#FreeviewFriday – #MakeBelieve


 

Hi all.  I was over at J.A. Belfield’s blog today and she posted a #FreeviewFriday of her short story, Escort to Insanity (read excerpt here) that will appear in the Make Believe anthology in December.  She invited those who wanted to participate to jump on board, so here I am!

Like Julie, I posted an excerpt from my short story, The Amulet of Ormisez, a few weeks ago.  If you missed it, you can read it here.  I’ll give you some time to read it.

Yay, you’re back!  Did you like it?  As you can see, Elton Fletcher has been warned  of changes in his brother, Cayden.  Let’s take a look at Elton’s and Cayden’s first encounter since Elton’s return home.

****

Ferris poured two glasses of apricot brandy and handed one to Elton. “Her name is Felicity. She is your brother’s wife’s handmaiden.”

The sweet, nutty liquor spewed from Elton’s lips. “Wife? Cayden married? When?  Why wasn’t I told?”

“Four months ago,” Cayden’s deep voice drifted from the open doorway, “and how could I tell you? You were gallivanting across the open seas, chasing some silly dream.”

Gone was the scrawny appearance of youth. In its place stood a chiseled, broad-shouldered man, clean-shaven with steely, wide-set eyes and an olive complexion. A black and red orchid had been inked into his rippled chest. Clad in white silk pajamas trousers and an open black and gold silk robe, Cayden faced Elton with the arrogance of a Greek god.  Elton was certain that if he’d met his brother on the street, he wouldn’t recognize him.

Elton didn’t like what he saw or the tone that lingered on Cayden’s words.

Things have changed.

****

There you have it.  No more, no less.  What did you think?

Do you want to share a #FreeviewFriday snippet of your published story or W.I.P?  If so, feel free to grab the hashtag #FreeviewFriday and post 8 – 10 sentences on your blog of a W.I.P. you’re working on or a published piece.  All I ask is that you link back to my blog and/or post a link to your post in the comment section below.  I’m all about spreading the word and driving up numbers.

Also, if you are interested in getting first dibs on the Make Believe anthology before anyone else, stay tuned.  Exciting details coming within a couple of weeks and you won’t want to miss them!

 

Sick dragons


Yesterday I was supposed to bring to you a rare collection of Gem dragons; however, several of my dragons became quite ill and are being cared for  and nursed back to health.  They should be well by the weekend and on display next week.

In the meantime, I have important errands to attend to this morning but should be back this afternoon.  I hope you return then.

Enter: the Chromatic dragons


Ah, good to see you have returned today to witness and learn about the beautiful but dangerous Chromatic dragons.  I have cordoned off the area behind me and have enchanted it so you will be quite safe.  I collected these creatures from a dragon fighter in the North Country.  They are all juveniles.  When I found them, they were severely injured, beaten, and starved.  Many did not make it and had to be put out of their misery.  These guys were placed in my care until such time they are strong enough to be released into the wild.  So, without further ado, let me introduce to you the first of our Chromatics…the Black Thorn.

(curtain falls.  Gasps fill the room)

Black dragons are the most vile, temperamental and cruel of all dragons.  This particular breed has horns that protrude from the sides of his head and project forward, like a bull.  He also has a silky frill on the back of his neck.  This is quite different from the infamous Timberlake Smoothback, known to all as Einar, who has horns on the top of its head that point back toward a mace-like tail.  All black dragons, except for the Timberlake Smoothback, live in swamps and fetid marshlands, which would explain their rank odor of rotting vegetation and foul water.  They are vicious and ruthless adversaries, preferring ambushes to straight-forward fighting.  They are excellent swimmers and rule by intimidation.  Their lairs always have two entrances:  one above ground and one underwater through adjacent swamplands or lakes.  From birth they have an exceptionally cruel temperament and an insatiable appetite.  Black dragons, except for the Timberlake Smoothback, use acid as their defense.  The Timberlake has a breath of sulfur fire.  If you ever catch an overwhelming whiff of rotten eggs, look around.  You may be in the presence of a Timberlake Smoothback, in which case, you should kiss your behind good-bye.

