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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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writing Sympathy Letters
Or...The Dragon takes it one bird at a time

We have a bit of a morbid subject today, but it can also be viewed as uplifting. I've written far too many sympathy notes in my day. Too many people have lost loved ones. This morning, I sent a note to a friend I met online a couple years ago. Her husband has passed on, and it broke my heart to hear it. But the little message I shared with her is a story that my lovely artist friend Megan Kissinger shared with me once, and I wanted to post it here so everyone could find comfort in everyone could use it.

(I've edited in some info about last summer that I didn't feel was appropriate to put in Charlee's note this morning, but you visitors might need for context. I'm not trying to be trite in comparing my "life issues" to a person's loss.)

"I'll tell you something that a friend of mine told me when I was just starting my cancer treatments last summer. There were too many other 'life issues' going on at the time...a prolonged divorce, a house foreclosure, a landlord's foreclosure, various lawsuits, a search and move to a new apartment (the list goes on)...and I was pretty stressed out. So my friend told me that she'd read a book in which a boy had procrastinated doing a school report on all the state birds. He had to write a report about 50 birds in one night and he was stressed about it. The boy's father came into his room, assessed the problem, and said he'd help him and they'd just take it 'one bird at a time.' By tackling the report one bird at a time, it didn't look so overwhelming. And throughout the summer and fall, every time things got overwhelming, I'd think of that story...just tackle things one bird at a time."

My point with this story is that we all get hit with the "crap o' life" at times. We can get overwhelmed by it. God knows I had a moment one morning when a court officer came to the apartment with a stack of foreclosure documents for my landlord...but they included my name and required a response from me. (I was able to so easily pull my hair out...bwuahahahaha) Seriously, though, we can let these things crush us...or we can work at them one bird at a time.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Writing to Our Representatives on Earth Day
Or…The Dragon thinks we should protect our pets and civil liberties from HR669 this Earth Day

(I’ll just warn you now—this one’s a long one and it'll rile you up.)

At an Earth Day Festival in Kansas City several years ago, a vendor pointed at my t-shirt and said, “Turtle Island? Where’s that?” I responded, “You’re standing on it. Our earth belongs to the turtles.” He could dig that. We chatted a while and, for some reason, he asked what year I was born. I’ll share because I don’t think it’s a big deal. 1970. He was elated and told me that was the year of the first Earth Day.

I felt honored.

I’m not the most devoted environmentalist you’ll find. I use too much hair spray now that my hair is growing back in. (I’m not saying that a hole is opening in the ozone layer directly above Southwest Florida because of me; but, trust me, my hair spray consumption has increased now that I actually have hair to tame into place.) And I have those days when I take long showers (we fantasy authors have stress, you know) even though I know I should conserve water. But I always always always turn the water off while I brush my teeth. I’m not totally irresponsible. :)

The one environmentalist bent I go nuts over is the sea turtles. I have this insane love for the sea turtles. It started because my family adopted a fresh-water turtle when I was a teenager in Missouri. My love of the shelled reptiles started then and I’ve been interested in all manner of turtle and habitat conservation since.

A couple summers ago, during nesting patrol for Turtle Time, I got to rescue a baby sea turtle who had strayed far away from his nest—and the gulf waters—due to light disorientation. I have the sea turtle conservation license plate. Thursday of last week, I took a personal day from work so I could drive up to Port Charlotte to attend this year’s sea turtle seminar in preparation for nesting patrols. I only buy ice cream from Turtle Mountain (look for the Purely Decadent brand in the organic/healthy section of the dairy case) because they provide funds to the Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP). When my first fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods was released, I ordered a ton of canvas bags (as opposed to evil plastic bags) with the book cover for promotional efforts because I wanted to hand out an environmentally responsible item that wouldn’t end up in our ocean/gulf waters where sea turtles would mistake it for a yummy jelly fish meal. I even have a baby sea turtle flitting away to freedom, juxtaposed against the female lead in Enara’s Choice in the chapbook What Choices We Made. I just adore these precious creatures and feel overwhelmed by the task before the sea turtle conservationists fighting to protect them.

But today is Earth Day, and there are threatened and endangered species all over the globe who deserve remembrance. Not only are sea turtles finding fewer nesting beaches and increased international fishery trawlers, but polar bears are crashing through thinning ice, 11-day-old harp seals are being clubbed to death or skinned alive so someone can have a fancy hat, fish are bumping into destructive species that were introduced by well-meaning but short-sighted wildlife management officials, and the list goes on.

