Posts Tagged ‘ya fantasy series’

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.

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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®

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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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February, 2005. I was traveling through that twilight state, from the end of a long day to the beginning of dreams. And I would have made it, too, if not for my older daughter, who kept elbowing me.

“Wake up, Daddy, you’re not making any sense! Finish the story!”

“What story was I telling?”

“Ancient Cat was going into the woods with Little Moo. Little Moo was about to reveal the secret of the long-haired monkeys.”

“Okay, okay.”

A few minutes later, the sting of fresh elbows in my side, “Wake up, Daddy, you’re not making any sense!”

It was from one of these dips into dreamland that I brought back a piece of something, just a story element, really. But it grew.

I stumbled into the living room. My wife took one look at my face and asked me what was wrong. But all I could manage was “notebook.”

Over the next two-and-a-half years—in the early mornings, late at night, and on weekends—the first two books of the Moon Realm series formed like a protogalaxy inside my brain.  I knew that once the drafts were finished, I should set the project aside for a while, but I was chomping at the bit. I didn’t see how I was going to walk away from it for more than six months, tops. Lucky for me, though, I lasted eighteen months! And all I had to do was nearly die! Ha! Didn’t see that coming. More on that later—much later.

In the spring of 2009, I put on my editing cap, which at first felt like a dunce cap, only worse. I couldn’t get the rhythm. Apparently, my mind can conceive of an entire chapter in the space of one nanosecond (the writing it down part takes longer, of course). Editing, however, demanded large blocks of time all to itself. My wife and I own a bookstore. We’re raising two kids. I prefer to write or edit every day. I have to slay dragons just to get medium-sized blocks of time. (I’m not kidding—dragons! Write what you know!)

That summer, we camped in the Shenandoah. I sipped coffee. I watched my kids on the playground. And I outlined books three and four in one go (in micro-type, using a nub of pencil I sharpened with my pocket knife, on a scrap of paper I rooted off the floor of the van). Happy for that bit of inspiration, I shoved the scrap in my pocket and went on editing books one and two.

By the end of January, 2010, having made the rounds with my local writing group and test readers, I thought book one—now dubbed The Moon Coin—was good enough to start showing. So I took it to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. The lovely agent and editor I met there didn’t share my enthusiasm. But they gave me some very good ideas; foremost, the book didn’t start fast enough. So in February, I rewrote the first chapter. (I would do this, periodically, for the next ten months, about twenty times in all.) I also started querying literary agencies.

When spring rolled around, I took a break from editing and drafted book three. But I kept up with the querying and conference-going.

That December, nearly six years in, I realized what was wrong with the first chapter: the story didn’t start there. It really started nine years before. I needed a prologue. My first thought was: oh, God, not a prologue! My second thought was: can’t I just call it chapter one?

I was worried. But it felt right, so I wrote the whole thing in one fevered session that went late into the night. After New Year’s, and a lot of editing, I showed the new beginning to my readers. Everyone loved it. So I took it to another SCBWI Winter Conference. This time, the comments I received in the writers intensive were so off the wall as to leave me speechless. In the morning session a fellow writer told me, “If you’re going to write like Fitzgerald, you shouldn’t be writing middle grade.” First off, I don’t write like Fitzgerald. (Of course, I would if I could.) Second, if Fitzgerald had written middle grade, I can’t think of anything I’d want to read more! During the afternoon session, after reading the two pages in which I introduce my main characters as siblings ages four and five, a fellow writer chimed in with: “I love your writing, but I didn’t understand anything other than that the two main characters are obviously married.”

It took me until that evening, over some tapas and a glass of wine with my wife, to realize that only one thing made sense: the prologue was perfect. I’d attended a critique session and duly received “critiques.” But no one could come up with anything that improved the work.

I came home energized and started a second, bigger round of querying. The best thing to come out of that conference, however, was meeting the extraordinary artist who would later agree to be my illustrator. We met at the luncheon. After sharing the projects we’d brought with us and exchanging business cards, I gave her a copy of the prologue and asked her to email me if she liked it. She did, adding she’d love to read more.

I had a request for material around then from someone who was new to agenting, but who’d been a prominent figure in children’s publishing for some time. That stopped everything. Nervous, I reread my first few chapters, expecting them to have suddenly become garbage. They hadn’t, but I did notice that in the prologue I had created a distinct “middle grade” voice I liked very much. The agent had requested the first six chapters, so I rewrote them in the new voice, printed them out, handed them over to my readers, and waited. Everyone thought the chapters improved.

And the agent? She sent me a rejection, but my final line-edit is a little over three-quarters through. That brings me to the present.

Over the last sixteen months, I’ve queried 160 people. I’ve had about a dozen requests for material, two of which are still out, but I’ve stopped holding my breath. Turns out holding one’s breath for stretches longer than sixty days is downright unpleasant. Now begins my newest journey: digital publishing. This blog will detail my experiences bringing the Moon Realm series to a digital reader near you—and what happens after. Here we go, here we go. . . .

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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®

Read Full Post »

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