Progress & The Afterglow
Today, The Afterglow: The Complete Series boxset went live on Amazon! It has lots of good kinky fun, including high protocol (a favorite of mine!), pet play, and good ol' sadomasochism. The first book, His Toy, is a revenge story, which will always have a special place in my heart because Zaid is dreamy. <3 (And the ending was a surprise to me! A very good one at that.) The second book, His Pet, is a very new adult forbidden romance, that focuses on graduate school drama, and yes, it's definitely a nod to my own new adult days in Las Vegas. <3 (I love and miss Las Vegas. Can you tell?) The third book, His Pain, is a stalker story, which has the most traditional-ish-hero of my antiheroes. (In other words, if you like your antiheroes to lean heavily on the redeemable side, Grant in His Pain is your man.)
I wrote The Afterglow Series early in 2020, before writing The Dahlia District Series and The Adler Brothers Series. There are a few reasons why this is important to me.
I've learned a heck of a lot in this last year. I wrote those books when I was still uncomfortable writing the word--wait for it--pussy. No joke. I still don't care for that word, but I now know that it's expected of the genre, so I use it. (Personally, if I had to choose, I'd use cunt, but I know that's a hard one for most people.) I was also uncomfortable putting certain kinks in my writing despite how much I love these kinks in real life. (Basically, I didn't know how far or dark I could go.) I had also never written a series of interconnected standalones before, which meant that I did not plan the series arc at all when I first started. This resulted in overlapping timelines, which I thought would be fun, and maybe it is for some readers, but for most, it's probably a little confusing. I've also had plenty of practice writing novels since then. When I started The Afterglow Series, I had published 3 novels and 3 novellas (half of which weren't even dark romance). As of right now, I've published 14 novels and 3 novellas (80% of which are dark romance).
Back to The Afterglow: The Complete Series... The boxset has been fairly well-received so far, but more with new ARC readers than my long-time ARC readers...which makes me so happy!! Now, granted, I don't like disappointing readers at all, but what I like is that this shows progress. My long-time ARC readers expect more from my work, since they've read my recent novels. And that's a good thing!
I love knowing that with each book, I improve. I read every single review, even when it hurts, because I want to grow as a writer. I want to keep writing better and better works for you! (And I know I can't please everyone, and I'm honestly not trying to. But when there's a pattern in the reviews, then something needs to change. I've always got an eye out for those patterns. Practice, practice, practice.)
I want to highlight two long-time ARC readers' reviews. The first review made me so happy, because, like I said, it showed progress. Bonus points because this reviewer was the first person ever to notice the Beauty and the Beast hints I was trying to layer into His Toy! (It's most definitely not a retelling, but if you pay attention, there are a lot of little hints throughout.) I would write him/her/them to say how much their review means to me, but sadly, I have no way to contact them through BookSirens. D: So instead, I will say it here: Thank you for reading my books and writing such thoughtful reviews! It means so much to me!
"His Toy reminded me a little of Beauty and the Beast... A gripping collection which ends with a satisfying conclusion all round, but I found it didn't flow quite as well as the Dahlia District or Adler Brothers collections. This may be because they were written before both of these collections."
As for the second review--again, I want to thank this reviewer for reading not one, not two, but three of my series now! She always writes such thorough and thoughtful reviews, too. I have the best ARC team:
"...This 3 books have been good, although it has not been my favorite series of the author."
So while it may be silly to be ecstatic over 3 and 4 star reviews, I am here, my friends, telling you that I'm proud of how far I've come. Which brings me to a little update...
The duet is coming along well! Now, it's a challenge for me, because it's a retelling, which I've never done before, and it's a duet, which I've also never done before. I've definitely had some struggles throughout, but I am confident that I've leveled up my character and relationship development for this couple. And I have a few alpha and beta readers to thank for that! (You are all amazing!!!)
Anyways, cheers to The Afterglow: The Complete Series! I hope you all enjoy it. <3