Now, I would like you to notice that I mentioned “destructive species introduction” in that last paragraph. There are entities in the U.S. government that have tried controlling wild populations by introducing nonnative species to U.S. ecosystems. These experiments have not always gone well. People neglecting to check cargo on island-bound planes also allowed nonnative species to sneak into unsuspecting ecosystems. (Do a google search for “invasive species” and Guam. Holy cow.) In answer to this man-made problem, a representative has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives—H.R. 669—that is, on the surface, meant to keep us from compounding the problems that started by accident.

H.R. 669, The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, does a bit more. It is designed, among other things, to allow a government entity to make a list of what pets U.S. citizens are not allowed to keep. I think the premise is designed to prevent the few irresponsible pet owners from releasing nonnative animals into sensitive U.S. ecosystems. I’m not sure if this would stem the tide of Burmese Pythons encroaching on alligator feeding grounds in the Everglades or of feral cats eating pretty songbirds all over the country or not. Two things I am sure about with this bill: It stomps on our civil liberties and it results in animal deaths.

Under H.R. 669, if an animal is not native to the United States, it won’t be allowed (unless it's a cow or some type of domesticated livestock used in farming). If you already own a nonnative animal, such as a parrot, a lizard, a gerbil, a guinea pig, a hamster, etc., you may keep the animal, but you will not be allowed to breed it with another animal and you will not be allowed to carry it across state lines. My lovely Petri is a sun conure, and, although his parents and grandparents were bred here in the United States, his species is originally from South America, thus he is considered nonnative. Under H.R. 669, a person will not be allowed to transfer her pet's ownership to another individual. So if my employer (headquartered in another state) were to order me to move to that state as a condition of my continued employment, I could not give (or sell) my companion parrot before moving. In the event of a career change or family emergency, a person will not be "allowed" to give away their bird or tortoise or child's hamster to a family friend before leaving it behind in an interstate move.

The pet has to be “destroyed”. “Destroyed” is a polite word for “murdered”.

If H.R. 669 is passed, the U.S. government will dictate which animals U.S. citizens are allowed to keep as pets/family members, and will dictate when you have to kill them. (Unless you already have all the pets you want and are living in the state where you intend to retire and die. And I guess your pet dies with you if you can’t transfer ownership to anyone upon your death…)

What a sad thing to contemplate on Earth Day. Our representatives in the House of Representatives are supposed to start discussing this bill tomorrow, the 23rd. I’ve already sent letters to my representatives stating that I’d like them to speak against this bill. While I like the idea of preventing nonnative species from establishing populations in the wild in the United States, I think the way to control that is not by destroying the pet industry and killing people’s pets, but by finding better ways to keep the small percentage of irresponsible owners from releasing their pets and by keeping wildlife officials from doing any more “creative species control”.

I think Earth Day should be a day where we come up with good, positive, creative ways to protect and conserve life; not to kill the animals that responsible owners love and care for. I think Earth Day is a great day to tell a representative that H.R. 669 is a bad idea. If you would like to contact your representatives, but aren’t sure of their names or e-mail addresses, visit this site for quick-and-easy access. Remember, HR669 is The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act and it will put limits on pet ownership, will gut the pet industry, but, most importantly, will endanger animals’ lives.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Dragon Celebrates Megan Kissinger's Art
Or…check out what Fantasy Author Sandy Lender did Saturday

After picking up my author friend Tina Murray, I picked up my sea turtle supplies in Bonita for this year's nesting patrol and we boogied our way up to Ft. Myers for Megan Kissinger's opening reception for her current show "One Woman's Art" at the William North Gallery in the Gannon's Antiques and Art Mall. I totally recommend the show to anyone who appreciates lovely paintings and nature scenes.

Megan is fabulous. She's the artist who created the map of Onweald that you see in the fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods and the supporting chapbook What Choices We Made. And you'll be seeing it again in the rest of the series…as soon as those hit the shelves! Her work at the gallery this month is acrylic on canvas, but she also works in watercolors, creates award-winning scultpures, gracefully handles other-media-I-can't-think-of-right-now-because-I'm-in-a-rush-to-go-meet-a-friend-from-Minnesota (I blush), and is able to cross over into the graphic design realm. That's a quality you don't always see in professional artists...yet she's got it. I say "Megan rocks."

