Hello again at last, everyone. This past year and some change has been quite a journey. It’s been a mixed bag, to say the very least. I imagine plenty of you have entirely forgotten who the hell Siena Noble is by now, and for those of you who haven’t, you might have been wondering if maybe I actually died or disappeared. If you’ve been with me for a while now, then you know that I’ve taken frustratingly long hiatuses before, that I’ve struggled for a long time with personal setbacks, my mental health, relationship and family struggles, and was only diagnosed with ADHD about a year ago.
I’m not trying to garner sympathy or make excuses; you’ve all read my apologies and explanations for my long absences and book delays before. But writing this post in particular has been something that I’ve been meaning to do for months, something that I’ve wrestled with that was tangled up with so many complicated feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and yes, a sense of loss. I knew that I just needed to get over myself and write it already, because at this point I can’t move forward without openly acknowledging that this time is different. And as much as it pains me to say it, I think that my time as Siena Noble is over.
Some of you may have already noticed by now that the first two (and frankly, the only two) books of The Loft series, Whip Smart and Strictly Business, are no longer available to buy on Amazon or other stores; the audiobooks are still available on Audible as of this writing, though I am working on getting those unpublished as well. Way back toward the end of last year, I’d been working through my complicated feelings about my own recent painful breakup and my long-time inability to just finish that damn series already when I’d once been so passionate about it. There were a lot of things about the story and the characters that just weren’t gelling well in my mind anymore, things that I’d written in the first two books and ideas for the rest of the series that had once seemed like great ideas but now felt problematic, unrealistic, cringy and obnoxious, or which now seemed likely to cause plot holes or other issues in future books. And truth be told, some of the valid criticism in reviews got to me a little, and I started to seriously re-evaluate my work. And while a part of me–like all authors–still wishes that the frustrated and unhappy reviewers had seen what I had initially seen in these characters and this story, I was starting to agree with them. Their frustrations were valid, and even if I had managed to publish the third book in a timely manner, it dawned on me that there was no way that book three was going to be the one that brought all those frustrating plot threads together in a way that finally turned everyone’s opinions around.
Essentially, I realized that the only way I’d be satisfied with the conclusion that I had in mind for the series was to start over from scratch and radically rewrite Tera and Eric’s story from the ground up. And for a while, that’s exactly what I’d planned to do; I was going to rename the series and the individual books, turn it into a trilogy rather than a 4-5 book series, and alter a lot of the details of how they met and how Tera’s previous abusive relationship with Kellan Wakeham played out and how she ended up leaving him. But… well, none of the details were falling into place, I was hitting all kinds of creative roadblocks, and honestly, I was realizing that I may have strayed too far out of my lane in trying to write Eric’s POV as a white author and I don’t think I could fully do him justice as a character or bring the needed authenticity to his narrative POV. Eventually, I’d realized that I’d simply lost my passion for the series and felt less and less motivation to rewrite it as time went on. Who was ever going to read it, especially when I’d been inactive as an author for so long that it was seeming more and more impossible that I could ever resurrect my pen name? And not to mention the fact that for those of you who did enjoy the first two books of the original Loft series, I was afraid that I’d already burned up my last shreds of good will, or if I hadn’t already I almost certainly would with the announcement that whoops, sorry, if you want to read the continuation of Tera and Eric’s romance you’ll have to actually read two new books first since the old ones aren’t “canon” now and the new one won’t make sense otherwise!
So, yeah, I’ve basically been hiding away like a dirty coward for a while now because I hate making people upset. And yes, I do realize that a lot of you are already very upset, or annoyed, or maybe you simply gave up and moved on from The Loft or Risky Business a long-ass time ago. And I really, truly, am sorry. And who knows, maybe some of you would have loved to read the rewritten version of The Loft (which I was tentatively going to rename the Unravel Me Trilogy), and while I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, I haven’t entirely written off the possibility of someday writing it and making it available to read, most likely for free either in ebook form or posted chapter-by-chapter on my blog, because like hell if I’ll expect you to shell out more money for something you all should have been able to read literal years ago.
