Zhyx Teeth and My First Rejection Letter

The saga of Zhyx, the Great Red Wyrm, ebbs ever onwards, with new artwork and new exposure to the world of publishing.

On and on the query process goes. Can’t begin to tell you how many calls I got from self publishing companies looking to make a quick deal. While their offers are certainly tempting, the fact remains that self publishing companies are really trying to sell you a deal, and while it does get the book professionally bound, it doesn’t reach as wide an audience as it could under other circumstances.

I have thus far sent out letters to 15 or so agents, so that has been pretty exciting. Even Neil Gaiman’s agent will be giving the query and the first 10 pages a look over. Can’t help but be a little excited at this.

Even got my first rejection letter.

Yes. The dreaded first rejection letter. Believe it or not, it actually wasn’t that bad. Hardly the evisceration that some authors got for works like Lolita and The Wizard of Oz. It was quick, simple and to the point.

“Thanks, but we are not interested.”

Oh. Well that was easy. Moving on. I still have about 100 more agents to go through to see which ones are the best candidates.

As for artwork, our good friend David got the concept art in showing Zhyx’s choppers. He and I agreed that going for a look like a theropod dinosaur such as a T Rex or Deinonychus would work best, but this slightly more fire. The results speak for themselves.

Zhyx Teeth

Using this stunning illustration, my artist and I have begun the next illustration, this one for chapter 3. We have set aside a two and a half week time frame during which we are going to finish it, line artwork and all. With the query process underway, we have no choice but to pick up the pace.

Some adjustments are also going to be made for the second illustration, though these will only be ones of color, so they will likely be completed ina  single session once we have it nailed down exactly what we want to do.

Anyway, thanks for reading and I will keep you posted with further updates.

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River and Celice Artwork Completed, Challenged for Book 2

Never-Heroes-Saar-Jya

The saga of the Great Red Wyrm continues. Zhyx, the red dragon, has had a rough time in his first outing as an action hero, but he has a few more stories to get through before we can both call it a day. That being said, he will be able to take a few month rest along with me before I get to work on book 2.

Well, it took a few lumps, but the artwork for the characters of River and Celice are finally done. All I can say is, especially when compared to the original picture of River, I am very pleased with the final result.

Here is the original.

River WordPress Profile

And here is what we have now.

River Concept Art

In addition, some updates have been made to the character of Major Celice Hulayen Arietta. In the book, she sports a bandolier of crossbow bolts, which the picture has been updated to include. It certainly doesn’t look like what one would expect out of a fantasy, but the idea of this series was to explore conventions found in other genres and apply them to a world of dragons, magic and anything else that is generally fantastic. So far, things seem to be working out pretty well.

Major Celice Concept Art

Now that the query process has begun, what awaits this project in the future?

I will be working on a script project over the next month or two. A little thing I have had bouncing around inside my head for some time now. A few days ago I was able to write the opening scene, and it came out pretty well. A few more sessions working with a friend of mine, this work should be pretty solid.

After that script is completed, work on book 2 will continue. The plot of book 2 is already pretty much set in stone. I know the beginning, I know the middle, and I know the ending. It is just a matter of fleshing it out until it becomes a complete story, and more importantly, how to apply the themes of the first book to this one as well.

The main inspirations for this story are Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, and The Thing. Three vastly different stories in their own right, but all of them have the appropriate elements I seek to make book 2 of my dragon’s saga complete. What I especially look forward to is expanding on the characters.

Citch FinalSlight WordPress Profile

Citch and Slight, pictured above, are very minor characters in the first novel, but that does not detract from their significance in the story. It was Slight whom River has spent the better part of eight years hunting, and Citch remains one of the top figures in the villains’ inner circle. Following the end of book 1, he has more than likely ascended to the top position of power.

Sometimes expanding in a minor character can work for a series. Just look at the Friday the 13th films. In the original classic, it was Jason’s mother killing camp counselors at Crystal Lake, her son’s suppose death being her motivation. It was only in the sequel that the creators decided to resurrect Jason from the grave to take up her mantle, and he has since become the series icon when in the original he was little more than an afterthought. Sometimes, a story can hold some very interesting things in the least expected of places.

Better yet is the matriarch of all dragonkind, the graceful but sassy Saar’Jya.

Saar'Jya 10

Saar’Jya is a significant character in the first book. It is she who directs Celice to Zhyx to be her chosen hero for hire, so without her, we wouldn’t have a story. That being said, she only appears in two scenes in the original book. I plan to use her a lot more in the upcoming books as she is quite a fun character to work with. She is a lot like Obi-Wan of Star Wars fame in that she is an incorporeal entity who cannot physically interact with the characters. Just take that concept and add some snark. The good news is her role expansion is underway. I already figured an interesting way for her to take part in book 2’s final act, so more of her beauty, as well as her snark, will be there for the other characters to enjoy.

