Here we are. The books pre-release on Saturday. And I’m just now writing the post I’ve been dreading for quite awhile. Not because I don’t like the changes in the new books. On the contrary, I LOVE the new changes in my books. And while I have been able to roll with the changes, I have always worried about what my original fans will think of them. I promised I would let yall know ahead of time what to expect and, well, now time has run out. Before I detail the changes out for you, I want you to know that every change made from the original self-pubbed version (WIND) to the split, commercial versions (WINDCHASER, WINDFALL) were made with lots of prayer and consideration to both my original fans and the future fans out there that we want to welcome in! So, hold my hand now, because we’re going to get through this post together. And my prayer is that the changes will excite you about the new releases and refresh your original experiences of WIND.
It’s gone. And I think it kind of casts Whitnee’s mom in a more suspicious light… I’ll let you decide what you think about it. I doubt you’ll miss the Prologue if you’ve already read it. But I do worry that new readers will take longer to grasp the full picture of what happened with Whit’s dad. *shrugs* Can’t do anything about that now and that was an editor decision that I just gave in to. (I really don’t understand the Prologue Hate in this industry because I’ve always liked them…but whatev. It was an easy compromise.)
I have emotional ties to the real Camp Fusion that my husband and I put on every year (we’ve done 9 Camp Fusions now). And that love of summer camp and all the wonderful magic that comes with it drove a lot of the setting and symbolism contained in the Phantom Island books. I love Camp Fusion. In my mind, everything begins and ends there. And I’ve had the comment made to me that the Camp Fusion scenes felt like a lot of character and plot set up. But I will argue this point the rest of my life (and I think people will understand more as the series goes on) that, yes, character development and plot setup are important, but Camp Fusion is about so much more. In actuality, this is not just a series about a magical Island. It’s about a girl torn between two worlds. But how can the reader be torn with her if the reader only loves and understands the new world, not the real one? I don’t know about yall, but I always hated when the Pevensie children left Narnia. I was left with this feeling of dissatisfaction and disappointment that they had to come back to the awful real world. There was nothing there for me – it was ALWAYS all about Narnia. I hate when Milo leaves the Lands Beyond in the Phantom Tollbooth. I cry every year in class when he has to say goodbye to Tock, the watchdog, and return in his little electric car to the real world. And it’s even worse when he runs home from school the next day, expecting to go back. This is the hardest aspect of writing a novel where characters discover a new world. How do you write this kind of story where the reader can grow to care about both sides? THAT is why I wanted to write a series where both sides of the world were important…where you could realistically see Whitnee’s place both on the Mainland and on the Island. All that to say, Camp Fusion is IMPORTANT. What happens on the Mainland Beyond is IMPORTANT and you can expect to see the good and bad of the Mainland AND the Island as the series continues. In my mind, this is KEY to one of the biggest conflicts in the Phantom Island series – where DOES Whitnee belong and what are the ramifications of giving up either place in her life?
With that in mind, though, when we split WIND in two, it made Windchaser longer on the Camp Fusion side than seemed natural for the first book in a fantasy series. So we cut out some scenes that really did only seem to develop characterization more than move the plot along. This was HARD for me. I had to say goodbye to some key Amelia scenes that I felt like really showed just HOW MUCH of a brat she was and HOW BADLY Whitnee handled her in the beginning…all to contrast HOW MUCH they both grow in their relationship by the end of Windfall. But, really, removing a few scenes (and sometimes just mentioning their existence in a paragraph in some places) still seemed to capture those dynamics (if a little superficially) and, surprisingly, it made Amelia slightly more likable and Whitnee a little less crazy. Ha.
NOTE: I’ll be honest. I don’t like to hear people say, “Oh, I’m glad you made those changes in Camp Fusion because blah-blah-blah-blah…” I LIKE the changes we made, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear any negative stuff about the original. The Camp Fusion stuff will just always be near and dear to my heart – and, therefore, a sensitive topic. Just putting that out there…
My editor initially asked me if Jaxson was going to be important later in the series. When I said, “not really,” she said, “Then why are we wasting our emotions on him when we should be focused on Caleb and then Gabriel?” Hmm. Good question. I actually agreed with her on that. So her initial suggestion was to cut the character of Jaxson completely. But I just couldn’t do that – I didn’t want to change the reality on my readers (and myself) that drastically. And imagine Camp Fusion without him… who would Caleb be jealous of there? What would motivate Caleb to finally express his feelings to Whitnee? And, hello! The hamburger scene is one of my favorite scenes ever! (My students even made a MOVIE out of it on WIND’s 1-year-anniversary.) No way was I cutting Jaxson completely (especially because all my cousins have characters named after them and my 10-year-old cousin, Jax, would KILL me if I cut out the “hot, college guy” named after him). But she did have a point – Jaxson is not that important in the long run and the reader shouldn’t be wasting their emotions on him. In my mind, he’s always been there to serve as a reason why Caleb “just can’t win on either side of the world” and act as a catalyst for Caleb to do some REALLY stupid things at Camp Fusion. So I compromised. At my own initiation, I changed Jaxson’s scenes a bit – he’s still interested in Whitnee but not nearly as assertive with her both physically and emotionally. I changed the whole scene with them in the river – and I LOVE IT. Seriously, it became one of my favorite new scenes. And I think ultimately, changing his character made Whitnee look like less of a “player” this summer. It certainly put more focus on the Caleb/Claire situation in Whitnee’s mind. So of all the changes we made, the ones with Jaxson feel REALLY good to me and I’m really happy with it – even though they are the biggest changes. I won’t tell you anymore because I want you to enjoy reading the new scenes. It’s like new material – an alternate universe!
