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Book Blast! Southwell and Finaughty’s “Doorway to Destiny” is Available Today

Regular readers of this site will recall TC Southwell and Vanessa Finaughty, the South African author-duo who write across the fantasy and sci-fi divide. Today we’re proud to alert our readers that their joint offering Doorway to Destiny is now available. I hope you will take the time to explore the fine work of these two authors, including their latest.

Doorway to DestinyAnthology Description:

This collection of eleven fantasy and science fiction novels and two anthologies will transport you to strange and exciting worlds to share in the tragedies and triumphs of complex yet endearing heroes and heroines. Discover the gripping works of authors TC Southwell and Vanessa Finaughty and be swept away by magical adventures, epic battles and futuristic voyages to unknown universes. Learn how a vengeful assassin reshapes the fate of three kingdoms and share in a quest to discover the origins of mankind, then follow the tale of a young queen’s fight to be free with the aid of a combat cyborg. Two short story anthologies spice up the fare with dragons, sorcerers and magic galore, and a child of another god strives to save his world from mankind’s ravages. When a mortal dark god treads a tragic path as he rises to destroy the Overworld, a brave young girl risks her life to try to change his savage ways. Each hero and heroine takes a definitive step through a doorway to destiny as he or she seeks to right wrongs and save worlds.

 

Doorway to Destiny links

Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Price: 99c for a limited time only

About TC Southwell

TCSouthwell2T. C. Southwell was born in Sri Lanka and moved to the Seychelles when she was a baby. She spent her formative years exploring the islands – mostly alone. Naturally, her imagination flourished and she developed a keen love of other worlds. The family travelled through Europe and Africa and, after the death of her father, settled in South Africa.

T. C. Southwell has written over thirty fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as five screenplays. Her hobbies include motorcycling, horse riding and art, and she is now a full-time writer.

Links

Author website
Author blog
Twitter
Facebook

 

About Vanessa Finaughty

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESVanessa Finaughty is an author of many genres who now focuses on fantasy and science fiction. She’s published 15 books, of which 6 are fantasy. Vanessa grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children’.

Vanessa has always been passionate about books, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write them one day. She loves animals, coffee and the smell of wet grass, and hates liars, sweltering weather and long queues. Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, mythology, aliens and outer space, ancient history, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.

Links

Author website
Author blog
Twitter
Facebook

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How to Create Original Fantasy Creatures & Beings

Guest post by Vanessa Finaughty, author of the Wizard’s End Series available below!

ryokinThere are as many ways to create original fantasy creatures as there are creatures to be created. I still love my dragons and elves, and other familiar fantasy creatures, but it’s always good to add an original flair to your fantasy stories, something that has the potential to make readers sit back and think, wow, that’s cool!

There are no hard and fast rules to restrict your imagination, but here are some tips if you aren’t sure where to start:

Use existing creatures – fantasy or real life – and add fresh attributes. How much you alter the existing creature/being is entirely up to you. You could take the attributes of a lion or dragon, for example, and create a new physical appearance that looks nothing like the original creature/being. In my Legends of Origin sci-fi fantasy series, the magical ryokin’s physical appearance comes largely from the extinct sabre-tooth tiger – except the ryokin has golden fur with no stripes, and massive wings that enable it to fly. It’s also an intelligent, telepathic being despite its animal appearance. In the short story, Ereolon’s Day of Demons (part of the Sorcery & Subterfuge anthology), the main character is a winged elf – with ogre genes and the ability to bend others’ minds to his will.

Create something solely from your imagination. This can be difficult, but it’s definitely worth it if you do it right. You don’t need to add too many details either, if what you’re creating is a common animal that’s minor to your story. For example, I created a few animals for Wizard of Ends. There are gabbertok, which are dangerous night creatures with slanted yellow eyes that usually live in the woods. The females are protective over their young, but the males will eat their own offspring if the mother is not around. I also created ferocious hound monkeys, which have the bodies of hounds and torsos of monkeys, with sharp, curved teeth and deadly claws. They stand man height on all fours and travel in packs of ten. Each of these has a few more attributes, but nothing too detailed, because they are only there to add flavour to the story.

Visualise the creature or being you’re describing. It might sound okay as you write, but that doesn’t mean it won’t look ridiculous. Unless your story is humorous, you probably don’t want the visuals you give readers to make them laugh.

