Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Location: Misbehaving in Candlelight

Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Saturday, March 31, 2007



The Dragon Thanks Megan Kissinger
Or...wrapping up our first artist week

The image above is the map on Onweald that Megan created for Choices Meant for Gods. As she explained earlier this week, she took a rough sketch (emphasis on rough) I provided her and drew the world on tracing paper. Together, we figured out how wide rivers should be, how far different cities were supposed to be from each other, what kind of artistic elements Megan could add in to give the map more flair (as if all her detail wasn't flair enough!), etc.

When she had a drawing that she felt captured the map I had in my head, she scanned it in to her computer and we sat in front of the monitor moving elements, fixing name spellings, and deciding things like whether the chalice should be up in Mahriket near the river where Chariss is to use it or in the Freotho Mountains where Chariss is to find it, etc.

The process of building a fantasy world absolutely requires a map so the writer can keep track of places, story developments, where characters travel, and so much more. For those of us who are artistically challenged (and if you've ever seen an ad I've created, you'll understand just how artistically challenged I am), we really ought to turn to someone like Megan who has true artistic skill to help us make the world "tangible". Megan didn't just create a map I could look at and follow and keep beside the computer for easy reference. She made something that is worthy of publication. It's appearing in Choices Meant for Gods with her name on it. What breaks my heart is that it's appearing in black and white. That's why I take every opportunity I can to plaster the map in color on promotional materials. It's truly a beautiful piece.

Here at The Dragon, we're pretty doggone proud that we got to host Megan for a week. I hope that her expertise gave good insight to those of you who stopped in to read. And, Megan, thank you for your time! Our next guest will be author Jamieson Wolf one week from today. Saturday, April 7, Jamieson joins us to talk about writing, specifically his new non-fiction self-help eBook, WRITE NOW!

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Word of the Day
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Tapestry (noun) – A heavy fabric with a scene or design woven into it; a heavy textile fabric having a design woven across the warp used for wall hangings, furniture coverings, etc. – a famous tapestry is the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the obnoxious William the Conqueror showing up and defeating the Anglo-Saxons in 1066 – Harold, I just can’t forgive ya, Darlin’ (from Middle English tapstery)

Word in a Sentence: (Today's sentence is straight out of Chapter Two of Choices Meant for Gods, which I think I'm allowed to do in a public forum now that the book is published.) Godric’s voice boomed as it left his chest, but the stones and their blankets of tapestries absorbed the sound, muffling it with the doors standing guard against the travelers.

(Well, now doesn't that read strangely out of context? Sorry. But you know what a tapestry is.)
Your turn! Do you have any good artistic and lovely sentences in you today?

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Branching Out
Or…Megan suggests how to keep your art arsenal fresh

As our week with Megan Kissinger draws to a close, Megan offers a final bit of advice for the aspiring artist that speaks to my heart. Although Choices Meant for Gods is a fantasy novel that's just been released, I’m not one to focus on just one genre in writing…

The Dragon: If an aspiring artist has a particular style or medium he enjoys more than another, do you recommend he focus on that one, perfecting it, or continue to try to branch out and learn/practice multiple techniques/styles?

Megan Kissinger: Both actually. It’s good to have something you love and you are good at but it’s also a refreshing change of pace to try many things. It expands your creativity and knowledge of tools and materials. I find sculpture and collage to be wonderfully freeing probably because I do it for myself instead of for my job. It does have a tendency to clutter up the garage, though.

The Dragon: We’ll recap what we’ve discussed with Megan tomorrow morning. For now, I thank the artists who have visited The Dragon this week and hope you’ve each gained something useful from her years of wisdom and training and expertise that she’s been so kind as to share here.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Word of the Day
Friday, March 30, 2007
Calligraphy (noun) – the art of fine handwriting/penmanship (from Greek kalligraphia); Megan Kissinger does amazing, gorgeous, beautiful calligraphy work

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Amanda Chariss has fine penmanship because Hrazon and others have taught her to read and write over the years, but she has no need in the first book of the trilogy to write anything in so fancy a style as calligraphy.

Your turn! Do you have any fanciful and lovely sentences to dazzle me with today?

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mediums
Or…acrylic paint and other artist faves

Today at The Dragon, Megan Kissinger shares her favorite medium in which to work! So today is more of a fun day, but artists can still learn something very valuable in her answers below…if you watch closely…

The Dragon: What is your favorite medium to work with?
Megan Kissinger: Acrylic paint on canvas.

The Dragon: What do you like about working with acrylics?
Megan Kissinger: I can work large and acrylic paint allows for a very realistic look. In my bird paintings that I love the most, I can get every feather, every glint in the eye, just the way I want it to look.

The Dragon: When/how did you discover acrylic-on-canvas and what was your first project in it (if you even remember!)?

Megan Kissinger: Google the name Carl Schwartz. I became twice the artist I had been when I took a painting techniques class from him. He teaches artists to really see. Not just what we presume something looks like, but truly what is there. A graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, he was one of the pioneer artists of acrylic paint. He even worked for a time for one of the companies (maybe Windsor & Newton or Liquitex, I’m not sure) traveling around showing off the versatility of acrylic. He explained to me how the paint works at the microscopic level, some techniques to get a painting to pop and sparkle, such as underpainting, glazing, color theory and brush techniques. On the second day of class, I went out and found the biggest canvas I could and painted a larger-than-life Sandhill Crane. It was the best thing I had ever painted and is the only painting I will never sell. My kids will probably fight over it after I’m dead. Carl and I still keep in touch although not as often as I’d like with family and work obligations.

The Dragon: For visitors, here are a couple links to Carl E. Schwartz, but I recommend following Megan’s advice and researching this gentleman yourself to gather more information to satisfy your curiosity:
http://www.askart.com/AskART/artists/search/Search_Repeat.aspx?searchtype=IMAGES&artist=73786

http://www.askart.com/AskART/artists/biography.aspx?searchtype=BIO&artist=73786

The interview with Megan concludes tomorrow…
“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Canvas or Plastic
Or...The Dragon went canvas before San Fransisco did

It's a silly headline, I know, but I prepare this blog pretty early in the morning, before I'm actually awake, and then post it while considering some pretty bizarre rush hour traffic I'm about to plunge into...

So I'm sure everyone's heard by now that San Francisco has elected to do something intelligent: the legislators have banned the use of plastic bags in many retail stores. There are still more than 100,000 stores that are exempt (for some reason or another - the conspiracy theorist that hides within me suspects campaign funding, but that's neither here nor there). The point of this post is to congratulate the city on taking the step, and to congratulate the media on blasting the news.