There was one scene on the Island with Caleb that my editor suggested I shorten in an effort to avoid repetition and to prolong some tension between Whitnee and Caleb. I won’t tell you what part it is – you can read and find out. Everything else about Caleb is the same – love that boy!
There was one scene in Windfall that my editor suggested changing – this time in an effort to prolong some much-deserved tension between Gabriel and Whitnee. It involved removing one kiss – and, seriously, WHO would want to remove a GABRIEL KISS? But I did agree with her and I think it enriched the conflict more to do this. (Again, making Whitnee look like less of a “player” too…)
This book ends during their first night’s stay in Aerodora. I will admit that it is weird to me to have a big climax in the middle of this book and then all these mini-climaxes that build up to a… To Be Continued. I confessed to my students the other day that it felt strange to me that there wasn’t a big climax and resolution at the end of Windchaser. They assured me that a comfortable cliffhanger will make people want the second book immediately without stressing them out emotionally. I hope they are right. A perk of the new edition is that you get the Tribal Quiz printed at the back of the Windchaser book now! That’s always fun – and I figured people could give the quiz to friends and family over and over again if they had it in their book.
This book is paced well as its own book and is full of fun surprises too. I ended up REALLY loving the flow of this book as the sequel that it now is. The BEST PART about Windfall is that at the end of the book, you get the Sneak Peek of Watercrossing – Book 3. This is totally new material from the next book in the series and I can’t WAIT to see what people think and theorize about once they read it! You will want Windfall just so you can read on into the next book!
MY REAL THOUGHTS
I think the commercial editions are better. The writing is cleaner, the pacing is better, Whitnee comes across much more balanced as a character. (In my mind, she always was, but amateur writing can change the way a character comes across.) I always said I wouldn’t change my book unless it was going to make it better. And I truly believe the changes have made them better books. Consider the fact that now my books will be reaching a wider audience of people who don’t know me, maybe never met me at a book signing or heard me speak at their school, or know someone who knows me and speaks highly of me… they’re not going to overlook anything simply because they came to like the author herself. To some, I will only be a name on a book – and my story will have to grip them enough to keep them turning pages and buying sequels. I hope and pray that Phantom Island will continue to spread on its own. I am always amazed when I hear from someone I’ve never met who loves the original book – that means it continues to spread to people outside my own sphere of influence. Lord, let that continue!
I don’t know what the future holds. It’s scary to be back out on the chopping block again. I go into it this time with a lot more knowledge than I did back in 2009. I know the hard work it takes and I have no unrealistic dreams of how books will sell. But I also know that I’m going back into this with a support system already in place – and with loyal fans that will follow me through these changes.
SO… On October 1st, the books will pre-release on The White Island Shoppe. The first fifty orders will get a special discounted price on books! After that, it’ll go up a little. Remember, the books won’t be available everywhere until the official release in December! For now, the pre-releases are something special for those who want to receive their copies in the next couple of weeks! (REMEMBER: If it has “Wind” in the title, it’s part of the original book! Titles with “Water” in it will mark the presence of brand, spankin’ new material!)
PHANTOM ISLAND PEP RALLY
It begins on Friday, September 30!! PLEASE participate and support all the wonderful writers and authors who are featuring me on their blogs – go comment, earn extra spirit points, and help raise some excitement online. Also on Friday… several of my Facebook friends will be changing their profile pics to one of my book covers for the weekend! Join us. Let’s blitz Facebook and Twitter with some publicity! For the Pep Rally schedule, Spirit Points, and links, go HERE: http://krissidallas.blogspot.com/p/phantom-island-pep-rally.html
THANK YOU. I’m releasing your hand now with a pat. It’s all going to be okay. We’re on this adventure together. So let’s make it AWESOME.