DESTINY HAS ARRIVED

Good afternoon, everyone! How are you today? Is it spring yet where you live? I live in west Michigan, on the Lake Michigan side, and it’s definitely spring, if a little chilly yet.

I thought I would share some background about my new YA fantasy novel, Destiny. It’s book one in my new series, The Traitors War, and its about a group of young people trying to navigate the changing landscapes of their home kingdoms and their continent of Pentallia as war approaches, from both within Pentallia itself and from across the Argentum Brine sea to the west.

I got the inkling for this story back around 2005, and had some of the main characters, such as Lisette, Conrad and Bannan right from the get-go. Others got added in as I started a big three-ring binder and added notes and pictures of characters taken out of magazines (this was before Pinterest). As time went on, I added more notebooks and ideas, and gave up the binder, instead splitting the growing number of notebooks into ones for places and characters.

I sent a very early version of Destiny to a small agency back around 2016. The agent was very nice, but declined that story (titled Peril at Stormsurge). I set it aside when I got the idea for Lift and the Flying Ponies. It was always in the background, though, and even as I worked my way through the Flying Ponies books, I fussed with what I called “Pentallia.” I wrote two more versions, neither being what I was looking for. They centered more around Princess Anora Cardiff of Castle Frayfight (whom you will meet in book two), and I knew that wasn’t where the story needed to start. Anora was never meant to be the main character, either.

Once Spin, the third and final Flying Pony book was published (spring 2020), I went back to “Pentallia” in earnest and started rewriting it yet again. This version made its way to my husband Ryan, but it still wasn’t the story my characters and I wanted to tell. Thus, in late August of 2020, I again sat down to rewrite it (this was probably the seventh incarnation of “Pentallia” at this point). Finally, the story clicked with both my muse (whose name is Glucinda, by the way. If you happen to know where that name came from, you get two cookies!) and my characters. I finished it during late September and immediately started editing and polishing.

The book was now titled Clandestine, and it was sent to my editor at One Wicked Wordsmith in late December. From there, it went through some more editing to add in details about Pentallia. Once we were happy with that, it was sent to Kate Conway, who owns Wicked Whale Publishing, and who puts my books together for me. We decided the series should have crowns on the cover, and I actually have a water colorist who will be doing my future covers for The Traitors War. It was decided the title was too long; no matter how Kate placed it, it looked too awkward, and it was renamed Destiny.

From there the book was added into Amazon and ARCS (Advanced Reading Copies, or proofs) were ordered and a few were passed on to people for early reviews. Once corrections were done based on the ARC (and there are always corrections), the book was made ready for publication, and as of today, is now ready to meet the world.

I hope you enjoy Destiny. I hope you find yourself immersed in the story, and that you click with at least one of the characters. Book two is now done and through the first round of editing, and I’m hoping for a spring 2021 release.

Have a wonderful week!

What Comes Next

Hey everyone, I know I haven’t updated here in a long time, and hopefully, that will be changing. I plan to write up book reviews and post them here, and also talk about my writing processes and future books and series.

For those who have read Spin, you’ve likely read the first chapter of my next book, Clandestine. It’s the first book in The Traitors’ War series, and slated to release sometime next spring. I have been working on editing it, and made the hard decision a couple weeks ago to rewrite it. This means the first chapter you read (if you’ve read it) won’t be the same as what’s in the actual novel.

Rewriting can take a long time for some authors, but for me, I find it usually takes less time than writing the first version. That being said, this book has been a problem child for me. The series, actually, has been problematic, because I’ve been developing it since circa 2005, and I want it to be perfect. It won’t be, of course – I don’t believe I’ll ever get it to that point, but I want it as close as I can. I love the characters and the settings, and it’s just getting the story itself right that has been the biggest hangup.