If you get a chance to visit Southwest Florida before April 30, you can see Megan's recent works at the William North Gallery. If not, she's also going to be highlighted among some other artists at FGCU's upcoming show at a place I can't remember. Megan, if you're checking in, please give us the details in the comments!

You can also find Megan on Facebook. TONS of info there.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Interview with Jo Linsdell
Or…The Dragon takes you to Italy…sort of

International Author Extraordinaire Jo Linsdell joins us at The Dragon as part of her online promotion for her newest release Italian for Tourists: Pocket Edition, which is available from

What’s your personal background?
Jo Linsdell:
I came to Rome Italy from the UK in June 2001. I originally came for 3 days but fell in love with the city and decided to stay. After all these years I’m still here, married to an Italian (with whom I have a son) and have no plans to leave any time soon.

Who is your intended readership?
Jo Linsdell:
I created this book for tourists. There are a lot of phrasebooks out there but they all seem to want to give as much information as possible, a lot of it irrelevant to a tourist who just wants to get by for the couple of days or weeks that he‘s in Italy. This book is designed to be a basic guide to the Italian language covering phrases and words most needed by tourists.

Why did you write this book?
Jo Linsdell: I came to Italy with the plan of staying for 3 days and figured I could get by for such a short stay using English. With this in mind I hadn’t prepared for the fact that Italians might not speak English. In fact a lot of them don’t or if they do it’s very limited. I felt rude not being able to thank or greet people in Italian, after all I was in Italy. If an Italian came to England not being able to speak English how far would he get? I got myself a phrasebook to help me but a lot of the information was irrelevant and it took ages to find what I needed. I wrote this book bearing all this in mind. A tourist doesn’t need to know everything about Italian grammar and the in’s and out’s of renting an apartment. They want to have an easy to use reference book of the language they will need to use and understand during their stay.

How did you research your book?
Jo Linsdell: I’ve been living here for 7 years now and from my own experience I know the sort s of things that are useful to know when you first come here. I also worked in hostels and as a tour guide and know what information people used to ask me for.

The Dragon: How do you enjoy working through Is it difficult tracking all the accounting/bookkeeping/financial aspects without an agent or publisher in the mix or is it refreshing to have everything in your control?

Jo Linsdell: I've found to be great for publishing my books. The on site account they give you when you sign up makes it easy to check your book sales and see how much you've earned. Royalty payments are sent automatically. I get mine sent via paypal.It's nice to be in control of everything. It also means you don't have to give up a percentage of your earnings to someone else.

The Dragon: What marketing avenues do you use that you would recommend to other authors visiting the site today?
Jo Linsdell: I'm a member of some great networking sites including, facebook, myspace and several yahoo groups. These are good for learning more about the writing industry too.I also manage several blogs including the multi award winning This is a great way to create a following and therefore spread the word about yourself and your writing. On each of my blogs I have links to my books and my other sites.Other peoples blogs are a great way to reach a new audience, so I highly recommend doing interviews and online tours.I also organise an annual online international event called PROMO DAY. It's a whole day dedicated to promoting, networking and learning. This years event will take place on Saturday 9th May at It's free to attend and everyone is welcome.

The Dragon: Thank you for sharing your experience with us today, Jo. It’s always a pleasure to see you here at The Dragon, and we wish you great success with your Italian for Tourists guide!
“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
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Friday, April 10, 2009

An Interview with Tina Murray
Or...The Dragon welcomes Tina to the site

First, today we welcome Romance Author Tina Murray, Naples, Fla., to The Dragon. Tina, we're conducting this interview today as if you were doing a book tour. Because you're a romance author, I'll ask a few questions about your romance novel A Chance to Say Yes, but first, I want to ask about your recently-launched Web site. Can you give the link to Dragon visitors?

Tina Murray: Thank you, Sandy, for allowing me to spend time with you and your readers today. Yes, I am very excited about my new website: My thanks to Rae Monet, who is developing the site. She has created, in my opinion, an outstanding design for me. Actually, I'm not calling myself a romance author these days. I have repositioned A Chance to Say Yes as romantic women's fiction. I have even thought about dropping the "women's" and just calling it contemporary romantic fiction. However, I have yet to speak to my publisher about doing so. I've discovered that men like the story, too, and I'm not convinced A Chance to Say Yes is a good fit for the "romance" genre. We'll see what happens in the future. Everything is ongoing. Being a new author is an adventure for me.

