To celebrate the launch of my upcoming YA fantasy novel, I’m giving away 5 signed copies of Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon over at Goodreads. This is a short-term giveaway that wraps up on September 7th, so head on over and sign up. Danny Dirks releases in ebook form on September 1st!
With a new book about to launch, I should be riding pretty high right now. But I’m not sure I’ve ever felt this low in my writing career.
So, you know how, when you’re writing your book, you get super paranoid that someone else has or will do it better than you? Yeah, we all get that. I’ve brushed it off in the past. I’ve seen similar books to mine, with similar plot points. Nothing enough to shake me. That is, until last night. It’s official. I’m shaken. Almost to a point of nausea, and I’m not normally that kind of guy.
For those of you who know, my upcoming YA fantasy, Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon, is about dragons living among us. There is an ancient pact between man and dragons threatened by rebel dragons. There is also a love interest between the main character and the girl who lives next door, who turns out to be a dragon. It’s also a twist on the Arthurian legend. Don’t worry, I’m not revealing anything I haven’t revealed in the blurb. It’s not an original concept, but I thought it had enough to separate it from a lot of the YA fantasy that was currently out there. Silly me.
Enter Talon, by New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa. Here is the blurb:
The series revolves around dragons with the ability to disguise themselves as humans and an order of warriors sworn to eradicate them. The dragons of TALON and the Order of St. George have been at war with each other for centuries. The fabled creatures, whose existence is unknown by the general public, are determined to rule the world. Their foes, a legendary society of dragon slayers, are equally bent on driving the fabled beasts into extinction. However, when a young dragon and a hardened slayer unknowingly befriend each other, it has severe repercussions for both organizations.
Yeah. It’s different, but damn it’s about as similar as I’d ever want to get to another book. Plus, she has a huge following, a 7-figure book deal, and to top it all off, THEY’RE ALREADY IN PRODUCTION ON THE MOVIE!
I know. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I can’t help but feel a bit sick. I sat on this book for four years before deciding to self publish. I wanted it to get the best treatment, which it has. And now, at the point I should feel most triumphant, I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. Maybe I have it completely wrong. Maybe my book will gain traction because of hers, especially if its theme is popular. Heck, maybe we’re setting a trend of dragons-among-us stories. I sure hope so. It’d make me feel a lot better than I do right now.
I’ve been so excited about this cover for so long. I’m really happy I can finally reveal it to the world. Created by the extremely talented Jason Gurley, I think it really captures the essence I was going for.
Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon is a full-length young adult fantasy novel set in the modern day #1 in a trilogy. The book has been beta read, professionally edited, and professionally formatted. It’s now available for pre-order over at Amazon for $2.99, two weeks prior to its official launch on September 1st. I hope you’ll do me the honor of reserving a copy. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. As mentioned previously, I’m still looking for reviewers, so let me know if you’re interested getting a freebie. Also, any help spreading the word would be greatly appreciated. 😀
Update: The paperback artwork can be seen here.
I was having a conversation with writing colleague, Nisha Sharma, the other night. Nisha and I met through our writers group and I’m happy to say that, despite our publishing differences (traditional and self sometimes seems like Montague and Capulet, right?), we see writing and creativity in much the same light. It’s always fun to find a writer compatriot and I’m happy to call Nisha a friend. Her first novel, My So-Called Bollywood Life, will be published in 2016 (too far away!) and I’m positive more will follow. She’s got a lot of energy, a great way with language, and she’s writing in a vein that has the potential to explode. Be sure to check out her awesome website.
Now, where was I? So, we started discussing a YA fantasy project she’s been working on. A project, by the way, that’s made it into the top 10 finalists for Simon & Shuster’s SIMON451 imprint contest. Winners get an advance, a publishing contract, and a trip to Comic Con in NYC for the launch of the imprint (as well as a seat on the panel). Cool, right? So, most of us would just be thrilled to say we were a finalist, right? Not Nisha. She’s worried about not winning. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about a sense of entitlement. It’s about self doubt and not believing that her work can stand up to the other contestants.
“It’s not fantasy enough.”
So, we started talking about her plot. It’s very cool, and I can see it doing very well. Young adult, strong female main character (MC), and mythology most Westerners are unfamiliar with. Yeah, it could be a gold mine. There’s plenty of fantasy elements, without the reader being beaten over the head with them. And, like a lot of stories of this ilk, it takes some time for the MC to discover what exactly is going on. An element of storytelling that I’ve used in my own YA fantasy.
Me: “So, when does the reader get their first taste of fantasy in the novel?”
Nisha: “Page 80.”
Me: “There’s not even a hint before that?”
Nisha: “Well, the prologue has gods and goddesses…”
Me: “But you just said there was nothing until page 80!”
Nisha: “And that thing (that’s totally fantastical and pretty darn awesome that I can’t reveal or she’d kill me) starts happening in chapter 1.”
