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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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day Bears
Or...sea turtles don't stick around for birth, but polar bears will as long as we keep them alive

What on earth is this post doing on a writer's blog? We'll discuss bears and Mother's Day during the Internet Voices Radio show tomorrow night, and it's called inspiration. Sea turtles and dragons have the interesting relationship of belonging to the reptile family. Maybe that's why I like them both so much. Polar bears and baby harp seals are white, fluffy, cute, and hunted to endangerment. Maybe that's why I care so much about them. Put these families together and...and...well, the turtles would probably swim away at a high rate of speed while the dragons ate everything else. Not so good.

But here's the point. There's fodder for resolving writer's block in this post. Did you know that polar bear moms keep their cubs with them for more than two years? So if your latest opus (yes, that's a penguin joke for you children of the '80s) involves shapeshifters, your werepolar-bear would, naturally, keep its offspring around for training and nurturing purposes. At least for two years. You don't get that kind of action out of a dragon, now do you? Not at all. Deposit eggs. Fly away.

The same reptile abandonment happens with the sea turtles. I know. I patrol for sea turtle nests here along the Gulf Coast every weekend during nesting season, and, let me tell you, mommy doesn't hang around to watch the little hatchlings do their thing. In fact, we crazed conservationists do that. (It's like free babysitting service. We'll even chase away ghost crabs* and corral the babies that get disoriented by porch lights when hatching to make sure they get to the water. Mrs. Turtle doesn't have to do a thing...once she gets past all the trash and lawn chairs that litter her nesting ground.)

Luckily, the baby harp seals, polar bears, sea turtles, and, yes, even dragons, have advocates looking out for them. The bears seem to have an uphill battle, though. The Bush Administration proposed protections for them under the Endangered Species Act back in January 2007, but that kind of legislation gets stalled, you know. (And there's more fodder to stamp out writer's block.)

Whether you "believe in" Global Warming or not, melted areas that used to provide land mass for polar bear habitats force dwindling populations to move. It's a fact, Jack. Take a trip up to Alaska and look if you don't believe it. (It's kind of like "not believing" in Red Tide. Walk with me along the Gulf Coast some morning and revel in the aroma of the piles of reddened - it's literally red - trash, seaweed and dead, rotting fish that have washed up.)

The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service work together to figure out what's going on with the polar bear populations. Yes, they're declining, but why? Folks want the bear listed as "threatened" with the ESA, and that sounds fine by me. But are we conservationists willing to compromise and allow oil drilling in part of their habitat? Are we willing to move some of the bears? Are we willing to spend money to track sea ice trends? Criminy, how much time will we spend on research and arguing when what we need to do is just reach a compromise that saves some bears? There aren't that many left...

All of this makes great story-writing material. The plight of the adorable baby harp seal who rolls and flops innocently across the ice toward a big, tall human that she doesn't know, that she doesn't know to fear, that she doesn't know is going to crush her skull mercilessly with a club until her blood and brain matter splatter across the virgin-white snow in a shock of red and dark, horrid mess; the plight of the majestic sea turtle who labors at trudging up the beach to dig a hole for her eggs only to have the nest ravaged by humans who think some property in the rare turtle yolk will help them "get it up" in bed; and the plight of the polar bear mom who finds a quiet cold den to birth her two baby cubs that she'll feed and nurture and care for and teach until one day she doesn't return from hunting because someone shot and killed her are stories we writers should feel compelled to tell.

Because one day...they may be considered fiction.

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

* The photo is of one of hundreds of ghost crab holes I saw during my sea turtle patrol this morning. Notice how the little guy flings the sand out around the mouth of the hole as he tunnels.

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Anonymous LifeAtTheCircus said...

I did not know that about sea turtles or polar bears. Thanks for pointing that out. Thanks also for pointing out our need to help take care of God's creatures. I plan to pass on this info to my children. Perhaps while reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear What do You See? Thanks!!

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