DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH

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The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 7.

“What you have just experienced is a Hatching.”

When Eli next wakes, he’s in bed he doesn’t know, in a room he’s never seen.

He’s also naked. And there’s a cat, sitting on the pillow next to his head.

The cat is not pleased when Eli bolts upright in a sudden rush of panic. Things come back to him in flashes; his flight through the woods, his transformation, his fight with the peryton. Widow Adeline.

Eli has never been inside Widow Adeline’s house, but the decor around him certainly screams “elderly woman.” The bed he’s in has four huge, carved wooden posts, and the duvet is both overly plump and makes a slightly crunchy plastic sound when he moves. The room looks like a guest room, with heavy velvet drapes and shelves of leather-bound books and odd curios. The only light comes from an ornate brass fitting on the wall; the sort with cherubs that looks like it was retrofitted from gas to electricity.

The sheets, Eli notes, are covered in blood.

It’s not his blood—a quick once-over reveals no injuries worse than bruises—but he is absolutely covered in it, and the sight makes his lip curl in disgust.

No one else is in the room, just Eli and the cat, so he gets out of the blood-stained bed.

His satchel is sitting on a chair nearby, a little folded card perched on top. The inside of the card is full of the sort of old-timey looping handwriting that Eli has to squint at to decipher. It says:

Don’t fuss about the sheets. Take a shower. There’s a robe if you need it. I will be downstairs waiting. — Ms. A.

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2019-02-12T17:30:15+11:0012th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

Classification

The actual publisher, Bloomsbury, deems [Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses] as for a teen audience. But if you’ve actually read the book, like me, this gives you a double-take. The graphic sex scenes in both this book and its sequel, though great in my opinion, are not suitable for the entire “young adult” audience. 13-year-olds finding this book in their section of the library is profoundly discomforting to me.

Mya Nunnally on women’s fiction.

This is from a longer article about the problems with speculative fiction written by women being constantly mis-categorized, in this case as being “for children” when it isn’t.

I found the quote above interesting because it’s something I ran into, albeit reversed, when trying to shop The Dragon of Rosemont High. The characters in that are about fifteen, and the book was pitched as young adult. But the feedback I got from multiple editors was that it felt “too young”1 for “young adult”, and that I should “rewrite it as a middle grade” novel, i.e. bump everyone’s ages down a year or two and set it in a middle school, not a high school. I had… Issues with this,2 particularly because at the time there was an active online dust-up going on in the YA scene with Actual Teens positing that, like. Maybe “Young Adult” fiction was swinging a bit too far towards the “adult” rather than “young” side.

And, to be clear. Like, DoRH deals with some pretty heavy issues; there’s violence and death, gore, slurs and the sorts of people who use them, and aspects of young sexuality. But, like. It’s about fifteen-year-olds, and is intended to be read by people who’re also about that age?

But, apparently, “books about fifteen-year-olds” fall into some kind of marketing black hole that’s too old for middle grade (i.e. children) and too young for “young adult”, which now apparently means “adults who read otherwise ‘adult’ books with seventeen-year-old protagonists”. Which… okay. Sure.

Publishing. Go figure.

  1. The fact that one Unnamed Editor From a Big 5 Publishing House also specifically mentioned the fact that the main character experiences bullying as making him feel “young” and “unlikable” was just… wow. That happened. And also ironically only the second hottest take I’ve ever gotten from a Big 5 editor. []
  2. Not the least of which was being asked to essentially rewrite an entire novel on spec but, y’know. Never let it be said that publishing isn’t wildly exploitative! []
2019-02-20T09:04:54+11:0011th February, 2019|Tags: books, culture, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH, young adult|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 6.

“At least Lacroix will know it wasn’t you.”

The circuit around town is a bust. Zoe picks up and examines several black feathers along the way but Eli knows, without knowing how he knows, that they aren’t feathers from the peryton. Several times he gets a strange feeling, like he’s being watched, but he never catches sight of anything unusual and nothing jumps them from the shadows.

Eventually, they end up back outside the Chungs’, Zoe regarding her feathers with a critical eye.

“Well,” she says, “I can make up some of the locator charms with these tonight. We can meet up tomorrow to test them out.”