Me: “Who told you this story wasn’t fantasy enough?”
Nisha: “Well, my agent. This book hasn’t sold anywhere. No one wants it. They don’t know what to do with it.”
In the end, a friend and I were able to talk Nisha down from the ledge. Yes, she could add some fantasy elements to make the story richer, but only if that was part of her vision. Otherwise, we felt that there was plenty of fantasy for a YA fantasy novel. I said to her, “Honestly, if it doesn’t win, you should really consider self publishing it.” I’m not sure she took me seriously. She has, after all, already sold two of her books and has a steady relationship with her agent. And I’m sure that agent would try and quickly talk her down off of the self-publishing ledge.
In all, this reminded me of why I self publish. Yes, I may get good input from outside parties. Heck, it might be great input that totally shifts the story into high gear. But, in the end, it’s my decision whether or not to change the story and no one else’s. And, I can click publish and put it into the hands of readers without having a self-appointed gatekeeper tell me no one will read it. If the story is well written and error free, it will find an audience. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for what folks in traditional publishing are trying to accomplish. I believe that they are working to bring the best books to market, but the fact remains that good books will be held back by a preconceived notion about whether or not that book will make money. And that’s just a darn shame.
Do you review books on your blog? Do you read YA fantasy? If so, we should chat. I’m looking for a few good reviewers. I have a novel coming out soon (go figure!) and I’d like to have some reviews ready to publish when the book releases. While I plan on reaching out to some sites, I’m also open to anyone who swings by the blog on a regular basis. I can provide you a free copy of my 63,000 word novel, Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon, in exchange for an honest review that you’d be willing to post on Amazon when the time comes (in addition to whatever blog article you might want to publish). If this interests you, drop me a line at scott.mulraney (et) gmail.com. If you think this might interest someone else, I hope you’ll help me spread the word. Thanks!
I hate talking about me so much, so I’ll try and make this my last “Hey, look at me and my books!” post for a while. But, I have to post just a quick screen grab of my Amazon rank since going free with the first part of Liquid Blue yesterday. It’s so rare that I have something in one Top 100 category, so I’m pretty stoked that I’ve had a rash of sales in the last 24 hours that’s put my book into 3 Top 100 categories.
Sorry for the fuzzy screen grab.
Of course, going free will be all for naught if it doesn’t lead to sales of Parts II and, eventually, III. But, it gets my writing into the hands of potential readers and that’s really what it comes down to. Ok, end “me” talk. I promise. 😉
Now that I have my (nearly) final draft in hand (it arrived tonight from my editor!), I’m working on crafting the cover blurb for the paperback. See blurb below:
Danny Dirks wants nothing more than to play baseball in his father’s orchard now that school is out and the summer has begun. But, with the approach of his 15th birthday, strange things begin to happen. He hears voices, sees visions of his dead mother, sleepwalks in the middle of the night, and wonders why the cute new girl next door seems to hate him so much. Then, on the day of his birthday, Danny’s grandfather reveals a long-kept family secret. A legacy that makes Danny the linchpin in a pact that keeps peace on Earth. But war is approaching. An unseen war that could tear apart the dimensional fabric of Earth. It’s up to Danny, along with his small band of allies, to learn to control his new found powers, keep the peace, and become the true Heir of Pendragon.
Danny Dirks wants nothing more than to play baseball in his father’s orchard now that school is out. But, with the approach of his 15th birthday, strange things start happening. He begins to hear voices, see visions of his dead mother, and sleepwalk in the middle of the night. Worse still, he thinks that cute new neighbor’s daughter might be a dragon… which she is. She is sworn to protect the line of Arthur Pendragon, the keystone in a pact made centuries ago between man and dragon. But, there are dragons who are not happy with that pact and are bent on re-opening the portal through which they originally came, back to their homeworld, unleashing an army to rule over Earth. It’s up to Danny to accept his fate, control a power passed down through the ages, and, with the help of his new friends, prevent the portal from being opened.
Let me know what you think. Also, if you’re a YA book blogger interested in reviewing Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon, please leave a comment below. 🙂
… back from my editor… soon. It’s scheduled to be back to me next Monday. It’ll probably still be another month or so before I’m able to release it (unless it comes back spotless, but let’s be real), but I can’t help but get excited about the prospects. This is a bit of a favored child for me. I kept it on a shelf for so long because I wanted to make sure it got the best treatment possible. This year, I finally decided to pay for professional editing and reached out to a fairly well-known indie cover creator. I’m really looking forward to being able to release Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon. It’s my first full-length YA novel and is book 1 in a proposed 3-book series. If you like The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, then you’ll hopefully like Danny Dirks, which takes a modern twist to the Arthurian Legend.
Stay tuned for more info on cover reveal and release date down the road. In the meantime, you can read a sample chapter right here.