And yes, the same goes for the Risky Business Trilogy, unfortunately. As of this writing, it is still currently available to buy on Amazon and most other stores, I believe, since for a long time after I’d unpublished The Loft books to rewrite them I wasn’t willing to totally give up on Kiera and Caleb’s story just yet. Honestly, at that point in time I was more passionate about those books and had grown more attached to the characters, probably because it was the more recent series and I was the closest to having the 2nd book ready to publish in a form I was happy with. But then my life got upended a bit, and my romance writing mojo took a hit, and I couldn’t concentrate on getting Flying High out there when reworking The Loft into the Unravel Me Trilogy was such a distraction. Plus, it didn’t help that of course the two series had to be intertwined and I had big crossover plans for the final book of The Loft/Unravel Me, so I had to think about if the rewrites would conflict with anything in Flying High and High Reward (which was set to be book three of Risky Business).
And then… well, this probably isn’t going to make any sense at all, but then I started watching Succession, and I realized I was kinda accidentally writing the Roy family? Like, not exactly, of course; the Wakehams aren’t prefect parallels to the Roys, but anytime I tried to write or whenever I thought about my books I would immediately be reminded of Succession. Which is a fantastic show and has quickly become one of my absolute favorites, don’t get me wrong, but it does kinda kill the romance writing vibe. Especially when I can’t help but feel like I inadvertently wrote Caleb as a painfully and unrealistically sincere version of Kendall Roy.
I know this must all sound pretty silly; not to mention a bit confusing since you didn’t meet most of the Wakehams in High Risk and Flying High is/was where the really juicy family drama would become more apparent. It’s just hard to put into words exactly how my feelings about my own writing changed after getting into Succession, but I think what it mainly boils down to is a heightened sense of disgust with the ultra-rich. Of course, that’s not at all to say that I pro-billionaire IRL before this, and to be perfectly honest, even before now I felt like I could never get fully onboard with the billionaire romance subgenre.
But I think after watching Succession, my disillusionment with the billionaire romance was complete. I’d been fully aware of exactly what subgenre I was writing in from the moment I started High Risk, of course; perhaps a little too self-aware about the wrong things. Because the problem with the Risky Business Trilogy–and Caleb Martin’s character in particular–was that I was trying too hard to create what I felt what the “ideal” kind of millionaire/billionaire romance that readers would love and that I would love to read myself. I’m nothing if not a perfectionist, and I admit that one of my biggest worries as an author is unintentionally writing anything that someone else might find problematic, abusive, or otherwise hurtful (which, of course, I recognize that I’m almost certainly bound to fail at at some point because I’m far from perfect, but I’m always seeking to do better and learn more).
Basically, on the one hand, I was trying so much harder than I had with Whip Smart to write “to market” as they say, to include the tropes that readers expect and crave from billionaire romance and to execute them well. And on the other hand, there were the common tropes of the subgenre and of a lot of contemporary erotic romance in general that I find problematic that I wanted to subvert or play with. And on top of all of that, I had begun to realize, I was doing an awful of bending over backwards to “justify” writing a billionaire romance, as if I needed some kind of excuse. Was I turning into some metafictional version of the “weird nerds defending Elon Musk” meme, or had I simply written Caleb Martin as a big ol’ NLOB, a “not like other billionaires” hero? Why did I feel the need to clarify that he wasn’t technically a billionaire, merely a multimillionaire who definitely doesn’t exploit his employees and is really just a down-to-earth outsider in the world of the rich who just wants to make up for his past sins, take down his corrupt family, and was the only one truly worthy of taking over the family business empire? Why couldn’t I just chill the fuck out and simply have fun writing a billionaire romance without the need to justify it to myself and engaging in weird apologetics for the fact that I wanted to? Why did I even want so badly to write in a subgenre that was never fully my cup of tea to begin with and which was becoming less and less so over time?
Soooo, yeah, needless to say, my newfound Succession obsession left me with a bunch of feelings. In the end, I realized that I was simply too burned out and too disillusioned with the kind of story I was writing to feel like I could do it justice anymore. The desire to delve deep into the corrupt world of the Wakeham family and their dirty secrets still hasn’t fully gone, and neither has the desire to see Kiera and Caleb through to their HEA. But that passion has definitely diminished, and more and more I’ve been feeling like maybe the story in the form that I would most like to tell it in wouldn’t fit perfectly well into the mold of a satisfying, to-market billionaire romance, but it probably wouldn’t really fit in any genre besides romance, either.
