Ok, so my dragon is a dog

Yep, you read the headline right. My dragon is a dog. Well, at least he acts like one in my current W.I.P. that happens to be the second installment of my Young Adult fantasy series, The Chronicles of Fallhollow.

I hadn’t planned for Mirith to take on doggish traits. I mean, he’s an Oppernicus for heaven’s sake.   They are very odd dragons. They don’t fly. They are quite stocky. They have a frill of feathers for  a mane, a beak-like an eagle, scales like a fish, and a tail like a lion’s, except with a pointed mace on the end.  Oh, and they don’t shoot fire. Instead, they curl their tails over their heads like a scorpion and shoot ice bolts.

But when Mirith is with his best bud, David, he is reduced to a puddle of goo. He rests his head on David’s knee and begs. He wags his tail when happy. He growls when mad. He struts around like he’s all that. And he tries to sit on the furniture, with not much luck because he’s bigger than the freaking couch.

And even though he gets into mischief, and is fiercely loyal in his protection of David, he really is a big, sweet, loveable baby who loves getting scratched behind the ears … if you can find them. But watch out. When he’s getting his lovin’, he purrs like a really big cat.

I’m sure his antics will delight young and old alike. He makes me smile, that’s for sure.

What/who is your favorite fictional pet? Snoopy? Hedwig? Pascal? Scooby Do? Falkor? I want to know.


Sunday Snippet Critique Blog Hop

sunday_snippets critique blog hop image

It’s that time again, chickadees!  In this hop, participants post 250 words of their work in progress to be critiqued.  Then everyone hops around to critique others.   Want to get involved?  Click here for the rules, and leave a comment to have your name added to the list.

Here is my addition to the hop this week.   This is the beginning of Chapter 3 of my novel, In the Shadow of the Dragon King.  We are back with Eric in this piece.  Feel free to hack away.

Chickens squawked and scattered.  Grain wagons carrying fresh apples creaked over the cobblestones as servants hurried toward the kitchens with baskets of freshly picked berries and vegetables.  Chaotic shouts from the courtyard carried to Eric’s ears as dozens of domestics scrambled to prepare the courtyard for King Gildore’s and Queen Mysterie’s arrival.

Eric smiled at the thought of Their Majesties return.  They’d been away for a year, scouting for educators for the new university, set to break ground in a few months.  Word had it they accomplished their mission, and some of the sharpest minds from lands far away would arrive upon its completion.

Hirthinians were ecstatic, for the addition of a major learning center meant growth and prosperity to the kingdom.  Already, children and adults alike were learning to read and write in schools erected and staffed by the royal family.  A university would open opportunities, not only for Hirthinians, but to neighboring realms as well.  Others would arrive from lands far away. Trade and commerce would expand.  The small royal town of Hammershire would grow into a major city, a universal hub of activity. The dream for everyone to live with wealth, honor and grace in a land of opportunity and hope was one of many reasons the residents of the kingdom adored their king and queen.  It is also why they felt compelled to descend upon Gyllen castle and Hammershire to welcome them home.

Eric’s insides flitted with excitement, eager to hear about the royal couple’s adventures and plans.  His excitement was short-lived, however, when Sestian barged through the open barn doors, panting, his hair a mess and his clothes askew.

“Eric, you’ve got to ask Trog for permission to attend festival.”


Click on over to these great writers to check out and critique what they’ve posted!

Note:  Those who have not been participating have been removed.














What I love about my W.I.P.

The lovely Susan at mywithershins posted a fantastic idea for authors:  write a love list about your work in progress.  (the idea originated from Stephanie Perkins on Natalie Whipple’s blog).  The reasoning behind doing this is to keep you, the author, focused on what is important in the story and to keep the creativity alive.  There is no one particular thing you need to focus on.  Simply write a love list of everything you adore about your W.I.P., from characters, to settings, to the writing and or editing process.  I decided to try it because it sounds like the ultimate motivator to keep my muse in gear.

