Let me record my thoughts, for posterity.
About a month ago I finished the draft for World of Myth #10, A Dagger in the Light. In my opinion, it was one of the harder books I've had to write, where cheap gimmicks like combat, suspense, and world building had to take a backseat for more difficult subjects such as plot, character building, and subterfuge. Not an easy task, for me, but according to my alpha readers, I pulled it off. Let me say that again, in a mirror, that I wrote an actual page-turner with almost no action at all. By the gods . . . I've done it.
This is the quality I've been aiming for since the start. I've always said that anyone can make action and drama exciting; true storytelling is making the parts in between interesting. It may be hard to explain, but there is a certain level I was reaching for with my writing, one that can only be described as a reader. Two books come to mind, Gone Girl and Red Rising, that I recently read that did to me EXACTLY what I want to do to others. These books gripped me by throat and would not let go. I could not put them down. I read in the bathroom, on the bus, in my bed; they consumed me, and I loved it. If only I could be so lucky to read books like that all the time. If only we could all be so lucky.
This is what I've been aiming for with Takeo's Chronicles. It started with the first book, Fated for War, where I pulled back on my combat at first, intentionally trying to force myself to grow as a writer by disabling one of my tried and true skill sets that I use as a crutch. It was shabby, I thought, passable but just not quite there yet. I let the next two books slide, even going overboard on the violence in Fortress of Ruin, but this next one was different. The plot, the story, demanded that I grow. I had to. There was no other choice. It was either that or failure.
Let me say that I am okay with failure. I'm not afraid of it. However, I've always said that I never want the reason I fail to be because I didn't try. So try I did, and now I have yet another great book, and I'm one step closer to completing Takeo's 6-part adventure.
So while Trish works over #10, A Dagger in the Light, I will move on to #11, the next to the last story for Takeo's Chronicles. Wish me luck.