Archive for June, 2011

Preview: The Moon Coin / A Moon Realm Novel

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2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards: Gold Medal Winner

“Tales, unlike stories, never lie. You see, a tale is an account of things in their due order, often divulged secretly, or as gossip. Would you like to hear one?” —Lord Autumn

Uncle Ebb was so good at telling his tales of the Moon Realm that Lily and Jasper used to wonder if he’d been there himself. But as teenagers, they’re beyond all that—up until the moment they’re plunged into the fantastic bedtime tales of their youth. Now, armed with nothing more than memories—and the moon coin—Lily and Jasper must piece together Uncle Ebb’s shattered tales and unite the fractured Moon Realm, or lose the moons they loved so much . . . all over again.

Illustrated by Carolyn Arcabascio. Volume One of the The Moon Realm Series

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Six chapters formatted for ePub, Mobi, or PDF.

Please share these files with your friends. Enjoy.

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Table of Contents

Prologue

Bedtime Tales

…….Their uncle had a habit of arriving late or not at all, but when he showed up at bedtime, he always had a new story in need of telling—as if a thousand-year-old publishing factory resided in his head.

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Chapter One

Oscar Knows Things

…….With an explosive flapping of wings, Oscar popped upward a foot or more before settling down and once again clasping the golden perch with his long tail. He shook his head, ruffled his feathers, and opened his eyes wide to take stock of his surroundings, eventually settling his blinking gaze on Lily and Jasper. This appearance of wise scrutiny was completely at odds with his birdbrained nature. And yet. . . .

…….Lily nudged Jasper. “Oscar knows things,” she whispered.

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Chapter Two

A Coin of the Realm

…….Lily lifted it off the mannequin’s shoulders and examined it in the light. The pendant was made of an outer ring and an inner disk. Connecting the two were a dozen thin tines, evenly spaced like the spokes of a wheel or the hours on a clock.

…….“What’s that? In the center?”

…….Lily flipped over the pendant, examining both sides as best she could in the thin veil of light. The tines grasped only the very edge of the coin, allowing both sides to be easily viewed.

…….“I think it’s a coin, a gold coin.”

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Chapter Three

Mr. Phixit

…….Uncle Ebb’s workshop, which occupied the entire third floor, was a giant windowless room filled with aisles of parts, cannibalized and half-finished inventions, and junk—lots and lots of junk. The staircase emptied right into the middle of it. The walls gave off a dark blue light, as though these reefs were deep under the sea. The electrimals that lived here were also different: large-mouthed, bulbous-eyed, with long dangling spines. They moved slowly, gliding along the walls like miniature deep-sea dirigibles.

…….Mr. Phixit sat directly in front of the landing.

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Chapter Four

To Barreth

…….The little rider’s eyes were were small, black, and deeply burrowed in its furry face. It regarded Lily with shock and surprise, as though she were something it had never seen before. Lily stared likewise. Its pelt was dusty-brown and thick under its clothes, and it wore a small metal cap on its head, looped under the chin by a leather strap. A jerkin of stiff leather completed its armor. Tied at its neck, flapping like a cape in the breeze, was a small cloak, which Lily thought made it look like some kind of otter superhero.

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Chapter Five

Roan’s Charge

…….“Surround her!” roared Roan. “Surround her! Do not allow a single arrow through!” He dove toward Lily and lashed out his paw in a violent stroke toward her head.

…….Before she could even scream, Roan’s massive paw flicked scant inches from her face, the wind of it ruffling her hair. The Rinn had swatted down an arrow that just a moment before was hurtling toward her.

…….“Brace yourselves!” he roared. “They are upon us!”

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Six chapters formatted for ePub, Mobi, or PDF.

Please share these files with your friends. Enjoy.

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Gibbering Gnome Press, A Division of

Ingenious Inventions Run Amok, Ink

is pleased to present:

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The Moon Coin

Available in paperback:

Amazon and SecondLooksBooks.

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Paperback Version

On Sale at Amazon

20% Off

Click HERE.