Eli nods in agreement, then they say their goodbyes. Zoe offers him a lift back to his place (“I’m sure Dad won’t mind”), but Eli declines. The clouds have finally lifted and the sky above is clear and studded with stars, moon hanging like a big silver grin against the dark.

It’s getting cold, but Eli doesn’t mind. He likes night times out here. Back home—back in his previous home—the city was so bright that the closest they ever got to dark was a kind of dull, yellow twilight. In Rosemont, there are actually stars.

Eli is so busy watching them, in fact, that he doesn’t notice the peryton until he almost runs into it.

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2019-02-08T16:53:53+11:008th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 5.

“Its not 1692 anymore. Witchcraft isn’t illegal.”

When he finally finds Zoe at lunchtime—dressed in an Attack on Titan Survey Corps uniform—she double takes.

“What happened to your face?” she asks, incredulous.

“Huh?” He didn’t think the Goon Squad roughed him up that badly.

Zoe makes a gesture in her own general facial area. “I seem to recall a lot more light wounds last night.”

Eli puts his own hand on his cheek before he realizes she means the injuries from his fight with the peryton, not Arthur Lacroix. “Oh. Yeah, they were gone this morning. Guess your magic potion worked, huh?”

Zoe gives him a very strange look. “Ee, you realize it’s just, like, herbs and honey, right? It’s not . . . I mean, it’s never”—another vague gesture—”before.”

“So you’re more powerful than you thought. That’s good, right?” Because if Zoe’s a witch, maybe it won’t matter Eli’s a monster.

“I guess . . .” Though Zoe looks like she can’t decide between being proud and being scared. She finally settles on resigned, sitting down on the retaining wall behind the science block. “I heard you got the third degree from Lady Lacroix this morning,” she says.

It’s as good a segue as any, so Eli takes it. He tells Zoe about Lacroix, senior, and Lacroix, junior. The latter in particular elicits a great deal of consternation and warm hands, running across his cheeks and his limbs, checking him for injuries.

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2019-02-05T17:22:55+11:005th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 4.

“How lucky do you feel, Elias?”

On Friday, Aunt Addi is cooking breakfast. As soon as she sees Eli, she gives him a bone-crushing hug.

“Addi?” he asks. It’s not his face, that he does know. Whatever Zoe put in her potion, it worked, and now Eli’s skin is as healed as it was on Tuesday. Maybe better, given the way his acne seems to have vanished along with the bruises.

He gets one more squeeze before Aunt Addi takes a step back, still holding onto his arms as she regards him with soft pride. Addi is five-foot-nothing, all neat uniform and tight braids. Not stern, exactly, but Eli doesn’t think he’s seen quite this expression on her face since . . . since he came to live here.

“You’re a good man, Elias Drake,” she’s saying, apropos of nothing Eli can see. “Your daddy would be proud of you. I want you to remember that.”

“Um,” says Eli. “Thanks, Aunt Addi.”

It’s a strange interaction, but it’s followed by a plate of waffles, so Eli doesn’t think too much more about it. Particularly not when Addi says, “You might see Lacroix at school today.”

It takes Eli a moment to realize Addi means Ms. Lacroix, not Arthur or Morgan. “Is it about the murder?” he asks, trying to not appear too interested.

Judging by Addi’s sigh, he fails miserably. “Murders,” she corrects. “There was another overnight.”

The shiver ripples up Eli’s spine before he’s even really processed the words. Like something shifting just beneath his skin, hot and angry.

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2019-02-01T17:57:43+11:001st February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 3.

“What would you do? If you had a pet monster, I mean?”

Zoe is waiting for him on the sidewalk outside her house, eyes wide and phone clutched in her hand.

“Eli!” She starts running as soon as she sees him, and they crash together bodily in the middle of your street. “Eli, I got your text. What happened? What did you do?” She reaches a hand up to ghost it around the dark halo of his hair, currently even more fried than usual. “You look like you’ve been electrocuted!”

“I saw it!” Eli grabs Zoe’s forearms, hauling her forward. “Zee, I saw it! I saw the monster!”

“Monster?” Zoe’s expression twists, dubious, and she pulls back just slightly. “What monster? Ee, what are you talking about?”

