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Posts Tagged ‘Dragon’s Lure’

Networking, that ambiguous term that means a friendly chat that may or may not result in a career opportunity, works. I’ll give you a few examples to prove my point.

About 10 years ago, I was selling my books at the now non-existent Bel Air (MD) Book Festival on a sweltering day that ended in a cloud-burst. A woman looked at my illustration & book display, asked for contact information, and said she was thinking about starting a magazine. I smiled, chatted with her briefly, handed her my number, and never gave the conversation a 2nd thought. Several years later, I got a call from that woman, Fran Johnson, who was now editor/publisher of Harford’s Heart Magazine, and she offered me the chance to write the magazine’s book review column. And how I even came to be at that book festival is another tale of a friend of a friend suggesting the festival organizer contact me.

 Nearly 30 years ago (yikes, I’m dating myself here), I was standing next to a woman in an aerobics dance class and she was complaining about the illustrator she was using for a cookbook she’d written. I said I could do the job. She asked to see samples. And that was the start of not only a multiple-book working relationship with Bobbie Hinman & Prima Publishing, but the opening of a door that led me to The Vegetarian Resource Group. And  in addition to doing design & illustration work for VRG books and pamphlets, I’ve been illustrating The Vegetarian Journal for 25 years now. Perhaps most importantly, my children’s book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, was published by the VRG.

 In 2009, as President of the Maryland State National League of American Pen Women, I was putting together an Arts Day. I needed women editors for a literary panel. Fran (see above) was busy, but I called a few women I knew who edited literary magazines and a friend who was working for an e-publisher, and had a wonderful group of women for the panel. (All of whom I met through networking). But I still needed a woman editor from a commercial publication to round-out the panel. I looked at the magazines on my shelf, and with little hope of a “Yes,” called Kim Cross of Faerie Magazine. To my delight, Kim agreed to come to the Arts Day and participate on the Women Editors panel. We amicably chatted that day, and have since developed a friendly relationship.  And because of that networking opportunity, I’ve contributed both fiction and nonfiction to Faerie Magazine.

 Which brings me to the newest bonus of networking. For years, I’ve help lead Balticon’s Poetry Workshop (Balticon is the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Annual Convention). There, I met author & editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail. Danielle was editing an anthology of short stories about dragons for Dark Quest Books, and agreed to let me submit a story. The story was selected, Dragon’s Lure was published, and then the book was reviewed by Professor C. of BSCReview — now, BoomTron. Professor C. loved my story, so when my new book, The Greener Forest, was published, I asked him if he’d be interested in reviewing it. He said, “Yes.” And the resulting review and interview can be found on the wonderful BoomTron site: http://www.boomtron.com/2011/04/the-greener-forest-by-vonnie-winslow-crist-review/  and http://www.boomtron.com/2011/04/vonnie-winslow-crist-interview/

Would any of these things have happened without networking? Maybe. But I think writers, illustrators, and anyone looking to expand their professional opportunities need to keep their eyes and ears open to networking possibilities. You never know who might be next to you in line at the grocery store or where that conversation at a meeting might lead.

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I’m a great fan of ravens – whether the Baltimore football team or the darkly feathered bird of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem. I’ve visited Poe’s grave and attended football games. One of my poems about both the Ravens football team and Edgar Allen Poe was published in The Baltimore Review and released as part of a poetry CD. Another one of my poems, Raven, is competing until midnight Jan 26th on the Preditors & Editors Poll.

I challenge Baltimore Raven fans and Poe fans to vote for my poem, “Raven,” until Jan. 26th midnight at: http://www.critters.org/predpoll/poem.shtml Let’s put the word RAVEN at the top of the poll!