Eye abstract background

Consider how common fantasy creatures might evolve over a few million years and create the evolved version. You can use any creature/being from dragons and elves to ogres and unicorns, and everything in between.

Other Tips:

When creating your fantasy creature or being, consider some of the following:

* Is it weak or strong? If it’s weak, how does its species survive? If it’s strong, does it dominate the region and, if not, why?
* What temperament does it have?
* Does it have any special abilities?
* What colour are its eyes and skin?
* What texture is its skin?
* Does it have hair? If it has hair, what colour is it, and is it soft or coarse?
* Is its kind social or solitary?
* How does it reproduce? Eggs? Live birth? Other?
* Where does it usually make its home?
* What does it eat?
* What do its teeth look like?

Also, when naming your creature or being, try to keep the name simple and easy to say. There’s nothing worse than reading a fantasy story only to be constantly interrupted as you battle to ‘say’ the name in your mind each time you read it in the book.

I hope this post helps some fellow fantasy authors. Happy writing!

Thanks Vanessa, good advice to get started! Vanessa Finaughty’s new series, “The Wizard of Ends” is out this month and you can get them through the links provided here.

Wizard of Ends Book  I

WoE 1A powerful sorceress wants the Queen of Ends dead, hoping her demise will render the king unable to defend his crown. Only the wizard Lashlor Leaflin is in a position to protect Queen Narraki Dragonsbane, but he avoids using magic – at almost any cost. With creatures of darkness hunting the queen, however, he may be left with little choice but to call on the power he holds within.

Wizard of Ends Book II: Dark Creature

The Queen of Ends has been cursed into a rabid creature of darkness. Only Lashlor’s old flame, Rune Arcana, might be able to remove the curse. Lashlor believes he can find Rune in the WoE 2Mountains of Eclador. The only trouble is – Rune now despises him, and, in all of recorded history, no one has ever returned from these mountains. Fearing the Wizard of Ends will not be able to bring help, the king goes against Lashlor’s advice by enlisting the aid of other magic users.

 

Author biography

Vanessa Finaughty is an author of many genres who now focuses on fantasy and science fiction. She’s published 15 books, of which 6 are fantasy. Vanessa grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children’.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES         {This is Vanessa…}       

Vanessa Finaughty2{…and this is Vanessa on Fantasy}

{ANY QUESTIONS??}

Vanessa has always been passionate about books, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write them one day. She loves animals, coffee and the smell of wet grass, and hates liars, sweltering weather and long queues. Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, mythology, aliens and outer space, ancient history, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.

Links

Author blog
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook
Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes & Noble

Publication dates

Wizard of Ends, Book 1: 9 October 2014
Wizard of Ends, Book 2: Dark Creature: 23 October 2014

 

Author Interview with Lori Fitzgerald- The Dragon’s Message Blog Tour

I never try to hide my methods: the horror of my interrogation chamber is so graphic it should probably come with a warning. Yet the victims keep trooping in- thanks this time once again to the offices of my good procurer, the Magic Appreciation Tour, we have ensnared Lori Fitzgerald making the rounds for her latest work, entitled The Dragon’s Message. I have eagerly anticipated her arrival, not just because I have a new branding iron I’ve wanted to try out, but for several other reasons. My spies inform me that Lori is a devotee of Medieval Lit (sooooo close to Medieval History!), has excellent taste in books and television, and even frequents Ren-Faires (one of the only places in the Alleged Real World where I can blend in). No more delay, let’s get cracking… and I do mean that literally

:: whip-cracking sound :: confess, benighted reprobate, and it will go easier for you!

 Q: OK, first of all… a novelette, seriously? I was barely seated, just getting warmed up on this cool tale, and suddenly I’m nearing the end. Is this some new form of torture for your fans? Perhaps I should take notes! Or is there a devious method to this idea of yours. Tell us how you hit upon the notion of publishing something so bite-sized.

The cover art gets you halfway there by itself!

The cover art gets you halfway there by itself!

A: Finding a peaceful block of uninterrupted time during daylight hours in a household with two young children is quite the dropping of the gauntlet. In fact, can you untie me for a second so I can break up the light-saber battle going on in my living room? (Anachronistic, I know, but explain that to a 6 year old and an 8 year old.) Perhaps one day I’ll be able to concentrate on a lengthier work (I do have novel ideas), but right now I feel a great sense of accomplishment with my novelettes. I find snippets of time here and there throughout the day to write, in between errands or while dinner is in the cauldron. This type of “scheduling” I think lends itself better to a shorter form. Never fear, there will be more stories in the world of The Dragon’s Message. I have both a prequel and a sequel in mind. I would love to bundle all three stories together in a longer form, perhaps even a paperback.

