Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Evolution of Spark (Jill)

Huh? It's Jill's normal day to post, and the title says this post is by Jill, so why was it posted by Laurie? Excellent question! Sorry to be a little confusing, but even though Jill is one of our regular contributors, today we're treating her like our most honored guest. Why? Because it's her blog tour for her debut release, Spark!! YAY!!!! We could not be more thrilled to get to celebrate with you on this special occasion, Jill! I'll share more details about her new release below, but first here's Jill sharing "The Evolution of Spark" - enjoy!

Six years ago, my youngest headed off to school full-time. That Sunday, a lady in my church said to me, “What will you do with yourself now that the girls are in school?”

I think she expected me to say something practical like, “Sleep for a month,” or “Get caught up on laundry.”

“I’m going to write a book,” I blurted.

“Oh!” Her eyes grew round. “Well, okay!”

But at that stage the book was an amorphous idea. Although this wasn’t my first attempt at a novel, it was my first attempt at speculative fiction. The manuscript evolved a lot from the early days when I was world-building until the printed product.

After reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I envisioned my pages littered with mythical beings—dwarves, fairies, elves. Maybe a few trolls. But DragonSpell (Donita K. Paul) changed my mind. I created my own races, borrowing a few characteristics from the common tropes. Muscled Camlos are solid like dwarves, but larger and bald. The glowing Weldens? They’re quick, like fairies without wings.

I changed point of view. Although I started with first person, fifty pages in I second-guessed myself. I wrote a chapter in third person. After sitting with that change for a week, I switched back to first person. There’s no definitive reason why first person worked best for this story—it just felt like the right choice, despite first-person point of view limitations.

My initial beginning was different, too. I really hate beginnings. They should hook the reader, start with action, and make you care about the character, preferably all in the first paragraph. Originally, Brenna encounters the mean girl clique in the girls’ bathroom. When things get physically rough, she pushes the leader away and burns her in the process. After I entered the first few chapters into a contest, the feedback was that Brenna wasn’t likable because she didn’t care about the girl she burned. After much struggling and hair-pulling, I wrote a new beginning.

The last major change was the title. It had originally been called Brenna. In the beginning stages, I’ll just name the book after the main character. It saves time and energy. I decided on The Sacred Veil, but after many revisions changed it to The Firebrand. It then morphed to The Firebrand: Spark. When my publisher mentioned single title books are easier to remember and possibly sell better, I retitled it Spark.

The struggle for any writer is to change the story until it’s the best it can be without losing sight of what makes it special. After many, many hours, Spark has evolved into a story I’m proud to call my own.

Isn't it fun to find out the process stories go through to get to their final form? Spark released on May 16th, and can be purchased here. I absolutely loved it! So much adventure, heart, and humor. But you have to get the book to see my official endorsement :)

Here's the back-cover blurb:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil. Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello, Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time? And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?

Congratulations again, Jill!! Thanks for letting us be a part of the celebration for your new release!

Make sure to check out this review of Spark posted by Laura Zimmerman yesterday, and Jill's guest posts tomorrow hosted by Pam Halter and Ralene Burke!


  1. Wow! What an interesting first beginning! Really cool to see some of the changes you made. :)

  2. Love this so much! Thank you for sharing! :)

    1. Thanks! It was fun to look back on all the changes.

  3. I love the beginning, think you absolutely captured all the teen-angst of 'oh my goodness, I'm a freak with this power!' Plus all the action. Plus...well...I could go on and on, but I don't want to be guilty of posting spoilers. Suffice it to say, glad you declared at such a young age that you were going to write a book!!

    1. Yes, I was a prodigy! (I'm just poking fun, Jeb--I read your explanation on FB!) But thanks -- I'm glad you're enjoying it.💜

  4. Excellent choice of name for your protagonist, Jill. :) (Also, the concept for the story sounds really interesting.)


    1. So, so sorry Brenna, that I didn't see this until now!! Thanks for replying and forgive my terribly late reply (bangs head on computer.)

  5. If you are looking for a Christian, juvenile fiction, fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist, choose this one!


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