Tonight, I finished editing the first half (“Pearl”) of the new-and-hopefully-improved version of Dragontamer’s Daughters, my fantasy novel about two girls in an alternate Old West who adopt an injured dragon (you can see the original versions here and here, at least for a little while longer).
I decided to edit and re-issue DTD in one volume because while I’m still proud of it, it was my first published work (released in 2012), and I thought I could improve it. Upon further review, I realized that the beginning chapters could be tightened by eliminating or summarizing some scenes, which would pick up the pace (a common complaint of a few reviewers) without sacrificing characterization, theme, or setting.
Tweaking DTD also let me add some new material, some of which is below. It’s from the chapter “Death in the Desert,” where the younger sister Alijandra and her dog Jack are out looking for Pearl the dragon, who has run off.
“What’s that?” Alijandra asked. Jack kept padding along.
The sun was higher and had turned its usual yellow. The air was warming, and the hoppers were jumping out of her way as she went by. “Stop, Jack,” Alijandra said. The big black dog settled onto his haunches and chewed at the skin of his belly.
Something moving up ahead. She held still. In a moment, a skinny, sandy-furred, long-eared fox scurried along, nose to the ground. It stopped a little ways from her, raised its snout. Sniffed. Took a step closer.
“Hello,” she said.
The yellow fox drew back. Cocked its head. Pondered her for a moment. The dog paid it no mind.
“You know where Pearl is?” the girl asked. The fox looked away. She turned a little, the same direction. Pointed. “There?”
Jack stopped nipping at his fleas and looked at Alijandra. Looked at where she was pointing. Back at her.
“How do you know?” Alijandra asked. Jack followed her gaze. Saw nothing.
“C’mon Jack,” Alijandra said, and started off again. The dog plodded after her.
Tongue flapping, the fox loped off a different way. In a few minutes, Alijandra forgot all about him. As, of course, he intended.
I expect that editing Part 2 (“Stormcaller”) will go more quickly, because, in all honesty, it was already the stronger portion of the novel. The edits I’m doing now are for the Kindle version; after those are done, I’ll duplicate those for the print version. Add some killer new art from James Arnold, my cover artist (who also did Lost Dogs), and I should re-issue DTD at the beginning of July, three years after it debuted.
And then? Then I plunge headfirst into drafting my YA horror novel, In Lonely Lands. More about that some other time.
Kenton Kilgore is the author of Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. Kenton also wrote Dragontamer’s Daughters, a young adult fantasy novel based on Navajo culture and belief. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature. Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.