I started The Desert Windup Spider happened back when steampunk was popular. Set in a secondary world where the Black Death decimated the European side of the Eurasian continent so much the conquest and colonization of the world never happened.
The story follows Mijiza, an inventor whose created a dozen inventions to save lives of soldiers and civilians during a civil war, but the last one she is most famous for is the one that had wiped entire villages off the face of the earth. The story is set in the aftermath where the past exploits and new scandals make her life difficult.
I did a lot of interesting research for this story. From inventions circa late 19th century, to the London Blitz, to World Fairs, to East African countries and their respective histories, and to the infamous Beale Ciphers. While I liked the characters ( supporting characters were a code breaking linguistic, a mail courier who did everything not to lose a package, and a doctor who dabble in poisons) , and certain subplots, I didn’t have an arching story to keep it all together. Which explains why I rewrote this story at least 20 times, with the latest cut thrust it into the future with spaceships and blasters, before admitting defeat. I have banished this story, but still mine it for characters, motifs, and the atmosphere of a world recently recovered from war.