Monday, February 21, 2011

Progress Report: 2/21/2011

Proposal is done!


As with the query letter, everyone has a somewhat different idea of how to make a proposal, what should go in it, and what a publisher wants to see. One suggestion that I didn't take was a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. Not unfeasible for my book, which has 19 chapters and a prologue, but I've known some writers who use very short chapters and rack 'em up by the dozens. If someone really wants to see such a breakdown, I'll write it.

So I've got more to do, but for now, I can enjoy the sweet feeling of accomplishment. Now let's hope it's an effective proposal...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Progress Report: 2/14/2011

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Today I have more from my proposal in progress. Below is a brief accounting of the main characters in the story. Not all proposal sites/sources suggest that you do this, but I rather like it as an addition to the story synopsis. It lets me get in a few details and flesh out some of the character motivations without bulking out the synopsis itself.

Many thanks to everyone who responded with comments & critique on the synopsis. And I welcome more thoughts if you see something you think is good, bad, confusing, awkward, and so forth.

I hope to get a working draft of the whole proposal to my agent within the week. Truckin' along...

Return of the Dragon: Main Characters

These are the main characters in Return of the Dragon, listed by order of appearance:

  • Jade: A young dragon of the ruling bloodline, Jade is chosen to bear the monumental responsibility of re-awakening her people. Jade is unusual amongst dragons for her ability to form deep connections with others—most of her kind are fiercely independent. Though she is capable of magical feats that dazzle her human friends, Jade herself is equally impressed by human “magic” of abstract thought, technology, and social cooperation.
  • Rose Gallagher: A 13-year old high school freshman who lives with her father in the small town of Boulder City, Nevada. Rose is a self-sufficient and artistic—her great passions are drawing, horses, and geology. Her greatest gifts are her compassion and courage, and both will be tested as she is faced with decisions that could change the entire world.
  • Clay Ostrom: Rose’s classmate, friend, and neighbor, Clay has been obsessed with fantasy all his life. When he encounters a living dragon, it as if his dreams had come true—yet this awakens in him a dangerous hunger for more magic. Still, Clay shows that he his both intelligent and resourceful when faced with the perils of reanimated dinosaurs rampaging in the Lost World casino.
  • Sam Gallagher: Rose’s father is a rock-solid pragmatist who is a senior engineer at the Hoover Dam. He has a difficult time connecting with his daughter, though he loves her dearly. His rational view of the world prevents him from seeing or accepting that Jade is anything other than a human girl until the very end of the story.
  • Trevor Wallace: An athletic, somewhat bullying boy in Rose’s class, and her main rival at school. Trevor appears only briefly in Return of the Dragon, but will play a greater role in the next book in the series.
  • Mrs. Doris Jersey: A dynamic elderly woman who has settled into retirement in Boulder City, Mrs. Jersey is well-traveled, perceptive, and a believer in magic. She is versed in a wide variety of practices such as shamanism, Western mystery occultism, and divination through the Tarot cards. She is an invaluable mentor to Rose and Jade.
  • Rex Triumph: Though he appears as an extravagant casino owner and Las Vegas celebrity, Rex Triumph is really a dragon in human guise. He holds humans in contempt, and when he realizes that the Harbinger has finally surfaced, he will stop at nothing to restore dragonkind to its rightful place in dominion over the world. Rex is bold, cunning, and ostentatious—a weaker breed of dragon than Jade, but far older and more experienced in both magic and combat.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Progress Report: 2/7/2011

In the post below this one, you will find the first draft of my synopsis for Return of the Dragon.

So here's what this is. When you're submitting a book to a potential publisher, you put together a proposal that contains a number of components. One of these components is a synopsis of your novel. Opinions differ about how long this should be, and I decided to try for a relatively short version that weighs in at about 2 pages.

I thought it would be cool to see how this reads to a fresh audience, since its purpose is to spark the interest of someone unfamiliar with the story. So, what do you guys think? If there are any parts that seem confusing, dull, awkward, etc., please let me know. I want to get this sucker right.

Book Proposal: Synopsis Section

Return of the Dragon
YA Fantasy, 99,000 words

A real, fire-breathing dragon turns out to be only the second-most important thing Rose Gallagher discovers one fateful day in April. The dragon would change Rose’s life forever—but the odd green stone she finds in the desert threatens to bring chaos to the entire world.

Like most of us, 13-year old Rose believes dragons belong only in myths and fantasy tales. Yet the dragon she stumbles on just outside her home town of Boulder City, Nevada is no daydream—and in the face of the creature’s massive claws and rows of dagger-like teeth, it’s understandable that Rose’s first instinct is to run away screaming. As frightening as it looks, though, the dragon means no harm. And when the creature magically transforms into a young human girl called Jade, Rose realizes that she has found a new and extraordinary friend.

