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, April 24, 2010

Overplay it Again, Sam
Or…The Dragon finds an “old” gem from Pearl Jam to share today

(First, seriously, what is a yellow ledbetter? Isn’t it a car? Someone will have to comment and remind me.)

Yellow Ledbetter was released back in the ’90s and went into instant overplay on every radio station worth listening to in the Kansas City area where I lived. Strangely enough…I was thrilled by that. I loved the song then, and, apparently, still love the song. Pearl Jam is a group that I can enjoy, but I can’t find any of their albums on my shelves (bizarre…I think those went with the ex in the blessed dissolution of the marriage).

I never could understand exactly what Eddie Vedder was singing in those lyrics, and I’ve not taken the time to look it up. Anyone want to post it in the comments for us? But that didn’t matter to me. It was the feeling with which he sang that got me. (That and the kickin’ guitar solo.) I just love the song. I don’t have to know what he’s saying. It’s like listening to something lonely and heart-wrenching in another language in some parts…and I want to hear it again no matter how often I hear it.

You know how some songs get played 49 times a day on one station and 53 times a day on another station, and you hear them all 102 times? Thus you grow to despise the song. You hear it in your head when you close your eyes to sleep that night and you curse the silence for allowing the track to play. You try to drown it out by humming some nursery rhyme you learned as a child. Or you turn on the clock radio to replace it with whatever’s on only to discover Time #103 is in progress. When this was taking place for Pearl Jam’s Yellow Ledbetter, I was pleased. I was delighted each time a radio station pumped it across the airwaves. When it slowed in rotation, I was disappointed. Of course, I think that took about 14 or 16 months…

Fast forward to April 2010 and I’m in my car in Southwest Florida where most radio stations suck wind. (I feel moderately qualified to make such a statement because I’m a licensed DJ.) Luckily, there’s one station called “Bob” that plays a pretty wide variety of music with minimal talk and I can tolerate that. As soon as I can afford the upfront lump cost of Sirius, I’ll spring for it, but, geez, there are so many more important things to spend my money on right now. (Book marketing being at the top of the list. Hospital payments being second. Food being third. Priorities, folks. He he he.) So while listening to Bob on my way to a doctor appointment that was going to take money from that third priority category the other day, I heard Yellow Ledbetter. I was thrilled. I made a mental note to add it (for a whopping 99 cents) to my iTunes.

Now my birds are learning what “overplay” means.
Read more about my quirks at my dragon Web site.

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gangstagrass Moves Me
Or...The Dragon suggests watching what Hollywood's up to

Wanna know what literary agents are looking for at any given time? What are they trying to sell to editors for the next literary trend? Take a look at the television set. Hollywood tends to hit it before the books do. I'm rather interested in a fella with an itchy trigger finger showin' up for the U.S. Marshall's office in some backwater town he doesn't wanna be in with this fabulous gangstagrass theme song:

Just because FX has taken a chance on a season with Justified, does this mean all the big New York publishers will be churning out cowboys in the midst of forensic evidence and computer devices? Hopefully not. This one works and it's enough.

It's not really my cuppa tea.

Although that Timothy Olyphant is.

I prefer spaceships. But I confess to liking my spaceship captains with six-shooters (or plasma-shooters, if you prefer) in holsters at their hips. Ala Captain Tightpants from Firefly. Mmmmmm. Would Joss Whedon have let Rench and T.O.N.E.-z do his theme song if SyFy had picked up the series for another run?

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Did You Know Armadillos Are Considered Pests?
Or...The Dragon has found another cute nuisance animal to adore

I've only seen one armadillo alive in the wild. I typically see them mooshed at the side of the road. This fills me with sadness.

So I wondered, what attracts an armadillo? How could I get one to "hang around" the apartment complex and get free handouts from my door?

Turns out, that might not be so grand. Just because I never see them in the wild doesn't mean other folks don't. They're considered as "unfavorable" to some folks as racoons, opossums, bats and so forth. Now here's the rub: I like bats. I like 'possums. When I lived out in the estates (Golden Gate Estates for those of you not familiar with Southwest Florida--yes, that's part of the Everglades), I had a bit of property that was bordered by weeds and swamp and more weeds. I loved it. So did the wildlife. A friendly 'possum came to visit one evening and I was in Heaven. I set out some leftovers for him and he was in Heaven, too. Guess who came back to visit the next night.

So being a fantasy author with non-traditional pets must lead to diggin' non-traditional wildlife. Sure, I'm a sucker for the usual bunnies and Cardinals, but I don't shy away from snakes or frogs. (Until I learned that the snake I'd set up a hide-away for on my aforementioned property was a freakin' water moccasin. He'd never been aggressive toward me so I had no clue those shiny black scales spelled trouble. I never got bit, but the bunny population decreased mightily.)

