MFA and Afterwards
The beginning of 2020 started out wonderfully. I graduated from the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing (Popular Fiction) program after attending a final writing residency in Maine with some of my favorite people. After two years of studying fantasy and romance and the ways both can intersect, I was ready to finish drafting the rest of my thesis novel Afterlight and pursue traditional publication.
And then the pandemic hit.
I was very lucky in many ways. Both my spouse and I are able to work remotely, so we didn’t have to worry about our jobs or keeping safe. Yet 2020 had a multitude of other stressful events that took a huge toll on me. Somehow I managed to focus enough to finish drafting Afterlight but then I got stuck in revisions and didn’t know why. Pacing, structure, and characterization all seemed solid, but something was fundamentally wrong. Faced with burnout and in desperate need of a reset, I turned to my favorite comfort: Romance novels. I binged a ton of them.
During my binge, I came across T. Kingfisher’s Paladin's Grace and her series of novels set in the world of the Temple of the White Rat. Reading them felt like coming home. They are a delightful blend of the kind of D&D style adventure fantasy novels I’d consumed in vast quantities as a teenager, but they also have a swoony central romance. They were a compass to remind me what gave me joy and what I truly wanted to write and read. Carly Lane’s amazing SFF romance coverage throughout the year also served as a huge inspiration and light in the darkness (as well as adding many books to my TBR pile).
Friends, I’m a romance writer. What I want to read and write about is smut and adventure and happy endings. Afterlight felt wrong because I was trying to make it a super serious complex plot driven narrative when it’s really all about the relationship between two women who just want to be together and bang, and I wasn’t allowing their choices and desires to shape the story. While I set it aside to consider how I want to re-approach revisions with that in mind, I started drafting something new. Something completely self-indulgent and only for me. The premise was ‘what if I wrote tropetastic sapphic fantasy adventure romances where each book’s pairing focused on RPG archetypes like bard/mage, paladin/warlock, ect’ and I did whatever I wanted because I promised myself no one else ever had to see it. Instead of being afraid of too many tropes or too much smut I embraced them all and let them happen exactly as my heart wished.
The words poured out of me more easily than ever before. Suddenly, I had a whole trilogy outlined, and a huge chunk of the draft done for the first book. Just look at the sort of fun I’ve been having:
People loved the excerpts I was brave enough to share, so I decided that maybe I would do something with this book after all. For years I’ve also been co-writing a series of epic fantasy romance novels that was similarly “just for fun, just for us” with one of my dearest friends, Kendra Corbeau, and after speaking to her we knew we finally needed to do something with those, too.
Plans to self-publish instead of go the traditional route came from careful consideration after talking to other author friends and mentors who self-publish or went hybrid in my target genres. I thought a lot about how I wanted my career as an author to look and also got a little obsessed with everything related to independent publishing—I have a successful day job in the tech startup industry that I love and saw this as another exciting challenge. And if I was going to self-publish, why not go all in and start my own company? Therefore Runeweaver Press was born.
Hymn of Dreams, book one of my previously mentioned fantasy adventure romance series, will be Runeweaver Press’s first release in Fall of 2021. Sometime after that, Kendra and I hope to introduce you to the world of Blackmoon. I’m also still reworking Afterlight to let it become the story it was meant to be, and then will decide if it’s best suited to indie publishing or if I want to try to take a more traditional route.
For now Runeweaver Press will remain small with books by just me and Kendra. But one day it might grow! I’m already planning how to include visual novels and D&D Campaign Settings into the schedule. It will be very niche and nerdy, but this endeavor is a labor of love to share all of the things that make me happiest. I hope they make you happy, too.
Other Nerdish Delights
To wrap things up, here’s a few playlists I recently found that are perfect for writing or to use as background music for your tabletop RPG adventures:
Stay safe and healthy until next time, friends!