(curtain lifts)

The next beauty is an Azule, a blue dragon.  (curtain falls.  More gasps).  Blues tend to be desert dwellers.  They have a single horn on their heads, large, frilly ears and a long, bumpy tail like that of a caterpillar. They excel at aerial combat, and are very adept at aiming their lightning discharges at other aerial foes or enemies on the ground.  They are also very good at making their prey hallucinate by using magic.  Many blues also tend to ambush their prey by burrowing in sand, waiting for the right moment to spring from the desert ground.  They grow around 60 feet in length and have an earthy, sandy smell to them.

(curtain lifts)

Next in line is the beautiful Fae Sweeper, (curtain falls) a grass-green dragon named so for its diet of gnomes, sprites and elves.  As you can see, they tend to have a large waving crest that runs from the tip of his nose all the way down his body.  They also have very long forked tongue.  They tend to share their territory with black dragons, but seeing they are stronger than blacks, their lairs are usually high up in cliffs behind waterfalls. Green dragons are nasty tempered and are known to attack for no reason.  They are great wielders of magic and tend to use it before brawn.  They grow to about 40 feet.

(curtain rises)

Next to last is the spectacular red dragon. (curtain falls)  This species is the Élan Pyre, the most dangerous and infamous of all Reds.  This one is already 60 feet long, half of its adult size.  Those two horns on its head hold magical powers of healing and destruction, depending on the beasts’ temperament at the time.  They can breathe fire within days of birth.  They find other Chromatic dragons worthless and will either kill or enslave them, depending on the Red’s mood.  They are hoarders of great treasures and protect their lairs with a voracity unseen by any other dragon type.  They are enemies of Metallic dragons, especially the Silvers, and are exceptionally dangerous in battle.  They are proficient in magic and very fast in the air, but they are clumsy and tend to fight more ground battles.  They tend to attack first with their fire breath, then follow with power strikes from their tails and vicious blasts of magic.  As you might suspect, these giants tend to live inside volcanoes and are very adept at using their magic to convince tribal elders into sacrificing their young girls.

(curtain snaps up)

Finally, we have the Snow Angel, (curtain falls) one of the more popular of the white dragons, and an angel it is not.  As the name implies, this jewel lives in the very cold regions, choosing icy caves and deep subterranean dwellings.  They are very greedy and grow to approximately 25 feet in length.  They are the weakest of the Chromatic dragons and not very strong combatants, but that doesn’t render them harmless.  As you can see, its head and neck appear to be one, and their wings are frayed around the edges.  They may or may not have horns.  They are stocky, strong and can climb cliffs, fly, and they make excellent swimmers.  Whites also tend to have inferiority complexes, often bullying younger dragons and giants to prove their importance.  They are always hungry with ravenous appetites and have been known to eat entire whales at one sitting.  They have excellent memory capabilities and hold grudges. If you make an enemy of one, they will hunt you down for their entire lives just to kill you.  Their defense?  A breath of frost air.

(curtain goes up)

There you have them.  I thank you for visiting today.  I hope you enjoyed learning about the Chromatic dragons.  They may be dangerous, but they are exquisite, don’t you think?  Please feel free to stick around and ask questions.  I don’t bite.  Tomorrow if you’re interested, I’ll have several Gem dragons with me and I promise, they are beautiful to behold. You won’t want to miss them.

Have a glorious day and I hope to see you tomorrow.

Enter: the metallic dragons


Come, come.  Everyone scoot in and sit down.  There are plenty of stools upon which to plop your backsides.  Would one of you chaps in the back close the door please?  Don’t want sunlight interfering with what you came to see.  There’s enough light from the torches anyway.

Everyone settled?  Good.  Now how many of you here have seen a dragon?  Um hmm, just as I thought.  No one.  Well, guess what?  Your luck is about to change.

Now, I won’t bore you with all the tedious stuff about dragons, but I will tell you this.  They live and they are all around you.  Like faeries, they can only be seen by those who truly believe in the magical realm, which means all of you have the sight.  Yes, yes.  I charmed my hovel so that only those who believe in the old magic could enter.

There are many kinds of dragons:  Wyverns, Worms, Hydras, Firedrakes, Icedrakes, the list goes on.  Depending on where you live, the color of a dragon can alert you to their temperament.  You’ll pretty much know right away whether you’re food, friend or folly.

