Back in 1999 I outlined a dark fantasy novel series about a secret society of vampires who lived among us. While at the time there wasn't much vampire fiction on the market, I had faith in the idea. Unfortunately I was also a rookie writer and had almost no confidence in myself or my work. The first rejection I received for that proposal was so harsh that I became convinced it was a terrible idea and couldn't work up the nerve to send it out again. I packed up all my outlines and notes, cried over it a little, and then put it away and moved on.
I couldn't let go of the terrible idea entirely, so I wrote some short stories about my vampires for my own amusement. They came out so well that I decided to post a couple on my web site. My readers then went crazy over them, which confused me. If this was a terrible idea, why were they begging me to write more?
I respect my readers' opinions, but the old rejection still haunted me, so I hauled out on my old files, took a hard look at the idea and began tinkering. The only major change I made with the idea concerned the vampires, who had originally been former poets called Darklings. I thought I could do better, so I consulted history, found new inspiration, made my vampires former Templars, renamed them the Darkyn and ran with it from there.
When I submitted my not-so-terrible idea again, I sold it to the first editor who looked at it (after she had a tussle with the second editor who saw it and also wanted to acquire the series.) The series got published, the books began appearing on the Times list and suddenly I had a big hit on my hands.
Nightbound, my fourteenth Darkyn universe novel, in print debuts next week. It's the final book in the third series for this universe, and fourteen years ago I could never have imagined being here. Thanks to my readers I am, and that's part of the magic of the writing life. So is this:
To celebrate this lovely moment I'm giving away a signed set* of all fourteen Darkyn universe novels in print. If you'd like a chance to own them, in comments to this post name your favorite character from the series (or if you don't have one, toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Thursday, May 9th, 2013. I'll choose one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner all fourteen signed novels and a surprise**. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.
*Unless the winner would like the books personalized I'm going to flat-sign the set, which should increase their value as collectors prefer books with signatures only, and I rarely flat-sign anything.
**No, I won't tell you what the surprise is -- that would spoil it -- but my surprises are always good ones.