Ring of Darkness was another book that took a very long time to arrive in its current form. I think I had the basic idea, of an arranged marriage and a magical threat, cooked up some time in Jr. High (yeah, they call it middle school now—whatever). In fact, I have another partial manuscript lying around somewhere with a similar plot seed.
The story itself, though, didn’t come to fruition until about 1993. I remember writing big chunks of it while I was at home on maternity leave with my now 18-year-old son. I would type with one hand while he was nursing in the bend of the other arm. I had set a goal at that time of writing at least one page in my steno notebook (about 220 words) every day, but even a paragraph or two felt like a major accomplishment. (I was obsessed with steno notebooks back then. I wrote everything in them, because they fit in my purse and I could carry them anywhere. I gravitate to Moleskines now for the same reason.)
The very first version of this book I shared with an online group I belonged to at the time (still belong to, actually). The read it chapter by chapter and provided feedback. When I finished and had done my editing pass, I sent it out to a few publishers, with no luck. It went into the drawer for a while after that.
I know I fiddled with the book off and on for a while, but the revision I really remember occurred in the winter of 2001. Ring of Darkness was the first book I dove back into after 9/11, and served as part of my emotional recovery. I don’t recall what changes I made, but I remember being profoundly relieved that I could write at all. It had been hard to put words together for a while.