As In the Shadow of the Dragon King is my pride and joy, as well as the two novels in the saga that follow it, I’ve created a love list for the series.  I’ve been working on this series now for seven years off and on, for the last 2 years seriously.  Over the past year, personal issues have kept my muse and me from progressing forward.  Hopefully, this love list will get us both back on track

The Chronicles of fallhollow love list

1) Main character #2 – Eric Hamden – I am in love with this character, more so than the primary main character, David Heiland.  He is 18 years old, cocky, strong-willed, sensitive while remaining quite ‘mannish’.  He speaks his mind, is respectful when he needs to be, and defiant when called for.  He is a squire to the most admired and respected knight in the kingdom of Hirth and is afforded ‘rights’ other squires are not because of that relationship.  He comes off as slightly arrogant, but it’s because he gets irritated by people feeling they are entitled to things just because they’re in a position of power or because they have no power at all.  He abhors those who take what doesn’t belong to them, and he believes an offensive posture in war trumps a defensive position.

2) Main Character #1 – David Heiland – David is almost 18 , wealthy and lives in an 1860s antebellum mansion in Havendale, Tennessee (that’s near Bristol).  His parents are dead.  He is an archery champion, valedictorian, and his best friend is Charlotte Stein.  David likes to think he’s independent and assertive, but he’s actually very trusting…until he realizes his life has been nothing but a  lie.  He is impulsive, acts first and questions later.  His life is filled with drama.  He often feels the need to run away if he feels stuck.  At first, he balks at challenges, then comes to realize he can’t live without them.  He doesn’t like being told what to do, especially by other guys his age.  He’s into classic rock and plays an acoustic guitar.  While he doesn’t like war, he believes defense is better than offense.

3) YA/New Adult Fantasy Genre – I adore this genre. I’ve always been drawn to romantic and not so romantic fairy tales of knights, dragons, fair maidens and castles.  Anything magical and make believe.  When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of books in this genre, which made me want to write in it.  I figured I couldn’t be the only kid in the world who loved reading fantasy tales where the heroes were kids or young adults.  Practically every story I wrote involved a dragon or some other mystical creature and kids.  I am glad to see the genre evolve over the years and know I have a place my writing can call ‘home’.

3)  Setting – When I first started this series, it began with a group of fairies fleeing their homes because of a war.  The story has changed some much since then.  The series transcends two worlds – Havendale, Tennessee and the fantasy world of Estaria and the realm of Fallhollow.  The bulk of In the Shadow of the Dragon King takes place in Fallhollow.  The second novel brings the characters into Havendale for the majority of the story, and the third marries the two worlds together.

4) The Soundtrack – When my novel is turned into a movie, I want James Horner to do the soundtrack.  I also hear some Aerosmith, Credence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, ELO, Jane Taylor, and Rebecca Ferguson.  I’d also like Enya to sing the closing song to the 1st movie.  I don’t want much, do I.  😉

5) Mythological creatures – I love dragons, faeries, gnomes, centaurs, etc.  and have included quite a few in my stories.  I’ve even created a few of my own.

6) Two points of view: 3rd person omnipotent – The story is so complex that I couldn’t tell it the way I wanted to in one person’s POV.  I chose David’s and Eric’s as they each have their feet in their own worlds.  I like the omnipotent POV because there can be slight author intrusion provided it doesn’t distract from the character’s telling of the story.

7) The Twist at the End of novels #2 #3 – I wrote the ending to novel #2 before I wrote one word of Dragon King.  It was strong with me when I wrote it and when I go back to read it now, it resonates within me even more than it did then.  I know in my heart that this is the way the 2nd novel has to end as much as I hate it.  It will also leave the reader thinking “WTF just happened!  No!  That can’t happen!  You can’t leave it there!”  The ending to novel #3 brings me to tears every time I read it.  It’s like the ending to the Hunger Games series when you want desperately for Katniss to choose to be with *fill in the blank*, but you know she has to choose *fill in the blank* because it’s the only logical decision.

8)  The Plot – War has come to Fallhollow, and unless David and Eric can stop it, it will come to Havendale and Earth, too.  But how do three mortal teens rein in a dragon, a sorcerer and a council of mages determined to annihilate every non-magical creature across multiple worlds? Enter a knight, two fae and an army of eccentric allies.  Together, David finds the courage he didn’t know he had, and uncovers a hidden truth  that changes everything.

For you writers out there, what’s on your ‘love list’?  Do you think making a ‘love list’ will help you stay focused on your W.I.P.?

“You want to do what?”

When I told a blogger buddy I was going to take a week, maybe two off, she yelled at me via e-mail:  “You want to do what?  You can’t take a week or two off from blogging.  What about your followers?  What about two book reviews you owe us?  How will I survive?”