The Traitor’s War is high fantasy, with political intrigue and drama, assassins and soldiers, and princesses. What’s a fantasy story without a couple of princesses, right? There are plenty of horses, too, and guns and swords and villains, who are only villains to others, not to themselves. They see themselves as righting wrongs and protecting Pentallia, the continent they live on. As for one of the assassins, his destiny is a little murky. I’ll be interested in seeing what happens to him.

I am not a plotter or outliner; I write completely by the seat of my pants (this is what is termed a “pantser” in writer’s terms). Because of this, I don’t generally know what’s going to happen in my stories, which is why sometimes they need to be rewritten. Lift is actually the only one of my books that wasn’t completely rewritten before publication. Perhaps it should’ve been, but I like that book. It was my first, and therefore will always be one of my favorites.

As of now, I’m currently rewriting Clandestine. Once written, it will sit for five-six weeks, and then I begin the editing stages, which look different depending on what the book needs to get ready. I hope you’ll come along for that story, and all the stories that follow after.

 

 

 

Book Issues

I know I haven’t posted here in quite some time, and I need to do better with that. I’ll fill you in on my issues with the second edition of Lift, the first novel in my Flying Ponies trilogy.

I ordered some second editions for an author event that I ended up cancelling out of due to family visiting from out-of-state. The first issue I noticed is that the manuscript is actually the first one from my ARCs, and not the one we used for the first edition. So there are some extra scenes in the second edition that shouldn’t be in there.

The second issue is that some chapter headings are not right. Those will need to be fixed now too.

I’m not sure what to do with the copies I have; I don’t know as Amazon will replace them, and I don’t really want to sell them. Once the issues are fixed, I will order more copies for my event in New Era, Michigan, in September.

The third book in the trilogy, Spin, has been pushed back to at least spring of 2020, instead of this December. This is due to my publisher being busy and some lack of funds. I’m hoping for late April or May at this point.

This pushes the first novel in my YA fantasy series, the Traitors’ War, back to probably June/July of 2021. I am planning to put the first chapter of Clandestine in the back of Spin so readers get a chance to see what the new series will be about.

I plan to keep this website updated more frequently, so please check back for more news and/or ramblings about writing.

Round Two Down!

I just finished the second edits, the color edits, on Tilt. Next up is taking all the changes and incorporating them into the manuscript. I’m hoping to get Tilt to my editor by the middle of December.

This book has been a lot easier to work with than Lift. The story knows where it’s headed, and believe me, BIG things go down in book two! Almost all of the Flying Ponies get introduced, and you get to know Dreadful more.

I hope to release Tilt in mid-winter (Valentine’s Day would be fun, wouldn’t it?). Check back on my social media as I will be updating where I am with the publishing process.

Editing With Color

I am now on the second round of edits on Tilt, book two in The Flying Ponies trilogy. This second stage is what I refer to as my “highlighter” round. Each pertinent character and sometimes story line gets assigned a different color highlighter. As I go through the manuscript, I use those colors to mark characters. I do this so I can see how many times a character is in a scene or on a page, and to make sure they continue all the way through the book. If a certain color stops, I can make sure there’s a reason why that character or story line disappears.

This strategy works well for me, and I like flipping through all the pages of the manuscript and seeing the different colors. As a writer, it’s interesting to see which characters run the show. In Tilt, the Flying Ponies themselves are quite involved in the narrative. You will meet almost all of them in the second book; and hopefully, you will like at least some of them. Each of the 32 Flying Ponies are based on actual carousel horses – some of them are on working carousels around the United States, and others are to be found in museums. The model horse for Dreadful, for instance, is at the Frontier Museum at Cedar Point Amusement Park, in Ohio. In the middle of this month I will be visiting Cedar Point, and am excited about “meeting” the bay cavalry horse Dreadful is modeled after.

Using the different colors also appeals to me as a creative person. I love to color, and highlighting my characters is almost like coloring my novel. Who knows – maybe someday there will be a Flying Ponies coloring book! The one major story line that I assigned a color is the relationship between Black and Charlotte. I’ll admit – I think they are an adorable young couple, and I’m having fun watching their feelings for one another develop, especially since a certain older brother doesn’t like that.

