November of 2021 is when I started reading for other reasons. I did it to help my writing. I was trying to find a way to revise my 2nd bat story. I saved it in my computer back in 2011, and now a decade later I pulled it out.
I’m only sharing the books I picked as mentors, and I’m cutting out the parts that don’t apply to the bat story. Here’s the link if you’d like to read from those titles. Link: Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach
Part 1 - Me as a Reader, and a Writer – This is me, at a book event. I’m not just a reader anymore . . . I’m a writer. It changed the way I read, the way I write. Reading and writing are like opposite sides of the same coin. They work together.
I wrote my 2nd bat story ten years ago, and I haven’t touched it since. I pulled up the first chapter last week and revised it. It was easy . . . I’ve grown as a writer in the last ten years. My critique partners said I needed to push the characters, but I knew that. Ten years ago they were flat, and they still are. I was surprised that a couple people thought I should grow the story, a lot. I didn’t see the potential, last week.
This week I outlined my five chapters (I designed it as an easy chapter book) and sent it in . . . The response was universal! I need to grow this story . . . it’s way bigger than my original plot. I knew I needed to up the stakes and add complexity, but now I know . . . if I want this story to find its own depth, I need to let it grow. To become more than I can imagine now. WOW!
After I finished my critique group, I didn’t know where to turn, where to find ideas. Then I remembered that books have always been my mentors so I found it. My next read is imaginative, creative, and a fantasy. It’s a great place to start rebuilding my story. I also thought I should look at fractured fairy tales, fantasies with princesses and witches. Maybe even bats and bugs. Here’s to my new voyage, and however long it takes! Here’s to the new series – The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
Part 2 – The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, plus a few PSs: Most of my book posts are about my reaction to the book and the plot. The PSs are where I wrote my thoughts about revising my bat story.
Book 1 - PPS – I’m three days in, and dragon magic is working! I moved the setting from Lienen to Tecklenburg. It has history and atmosphere, from the ruins of an old German castle to the Teutoberg Forest where Herman the German battled ancient Rome.
My story’s grandmother changed too. The bats called her a witch in the old version. Now I think making her into a real one, opens a world of possibilities. I also changed her granddaughter’s name from Hannah to Anna, because a real Countess Anna lived in Tecklenburg Castle. She didn’t want witches burned, and my grandma and her Anna won’t either. Imagine what I can do with that angle!
Finally, I did some research and picked out one kind of bat. I also discovered that all bats need help. Did you know they’re in danger worldwide because of wind farms? In Germany too! I read that if they turned the fans off when bats are out, it would save their lives! AND we’d only lose 1% of the power wind farms produce. WOW! Who knew this book could get my juices going and fill my head with ideas? WAHOO!
Book 2 - PS – I decided to rewrite/revise my bat story with the original five chapters. I need to explore it first before I look for ways to grow it. I believe in story magic, and I’m willing to let it take me wherever my story is meant to go.
Book 3 – Time for the December Book Link: Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach
PS – I just finished the first two chapters of my bat book. The witch’s part is the most fun to write. It all started with a throwaway line in the 2011 version. A bat thought that the grandmother was a witch. Originally I said she was a nice old lady, but this time I decided to play with it. I’m having so much fun that I can’t wait to see where that witch takes me!
Book 4 - PS – My critique partners said the 1st two chapters are heading the right way. Their biggest piece of advice – GROW THAT PLOT! I’m working on it, but I’ll finish the last three chapters of the almost original story first.
Then . . . I’m moving the story across the ocean to my lake in Tennessee. That’s the setting where I’ll work to imagine the fantasy, I believe it can be.
Part 3 – A Witch, Three Queens, and a Sorcerer – Follow me through the next 5 books. As I read each one, I left myself notes about where the bat story should go.
December Book Link: Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach
William - PS – I picked this story because I need to reimagine my bat story. It’s keeping me in the middle grade range, but I haven’t found the perfect path to stretch it out. I think the witch character is the right way to go, but I think I need to look into some bat lore to help me push my story farther. Here’s to my new quest!
Three Queens – I wrote this when I started reading the Hundredth Queen,
and it’s what I noticed through the whole series . . .