Now I won’t lie to you.  I know very little of the dragons of the North, East and South worlds, but I do know a thing or two about the dragons of the West World.  Underneath each one of these cloths you will find a baby dragon shielded in invisible containers enchanted to mimic their true environments.

The dragons you are going to see today are Metallic dragons, what I like to call good dragons. They are also only days old.  As you view them, keep in mind there are many species of dragons in each category.  This display is only to familiarize you with their color and appearance.  Are you ready?

The first metallic I present is a Sandy Dottyback.  She’s a Brass dragon.  Now brass dragons are quite intelligent and are desert dwellers.  They are incessant talkers, can grow up to 60 feet in length.  Their scales radiate heat and light, and as you can see, they are born with two sharp horns on the chin, which become pointier as they age.  Their defense is a honeysuckle scented breath that can put you to sleep for several hours.

The next is the most treasured of all metallics – the Gold dragon.  This particular breed is the Pearl Beauty.  They have two horns that jut sideways from their cheeks, and two very prominent horns that shoot back on their heads.  They also have beautiful tentacle whiskers on the top and bottom of their jaws, giving the appearance of a beard.  They also smell of saffron and incense.  Gold dragons live in elegant lairs of stone, whether a cave or castle, it matters not to these magnificent creatures as long as opulence surrounds them.  They are loyal, honest and wise and they can polymorph into animal or human.  In fact, they live most of their lives as humans, seeking out evil and bestowing justice upon it.  They are the most intelligent of all the dragons and grow to be around 60 feet long with an adult wingspan of 135 feet.  Though they do not like to fight, they will if they need to.  Their defense?  Fire.

Our third little guy is the Court Jester, a Copper dragon.  They are born tricksters and jokesters, and are quite devious and intelligent.  They are always out to impress their lesser counterparts with their intelligence and wit.  They grow to be about 40 feet and spit sweet-smelling acid to ward off enemies. As this little guy gets bigger, he’ll grow two horns on his head that will point back toward his tail.  He will also grow massive thigh and shoulder muscles which will make him a powerful jumper and climber.  This particular breed enjoys the company of humans and will do almost anything for a good scratch along their snouts.

Next we have a Bronze dragon. This particular breed is the Glimmer Ridgeback.  They are often thought of as arrogant and haughty. They cluster in groups near large bodies of water and can take on the form of an animal in order to observe humans.  Bronze dragons despise blue dragons, and they are vigilant in protecting their homes from them.  Most bronze dragons have three main large horns protruding from each cheek, pointing back towards the tail. They also have a couple more smaller horns. The tips of these points are black and very sharp, and are often used for grooming. They grow to be about 50 feet and use lightning bolts as their defense.

Last is the Darting Damsel, a rare Silver dragon.  Silvers live in the high mountains and fly the wind currents.  Often mistaken for clouds, they are extremely intelligent, can polymorph like Golds, and they flourish around the innocence of young children.  They are very protective and will defend their families, both human and dragon, to the death.  As you can see, they have a beautiful frill that begins at the top of the head and flows all the way down its neck and body to the tip of the tail. The frill is silver towards the body, fading to a purple hue at the edge.  In time, two long, smooth silver horns with black tips, will point up and back from the head. Males of the species will also grow a pronounced sharp frill under the chin, giving the rough appearance of a goatee. They have a very unique smell about them, almost like a mountain rain.  The average Silver grows to around 55 feet and use a freezing breath to stun or kill their enemies.

Well, there you have them, folks.  Five Metallic dragons.  Feel free to come up and take a look at them.  They won’t harm you.  Remember, they’re as curious about you as you are about them.  And please come back tomorrow when I’ll have the Chromatic dragons on display.  They’re beautiful to look at but would just as soon kill you as to look at you.  Wednesday I’ll have an array of Gem dragons you won’t want to miss.

Thank you for stopping in.  It’s always an extreme pleasure to meet others with the magical sight.   And as you journey in your day, keep your eyes open. You never know when you might be speaking with a dragon.

Heritage Village – a historical writer’s paradise


Today, hubby and I took a 10 minute drive to Heritage Village, a 21-acre living history museum located in the heart of Pinellas County, Florida. The natural pine and palmetto landscape is home to more than 28 historic structures and features, some dating back to the 19th century, include a school, church, sponge warehouse, railroad depot and store as well as a variety of historic homes.  Today, they also had an old car exhibit and blacksmith demonstrations.  I hope you enjoy the pics. If you hover your cursor over the pics, you can read a little bit of information about the picture.

