Here I am writing. I've always been writing. I have my first travel book (Age 5, bound with yarn), my first diary (Age 7), my first play (Age 8, a scifi and yes my friends performed it), my first romance (age 10, a castle-hopping paranormal), and my first poem (Age 12, about a unicorn. It's horrible). Eventually I got around to submitting an erotic romance (Age 37, a fantasy), and I think yes, this writing thing is here to stay. I am so into this!

So there's this new romance epublisher on the market, and lo, on their list of genres they have listed interactive fiction. I have already learned romance writer's lesson #22: Do Not Write For Submission Calls Because It Leaves You With Weird Homeless Books When They Are Rejected While Delaying Books You Should Be Writing. I knew this lesson, but lo, I flailed into the write-on-demand waters anyway, and last year I wrote my first interactive romance.

It was rejected. Twice. So I wrote another one. It was rejected, too. So I'm writing a third. Am I insane? No. I'm just a romance writer, an unsquashable romantic to my bones. The reasons it was rejected were interesting to me. And, self-servingly, I reject the reasons my books were rejected!

1. Unhappy endings. Yes, the world of romance typically follows the Happy Ending rule. But this is a CYOA! How can you have an all-happy interactive story? It's, like, lame. Where's the risk in it? My compromise is I will put a warning on my blurbs that readers are in for possible death-of-a-main-character. But it will be their fault, not mine. (evil laugh!)

2. The storyline deviated from the first chapter. The editor who generously wrote me a fairly long response wanted the first premise I introduced to be present in all endings. I'll ask responders: do you want to read the same relationship being hashed out 12 times?

3. The main character wasn't consistent. THIS is something I'm struggling with. Of course I want my heroine to be motivated, with a clear personality that generates believable reactions. I feel that when I offer branching choices, I do motivate each one of them. The heroine MUST have a plausible reason for considering each option. But if my choices are all sweetness and light, the adventure is less robust. And who hasn't been tempted by the dark side in our life? It's fun to play the evil character in video games.

What this leads to in a potential romance, however, is a bad girl who sometimes acts unheroically while at other times is quite noble. I'd never have one of my fantasy novel heroines be both a smuggler and an idealistic academic. I'd never have her both instigate a food fight and run for help. But if I limit the choices to run left for help and run right for help, I don't get to play with as many possibilities. This is something I'm concerned about, that I'm sacrificing the character for the adventure. Three books in, I'm sticking with my guns. As long as I motivate each of the choices, I'm letting the reader decide whether to be bad or good.


  1. I think you should stick to your guns. it sounds like your character choices are too mature for these companies - they want cookie-cutter HEA endings. I think your premise is more mature.

  2. Pretty Eyes, thanks for the well wishes! I'm trying to listen to ideas for improvement but still stick to my vision.

  3. Having read all three of your CYOA stories, I think I understand what that editor meant by the storyline deviating from the first chapter -- if she's talking about Lauren, I don't need the same relationship or whatever hashed to death in all 12 storylines, but I'd like some resolution of what brought her out to the ranch in the first place. I did think Lauren was the weakest of the three because of the way the story was set up in the first place: she went out there to settle things with Sorrel, or at the very least hear what went on at the beginning of the end of their relationship. If that wasn't addressed or even mentioned, it was odd for me, to say the least. That said, Becca and Charlotte were much, much better, I think in main because there wasn't a mainline "hook" that I expected to be fulfilled.

    All that said, I had a ton of fun with your CYOA stories and I do appreciate that you had the gumption to let us kill off our characters if we did something that warranted it. I'll be looking forward to more of your CYOAs in the future and although I realize it's a ton more work, I have to admit that I'm hoping you'll put in as much nuance and story into it as with your Truxet books.

  4. Kyrias!!! YAY! i'm so glad you read and enjoyed them. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    I have to offer a rebuttal though. I think you missed a choice, because of COURSE i dealt with Lauren and Sorrel's relationship. At the initial choice, go to the BARN. That's where the ladies face the past. Then later, choose to dance with Sorrel by the river and there's more resolution.

    okay? cheers! ~ mima