The Dragon: I see that folks can link directly to your publisher (ArcheBooks Publishing) to get a copy of your first novel A Chance to Say Yes from your new site. Did you choose to have folks connect to the publisher's site so they could get the publisher's discount instead of sending them to Amazon?

Tina Murray: Rae suggested I connect to my publisher's site, as I recall. She has developed numerous websites for authors. I would like to link every venue, but that might not work. I don't know yet. I'm learning. The site is still very much a work-in-progress. It just went "live," as Rae puts it, a few days ago. It is only just now "up and running." Sort of like having a new puppy.

The Dragon: When was A Chance to Say Yes released?

Tina Murray: The book was released in the summer of 2008. That would be about nine months ago. It was released as both a hardcover book and an ebook. Both are avaliable for purchase from my website.

The Dragon: What can you tell visitors about how exciting the release of your first novel was?

Tina Murray: I'm still excited. I may never get over it! I've done book signings and given interviews. As I told one radio host, I'm "living the dream." Okay, well, not yet, but I will be soon, I hope. Recently, I hired a PR firm, Ascot Media, to promote A Chance to Say Yes. This has been a good move for me. The folks at Ascot are well-connected and hard-working. The press release they generated for A Chance to Say Yes has produced an exciting response from media outlets around the country. Basically, at this time, I'm in the seed-planting stage. I continue to visualize my efforts bearing fruit.

The Dragon: What is the most exciting part about having A Chance to Say Yes out where everyone can read it?

Tina Murray: The response from readers has been thrilling. They have written me spontaneous, unsolicited letters and emails in which they praise A Chance to Say Yes. A number of readers keep asking me for the sequel. Several have asked for the prequel--and, you know, I'll probably write one. Originally, I proposed three sequential novels, the first one being A Chance to Say Yes. Oh, and I keep hearing suggestions about who should play movie-star Heston Demming. He's the charismatic, drop-dead handsome male lead in A Chance to Say Yes. Hollywood calling!

The Dragon: I know we're taking up precious time from you right now because you're heading off to Hawaii to work on the sequel, so I won't keep you long. Have you already started writing the sequel, or are you still gathering ideas and information?

Tina Murray: I am writing the first sequel now. It is entitled A Wild Dream of Love. Essentially, what I am writing is a family saga, so the characters grow and develop. They expand and contract, breathing beings that they are--at least, in my head they are.

The Dragon: Be sure to keep us posted, Tina! In the meantime, folks can pick up a copy of A Chance to Say Yes at the publisher's site or Amazon easily.

Thank you for stopping by The Dragon!
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Going For a Literary Ride
Or...The Dragon reviews Jane Kennedy Sutton's The Ride

What’s a middle-aged gal to do when she realizes her disappointing marriage is truly over? Well, her best friend just took off on a cruise out of cell phone range and her aunt-actually-mother just passed away so she’s kinda on her own to figure it out. Vulnerable, it would seem. This is how Author Jane Kennedy Sutton hands us the tormented Barbie in the contemporary fiction novel The Ride. Whether you’ve got a strong feminist streak that wants to scream at Barbie each time she takes a risk or you identify a little too well with her worries, Sutton has created a character that forces emotion from you. Mix in an obnoxious husband that too many women in today’s society know, an inheritance that we need to hide from said husband, and a seductive stranger who reeks of self-assurance, and Sutton has a recipe for a coming-of-age story for a woman who’s already come-of-age once.

I definitely recommend The Ride, not just because the author and editors obviously took time in refining it technically, but also because the story moves at a brisk pace, keeping the reader engrossed in the plot as it takes its twists. I was thoroughly impressed with Sutton’s style and enjoyed her first offering in contemporary fiction. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long for another adventure!

From Fantasy Author, Sandy Lender
“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Interview with Author Jane Kennedy Sutton

Welcome to The Dragon, Jane. Today we're conducting an interview that one might experience while participating in an Online Book Tour. So let me ask you a few questions about your recent release The Ride.

The Dragon: First, can you tell us what genre you would use to classify The Ride? I saw it more as a women's adventure story, but I don't know if that's a real category or not!

Jane Kennedy Sutton: The Ride is classified as contemporary women’s fiction. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the positive comments and reviews received from men, which leads me to believe contemporary fiction best describes the genre.

