I miss those wet stockings you used to have hanging around the bathroom. And I miss my razor being dull because you used it to shave your legs with. And I miss the hairpins mixed up with the fishhooks in my tackle box.
My dearest sweetheart, Klara, I can’t stand it any longer. Take your key and open post office box 237 and take me out of my envelope… and kiss me…
After choosing these, I realized the most appealing thing to me in a love story is sacrifice, whether it’s through waiting or giving without expecting anything in return. I hope you’ve had a lovely February! Expect another post tomorrow because I plan to update my blog Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in March.
The first thing I thought of when I read “Be Kind to Food Servers Month” was ball-shaped instant mashed potatoes plopped onto my plate by a lady behind a cafeteria counter with a hairnet and a mustache. I shouldn’t tell you that because my grandmother was the head cook for a school cafeteria for many years. Before I knew this I had the impression cafeteria ladies couldn’t cook. The truth is: the recipes are strictly regulated by policies and budgets. My grandmother told me she used to cheat, and her food was so good the powers that be overlooked it. And she doesn’t have a mustache, so I believe her.
Not just the cafeteria lady deserves kindness. There are a host of servers who bow to our demands and whims in eating establishments everywhere. And what about the food servers who don’t see a paycheck for their trouble? Remember the mom from A Christmas Story who hadn’t had a hot meal in 15 years? Yeah, don’t be mama’s little piggy; give your food server an extra helping of kindness.
Today happens to be Appreciate a Dragon Day. This tradition was started in 2004 by Dragonspell author, Donita K. Paul. No, you don’t have to appreciate all dragons, just a dragon. I’m not sure if I properly appreciate the grumpy, igniting ones.
Have you ever researched dragons? It’s quite fun. In one of my dragon-curious moments, I found a great book, How to Raise and Keep a Dragon. It discusses a few of the known types of dragons, their general temperaments, and the life expectancy for each dragon type. (It varies because, you know, some are land dragons and some are aquatic dragons. Some are social and some are reclusive. Some don’t like red meat, and some will eat nothing but.)
The Dracorex Hogwartsia got me started on dragonlore. (The original skull is flatter than the link above portrays, by the way.)
Dracorex inspired me to write about Kapyn, my wyvern-influenced dragon in Dragonfly Prince. From there, a whole world unfolded, and I’ve been exploring it ever since.
So I’ll be appreciating Kapyn today—his faceted eyes with ruby glow, his two sets of wings, and his craving for the Itra stone. Even if he is a grumpy, fire-breathing nuisance at times.
It’s International Brain Teaser month! Yes, brain teasers the whole month long! Gollum would be so excited. (No, he wouldn’t. Yes he would, preciousss.)
Did you know there are open-skull procedures in which the patient is kept actively answering simple brain teasers to test the healthy activity of the patient’s brain during the surgery? I read that somewhere…
Anyway, rev up your thinker a bit with this little conundrum:
“What has a mouth but cannot eat, what moves but has no legs and what has a bank but cannot put money in it?”
Gollum knows the answer. I bet you do, too.
Here’s another one:
“A man wanted to encrypt his password but he needed to do it in a way so that he could remember it. He had to use 7 characters consisting of letters and numbers only (no symbols like ! or <). In order to remember it, he wrote down ‘You force heaven to be empty.’ Can you tell me what his password was?”
It’s John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. And he was born January 3, 1892.
Quick: how many years ago was that? Right, 121. (Okay, so I used my calculator to double-check my math. It’s not exactly my strong point.)
At the beginning of the school year, the kids and I read The Hobbit and loved it. My husband took us all to see the movie. It was great, except he didn’t tell me what everybody else in that theater already knew.
What? I thought, as the scene at the eagle’s aerie faded and the credits rolled. Is this a joke? I looked around me and saw moviegoers beginning to stand. I looked at my husband and said, “Where’s the end?”
“It’s the first part.”
“The first part!? Of how many?”
I sat there dazed, arguing, “But The Hobbit is only one book!”
Then I understood why the dwarf-gathering at Bilbo’s house took up nearly half the movie, and why I had to sit through Richard Armitage’s sonorous crooning that—I admit this—I questioned to be his own voice. There were a good many additions in the movie. Would Tolkien have approved? Who knows? I think Peter Jackson made the plot much more dramatic. And that’s good.
