Monday, May 5, 2014

What's a Dragoneer?

Dragoneer. Just a word, but words mean things.

So what was I trying to describe when I came up with the word dragoneer? Let me tell you how it all came about.

Did you know that the word dragon/dragons is used 35 times in the King James Bible? If you knew that, you probably also know the scribes used it when translating the Hebrew word tannin or the Greek word drakon.

Dragons have been characters in mythology since mankind started telling stories, in literature since mankind could write, and more recently in movies. Often times the authors would make their dragons more interesting by their possession of advanced intellect or some sort of magic. Occasionally, dragons would be either a partner or the subject of a dragon-rider/dragon-keeper of some sorts.

To me:
Dragon-keeper is to dragon as crew-chief is to airplane, much like zoo-keeper refers to the person who cares for a zoo.
Dragon-rider is to dragon as passenger is to airplane or to train.

But think of this:
What word is to dragon as pilot is to airplane? Or as engineer is to locomotive?

I needed a new word. You got it now--dragoneer.

I was still on active duty in the Air Force, and didn't have the time to write. However, I outlined the story, came up with the title, and finally bought the domain on 13 March 2006. The domain's registration is a matter of public record.

What was the title? Okay, I'll tell you: THE LAST DRAGONEER. That sounds more familiar now than it used to.

After I retired from the Air Force, I finally had time to write. I finished a manuscript in June 2006. That story took Susah from her father's garden all the way to the flood. The only problem was that it read more like an Air Force Doctrine Document or technical manual. Great story, lousy fiction. The root problem was, I needed to learn the craft of fiction writing.

After taking a couple of on-line courses, reading lots of books on writing, getting advice from a few people I already knew and rewriting the novel it swelled to 165,000 words. I submitted it to various publishers, the last one was DAW, who sent me my epiphany rejection letter on 5 Feb 2007, explaining a new writer needed a truly outstanding book and THE LAST DRAGONEER didn't meet that standard at that time. 

So what did I do? First I confessed my writing wasn't truly outstanding. Then I thought about the things I'd done to become a truly outstanding Air Force combat aviator. Therein was the solution:

Becoming a writer required a certain set of basic skills, which needed refinement to develop into a novelist. I went back to school, joined reading groups, joined writing groups, joined professional writing organizations, and talked to as many smart people as could stand to talk to me as I focused on improving my skills.

In October 2007, I entered THE LAST DRAGONEER in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest. Out of the 5000 entries, the novel made it to the top 836 but was eliminated when the field was reduced to the top 100. During that time, THE LAST DRAGONEER was exposed to the public at large. Anybody could read the title and the excerpt. Anybody.

The big problem with the novel is even though it was huge--major portions of the book were rushed. After reading comments about that, the light bulb came on over my head. The story had to be parceled into at least three books and fully developed before they'd be good enough for the world to enjoy.

In ABNA 2009, a modified version of the novel made it to the top 250 entries, this time the contest was expanded to 10,000 entries. The novel entered was the same plot as the THE DRAGONEERS, which is now published.

In ABNA 2010, yet another modified version of the novel made it to the top 50. That's a nice showing, but the manuscript still had a long ways to go. The ABNA competition was tough, there are so many good writers out there.

During this time, I'd been pushed by financial issues to return to the work force, which provide some coin but took much of my writing time. The novel was not entered in the ABNA 2011 contest for a variety of reasons, the dominate one being my decision to work with Narrow Way Press LLC, an independent Louisiana based small press with the goal of publishing THE DRAGONEERS The Chronicles of Susah Book One. That happened on 29 November 2011.

THE DRAGONEERS sold over 20,000 copies, but it still had some literary issues. The story was great, but I still had much to learn. It's a 100,000+ word novel, currently selling for 99 cents at Amazon. 
On 3 January 2013, the second novel in the series was published. THE LOST DRAGONEER is a 125,000+ novel. Along with book one, this novel has remained on the Biblical Fiction best sellers list at Amazons since shortly after it was published.
The more I learned about my craft, the more I realized I needed to write a revised second edition of THE DRAGONEERS (book one). I queried my readers, and they overwhelming said they would prefer to have the next book instead of repairing the first book. Who can blame them, everybody wanted to know what was going to happen to Susah next. The revised second editions are being worked, and when ready the kindles will be updated about the same time the new printed editions are made available. When that happens, the old printed editions will be taken out of print. We're still several months out from that happening.
THE LAST DRAGONEER was published on 26 March 2014. This 155,000+ word novel joined the first two on the best sellers list at Amazon. The printed version of the book is soon to be released. Something I've learned along the way, the eBooks are fairly simple to correct errors with, but the printed books require major muscles movements to fix. Thus, we released the eBook ahead of the printed edition. The final polishing to the eBook will happen about the time the printed book is released and all through the magic of Amazon and Kindle, the readers will all get the updated version of the kindle without any cost.
If you've read this entire post, you now know a few things you might not have known before: 
(1) Why I came up with the word dragoneer on my own, at the time I believed I had invented the word and I still suspect I was the first to use it, certainly I was the first to use it as a novel's title ; 
(2) I bought the domain in March 2006;
(3) I used the title as early as October 2007 for my manuscript in the very public international novel contest known as ABNA, and;  
(4) the title to the third book of this series, was originally intended to be the title of one book, but the story was too long to be a single volume. The three dragoneer novels are subparts of the series known as The Chronicles of Susah.

You also might have picked up on that I'm planning to publish revised second editions of Books one and two later on this year. Hopefully, I'll make good on that intention. 
Thanks for staying with me on this because we're constantly learning that there's more to the story than you've been told. 

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