I'd also like to state that here at The Dragon, we've made the conscious decision to purchase canvas bags with the cover of Choices Meant for Gods and the now-famous slogan "Some days, I just want the dragon to win" emblazoned on them to help promote the release of the fantasy novel. My good friend and valuable vendor Marcy Koral, of www.okkoralmarketing.com, met with me yesterday to place the order. Dude, those things aren't cheap! But she's a good vendor; she knows how to get a good deal, where to find the sales and when. So my four-color cover will appear on 250 canvas bags to be distributed in a manner befitting a well-thought-out marketing campaign as I appear at different book signings and conventions this summer and fall. I'll keep you posted!

In the meantime, I want to reiterate what San Francisco has modeled for us this week: plastic bags pollute our environment. They feed sea turtles and trees. (Neither species needs bags in their diet, by the way.) They clog up drains to promote flash floods. The list could go on, but I'll just bore you with facts you already know. So the next time you hear of Sandy Lender appearing near you for a book signing, drop in to get a copy of Choices Meant for Gods and pick up a canvas bag with the cover all fabulous and colorful on the front so you can use it when you go shopping - instead of contributing to the pollution in your neighborhood.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Word of the Day
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Tempera (noun) – Any paint in which pigment is mixed (or tempered) with a water-based binding medium (usually egg yolk is used as the binding medium)

Word in a Sentence: On the back cover of Choices Meant for Gods, the exquisite map that Megan Kissinger created appears to have been painted with tempera colors applied by thin and specialized brushes.

Your turn! Do you have any artists or works to write a sentence about today?

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Megan Discusses Research Methods for Artists
Or…here are some ideas for keeping concepts at hand

The Dragon continues the interview with artist Megan Kissinger, focusing on research methods for artists to have in their arsenal. Over the years, Sandy has worked with artists who had literally dozens of horizontal file cabinets filled with line art, photographs, images, etc. Some artists were more organized than others with their filing systems… Some artists graduated to the way-too-expensive $200 and $500 and whatever-dollar CDs of images and online warehouses like Getty Images and Corvis. Today, Megan shares her system.

The Dragon: The illustrations you create for the Ft. Myers News Press are a world away from the art I asked you to create for the interior of Choices Meant for Gods. In the newspaper, your subject matter can be anything from butterflies to houses to sports. How do you research your subject matter for the real-world elements demanded of you at the News Press and how is that research method the same as or different from the research you did when you created the map of Onweald and its peripheral pieces?

Megan Kissinger: So far the illustrations that I do come in three categories:
1. Illustrations for graphics that the paper produces to aid the understanding of an article. An example would be last week’s illustration of the anatomy of a giant squid that went along with the article that ran on the discovery of giant squids in the Atlantic ocean. I was basically given the job of illustrating it as close to reality as I could within the time span and space given. What you might call quick and (hopefully) not too dirty.
2. Illustrations that I do for lead articles (the center spread of the front page of a section.) These are planned out a little more in advance with anywhere from two days to three weeks notice. I work with the reporter, the section editor, and the artistic editor. The finished product is still my creation but only after many changes and input from them. This is an example where computer illustration is so versatile. I can make changes to the layers, the colors, and the textures. Not so easy with traditional art.
3. Presentation graphics (my favorite) large, two-page, heavily illustrated articles that I usually research and write myself. The secret is to let the pictures tell the story with a short introduction and breakout text boxes to explain the illustrations in depth. I just finished one of a four-part series on the constellations and night sky events in Spring. This will be followed by three more in Summer, Fall, and Winter.

Research methods vary, but basically Google image search has replaced the old traditional picture file an artist used to keep. Now I save images that may be helpful to my work and bring four or five up on the computer desktop as reference. The library is another valuable resource…better often than Google because the internet usually has no editors making sure everything you read is correct. It’s amazing the amount of bad information there is out there. Finally, field work is great, a good excuse to get out of the office, too.

All of the research for Onweald was already done by you, Sandy. If you remember all those months ago, the illustration began with a handdrawn map written on a crumply piece of blue-lined paper. I took it home and produced a larger thumbnail sketch on tracing paper that was then edited for mistakes and additions. I think we went through this process about three times until we had the basic land mass done in pen and ink. I read all of the Lord of the Rings books as a kid and was shooting for something similar to Middle Earth. Then there was the challenge of making sure the geography jived with the story. This was the part where Sandy had to travel to my studio with a plate of brownies and we spent one day and another evening moving the swamps, mountains, rivers, and twons around until we got it right. Then there were a few calls at midnight from Sandy saying, “Oh my God! Pesch Dell is at the base of the mountains but it’s also on the river! Can you move it a little to the East?”
(The compass rose above is one of Megan's peripheral pieces from the map of Onweald now published in Choices Meant for Gods.)

The Dragon: How would you guide a new artist who was interested in finding research sites or material for the more lucrative (paying) markets in the real world?

Megan Kissinger: Lucrative markets! Where? What is this real-world thing? As far as I know, art only pays well for a fraction of a percent of all the artists out there. Money can be made but to be well paid requires a great deal of skill, work, and, most of all, dumb luck.

The interview with Megan continues tomorrow…
“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
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Word of the Day
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Fixative (noun) – A substance that is applied (usually with a diffuser or some sort of aerosol spray) to keep finished drawings from smudging

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, the people in Onweald society do not possess the technology to apply fixatives to their artwork through methods such as aerosol sprays, and would have to use something akin to paintbrushes.

Your turn! Do you have anything artistic in mind to build a sentence around? Mine was a bizarre stretch today...

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Megan Offers School Advice
Or…here’s how Megan became successful

As part of our week of hosting Megan Kissinger, artist extraordinaire, she’s answering some questions to help aspiring artists see some of the ins and outs of a career in this field. Whether a person is interested in graphic or fine art, the path isn’t an easy one to clear. Sandy Lender has hired and worked with her share of graphic artists over the years in the magazine publishing industry and can offer one viewpoint to an artist who wants to ask questions, but Megan offers a better viewpoint: the artist’s viewpoint. Megan can tell you how she selected her course of study and how she worked her way into the fulltime position she has now. Megan brings a wealth of good, solid information to visitors of The Dragon this week.

The Dragon: Let’s start off by finding out how you got into art. It’s obvious this is a gift you have. How did you discover it and how/when did you decide you liked it?

Megan Kissinger: I was an artist from as far back as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is drawing a house with the obligatory M-shaped birds in the sky and the happy sun face peeking out of the corner. Except for that short time of wanting to be an EMT (don’t ask!), I never wavered from art as a career. It’s just as well…I would have been a terrible paramedic. Art can’t kill a person…well, except for Van Gogh and all of that cadmium in his paint. They say that was what made him go insane and commit suicide.

