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You. Yes, you! I challenge you… to write a poem!

This is based on a school framework that helps kids who think they aren’t poetic, to write poetry. It has lots of blanks to fill in. The empty framework looks something like this:

The Animal In Me, by (Name)

There is a (animal) in me with (animal part) like (simile) and (animal part) like (simile).

It (sound) like (simile). It (movement) like (simile).

It lives in my (human body part) and makes me (feeling or reaction).

(Choose one)

I wish (__________________________) OR

It makes me want to (_____________________) OR

It makes me feel like (_____________________).

So based on this, here’s what I did along with the students.

THE DRAGON IN ME, by Ms. F.

There is a dragon in me with wings like banners and scales like mosaic armor.

It roars like a geyser. It soars like a queen of the sky.

It lives in my heart and makes me fearless.

It makes me feel like I can do anything. 

So, friends — I challenge you! Put your animal-inside poem in the comments.

Ready? Go!

While hunting Pokemon with my daughter last Friday, I encountered another garden dragon.

celosia1

This is a Celosia called Dragon’s Breath. The variety was bred by Sakata Seeds America and introduced in 2015. It won some awards in the garden industry, and it’s easy to see why.

I’ve known of Celosia for some while. Their distinctive “flame-puff” flowers are hard to forget. But the massed display was a sight to behold.

Kite Fighting

Considering the esteem kites hold in many Asian cultures, it may not be surprising that a sport grew up around them. The goal in kite fighting is to sever the other player or players’ strings. Some competitions are one-on-one duels, while others involve masses of kites flying at once. The winner has the last kite in the air.

By tradition, once a kite’s string is cut, nobody owns it. It is common for boys and young men to run after loose kites and try to claim them. (Yes, that whole Kite Runner thing is based in fact.) Sometimes people are injured while chasing kites, when they crash into an obstacle or even run into traffic.

Another form of competition involves cutting the competitor’s line and then tangling the two together, so the winner can fly both kites at once. In this case, victory is not final until both kites reach the ground. One can imagine that in this competition the losing kites are kept as trophies.

Traditional fighting kites are made of light-weight materials such as paper over bamboo frames. With such simple components, this would have made the sport accessible to people regardless of their economic status. In modern times, players can use nylon, mylar and similar fabrics, with frames of plastic or fiberglass. The string closest to the kite is coated with a mixture of ground glass and glue. The glue strengthens the string, and the glass makes it sharp enough to sever a competitor’s line. Because of the risk a kite will be lost, they usually aren’t highly decorated.

Kite fighting is a tradition in many South-Asian countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. Each country has its own variations of kite design and rules. In the USA, we tend to want to keep our kites so the sport is not widely practiced. But many American kite festivals do include demonstrations of kite-fighting for the interested.

Now that’s a kite to paint a dragon on!

Dragon Kites

Although kites are known all over the world, they are an important cultural art for the Chinese. Kites are believed to have been created in China’s Eastern Zhou kingdom (770-221 BCE). The first documented mention of kites comes from the writings of the philosopher Mo Zi (circa 470-391 BCE).

Initially, simple kites were shaped to mimic birds in flight. The frames were of bamboo covered with paper. Some accounts state that they were used as signalling devices, for instance as a distress signal during a siege. Others say kites were flown for religious reasons, to try to feel at one with the Heavens. Even today, there are temples and public parks in China where people fly kites as an act of devotion.

Over the centuries, the technology improved and new forms developed. People began to use silk rather than paper, and painted it with elaborate designs. So I’m sure there were bird-style kites with dragons painted on them, like my Flamefang, but that isn’t what people mean by a dragon kite.

True dragon kites are made in centipede-style, which consists of many small, square sails connected with string. Each sail has feathers or flags on two sides, for stability. There is an elaborate head piece, also of bamboo and silk, painted to look like a dragon’s head. Actually, the whole kite is painted with incredible, intricate designs. Though small, the many sails create enough lift to take to the air. The kite flies with an undulating motion similar to the way dragon dancers carry their dragon puppets in parades.

Along the way, kite-making became a fine art and cultural touchstone. This web site explains more of the history and process behind dragon kites. Like the elaborate Chinese lanterns I saw last fall, they can take months of patient effort to create. Today, kites are made in China using traditional methods. You’ll find them hanging in art galleries and public buildings, and who knows what those cost. This being the modern era, you can probably buy smaller models made of nylon and plastic in toy and hobby stores.

Flamefang

I’m in the thick of edits for my anthology, Wee Folk and Wise, so time is short for blogging. Release is expected in September. Stay tuned for details!