Where does that leave the Risky Business Trilogy, then? Well, as I said, High Risk is still available to buy as of this writing, but I’ve been putting off unpublishing it for a while now so sadly that will likely not be the case for long. I will say, though, that assuming I will eventually continue writing as Siena Noble in some for and will make my romance works available for free, I am far more likely to make these books available than I am The Loft/Unravel Me. Actually, I’m fairly confident that I will find my romance mojo again in the near future and start working on Kiera and Caleb’s story again, simply because I hated leaving it off on a damn cliffhanger and I really do want to see it through in some shape or form. In any case, while High Risk will likely be disappearing from Amazon and other stores in the coming days, I’ll be working on posting a link on my website where you can download a copy of the eBook for free. And perhaps sometime in the next couple of months you’ll find me posting chapters of Flying High as blog posts, which ideally I will then compile/edit into a single free eBook as well once it’s finished.
But speaking of this blog and website, however, I think I should address just what the hell this all means for the future of my Siena Noble pen name, and where exactly I, Leanne (because I feel like you should at least be on real first name basis with me at this point), am going from here. Well, as much as I hate to say it, I think it’s time to put Siena Noble behind me. I still enjoy romance as a reader, but as a writer I’m frankly burned out on it, and I should’ve come to terms with the fact that I kind of suck as a genre romance author a long time ago. I can write short to save my life, apparently, which I guess wouldn’t be a bad thing if only every idea I had didn’t inevitably turn into an overly-ambitious series. And I guess that wouldn’t be so bad, either, if I could kick the habit of ending the first book in a series on a cliffhanger for the main couple, and even that wouldn’t be so bad if only I could keep up with the breakneck pace that the romance market moves at. Hell, if I could manage to focus my attention and get in the right headspace for long enough to write and publish a book at least once a damn year, that would be a start! But even if I could write as fast as I wish I could, I still tend to get bogged down in little details and to get distracted by complex ideas for other plotlines at the detriment to the main romance plot.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, maybe if I wanted to write Whip Smart as a kind of “anti-Fifty Shades” or whatever, I should’ve just put it up on Wattpad or Fictionpress or my old book blog for free. Because nearly every single romance novel idea I’ve had since then has been a spin-off of The Loft or would take place in the same universe. And because all these ideas are connected, they all in some way tie back to this petty, reactionary, and somewhat egotistical need I had back when I was fresh out of college and knew fuck all about anything and was only just starting to read other, better romance novels besides FSOG. It’s been about 6 years at this point since I first started writing Whip Smart, you’d think I would’ve moved on already; but with the series going unfinished for so long I kept going back to it, and I think in a way it stunted my growth as a romance author. But maybe more significantly, the longer I tried to convince myself that any day now I’d get my act together and finally become successful writing romance, the more I yearned to be able to focus on some project in a different genre without all the pressure I was putting on myself to focus on building my romance “career.” I’d have time to give fantasy writing a shot again someday, I told myself; but could I really just give up live with being a total failure when I had such ambitious plans for Siena Noble and I was still in the middle of two different series that I was so passionate about writing.
Not that there was anything really “preventing” me from working on other projects except for myself, and it’s not like I never did. But if I started to take my latest fantasy novel idea too seriously and allowed myself to get too distracted, I felt guilty and anxious, knowing that what I really should be focusing on was publishing my next romance sequel before my books completely dropped into obscurity, but more importantly for the sake of the readers who actually wanted to keep reading. It just became a vicious cycle that only made me more depressed and exacerbated my ADHD, and I guess it was sometime early this year that I finally reached my tipping point. I can’t keep going on like this. And while it’s impossible not to call myself a quitter, I’m at least trying my hardest not to call myself a failure. Sure, I’ve failed to deliver on a lot of my promises and failed to live up to my own lofty expectations, but maybe it’s better to look at my time as Siena Noble as a learning experience. A depressing, stressful, and expensive learning experience, but one that I’m hopeful will at least be valuable.
