When I finished the first draft of "Fires of the Jinn" (new title; I like Lucifer's Forge, but it doesn't really fit the book), I expected to dive into research and then write the first chapter to finish it off, then do a rewrite, then send it to my private editor.

Instead, just two days after finishing, I started writing a full-out fantasy. This is only the second fantasy I've started since coming back. The first was "The Reluctant Wizard," which I liked, but which I wanted to turn into a trilogy and I needed to reserve the time to do that.

"The Reluctant Wizard" was the second book I wrote after "Faerylander," but I didn't feel like I fully hit my stride until "Death of an Immortal" and "Led to the Slaughter," and I decided to put those out first since I thought they were more accomplished efforts. ("Faerylander" will be my magnum opus--at least 5 books. Rewritten so far like 30 times.)

When new books keep coming to me, it's hard to go back and work on the older books.

Anyway, during the 25 years I was taking a hiatus from writing, I always assumed I would be writing fantasies, as I did in my first career. Instead I veered off into horror, macabre westerns, urban fantasy, creature books, and a thriller.

But I have to say, "Said the Joker to the Thief" feels like coming home. I especially like that anything goes, that I can write whatever I like, just do it. I feel ready for this now, I fully trust my subconscious to construct a coherent plot, and I like winging it.

I don't really want to know where it's going.  I'm trying to keep every chapter a surprise. When I start mulling over where I think it's going, I grab the first thing that comes along that seems "off" and try to use that instead. I want it to veer off course every day, to do something unexpected. If it is all a jumbled mess at the end, then so be it.

I don't write short stories, but in a way, I approach every chapter as a short story. I just bundle the chapters together for a book. I don't know if it works well, but it seems to be the way my creative mind wants to do it.

Even though "Said the Joker to the Thief" isn't officially a November book, it might as well be. I started late and won't finish until December, but still...

I mentioned before that the way to improve "Fires of the Jinn" was to give it "time, perspective, and care."

So by going off and writing my fantasy, I'm doing that. And having fun at the same time.

I'm thinking this "fun" thing maybe the only thing I permanently take away from all this.