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Available for E-Readers:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes iBookstore

Please share these files with your friends. Enjoy.

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The Dragondain

Now available in paperback and ebook.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes iBookstore.

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Paperback Edition

On Sale at Amazon

20% Off

Click HERE

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Two chapters formatted for ePub, Mobi, or PDF.

Please share these files with your friends. Enjoy.

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Copyright © 2011 by Richard Due. All rights reserved. Gibbering Gnome Press,

A Division of Ingenious Inventions Run Amok, Ink® The Moon Realm®

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If you’re able to order from Baker & Taylor, then you can find my books there. If you want to order directly from the publisher, use the form below.

Order Form

Click on form to enlarge.

Click HERE for printable PDF.

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Publishing a book—for me—involves working with a group of very talented people. A lot of things need to fall into place just right. For example, I need an editor: someone who can ask me questions; someone who can catch the things I missed; someone who knows which sentences to strike and then jot in the margin insert magic here. I’m actually fortunate enough to have two talented editors I can call on. I need test readers, too, to give me feedback. (My test readers are full of awesome.)

Some things come easy for me: story, plot, characters. And some things I was trained to do: typesetting, page design. Then there are trickier elements, like knowing what will sell. You won’t find that in a book, and it’s not easy to teach. But my wife Liz and I have been hand-selling books for twenty years. If we hadn’t discovered what sells and what doesn’t, our bookstore wouldn’t have lasted through the first lease.

What I didn’t have was a professional illustrator. And finding one of those, I’ve become convinced, involves magic, a series of fortunate events, or both.

During my first year of agent hunting, after my first batch of fifty or so queries had been either rejected or simply ignored, I started to think seriously about epubbing, and thus cover and chapter art. I polled my artistic friends. I followed up on a few leads. I met some very talented people. But, ultimately, I needed to attract someone who loved my project. That last part was important to me. As the acting graphics department head of Gibbering Gnome Press, I didn’t want to end up assigning cover and chapter art to someone only half-interested in the project. This was my book, my baby. I wanted someone who loved it as much as I did. But I knew, deep down, that I was dreaming. Of course, if you’ve read my first blog, you already know that sometimes dreams come true.

I almost didn’t make it to the 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference. A blizzard was brewing, but it wasn’t clear just when or where it would hit. The day before I was supposed to leave for NYC, Liz and I had just opened the store when we found out the snow was ready to pounce that afternoon. I flew home to finish my packing while my wife scrambled to arrange for an employee to cover the store, got me a new bus ticket, and booked a hotel near Penn Station for that night. During our car ride into DC, we kept getting texts as the evening buses canceled, one after the other, each getting closer to mine. We arrived with ten minutes to spare. Expected precipitation? One to two feet, in a corridor from DC to Boston to New York City with the maximum accumulation running like a wall right down I-95 (the road I would be riding on). But I’d made it: I was on the last bus leaving DC for New York City.

Our driver explained what we were heading into. She said our chances of making it weren’t good, but that she’d get us as close to the city as possible. I’d never been in a vehicle moving through worse weather. The last half of the ride—we slid. The driver honked her horn every two minutes. I’d never worn a seatbelt on a bus, but I did that night. And I strategized what I was going to do if we spun off some bridge and landed in a river. Seconds count at a time like that.

Late, hungry, and in the middle of a blizzard, I stepped onto the New York City streets, already blanketed with six inches of hard-packed snow. Think I’m exaggerating? After I finally got set up in my hotel, I went out foraging for a late dinner and followed it with a long, late-night walkabout (I love weather). Here’s a pic I snapped in Times Square.

I found myself with an unexpected free day. My only obligation was transferring my stuff to the conference hotel. Time passed quickly. I was excited at the prospect of showing off my new chapter to an agent and editor the next morning and afternoon. Finally, after six years and more than twenty revisions, I had the right beginning. But as I’ve already said, the writers intensive ended in disaster. None of the comments I received made any sense. I left the sessions in shock. How could someone have thought my four- and five-year-old protagonists, clearly described as siblings, were married? Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to write like F. Scott Fitzgerald? All I did the rest of that day was stare at my two pages and shake my head.

