As I mentioned in a previous post, I finished writing The Sweetest Burn, book two in the Broken Destiny series, about two weeks ago. Then, I went on vacation, hence the silence on the blog. I’m back now, and on the move again with the RWA (Romance Writers of America) convention in New York next week. Before I pack that suitcase, however, I wanted to give everyone a head’s up about a question that I get asked a lot: what happened to the deleted scenes from the Night Huntress books that you used to have on your website?
First, an explanation to those of you who don’t already know the story. The first four Night Huntress books were the first books I had ever written, and I never thought they’d be published because, well, I hadn’t even started trying to get published at that point. I wrote them for me, which meant that I took more page time to explore the characters through alternate scenarios, multiple side plots, additional backstory, additional love scenes, and increased personal revelations.
At some point while I was writing book four, my husband suggested that I should see if I could get the first novel published before I kept writing more in the same series. I agreed, albeit reluctantly because again, I didn’t expect that these books would sell. I’d always been told that writers never sell the first book they wrote, and since no publisher would start at the second, third, or fourth book in a series, I figured that writing these would be nothing more than an enjoyable learning experience. Still, pursuing publication would pacify my husband, so I began looking for a literary agent. This was back in 2004, and I knew nothing about publishing nor did I know anyone in the industry. The digital market didn’t exist at this point, so self-publishing wasn’t a viable option. My chances were limited to having a literary agent sign me so that a publisher might take a chance on me, or never being published at all.
I revised my first book many times while shopping for an agent, and it was during those years that I learned to be ruthless about paring my story down to only the scenes that kept the pacing taut and advanced the main plot. This meant that later, I ended up taking out a lot of material from the original versions of my second, third, and fourth novels. This wasn’t easy because I loved those versions, but to quote Stephen King, sometimes, you have to kill your darlings. However, I saved all that extra material instead of outright deleting it. Over the years, I posted a scene or two to show readers some of what didn’t make it into the published novels, and I was surprised and delighted when readers requested more. Last year, I posted a large, alternate “middle” version of Destined For An Early Grave, Night Huntress book four, and when I asked readers if they wanted to see more alternate versions, the answer was a resounding yes.
That’s why I decided to compile my deleted scenes and alternate versions into one single file, so that readers could see the full version of Cat and Bones’s story in addition to the official, published novels. This has been a big task. Because of my many revisions, I had several different versions of each of the first four novels spread out onto old disks, CD’s, emails, and/or backup files on my hard drive. For added complication, some of the files were password-protected, and in the decade-plus since I wrote them, I forgot what the passwords were. That meant I had to comb through over ten years of “sent” files on my email to see if I’d emailed the story to any friends for feedback (I had, thank God!) Then, once I had versions I could actually open, I read through everything to pull out only the best scenes and alternate versions. I also wanted to include commentary as to why a particular scene or version didn’t make it into the published books so that readers could get a glimpse into my thought process. After that, I’m going to send the entire compilation to be professionally proofread and copy-edited. Needless to say, in their original versions, there were grammatical errors galore.
The result will be Outtakes From The Grave, a sort of pseudo-companion anthology which will contain all of the deleted scenes I previously posted, plus lots of never-before-posted scenes and three alternate versions from sections of three different books, all with added commentary. I’m still not done compiling everything, and already, it’s well over a hundred thousand words, so it will be longer than the length of a regular novel. I expect it to take another month before I have everything compiled and laid out in linear series timeline, then it will be off to copyediting and proofreading. All in all, I expect to self-publish Outtakes From The Grave in ebook toward the end of this year.
Sorry for the delay on this, but I hope this explanation clears up why it’s taken so long. Thank you for your patience, and I hope that once Outtakes From The Grave is available, you will enjoy revisiting Cat, Bones, and the rest of the Night Huntress gang as much as I enjoyed writing about them :).
For clarification, all of these deleted scenes and alternate versions are from the first four books of the Night Huntress series only.