There are many reasons why I am proud of The Jewel Chronicles in general and Rebel Jewel in particular. If anyone asks, I won’t hesitate to tell them this is my best writing to the day and yet, this series almost didn’t happen.
I’m a pantser. For those unfamiliar with the term, it simply means I don’t plan my stories ahead. I don’t write outlines or character sheets; I just write and somehow—I have no idea how—the story just flows directly from my head into my laptop. It’s rather magical.
Being a pantser, I was terrified of writing a series, especially one with a story and character arc. How was I going to keep it interesting throughout three books? How was I going to keep things consistent and exciting for the reader? It was terrifying. So I wrote a standalone instead, Desert Jewel.
The first thing I noticed, once reviews started rolling in, was that many of the readers demanded a sequel. They wanted to know what happened to Milenda and Jaali after they left Natale; they wanted Milenda to come back and do something about the horrible practices of the Elders. One reader even went so far as to tell me I had chickened out by sending Milenda away instead of having her fight for what she believed. I dug in my heels (I’m pretty stubborn) and took the idea of a sequel or series out of my mind, convinced I couldn’t pull it off, at least not well enough. But those comments kept haunting me, mostly because I knew them to be true; I had chickened out when there was so much more to the story that begged to be told.
One day—can’t tell you when or why—I woke up determined to write the rest of the story no matter how hard it would be. I’m not going to lie; I agonized over each of the subsequent two books. They had to be better than the first and they had to not only focus on Milenda’s developing relationship with her beloved Jaali, but also on the exploration of not one but two separate worlds, both riddled with superstition and prejudice. It involved a lot of research and soul searching, waking up in the middle of the night to write ideas down, many hours staring at the screen desperately looking for the right words, the right emotions and actions.
Rebel Jewel was by far the hardest of the three to write. The plot involved a revolution and some very difficult emotional scenes that took me days to write. But I did it and I am busting at the seams with pride much like a parent would be. The Jewel Chronicles series is indeed the jewel of my writing, the one story I was scared of telling but did anyway. My story of love, courage, and fighting for what is right is now complete and I can only hope readers will walk away from it feeling as good as I did.