I’m interested in how the author created the Tarachand Empire based on ancient Sumeria. Think pre-Babylonia! That’s exactly what I need to do for my bat fantasy. To create a new world for them. The only problem . . . I can’t picture it yet, but reading this book gives me a sense of the kind of major world building that I need to do for those bats! Somewhere in my subconscious, I hope, I’m weaving this world together, bit by bit, character by character.
Harry Potter, My Writing Mentor - I’m still reading the Hundredth Queen series to look at world building, but my mentor suggested I look at Harry Potter for my bat book. Why? She thinks the tone and complexity are what my story needs. I’ve worked with her since 2018, and I trust her advice.
Harry Potter – that sounded so intimidating until I wrapped my head around it. I don’t have to write 800 pages or sound like J.K. I’ll write my story, and I’ll follow Harry’s footprints. Not exactly, but in a way that fits my bats and 2 humans.
Reading Harry as a mentor text is different than reading it for fun. It’s like taking a road trip. You read as fast as you can and enjoy the scenery. But now that Harry’s my teacher, I read a chapter at a time, then take notes. I’m looking at how Jo put the story together, and the elements I want to remember. I just finished chapter 3. Here’s a peek at my notes.
Chapter 1 is all about setting the stage – introducing the setting and characters. Jo doesn’t show the inciting incident between Harry and Voldemort. We’re told about it through the fallout. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on one incident per chapter. Chapter 2 takes place 10 years later, and Jo uses a birthday to show how Harry’s treated in the family. Chapter 3 focuses on a letter, and all of Mr. Dursley’s attempts to keep Harry from reading it.
PS – I got stuck on Chapter 4. Harry’s a great mentor text, but he’s not helping me picture my story.
Part 4 – One Last Queen and a Spindle - They’re the last two books in my journey, so far.
January Book Link: Rinda Beach - Blog - Rinda Beach
The Last Queen - I wrote this after I finished The Warrior Queen. It tells you the direction I thought I needed to go with the bat story. The interesting part – I’d forgotten I wrote it . . .
I pick my books by author, and I’ll take a look at Emily’s, along with my other favorite authors. It’ll be a while. I have book 1 of Harry Potter to read. Then I’ll skip to another magical book, and it takes place in the Smokies. I have the where for the story, but I need to figure out a problem for my bats to solve. I’m hoping Story Magic will point me down the right path. Fingers crossed!
Spindled – This is the first thing I wrote about it . . .
Shanna Swendson is one of my favorite authors, and that’s why I picked this book. I’m rereading it to uncover details I missed the 1st time through.
- And this is how it’s helping me with my bats . . .
This book was written for kids aged 11-18. That’s the range I want to hit with my bat story, so this is another good mentor book for me. I’m also happy to announce – there will be a sequel. Dawn’s parents, the true king and queen, are hiding somewhere in east Texas. I can’t wait to read it!
Part 5 – What I’m Reading and Writing Now – I’ve never posted this before. It’s new material that I put together, just for this post.
Writing Now - This week I finished revising the last chapter of my Almost True Bat Story. Next week I’ll hear what my critique partners think about it.
The old version’s pretty much what happened to me in 2007 when I held a bat on a mop in Germany . . . Really! What’s interesting is that this new version is still flat, and that’s the same comment an editor told me in 2011 . . . so I mothballed it, until now.
This weekend I’m going back to Chapter 1 for another round of editing, and I’m changing just ONE THING in the story. I’m moving it from Germany to the US . . . to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
But I decided to change something else– the characters. I’m aging the girl. In the original she was 5-7 years old. Now she’ll be 11-13. That will turn it into a middle grade novel. I’m also making the grandmother a real witch. It was a throw-away line in the original chapter book, but now I’m ready to play with it in the new and improved story. And the bats, they’ll become American of course.
Reading Now – Willa of the Wood – This is the book I wrote about in The Warrior Queen. I’ve had it since 2019, but I never read it. I started today, and I’m six chapters in already. It has magic and nature and The Smokies. All the things I wanted to picture for my bats. I’m feeling the magic, that this is the right mentor book. I can’t wait to see where this story, my imagination, and a little research will take me.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!