                          

 

Another lovely blog award!


Lookie, Lookie!  I got an award today from the lovely and talented Jennifer Eaton!!   Thanks so much, writer buddy, friend, confidant and butt-kicker!  (she never stops hounding me to finish my novels.  Don’t let her sweet demeanor fool you.  She’s a tough beta!)

Anyway, I have to tell you guys seven things about me and then pass the award on to seven other unsuspecting bloggers so, here goes.

1.  I suffer horribly from ingrown toenails (yuck)

2.  I have a few more pounds on me than I did in high school (quite a few more, actually)

3.  My top 3 romantic comedy films are:  While You Were Sleeping, Kate and Leopold, and Simply Irresistable.

4.  I was a majorette in high school.

5.  I’m listed in the 1978 edition of Who’s Who Among American High School Students.

6.  I’ve been to, and fell in love with, Neuschwanstein Castle.

7.  I love live theater, operas and classical music performances.

Now, who to pass the torch to.

Jennifer Randolph

Amy Newman

Julie Catherine

Lori Freeland

Liza Kane

Pillows-a-la-Mode

Joanne Wadsworth

Congrats, ladies!  Happy Saturday!!

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse


Over the last year or so, the term, ‘zombie apocalypse’ has taken the U.S. and the world by storm.  In August, AMC and Thinkmodo teamed together, created a horde of Hollywood style zombies, and unleashed them on the streets of Manhattan to see what the public’s reaction would be to a real Dawn of the Dead invasion.  The responses were not all laughs.  In fact, some people, including children, were scared out of their minds.  I have my own ideas of pulling such a brilliant but stupid stunt, but I won’t bore you with my terse words or opinion.

After watching this, I had to ask myself  “What is the Zombie Apocalypse?”

Would you believe me if I said it has nothing to do with real zombies (or fake ones), rising from the graveyards of the world and stalking the living?  The term was actually created in May 2011 by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) as a promo to educate the general population, especially children and teens, about the dangers of real, life-threatening emergencies and how to stay protected in the event of one.  But why zombies?

According to an interview with Maggie Silver, one of the CDC’s zombie campaign’s masterminds, “People were starting to realize they need to work outside the box a little bit and try some new ideas” to get the message of preparedness across.

Unfortunately, people are taking the term literally not figuratively and are not preparing for any sort of  ‘apocalypse’ if one should come.  There are many, many ‘survival’ websites out there that list supplies everyone should have on hand at all times in the event of a disaster or war.  Living in a hurricane region, I know the importance of having the essentials on hand long before the disaster arrives.  If you wait for the disaster to hit, the necessities of life will vanish from the shelves and you won’t be able to get them.  What are some things survivalist sites say you should have on hand in the event of a major disaster/war/apocalypse?

  • Water purification systems
  • Tactical body armor and equipment (people will try to take from you, even kill you, because they didn’t prepare.  This is not fantasy.  It is fact)
  • Tactical medical equipment
  • Emergency food and kits
  • Tactical and weapon carrier backpacks
  • Dark ops knives, scopes and weapons lights
  • Trauma kits

I know the list reads like something out of a fantasy/dystopian novel, and I know a lot of people think this sort of preparedness is folly, but with war and drought looming around the globe, food prices sky-rocketing, and people out of work with no money to fall on, disaster is just around the corner.  And think about it…if the CDC is trying to prepare us, what do they know we don’t?  I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I can connect the dots.

My mom told me the only thing that got her and her family through the Great Depression was preparedness.  While others laughed at them, my mom’s parents saw the signs and began hording food, blankets, water, medical supplies, money, etc.  Because they prepared, they were able to survive the worst of one of the  darkest times in U.S. history.

Lessons are learned if we pay attention to history and if we learn from the experiences of our parents and grand-parents.  While real zombies are unlikely to walk the earth, there are real, tangible threats to all of us, and it never hurts to prepare for them…especially if those few steps can save you or your family’s life.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

(What does this have to do with writing fantasy?  Everything, especially when two worlds are at war.  Remember, the best themes for fiction come from reality.)

catchy, double-meaning blog titles: are they harmful or helpful to your blog?


