When I began writing in 1995, I wrote Christian romance. While writing that first novel, I like to say I made all my mistakes. (Because I made so many, that story will never see the light of day). In each subsequent novel, I continued to learn new things and (hopefully) my writing improved. Spark was no different.
- If you’re writing a series, seed your stories.
Spark is the first book of The Firebrand Chronicles. It’s about a female teen, Brenna, and the events that occur as she becomes an adult. Because it’s chronological and about one major character, I had to spend a lot of time outlining and thinking about where I wanted the other stories to go. And I had to make sure certain things happened in each book so that the next book would work. My editor was very, very kind. We were deep into edits when I sent her a desperate, yet apologetic email. “We have to change the name of this item. What I have won’t work.” She agreed and changed it. I’m thankful for her flexibility because the sequels would be a lot harder to write without the change. So even though I’m a pantser at heart, outlining the following books ahead of time was necessary.
- Trademarks matter.
While I was writing, I threw in references to Pop-Tarts and Volkswagen vans. After all, they’re familiar items unless you’ve been living under a rock. But they’re trademarked, which means you need to be careful. After consulting with the Kellogg’s people, they nixed my Pop-Tart references (I still don’t think I’ve forgiven them). And the Volkswagen van reference was scrubbed and changed to “SUV.” We were thrilled when the C.S. Lewis Foundation okayed Lewis’s quote I used at the beginning of the story. I always knew he was a classy guy.
- There’s no such thing as too much revision.
I haven’t counted how many total revisions Spark went through. But even now, after it’s done and printed, I still see things I’d change. (Part of that is my attractive, neurotic side.) Aside from the revisions I made before it I typed “THE END”, I revised it at least two times before giving it to my family, then again before giving it to my critique group, then revised it three more times before submitting it to a contest, then revised it again before submitting it to an agent. My agent showed me how he wanted it revised (which I did—twice), then my publisher showed me the revisions she wanted (and there were three rounds of those edits). So in all, I revised Spark at least ten times. Although I’m happy with it, it’s no surprise I’m ready to move on.
I’ve begun writing Book Two of The Firebrand Chronicles, titled Flare, and it picks up about eight months after Spark ends. I’m enjoying the process of creating and herding these characters in the direction they need to go. Please pick up a copy of Spark, then leave an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads or Barnes and Noble, telling everyone what you think.
Because the last thing I’ve learned? Authors (this one included) loves reviews!
And as promised here’s a teaser for Spark!
Isn’t it amazing? Thanks for watching!