I’m not quite halfway through the book with the colors; once that round of edits is done, I’ll let Tilt sit for a week or so and then go through it again, this time looking for anything that feels out-of-place. I’ve signed my book contract for it, and the book will probably go to my editor in the early winter, and then finally to my publisher. I expect Tilt to release around March-April of 2019.

If you’re a writer, the highlighter round might work for you, too – and it sure makes your manuscript pretty!

 

But What If It’s Bad?!

Yeah. I’m going to be blunt. I’m afraid to start editing Tilt, book two in The Flying Ponies trilogy because, GASP! what if it’s bad? Having gone through the editing process last year starting around this time with Lift, book one in the trilogy, I know it’s not fun. It’s not supposed to be, I don’t think. Oh maybe, if you can kill enough of the darlings and know where to embellish and how to do so, but what if the story itself isn’t good?

Sure, you can rewrite. You can do as many drafts as you pretty please. Still, the story itself, the inner thread that holds all those scenes and characters together – what if that’s so far past gone that you can’t find it? Or it unravels as fast as you grab at it? Then, might I ask, what?!

So this, then, is my dilemma. I am set to print off Tilt and start the editing process around August 30, give or take a day or so. I was eager to begin the process with its predecessor. I didn’t know any better. Some writers love editing and rewriting. For them, that’s where they find their story. For me, it’s not. I already know my story. I know where it’s going and what it should look like at the end of the book. It’s all those lines in the middle, the ones that twist and shape the story. What if those aren’t as elegant as I thought? What if my clever writing isn’t?

I’m not looking for assurances or reassurances. Maybe insurance – wait, that’s what my day job is for, so I’ve got something to fall back on should this writing endeavor fail. This is just me wringing my hands inside my head and wondering why on earth I thought I wanted to write for anyone other than myself. You know, though, I think every author, every writer, goes through this. At some point in time in your career, anyway. I’m just dragging my feet. That’s all there is to it.

So…onward into the unknown. We’ll see if the story is really there, if the characters are doing what needs to be done and in a timely manner.

We’ll see if these Flying Ponies are continuing in their nefarious ways!

NEWSFLASH

Lift is done with revisions! It has officially gone to the publisher to be formatted into both trade paperback and e-book forms! Thank you to my wonderful editor, Kat Szmit, of One Wicked Wordsmith – you rock!

K. R. Conway of Wicked Whale Publishing is working on the cover art and the book formatting now.

The Lift launch party is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, at the Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague, MI, from 4:30-6 pm.

I will be updating more the closer we get to actual publication – keep checking back!

Lift Off!

So just a quick announcement: Lift has been completely edited, and emailed to my publisher. After she reads it, I may have to make some more edits, but even so – Lift has left the desk! It has been a huge undertaking. 

Writing a book is largely a lonely endeavor. It’s just you, some notes, and a blinking cursor. Lift was started in August 2016 and completed in February 2017. It then sat for six or seven weeks before I began the initial edits. My husband, Ryan, was a huge help in the final editing round. He caught things that I hadn’t noticed. 

Now Lift begins the next part of its journey. I am beyond excited to work with K. R. Conway of Wicked Whale Publishing, and to see where this writing venture takes me. 

The Author Life…or Something Like That

It’s beautiful outside today. It’s 71 degrees (according to my weather app on my Android), and there’s a breeze playing through the trees outside my window. The trees are starting to change, finally. With all the rain and wind we got here in west Michigan last week, I wasn’t sure there’d be any leaves left.

Tonight is the last home football game, and last game period for the Shelby Tigers. They fought valiantly, but without much avail this year. The highlight of the home games was the Shelby Marching Tigers, the high school marching band my son plays trumpet in. I guess maybe my opinion is swayed, being a band mom. The football team really did try hard this year.