The next day, though, during the workshops, I had a great time, completely making up for my experience with the intensive. In one workshop, we worked on our queries. I was satisfied with mine. But not wanting to waste any time, I set to work on my verbal pitch. An agent had asked the day before what my book was about, and I couldn’t believe how poorly the pitch rolled off my tongue. It was embarrassing! So I honed my pitch, writing it over and over to set it firmly in my brain.

After another workshop, we broke for the luncheon. I’d enjoyed the luncheon at last year’s conference, but my table-mates weren’t nearly as talkative as I would have liked. This year, I was determined to do better. As I scanned the room, looking for someone fun to talk to, I couldn’t help but notice that the seats were disappearing rapidly. It was like being in first grade again, playing musical chairs . . . the music stops, everyone scrambles for a chair—I was terrible at musical chairs. But this time, I told myself I wasn’t going to cry if I didn’t get a chair. Fighting down a wave of panic, I noticed two women with their heads bent together. They were siting with their backs to me, but it looked like they were having a really good conversation. Well, I thought, if worst comes to worst, at least I can always converse vicariously. And there was an empty chair.

I sprinted over to the table and asked if the seat was taken. One of the women, wearing a knit cap with colors that would have done Peter Max proud, tilted her head up and said, “What?” I’d mumbled, a family trait I’ve been fighting to extinguish for over forty years. I sat down—before the music stopped! the seat was mine!—and attempted to collect myself just as the woman in the hat pulled out a small portfolio and showed it to the woman next to her. I peeked. I gasped. I covered my mouth with both hands, again like I was a first-grader. I felt myself falling out of my chair. I grabbed the table edge to steady myself—I am not making this up. A few minutes later, when she made to stuff the drawings back into the big bag at her feet, I adroitly said, “Can  . . . can. . . .?” I began pointing. “Me-I . . . see pictures?” She explained they weren’t for a particular project, but were instead some drawings she’d done of some Roald Dahl short stories. And I’d told myself I wasn’t going to cry. . . . I have no idea what I said after that. None.

We three introduced ourselves. Somehow they knew I wasn’t an illustrator. I guess the illustrators must be a tighter-knit group. They asked me what my book was about. I thought, gee, if only I’d thought to work on my verbal pitch, maybe I’d do better than I did yesterday . . . wait a minute.

We all had name tags. The illustrator I’d sat next to was named Carolyn, Carolyn Arcabascio. She asked thoughtful questions about my characters’ motivations, what made them tick. I told her about how Lily, one of my two protagonists, was a recently reformed childhood liar. And how, since she was coming from the perspective of someone who understood that people lied, she was better prepared to make her way through the world than her older brother, who never lied. Carolyn got it.

For any artist, the creation of a piece of artwork is like bringing a new child into the world. And every parent wants the best thing for his or her child. As a veteran bookseller, I’ve seen how a book cover can affect a potential reader on the prowl. It’s the very first thing they see, their first impression. It can be the difference between picking up the book and reading the jacket-flap or passing it by like it was wearing camouflage.

The three of us exchanged business cards. Carolyn’s was the size of a postcard. I held in my lap and stared wistfully at it, thinking how if I could find an illustrator for my book with half Carolyn’s talent, I’d be lucky indeed. The image on the card, which you can see on her website, was the one with two children sitting in the windows of an apartment, talking on tin can phones. I flipped it over. On the back she’d written, “Please feel free to contact me – I would love to work with you! Carolyn”

I turned away. This time I was going to cry. I knew it. While I was trying to figure out what to do, the pre-luncheon activities began. I have no memory of who spoke at the lectern or what they said. By the end of the luncheon, it was all I could do to remember that I had a copy of my first chapter and synopsis with me. As we were getting up to leave, I asked Carolyn if she’d be interested in reading them. She said yes. I told her that if she liked them, I’d be happy to email more. Six days later I got an email: “I would love to read on and meet Lily and Jasper’s older selves in the Moon Realm.” I sent the rest. The Moon Coin had found its illustrator. All it took was a series of fortunate events. And possibly a little bit of magic.