Jade may look like a girl Rose’s age, but she is far from normal. She speaks no English, and is dazzled every time she encounters a new aspect of the modern-day human world. Rose desperately wishes for someone to help her figure out why Jade has appeared to her—yet she cannot confide in her logical-minded father, whose ordered world has no room for magic or dragons.

Torn between wanting to keep Jade a secret and needing to find help, Rose turns to an elderly substitute teacher named Mrs. Jersey. In spite of Mrs. Jersey’s suspicious reputation around town, she turns out to be versed in the mysteries of the occult—precisely the ally Rose needs. In hopes of finding a way to communicate with Jade, Mrs. Jersey performs a mystical ritual in the remote Keyhole Canyon. There, Rose and Jade become blood-sisters, and through this mysterious bond they gain the ability to understand each other’s language.

This is when Rose realizes she has made a terrible mistake.

The strange stone she discovered in the desert is called the Harbinger—an object of unthinkable magical power that Jade has been entrusted with for the sake of all dragonkind. In her ignorance, Rose gave the stone to her father. With his subconscious mind rejecting all magic, Rose’s father seeks to destroy the Harbinger by throwing it off the Hoover Dam. Rose and Jade fly to the dam in a desperate attempt to save the Harbinger, coming a hair’s breadth from being smashed by massive jets of water from the dam’s overflow system. They recover the Harbinger, though Jade is either unwilling or unable to say what it is for.

Even the witnesses who saw Jade fly over the dam choose to believe it was a glider instead of a dragon—except for Rose’s fantasy-obsessed friend, Clay Ostrom. Clay discovers Jade’s identity, and through his carelessness, the word that there is a living dragon in Nevada reaches a dangerous figure. Soon, Rose and Jade receive an unexpected invitation from Rex Triumph, a flamboyant Las Vegas multi-billionaire who owns a dinosaur-themed casino called Lost World. In spite of their misgivings, Rose and her friends agree to meet with this mysterious mogul who seems to know more about Jade’s mission than she does.

Rex Triumph turns out to be a dragon masquerading as a human—or rather, a dreaming dragon. As he reveals to Rose and Jade, dragons once ruled the earth millions of years before mankind, creating a civilization based on magic instead of science. When their existence was threatened by the same comet that wiped out the dinosaurs, the dragons devised a plan to enter an enchanted sleep, one so deep that their very bodies merged with the elements as they slumbered. A dreaming dragon like Rex Triumph could project a phantom version of himself into the world, but Jade was the first dragon to awaken fully in 65 million years. Given to her was the sacred task to use the Harbinger to awaken the rest of her kind.

Rose is terrified of what might happen if dragons and humans fought for control of the world. Jade has no desire for such a war, yet she has been charged to carry the hopes of her people. She agrees to use the stone to awaken Rex Triumph, who plays upon her uncertainty to drive a wedge between Rose and Jade. Mrs. Jersey and Clay are no match for Triumph’s enchantments, and Jade is tricked into abandoning Rose so that she might fulfill the purpose of the Harbinger and awaken the rest of the dragons.

When all seems lost, Rose is able to use her special bond with Jade to break through Rex Triumph’s beguilement and call her friend back to her side. Yet Triumph has stolen the Harbinger for himself, and his attempts to use it cause chaos to erupt in downtown Las Vegas. Clay and Mrs. Jersey flee for their lives as the animatronic dinosaurs of Lost World come to life and run rampant through the casino, and law enforcement is powerless to restore order in the face of Rex Triumph’s magic.

Rose and Jade challenge Triumph to a duel to reclaim the Harbinger. Though Triumph is of a lesser breed than the fire-breathing Jade, he is much older and wilier. The two dragons battle over the Las Vegas strip as a sandstorm rages below, with Jade’s fiery power pitted against Triumph’s speed and cunning. The battle is decided by a factor that Triumph could never have predicted—by combining the strengths of Rose’s rational human mind with Jade’s draconian magic, the two friends create a weapon capable of bringing down even the mighty Rex Triumph. The defeated dragon returns the Harbinger to Jade, along with the burden of responsibility it represents.

Jade has a duty to her people, yet she has grown to love the world of humans, especially her new blood-sister. As Rose and Jade ponder how to solve this perilous dilemma, Rex Triumph begins to hatch a new scheme to awaken the dragons—and challenge humans for dominion of the world.