I am primarily a visual person. An artist needs powerful observational skills because the eye is the artist’s true tool. I took all my notes in high school and college in illustration form, drawing out all of the diagrams and concepts because I could remember them easier than when they were just written down.

The Dragon: What year did you decide to go to school for your art degree? What point were you at in your life and why did you feel the art degree was the right goal to pursue?

Megan Kissinger: I started at the University of West Florida in 1984 but only had two years before I relocated to South Florida. There was no four-year school here at the time so I worked as close to art as I could, in galleries as a framer and manager. After my kids began school, I finally had the time and money to return to school. I only recently finished my degree 20+ years after beginning it.

The Dragon: What advice would you give to students (both traditional and non) who are just getting ready for art school or an art program this fall? What can they do this summer to get a head start on the right attitude and the right mechanics/technical angle for entering a program at the university level?

Megan Kissinger: 1. Think about the type of art you want to be involved in. Fine art is a completely different animal than graphic art. They require different mindsets in order to pursue them successfully. Tailor your education toward the type of artist you see yourself as in the future. Finding the right program for you is more important than going to a certain “name-brand” school. Smaller art departments mean more one-on-one help from the professor and better access to studio equipment for the fine artist. Technical schools will have the technology and design know-how for artists seeking work as graphic artists and designers.

2. The art world isn’t like the business world. Your career as an artist will depend more upon how good an artist you are, not what school you graduated from. The first thing a prospective employer wants to see is your portfolio, not your GPA.

3. Don’t be too practical. Even though I felt I was a good artist, I didn’t seek work as an “artist” right away. I was too practical; I got a job at a sign company silkscreening real-estate signs and routing letters and logos. I had another job as a framer in art galleries thinking that I should find some tangible use for my ability. I regret spending so many years in that sort of work because it wasn’t until I began to use my more creative side that I became more successful. The one good thing that came from those jobs was the work experience. The real world doesn’t grade on a curve; it’s strictly pass or fail and you learn stuff more quickly when your job depends upon it. Take every internship you possibly can; it will get you farther faster.

The most important piece of advice I could give to anyone considering the field is that the dreamy, creative part of my job makes up about 10 percent of the total work involved in bringing a painting or a design to a successful finish. Craftsmanship, precision, and dogged determination to push through indecision and fatigue are what separate the serious artists from the posers. I guess it makes it sound kind of boring, but art is a career like any other and it requires work. The payoff for me as an artist is when I sell a painting or finish a successful illustration; it’s a wonderful feeling.

The interview with Megan continues tomorrow…
“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Word of the Day
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Mosaic (noun) – the art of making pictures out of tiny pieces of colored glass (or colored marble or whatever else) – the tiny pieces are referred to as “tesserae”; the glass enamel pieces are called “smalti”

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, intricate mosaics adorn the walls of the temple built to The Master in the city of Arcana.

Your turn! What artistic sentence can you come up with for us in honor of our guest at The Dragon today?

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”


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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Dragon Welcomes Megan Kissinger
Or…learn from a master artist this week

Megan Kissinger brings a wealth of artistic know-how to The Dragon this week. From personal advice to personal anecdotes, here’s an artist who’s willing to open up and give it to you straight. Artists, welcome to The Dragon and to the words of wisdom from Southwest Florida’s own artist extraordinaire.

How we met
In early 2005, I had the pleasure of hiring Megan to work as a graphic artist for The Angelus newspaper in Southwest Florida. The institution that published/bankrolled the fledgling paper also needed an artist for creating marketing pieces, flyers, invitations to events, calligraphy work for special events, and myriad other projects that would boggle the mind if listed here. Needless to say, Megan needed to be versatile. She needed computer graphic art skills on both Mac and PC platforms. She needed fine art skills. She needed a keen eye for space, concept, color, and typestyle.

She had it all.

And it certainly didn’t hurt that this well-rounded artist had a pleasant, calm personality that could set the institution’s president’s wife at ease when that woman came tearing into our office with demands that had to be set in front of our other deadlines (plural). Megan could also set crazy, demanding advertisers at ease. Color me thrilled. She was an associate publisher’s dream-come-true.

Neither of us works at that institution any longer, praise God, but we’ve kept in touch. You see, one day, I looked at Megan and said, “Hey, could you help me with something completely non-work-related?” Thus the map for Choices Meant for Gods was born. I couldn’t have selected a better person to create that work of art. I don’t know how thrilled she was by the end of the process…

Megan’s insane list of credentials
I could take up pages of internet space listing Megan’s awards and accolades. So let me hit a couple recent highlights just to give you an idea of what she’s capable of. As a new illustrator with the Ft. Myers News Press, she won an SND.ies award from the Society of News Design. These are international awards so her team was up against the world. The Society of News Design, North Kingstown, R.I., was founded in 1979 with the mission of enhancing communication around the world through excellence in visual journalism.

She’s also participating in the Tropicalia’s April Fool’s Day issue, creating “The Foolish Field Guide,” which lets her creative streak really run wide. She’s made up a plethora of funky critters for people to “watch for” on their nature walks around Southwest Florida.

In something less electronic, Megan won a regional award with a metal sculpture of Sandhill Cranes about a year or so ago. Because I worked with her at the time, I got to witness the new cuts and gashes she sported as the birds took shape…

Now she has 15 pieces selected for display in the new luxury condominium high rise Oasis by The Related Group (check it out at http://www.oasisfortmyers.com). Five hundred artists submitted works for this Southwest Florida community, but only 50 made the cut. One of Megan’s sculptures will be displayed in the site’s sculpture garden.

What Megan brings to The Dragon
The examples I’ve listed of Megan’s accomplishments are just a spattering of what she’s capable of, but they demonstrate her skill in both the computer graphics and fine art realms of the art world. That’s a rarity in artists. At least it’s rare for an artist to be “good” at both. Trust me: I’ve seen a lot of portfolios in my day. My positions with the companies I’ve worked for have involved hiring not just the artist who lays out the magazine, but the artist who develops the website or the corporate image or the marketing pieces, etc. Finding someone who can blend the skills Megan does is a blessing, and it was an honor to work with her in our professional setting back at that institution I mentioned and when we were creating the map for Choices Meant for Gods.

The information Megan shares with aspiring artists this week is the real deal. Enjoy! We’ll start the interview and share some images starting tomorrow morning.

http://www.artroyale2006.com/artists.html

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Word of the Day
Monday, March 26, 2007
Our words this week celebrate art because we’re celebrating the world’s most fabulous living artist: Megan Kissinger! Welcome to The Dragon, Megan!

Fresco (noun) – A method of wall painting where pigments are mixed with water and applied to an intonaco, which is a layer of damp lime plaster that absorbs the pigments and binds them so that they become a part of the wall, making the picture/painting a part of the wall’s surface

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, the frescos on the walls of The Master’s temple are as faded as the faith of the priests who don’t recognize Him when He visits looking or a book of instruction.