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Comments overheard in Second Looks Books, Prince Frederick, Maryland, USA.

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Customer (uttered with absolute seriousness): “I would like a large print dictionary, but in a very small format.”

Me (wearing my Jim Halpert eyes): Really?! [this is likely the thirty-fifth time or so I’ve fielded this one] Would you now?

About half of them respond, “Yes,” and then make hand gestures approximating an impossibly small book.

When I mention Kindles—and I do, now, in these cases—they typically say they don’t want to pay more than two to three dollars.

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Customer: “Where do you keep your metaphysical books?” [helpful bookshop employee sweeps in and shows her to the bookcase] “And, so . . . this is where the Nora Roberts would be?”

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Customer: “Oh, look, these books are all signed.” [pause] “I wonder who signed them?”

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Customer (pointing back and forth from me to the full-size cutout of Legolas): Is that you?

Me: No, that’s the actor Orlando Bloom.

Customer: [No spark of recognition.]

Me: Playing Legolas . . . in the Lord of the Rings movie: The Two Towers.

Customer: [No spark of recognition.]

Me: From the same titled book by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Customer: [No spark of recognition.]

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Customer (woman with twelve-year-old; this was said to me after I didn’t have the book they were looking for in stock): “I see there’s a bookstore 18 miles away from here, do you know where that is?”

Me: “Well, that could be Bowie, Annapolis, Waldorf, or Wildwood. Do you know the bookstore’s name?”

Customer: “No.”

Me: “Do know the general direction you’ll be traveling?”

Customer: “No. I just plug it into the GPS and go.”

Me (because I JUST can’t help myself): “So, you don’t know what direction you traveled to get here?”

Customer: “No.”

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I had a great conversation today with a wonderfully-daft elderly woman, who wanted to get started reading on The Lord of the Rings. We talked about hobbits and dragons and wizards and ents and Legolas, who was standing right next to us the whole time (she was SURE he was a woman). She can’t wait to get started reading. She made my day.

She would never have figured out how to work a Kindle. I’m glad I was here for her.

Oh, dear. Then she grabbed a copy of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and brought to me so I could explain why—according to the book—a woman shouldn’t pursue a man, but instead wait passively for him to pursue her. (She made the best face while reading it.) I told her I thought it depended on the people. She didn’t say, “Damn, right!” aloud, but her look sure did.

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Customer: “Isn’t there a REAL bookstore somewhere around here. I don’t mean like—this!” [motions with hands to encompass my bookstore] “I mean, come on! Really!” Then she asked me why there weren’t bookstores all over the place.

During my explanation, it became clear that she thought books must be a GREAT business opportunity because so many had gone out of business; she didn’t know what an eBook was; and she had never heard of a Kindle. I had to explain what it was several times, and I’m still not sure she got it. She had heard of an iPad, but didn’t know you could read books on it.

Her bookstore litmus test was the presence of a fine selection of books on surfing. I’m not making this up. When I pointed out that not a lot of surfing goes on in Maryland, she said, “What does that matter?”

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Parent: THERE SHOULD BE NO YELLING UNLESS SOMEONE IS ON FIRE!

Child: [firing back immediately] What about if a weasel was robbing the store?

Parent: [long pause, while attempting to stop top of head from blowing off, then . . . with the flickering of a smile] I don’t know . . . is he armed?

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The Moon Coin themed bookmarks!

The Front.

The Back.

C lick here to view a PDF.

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The Moon Coin, by Richard Due, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore for $2.99.

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Copyright © 2011 by Richard Due. All rights reserved.

