Monday, August 28, 2017

Cover reveal! The end of an epic fantasy series!

This gorgeous cover by Perry Elisabeth represents the culmination of six and a half years, five books, and 650,000 words to tell an epic fantasy story. The journey of this tale is almost as fantastic as the tale itself!

The original version of He Who Finds Mercy was not publishable, as detailed in this article. Being a pack rat, I did keep the manuscript for several years, since there were elements of the story I really liked.

When my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2011, I pulled the manuscript out of a drawer, tossed everything but the opening scene, and asked Prince Valerian and Mercy to tell me their story. I only meant it as a writing exercise to distract me in the grief of watching my hero, my larger-than-life father slowly and painfully die over the next eleven months.

Once I reached chapter 80, I realized this was more than one book and might take at least three to tell the whole story!

I honestly wasn't thinking "for publication" but after taking several chapters to my critique group, they encouraged me to query publishers and agents. I was still writing on the story and had the first book, Mercy's Prince edited when my non-Hodgkin's lymphoma suddenly and painfully came back late in May 2015. The pain was so excruciating my husband and I thought the doctor would say it was stage 4 and nothing to be done but pain control, so I found a pre-made cover, asked the designer to tweak it a bit, and self-published Mercy's Prince, dedicated to my father, as a good-bye to family and friends in early July 2015.

Thankfully the cancer was "only" stage 3 and chemo put it back in remission. So book 2 Mercy's Gift was published in September 2015. I dedicated that one to my cancer doctor, since Mercy is a Healer. When I gave her an autographed copy, she got tears in her eyes, saying it was the nicest thing anyone had done for her.

Chemo brain messed with the writing of the third book, Mercy's Battle. I originally planned to call it Mercy's Children, but the antagonist became such a horrible person and the Vandals were so bloodthirsty I didn't think that would reflect what was happening. My editor Alex McGilvery came up with that great title. I know there is some gruesome stuff in that book. I think it was partly the chemo and the pain mixed with research I'd done years ago for a magazine article on Apaches. I have worried ever since that it was too gruesome to bill as a "clean read."

Once Mercy's Battle was published in May 2016, I breathed a sigh of relief. Even though it wasn't the whole story, it was a reasonable stopping place, in case I couldn't finish the story. But God was merciful and I've been able to survive not only the cancer recurrence but two painful, unexpected moves, becoming a caregiver, having to give up several things that I loved, and the sudden, unexpected death of my mother the day before we were taking her to Hawaii. Mom gave me the opportunity to dedicate book 4 Mercy's King to her. I'd worried about that, since it's by far the saddest of all the books. It was VERY difficult to write, and somehow I managed to release it in May 2017 in the middle of packing for this last, most difficult move.

Now Mercy's Joy is about to be released, and I'm feeling sad because I've lived with and suffered with these beloved characters for so long, I'm going to miss them! I have a feeling I'm not finished writing about them, though. I'll just have to see what the future holds. I know no matter what, I am in good hands: God's.

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