This book almost didn't come out.

It was a long road to the creation of Sworn to the Night, and what held me back more than anything was that old familiar companion of doubt. As a writer, I want to take chances, to push my boundaries, to create new and exciting things for you; as a businessperson, on the other hand, I know that the path to financial reward is marked by the stale and familiar. The last time I took a big artistic risk was the Revanche Cycle, which remains my lowest-selling, least-known series.

But you know me, that's not enough to stop me. Even when I could play it safe, I generally don't, which is why the Daniel Faust series has become less about magical powers and fighting monsters and leveling up, and more about a man finding his place in the world. From the feedback I've been getting on the last few books, that wasn't the safe choice, but it was the right one. Not every book I write is a hit, but this is a journey, you know? I'm still figuring this stuff out.

So, Sworn. I knew from the moment I started outlining that it would be a step outside my wheelhouse and outside my comfort zone. I was going to have to take a lot of risks and put my heart on the chopping block. When I shopped it around to a few publishers, the feedback largely boiled down to "we can't sell this." It's a book that involves a romance, but you're told on page two that there's no guarantee of a happily-ever-after (and also, the presumed-missing heroines just might have hunted down and murdered God, for reasons unknown). It's a book involving a dominant/submissive relationship, but it's not erotica. It's a dark contemporary fantasy almost guaranteed to disappoint someone hoping for a "good guys battle monsters while making snarky quips" urban-fantasy romp (i.e., exactly what sells right now). One of the women we're supposed to be rooting for avoid spoilers, let's just use her preferred nomenclature, "lovably quirky."

It's a complicated salad of a story.

But real artists take chances. So last week I took a deep breath, hit the button, and unleashed Sworn to the Night upon the world. And you know what? One week's arguably the best-received book I've ever written. As I write this, it's sitting at #3 in LGBT fantasy, has a plethora of five-star reviews, it's at an unprecedented (for me) 4.70 on Goodreads (my previous best-rated book, the Faust novel Double or Nothing, is 4.40), and readers seem to really dig it.

So thank you. Thank you for showing me that I can take chances. Heck, thanks for showing me I need to take chances, because when I have the courage to dig deep and paint these shadows on the page, you're willing to join me in the dance. It's gratifying and wonderful and makes my heart swell. Again, thank you.

You've also shown me that I need to knock the next two books in this trilogy out of the freakin' park. I mean, these things have to be printed on gold plates, to live up to book one. That's a tall order. But in times like this, I look to my spirit-guide Barney Stinson, and echo his timeless words of wisdom: "Challenge accepted."