfront about that. ;-) Here’s how Melissa, our heroine, describes him:

**
In person, of course, the first thing you noticed wasn’t his mind: it was the sexy curve of his mouth, his broad, rangy shoulders, and thick black hair. Right now, he was clean shaven, but by the end of a long day he would have an astonishingly sexy five o’clock shadow that only seemed to accentuate his piercing gray eyes.

Not that she looked.

Okay, she looked.
**

Yeah, she’s got a little crush, and by the end of the book, I hope you will too.

The Boss’s Fake Fiancee is currently on sale for only $.99. It’s also got 94 really lovely reviews from people who were touched by Melissa and Garth’s story. Frankly, I wasn’t sure it was such a good idea to write this book. I worried that readers wouldn’t understand Garth, or his journey to love. I can’t believe how wrong I was.

Now, I’d like to give something back. If we can get to 100 reviews (it’s a nice round number; I think Garth would appreciate that) I’ll give a $25 Amazon gift card to a reader. Just let me know you want in on the contest by either:

1) Posting a link to this blog on your Facebook page (or sharing the post from my FB page announcing the contest: Facebook.com/inarawrites)

2) Tweet this: Love Garth? Review The Boss’s Fake Fiancee http://amzn.to/18G9x6Z! If @inarascott gets 100 reviews, she’s giving away $25 Amazon gift card!

3) Comment on this blog–make sure to leave your email address so I can get a hold of you if you win!

And thanks. (Garth says thanks too.)

Newsletter Winner!

Newsletter Winner!

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Winners of the newsletter contest have been notified! Prizes went out today, so check your email!

Wait, you didn’t know about the newsletter contests? You must not be subscribed to my newsletter. You can sign up on my website homepage: go back to www.inarascott.com!

xoxo,
Inara

Book Release & SALE!

Today is the day! Falling for Mr. Wrong, book three in the Bencher Family series is OUT. It’s live. It’s on your screen, in your e-reader, and ready to be read.

One more time…here’s that gorgeous cover:

Falling for Mr Wrong COVER

And here’s the book! Falling for Mr. Wrong is available at: KoboAmazon, Barnes and NobleiBookstore

Oh, and the added bonus? Book One in the Bencher Family series, Rules of Negotiation, is on sale to celebrate the release. You can buy it for only $.99 at Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBookstore.

Falling for Mr. Wrong

Falling for Mr Wrong COVER

As impossible as it may seem, I’ve got another new book coming out…in just a few days! Falling for Mr. Wrong is a contemporary romance that’s the third in the Bencher Family series. You can find out all about the book, including buy links to all major retailers, here: http://www.inarascott.com/falling-for-mr-wrong/.

Here’s the back cover copy to get you started!!

Looking for Mrs. Right…

Single father of three Ross Bencher knows the kind of woman he wants: someone predictable, reliable, and safe, who can give his kids the security they deserve. Someone entirely different from high-altitude mountaineer Kelsey Hanson, who bewitches him with her long legs and wild passion. Kelsey’s about as far from his ideal as a woman can get, but try telling that to his body. Or his heart…

Falling for Mr. Wrong…

When Kelsey agreed to fill in as a temporary nanny for her best friend’s agency, she had no idea she’d be working for drop-dead sexy Ross Bencher, a man she can’t seem to keep her hands off. Kelsey knows if she wants to bring herself—and her father—back alive from the Himalayan Mountains, she can’t afford second-guessing or attachments. But Ross’s blue eyes and strong hands leave her gasping…and questioning everything she’s ever known about love…

Halloween Excerpt from A Sleep So Dark…

Small spooky woods

For Halloween, I thought it would be fun to post a little excerpt from A Sleep So Dark. In this scene, Cade has just been pulled into Tandy’s dream. Normally when this happens, he is invisible to the dreamer, but with Tandy, everything is different…

***

When he became lucid in the dream, he was in a forest, dark and thick with trees. It was not a Colorado forest. There were no evergreens rising straight and tall against the sky, no carpet of needles to cushion their feet. This was a forest of naked, curving branches. The trees had thick, gnarled trunks and a faint air of menace. Moonlight drifted through the canopy of leafless limbs.

He scanned the area quickly, trying not to panic when he didn’t see her.

He ran a few yards ahead on a narrow path that meandered through the trees. When he came around a sharp corner he saw the pale, silvery glow of a person moving through the colorless forest.

“Tandy?” he called.

The body came closer. Took form. The shape was familiar—small enough to fit in the crook of his arm but strong and graceful, long hair reflecting the moon. She assumed a crouch, tense and ready to run. “Who’s there?

He waved. “Over here. It’s me. Cade.”

“Cade?” She stopped, oddly unsurprised to find him there. “Are you coming with me?”

She could see him. His pulse began to race. They were in a dream together, and she could see him and hear him. Anything could happen now.

They met on the path. He slid his hand down her arm. He felt the firm, sculpted muscles of her shoulder, the soft skin on the back of her wrist, and the calluses on her palm. It didn’t matter anymore, he thought giddily, if he touched her. They were already intertwined. He could take her in his arms and pick up where they left off before they fell asleep. They could lose all control and no one would ever know…

What scares you? (A Sleep So Dark giveaway!)

photoI’m not a usually fan of scary movies. Nor am I a fan of scary books. Cause here’s the thing: THEY’RE SCARY. And I don’t like the feeling of being scared. So it’s a little odd that I actually sat down and thought to myself, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to write a scary, suspenseful, young adult thriller?”

But I’m like that. Unpredictable. Perhaps even a little crazy. ;-) And at the time, I thought I’d be writing the book for teens, and would be able keep the scary to a minimum and really focus on the characters and romance.

But as I was writing that book, which became A Sleep So Dark, the need to make it more suspenseful–and more scary–grew. And as the book got more and more scary, I started to freak myself out.

Seriously.

A Sleep So Dark is about dreams. Nightmares, to be precise. And becoming lucid in dreams and nightmares so you can control their outcome. This is a real therapy technique they are using with veterans and other people suffering from PTSD. Teach them to become lucid in their dreams, so instead of it suffering from nightmares, they can turn their dreams into something positive.

Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, all the research I did on becoming lucid in dreams just freaked me out more. I started to get scared to fall asleep, because I worried that I would become lucid but not be able to wake up. And what could be more awful than being trapped in a lucid dream?

Suffice to say, this book was tough to write. But it was incredibly fun to write something totally different than I ever have before. And in doing so, I discovered that I do enjoy scaring myself–I just happen to do it by sending myself headlong into new projects, pushing my boundaries, and forcing myself to grow as an artist. And this was definitely a book that did all of those things.

(And, to be honest, I threw in some romance, a hot guy, and kissing. Because those are my favorite parts.)

So here’s the really amazing thing. I assumed no one would actually be scared by my book. But according to the reviews, A Sleep So Dark is “weird but wonderful…full of chills, thrills, and suspense…” And “a scary nightmare of a story with murder, mayhem, and a unique element of the supernatural…”

Which makes me glow with pride–I did it! I managed to not only get over my fear of writing about scary stuff, I managed to create something new and suspenseful along the way! Whee!

To celebrate this accomplishment, and with Halloween just a few days away, I’m giving away a signed printed copy of A Sleep So Dark. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what scares you!

UPDATE: We have a winner! Ruthi Kight, congratulations!You’ll be hearing from me via email. :-) Thanks so much to everyone for sharing your darkest fears with me. I hope you all had a happy Halloween!