Your turn! What artistic sentences do you have in you today?

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Dragon Will Host Artist Megan Kissinger This Week
Or...Choices Meant for Gods cartographer shares insight and advice for aspiring artists

This week at The Dragon we’ll feature Megan Kissinger, a Southwest Florida artist who produced the map of Onweald and peripheral art pieces for Choices Meant for Gods. Megan is one of those rare artists to whom God has granted a soft spirit, an enormous gift, and the ability to paint, draw, sculpt, and mold with her hands as well as create images on the computer screen. Yes, sit up and take notes, she isn’t just a graphic designer who can work in Pagemaker, InDesign, Quark XPress, Illustrator, and PhotoShop, she can paint a bird on canvas that looks as if he’s about to fly off into the sunset.

I am honored and blessed to have her handiwork appearing in the pages of Choices Meant for Gods. Next week, visitors to The Dragon will be just as blessed by words of wisdom offering insight and advice for aspiring artists. We’ll start the week tomorrow morning with an article that tells you a little more about Megan Kissinger’s activities and follow it the rest of the week with interviews that show her answering questions that inform and educate artists and their authors.

Let everyone know to join us here at www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Word of the Day
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Conspicuous (adjective) – Easy to notice; obvious; attracting attention because something (or someone) is unusual or remarkable (from Latin conspicere, meaning to look at closely or observe)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Chariss thinks people remember her because of the conspicuous amethyst on her cheek bone, high up near the corner of her right eye, but Nigel Taiman would correct her and explain that she’s remembered wherever she goes because she’s the most beautiful, fair creature in all of Onweald. (Of course, Nigel is biased…)

Your turn! Any obvious sentences come to mind?

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

New Features on ArcheBooks Site Link to The Dragon
Or...cross promotion is great

You can see all sorts of info about Choices Meant for Gods at www.archebooks.com, and you can chat with other authors there. Go the the main site and click on either the chat room (to see when new author chats are schedule - Sandy Lender will have one Tuesday, April 10 - I believe at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) or on the archebooks forum to enter a message board that's just getting built for the writing community.

Nigel and I have already joined both.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Word of the Day
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Inveigh (intransitive verb) – To protest angrily, vehemently; to give censure angrily; to vent; to rail (from Latin)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Godric inveighs Chariss’s presence in his home for fear that she will either bring attention to, or upset his plans with, powerful and negative alliances in Onweald.

Your turn! Do you have any vehement sentences in you today?

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Friday, March 23, 2007

A Joke from a friend of The Dragon
Or…this has nothing to do with writing


Yesterday, I posted a Grammar Guide but forgot Word of the Day. Today, I remembered Word of the Day, but I’m going to forego the hard sell on Choices Meant for Gods (even though I’m still pretty doggone excited about the fact that it’s at the printer and my publisher has plastered the cover and some reviews of it on the front page of his website…that’s just pretty darn cool, if you ask me. www.archebooks.com. Check it out and be stunned like I was.) Instead: Here’s something just a little off the wall before you get to the Word of the Day post. Enjoy!

In a dark and gloomy room, the fortune teller was startled by what she saw in her crystal ball. She looked up at her customer sitting across the table. “There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just be blunt. Prepare yourself to be a widow. Your husband will die a violent and horrible death this year.”

Visibly shaken, the woman stared at the psychic’s lined face, and then at the single flickering candle, and then down at her hands…

She took a few deep breaths to compose herself. She simply had to know. She met the fortune teller’s gaze, steadied her voice, and asked:

“Will I get away with it?”

(There are many visitors who will understand and appreciate the value of this joke in my life. Jeni, thank you for sharing it with me. You rock…as usual.)

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Word of the Day
Friday, March 23, 2007
Watch the Word of the Day listings next week for artistic words to celebrate our guest artist, Megan Kissinger!

Tanist (noun) – The heir apparent to the chief; the second-in-line who is usually elected during the clan chief’s lifetime among the ancient Celts (from Irish Gaelic tanaiste meaning “second person”)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Godric is adamant that Jake Taiman shall be his tanist, and not his eldest son Nigel.

Your turn! Give me a genealogical sentence today!

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Grammar Guide
Nauseate Versus Nauseous

In common conversation, people are prone to hyperbole (exaggeration) and sometimes say that something “makes me nauseous.” We all understand that what the person means to imply is that something makes him sick. What he’s actually saying is something is making him turn into a repulsive piece of refuse that makes other people puke. Check it:

News anchor Tim Russert rolled his eyes in an unveiled attempt at condescension and said, “Britney Spears with her shaved head makes me nauseous the more I think about her.”

How true. The right way for Timmy to phrase the above is to say, “…Britney Spears with her shaved head nauseates me.”

Here’s why. Nausea is a noun. It’s the actual stomach “disturbance,” if you know what I mean. Nauseate is the verb. It means “to make something sick; to make someone feel like being ill.” In other words, if you nauseate someone, you make them feel nausea (the noun). (Is this post distressing to anyone else yet?) Here’s the self-serving example from Choices Meant for Gods:

Godric nauseated Nigel with constant belittling and irritation.

Godric is the nauseous (adjective) agent in the example above. We wouldn’t say he made Nigel “nauseous” because that would imply that he projected his negative behavior onto his son. (And, when you read Choices Meant for Gods, you’ll see how oh-so-wrong that idea is.)

Clear as mud? I’m not sure why I decided to regale visitors with such a sickening subject today, other than this is one of those misused words that makes a person sound not-so-well-educated, if you catch my meaning. Just remember that an object (or person or idea or smell or whutevah) can’t make you suddenly repulsive and gross—it can’t make you nauseous. An object can nauseate you instead.

(Sandy Lender has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fifteen years and is the author of the new fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, available from http://www.archebooks.com/.)

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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They've Reinstated Father Fessio
Or...how to confuse your market place

Writers can take another lesson from Ave Maria University today. Yes, when every news media outlet is trained on you from here to Kingdom Come for pulling a ridiculous marketing move, reverse the move. It's like Coca Cola bringing back Traditional Coke in the '80s.

But I want to congratulate Father Joseph Fessio on getting a teaching position at Ave Maria University. I recognize that your motives are genuine, and your love of the students you'll be mentoring is what guided you in accepting the demotion and degradation (oh, wait, wasn't that one of our words of the day on The Dragon this week?) you've just endured on a national level, but I think you've let that institution get off a little too easily. They're getting everything they want out of the deal...

