Saturday, May 2, 2015

THE DRAGONS OF NOOR: Five Weeks in the Books-A-Million Top Ten

Today we get to hear from Janet Lee Carey, the award-winning author of nine YA novels. Her book, The Dragons of Noor, hit the number 8 spot in the Kids' and Teen section of the Books-A-Million online store on February 14th. Then it proceeded to stay in the top ten for four more weeks, climbing further to the number 6 spot. 

First, Janet, tell us what your book is about.

Terrible events are happening in Noor. The ancient trees, whose deep roots know the history of the world, are dying. Worse still, a rogue wind is stealing children and blowing them to a distant land. When Miles' and Hanna's little brother is Wind Taken, the two set out to discover the magic behind the stolen children and the dying forests.  The Dragons of Noor know what's happening, and why. Joining forces with the Dragon Queen, Miles and Hanna explore the sky, the earth and underground, entering Oth through paths they've never dreamed of. The trouble is rooted deep. The most ancient being of all, the great World Tree, has split asunder. Setting out to rescue their little brother, they end up rescuing a world.

Children fly when worlds are shaken
Now the children are Wind Taken
Seek them there, seek them here,
Before the children disappear

How did you get published? Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?

I took the traditional path – a very rocky uphill hike. I spent a number of years learning how to write novels by, well, writing novels because this is a “learn by doing” profession. I also joined a fabulous critique group, the Diviners, whose talented members had the savvy and experience to steer me in the right direction. I learned to revise from critique and how to study the publishing marketplace. When I was ready, one of the published members, Deborah Davis, introduced me to her editor, Jean Karl at Atheneum NY, and I began revising my book under Jean Karl’s sharp guidance. In those years I went to writing conferences, read books on writing, and joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) SCBWI was and is a goldmine of information. Finally I got my first agent just before my first children’s novel was accepted for publication. I continue to spend hours a day writing, going to my intrepid Diviners critique group, attending SCBWI, and going to writing conferences though now days I’m often teaching workshops at the conferences I once attended as a new writer.

Photo by Heidi Pettit
What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?

The Dragons of Noor explores family loyalty, individual courage, and has young teens taking on catastrophic environmental events. Children and teen readers are highly aware of global environmental crisis. This novel puts the characters right in the center of the problem. Readers watch the characters grapple with the issues of the dying forests, and fight alongside Miles, Hanna and the dragons. The story empowers teens to do something: to take an action large or small. Every action is a seed planted and brings the possibility of change.

How are people finding out about your book? Tell us about your marketing and use of social media.

I stay in touch with readers in a number of ways. On my Facebook author page, on Twitter (@JanetLeeCarey, on my Website where readers are given the connectivity to contact me through email, on Goodreads, on readergirlz, and on my blogs Dreamwalks and LibraryLionsRoar. The Library Lions blog keeps me in touch with the wonderful youth librarians who create innovative programs to engage teen readers.  

I also think the current book buzz going around about In The Time of Dragon Moon, has rekindled interest in my other Dragon books. Including the first two dragon books in the Wilde Island Chronicles, Dragon’s Keep, and Dragonswood.

It’s fun to note that the Dragon Queen in The Dragons of Noor has a spitfire personality. So does the new dragon, Vazan, who’s introduced in In The Time of Dragon Moon.
Quote from the new book:“You are female, Vazan. You are powerful,” I said.
“Yessss,” she hissed, “but I am dragon. You are girl.”

Some studies say children reading e-books are reading more, while other studies say they comprehend less of what they read. What’s your opinion or experience?

I can only go by my own experience. I read traditionally bound books and e-books. I love both experiences and I don’t think there is any difference in my reading comprehension. To tell the truth, sometimes I listen to a book on CD, and read it in the bound version and e-book version all at the same time. The bound book is perfect to curl up in a chair with, the audio version allows me to engage in the story while I drive, and the e-book version is small enough to pop into my purse which makes it a bit more portable. Story hunger can be satisfied in many ways. It’s good to let the format fit the reader’s circumstances. 

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?

Oh, this is a bit of a loaded question for me since my target audience isn’t limited to children and teens but extends to readers who enjoy fantasy. Starting with the younger teen readers and moving up through adult – my readers engage in fantasy adventure with teen characters who are fresh and vital, who are coming to terms with self identity, who are grappling with the panic and joy of love, and with societal wrongs that endanger their future happiness. My books empower characters who feel like outcasts to begin with, but who discover they are invaluable human beings, flaws and all. Characters discover that they have a significant place in the world, a place the world is sometimes not ready for so one they must often invent for themselves. Each one of us brings something new into the world. My stories honor that.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Was it your idea or your publisher’s? Were you hesitant? Excited? Apprehensive? Optimistic? 

Optimistic. I’ve been lucky enough to be published by the top NY houses: Penguin, Kathy Dawson Books, Atheneum at Simon and Schuster, Random House, and Egmont to name a few. These houses are savvy enough to release the hardback copies of my new books and the e-book versions at the same time. They understand the value of giving readers a choice. 

As you got into e-publishing, have you discovered unexpected things?  Has anything happened that you wouldn't have predicted?

Well, I wouldn't have predicted The Dragons of Noor being # 8 on the Bestselling e-book list this week. By the way I wouldn't have known that if you hadn't contacted me with the news, so thank you!

What does your writing schedule look like? What are you working on now?

Photo by Heidi Pettit
Right now I’m getting ready to launch In The Time of Dragon Moon, the third book makes a trilogy. I’m celebrating that with blog tours a book giveaway on Goodreads, and other book giveaways. I’m also lining up a fun party like  launch party we did for Dragonswood.

I’m also working on another fantasy book set in a new world. Very hush hush but dare I mention a jealous Sea Queen who demands a sacrifice from my main character? The dangerous Sea Queen who has the power to create a terrible flood?

I’m also working on another book for younger teens that’s quite whimsical and comical. I’m laughing as I write it. My critique group the Diviners are into both stories and that’s always a good sign. I’m also lucky enough to have a wonderfully talented new agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette with Erin Murphy Literary Agency, who supports my ongoing writing adventures. My agent is solid gold.

Time to pull out your Magic 8 Ball:  How do you see the world of e-publishing developing for children and young adults over the next 5 years? Do you think it will ever exceed or replace print publishing?

Publishing is undergoing a wild roller-coaster ride just now. I cannot predict where it will go. But what I’d like to see is a world where stories are welcome to come out in any number of forms. Traditionally bound books must remain on the shelves in bookstores, libraries, and at home. Children and teens need to have bound books around as a part of their reading world. But e-books and audio books should be within reach as well. It’s all about having choices. Wouldn't it be nice if there were room for all?

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

I believe it helps me as an author. Readers have yet another way to read my books.
Learn more about Janet and her books by visiting all the links she provided above.

See the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten e-format authors and their books. It's updated every Saturday morning. Check back next week when my featured author will be Mary Casanova.

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