As for the big bad in book 2? Once again, here is that piece of concept art that David Spada provided a few months ago. Subject to some revision, but it already looks pretty fantastic.

Dragon Eater Concepts 2

David Spada plows on with that next picture of Zhyx, and come Wednesday, Joe and I will be having a meeting in regards to illustration number 3. We have both already figured on a list of illustrations the book will need, numbering 9 total. We already have two done, so now there are seven to go.

The heroes article has been updated to include the new artwork. Thanks for reading and I will keep you all posted on further updates.

A Most Treacherous Chapter

Never-Heroes-Zhyx-The-Dragon

Last year, mid way through June of 2014, I began writing a book about a dragon. This dragon, dubbed Zhyx, was blackmailed by a group of adventurers into joining them on a quest they had no chance of completing alone.

About a year later, I finished the 4th draft of that book, thus ending the long and grueling, but at the same time worthwhile and exhilarating journey of writing it.

Today, another, quite possibly much more difficult chapter of Zhyx’s journey began, and that was getting his story to the masses. I started sending out query letters to literary agents, so that they may take the book to a major publisher.

It is a journey that every author had to go through. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, and all the rest. It is a treacherous path wrought with rejection and despair. There is not a one of these authors who found their book published on the first go, much less accepted by an agent after one query.

My journey began fairly modestly. I found myself a website that contained a database of agents who had been cleared as legitimate. There was a list of 160 that were interested in fantasy. I have thus far sent queries out to three of them. I very much doubt one of them is going to be the one that helps bring this story to you. I won’t start believe that until I hit the 45 person mark. Who knows? IN all likelihood, it won’t even be an agent listed on this site. I will likely have to go to many more venues before finding that right person.

In dealing with agents, you first have to get a response. Most of the time, they take one look at your query, decide they are not interested, and then don’t bother responding. Why should they? They get queries by the buckets each day, and only the ones they feel show promise are the ones they will respond to. If they were to answer every single rejected author, that would take up an awful lot of time, and presumably cost them an awful lot of fingers.

Then there is when they answer and read the manuscript, for which there are a few possible responses, not the least dreaded of which is the scathing shoot down.

“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”

“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”

“I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.”

“Too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.”

“Our united opinion is entirely against the book. It is very long, and rather old-fashioned.”

“Older children will not like it because its language is too difficult.”

“We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”

Those words are in the end, just words. But they sting. They stab into many an artist who poured heart and soul into their work to make something that was every bit as living to them as a child in a cradle. They are, respectively, the rejection letters for Dr. Seuss, The Diary of Anne Frank, Lolita, The Wizard of Oz, Moby Dick, Watership Down, and Carrie.

Imagine the tragedy if these authors had given up. What stories would we have lost? Think of the countless works of literature that have been lost. Ponder for a moment that another Catcher In the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple, never saw the light of day. Picture the frustrated artist reading either that first letter, or perhaps their fiftieth, or even their one hundredth.

Perhaps that was when they gave up. Maybe the story still found some life in their small circle of friends, but nothing more. Perhaps they put the manuscript in a box and left it in an attic to be found someday. Or perhaps, most chilling of all, in their moment of despair, they destroyed their work, so that it would never find life. Some of these works will die quiet deaths. Others will have the good fortune to be found, and will find success after their authors are long gone. But just to think that some of those stories are gone, it fills one with great sadness.

I fear that first letter. I can see it coming. But still, knowing it is coming, and indeed counting on it, does make things a little easier.

Zhyx is an interesting character, a fire breathing dragon who soon finds himself in the unlikely position of action hero. He, the orphan, the soldier, the teacher and the wizard kept me company for this last year. They were with me when I was at my lowest, and gave me a purpose when I had nothing left.

There are some who have given up, and lost great stories to the world as a result. Me? If it was any other story in my library, that may well have been the case. But not with Zhyx. The big bastard is more stubborn than I could ever hope to be. He won’t let me give up. I can hear him now.

“You presume to put me through this sentimental farce and then have the audacity to fold at the first sign of adversity? Oh my dear boy, I feel a fool for even expecting more of you.”

Yeah. His words will sting a hell of a lot more than anything the agents and publishers can throw at me. All I can say to them is, bring it on. Whatever words you throw at me, I can take it. With the wyrm ever heating his fire to keep me going, I will have much worse critics to deal with.

As those rejection letters keep coming in week after week, I will be writing book two of Zhyx’s saga. I do hope those letters are not too much of a distraction.