All you writers visiting The Dragon today, take notes. That's clever marketing.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Former Employer Just Fired Father Joseph Fessio
Or...I believe Ave Maria University has made a marketing mistake

I've been quite cautious here at The Dragon not to speak candidly about my former employment at Ave Maria University. In fact, I believe I've repressed quite a lot of my experiences there to protect my fragile mind. ;) Seriously, Father Joseph Fessio, the until-2:00-this-afternoon Provost of Ave Maria University, hired me after a 10-minute conversation May 2004 to start up a community newspaper that AMU would publish. To this day I will purport that he is a fine gentleman with a headstrong business sense about him. I'm not saying we didn't disagree on various points, and we had our professional arguments that one or the other of us would give in on, but, overall, I believe we had an excellent working relationship, and he is one of the few individuals from Ave Maria University that I truly would not mind working with in the future.

Now that Mr. Tom Monaghan has flipped his lid and fired Father Fessio, why, perhaps I'll have the opportunity to work with the good father some day in the future. A source on the Ave Maria University interim campus this afternoon asked Father Fessio why he had been asked to leave campus, why he'd been released. Father Fessio responded that he wasn't sure. Obviously, Joe and the man in charge of getting people to Heaven had come to an impasse on some topic.

What does all this have to do with The Dragon? Well, I got to thinking about the logic of firing your figurehead (who, in this case, also happens to be the only person at the top who has experience in academia). I got to thinking about marketing and promotion and how mentally compromised a person has to be to up and fire a friend of the pope when that person is trying to build The Uber-Catholic University in America. Tom Monaghan wants to build a mecca in the swamps of Collier County where people will pour out their donations and send their children to become disciples of Christ. The disciples of Christ part of that is something I was buying into while I worked at Ave Maria University. Even though I'm not Catholic, I believe in building a Christian foundation in a young person's heart and mind...if the young person is into that. So let's get on with the mission.

What surprised me today was the fact that the chancellor of this university just wiped out the figurehead. Tom Monaghan just took away Father Joseph Fessio. He just took away the friend of the pope. He just took away the man that's on the "short list" for the news media when they need a quote from an American on the pope or the latest edict out of Rome. He just took away the biggest fund raiser for AMU. He just took away the most erudite speaker for AMU (and I don't mean to negate Joseph Pierce's contributions in that category, by the way). He just took away his main marketing tool.

It is my opinion that Tom Monaghan has made a big marketing mistake, and here at The Dragon, we just wanted to point out to writers and authors that shooting yourself in the foot is a bad idea. If you have a strong, valued, respected, and working marketing tool, think twice before you delete it from your program. What we writers and authors can learn from this experience is to use good marketing to our advantage while we have it.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Choices Meant for Gods Went to the Printer
Or...you can order your copy soon

I'm excited beyond words to announce that you'll be able to participate in my dream within the next two to three weeks. And then a fresh, hardbound, colorful and incredible, 428-page copy of Choices Meant for Gods will be yours to read and enjoy. Choices is the first book in a fantasy trilogy, and it's a lifelong dream of mine finally come to fruition.

Choices Meant for Gods is the story of a young lady who's been on the run from a madman all her life. When she decides to stand and fight, she discovers she's wrapped in centuries of prophecy that involve her protecting the very gods of her society. It's a fantasy story with dragons (good and downright evil); sorcerers; magic (but I have coined the concept of "geasa" because it's not quite "magic"); a touch of romance; a lot of danger; an element of prophecy; "a fair bit of humor," as Mage Confusion author Ginny McMorrow says; a fabulous old wizard; a new race of people who protect prophecy and chosen prophets; some new monsters and demons that were created during the First War; and a few other plot devices that ought to keep the reader flipping pages until deep into the night...at least it kept M.B. Weston, author of A Prophecy Forgotten flipping pages until deep into the morning hours. She got fussy with me about that, actually...keeping her up all night reading...

But I digress.

Choices Meant for Gods is at the printer, and I couldn't be any happier. I'll certainly let you know when you can order your copy to read. ArcheBooks, the publisher, will have a mechanism for ordering from their site, but you'll be able to get it through all the usual channels as well...Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, etc.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Word of the Day
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Degrade (transitive verb) – To cut down in rank or status; to reduce in grade; to deprive of dignity or office; to debase; to lower in intellectual character – like my new job, for which I am incredibly thankful despite the utter lack of respect I had grown accustomed to during the past 15 years of paying my dues in the publishing world…sigh… (from Middle English degraden)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Nigel comes unglued when Godric, in a fit of rage and stupidity, degrades Amanda Chariss, to whom he should show utmost respect and gratitude.

Your turn! Do you have any interesting sentences to write with today’s word? It’s a pretty easy one to work with…

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Trade Show Tip for Writers
Or…go ahead and order pens

So I attended the Southwest Florida Reading Festival this weekend and gave away a sword (see Sunday’s post for the cool info where Christina Montana is announced as the winner). The giveaway involved a framed sign announcing the sword “belonged” to Jorin Taiman (from Choices Meant for Gods), a fancy schmancy box for people to put their entries in, and pens for them to fill out their entries. Now, because I have bookmarks, flyers, and a sword, I didn’t order special pens with The Dragon’s URL or Choices Meant for Gods or "Nigel and Chariss Forever" or anything like that emblazoned on them. Turns out I should have.

I should have because my 4-for-a-dollar black pens from OfficeMax garnered one festival attendee’s attention. She walked right up to the booth, zeroed in on the four pens next to the (fabulous) framed sign and stack of entries arranged near the SWORD… and she picked up one of the pens to examine it. Her friend engaged an author friend of mine to my left (I believe it was Linda Billodeau, the author of Stepping Through Seagrass, whom I've mentioned on this blog before) as she said, with genuine pleasure, “a free pen.” I found myself speechless. Yes, I should have told her to use the pen to fill out an entry and take a flyer and get interested in Choices Meant for Gods and have a great afternoon, but I found myself riveted in place, thoroughly amused.

She seemed like such a nice gal, just pleased as punch that we were giving away pens, and all I could do was smile at her as if I’d never worked a trade show before.

Sigh.

Lesson learned: always use pens with your message on them. They’re not an expensive promotional tool at all. I’m ordering two kinds today.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

Tags: Choices Meant for Gods, Nigel and Chariss, Southwest Florida Reading Festival, sword, promotional tool, lesson, trade show tip

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Word of the Day
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Overturn (verb) – To capsize; to upset; to turn something over; to overthrow or defeat someone or something (as in, the St. Louis Cardinals overturned the sports pundits’ expectations when the team won the World Series this past year)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, the lesser goddess Mia overturns Godric Taiman’s decision to throw Amanda Chariss out of his home when she tells him to sit down, shut up, and let the young lady stay sheltered at the Taiman estate.