Q: I can name one tale there had BETTER be a sequel to! At the risk of spilling all the magic beans, there be dragons here. I want you to rank these creatures in your world, along the following Eat-to-Greet scale: Tolkein’s Smaug = 1, LeGuin’s Sobriest = 4, McCaffrey’s F’lar = 8. Where do the scaly ones of your world rank in their relations to humans? (Ed. Note. The dragons of the Lands of Hope rate about a 2. On a good day.)

A: I would say that my dragons are most like LeGuin’s Kalessin. Although the details of their backstory is for another tale, I can tell you that dragons are scarce and mistrustful of humans generally because they have been hunted for the magic in their blood. Out of necessity for survival and to share their true nature, they have bestowed their knowledge to one human of each generation. One special human. In The Dragon’s Message, this is Lady Rhiannon, and she is the only human who knows their secrets and can decipher the language that is written in the Dragon Tome. Here be dragons (and an excerpt):

 When Rhiannon was small and had just learned to read, her mother brought her into the hall one day when her father was on campaign, and led her to the large table upon which a great map of their lands lay. She instructed Rhiannon to read the words of the landmarks: castle, road, mountain, forest, village. The young girl touched words inscribed over a place where trees met craggy peaks. “What does that say, my love?” her mother prompted.

“Here be dragons,” Rhiannon answered, glancing up at her mother.

Her mother nodded, smiling. She knelt down in front of Rhiannon so they were at the same height. The lady’s hazel eyes sparkled as she whispered, “I have a secret to share. But I can only share it with a little girl with red and gold hair,” she pulled playfully on Rhiannon’s braid,” who knows how to read.” Rhiannon giggled. “Are you a little girl such as this?” Rhiannon nodded eagerly, and her mother laughed. She stood up and gestured at a tapestry on the wall. “Come, child, the dragon guards our treasure.”

Hand in hand they walked to the tapestry of the sleeping dragon. “Your great-great grandmother wove this tapestry when she was an old woman. It took her a long time to complete, with her hands gnarled so, like the twisted oak by the drawbridge.” The dragon was curled up in front of a turret, with stone dolmens in a semi-circle behind it, interspersed with trees and a mountain peak in the background and bright blue sky above. The dragon’s scales were crimson and woven through with glittering gold thread, and its curved horns and talons were gold. As they paused in front of the large tapestry, Rhiannon looked closely at the eyes of the dragon; she thought perhaps she could see a slit of gold, as if the dragon were only pretending to be asleep.

Rhiannon’s mother stood on tiptoe and moved part of the tapestry to the side, revealing a slit in the stone wall. With her free hand she reached in and drew out a large leather-bound tome. She motioned her daughter to come sit with her on one of the benches that lined the walls. “Look and listen well, my daughter,” she said, and ran her fingers along the smooth cover, “this book is our special treasure, and it contains many secrets within its pages. I am going to teach you how to read them.” She opened the book as Rhiannon snuggled closer to her, her mother’s loose red-gold hair falling over the girl’s shoulder and brushing the crinkly parchment pages of the book which she turned until she came to the picture of a girl.

“The first secret is a story…”

 Q: I was very taken by the unfolding liaison between your two main characters. It’s an April-October relationship, quite touching- the girl who long ago gave a knight her scarf as a favor is now grown. We see a lot through Rhiannon’s eyes- what can you tell me about the knight Gwydion and his feelings? And importantly, how old would you say he is now? I wonder that he stayed unmarried in this society, especially as renowned as he’s become.

A: Gwydion is about my age…and no amount of torture gets a lady to reveal her age! In my head I have Gwydion around 15-20 years older than Rhiannon. When he takes the quest to bring Rhiannon to

My acolytes thought her too cute to torture. I must remain resolute until she confesses!

