Saturday, July 2, 2016

#MMBBR #Highlight The Lost Dreamstone Kindle Edition by Gary Val Tenuta @EzekielCode


A TALE OF TWO TALES:

The Story Behind the Story of The Lost Dreamstone -
A Middle-Grade Adventure Fantasy
37 years in the Making
By Gary Val Tenuta


The Lost Dreamstone was completed in 2016 but I actually began writing it in 1979 when my son, Gabriel, was just a year old. So why did it take that long to finish it? I mean, come on. It’s only about 150 pages. How in the world could it take 37 years to write 150 pages? It’s not exactly War and Peace, right? Well, the answer is a story in itself, a story full of odd coincidences, a tale of two tales, if you will. Here’s what happened:

My goal, when I first conceived the basic idea for the story, was to someday see it on the “big screen” as a full-length animated movie. Ideally, I wanted the remarkable fantasy artist, Brian Froud (http://www.worldoffroud.com/about/articles/artofbf.php) to be the art director and to design the characters featured in the story. Yes, it was an ambitious dream but I was quite a dreamer.

About half way into the writing of the story, I decided to send queries and chapter excerpts to publishers, naively hoping maybe I could get an advance to finish the book. Like I said, I was quite a dreamer. I was also young and inexperienced and I didn’t know anything about the real world of publishing. Still, I carried on with my plan.

The first query went to Harper & Row Publishing in New York. Several months later, I received their rejection letter. It was a standard “Thanks, but no thanks,” and I still have that letter tucked away in a dusty old folder.
That rejection slowed me down a little but I worked on it now and then anyway, still thinking it was a good story even if Harper & Row wasn’t interested. 

Then along came a full-length animated film called The Dark Crystal by Jim Hensen of Muppets fame. Not only was the story uncomfortably similar to my Dreamstone (both feature gems of crystal that need to be restored/recovered in order to fix the situation in their respective worlds) but the art direction of Dark Crystal was based on the work of––are you ready for this?––Brian Froud! I know, right? Unbelievable.

So then I thought, why continue with The Dreamstone (that was the working title at the time) because every publisher was surely bound to dismiss it as an obvious Dark Crystal rip-off. So I let the story sit, unfinished, for years.

Then, some twenty years later, I dug out the partially finished manuscript and decided to give it another go. A bit more sophisticated about writing at that point, I realized the proposed ending for the story was completely unsatisfactory. It just would not do. Not no way. Not no how. But that presented a problem. I couldn’t figure out a way to remedy the situation. I puzzled over it now and then for many months but simply could not come up with a solution. Then, a couple years ago, it hit me. With just a slight revision in the plot I was able to see how a satisfactory ending could be achieved. Yaaay! I was really excited to get to work on the story and finish it at long last.

I told my friend, Julie, about it and, knowing about the past situation with Dark Crystal (not to mention a similar situation that happened with a song I wrote) she suggested maybe I should Google the word "Dreamstone" to see if anyone else had used it. I laughed. Impossible. I made up the word. Right? But was I in for a shock. A Google search turned up the following Wikipedia entry:

The Dreamstone was a British animated television series that ran for four series of 13 episodes between 1990 and 1995.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to knock my socks off, compare the following. 
From my personal sketch notes for my story:

The World of Dreams is divided into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. The Kingdom of Light is ruled by the Old One, the Dream Master. The Kingdom of Darkness is ruled by the Sender of Nightmares.

Compare that with this excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

The Dreamstone was set in a fantasy alternative world […] and concerned itself principally with the struggle between good (personified by The Dreammaker […] and evil personified by Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares.


Quite a coincidence. Could there be more? Oh, yes.

From my personal sketch notes about my story:

D’rath Kahn has grown bored with people having nightmares so infrequently so he has sent one of his Dreamons to steal the Dreamstone and bring it to him. Once the Dreamstone is in his possession, it will cause more and more people to begin suffering from nightmares every night. If the situation is not remedied then this will become a pandemic and soon no one will ever have a good dream or a good night’s sleep ever again.

Compare that to this excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

Zordrak would instruct his henchmen to steal the Dreamstone, which he planned to destroy, so that nightmares would plague the sleeping world.

But wait. There’s more.

From my personal sketch notes about my story:

Separating these two kingdoms there is a very strange and very gray realm known simply as In Between. In the realm of In Between everything seems vague, hazy and undefined.