Your turn! Today’s word is a really easy one so I know you can give me a great sentence with no sweat!

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Choices Meant for Gods Went Back to the Publisher
Or…I made the corrections to the galleys

In great news: I made corrections to Choices Meant for Gods to the master file yesterday and returned the file to the publisher, ArcheBooks Publishing, last night. This takes Sandy Lender another step closer to publication!

Now the publisher is working steadily away at the cover design.

I’ll keep you all posted as I learn more.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Happy New Moon on Monday
Or…what Duran Duran fans write about

On second thought, I’m not going to write about what Duran Duran fans write about. Most of it is very silly stuff that we love each other for, and we should just keep that to ourselves.

Suffice it to say, today is Monday. And there’s a new moon. It “began” sometime very late last night, but continues today, according to a majority of the calendars we’ve checked. Yes, we’re complete freaks and we check the calendars and almanacs at the beginning of the year so we know during which months new moons fall on Mondays. Why? Well, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Duran Duran’s extensive discography, they have a fabulous song called…you guessed it…"New Moon on Monday".

It’s the first Duran Duran song I ever heard. It’s the song that got me “hooked”. It’s the song I described to my friend Wendy one day at school when I was in junior high. And Wendy, like a true Duranie, promptly indoctrinated me. I’ve been an obsessed fan ever since.

To frighten you further, I’ll be watching all five (or is it six? Well, it doesn’t matter, I have them all and I’ll just sit there in front of them) versions of the music video when I get home from work this evening. Throughout the day, my cell phone will be amusing the people at work as friends call me to say “Happy New Moon on Monday,” and I’ll leave messages on friends’ home answering machines with excerpts of the song. We have to really play it up because today is the only new moon on Monday we have this year.

Pity.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

Tags: Duran Duran, New Moon on Monday

Word of the Day
Monday, March 19, 2007
Historicism (noun) – A belief that history is already unfolding according to set processes and we can’t change it (sounds like Calvinism, doesn’t it?)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Amanda Chariss refuses to believe historicism must be accepted, and instead tries to keep the prophecy that would endanger the gods of her society from coming to pass.

Your turn! I predict you’ll come up with a great sentence with this predetermining word today.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

Tags: Choices Meant for Gods, Sandy Lender, grammar, word

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

And the Winner is…Christina Montana
Or…The Dragon is sending a sword to Christina

Congratulations to Southwest Florida Reading Festival attendee Christina Montana for not only entering the "Win Jorin Taiman’s Sword" contest yesterday at the festival when she stopped by the ArcheBooks booth, but for WINNING! I pulled her name out of the fancy schmancy box from Arcana’s treasury (Nigel Taiman let me borrow it because he’s just that cool) and e-mailed her this morning to let her know that I’ll be sending the sword to her post haste!

Congratulations, Christina! You’re the first person in history to receive memorabilia from the Choices Meant for Gods trilogy. Now, that may not feel so glamorous right now, but I intend to market this trilogy like mad, and, some day, Nigel, Chariss, and young Jorin Taiman will be as famous as Frodo, Sam, and Gandalf. You’ll be able to tell all your friends, “I got this sword when…” (I’m sending you a certificate, too.)

Another replica of Jorin Taiman’s sword will be the prize at my table at DragonCon in September.

(For a short excerpt from Choices Meant for Gods where Jorin’s sword is mentioned, read the next post.)

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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A Mention of Jorin's Sword
Or...an excerpt from a scene in Choices Meant for Gods

...As much as she would have like to have pounced on the topic, verbally assaulting Godric's character, Chariss checked herself before his son. "Mister Taiman is my current benefactor. I appreciate what he's done for me."

Nigel laughed as he opened the weapons cabinet. "You don't have to play that game with me, My Lady. I hate the man. Are you also using my sword?" He glanced back at the weapon in her hand.'

"Unless you use a very light blade, I would say no."

His brow furrowed. "Someone's taken mine out. Well...no mind...I'll check with the teachers. This one should do for now."

Chariss couldn't hide a mocking smile when she saw he had Jorin's sword in his hand.

"This is humorous?"

"That's Jorin's. It looks...dainty in your hand."

He smiled at her. "And why is that?"

If she didn't know any better, she would swear he baited her into some specific answer. Not knowing his agenda, she answered honestly. "Well, you're a man holding a youth's weapon. It looks...unbalanced."

"Do you see anything else in here that might be more balanced?"

She approached the cabinet and stared in. "Well, that's strange. Where have all the men's weapons gone?"

-- to see why it's bad that all the men's weapons were gone, you'll have to get the book; it'll be available to order in about two weeks --

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Word of the Day
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Sluggard (noun) – An idle person; a slothful person; one who sits around researching how to get out of work on the internet all day and playing non-interactive computer games all evening while his wife cleans his house and washes the dishes that he leaves strewn about the house and takes out his trash and cares for his pet cat and works two jobs to pay for the house and maintains three blogs to promote her new book and attends conferences to promote her book and tries to sell the house before…oh…sorry about that…(Thank you for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever.) (from Middle English sluggart and sluggen, to be lazy)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, no one has the time or luxury of being a sluggard once Hrazon and Chariss arrive at Arcana.

Your turn! Any “positive” sentences you can make with this one today? ;) I make it your challenge…

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Writer’s Guide
Proofreading
Proofreaders do it backwards


When you’ve finished a work, it’s time to do a final proof. Now, let’s define “finished”. See, there’s no point in proofreading if you haven’t edited yet. There’s no point in proofreading if you think you’re going to go in and add more quotes from an expert or another block of description for a scene.

But if you’re done writing and editing and you think you’re ready to send the piece off to a publisher, editor, or the printer’s ftp site, stop and proofread.

Strict proofreading dictates you actually check the finished copy against original copy, making sure things like names are spelled correctly and phone numbers match what an agency sent, etc. Don’t skip that step if you have original copy to check against. You’ll be stunned the first time you catch someone’s website listed incorrectly in your work.

But then go back and proofread backwards. Start at the bottom of the last page and read each word from right to left. Again, you’ll be stunned the first time you catch a word that has been spelled incorrectly through seven edits.

Now, go ahead and ask. Yes, I’ve read Choices Meant for Gods backwards when I had the galleys. Why? Because my head will spin like the kid from The Exorcist at each typo I see after publication, and I’d like to limit the number of revolutions.

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”

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Word of the Day
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Contrariety (noun) – The condition of being opposing in character or purpose; a discrepancy (its root is ‘contrary,’ which is from Middle English, Old French, and Latin)

Word in a Sentence: Although Chariss has no Irish blood in her, her overwhelming contrariety after Nigel’s departure for Bellan makes her bad company for the rest of the cast in my novel Choices Meant for Gods.