Okay, so we can all see she was a little melodramatic, but it made me chuckle.  The truth is I have this novel, and I’m not focusing on it like I should because the internet is my playground, and I’ve been far more active on it than on my novel.  I gave myself an August 1 deadline and it didn’t work because I was playing on my blog, writing on other blogs, and playing Drakensang (shh, it’s  a free high fantasy MMORPG game).  Anyway, I have to put my foot down.

I watched Michael Phelps win his 22 Olympic medal last night and I realized he didn’t get there by partying around.  He had a goal.  He trained for that goal, and he excelled.  I guess you could say I’ve put myself in a training frame of mind.  I have a goal…I want my book published.  It’s not going to do it on its own, so I need to quit the distractions for a while and focus.  While my blog is not ‘goofing around’ like playing video games is, it is still taking me away from my goal.

For this week, at least, I am making myself scarce.  Depending on how far I get with my edits will depend on how much of next week I take off.  I know one of my fave blog and author buddies will surpass me in blog hits (I’ve sort of been in a self-imposed race with her and she’s been catching up fast), but that’s okay.  I have to focus on Dragon King right now.  I have teens and a pre-teen chomping at the bit to beta read it, and I’d like to get in their greedy little hands before they start school again.

With that said, I bid you a fond farewell.  I hope you stick around.  I’ll see you next week, lovely peeps, with an update – to blog or not to blog.

Stay healthy and happy.  Keep sweet.  Yours truly…


and say no more.  Get your book done.

Girl Appeal – Does your YA novel have it?

Over the past year, I’ve queried In the Shadow of the Dragon King to six agents and four publishers. I’ve also participated in countless blogs, entered contests and won critiques with agents and publishers to find out ahead of time if my novel has the umph it needs to appeal to my target age group. Up until the last publisher, I received rejections. The main reason, when one was given, was ‘not enough girl appeal’.

I scratched my head, confused to say the least. My novel wasn’t intended for girls. This was strictly a guy thing. War, guns, kick-A mages, evil sorcerers, despicable dragons, wanna-rip-their-hair-out villains. Throw in a few beheadings, my own fantasy creatures – wedras, the shime and sestras – a few sword fights and the boys were eating out of my hand. My teen beta boys loved it and asked for more. (they also gave me great ideas for the remaining two books in the series). I thought I’d done it. I thought I’d appealed to my target age group.

The pros didn’t think so. I needed ‘girl appeal’.

What did that mean? If that’s not my target group, why do I need girl appeal?

The answer is simple and it made complete sense after the most recent publisher requested a full, then returned it with their comments. Basically, it comes down to this…teen girls, not boys, buy books; therefore, YA books must have girl appeal.

My first gut reaction was if there were more books that appealed to boys then perhaps more boys would buy them. What teen guy wants to read a romance book? Not many, and the ones who do would never admit it to their teen friends.

On second glance, I began to evaluate my novel from an unbiased view (which is very hard for an author to do). I had a secondary lead character, Charlotte. She’s the MC’s best friend and works almost like his conscience. She didn’t have a huge role in this novel because the story wasn’t about her, it was about David, a wealthy kid who has everything he could want at his fingertips, then finding himself in a life-threatening situation where none of the luxuries of life are at his disposal. He has to rely on his ingenuity, strength, survival instincts and faith to get him through, things he’s not used to having or using. It is a story of a boy trying to figure out who he is and what is his purpose in life.

Still uncertain how to come at my novel from another angle, I began to read some of the top YA novels to find how the best-selling authors handled this issue. Most had too much ‘girl appeal’ for my story, but I gained a better understanding about what I needed to do with Charlotte.

I received the publishers comments in August 2011 with a request to resubmit should I decide to make the changes. After several months of reading and evaluating their well-thought out comments, I think I have figured out what I need to do. It has taken me some time to fill in the blanks and give Charlotte a much bigger role. She’s quirky, sensitive, independent and loves to speak her mind. I have to admit, the story is much better because of her.

In my search for ways to improve the story, I also improved myself as a writer. I realized I could have a boy story with girl appeal without compromising the masculinity of the story. Charlotte’s all girl but she’s also a tomboy who can tag along and play like the boys. The story is more vibrant, more dimensional, and all it took was for one publisher to point it out, explain it and let me figure out the rest.

The massive re-write of my novel is almost complete, and you better believe I’m popping this sweet baby back over to this amazing publisher. I’ll keep my fingers crossed they love it as much as I do.

So, does your YA novel have girl appeal? If it doesn’t, you know what to do. Don’t be afraid. Go for it. You’ll be glad you did.