Yesterday I had 620 hits on my blog, all because I used three words in my title:  “Are Those Real?”

The article was about finding inspiration for writing fantasy by discovering unusual, unique sea creatures that look like something out of a fantasy/sci-fi novel.   The question “Are those real?” tend to always escape our lips when we find something so extraordinarily and unbelievably beautiful and strange.

The title, however, may have misled people into thinking they were going to get  something quite different.  (I do have to say, though, I had 79 searches for blue dragon, blue mollusk and sea swallow which did appear in my post.)  While I love getting 620 hits in one day, I somehow felt like I let a bunch of people down.  It was also not an accurate number of hits for my blog.  And if the traffic was due to a double-entendre, then the traffic was ‘wrong’ for my site.  I have no way of proving this, however, so I’m going to relish in the numbers for 24 hours.

I’m a Young/New Adult fantasy author.  My blog is devoted to the art of writing and anything to do with fantasy…the dragon kind, that is, not erotica.

While a catchy title landed traffic on my blog, was it the kind of traffic I wanted? I’m not sure.  What I do know is that I’d rather have a small, faithful following I can talk to and interact with than mega numbers with no personalities behind them.  Of course I want lots of hits and followers on my blog, but I don’t want to sacrifice my integrity for them.  Now, if a gazillion YA readers and fantasy fans wandered by my site every day, I would be very, very happy.  🙂

What about you, fellow bloggers?  Do you think catchy, double-meaning titles are harmful or helpful to blogs?

Are those real?


As a fantasy writer, I’m always looking for inspiration on which to build characters, creatures, settings, etc.  Many times, I’m amazed by my own ideas born from my dreams and imagination.

Then I stumble upon something in reality that makes my dreams and imagination look like child’s play.

Not long ago, I posted pictures of the weedy and leafy sea dragons:

Today, I stumbled upon something just as intense and elegant…and it comes in the form of a mollusk.  Let me introduce you to the Blue Dragon (a.k.a. sea Swallow)…

Isn’t it beautiful!  And it has the name ‘dragon’ in it which makes it even more intriguing.

Check out this transparent sea cucumber.  Doesn’t it look like it came right out of a sci-fi novel?

Just goes to show…sometimes inspiration for fiction can be found simply by opening one’s eyes to reality.

Wasting Time


We all waste time, whether by daydreaming, playing a casual game of Solitaire or Angry Birds while at work, or watching television when there’s a bathroom to clean or dishes to wash.  But is wasting time good or bad for us?  Actually, it’s both.

Taking breaks, a.k.a. wasting time, is our body’s natural defense to stress, to excessive overload.  We all know stress is a nasty beast.  It’s sneaky and if not kept in check, it will play havoc with our health and disrupt our well-being.  It will even kill if not confronted and fought on a daily basis.  That’s why it is important in our busy lives to take time out for ourselves each day to relax.  Some ways to de-stress are:

  • Reading
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Exercise (even just a walk around the block can do wonders for the psyche)
  • Writing/Journaling
  • Hot bubble baths
  • Yoga
  • Game-playing
  • Gardening
  • Eating correctly, and last but not least
  • Sex

But be careful.  Too much of a good thing can also be counter-productive.

In our stressful lives, it is easy to become distracted, to not focus on the tasks at hand and get through them.  Sometimes we tend to look for ways to put off that dreaded doctor’s exam or finish the colossal report due at the end of the week.  We  procrastinate, make excuses, and lie to ourselves that we have it under control.  In the end, this only serves to harm us by placing even more undue stress upon our bodies and mind.

Too much wasting time has another harmful effect:  we lose sight of our goals, of what’s important.  Of our dreams.  Deadlines loom closer and we panic because we allowed time to get away.  Dreams fade because we frittered away the time necessary to make them come true.  Then we wake up, old, worn out and spiritually unfulfilled, and wonder where the time went.

As with anything in life, the key to success is balance.  We all must learn to unwind, relax, take a bubble bath at the end of the day and not feel guilty.  At the same time, we must also confront life head on if we are ever to reach our goals and fulfill our dreams.  Life is tough, but the human psyche is tougher.  All we have to do is wake up with a positive attitude and make each day count.  We never know what tomorrow brings.  Don’t stress it.  Don’t waste it.  Live it.