My acolytes thought her too cute to torture. I must remain resolute until she confesses!

safety he is simply fulfilling his liege-lord’s orders, although he has a fondness for Rhiannon from when she was a child, as readers will see from a flashback as well. However, on their journey Gwydion quickly realizes that she is not a child anymore and (luckily for him) is also quick to change gears and respect her as a lady. Once he sees her more as a peer he allows himself to fall for her. Sir Gwydion is the champion knight of Rhiannon’s father, basically his general, and so between fulfilling his duties to his lord and also running his father’s estate as the eldest son, he has had a lot on his trencher and thus never got married. And there’s also the dragon’s actual message to consider…you know, destiny and true love and all that written in flame can’t be ignored. It’s a scorching hazard.

Q: Yowch! Quite correct :: sucks fingers :: You’ve already given ample evidence of your guilt in this writing-fantasy matter. But now we come to the most grievous of crimes- you help to spread the word on the internet! Tell us more about your involvement with Once Upon a Fan.

A: I’m so proud to be a Staff Writer for the website Once Upon a Fan, the top-rated fansite for ABC’s show Once Upon a Time. One of the popular features of our site is the Origins articles, where we compare and contrast literary characters with their portrayal on the show. I’ve written Origins articles on Sir Lancelot, the Sword in the Stone, and Robin Hood, among others. I’ve tried to show how the symbolic landscape of the medieval mind comes into play in various aspects of Once Upon a Time as well. You can find the Origins library here. I really owe my publication to the show and the fandom. Once Upon a Time inspired me to create my own worlds again after 20 years (oops, is that an inadvertent clue?) in which I stopped writing to focus on my teaching career and having a family. The website and all the writers, artists, and crafters I met in the extremely creative Oncer fandom encouraged me that my lifelong dream of publishing could become a reality.

Once Upon A Fan Logo 1000px SquareQ: Aha, confederates, we shall have them arrested shortly. Where does all this leave you for your writing schedule? Have one, much? I see evidence of two children in my spies’ reports. Egad. Do you have a sacred space with a locked door? Set times to jot your thoughts? If I could take away any money-trouble with a wave of my wand- no wait, that’s my cat-o’nine-tails, hold on- there, supposing you COULD devote full-time to writing, would much change about your writing life?

A: I would love to have a sacred space, but alas, my laptop and I are wandering minstrels. Sometimes I write at the kitchen counter, sometimes in the attic, on rare occasions in the dungeon where the library and playroom are located. I would prefer to have a set time and schedule to write, maybe a few hours every morning, but that just doesn’t fit with my lifestyle right now. Sometimes the kids wake up sick and the actual storming of the castle has to wait a few days (after all, that’s what sieges are for).

Q: If I had to use the old infiltrate-through-the-garderobe trick, a mother of little kids is the one I’d send. I suppose that will have to suffice, for now. So many instruments, so little time… You may go. But be certain that you leave ample contact information here- your book and web links for reader-interest, should we need to drag you back for further interrogation. Thanks, Lori!

A: Thank you, Will…I think! But it’s never truly torturous to talk to a fellow medievalist.

The Dragon’s Message, a Dragon Tome Novelette, is available on Kindle and Nook for $1.99.

A dragon writes a cryptic message with its ember breath in the evening sky…

Lady Rhiannon watches from the turret wall with an ache in her blood. She’s the only person who can decipher the message as the sole keeper of the Dragon Tome. When an old enemy threatens the castle, her father charges his knight with escorting her to a safe haven—the same knight Rhiannon had a crush on as a girl. But she must now convince him to change his plans, for she has her own sacred charge to fulfill…

So begins a journey to hidden ruins where magic slumbers in the stones and love lies in the heart, waiting to awaken. As Rhiannon and the knight face seemingly insurmountable odds, only the dragon knows if they can fulfill their destiny…

 Here are the magic links:

Amazon: http://www.amzn.to/OCTcq9

Barnes & Noble: bit.ly/1epYuBC

 

My blog http://www.whiteravenwriting.blogspot.com

You can also find me on Twitter @MedievalLit and on Facebook at my author page White Raven Writing.

 

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YzZiMWJiNDVkMzNkOGZhZDZjMjQzNmEwZTJjZDFlOjE=/

 

How Tales are Born

Probably, the number-one question I get when I meet someone at a party, and they find out I am an author is: “How do you come up with the ideas for your stories?”

Naturally, I tell them “I turn inward, using my keen introspective to dig deep within my soul for the story.”

After they ‘oww’ and ‘ahh’ over my artistic creative ability, I then tell them, “That’s not really true, in reality, I owe it all to Willow!