Your turn! Any Irish contrariness in your mind today? Write a sentence about it to share with the other visitors to The Dragon.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Friday, March 16, 2007

The Galleys Are Done!
Or...I might sleep tomorrow night

I finished the galleys for Choices Meant for Gods at 1:30 this morning. And then prepared a flyer to hand out at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival tomorrow, which I'm not going to get to do tonight after work because I have a part-time job that I'll be at until 2:30 a.m. so...again...no sleep for Sandy. But I see this as very good news because I've accomplished something fantastic here. I think I should be celebrating. Maybe I'll put Nigel Taiman on party detail for tomorrow night and if I can stay awake after standing around at the reading festival promoting Choices Meant for Gods, we can eat cake or something.

I'll keep you guys posted about a release date!

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Word of the Day
Friday, March 16, 2007
Harshen (verb) – In its transitive form, it means to make something harsh – Godric’s incendiary behavior harshened Nigel over the years. In its intransitive form, it means to become harsh – Nigel harshened over the years because of Godric’s incendiary behavior.

So I just gave you two sentences today.

Your turn! Can you harshen the keyboard into giving me a fabulous sentence?

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”


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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Write for International Earth Day
Or...stay inspired to do something good

See yesterday's post, just below today's Word of the Day, for a great writing assignment for International Earth Day, this March 20. And don't fret about the close deadline. Regular ol' Earth Day is April 22, which gives you time to be Earth-friendly, Earth-conscious for a whole month, if you aren't one of us raving environmentalists all year 'round!

The post below offers address links and letter-writing ideas, so check it out. I'm still proofing the galleys for Choices Meant for Gods, so I'm operating on less than full capacity here. Two hours of sleep results in me actually stumbling to the computer...it's an interesting concept. Where's my muse to hold me up as I do this kind of stuff?

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Word of the Day
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Myriad (adjective) – Indefinite (but presumably large) number of something; you can have myriad joys in life! (from Greek)

Word in a sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Hrazon and Chariss have found myriad benefactors willing to offer them shelter over the years as they’ve fled from the sorcerer Jamieson Drake.

Your turn! There are myriad sentences you could write! But note that you add extra words around ‘myriad’ only to turn it into a noun. For example, “a myriad of joys,” is correct if you’re making it a noun instead of an adjective, and the noun is the archaic, out-of-date use of the word.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What a Writer Can do for International Earth Day
Or…here’s your assignment from The Dragon

International Earth Day is celebrated on the March (or Vernal) equinox, which is March 20-21 this year. On this day, the United Nations performs its useful function of the year by ringing a “peace bell” three times and sitting quietly for a minute. I’m sure people around the globe do nice things, also.

Here’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to take a short break from proofing the galleys for Choices Meant for Gods to get writers to do what they do best and do it for the creatures on our planet who can’t write. I encourage you to write a letter on behalf of the animals. (Come on, it’s a blog devoted to writing.) Here are the topics I’ve selected for you to choose from, but you’re certainly welcome to choose one that’s nearer and dearer to your heart.

1) Stop illegal poaching/collection (emphasis on sea turtles such as the Hawksbill would be nice, but don’t forget the tigers, elephants, parrots, etc. overseas)
2) Clean up pollution of our waterways and oceans (emphasis on trash killing marine life)
3) Stop global warming (emphasis on sea turtle nest site loss and bleaching of coral reefs)
4) End the Canadian harp seal hunt (which is under way—in other words, while you’re sitting here debating whether or not it’s convenient to write a letter expressing your opinion to someone, like Canadian Prime Minister Harper, baby seals are being beat in the head by ruthless men who feel the need to support their families by killing two-week-old animals—and this year, the Canadian government is suppressing documentation of the hunt (gee, why can’t we see the hunting practices if there’s nothing wrong with it?) by keeping anyone with a videocamera from coming within 20 meters of a seal—but, by all means, let the guy with a club or gun walk right up to the bleating creature)

I was born the year these Earth Days started, and I think that’s pretty cool. I feel a deep responsibility to conserve and protect. That includes the pookie turtles and the earth holding us. So I encourage all you visitors to The Dragon to write on this International Earth Day and do your part to help protect as well.

Now, to take away excuses:
If you feel that you can’t get a letter completed in the next few days for International Earth Day March 20, well, never fear. Start working on your letter now; do your research; send me a note so I can help you if you wish (remember, I’m an editor!); and use the U.S. celebration of Earth Day April 22 as your deadline.

Next: Here are some sites to use to find your representatives’ addresses. Printing the letter and mailing it is more effective than e-mail. Kinda like sending a Hallmark card—it says you really care.

This first site will give you windows to cut and paste your letter into for e-mailing. Again, I don’t like that concept, but it’s one option for the ultra-busy environmentalist out there.
http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Here’s a site that will help you draft a concise, coherent letter with proper formatting of the salutation and everything:
http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa020199.htm
The site also gives links for the physical addresses for your reps, and THAT’s a good thing.

You could also get some information/begin research on the seal hunt travesty at:
http://www.stopthesealhunt.com/site/apps/ka/ct/contactcustom.asp?c=hmKYJeNVJtF&b=412891
I don’t recommend merely “signing” the internet petition, though, as I’ve had a representative in the United States share with me what happens to such mindless pieces of mail. But you could begin your education/research with the points in this petition and draft a letter of your own for Prime Minister Harper. Keeping in mind that Canadian government officials probably don’t give a rat’s behind what mere little Americans think of their slaughter practices, my letter last year commended his countrymen on providing us south of the border with plenty of fur coats to promote Capitalism and the North American Free Trade Agreement. I made sure the letter drove home the point that his country’s support of such ideologies brought him and his people that much closer to our ideologies and congratulated him on the steps toward that enlightenment. I’m sure the letter was burned, but it sure felt good to write.

This should get you started, shouldn’t it?

Save the Earth—it’s the only planet with chocolate!

“Some days, I want all the dragons to win.”

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Word of the Day
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Primogenitor (noun) – The first ancestor; the earliest forefather (from Medieval Latin)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Odda Taiman is the primogenitor of the Taiman estate where the majority of the story takes place.

Your turn! Any biblical sentences in you today?

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Write Attitude
Or…keeping it together with no complaints

I read about this Zen master who taught that you should say this particular positive prayer over and over again until you believe it (they probably all teach that and I’m just not well-versed enough with Zen practices to know it). This teacher’s name was Sono, and she taught her pupils to pray “Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.”

No matter what was going wrong or right, the prayer was to be the same mantra until it became true. Considering what all has been going on in my life, it’s been an uphill battle to remain positive and upbeat, but a mantra like that one would certainly help. I know how uplifting it can be to greet challenges and crap with something affirming or humorous because I do it as often as I can. (Of course I fail from time to time; I’m human and some of the crap is too bizarre for words.) But I’ve adopted this prayer for a few reasons that I’m going to share with all you writers visiting the site today in hopes that they resonate with some of you.

