Beginning with the nearest to break even, I thought I’d write something about my novel Dragons’ Truth, in hopes that you’ll consider buying/reading it. To reach “profitability”, Dragons’ Truth needs only $9 more in earnings, which could come from sales of: 1 signed paperback ($25), or 2 paperbacks ($7.99 each), or 3 copies of the eBook ($4.99), or some combination thereof (and/or via $12 or more in donations to Dragons’ Truth at Podiobooks.com). Here’s the description from the back of the book, a simple enough starting point:
When two young boys decide to skip school and seek adventure one day, they end up finding much more than they ever bargained for. More than the dragon and the mountain of riches they see at first, one of the boys finds the entire course of his life changed.
That boy, Larry, finds himself at the center of an adventure bigger than anything he’d ever dreamed of. And when Larry’s continuing adventure begins to effect his schoolwork, and then his teachers and his entire school, Larry’s not sure what he’s gotten himself into. When the effects of that seemingly innocent day begin to spread throughout – and then to threaten – his entire nation, Larry is forced to take action or face the destruction of the entire human race as a result of a single day of hooky.
Join Larry as he grows from a little boy into the last chance for survival that humanity may have, and find out just how complicated a happy ending can become…
Contains some violent content.
Dragons’ Truth was my second finished novel. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo in 2003, a little over nine years ago, and I consider it my least-accomplished published work – though certainly not without value; for most of the last nine years it was also my most popular single title. In fact, I believe it has enough potential and value that it’s also been top of my list for rebooting/rewriting for some time, now. I get a lot of requests for a sequel, but with the way it ended I find myself at a loss for how to continue the story. In trying to come up with a way to write a sequel, I’ve instead managed to come up with quite a lot of ways to write the whole thing differently (while allowing it to be part of a series (or at least a trilogy)), and with all the experience and skill I’ve developed over the last 9 years. I do not have any immediate plans to move forward with a reboot/rewrite at this time, but I’d like to share with you some further information about the book which might intrigue you if you haven’t read it, and might make you want to go back to it and take a closer look at it, if you have.I almost forgot to re-read it, first. Oops.
…goes and reads book…
…okay, I’ve just re-read Dragons’ Truth for the nth time, after not having read it for almost five years, and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. With all the thinking, planning, and research I’ve been doing the last couple of years, much of it with a mind to rebooting and re-writing Dragons’ Truth, I think I managed to remember the whole thing as being worse than it actually is. In fact, with as much research as I’ve done into YA adventure books and writing for mainstream audiences (enough to make me sick and want to give up writing), I can now appreciate how good and engaging and successful Dragons’ Truth actually is.
Certainly it could use more polish, more skill – it was my second novel, and I had very little practice with long-form writing at that point. There are clunky sentences and over-used words. There are plenty of usage examples which contradict the more consistent style guide I began developing a couple of years ago, and I even found 15 typos I hadn’t caught in the last twenty-plus close readings of the text. (All of which will be fixed in the eBook and uploaded to distributors later today.)
But the story worked. I cared about the characters, and was engaged by their journeys. I had figured some of it out over the last couple of years, but reading Dragons’ Truth with fresh eyes I was able to quite clearly see the other two books in the trilogy, in my mind’s eye. I could almost write them without re-writing Dragons’ Truth. Almost.
So what is Dragons’ Truth about? What’s its story? Well, I’ll be honest that in 2003, when November rolled around, I’d spent most of the year turning Forlorn into Lost and Not Found and had no idea what I might write for NaNoWriMo. If you read the first page of Dragons’ Truth, with the idea that you’re looking at the blank page of a writer with no plans or ideas yet formed, you can see that I’d reached a week into November before even starting to write. No agenda, no theme, no characters or settings…
…and then there were dragons, and I just followed the story. I was writing not long after dropping out of college for the third time, and ended up putting a lot of my frustration with the problems I’d been having with traditional educational philosophies into it. I was writing not long after Bush II’s ill-advised invasion of Iraq, and tried to mirror some of my perceptions of that mess in the dragons’ invasion of the US. I was already wanting to try to put Christian themes into my books (I’ve had some mixed success, over the years), and did a couple of things: I wrote the dragons’ version of history on the assumption that Jesus was Christ and explored how that altered their story, and I tried to make the spread of people’s passion for education (in part) mirror the potential spread of the good news and then to have the effects and spread of “the truth” (née true sight) be a reflection of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All, of course, with an 8 to 12 year old audience in mind.
So, a scattershot of ideas, with no planning and little cohesion, just following from what my mind gave me on the first blank page to what came to mind along the way. Yet I ended up with something coherent. A story with a semi-traditional 3-act structure, almost-formulaic twists/reversals, and many elements of the Hero’s Journey (which I didn’t even hear about until years later). A book, ostensibly about dragons, written by someone who had never even liked fantasy books – intentionally avoiding reading books with dragons in them, all my life. And still, it seemed to be rolling along pretty well. I was on track to finish in November and “win” NaNoWriMo again…
…and then it had no ending. No satisfying conclusion or resolution. It was a little like getting to the end of the Book of Revelation, where everyone is made one with The Truth and The Light, and there’s no more conflict, no more crime… where do you go from there? When you give everyone in the world omniscience and omnipotence and the possibility of everlasting life, is there room for more words? A sequel? Some authors would have gone against the obvious course for the story to avoid such an ending. Some authors would just pad out the middle of the story. (The only way I can figure out how to make it a trilogy is to take it back in time and tell Merle’s whole story, or Ghadshyk’s – prequels, more than sequels.) For the purposes of NaNoWriMo, I kept writing, then simply cut off several thousand words before publishing, since they hadn’t gone anywhere worth going.
Nine years down the line, reading it with fresh eyes and having read dozens and dozens of other YA adventure books, I’m satisfied with the ending. It feels like it does have a good resolution. Reading between the lines, it even appears that Ghadshyk knew, even as soon as he saw Larry wet his pants, how things would go for humanity. He may not have known what effects Merle’s enchanted staircase would have on Larry’s body, but there are hints that with his true sight he could sense Larry’s potential to surpass even Merle as a student.
I’ve received emails (and reviews) from readers who misunderstood my intent. I’ve heard from Christians who thought it was about Buddhism (apparently missing that the text says explicitly several times that Buddhism is flawed, tainted, and has been twisted and misinterpreted over the centuries) and thought it was dismissive of Christianity, while I’ve always known I was trying to fill it with Christian ideas, themes, and imagery. Re-reading it with those conversations (and reviews) in mind, I don’t know what they were seeing, and what they were missing. I’ve learned in recent years that many readers do not read every word in a book, or even care to; I had no idea. (Really? People just skip over paragraphs, chapters, and more? So weird to me. So foreign.) Dragons’ Truth emphasizes the idea of carefully and fully parsing a text to gain new insights into it, yet I am certain that this central message has been lost on many readers. Some of them don’t seem to do even a good shallow reading.
There is plenty to enjoy about Dragons’ Truth in a shallow reading. I did write it with a very young audience in mind, after all. Yet I find that all the deeper goals I had for it were met, to greater or smaller degrees, and that there is plenty there to be found upon a closer reading, or a reading by a trained/experienced eye. I could improve it, certainly. (As I said, I’ll be correcting the typos I found in it as soon as I post this.) I could use the skills I’ve developed over the last nine years to polish the existing text, or to re-write it (and two more books) from scratch, and end up with perhaps a 4.5-star book instead of a 4-star book. For now, though, I think I’ll leave it as it is, and hope you’ll give it a try if you haven’t already. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and I definitely believe you’ll think it worth your money.