First the eyes go wide, and they want to know, “Who’s Willow?”

“My Muse of course.”

Their eyes narrow as the person glares at me like I just dropped out of the sky from the human-like planet of Torenlia (which is just a hop, skip, and jump over in our nearest neighbor, the Alpha Centauri solar system). I especially love it when their nose squishes up like a rabbit.

“But it’s true. It really is,” I tell them.

Then I get The Smile, and they say, “Oh, you mean your imagination. Cute.” It’s a bonus when they shake their heads and roll their eyes.

“But I actually hear Willow talking to me.” I have the story down pat and try to keep a smile on my face the entire time, hoping it will help my case, but I know my next words will only add to their disbelief. “And after I come up with the basic concept, the characters start to converse with me, though not nearly as often or as a clear as Willow.” After all I don’t want to seem crazy.

Oops, narrowed eyes again. “It’s just you using the right side of your brain versus the left, correct?”

I can see the look of incredulity, though it is somewhat difficult through the slit their eyelids have become.

“Yes and No.”

That gets me a frown.

“It is somewhat true in that the right side of your brain tends to look at pictures and events as a whole, opposed to the left side, which looks at sequential steps to make a whole come together.” I don’t bother to go in the study of right and left sides of the brain, but just continue, “But Willow draws from both sides to provide me the images and the flow I need to come up with a story idea. And I can actually hear her voice, the inflection and everything.” By the way, it has a bit of a southerly draw to it, like found in the deep south of the USA, with a southern California overlay.

“So it is just in your own mind?” Their face lights up like they proved a point, but then the lips twist or similar facial expressions appear that reveal their hesitancy. “There really isn’t a Willow is there?”

I have to smile myself now as I have them thinking, maybe, just maybe. “Let me give you an example of how I come up with a new story idea.” I don’t want to make it all about me (well yes I do), but after all, they did ask me.

Meerkat on Guard Duty“I was on a family outing to the zoo, and decided to take a break, just away by myself to commune with the animals. Actually, I was looking for a beer garden, but that really isn’t pertinent. However, while I was walking around (looking for the ‘commune garden’) I turned a corner and there was an enclosure of meerkats. Their little butts sticking out of dozens of caves in the ground, dirt flying behind them as their long claws dug further under the surface.” I take a dramatic pause; which works out nicely as I can also take a sip from my glass of wine.

The momentary break also gave me time to consider something that had always bothered me. What happened when the meerkats had created a honeycomb of tunnels that would cause the ground to collapse? Then I rationalized that maybe zookeepers came in at night and filled in some of the caves. But I digress.

I pick up the story, “What really caught my attention, and made me block out the zoo visitors and all the other meerkats, was the one meerkat sitting upright on its hind legs, at the highest point in the enclosure. Its head darted from side-to-side looking for a threat to the clan below. This one meerkat was giving up its favorite pastime, digging (which I still don’t get), to look after its family, its clan. After a while, another member of the clan took its place and the new meerkat continued the constant guard duty. “

I would get a lot of responses, at this point, from “I knew that.” to “Yeah, I’ve seen them do that. They almost seem human.” And this is normally followed with a well veiled comment like “Interesting.”; which can be translated to, “So what?”

Nevertheless, I push onward. “Like everyone else, I am amazed at the organizational instinct and loyalty to family and clan, but then I sort of zone out, and I can actually see someone. Well, to tell the truth, I don’t see them, but I can feel them as if they are standing next to me and I can tell you what they look like.”

I have to talk fast now, or I know I will lose them. “Then I hear ‘What if it was dragons rather than meerkats?’”

My educated response is ‘Huh?’

Dragon Guarding the Clan“The voice continues ‘What if there was a clan of dragons that lived in caves?’ This voice starts to feed my mind with images. ‘The caves could even be in the ground rather than on a mountain. And what if the older dragons took turns perched on a high peak, above the clan, looking for danger, so they could warn the rest of the clan?’ A landscape starts to fill my mind. I start to picture the concept — a desert or a forested area, with a lot of small hills with cave entrances cut into them, and a lone spire that rises above the hills, where the dragons stand guard. I’ve got the concept, and this is where my right brain would have done its duty, but then Willow gives me more.”

“So that is how you come up with a story?” They still don’t look convinced.

“Yes and No.”

Another frown.