“The monster, Zoe,” Eli says. “The one that killed that dude. It’s real. I saw it. Addi is out again and I was going to make tacos but we didn’t have the ingredients,” it comes out all in one big rush. “So I was walking to the ShopStop down that road that goes behind the houses, y’know? Where you wanted to do the photoshoot? And anyway I saw it. It was . . . it had these antlers and was kind of like a deer, but it had wings, too, and—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” This time, Zoe does extract herself, stepping backwards and out of Eli’s grasp. “Ee, are you high?”

“No!” God. Monsters nothing. His Aunt would kill him. “Zoe, I know it sounds crazy but you gotta believe me. I saw the monster. It attacked me!”

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2019-01-29T17:07:39+11:0029th January, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 2.

“I’m kinda trying not to think about the horrible murder right now.”

On Thursday, there’s been a murder.

“Did you hear? There’s been a murder!”

Apparently it’s a Sherlock day today, judging from Zoe’s black overcoat and blue scarf. Eli isn’t sure whether the theming is appropriate, but it’s subdued enough that maybe no one else will notice.

“I guess that’s why Addi was out last night,” Eli offers, hugging his books closer to his chest. Across the quad Lance makes the I’m-watching-you gesture, a big white gauze pad taped to his neck.

“They think it happened last week. Guy didn’t turn up for his shift at the gas station just out of town. Sheriff found his body like five miles away in the woods, torn to shreds. Like it’d been mauled by an animal.”

Eli tries not to think of sharp teeth and yellow eyes.

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2019-01-25T17:06:17+11:0025th January, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

Messing around with Sketchbook on the new iPad. I do miss the bigger screen space of the old one, but… this one fits in my handbag. Why can’t I have both things, damnit!

2019-01-29T12:52:58+11:0024th January, 2019|Tags: DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH, my art, wip|

Confessions of a failed author.

So… I got some shitty news yesterday; the final reader for my YA dragon shapeshifter novel passed. Which, for those of you not in “the industry”, means that the book has now been formally rejected by every major Big 5 publisher.1

Great. Just… great.

This is the third completed novel in a row for me that’s bounced off commercial sale, and 2019 makes four years2 since I actually had a publishing contract.

The consistent feedback from editors on Dragon, incidentally, was that they loved the writing/”voice”, but couldn’t identify with the characters. This is the feedback I get on pretty much everything (“We love the way you write, we just hate what you’re writing about.”) which is either like the generic industry “thanks but no thanks”, or something I’m personally especially cursed with. Either way… frustrating. And depressing.

Point being, Dragon is basically DoA as a commercial book. I have some other options for it but, honestly, the though of pursuing them just makes me tired. So fucking tired. So… whatever. In the spirit of the season, i.e. Marie Kondo Discourse Month, I’ve decided trying to sell Dragon no longer, as they say, “sparks joy”. And in the spirit of “what the hell, at least someone else may get something out of this”,3 I’ve decided that, over the next few weeks, I’ll be throwing the novel up online.4 On Wattpad because… it seemed easiest? So sure, let’s go with that.

Anyway, the first chapter is up, so… go check that out? Sweet.

And, uh. In the meantime… here’s a pic of the main character, Elias, I did like three years ago5 and will totally one day finish I swear.

Young African American man with red headphones around his neck. Illustration.

Elias Drake.

  1. Not, uh. That the editor died. “Passed” is the Official Publishing Industry term for “rejected” and, quite honestly, I hate the euphemism for a variety of reasons I will happily rant about to you at a convention bar sometime. []
  2. … Jesus. []
  3. If nothing else, it’s a look at the sort of thing Big 5 editors are rejecting. []
  4. Vomit metaphor intentional. []
  5. Again: Jesus. []
2019-01-23T08:01:27+11:0023rd January, 2019|Tags: book news, books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

… nice.

So it’s been almost exactly two years (with a break in the middle to write the DEMONS… IN SPACE!!!! book) but… it is done! At least, the draft is!

This turned out shorter than I was aiming for, i.e. 80k, but that seems to be a trend in my writing at the moment, particularly since both this and DEMONS have been single-POV.1 That kind of sucks in the adult market—a bunch of Big Name SFF publishers won’t even look at something if it’s under 100k—but DRAGON is YA, so… hopefully the ~70k mark is okay?

Guess we’ll find out soon!

Now the hard part: revising. Ugh.

  1. Well… mostly. DEMONS has four “cheat” chapters. []
2018-08-06T10:13:18+10:006th August, 2018|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH, gonzo author stories, writing|