I’ve been a little silent here lately. June was such a busy month with the conferences and all the blog posts that I decided to relax a bit for the remainder of the summer and work on some other projects. Once I got Whisper of the Woods off to my publisher (my Cry of the Sea sequel), I knew my next project was to dive into revising my Middle Grade novel Dragon Surf and get it ready to start submitting to agents and publishers.
Dragon Surf has had a long road from idea to finished project. Back in the beginning of my writing career, when I still wrote lots of short stories and thought I would be a huge success as a horror and/or fantasy novelist (for adults), I penned a short story about a bunch of young men who get drunk one night and head down to the shore for some night swimming. Soon they find themselves terrorized by a dragon that lives in a cave nearby. This story was so awful, it wasn’t even worth submitting. I didn’t even make it clear if it was contemporary or set in a medieval type of land. Some of the character names were just… weird. I don’t have it anymore, thank goodness.
A few years later, when I had decided my path should be writing for kids, I approached the story idea again. I changed it to a contemporary short story about two boys who sneak down to a beach on a foggy morning to go swimming. A dragon appears in this story as well, but instead of terrorizing them, he saves them from drowning. I titled the story “No Lifeguard on Duty”. I never knew what to do with this story as it didn’t fit with any of the children’s magazine guidelines, so it sat on my computer for a few more years.
In 2009, an author I followed was having her fantasy story published by Stone Arch Books, a publisher that focuses on Hi/Lo stories for boys. I rewrote my story as a chapter book of about 40 pages and submitted. They weren’t interested but encouraged me to come up with some other topics. That’s a long story in itself, which ultimately wound up with the creation of my other novel On the Water, no longer a Hi/Lo for boys but an Upper MG for girls. Yeah, my writing life takes turns.
So, No Lifeguard sat again. In 2013, though, I decided to take my fledgling chapter book and pump it up into a full Middle Grade fantasy novel. I wrote an outline and got it ready for NaNoWriMo. I completed it at 55,000 words that month.
But then Cry of the Sea came out, and I sold a book to Schoolwide Inc that needed revisions, and I rewrote On the Water twice, and I wrote Passing Notes, and I wrote Whisper of the Woods… Talk about letting a first draft sit for a while. Finally, this summer, I got the chance to take a look at my book. I was pretty happy with it, actually. I tweaked, clipped, added, and slashed. Changed the title. Except for the final line, which I still hate, I’m feeling pretty good about it.
I sent Dragon Surf out for its first submission last weekend. Who knows when or if it will sell? But I’m happy to have finally found a version of this story that I think is sell-able. We’ll see, and I’ll definitely let you know.
If you have a revision story about your book, I'd love to feature it on the blog. Email me donnadriver68 (at) gmail (dot) com
D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.