Sometimes when people find out I’ve written a book, they ask if I’m doing a sequel. The answer is “no.” I spent about 9 years drafting, rewriting, re-rewriting, shopping around, self-publishing, and promoting Dragontamer’s Daughters, and I’m ready for a different project. As I mentioned here, that project is Lost Dogs.
DTD is a two-part, 600+ page novel set in the Old West of an alternate Earth. Lost Dogs is a much shorter (200-300 pages) science-fiction work set in 2013 on Kent Island, MD. Indeed, the first few chapters take place on the very street where I live, but no, the characters (human and canine) are not modeled after my family, my neighbors, or any pets thereof.
DTD is a middle-grade/young adult book, primarily meant for girls 12+. I initially thought Lost Dogs would be a young adult novel (i.e., for teenagers 15+), but I’ve since stopped thinking of it as that and started thinking of it as being a “grown-up book.” However, I strenuously doubt that I’ll throw adult-level sex or violence into it (one character does utter a series of expletives in the first chapter, but he’s under considerable psychological duress). It’s not that I’m a prude or squeamish: some of the violence in DTD (such as the scene where the father is captured by the Uupohna in Chapter 6) is deliberately brutal. It’s just that at this point in the writing, I don’t think it’s necessary. I took pride in telling people at the Authors Night book signing that there’s nothing age-inappropriate in DTD, and I don’t intend to write anything in Lost Dogs just for shock value.
DTD is told in 3rd-person past tense (“She went to the door”) and from different perspectives: most of it is from the point-of-view of Isabella, the older daughter, but some scenes feature Alijandra, some the dragontamer, some the dragon Pearl, and some the “Dragon Killer.” Juanita (the girls’ mother) and the priest Daon Raul are also the focus of some scenes. Lost Dogs is in 3rd-person present tense (“He goes to the door”) and is told entirely from the perspective of Buddy, a German Shepard: he’s in every scene. I chose present tense not because it’s trendy, but because dogs seemingly don’t have a concept of the past: everything to them is “now,” so it made sense to write the story in a way to emulate that.
DTD has many chapters, several of them quite lengthy (they average out to about 16 pages each). So far, it’s looking that Lost Dogs will also have many chapters, but they’ll be short (4-5 pages each). That’s not a conscious decision on my part: it’s just how it’s turning out. Sometimes (often times, actually), books just seem to write themselves.
As I mentioned before, I wrote quite a few chapters of Lost Dogs back in 2011, but I stopped to publish and promote DTD. Currently, I’m rewriting those early chapters–tightening them up, giving them some punch–and it’s going well. Now that I’ve restarted the project, something new I’m doing is using a canine “vocabulary” for many “human” words: a “Belonging,” for example, is the dog word for “owner or person,” and yes, it’s meant to be capitalized. It’s challenging and fun to play with the language this way, but I’ll have to see if test readers find it incomprehensible (easily remedied by a glossary) or annoying (in which case, I’ll need to do Find/Replace).
More about the vocabulary (and Lost Dogs) some other time.