My niece and I attended the Breathe writing conference back on October 6th, and it was amazing. I got to sit in on sessions led by two very talented women, Rachel McMillan (her Canadian accent is so COOL!) and Cynthia Beach, who led a great session on writing settings. B (my niece) and I decided we definitely want to attend the whole conference next year. It’s already in my Google calendar.

So what about actual writing? Well, I’ve been editing Lift, my YA contemporary fantasy novel coming from Wicked Whale Publishing in 2018. I’m finding out that being a pantser-type writer means quite a bit of revision. I’m also writing Tilt, the second in The Flying Ponies series.

Life does get in the way, though, of that thing we writers like to do: write. We’ve had doctor’s appointments this week and upcoming doctor and dentist appointments in the next two weeks. We’re going to Cedar Point amusement park with my husband’s brothers and their families next weekend, where I’m hoping to snag some selfies with the Muller “Haunted Cavalry Horse” carousel horse that resides in the park’s Frontier Town Museum. We’ve also got the Shelby Marching Tigers’ Spectacular next Friday night, where the marching band plays in the high school auditorium. It is quite a sight!

Throw in high school and middle school conferences, youth group activities, those pesky TV shows my hubby and I can’t live without, the books we’re trying to read, a health concern for me, and a myriad of other things (have I mentioned our two horses and two Dachshunds?!), and it’s a wonder I get any writing or editing done at all. I’m very new to this author life, and while loving it to death, I do struggle with finding time for everything. Because it’s all good stuff. Great stuff, actually, when it has to do with my family and animals.

What do you do to find time? To make time? I have a pretty pink soft cover notebook that’s quite large, and that’s what I make my writing plans in every week. I try to stick to the schedule I lay out. Sometimes I do really well, and other times, well, not so much. This week, I know without checking my planner, I didn’t do so hot. But at least I have a reference for what I really need to be working on. I put stickers and shiny sticky gemstones in it to flash it up a little. Hopefully this next week I’ll manage to follow my plans a little better.

So onward to the last football game of the season. And onward with this crazy author life!

 

SPRING FEVER

I think it’s finally spring here in west Michigan. The birds have been returning, led by the robins and geese. A random snow shower might still pop up uninvited; Michigan can be, after all, quite tempestuous. But the grass is greening up, the horses are finally shedding their heavy winter coats, and the ORV park out at Silver Lake opened this month.

Which means it’s difficult to concentrate on not only my work at the library, but also on my book, Lift. First in the Flying Ponies series, it’s sitting on my old desk in my office at home, waiting for me to complete its editing. I know I need to buckle down and get to it, but the warm weather keeps calling me outside. Our kids are taking lambs to the county fair this year, and last night we worked on building their pen. No editing was accomplished.

I don’t actually mind editing. I know whatever I do now will only strengthen the story. My first reader gave it a good review, and also pointed out some things that need fixing, which is what a first reader should do. I have a plan of action to fix what’s broken. Now it’s just a matter of getting down to it.

The first story in the Pentallian Chronicles is coming along. The rewrite is much better than my first attempt at telling the story. And I’ve started making notes and finding character pictures for a future story (more on that in a future post). Unfortunately, none of that is helping get Lift edited. So it sits on my desk, half of it highlighted, the other half waiting. The highlighting is to help me make sure all of the various plot threads make it all the way through the book, and don’t suddenly drop off or stop. So far, everything looks good.

But the sun still calls, and the dunes are beckoning, as are the trails. My horse needs brushing to get all his winter fuzz off. There are so many other things I’d really rather be doing than sitting at good old Wellington (my desk) and pouring over a manuscript. Still, it has to be done. I have to find the motivation. The Flying Ponies deserve a chance to shine. Their story should be told.

So in the end, the dunes and trails will have to wait. My XJ and my horse can chill in the sun a little longer. And once Lift is done and sent off to my publisher, then I too can go play in the sunshine.