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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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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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Where Writers Can Find Environmentally Friendly Inspiration While Vacationing
Or...getting the high-power executive to chill out, help out, and write out his or her thoughts

Deep topic, eh? But it seemed appropriate as we finished up the celebration of Earth Day to suggest some nifty ways writers can find inspiration while vacationing. See, something sad is taking place in Corporate America. I hear a lot of folks return from their vacations saying "I need a vacation to recover from my vacation." Half the reason for businessmen to say such a thing is to impress their secretaries and the other ties around the boardroom table Monday morning, but there is a propensity to over-schedule the vacation itinerary much the way we do our work weeks. So moms and dads drag Suzie and Jimmy from activity to activity upon collecting a slew of black overstuffed suitcases at baggage claim and they probably only give four or five seconds of debate to the concept of whether their sluggishness the next morning is a result of jetlag or MacDonalds with a Dairy Queen chaser.

But who can blame Mr. High Power Executive for trying to get the most out of the five to ten days Corporate America says he gets to spend nurturing his marriage and family this year? Carnival Cruise Line and Disney World are offering as many planned activities as they can to help him out.

Or...The Dragon could offer Mr. High Power Executive and the rest of his (or her) family some fabulous journal entries. Are you aware of how much less fuel you use and carbon emissions you release into the environment if you pack the family into the car instead of a jetliner to get to this year's destination? This gives you more family together-time, too. If you route correctly, you can plan your pit stops at some calm and scenic American Revolution or Civil War battlefields, effectively turning the vacation into an opportunity to get some fresh air and educate the kids at the same time. I've even got some good Girl Scout campfire songs embedded somewhere in my brain that I could offer for those family drives. (Of course, this suggestion eats into the time you get to spend at the destination, but the point of the family vacation is to spend quality time together. How is that happening in the security or ticket lines at the airport? Airline travel is not stress-free, and reports today at Yahoo News show airline execs expecting summer travel delays.)

Next tip: Why go to an expensive hotel where you have to worry about Junior breaking something? Do some research online to find hotels that are set up to "make a difference." For example, before I moved to Florida, I took a vacation to the Keys and stayed at a hotel called The Sea Turtle Hospital on Marathon. All the proceeds of my stay went to care for and feed injured and baby sea turtles. The hotel's pool had been converted into a huge turtle tank where recovering pookies swam around and begged for food. (try resisting an endangered species begging for squid - oh my God) This place was a far cry from the Ritz, but that was fine by me. I would have been cranky if there had been any fancy "luxuries" in the room - my money was being spent for turtles, not foofey soaps or mints on my pillow.

Other vacations that let you build good writing fodder while doing good deeds for the world include a trip to Wassaw Island during sea turtle nesting and hatching season (May to October). The Caretta Research Project there welcomes a limited number of volunteers per week to tag and measure the turtles who come up on the Georgia Barrier Islands to nest. You can get info at www.carettaresearchproject.org.

St. Lawrence Gulf in Canada offers a unique whale-conservation opportunity. Earth Day weekend is as good a time as any for me to point out that about 1,000 minke whales are murdered by poachers every year, even though there are international laws protecting whales. (Some entity like the impotent United Nations might want to alert Norway and Japan...) The "vacation" to the research station probably isn't something for the younger members of the family - it's a research-heavy program - but you can check it out through www.ores.ch.

One I'm dying to do someday involves spray painting newborn harp seals in Canada so the greedy fur industry moguls will have no interest in their pelts, thus will let them live to see their third or fourth week of life on the ice. I'm disgusted by what the Canadian government refuses to acknowledge as barbaric every spring. One of these days I'll find myself standing between some guy with a club and some cute, bleating seal pup. I'm sure I'll have a can of spray paint in one hand. Hopefully merely mace will populate the other hand, eh? This isn't an organized vacation scheme that any environmental group does...just an idea that I need to put into practice.

The vacations I've suggested above tend toward the ocean, I've noticed, because that's my passion, but there are land-oriented volunteer vacations where families can help clean up parks or track birds (I guess that would be "air") or help with homeless shelters or any number of positive, healthy, character-building activities. You don't have to just fly to some crowded theme park and watch your kid turn green on some device that flings him or her around for five minutes after standing in a line for an hour. I can't imagine that would spark a writer's creativity. Instead, you can do something that involves the entire family working together to help the planet recover slightly from what we do to it everyday...and the experience just might inspire you to write.

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

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