Because I am going to keep writing. For any of you who are into fantasy (especially urban fantasy, paranormal, vampires, or historical fantasy), with a hefty dose of romance on the side, I invite you to continue to keep an eye on this blog. If my technologically-inept self doesn’t fuck it up, the web address for this site will likely be changing to leannelukacs.com very soon as well as getting a radical makeover to go along with my new fantasy pen name, Leanne Lukacs. Hopefully, it should work so that sienanoble.com redirects to it as well.
Unfortunately, I can’t promise that you’ll be getting any full fantasy novels from me in the near future, since I’m actually planning on submitting my current manuscript to agents once it’s finished. Yep, that’s right, I’m going trad, baby. Well, I’m making the attempt, at least! It’s been my dream since childhood, after all, and I think I’m at that age now where I’m finally ready to say fuck it and just go for it. But I do have a lot of interesting things that I’d love to blog about as I’m researching various things for this book/series, because I’ve been getting veeery deep into all kinds of topics that I just have to talk about, from vampire folklore, to Victorian medicine, to archaeology of the bronze age Mediterranean. I’ll write more about what exactly this weird novel is that I working on in another blog post, since this one is getting super long as it is, but I’m actually pretty excited to share all the wacky and wild parts of my writing process with you.
As I said before, I’d also love to continue posting chapters of Kiera and Caleb’s continuing story on this blog as well, though I can’t promise those updates will be on any kind of set schedule. But I guess the next biggest question is, what the hell does this mean for my Fifty Shades Revisited recaps? Well… I still don’t know yet at this point. It was kind of fun for a while, even if each post took up a lot of time and effort, but I think I’m a little too burned out on FSOG at this point to be as dedicated to it these days. I mean, I did say that I went into those recaps in the hopes that it would help purge it from my system once and for all, and maybe it worked a little too well.
I’m not saying I won’t ever get back to it; hell, I’m certain I will, but I can’t say at this point if the recaps are going to be all that frequent. Plus, I actually kind of had a mild crisis when I bit the bullet late last year and got the audiobook edition of Freed since I had some Audible credits to spend. And well, lets just say finding out what was in those 200 goddamn extra pages did a lot to kill my recapping fervor. Spoilers: the first 200-ish pages/however many listing hours is just Christian Grey’s POV of the month and a half that was skipped over between Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. So, basically 200 pages of ONLY his POV of fucking nothing. Oh, that’s not to say that we don’t get any uh, interesting (if you can call it that) details, but there is just no goddamn way I could stand recapping all that before actually getting into the meat (if you can call it that) of the story. I mean, it kinda defeats the purpose of the way I set out to recap both Ana’s and Christian’s books in parallel, after all. Yeah, yeah, maybe I’m just making excuses, but assuming I end up actually making it all the way to the end of the FSD/Darker, I still have to decide if/how I’m going to tackle the end of the trilogy. Is it even still worth it at this point, or should I just quit the recaps here? I’m open to any thoughts and suggestions.
Oh, and I’m tentatively going to be starting a YouTube channel as well. I know, I know, this is a lot of new stuff I’m throwing at you and it probably just sounds like me being my overly ambitious self again. But I’m trying to not put such high expectations on myself creatively anymore and just let myself write and create and have fun doing whatever I want to do. I’ve actually wanted to casually try my hand at video essays for a long time, I just never had the confidence to feel like it was worth even trying before. I didn’t want it to just be another passion project that ended in embarrassing failure because I couldn’t devote consistent attention to it and live up to my own arbitrary standards. But I’m not setting out to make a career out of YouTube, and I’m not worrying about things like monetization or aggressive audience building right now. But if you’re interested in video essays on whatever movie or TV show or media-related topic I’m feeling nostalgic or passionate about, keep an eye on my blog and Twitter feed for updates. Right now I’m working on a video on the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula, because of course it would be like me to put out something like that after the 125th anniversary of the novel’s publication has already passed. But hey, Dracula Daily is still relevant, right?
OK, I really do need to wrap this up now, but I just want to thank you all so much for joining me on this strange author journey of mind. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be a better Siena Noble to you all, but I’m hoping you can forgive me. And if fantasy is your thing, I’d really love it if you’d consider sticking around for Leanne Lukacs, too.
Stay Beautiful and Be Kind to Yourselves,