Tilting at Windmills

Over twenty years ago, Clare and I sat in the cafe at Immaculate Heart of Mary High School and came up with two characters. I came up with Aerin Stargazer, a world weary mercenary who's caught up in forces much larger than herself and she's not too happy about it. Clare came up with Robyn Piper, a Bard touched by magic and dedicated to the helping the forces of the Light. In all reality, Robyn and Aerin were actually just a summer entertainment. Every summer of my childhood we'd pack up and ship out to our family summer home and Clare would stay in Oak Park. So, we came up with these characters as a way to keep in touch over the summer.

Clare started. She wrote me a letter from Robyn's perspective telling about a search for star bearers. I still have that lavishly illustrated letter in my office. Aerin wrote back, telling her friend all about her adventures. Several years later, hundreds of pages and we had . . . well, we had a mess, but an entertaining mess all the same.

High school ended. We went to different colleges in different states. Aerin and Robyn started to collect dust in the drawers and on the computer. Years later, I dusted them off, asked Clare if I could have these characters. She cheerfully told me they were mine. Between projects at the moment, I happily dove into a rewrite. The actually story Clare and I wrote all those years ago actually became back story to the book that eventually became DARK RAINBOW'S END. By 2000 I'd finished the story and gotten a nibble on it from DAW--yep, that DAW, one of the big publishers in New York. Flattering as that was, it went nowhere.

Year after year, rejection after rejection piled up. I pulled the book back, looked at it, ripped it apart and rewrote it. Then sent it out again on its rounds. Once again, many years, many rejections. Finally, it wound up at Solstice. They'd published my time travel romance. This book was so much dearer to my heart. They just had to  . . .They just . . . didn't.

I have to admit that it was more than a little crushing when Solstice turned down RAINBOW. I sulked for about a month or two, then I really sat down and looked at the editor's comments. All the editors who had taken the time to actually talk to me about RAINBOW had all said the writing was solid, the world building excellent, but it just fell flat. Solstice told me they thought it was rushed. Rushed??? Part of me wanted to scream, how could over 400 pages be rushed?? Then a lightbulb moment. I could almost hear the celestial "aaaahhhh!" It was rushed. Four hundred pages to save the world after bringing to the brink of destruction?

I was trying to fit an entire trilogy into a single book. This required a lot of thought and a lot of work. Not to mention a lot of courage. It was terrifying when I first ripped the book into thirds. From there, I had to carefully determine what needed to be written, what needed to be edited, and what needed to be dropped. Months later, thousands of words later, and hundreds of doubts later here we are. I crossed my fingers and sent the book out again--no longer DARK RAINBOW'S END, but THE SHATTERED PRISM: Book One of the Star Circle Trilogy.

I held my breath and the gamble paid off. Over twenty years later, hundreds, perhaps thousands of pages, and four major re-writes and Aerin and Robyn finally have a home. Now, all I have to do is edit the first book, and get cracking on book two. I know where it's going. These characters are as familiar to me as my own face by this point. I hope that you enjoy Aerin and Robyn's adventures. They stretch so much further than their printed page.


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