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!

Write Your Story

I did an author meet and greet yesterday at Gales IGA in Hart, and I had a ball! I sold some books, but what was more fun was just talking about Lift with the people who came. They were genuinely interested in learning about the process and the inspiration, and I thoroughly enjoy talking about it.

It’s been said that if you can’t find the kind of book you want to read, then you need to write it yourself. There’s a danger in doing that, of course – what if no one else likes your story? Well, to be honest, should a writer care about that? Yes, at least a little. Most working writers hope to make some money, though most of us know we will never make enough to quit our day/night jobs. That’s a reality that needs to be faced.

It doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t write that story that you want to read. Somewhere out there are other people who need your story, too. They might not even realize it until they see it sitting on a local book store’s shelf or on Amazon. Not every person will click with your story, and that’s okay. How many books have you read that didn’t do it for you? That’s no reason to hold back.

I love my story. I love my characters. I can’t wait to share book two of The Flying Ponies trilogy with all of you. It’s a story I would’ve loved to read, but no one had written it, so God gave it to me to write. For better or worse, the Flying Ponies are mine now.

What story do you want to read that hasn’t been written yet? Perhaps it hasn’t been written because it’s waiting for you to do it.

Have a blessed Memorial Day, everyone. Remember our fallen soldiers and what they did to protect the freedom we as Americans enjoy.

(I found this quote on Pinterest.)

Finding Inspiration at the Mall

I survived girls’ weekend! It was a great two days of watching romantic movies, shopping, and eating junk food. On Sunday, we ventured to the Traverse City Mall, which houses a beautiful carousel. I took the pictures you see here to use as inspiration for my Flying Ponies series.

I love seeing the carousel animals; they remind me of a lost time that America will never see again. I believe this carousel sports fiberglass animals rather than wood, but their beautiful colors and intricate designs also represent my own childhood memories of riding flying ponies around and around.

I think when you’re writing, it’s a good idea to find images related to the story that inspire you. I am a visual person; seeing actual carousels help me focus on writing about my fictional one. And, I enjoy learning about them, too. I hope to next year make it down to Sandusky, Ohio, to the Merry Go Round Museum, to visit their restored carousels.

What inspires you when you write? What images have you used for your stories?

Have a blessed night, and please enjoy the carousel pictures.

Characters Know Best

Have you ever spent a lot of time plotting out a story, complete with a timeline and outline, only to have your characters hijack it? This happened with the first story in my YA fantasy series, set in my world of Pentallia. I spent months outlining, drawing up character sheets, and writing out scenes in a concise timeline, only to have my three main characters take my work and pitch in the garbage. 

That first story was written in first person POV, and frankly, it didn’t work, for me, the characters, or the first publisher I sent it to. I’m currently rewriting it, in third person, and without an outline. My characters don’t respect those. I’m also planning to go the indie author route, with help from Wicked Whale Publishing. 

But back to those characters who laughed at my huge binder of work. I still have it, but broke it down into multiple smaller notebooks and four Pinterest boards specific to their world. I refer to those things when my characters, my people, take me somewhere in their world I’m not quite familiar with. For the most part, I just try to keep up.

And you know what? Something amazing has happened along the way: my people actually know what they’re doing. This second version is so much better than the first. I have discovered I am not a first person POV writer. I have also realized that by letting my people go free to roam, they have it all worked out. Now that doesn’t mean it won’t need editing – it will. But it does mean that the story is much clearer, and the flow is right.

So where does this leave you? Do you have a huge binder filled with outlines and timelines your people won’t cooperate with? Why not try writing a chapter without referring to the binder (or notebook or Scrivener or whatever) and letting your characters do what they want? They might disappoint you. They might anger you. But, and this is why you should try it, they might surprise you. Mine did. They may wander on occasion, and I have to help them back to the task, but they seem to be getting it right. 

Maybe yours will, too. 

Playing Favorites

We all have a favorite book, or many favorites, if you’re like me. And as writers, we also have favorite characters that we’ve created, whether it’s a hero or a villain (sometimes, they’re both). We often times don’t want to admit this, because we could be accused of playing the favorite game, but it is  true, isn’t it? 

Case in point: in my YA fantasy series I’m working on, there are two young men that I love writing equally well. One is a soldier, and one is an assassin. I would never tell them they are both favorites, because characters have egos just like writers. If you haven’t found this to be the case, just wait. There will be a character someday who demands a lot of your time. And somehow, he or she becomes a favorite. 

The problem with having a favorite, or favorites, is that sometimes you have to let them go for the betterment of your story, and you don’t want to. You know you should, that their death will raise the stakes, but you just can’t do it. Friends, you have to. If it makes your story that much richer, that much more riveting, do it. You will feel bad. You might even cry. But if it causes you that much pain, consider what it will do to your readers. I know, over the course of my fantasy series, I will lose some characters who have become very dear. But their death will enrich the stories, and it will be worth it.

So remember, when it’s time to say goodbye, to let them die, how much more amazing your story will be because of it.