All this to say, I wish I could attract an armadillo, but I think I'd get in trouble. Here's the question: Should I do it anyway just to get even with the apartment management for making me live with roaches for the past six months? I'll lead the armadillo away to a nice, armadillo-safe place when they solve the roach problem that my cute, fat lizards can't stay on top of. ;)

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."
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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

When is on Online Story Considered Already Published
Or...The Dragon answers a common publishing question

I participate in a variety of online writing groups. Several times a month I see a variation of the question "Can I post my work on my blog and still ask a publisher to accept it later?" The answer depends on whether or not your blog is available to the public. Most publishers aren't interested in accepting work that has already been published and made available to the masses; therefore, publishing your masterpiece online is not a wise move.

If you have a short story to tease readers and build an audience with, by all means, post that on your blog. (Do not expect publishers or magazine editors to have an interest in it later.) If you have a single chapter or a single scene out of your WIP that you'd like to tease an audience with, by all means, post that on your blog with directions on how to order the rest of the novel that a publisher has made available on Amazon or B&N, etc. But if you have an entire work that you'd like to make available, I advise posting it in a manner that is password-protected. By limiting the audience to a fan group or password-protected section of a Web site, you make publishers feel better about buying the material later.

I have a fun-n-frisky paranormal romance novel set in Naples, Fla., that I'm posting in an invitation-only YahooGroup called Sandy's Vampire Sunrise Group. I have the serial novel "hidden" there so my fans can read and enjoy the story (for free), but the publisher can still publish the thing later in the year with no worries. Of course, the published version will have edits and fixes and improvements, but the raw story is doing its job of keeping fans entertained and laughing for the summer.

If you'd like to get in on the fun and read a free (and fun, spooky, tense, humorous) story, do the deed below.
Subscribe to sandysvampiresunrise

"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."
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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Can You Deduct a Speeding Ticket as a Writing Expense?
Or…The Dragon answers your burning authorial tax questions

I’m not really going to answer a lot of tax questions here. April 15 is not my favorite day of the year for the simple reason that it stresses me out and typically sees me writing big ol’ checks to the Federal government and the state of Missouri. Here’s the part where visitors to the blog start to care.

On my way up to Pensacola the other weekend for the GCCRW Silken Sands Conference, I drove like a banshee. I’m not a patient person. At one point, while keeping up with traffic, I sat pretty much on the tail of a slowpoke in the left lane in hopes of encouraging him/her to move over or speed up. (Behind me, another driver did the same.)

Now, I have a fantastic car. A 2008 Dodge Charger. Check that gorgeous picture!

The front end looks like it’s snarling in your rear view mirror. It’s solid. It has that “move over or I’ll push you out of the way” look to it. But not everyone responds. (I’ll be investing in a push guard when my tax refund arrives.)

While sitting on this guy’s bumper, I let my thoughts drift or something, because I looked in my rear view mirror to see a police vehicle on my tail.


I figured I better move over. I also wondered who he was pursuing if the six or seven of us driving aggressively at 80+ mph in a pack weren’t of interest to him. I recently read an article that claimed cops are lowering their tolerance for speeders due to the recession. The supposed 8 to 10 miles over the speed limit that drivers can typically get away with when roaring past a speed trap is ratcheting down, according to the report.

I don’t recall the article offering a “safe” speeding range. If you ask an officer of the law, I’m sure he or she will tell you no speed over the posted limits is “safe.” (The limits are set for a reason. It’s not arbitrary.) The idea is that more written tickets for more speeders means more revenue for the counties in which the law-breakin’ takes place. There were statistics to back it up. And I have to say, considering crime is up and driving is down (both due to the recession), having the number of citations awarded in a county during the month of January triple in 2010 compared to 2009 says something for the officers’ focus.

As luck would have it, the officer tailing the little pack in which I sped along I-75 North a couple weeks ago hadn’t received the memo and I made it to the conference sans citation. Woo-hoo!

The mileage I incurred driving to the conference and the hotel cost while there will be tax deductions when working on my 2010 taxes because the “book writing business” is a business and not a hobby. As a writer, if you can prove that your business is just that, you can write off your expenses. But if your writing is still a hobby, don’t try to pull a fast one on the IRS. Can you say “audit?”

I went to H&R Block for my taxation worries this year. This is the second year that I’ve had mega fear about taxes. The year before the divorce was the first of “abject fear” because of someone else’s lapses in judgment/recall pertaining to deductions and responses. I ended up filing separately that year rather than relying on the Innocent Spouse Rule to protect me in the future. This year I felt the need to claim book income, even though Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings didn’t take me to the Federal income level required before reporting it (bummer, eh?) because my expenses were fairly substantial and I anticipate some changes in the coming months.

So there’s the quick-n-messy taxation discussion for this writer: a tax preparer who’s got my back helped me file a Schedule S form with my schtuff this year. I’m even getting a little something back from the Feds, which I’ll use to pay off a hospital bill. And I don’t have speeding tickets to try to find a spot on the Schedule S for.

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