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Archive for May, 2018

Here’s another teaser from my e-book, Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore. It was especially exciting to learn that Native Hawai’ian tradition included a type of dragon called the mo’o that was connected with their ancestral dead. I hope you’ll enjoy this tidbit from 2014.


Mo’o, Hawai’i’s Ghost Dragons (December 2, 2014)

Did you know Hawai’ian mythology includes dragons? Until a few days ago, I didn’t either!

Native Hawai’ian people are part of an extended cultural family generally known as Polynesians, who explored and colonized all over the South Pacific from New Zealand to Rapa Nui (a.k.a. Easter Island) and of course to Hawai’i. It’s believed that Polynesian culture spread from somewhere in Southeast Asia, possibly around Malaysia, and so the Hawai’ian dragons share some features with other Asian dragons. Yet they also have their own unique origins.

Mo’o are great water spirits who can change form between that of a water dragon and a human woman. There are male mo’o, but the majority are female. They dwelt in pools and ponds as well as in caves. Mo’o had power over weather and dangerous waves (tsunami), and other magical powers as well. They are described as twenty to thirty feet long, jet black, and shining in the water.

Because fresh water is one of the most precious resources in the island environment, the mo’o who guarded these pools were worshiped along with the other nature deities of Hawai’ian lore. Every pond capable of providing fish had its own altar dedicated to the mo’o who defended it. Local people burned fires and made offerings of awa (a drink made from the kava plant) in the belief that a mo’o who was well cared for would provide plenty of clean water and fish to the community. Likewise a neglected mo’o could become vicious and spiteful.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Wyrmflight

I’m so excited to tell you that my latest book is out. Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore collects my favorite posts from the first six years of this very blog. It came in just over 500 pages in trade paperback — the size of a real novel!

Just like a novel, it’s packed with great stories, amazing characters, battles, drama, laughter, and many, many dragons. Unless you’ve been following me the entire time since 2012, I know you’ll find something new and surprising.

The book is available in all e-book formats for $4.99 and trade paperback for $17.99 U. S. dollars. Some formats take longer in processing than others, but by the time you read this, it should all be set up.

Please check out the book’s hub on Draft 2 Digital, where you can purchase from your favorite e-bookstore. That is, any except Amazon, which wants to be special and have its own book hub. By the time you see this post, it will all be set up.

You can also visit my author page at Draft 2 Digital. This shows all my e-books. You know, just in case you missed one. Amazon, again wanting to be special, has its own author page.

Now, my one request. Reviews are more precious than any dragon’s gold. If you buy the book and like it, please do leave a review. And tell all your friends!


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I’m in the final days of preparing Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore for publication. This is the frustrating part, where every T has to be crossed and every I has to be dotted. It all has to be right, so my book doesn’t look like something a lame amateur spit out.

I had hoped to be done by now. I wanted to be giving you the big, exciting announcement today. But I’m being hung up by some sort of technical bug. The software for formatting the print book keeps inserting blank pages at the end of paragraphs. I’ve corrected this three times and the blank pages reappear in the same places. I wish I could send a flight of flaming dragons!

Hmmm, maybe that wouldn’t be helpful. But if anyone knows what might be causing this, I’d love your suggestions.

Anyhow, here’s a snippet from one of my favorite posts, back in 2014 — Number Five Lucky Dragon.


 

As Hallowe’en approaches, I bring you a true horror story from the cold war. Daigo Fukuryu Maru was a humble Japanese fishing vessel that set out from Yaizu to catch tuna in January of 1954. Its name translates roughly as “Number Five Lucky Dragon,” a cruel irony in light of the ship’s fate. Daigo Fukuryu Maru ran into engine trouble almost immediately. Near Midway Island, it snagged its lines on a coral reef and lost nearly half of them. The young captain, Hisakichi Tsutsui, refused to return to port without something to show for it. He headed south, toward the Marshall Islands.

By the end of February, 1954, Daigo Fukuryu Maru was fishing near Bikini Atoll. Yes, THAT Bikini Atoll. Supplies were running low, and they planned to fish one more day before heading back to port. None of the crew had any idea that the U. S. Government had established an exclusion zone around Bikini Atoll because they were planning a Hydrogen bomb test. The hapless vessel was outside the exclusion zone, but that was little consolation after the fact.

At 6:45 a.m., a tremendous flash drew the crew up to the deck. It looked like the sun was rising in the west. “Bridge, sky and sea burst into view, painted in flaming sunset colors,” recalled crewman Matakichi Oishi. What the stunned crew witnessed was the detonation of Castle Bravo, a new type of nuclear weapon that worked a little too well. The blast had been expected to yield 6 kilotons; the actual yield was closer to 15. It was the greatest human-caused explosion to date, and the consequences were devastating.

Well, I hope this piques your interest for Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore! Which will be coming soon, I swear it!


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Since at least 2012, Florida residents have reported sightings of large lizards in neighborhoods that border canals and other waterways. The most persistent sightings, in late 2017, described an animal around 5 feet long (1.5 meters), drab green with white or yellow bands. It was thought to be a Water Monitor, but possibly a Nile or Savannah Monitor.

As reported in this news story, Florida wildlife officials stated that the lizard posed no risk to humans, but cats and small dogs could have been in danger if the animal got hungry. No one knew where such a creature could have come from. Perhaps it had escaped from captivity during one of the frequent hurricanes, or an irresponsible owner had released it into the wild.

