An early very Merry Christmas to you, my readers! I can’t hardly believe it’s nearly here, can you? But it comes regardless of whether we are ready or not. So, I find myself reflecting on the season and what it means to me. And trying to take hold of the moments I can with friends and family to truly enjoy them. I pray the same for each of you.
Today I have author Debra Daugherty on my blog talking about her novel The Dragon’s Ring. It sounds like a really intriguing story. Let’s dive in and learn more about Debra and her process.
Welcome, Debra. First, tell us a little about your novel:
THE DRAGON’S RING is a romantic fairy tale. If the knight, Sir James Trueblood, captures a unicorn, the King will give him permission to marry his daughter, Princess Isadora. Sir James begins his quest, not realizing Isadora is following him in disguise. On his journey the knight is trapped by a witch and faces a ferocious dragon. He slays the dragon and takes the ring it guarded. With the dragon’s ring he captures a unicorn, but then learns the gentle creature will die if not set free. Now he has to make a choice, marry the Princess or free the unicorn.
That really intrigues. Especially my childhood love for unicorns. What was the inspiration for The Dragon’s Ring?
I love fairy tales for their happily ever after endings. I also love the idea that a mystical, magical creature like a unicorn might once have existed. For years I collected figurines of unicorns and displayed them in a glass curio. Wanting to write a story both my nephews and nieces would enjoy, I ended up with THE DRAGON’S RING. My story has a princess, a unicorn, and romance, as well as a witch and dragon, something for everyone.
You can say that again! Did you always want to be a writer?
Being a writer was on the top of my list, even as a child. I also wanted to be a teacher, airline attendant, travel guide, secretary and astronaut. In real life I was a waitress, clerk typist, beautician, café worker, caregiver and secretary. And while participating in all these professions, I also continued to write. That was the one constant in my life.
You’ve certainly done some interesting things. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
My grade school published a monthly newspaper with stories written by the students. I loved when my stories and poems were chosen to be in an issue. I found I enjoyed the attention and praise from my family when they read what I have written. So my desire to be a writer stemmed from an early age, third grade. It helped that my teachers liked my work and gave me encouragement.
I know from experience that there are things we all enjoy about the writing process and things we don’t enjoy so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?
I loved the writing process, how the words flow from my fingers to the keyboard and a story takes shape. Revisions are hard. Sometimes I have to “kill my darlings,” eliminate chapters, change scenes, even change POV’s, to make the story work. It’s hard to let go.
Once I am satisfied that my work is ready to submit, it is time to Query. Writing a query letter, finding the right words to pique an agent or publisher’s interest, is harder than writing the novel.
So query letters are another writing process I dread.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?
Try to write a little bit every day, and read. To be a great writer, you need to be an avid reader. Join SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Attend conferences. Read books on writing. Two of my favorite books are Harold Underdown’s THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN’S BOOKS, and Ann Whitford Paul’s WRITING PICTURE BOOKS. Connect with authors on Facebook and twitter. Join a writers group and have your work critiqued. Participate in workshops, in person and online. And don’t give up your dream, no matter how many rejections you have. Every writer can relate to rejections. I have a drawer filled with them. Treat rejections as a victory. They show you are putting yourself out there.
All wonderful suggestions…thanks! What are you currently reading?
I’d like to mention a novel I finished a couple of months ago. It’s a young adult fantasy novel, “Token and Omens”, written by a friend whom I met at a writer’s conference, Jeri Baird. We actually critiqued each other’s work at this conference, and hers were some chapters from this now published book. Her writing is amazing!
With the holidays keeping me active, I haven’t jumped into any new novel. I may reread “Token and Omens” again as I enjoyed it tremendously the first time. Come January, I’ll be heading back to the library for some PB mentor text reading for research and checking out the latest books by Philippa Gregory. I never tire of reading about Anne Boleyn and the Tudors.
For the time being I plan to devote my time reading, writing, and revising some of my works-in-progress.
I find I need to listen to music to “set a mood” for my writing. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?
I actually don’t listen to music when I write. I find it distracts me. However, I don’t write without some noise in the room. My dog, Honey, lies under my desk and snores while I work.
Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?
I write when the mood strikes me. This could me at 6:00 AM, mid-afternoon or even 2:00 in the morning. My favorite place would be sitting on a deck overlooking the ocean, but as that will probably never happen, I’m content with sitting at my desk and typing on my keyboard.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends. I wrote THE DRAGON’S RING in three days. This was nearly 20 years ago. I sent it out to a few publishers, then tucked it in a drawer until 2012. After meeting Ilana Oster and her friend, Sarah Schoon, while touring England, I decided to return to writing. These ladies from my tour group happened to be writers, and while sipping tea in a quaint café in Grassmere, they encouraged me to join SCBWI and renew my writing. When I re-examined THE DRAGON’S RING, I found it outdated. My princess sat at the castle while her knight went on the quest for the unicorn. I decided Princess Isadora needed to be the heroine and rewrote the story. In this new version, she follows her knight and saves him, more than once and without his knowledge. It took months to revise, but this is the story my publisher liked. This is the story that was published, so all the hard work was worth it.
Interesting…I always let my manuscripts rest, but that’s quite a rest 🙂 Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
I don’t want to give away any secrets or the ending, but can tell you that I included a Dodo bird in this book. The Dodo bird is vital to the story.
Do you have any current projects you are working on? Care to share?
In November, 2013 I participated in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a novel in a month. My YA novel had over 155,000 words, so I divided it into three novels for a series. My teen sleuths travel to London, Paris and Rome, and in each city they encounter a mystery and murder. (I still find it hard to believe I wrote three books in one month.) Since then I’ve been revising, having my work critiqued and edited, and have been submitting the first novel to agents and publishers. In 2014’s NANOWRIMO I wrote a fourth book for this series. My teens head to Edinburgh, Scotland where a ghost sends them on a quest for the Holy Grail. Spoiler alert – they find it!
I also have several picture books and a few Middle Grade stories that I am continuing to revise and submit.
Thank you so much, Debra, for joining us to day!
With Christmas two days away, I know everyone is busy doing last minute shopping and baking. I’d like to wish everyone a happy holiday and a blessed and joyous new year!
Thank you, Sara, for including me on your blog. I enjoyed answering your questions, and am grateful for this opportunity to connect with your readers and to share with you, and them, my book and writing experiences.
The Dragon’s Ring
More About the Author
Debra Daugherty is a Central Illinois resident who enjoys living in the country with her two dogs, a Chihuahua named CeCe, and Honey, a rescued American Stratford Terrier. Since 2012 she’s been a member of SCBWI, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her publishing credits include a picture book, CALAMITY CAT, 2013, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; a young adult romantic fairy tale, THE DRAGON’S RING, 2016, Astraea Press/Clean Reads, and two short stories in Guardian Angel Kids’ e-zine. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, browsing in antiques shops and traveling.
Connect with Debra and her books
Twitter – https://twitter.com/dmddeb or @dmddeb
Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/DebraDaughertyauthor
Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7579797.Debra_Daugherty
Amazon Author Central/Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/debradaugherty