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  • Writer's pictureA.J. Locke

A Backlog Reflection

I was in a strip club trying to help a ghost get laid, which was challenging, but not impossible.

Out of all my books, I think the opening lines to Affairs of the Dead are my favorite. They not only set the scene, they tell you all you need to know about what you're gonna be in store for with Selene. She's one of my favorite MCs. She's a lil messy, but she has a trajectory of growth while remaining true to who she is over the course of four books and I really enjoyed taking her on that journey.

Affairs of the Dead was my debut and was published ten years ago on 4/19/13. It's the first book in my Reanimation Files series, with three books after it, and a fifth book that I will one day finish (!!). Those four books, plus another urban fantasy novel, Black Widow Witch, were my first foray into being a published author.

Along with having my favorite first line, Affairs of the Dead also retains the title of the fastest book I ever drafted -- 9 days. Now, at the time I was in between jobs and my kid was not yet on the scene, so needless to say... I had time. I don't think I will ever draft a full length novel that quickly again but that's okay, as long as the books get written they can take as long as they need to take.

I'm glad I had the experience I did with publishing my first books, even if they never went as far as I hoped they would. In 2020 I regained the rights to all five books from their publisher and realized I wasn't disappointed they were letting the books go. It felt like a turning point, and after several years where my writing lulled, I started to feel hopeful that I would once again be able to get not only my backlog but new books out there.

In 2020, amid the pandemic and other difficult factors in my life, I finally felt the spark to write a book again. And the inspiration that struck was rather surprising: I thought of a sequel for Black Widow Witch. When BWW came out it was set as a standalone. It ended with the potential for more, but I never felt compelled to write a sequel and never got any strong ideas about what it would be about. It can exist on its own and I was fine with that. I'd been more focused on writing the Reanimation Files. But I like surprises. Sometimes you think you know what you're supposed to be working on but you get redirected to where you need to be, even if the reason isn't as straightforward as you might think.

So, I got an idea for a sequel to Black Widow Witch and started writing it. To this day, I haven't finished it -- I have half a book written. But I believe the point of that inspiration wasn't to get Black Widow Witch back out there and then the sequel, but to help revitalize my writing muse. It was like flexing a muscle I hadn't used in a while. I may not have finished BWW 2 (I hope to one day), but several months later I wrote Magic Dark, Magic Divine. And after that I was back in the game 100%.

Now, ten years after my first book came out, I am getting ready to re-publish it. But that is easier said than done. My writing has come a long way in ten years and there is a lot of work I want to do on Affairs of the Dead and the other books before I re-publish. And honestly, revision of an older work is hard!

Along with refreshing the writing, I realized that I want to change certain things about the plot. This is tricky because there are three other books that stand on the plot points of AOD and changes will have a ripple effect. I have the opportunity to re-shape these books as I feel they need to be, but I don't want to lose the essence of what they are and the core factors of the story I'm telling. I am still working through how to realign certain things. Once I do, Affairs of the Dead will be ready to re-debut. My aim was to get it back out in June. I'm not entirely certain I'll make that deadline, but I think I can confidently say it will be back out this year.

See you soon Selene, Micah, Ethan, and Luna (Selene's pupper).

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