“That is part of it, but there is more to it than that.” I always get to this point and find it hard to describe what happens, but I try nonetheless, “Willow takes these images from my imagination, if you will, and starts putting them in a sequential manner. Then she says ‘What if there were other clans, and the clans didn’t get along, just like meerkat clans? However, the clans must come together with the help of a small group of humans (got to have a group of humans) to combat some great evil that would otherwise devour both humans and dragons alike.’”

“That sounds kind of cool.” I can see a bit of excitement in their expression.

So I drop the bomb. “Then one of the main characters, a dragon, starts telling me how it wondered what these puny humans that had intruded on the clan’s nest wanted from it?” I think they thought I was maybe kidding earlier about characters talking to me.

At this point, I normally get one of two responses.

The first one is “Really? You hear voices?” And then I can count to myself, and before I reach ten, they will have to go refill their drink or just saw someone they needed to talk with.

The second one is “Really? That must be so cool!” And they will spend the next hour pumping me for more information about how I write and my stories.

But the bottom-line is that a tale is born. Or at least that is what Willow tells me.

How do you find inspiration and come up with the story line for your tales?

Heroes Wanted — 99ct

When I tried to set up the audiobook I prepared, I found out that I have to have the eBook in place first. So I used most of the week to publish a two-story collection (roughly 25 pages) outside my normal schedule. The eBook “Heroes Wanted” contains two short stories:

Life™ – Divisions of Myths and Legends
or How to order a dragon
Mondays are hard in any office. When Siegfried von Xanthen is calling before opening hours, the day at Life™ – Divisions of Myths and Legends goes downhill for Rose.

A Different Perspective
Romans attack, and Freyja flees with the women of her clan while the men fight, including her beloved Thordal. Can Allfather Odin help Freyja to save Thordal’s life?

Heroes Wanted

As an eBook, “Heroes Wanted” is only 99ct — as an audiobook it’s bound to be much more expensive (but you get nearly a full hour of audio for the money). I’ll post a link as soon as I know when the audio will be available. It will take some time to get approved and everything.

New Release: DRAGONS’ FLIGHT

It’s here: DRAGONS’ FLIGHT

In this second volume of the Sorcha’s Children series, shifter siblings Brandubh and Morag take flight. Brandubh travels to King Leofric’s court to discover if his destiny lies in the human realm, but his visit is marred by the news that dragons have destroyed a human village. King Leofric charges the dragon-shifter with seeking out and subduing the renegades, but the stakes increase when Brandubh meets a fascinating female dragon … who considers humans vermin to be exterminated.

Meanwhile, Morag shows no interest in life among the humans, preferring to live life on the wing. But can she convince the male dragon of her choice that she is the bond mate he has been waiting for? Only time will tell if these dragons will succeed in mating flights.

DemonDaze-Final-2x3

This is the book I never thought I’d get to write. I was contracted for it with my former publisher, but Sorcha’s Heart and Dragons’ Choice sold so poorly for that press that we decided not to pursue the last two books *sigh* Who would’ve guessed that the series would take off when I Indie published on Amazon? Here’s hoping Dragons’ Flight sells as well as–or better than!–Dragons’ Choice!

Limited Time Offer: I have a 20% off coupon going at Smashwords – now until April 1st!
Coupon Code: FG45K

A Toddler, an Expected Arrival, and a Dragon…

I’m currently on the opposite coast of the good old USA from my home. My daughter is rapidly approaching her due date with her second child, and I’m *helping* by playing with my not-quite-two-year-old grandson while hoping to meet my new granddaughter before I have to go home. Happy times!

Anyway, in honor of the new arrival, I thought I’d share a children’s story with you this week. Deirdre’s Dragon was my very first sale, and the basis for my young adult novel Faery Unexpected. I hope you enjoy meeting Deirdre and Roddy!

Deirdre's Dragon

Deirdre’s Dragon

by Deb Logan

Deirdre rubbed her eyes, and then stared open-mouthed at the dragon squished onto the window seat. He was shiny, golden, and too big to be believed.

The dragon oozed off the cushion onto the hardwood floor. He yawned and stretched, reminding Deirdre of a really big (make that gigantic!) cat.

She stood perfectly still, heart pounding so hard her fingers and toes felt like they might explode. She wondered if the dragon was hungry, but mostly she wondered what dragons ate.

“Caviar,” the dragon rumbled, licking his lips. “You know, little black fish eggs, but I’ll settle for peanut butter and jelly on rye.”

