Now Entering Riven City

On April 13th, the day Destiny released, Amazon announced the arrival of Kindle Vella, a new platform for both writers and readers. Authors will be able to upload stories to Vella chapter-by-chapter. These are called “episodes.” The first three episodes of a story can be read for free, and after that, a reader will need to purchase “tokens” from Amazon (the amount of money for said tokens will vary, and they will be sold in bundles as well). Amazon will split the money made on stories 50/50 with their respective authors.

Why is this such an exciting opportunity? It opens up a whole new way for authors to share stories with readers. I am currently writing a story that will run concurrent with the first few books in The Traitors War series. This story involves characters from the kingdom of Battleclash as well as buccaneers. It will likely be shorter than my published novels, and offer readers a chance to see more of Imperium. It will also, hopefully, keep readers excited about The Traitors War series and engaged with it until the next book releases.

After that side story is published to Vella, I will introduce a new series that will only be published on Vella. Right now it’s titled Riven City, and is set in the city of the same name. Each story will revolve around different sets of characters: police, firefighters, boxers, librarians, harbor patrol, street racers, and of course – criminals. Characters from one story could and will pop into others, thus tying all the stories together. I’m excited to introduce Riven City and its inhabitants to all of you.

Kindle Vella will likely launch before the end of July this year. I will be sharing more about it and the stories I’m posting there in the future. Thank you to everyone who has bought Destiny or any of my Flying Ponies books – I greatly appreciate it and you! If you feel so inclined, leaving reviews of any of my books on Goodreads and/or Amazon would be most appreciated, as well.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Always Roll the Map

Pentallia is a pretty big place; as you traverse it along with the characters in Destiny, it would be advisable to bring along a map of the continent. This particular map is in the front of Destiny; the ones I use as I write are much more detailed. I will share those later. This map was made by my husband, Ryan.

Anyone a fan of maps? Reading them? Making them? I love fantasy book maps. I have a framed copy of the map from The Lord of the Rings on my office wall, right below my flintlock pistol (it’s a model, non-firing) and my two crossed swords (those are quite pointy). Fantasy novels are often set in worlds perceived in the mind of their authors, and as such, don’t share the same places as our world. This can make it hard to keep track of where characters are headed when they’re out and about, especially for the writer.

I knew my world of Imperium was going to be big. The continent of Pentallia, where Destiny is set, is big, too, with lots of kingdoms and places to get lost in. Having maps of Pentallia was going to be essential to tracking my characters’ movements. There are four continents in Imperium: Dracsulam, Ferox, Ignarus, and Pentallia, and numerous islands, that will get introduced later in other books in the series. Keeping track of all those places is a lot of work, but it’s fun. I enjoy making maps of my world.

Certain kingdoms in Pentallia have specific weather patterns, too. Iceflame and Frostwild are both in perpetual winter. Stormsurge is cold and rainy most of the year. WarCry is prone to a lot of thunderstorms that roll in off the Argentum Brine to the west. And some of the kingdoms, like Heartgrove and Halcyon, have moderate weather, with both rain and lots of sun. And Sceptre, home to the Shadowliege guild, is in the Swelters, a desert (which isn’t as hot as you would think with a name like that).

I will share pictures of my detailed maps I use when I’m working on The Traitors War books in a later post. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday, and stay safe while you navigate this crazy world of ours.

Also, points if you know what movie the title of this post comes from 🙂

What Comes Next

Destiny has been out in the world now since Tuesday, and has three wonderful reviews (by the way, one of the best things you can do for an author is leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon, or both, if you’re feeling really inspired). So what do I do next? Take time off? Rest? Relax? Celebrate?

Relax and celebrate, for sure. But rest? Take time off from writing? Not so much. My brain and my muse (Glucinda is her name – if you know where I got the name, cookies for you!) don’t really work that way. Book two of The Traitors War is already finished and has gone through the first round of editing. I’m not ready to start book three yet, so I’m switching gears and working on another story idea, about young ladies in a secretive society who kill things during the Victorian age in England. Interested?

There are a few other ideas nestled away in notebooks in my office that I plan to tinker with on and off in-between books in The Traitors War. Most of those ideas involve fantasy elements in some way; fantasy is a substantial part of my writing wheelhouse, and I don’t have any plans to stray from it for the next ten or so years.

The Traitors War will probably (I say probably because I’m not exactly sure yet) be a run of six books in the main series, accompanied by one standalone and a duology; all three books will be continuations of the main series, and will feature some of the characters (the ones who survive, that is….muwhahahaha….) These will take, if I publish one book a year, the next nine or so years. After that, this idea I’m working on could be published, or one of my other ones. At this point, I can’t say. A lot depends on my muse and what other ideas we come up with during that time.

At the moment, though, I’m working up a first draft of the Victorian killer girls, and I’m liking what I’m seeing. The characters are telling me who they are and what their goals and dreams are, and that’s an excellent start to our relationship. It will take at least one or two more drafts before it will be what it needs to be, and before it ever goes to my editor, but we’re getting there. It’s a process. Destiny took sixteen years to get ready. We’ll see if these ladies can beat that.

Have a wonderful weekend! If you’re traversing Pentallia, make sure to take a weapon, or maybe find a Shadowliege for an escort. They’ll be fairly harmless, as long as they don’t have a kill order for you, and they know where all the best taverns are.

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.

A New Year Cometh

Here we are, on the cusp of a new year. We all have things we didn’t get done in 2018, things we never even got around to doing. Will those go on your 2019 resolutions list? Or did they turn out to be not as important as you thought?

I’ve found that making resolutions rarely works for me. It might for a day or three, or maybe even a week, if it’s something I’m serious about. So I make goals, instead. It might be in the same spirit as resolutions, but it sounds better, at least to me

New author goals include: publishing and selling Tilt; writing Spin, the final volume in The Flying Ponies trilogy; selling more copies of Lift; researching and starting a new novel (more on that later); and learning as much as I can about writing.

I’d also like to ride my pony, BJ, more and take my Jeep Cherokee to the sand dunes more often and go trail riding. And, of course, spend as much time with my family as I can.

Whatever your resolutions are, I wish you well with them. I wish a blessed New Year on you as well. May 2019 be amazing!

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!