And for those who’d like to read Raven, along with my nominated Short Story-Science Fiction, Weathermaker (pub. in Dragon’s Lure); NonFiction article, Tussie-Mussies (pub. in Faerie Magazine); and view my nominated artwork, Wizard (pub. in Aoife’s Kiss), – check out a temporary page on my website: http://www.vonniewinslowcrist.com/preditors__editors_nominated_work

 If you’re so inclined, you can also vote for me, Vonnie Winslow Crist, as author, poet, and artist in the Preditors & Editors Poll. Here’s the link for Artwork to vote for Wizard – you can easily get to the other categories from here: http://www.critters.org/predpoll/artwork.shtml

So thanks to all you who decide to vote. Hooray for Edgar Allen Poe, whose birthday is later this month. And Good Luck, Ravens in tomorrow’s game!

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 At November’s FaeryCon, I had the honor of meeting and chatting briefly with illustrator extraordinaire, Michael Hague. An admirer of his work for many years, I’d brought along 2 books with hopes for an autograph. Not only did he sign, The Little Mermaid, but he sketched in ballpoint pen a wonderful mermaid and fish on the first pages of the book. His sketching style, quiet manner, and kind smile reminded me of Pop (my grandfather) who used to spend countless hours drawing with me when I was a child. I must admit to being a little misty-eyed when I thanked Michael and turned to leave.

“Wait, isn’t that Tolkien’s World?” Michael asked pointing at the unsigned book I held.

 “Yes,” I responded, and began to explain I didn’t want to take too much of his time since there were other fans waiting in line for autographs. Michael waved his hand in the air, then proceeded to sketch a roaring dragon’s head opposite his painting of “Smaug the Magnificent” from The Hobbit.

 Born in the Year of the Dragon, those legendary creatures remain my favorite fabulous beastie. And in 2010, not only did I manage to place my dragon story, “Weathermaker,” in Dragon’s Lure: Legends of a New Age and became the proud owner of a Michael Hague dragon sketch – but I just learned that a recent review of Dragon’s Lure features a paragraph about “Weathermaker.”

So thanks to BSC Review and their book reviewer. For those who’d like to take a peek at the review: http://tinyurl.com/review-of-dragons-lure (Paragraph #4 focuses on “Weathermaker”)

 And now, to begin a dragon sketch of my own!

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 Milder temperatures and a slight breeze made today perfect for trimming the boxwoods, roses, and holly trees in my yard. The trick to trimming shrubs is to snip away the weak bits and tidy up the gangly parts that have grown too large. A gardener’s goal is to have a well-shaped, healthy shrub that’s not only pleasing to the eye, but strong enough to withstand wind, drought, freezing temperatures, and the like.

 A writer must trim their fiction in much the same way. She needs to read through her story with a critical eye and clip away the sections that stick out. She also needs to either strengthen the weaker parts of the narrative or cut them out. No matter how lovely the prose, a misshapen story with over-written sections and malnourished paragraphs stands little chance with most editors.

 And speaking of trimming, those who’re fans of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings will remember how Sam Gamgee gets himself in trouble by eavesdropping while trimming the grass outside Frodo Baggins’ window. Gandalf grabs Sam, drags him into Frodo’s home, and asks the terrified hobbit what he heard. Sam’s reply to the wizard: “I heard a deal that I didn’t rightly understand, about an enemy, and rings, and Mr. Bilbo, sir, and dragons, and a fiery mountain, and – and Elves, sir. I listened because I couldn’t help myself…”

And I, like many writers, must admit to being guilty of eavesdropping. Over-heard conversations in malls, fast-food restaurants, in supermarket lines, in darkened movie theaters, etc. are a fabulous way to learn the rhythm of dialog. I couldn’t make up some of the conversations I’ve jotted down on a napkin or paper place mat. When my ear catches the strange snippets of strangers’ conversations, I can’t help myself – I write them down, and later season my fiction with those words.