First, all the crap that is too bizarre for words isn’t going to beat me. Period. So why dwell on it?

Second, saying thank-you to God for all the non-crap (all the blessings) is the better thing to do in life. (And those of you who pray to a goddess or who believe in some other earth spirit that guides and keeps you, the same principle applies…being thankful for the positives and the goodness is healthier than bemoaning the negatives and the badness.)

Third, complaining tends to work like a magnet. Have you noticed that it gives people around you permission to air their complaints? Then you have your friends feeling bad. Pretty soon, you have a pity party in your living room (or at the corner bar). I don’t know about you other writers, but that doesn’t make for good writing energy in my world. My characters get a little depressed when I’m contemplating all the crap that’s too bizarre for words in not only my life, but my friends’ lives as well. So turning off the complaint feature in my brain is a good thing.

Fourth, being positive tends to work like a magnet. Have you noticed that it gives people free reign to smile around you? And laugh? And share good stories? And sometimes they give you chocolate…

So, to all ya’ll writer types, I’m adopting a new mantra while I complete and promote Choices Meant for Gods to see how the mantra works out. I bet it sticks. Thank you for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Word of the Day
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Deference (noun) – Submission, yielding to another’s opinion, giving in courteously to another’s judgment or wishes, giving respect with courtesy (from defer, which is the verb from Middle English and Latin)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, Nigel shows deference to Hrazon’s decision to stay behind in Arcana, although he would have preferred the wizard had accompanied Chariss and Rohne on their trip to Tiurlang for added protection on the road.

Your turn! Do you have any “courteous” sentences you can write up for me today?
And I apologize for yesterday’s word not coming through. We’ll save it for another time… Oops.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to eat the computer.”

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Grammar Guide
The Rest of the Commas

In the last Grammar Guide, we discussed the use of the serial comma, which is the last comma before the “and” in a series (or list) of items. For Standard English writing, which most of us do, the serial comma is used. But there are other times when the comma can be a dodgy item. You stare at it, dangling there like a misplaced participle, and you wonder, should I delete that?

Here’s the thing to remember about commas: they are used to add clarity. They set off phrases and clauses from the rest of the sentence to reduce clutter and make things clearer for the reader. For example, the following piece of paragraph is taken from a deleted scene from Choices Meant for Gods. Nigel and Chariss are visiting in the stables the morning after his brush with death, and the gentleman has contrived a way to run his fingers through her hair.

He stroked his fingers down her tresses, all the way through to the ends where the curves and waves ended in little rolls that mimicked the wavecaps rushing to Arcana’s shore. By the gods, he wanted to feel those ends tickling along his chest, like they had last night, when she’d leaned over him to heal the wound that should have killed him. He moved one hand back to the top of her head, fully aware that she’d just shivered at this unfamiliar touch. Oh, that’s got to be a good sign, he thought.

I want to call your attention to the first comma in the example. The comma separates the complete phrase “He stroked his fingers down her tresses” and the incomplete phrase “all the way, etc.” Look also at the third sentence. The comma in that sentence separates the complete phrase “He moved one hand back to the top of her head” and “fully aware, etc.” In both of these sentences, the comma comes after a complete phrase—a complete sentence, as it were. The phrases could be ended with periods. But the commas replace the periods I could have used and signify that more is to come. The more the reader gets is an additional phrase that modifies what he has already read. In the first instance, “all the way through, etc.” tells how Nigel stroked his fingers down her tresses. In the second instance, “fully aware that she’d just shivered” describes “He.”

In the final sentence, the comma before “he thought” is used to set off an attribution, which was discussed in the Grammar Guides about punctuating quotation in dialogue in January.

Another use of the comma is another form of separating phrases, but it has to do with changing subjects. For instance, when you have two complete sentences, but you want to combine them, you can do something like this:

Chariss put her arm out to catch him, and he experienced that momentary shock of lightning when he got to touch her.

The comma signifies that the subject is going to change in the second half of this sentence. I’ve seen people make mistakes with this construction, though. Be sure that you’re actually combining two sentences (two subjects and two verbs) or the use of the comma before the “and” is incorrect.

Chariss put her arm out to catch him and felt a momentary shock of lightning at the touch.

In this example, Chariss is the one catching, touching, and feeling the momentary shock of lightning. The subject doesn’t change, even though there is more than one verb. In the first example, Chariss did the catching, but the subject changed to Nigel in the second half of the sentence. Nigel did the touching and feeling the momentary shock of lightning. (And isn’t that sweet?)

What other comma uses can you think of that we should cover here at The Dragon? Let me know! And/or give me some examples of comma use here so we can make sure we’re all on the same page.

(Sandy Lender has been an editor in the magazine publishing industry for fourteen-plus years and is the author of the upcoming fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods.)
“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

No Stopping
Or…when do I get to sleep again?

There’s an inspirational quote from an unknown author that goes like this: “The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.” Yes it is. I have been tempted to pull the moving van into the next rest stop and just stay there for a few weeks. I don’t think I can express how tired I am.

So how can a person be this tired/exhausted and this wired/exhilarated at the same time? No, I’m not bipolar or manic depressive (oh, well, the jury’s still out on the manic depressive issue, wouldn’t you think?). I’m just experiencing the phenomenon known as “too many irons in the fire.”

It’s kinda fun. See, I’m supposed to be editing a book, but I can’t quite get to it because I’m proofing the galleys for Choices Meant for Gods this weekend. But I’m also preparing the marketing materials I’ll have for CMFG at the Lee County Reading Festival next weekend. I’m also working on this and two other blogs. I’m also trying to figure out how to build my website. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I’m pleased as punch to have all these things to do for the release of my fantasy novel. That’s been the dream my whole life. I think I’m just lulled by the false sense of peace the parking spot offers there at the rest stop where some authors go when they think they don’t have to promote their own work.

Hmm.

I believe I’ll keep driving. Isn’t it Captain Kirk who quotes Peter Pan? First star to the right and straight on ’til morning? Something like that applies.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”

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Word of the Day
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Anathema (noun) – Cursed; someone or something that is cursed, usually by ecclesiastical authority; someone or something that is disliked greatly (from Latin)

Word in a Sentence: In my novel Choices Meant for Gods, the gods considered Julette anathema after she railed against her husband and creator of the world with the First War.

Your turn! Notice that the word doesn’t get any sort of definite or indefinite article before it. What sort of cursed sentences do you have in you today?

Tags: Choices Meant for Gods, Sandy Lender, grammar, word

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