The Dragon: The reviews for The Ride have been largely positive whether people love the main character, Barbie, or want to yell at her. How do you feel toward this character that you lived with while writing for so long? (And how long did you live with her in your head?)

Jane Kennedy Sutton: I can so identify with many of Barbie’s less favorable qualities that I was shocked when I first heard someone didn’t like her. However, in retrospect, I can understand how people can be frustrated with how her low self-esteem leads her to make choices in her life that are not in her best interest. Barbie has been in my head for so many years I’ve lost count and at times I still think of her as an actual ‘being.’

The Dragon: When was The Ride released?

Jane Kennedy Sutton: August 2008 – a month I’ll never forget.

The Dragon: This is your first novel and I know the process was long. Can you share with our visitors what feelings you had when you finally got to hold your book in your hand?

Jane Kennedy Sutton: As the commercial says, “Priceless.” There are times I still find myself hesitant to list my occupation as an author.

The Dragon: You have vast experiences from your travels and the many places you've lived. Will you be working more of those life experiences into more books? Are there more stories already in the works?

Jane Kennedy Sutton: I think my travels and experiences always work their way into my writing but not necessarily in a literal context. I have finished the first draft of my second novel and I do have a million other ideas for books floating around in my head.

The Dragon: Where can visitors go now to get a copy of The Ride? Or to learn more about you?

Jane Kennedy Sutton: The Ride is available at Amazon and other online bookstores. If you don’t see it in your favorite local bookstore, they should be able to order it for you through Ingrams or Baker & Taylor. It’s also available at a discounted price through the publisher, ArcheBooks Publishing. Please visit my web site or my blog for additional information, including upcoming events.

The Dragon: It was a joy to have you stop by The Dragon today, Jane. I'm glad you could make some time to show our visitors how an Online Book Tour interview looks, and I hope they check out your book!

Sandy, it was a pleasure to be here and to participate. Thanks for thinking about me.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Online Book Tours and Developing Long-Lived Characters
Or…The Dragon was busy today

Here’s a nice little update about the fun stuff I did this weekend. The Naples Press Club, of which I’m a member, hosted its Seventh Annual Writer’s Conference and Authors & Books Festival yesterday and today in downtown Naples, Fla. I can’t remember much of what happened yesterday (although I now own some new books) because I had this rude migraine through the night that seems to have wiped the memory drive in my brain. Luckily, those fabulous Imitrex pills take out migraines in a jiffy…

So today I attended again and presented “Designing the Online Book Tour.” Some of you regular visitors may remember the two-month online book tour I conducted when my fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods was released in March 2007 or the much shorter two-week online book tour Jamieson Wolf helped me conduct when the chapbook What Choices We Made was released in November 2008.

For the folks who attended the presentation this afternoon, here are a few of the many sites (with links) that were kind enough to host me.

Alison Kent

Ambrose Musiyiwa

Author Island

Yvonne Walus

I intend to do another online book tour when the next fantasy novel Choices Meant for Kings is released…soon. In the meantime, I’ll be hosting some authors here. Specifically, I’ll have interviews and/or reviews from Tina Murray, Jane Kennedy Sutton and Jo Linsdell this week.

The other cool “hour” for me this afternoon was the “Writers’ Roundtable on Developing the Continuing Character Fiction Series” with Deborah Sharp (in the black jacket), the author of Mama Does Time and the upcoming Mama Rides Shotgun; Lisa Black (in the white and floral dress), suspense author of Takeover; and me, Sandy Lender (in the lavender top), fantasy author of Choices Meant for Gods, What Choices We Made and the upcoming Choices Meant for Kings. Suspense author James W. Hall, author of the recent Hell’s Bay, would have participated in the panel discussion with us, but had to leave early due to illness. We certainly wish him a speedy recovery.

I hope everyone who attended the presentations came away with good information. Check in tomorrow to see Jane Kennedy Sutton’s interview “day”. And check out the post below for an example of a book trailer “day”.

“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
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Friday, April 03, 2009

What Choices We Made by Sandy Lender book trailer

Welcome to Today the Dragon Wins. If you're visiting after attending Sandy's "Online Book Tour" presentation, please note that this is an example of what a tour host can showcase for a day or a "tour stop" for you. This is the book trailer for my most recent release What Choices We Made. If you're just visiting because you like the blog, let me encourage you to visit to pick up your copy of What Choices We Made.