“You, uhh, you talked! Where did you come from? Wait a minute. I didn’t say that out loud.” Words gushed from Deirdre’s mouth. She was standing in the library of Gran’s Scottish mansion talking to a dragon, and all she could do was ask stupid questions.

“Of course I talk,” said the dragon, “and I hear your thoughts, too.” He lifted his lip in what Deirdre hoped was a dragon smile. “As to where I came from, why, you called me.”

“I did? I didn’t mean to. I mean, I’m sure you’re a very nice dragon and all …” her words trailed off. She took a deep breath and tried again. “How did I call you?”

“You touched that silver medal, and on your twelfth birthday, too.” A wisp of smoke escaped his nostrils.

Deirdre hoped he didn’t belch up a flame. With all these books, she’d be toast in a heartbeat! Oh, yeah, the medal. She glanced at the ornament clutched in her sweaty palm. The bright disk boasted a tiny picture of a dragon in mid-flight.

“I am bound to the females of your bloodline,” the dragon continued, “but you must be twelve before I’m allowed to show myself.” He lowered his head and looked straight into her eyes. “Happy birthday, Deirdre.”

“Thank you.” Mom would be pleased. Even with her mind in a whirl, Deirdre remembered her manners. Mom. Aha! “Does my mother know about you?”

“Of course.” He turned his jewel-bright eyes away from Deirdre and glanced around the room. “She’s heard all your Gran’s stories, just as you have.”

“No!” Deirdre cried, stamping her foot. “That’s not what I mean, and you know it.” She decided to be more specific. “Does my mother think you’re real? Has she ever talked to you?”

The dragon ambled to the hearth and curled up in front of the extinct fire. “No.” He yawned and nestled his triangular head onto his front feet. Claws flashed, and then retracted, rescuing the hearthrug from certain destruction.

“Why not?”

“The enchantment skips a generation. You won’t be ready to give me up when your daughter turns twelve.” His eyes sparkled, laughter dancing in their depths. “But when your granddaughter comes of age, well, that will be another bowl of caviar.”

“Well … what if I don’t have a daughter? Or a granddaughter?”

His head jerked up, his eyes round as saucers. “No granddaughter? But you have to have a granddaughter!”

“No, I don’t,” Deirdre said, her heart skipped a beat. Arguing with a dragon might be dangerous, but this was important. “Mom says I can be anything I want.” She planted her fists squarely on her hips and stared up into the dragon’s glittering eyes. “Dad says so, too. I’m going to be an astronaut and discover new planets.”

The dragon stared at her. His huge eyes whirled, and the spiky tip of his golden tail beat a rapid rhythm on the hearthrug. “Maybe you could have a daughter before you go exploring?”

She relaxed a little and considered his suggestion. “Maybe, but I might be too busy training. You might have to wait until I get back from my new planet.”

He looked so disappointed. She wanted to ease the sting. “Maybe I’ll name my first planet after you. Say, what is your name?”

He stood proudly on all four feet, wings furled tightly against his back and made a noise that sounded like chewing up rocks and gargling the slurry.

“Oh.” She cleared her throat — it hurt just listening to that name – and said, “well, maybe I’d better just take you along when I go exploring.” She paused, thought about that terrible noise, and asked, “I don’t suppose you have a nickname?”

He grinned his toothy grin and said, “You may call me Roddy.”

Voices in the hall interrupted them. Deirdre turned from the dragon to stare at the closed door. A moment later, it burst open and Dad stepped into the room.

“Hi, Dad,” she said, stuffing the medal into the back pocket of her jeans. She glanced over her shoulder at Roddy.

The majestic beast was gone. In his place lay Gran’s favorite toy — the dragon she’d told all her stories about.

*~*~*

Late that night, Deirdre snuggled under the covers of the huge bed in Gran’s guest room. The old mansion whispered and creaked around her. Another night she might have been frightened, but not tonight.

Tonight Roddy lay stretched across the length of the bedroom floor. His huge bulk protected her from the unaccustomed night sounds.

“What if Mom comes in?” she whispered.

“She’ll see a toy on the floor,” he replied. “Go to sleep, Deirdre, you’re safe with me.”

She closed her eyes and thought about home. What was she going to do with a dragon in Denver?

“Have the time of your life,” came the nearly silent answer. “We’ll have wonderful adventures. Just wait and see.”

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