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Gibbering Gnome Press, A Division of Ingenious Inventions Run Amok, Ink™

The Moon Realm™

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It’s high time I told you something about the Moon Realm. I crafted my original query letter back in 2010 to do exactly that. While it’s evolved over time, the hook has changed surprisingly little. Sure, if I knew a particular agent loved dystopian novels, then I’d make sure to slip in the word dystopian when describing the Moon Realm Lily and Jasper first encounter. But in the vast majority of queries, I avoided hitting people over the head with any trendy buzzwords that could apply to my series. And there are a lot; it’s the nature of a big, sprawling series. For example, the Dik Dek novels will take place mostly underwater, so they’re filled with merfolk, seahorse dragons, and magic pearls. The books that take place on the moon Dain are pure sword and sorcery, or lunamancy, as it’s known in the Moon Realm. And the ones set on the Tinker’s moon are unabashedly steampunk. With nine moons in the realm, I guess a few nova-hot sub-genre crossovers were inescapable.

But enough talk. Here’s what the snail-mail version looked like:

Click here for a PDF of the query.

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When it came time to write the book hook that’ll go on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple’s iBookstore, I started with this query. I thought it was going to get longer when I rewrote it, as these agent queries are painfully short. I was shocked when it didn’t. If I were to query someone again, I’d use it: http://wp.me/P1BEjH-1y in a heartbeat.

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Preview: The Moon Coin.

Six chapters formatted for ePubMobi, or PDF.

Please share these files with your friends. Enjoy.

..

Paperback and eBook now available:

Amazon and Second Looks Books.

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Copyright © 2011 by Richard Due. All rights reserved. Gibbering Gnome Press,

A Division of Ingenious Inventions Run Amok, Ink® The Moon Realm®

Read Full Post »

There are probably as many ways to go about publishing a book as there are ways of writing one. As I conceived the Moon Realm series and wrote the first several books, I envisioned a publishing journey that involved agents and editors and publishers—oh my! But after so many queries and so few offers of representation, I realized I’d have to come to terms with going it alone. But I didn’t want to be alone. So I did what any good, sensible writer would do. I started making things up.

I hadn’t planned it. I didn’t just sit down one day and think, well, what comes next? I didn’t make a list. I didn’t see it coming. I was sitting on my porch on a beautiful day. I’d made a PDF version of the first book to slap onto a Kindle so I could show a friend how it was coming along. But there, at the very bottom of my title page mockup, was a lonely space . . . right where it was supposed to say Scholastic or Bloomsbury or Hyperion Books for Children or Viking. (Ha! Viking! What, am I supposed to believe they actually have Vikings working there? And even if I did believe—I mean, anymore—what about Viking Penguin? Are these Vikings and Penguins working side by side? Or are we talking Viking Penguins? Like the kind you might wake in the middle of the night to find waddling through your coastal village, swinging axes and carrying torches?) I had even once entertained the idea that the bottom of my title page might say—key heavenly music—Candlewick Press. But no. All I had was this big white place of hopelessness, messing up an otherwise perfectly typeset page. Empty. Desolate. Abandoned. Devoid of all meaning.

Actually, the writer in me perked right up. Oooh! A blank space! What am I going to do with that? The story of how L. Frank Baum named OZ rose to mind, but I didn’t need to name a world. I needed to name a press. It had to be dignified, something with both gravitas and chutzpah. Or maybe something hard to pronounce, like Houghton Mifflin, or Knopf. (As unlikely as it may sound, those names were already taken.) And then, in the beat of a butterfly’s wings, it came to me: an idea so obvious one might have imagined it sitting right there in the room, or maybe perching . . . on a three-legged stool.

At the bottom of the title page I typed: Gibbering Gnome Press, a Division of Ingenious Inventions Run Amok, Ink. And just like that, a new indie press was born.

With editing nearly complete, and my press needs met, all I needed now was to find a top-drawer illustrator who LOVED my book. The way I saw it, I had better odds of riding a tornado to Oz than of finding a professional illustrator who loved The Moon Coin. More on that next time. By the way, what ranks above top-drawer?

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The Moon Coin, by Richard Due, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore for $2.99.

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Copyright © 2011 by Richard Due. All rights reserved.

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Gibbering Gnome Press, A Division of Ingenious Inventions Run Amok, Ink®

The Moon Realm®

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