Compare that with this excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:

Sergeant Blob, an archetypal Sergeant Major type - would cross the mist of Limbo (a vast Purple Mist) to get to the Land of Dreams.

All of this was disturbing enough to make me wonder if somehow the creators of this British animated series had come across my story and basically ripped me off. But then I thought, no. After all, I began writing my story way back in 1979. This British story wasn't aired on TV until 1990. It was such a long span of time between the two that it must just be a coincidence. It was then that I noticed, in small print at the top of the Wikipedia page, a link to something called the Ealdwood Stories from which The Dreamstone was apparently adapted for television.

So I clicked the link and it took me to another Wikipedia page where the “coincidence” became even more incredible.

It involved an author by the name of C. J. Cherryh who wrote a collection of fantasy stories under the title, The Ealdwood Stories. Given the fact that I began writing my story, The Dreamstone , in 1979 and given the fact that it was in that same year that I sent my query and chapter excerpts to Harper & Row Publishers, the real topper to this strange series of "coincidences" was this quote from that Wikipedia page:

Cherryh first introduced readers to the world of Ealdwood in 1979 with her short story, The Dreamstone.


As you might imagine, that sat me straight up in my chair.

Cherryh’s novel, based on her short story (The Dreamstone) went on to win a number of prestigious awards.
Now of course I had to once again consider the possibility that I'd been ripped off. When I sent my query and chapter excerpts to Harper & Row in 1979, did they recognize the potential of the basic storyline but––realizing I was an unknown writer with no sales track record to assure a return on their investment––they passed the idea on to Cherryh who did have a track record of successful book sales?

Man, talk about a conspiracy theory! I supposed it was possible but, upon further research, I could find no link between Harper & Row and DAW Books, the publisher of Cherryh's work. It didn't make sense that Harper would turn over a good story idea to a competitor. So that pretty much shot a hole in my crazy conspiracy theory. It was all just a string of odd coincidences. But the odd coincidences didn’t stop there. In fact, they got even stranger.

As readers of my story will discover, the item known as the Dreamstone (visualized as similar to a crystal ball) sits atop a statue of three fairy figures on a pedestal about 3 feet tall. The fairy figures are standing with their arms upstretched with their hands open in such a way as to accommodate the round crystal Dreamstone. This brings us to perhaps the strangest of all the odd coincidences.

Sometime––I think it was in the mid-1990s––I attended a kind of New Age expo, a big annual event in Seattle in which, among other things, artisans displayed their works for sale.

As I was browsing amongst the hundreds of vendor displays, my attention was drawn to something very familiar across the room. It was, unbelievably, a 3-foot tall, ivory-colored statue of three fairy figures with their arms upstretched and their hands opened in such a way that they could hold a round object. The round object, however, was missing. What a coincidence! If you’re shaking your head right now and thinking this is too much, it can’t possibly be true, imagine what I was thinking!

I made my way over to the display and inquired about the piece. The person managing the booth was not the artist but I learned it belonged to a fellow whose name I was not only familiar with because of the bizarre conspiracy books he’d published, but also because his first name, Val, is my middle name. I also learned he lived in my home state of Washington although on the opposite side of the Cascade mountain range that separates Western Washington, where I live, from Eastern Washington where he lives. Crazy, right? 

In any case, my book remained unfinished for several more years. In the meantime, I wrote two other novels and a series of novellas all of which are in the paranormal genre and geared toward adult readers. Then, sometime around 2014, I decided it was time to buckle down and finish writing The Dreamstone although, by now, I had decided to rename it and it became The Lost Dreamstone.

There was just one thing missing. There was no Brian Froud to create the illustrations for the book. So, since I’m also an illustrator, I employed myself for the task. That turned out to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire creative process.

So here we are in 2016 and the book I started to write when my son was just a year old will now be read by him to his own son, Vincent. Of course Vincent just turned three this year so it will be a few more years before he’s ready for it. But, when he is ready, it’ll be there waiting for him. And that’s no coincidence.

If you happen to read The Lost Dreamstone, please consider leaving a review on amazon.com. Getting noticed among all the gazillions of books available on amazon is insanely difficult. Reviews are tremendously helpful in that regard. So, if you do leave a review, let me say here and now: THANK YOU!

May all your best dreams come true.

Oh, and watch out for the weedles.
(That’ll make sense to those of you who read the book.)

Kindle - U.S. • $1.99 (for a limited time) • https://amzn.com/B01F7EQGQU
Kindle - U.K. • £1.49 • (for a limited time) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01F7EQGQU
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