Happy New Year / An Announcement of a Different Sort

Happy New Year to all!

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2010!

When I was growing up in Manila, this was (is?) the standard Filipino New Year’s greeting– a wish for prosperity, which always brought to mind an image of a Daddy Warbucks-like character puffing on a cigar. Or maybe it was the little old rich guy from Monopoly. Prosperity seems an old-fashioned thing to wish to people, and somewhat materialistic, but it is not. It means we wish you a year filled with joy and abundance instead of anxiety and diminishment. So: Daddy Warbucks it is.

Anyway, I have been receiving a lot of emails asking about the sequels to Girl Stays in the Picture and Angels on Sunset Boulevard. While there always seems to be a very chest-puffing and triumphant announcement when NEW projects are born, usually when projects die…they die in a whimper. There’s shame and failure and embarrassment when a project does not come to fruition. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

Sadly, I don’t have very good news today about these books. 2009 was a very tough year for me, and a few of the things that were left by the wayside were several books that I really wanted to write. Let’s get to each book in turn.

Angels Lie: the sequel to Angels on Sunset Boulevard. I have been writing and rewriting and tearing my hair out at the writing of this book for the past three years. Last year, after turning in Van Alen Legacy, I took a week off and dived right back into Angels 2 so I could make the November 2009 publication date. My editor had come up with a great plan: repackage the book WITH the first book, I was even given leeway to completely rewrite the whole thing to make a brand-new novel. I was pumped, I was excited, I wrote the book through several drafts.

I was about to send it to my editor when I did one more re-read and came to the blunt realization that I could not release the book. I wasn’t happy with it—it felt rushed, it felt forced, and I was so exhausted already. I knew I had to rewrite it but I did not have the mental capacity to do so. I was on the verge of a breakdown when I had a second realization: I didn’t have to do this to myself. I didn’t have to drive myself crazy. I could just cancel the book and return the advance. I would buy myself some peace, and some time.

I am so very sorry for those of you who are still waiting to find out how this story ends. But I am just not ready to tell it—I am blocked on it—I thought I knew how to end it, but I don’t. Not right now. I believe I will write the sequel at some point, but I can’t tell you when, or if it would ever be published even, since the contract has been canceled. I’m truly sorry—but I would rather not release a book that I didn’t feel was worthy than release something that was half-baked. Believe me, releasing the book would have been the easy way out.

And when I said no to that, I realized that I didn’t have to continue to write the GIRL series either. I sold the GIRL series almost four years ago, and it kept getting pushed back and pushed back because of my schedule. I loved writing it but at the end of that book I was bone-tired. I was so tired last year, tired of being sad, tired of working too hard, tired of the writing treadmill. Maybe I’m just in a different place than I was four years ago, I don’t know, but the days when I could turn around a revision in two weeks are long gone.

I know some of you guys are still waiting for short stories to complete the Ashleys series too, and I’ll write a story that will wrap up the GIRL series as well. I meant to do this by the end of last year but did not have the chance to do so. I can’t apologize enough about keeping you hanging, and I will be posting these stories at some point in the future.

Thanks for understanding. Sometimes, like this post says, you have to know when to quit.