 And finally, a sentence or four about those dragons that Sam mentions to the wizard. With or without well-trimmed claws, these magical creatures are one of my favorite beasties. To read a free poem of mine entitled, Dragons, that was published by EMG-Zine visit: http://tinyurl.com/vonnie-dragon Or you can check out my dragon tale in the new anthology, Dragon’s Lure, illustrated by Linda Saboe (the illo reprinted here with permission from artist) & published by Dark Quest Books: http://www.tinyurl.com/vonnie-dragonlure  

My message today for writers: Trim your fiction, gather good dialog while eavesdropping, and add a little magic to your prose (or poetry).

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The third eye, the eye that sees into the mind of another or into the future or past, is often needed when writing a speculative fiction story.

In Science Fiction, it’s common for diverse cultures and alien beings to cross paths. But how do they communicate? A version of the Star Trek universal translator can be employed. I used a translation device in my SF short story, “Pawprints of the Margay.” But that technology isn’t always available in the storyline.

Another SF communication option is to have one or more of the characters able to read minds or sense feelings. An empath (think Star Trek Next Generation’s Troi), a mind-reader, even Spock’s Vulcan mind-meld will all do. The ability to see into another’s thoughts can be a trait of one of the races included in the tale, or a special talent of a select character or group. The singing opossum in my story, “Assassins,” seems to know what is going on in the mind of the central character, Flynn. In this case, the reader is never certain whether an animal third eye is being used, since the point-of-view of the tale doesn’t include the opossum.

In Fantasy, the universal translator is replaced by a wisewoman or wizard character who understands multiple languages (and quite often has special third eye abilities, too). JRR Tolkien’s wizard, Gandalf, and The Lord of the Rings’ elf queen, Galadriel, are examples.  In my story published in UK’s Ethereal Tales, “The Garden Shop,” the main character has the ability to speak and understand the language of plants — certainly an uncommon linguistic talent, but one necessary for this tale.

Sometimes in Fantasy (and SF) there is a Rosetta Stone that serves as a translation device. At other times, a “common” language (or tongue) that all races understand is present. But most often, one or more of the characters has third eye abilities.

In the new anthology from Dark Quest Books, Dragon’s Lure, the dragon in my story, “Weathermaker,” can both send and receive communication by thought. The young woman at the center of the short, May, speaks out-loud. She soon realizes the dragon must be talking to her in mind-speak as well as in an audible voice.

The Residential Aliens anthology, When the Morning Stars Sing, includes my fantasy short, “Blood of the Swan.” Liv, the swan-maiden at the center of this tale has foreknowledge of the arrival of Jorund, the man who comes to ask for her help as a healer. Liv not only has foresight, but also the ability to read some of what is in a person’s mind or heart. And that special ability is intrical to the plot.

Whether called an empath, psychic, mind-melder, thought-reader, swan-maiden, wizard, or dragon — it’s common to find a character with a third eye in speculative fiction. Just take a look at your favorite SF/F tales, and you’ll see what I mean.

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 My short story, Weathermaker, appears in the new anthology from Dark Quest Books: Dragon’s Lure. For those who’ve been following my blog (if you haven’t, go back a couple of pages to catch up), I started working on this tale in October. It’s been a rewarding  journey as a writer to take an idea, carry it through several rewrites, and finally see it “in print” in this wonderful anthology.

If you have any interest in dragons, I urge you to order a copy of  Dragon’s Lure: http://www.tinyurl.com/vonnie-dragonlure

And now, here’s a bit more info about Dragon’s Lure (set to debut at Balticon on Sunday, May 30, 2010):

“Here There Be Dragons!  What is the deal with virgins? Why would a dragon want to swallow the moon? Is a bed of treasure really to be desired?

At long last a collection that delves in the lore on what lures a dragon. We bring you nineteen tempting tales of draconic wonder–along with the lyrics to two classic and much-beloved songs–certain to broaden your understanding of these legendary creatures that have fascinated mankind throughout time and across cultures.

Trek across a dragon’s dream space in C.E. Murphy’s Perchance to Dream…Take wing in Misty Massey’s Flying Away Home…and the burning question in Vonnie Winslow Crist’s Weathermaker…got milk? Everything you wanted to know about dragons, but no one has survived to ask…”

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