I’m celebrating Tolkien’s birthday by posting the link to my one and only attempt at writing Tolkien-style. It’s a one-shot called, “The Fate of the Ents.” If you’re curious and love Middle-earth tales, take a look.
After looking over client lists of agents to get a taste of what literary agencies are endorsing, I’m thinking it’s time I learned the Jedi mind trick. Have you read some authors’ bios lately?
Initial. Initial. Smarmy was terminally ill from the age of two, which explains much of the philosophical trauma he endured as a child. In his teens, he established his own business, ‘Nightshade Window Treatments,’ from which a friendly cult began, dedicated to educating others about the advantages of poisonous vegetation. A part-time volunteer for the Association for the Beautification of Carnivorous Reptiles, he paints abstract portraits on crocodile teeth to help raise funds and awareness. He has a pet platypus that travels with him to book signings because ‘Curby’ won’t sleep unless he’s wrapped in Smarmy’s silk scarf. Smarmy always wears this scarf; it marks his triumph over his 14-year addiction to Ace of Base.
Okay, I would love to read this in a real bio. My own will include my short stint as a bad fortune-teller and my award for being the worst slob at camp. But I can’t compete. Padawan training, you are my only hope.
When I began writing Dragonfly Prince, I was recovering from an abysmal first attempt at fantasy. I was 25 chapters into a story set in a medieval times alternate universe sans Catholic influence. (Ever tried omitting Catholic influence from the Middle Ages? Ha!) My challenge was to merge the Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, and Rapunzel archetypes into a seamless tale of tragedy, mystery, sorcery and heroism. My mission was to follow multiple male and female protagonists of different races who would discover their strengths and rise above their harsh circumstances, forming alliances to bring a new era of peace. I named it, “Daughters of the King’s Forest.” I fed the story with a caboodle of research, and it grew and grew to epic proportions. Then it wanted more.
It wanted created languages and descriptive background stories. It wanted clever riddles. It was like Tolkien meets Ivanhoe, who saves Little Red Riding Hood. I even developed a renga for the dwarves – which were giants because that made them more intimidating to the Snow White character. If you’re not familiar with a renga, it is a genre of social poetry; it requires more than one participant. And there I was, writing a poem by myself that relies on the filters and experiences of multiple contributors to make the transitional passages unique. I was becoming Doctor Frankenstein, mad in my drive to make my story-monster live.
I pushed back from my desk one day and realized I was not enjoying the story anymore. So, I quit. I think it’s okay to quit. Mainly because I did it. And you can do it, too. (This is the motivational portion of my blog today.)
Then I panicked. I’d just devoted hours and hours of my busy life to what I’d planned to be my magnum opus, only to find it was epic alright: Epic fail. I couldn’t even read through it myself, so you know how bad that is. I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, I was staring into the sluggish, burping pit of Mordor, watching the story I’d been lugging around for months melt away. I was painfully aware of the emptiness it left behind; my mind kept returning to it out of habit. What could I do to make it go away? Give up writing?
It was around October when I went back to the drawing board to revamp my goals. For this I am very thankful because most of the writers’ forums were ablaze with “Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?” Thank you, NaNoWriMo, for existing because, though I’ve never participated in writing a 50K story in one month, you gave me an idea. I decided to try my own NaNo-like challenge. I thought it would be more reasonable for me to try for 40K by writing a 5-7 pages twice a week for 2 to 3 months. My story was going to be set in an author-created environment – no research required. There was to be no background story. My main characters were going to be normal people – no valiant knights and magic-wielding witches. Immediately, I thought, “I can handle this.” The challenge was to keep it simple and hit my goal, forget about that greatest-masterpiece-ever-composed stuff. I just had to write, like the NaNoWriMo site advises.
To keep myself accountable, I posted it in a generic category on Fanfiction. Those who contributed to the 400+ reviews for the rough draft chapters of Dragonfly Prince know what happened. And if that’s all the recognition my story ever receives, I’m really okay with that. Some of the most intelligent, supportive reviewers picked it up and ran with it. I started seeing traits in other stories in that category, obvious spin-offs of the environment I’d introduced. How cool is the influence of being a writer? Very.
So, the moral is: If at first you don’t succeed, you might be overcomplicating things. Consider a quick check in the mirror for telltale signs. Have you been sporting the mad scientist look lately?