“Some stories end rather suddenly, leaving hardly a trace of having ever happened at all. Others lumber on, casting loose threads and unanswered questions even as they resolve others. Arliss soon saw that her story fell into the second group: her tale still had many threads to tie up and many questions to be answered.”The Fiery Arrow
This quote—from the closing chapter of The Fiery Arrow—strikes a nostalgic chord when I read it now, six years after writing it. Six years. Wow. Even just to write that feels like I’ve made a mistake—like it cannot possibly be that long, considering how fresh and real the world of the Reinhold books still feels in my mind.
If you’re reading this and feel lost and confused, here’s a primer: I wrote and independently published a trilogy of YA medieval fantasy novels called The Reinhold Chronicles and released them in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively. The stories follow the arc of the clan of Reinhold as they form a new country and find their place in the world through the adventures of Arliss, the first princess.
So, yeah. I finished a series. I did the whole self-publishing thing (and could write in detail about the pros and cons of that choice). And then it was just…over.
The books were out in the world, complete. My life dragged me away to other things: finishing a degree, falling in love, and—of course—the unromantic “day job” that any aspiring writer has to sacrifice themselves to. I stepped out of writing Reinhold and never looked back.
But I didn’t have to look back. Because Reinhold came with me. Arliss walked with me. For three years now, through the process of completing another standalone novel and brainstorming ideas for future projects, I haven’t been able to stop feeling that world and those characters. I’m not sure that this concept will make sense to everyone. It didn’t even make sense to me until I finished the first draft of The Speechless and made a shocking realization.
I stopped feeling The Speechless the moment I finished writing it.
This is not to say that I’m not still deeply emotionally invested in the story. It resonates powerfully with so many aspects of what I love and who I am. (And I am so, so excited to one day share it with the world.) But I do not feel stuck in that story world. I feel no need to write a sequel or keep exploring those characters. I lived with them for a time, delved as deeply as I could into their thoughts and emotions, and I created a standalone work of art that speaks for itself. Saying goodbye was bittersweet and yet at the same time…easy.
As I stepped away from The Speechless, I expected a void. I expected the familiar depression that comes in the gaps between projects, since I had nothing plotted and ready to write.
What I didn’t expect was to find my mind still consumed with The Reinhold Chronicles.
That season of writing did end suddenly, almost like it hadn’t happened. I was never able to market the series and hype it up in the way I wanted to. My platform was—and is—rather small. Not an ideal situation for someone trying to publish independently.
I remember getting the final proof copy for The Three Thrones, the last book in the series. Sitting in my car in the parking deck beside my job at the time, excitedly cutting open that box, ripping off tape, and pulling out the green 600-page tome and feeling…
I wanted an emotional rush. Some kind of fireworks. Maybe a tearful farewell to Arliss and all these characters who had come to feel like friends. And instead, I just felt completely wrong and completely empty.
All these years later, it’s clear why. I wasn’t done with Arliss’s story. There are threads in the series that I never fully explored. There are characters who barely got their due development—as well as characters who got more than their due. My style evolved dramatically across the series, leaving the first book feeling both strikingly more simplistic but also more linguistically complex (and from someone who just reread it, that’s not a good thing, trust me). I left ideas on the cutting room floor simply due to the pressure of publishing by a certain date—artificial pressure that I inflicted on myself.
And there are a few mistakes. Not many, thanks to careful editing and beta readers I had even then. But there are a few errors scattered throughout—typos, misused words, awkward phrasings—the most glaring of which is a mere handful of pages into The Three Thrones. And now I get a chance to remedy all of that, to revisit and rewrite where necessary.
The whole process happening simultaneously to Taylor Swift re-recording all of her old albums makes me chuckle, because of the similarities but also the differences. Unlike Taylor, I’m not recreating old material to regain creative control from someone else who took advantage of me. I’m regaining control from myself. Allowing myself space to acknowledge that I can make those stories better and seek a broader publishing path for them, because they deserve that. Listening through Fearless (Taylor’s Version) reveals an album that’s almost identical to the one released thirteen years ago, lyrically and musically. However, her vocals are richer and more mature. Plus, there’s a slew of previously unreleased tracks written at the same time as the others, polished and presented in a way that’s fresh and yet still cohesive with the original music.
Think of this project as something like that: The Reinhold Chronicles (Bo’s Version). A chance for me to return to Reinhold and find things I thought were lost, polish edges that feel rough, and mend mistakes that I was too young to realize I was making.
At the end of the last book, Arliss sits down to record all of her adventures. To revisit the past and preserve it.
“She took a deep breath, stared out the window at the golden fields one more time. Holding the teacup to her lips, she let the warm liquid slide down her throat. She swirled the inkwell once.
Then she lifted her pen and began to write.”