The public was enlisted in an extensive effort to capture the potentially invasive reptile. People who spotted it were asked to take photos and give precise information on where and when they saw it. State wildlife officers then set traps around Key West in an effort to humanely capture the lizard. They did capture a smaller (2 ft long) Savannah Monitor, but the big guy remained at large. (Ha ha.)

Eventually the owner came forward to help with the search. Kevin Hennings explained that Poseidon, the Water Monitor, had indeed escaped his enclosure after Hurricane Irma damaged it. Once Poseidon was spotted, Hennings was able to approach and lure his pet with food. As of November 7, 2017, Poseidon had been returned home. Hennings planned to make improvements on his habitat and avoid a repeat of Poseidon’s big adventure.

Although this case ended happily, Florida is prime habitat for all sorts of tropical creatures. Wildlife officials have warned for years that other large reptiles are invading their state. Of particular concern are Boa Constrictors, which have established a permanent population and are wreaking havoc on the native wildlife. The state has  even begun having annual Boa Derbies to control the spread of these invaders.

It seems that it’s only a matter of time before they experience another dragon invasion.


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The amphiptere (pronounced am-fit-ear) is a sub-type of the European dragon. It may also be called an amphithere or amphitere. This creature has a snakelike body with a long tail and wings, but no other limbs. Thus it is somewhat the opposite of a lindworm, which has two legs and often is shown without wings.

At times, these dragons are referred to as a hybrid of serpents with some other creature. They may be shown with bird-like, feathered wings or with bat-like, leathery ones. It may simply depend on the artist’s inspiration.

There is no mention of any breath weapon, and I haven’t found any stories that specify a legend around an amphiptere. So these dragons may be mainly based in heraldry, where dragons were fairly common. People who wanted to use a dragon in their arms had to look for variations in order to be accepted.


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Ancient Native Americans left behind many forms of rock art, including petroglyphs that were pecked into rock faces with smaller stones, and pictographs that were painted onto the stone. One of the best known pictographs was a monumental figure called the Piasa Bird, on an exposed limestone cliff above the Mississippi River in what is now Illinois. It was the largest painted pre-historic image known to have existed in the continental United States.

Like many legendary dragons, the Piasa Bird was a hybrid creature with many parts. It was quadrupedal, with a long body that reminds me of a cougar’s, but with clawed feet like an eagle or falcon. The wings were as large as its body. Its head and face were humanlike, with a bushy beard, but it had antlers. A long tail circled almost completely around its body, with a fork at the end like that of a fish. All parts of it except the face were covered with feathers, or perhaps scales.

Archaeologists believe that this pictograph originated with the Cahokia people. Cahokia was one of the largest native kingdoms in North America. The culture reached its zenith around 1200 C. E. Due to its great size and prominent location, scholars speculate the rock art was a sort of billboard. “Caution: You Are Entering Cahokia Territory.”

As early as 1673, explorers and travelers made note of the rock art, which included several smaller figures in addition to the Piasa Bird. Their accounts state that Native people would shoot their guns at the pictograph whenever they passed. So possibly this was a “scapegoat” image and attacking it was meant to drive off evil forces. Or perhaps later tribes remembered the Cahokia with hatred, and showed it by attacking their most visible relics.

As you can see from all these theories, there is no clear understanding of what the Piasa Bird represented when it was made. (No one seems to have asked the tribal members, I have to note.) One printed account, by college professor John Russell, claimed that the tribes in the area had been at war, and the gigantic Piasa Bird fed on the corpses of fallen warriors. It enjoyed this treat so much that it began snatching people from the villages nearby. A local chief named Ouatoga prayed to the Great Spirit and received a vision. He armed a number of warriors with poisoned arrows and stationed them around the Piasa’s cavernous lair. Then, using himself as bait, he lured the monster out. It soon fell to the tribal arrows. The natives then painted its image to commemorate the deed.

Dramatic as this account may be, there is no documentation to support it. There won’t be, either. The Piasa Bird was painted onto high quality limestone, which was mined beginning in the 1870s. The entire array of images was destroyed. Some historic drawings do survive. Based on these, a re-creation of the Piasa Bird has been painted onto a bluff not far from the site of the original. You can see it at Piasa Bird Park near Alton, IL. The Piasa Bird is also a mascot for a nearby high school.


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Wyrmflight Here it is, the cover for Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore! Thanks so much to everyone who offered feedback. I think I was able to combine ideas pretty well.

Now, the back cover matter:

DO YOU LOVE DRAGONS? (I KNEW YOU WOULD SAY YES!)

Then let me tell you about my blog…

Since 2012, Wyrmflight is the blog for everyone who loves dragons. I’ve had so much fun researching and writing about them, I decided to assemble my favorite posts. It’s a true hoard of dragon lore. (Get it?)

Here you’ll find the great dragons of mythology and folklore from around the world. Discover fascinating true stories about real dragons. (There are more of them than you think!) Plus a few reviews, jokes and poems about dragons.

So come into the dragon’s lair! (If you dare…)

What do you think? (Are there too many parentheticals?) As before, your insights and suggestions are most welcome.

Much tweaking remains to be done, but I’m hoping to get this out within the next week or so. That will allow me to focus on my next pressing assignment, the programming schedule for SpoCon.


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