Anyway, here’s the latest addition to my personal flight of dragons. Flamefang is a kite that my husband gave me for my birthday. We tried to put him in the air last weekend, but the wind was too strong even for a dragonish kite. (Hint: when whole trees are in motion, it is too windy for kites!)
Flamefang

Come to think of it, this is probably a good time to request any topics you readers would like me to cover. As long as it has to do with dragons, of course.

So, any suggestions out there?

Sunshine Award

sunshine-award

Look, look! I’ve been given a blog award. David S. Koster, of On Writing dragons, nominated me and I’m happy to accept. I didn’t get exactly what the point of this award is, but you can kind of tell from the picture, right? Just call me the Sun-shiny Dragon of Cheerfulness.

So thank you, David, and here are answers to the eleven questions you presented me with.

1) Why do you blog?

Wyrmflight started in late 2011 as a way to promote my podcast novel, Masters of Air & Fire, which is about a family of dragons. I decided to blog about all things dragon. The podcast is still available on my web site, above, and I even got a slightly different version into print through Sky Warrior Books!

Since then, the blog has grown into a community of friends who cheer each other on through thick and thin. *sniffle* I love you guys!

2) Have you ever seen a ghost?
Nope. But I have had brief psychic experiences.

3) What is the most amazing place you’ve ever been?
Mesa Verda National Park. Those cliff houses are so haunting and amazing. They’ve inspired a few D&D adventures, for me.

4) Would you rather spend 3 weeks in 90F+ weather or 3 weeks at -30F?
Um… No?

5) What is your dream job?
I would host a magical healing garden where patients could ease their grief, stress, and even mental illness. It would be open to everyone, and they would make donations at the end based on how helpful the visit was.

Oh, you mean in real life? School secretary, I guess.

6) If you could wake up one morning and play an instrument proficiently, any instrument, what would it be?
Bagpipes! How better to get back at my neighbors who run their lawn mowers at 10:00 p.m.

7) Light Roast or Dark Roast? (You have to take a side, even if you don’t drink coffee.)
I prefer a heartier cup, so Dark Roast.

8) Apple or PC?
PC and/or Android.

9) What is the most recent book you’ve read?
The Goat Without Horns, by Thomas Burnett Swann.

10) What is your favorite thing to do?
Besides writing? Gardening, blogging, SF conventions…

11) You have 1 weekend to visit any major city in the world – which one?
Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Talk about some amazing ruins! Then again, Machu Pichu…

If anyone has read this far, I hereby challenge you to accept the Sunshine Award! It’s the usual — thank me, link back to this blog, and answer eleven questions. Here they are:

  1. What inspires your blog?
  2. Name your favorite dragon of all time!
  3. Do you have a literary idol, and if so, who?
  4. Cats or dogs? (You have to take a side, even if you don’t own pets.)
  5. How do you beat writer’s block?
  6. What fandoms do you follow? (Ie: Star Trek, comic books, Lord of the Rings.)
  7. What is your favorite dessert?
  8. Do you play any games that are NOT video games? Which ones?
  9. What is your work space like? (For writing, not your day job.)
  10. How far did you get in school, and was your education worth it?
  11. Imagine your perfect audience. Who are they?

Got it? Go!

The Best Bait

Lately I’ve been hanging out with people who like to fish. They can spend hours talking about what bait they use to catch what. So it made me wonder, if dragons were “fishing” to catch humans, what would they use for bait? I’ve consulted a few of the dragons from my short stories for suggestions. *

Carnisha, Queen of the Crawmaw Mountains, said that she spreads out shiny objects, such as coins or gems. This will always attract treasure hunters.

Lythiskar, from Lollitaine, agreed, but he also said humans can’t resist the smell of food. Many dragons like the smell of popcorn, but Lythiskar said that bacon had never failed him.

Cazarluun, the specter of Venge Keep, suggested that sometimes one wishes to attract the most intelligent humans for a quest or challenge. Therefore one should acquire a mythic artifact that only the wisest will seek.

An urban dragon, Rockayn, pointed out that many humans can read, so she posts signs. She’s had great success with “Free Beer,” although in recent years “Free Wi-Fi” seems to work just as well. In certain neighborhoods, “Lap Dancing” can also be quite successful.

Tetheus, from Shoredance Island, offered the opposite approach. Just put out the word that people should NOT go somewhere, and you won’t be able to keep them away.

* Most of these dragons are featured in short stories from my forthcoming collection, Aunt Ursula’s Atlas.

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