Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Out today! Omega (Penton Legacy 3)

Omega, the third book in my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series written as Susannah Sandlin comes out today!

The story behind the series and how it came to be is a typically convoluted publishing tale, so I thought I'd share it today.

In 2009, while wallowing around in misery with the H1N1 virus, I came up with a fever-induced idea: What if a human pandemic vaccine changed human blood chemistry enough to make it deadly for vampires? What would happen if vampires began starving?

I'd sold my first two urban fantasy books a while back and was in that limbo-land between contract and publication, so I decided to try my hand at a few new things at once: 1) a book written pantser-style; 2)  a paranormal romance written from multiple points of view--like five or six points of view; and 3) NaNoWriMo.

What a disaster.

At the end of NaNo, I had a 50k-word hot mess. It was a story set in a town called Stockholm, Alabama, and featured a master vampire, Galen, and the human doctor, Beth, he's forced to kidnap. She falls for him, of course, but might have Stockholm Syndrome, thus the oh-so-clever name of the town.

It had some serious problems, besides being too short. It straddled the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance without ever really committing to either genre. Up to that point, I hadn't realized how very different these genres are to write. And they're really, really different. Its love scenes were all closed-door. This is fine for urban fantasy but is Not Done in paranormal romance.

So I fixed the story. I renamed the town Penton, after a crossroads community in Chambers County, Alabama. I deconstructed the novel and wrote a freaking outline. I committed it fully to being a paranormal romance. I found out that the name Galen was not in use when my hero was born in late 16th-century Ireland, so he became Aodhan, or Aidan. I fleshed out the heroine's character and changed her name to Krystal (after the fast-food chain). I developed a trilogy story arc for books called Redemption, Absolution, and Omega.

Oh, did I mention that it took me a month to write Redemption and almost a year to fix it? Oy! Needless to say, I haven't entered NaNo since.

My agent shopped the revised book a couple of places but nobody seemed to want vampires anymore, so I stuck it away, forgotten, while I wrote the third book in my UF series. My agent, however, hadn't forgotten about it, so no one was more surprised than me when she called in January 2012 and said Montlake Romance wanted the trilogy. Yay! Yikes! I was almost finished with the third book in my urban fantasy series and had two book releases coming in 2012 already, and all that entails. Suddenly, had two more books to write. (Good problem to have.)

Redemption came out in June as I was writing Absolution, which came out in October as I was writing Omega. It has been a crazy ride that all began with a fever of 103 and a dream about vampires.

I learned a lot about myself through the life cycle of this trilogy, about how I handle tight deadlines, about how I handle pressure, about my own writing process. I confirmed I am in no way a pantser, and that I like multiple POV books but they're a lot harder to write than they look. I learned that there is a pretty substantial difference between paranormal fantasy (as urban fantasy is starting to be called) and paranormal romance. I learned to dig deep into characters to find out what makes them tick, and to not be afraid of stepping out on the ledge with their stories.

And so here, finally, we have Omega.

If you're an author, did you have a book that taught you a lot of lessons about craft and about yourself?  If you're a reader, do you differentiate between urban/paranormal fantasy and paranormal romance? I'll pick one commenter on Sunday to win your choice of a print, digital, or audio version of Omega (or one of the other books in the series).


Roger said...

CONGRADULATIONS! Release day for Omega is finally here. I'm going outside and wait for the mailman...

Meda White said...

Congratulations on the release. This is one of my favorite new series. I am a huge fan of the Sentinal series as well. You are very gifted.

As a writer,I am learning more each day. I can't wait to take your plotting class.

As a reader, I can't really differentiate between between the PR/UF thing- gives me a headache.
Anyway, best wishes for much success.

Rebe said...

Congratulations on release day! I actually prefer UF to PNR these days. I find the UF books to have more complex plots and worlds, which I enjoy.

Carla Swafford said...

Congratulations! You go, girl!

Lexi said...

What a story, Suzanne! So proud of you and your new release. Hot, hot, cover, BTW. In my experience, every book is a hairball and I'm a hot mess while hot mess, and so am I while writing it. I tear my hair out over every one of them.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks guys--nice to come out of that looooong staff meeting (don't they know it's release day??) and find your good wishes!

This was a real learning book for me, and I'm excited for it to be out!

miki said...

Congratulations!! You can be proud of your accomplishments , you did learn from your experience and when we read your books we can see it

Cari Hislop said...

You amaze me! To juggle all those stories mentally (and to finish them) you must be super-human. Seriously...amazing! And I love how you made that fever pay dividends. That rocks!

Each book I finish teaches me something either about myself or human nature in general. It's like there's a library of observation and knowledge in my brain I can only access through my characters.

elaing8 said...

Happy Release Day!!!
Great post today.I find UF is more about the world building and paranormal romance more about the romance. But both are character driven.

Suzanne Johnson said...

@Miki--thank you!

@Cari--I always learn something as well, which is a good thing! Yes, both PNR and UF are character-driven, but the amount of focus on the characters and their relationship, as opposed to the external plot, are the key differences (and the ending).

Suzanne Johnson said...

@Elaine...Yes, the worldbuilding in UF is usually of more importance than in PNR...although I think good PNRs need a rich world too, especially series. I think worldbuilding is one of my favorite parts of writing series!

mariska said...

Happy Release Day !! even i haven't read any of the book in the series..they are now in my TBW books :)

Barbara E. said...

Congrats on the release of Omega, I'm looking forward to reading it.
Frankly, I can't really tell the difference most of the time between urban/paranormal fantasy and paranormal romance. I just know that I love it all. If there's some romance in the story, that's cool, and if not, I'll still enjoy the great characters and story.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks, Mariska and Barbara!

Barbara, I think for the reader (including myself) the line between UF and PNR is not as clear-cut as for the writer. PNR has more "rules" that it has to follow :-)

bn100 said...

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