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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

While I was taking a break from my book table at Lake City ComiCon, I spotted this great handbag at another vendor’s table.

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Dragon Handbag from The Crafted Geek

The Crafted Geek is the manufacturer and source for this charming piece. Please take a look at their web site.


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

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Will you bear with me while I mix politics and the writing life for a bit? Normally I confine myself to dragon lore here at Wyrmflight, but I’ve experienced a moment of “total recall” that made me do some thinking.

Anyone living in the U. S. (and probably people outside our borders, as well) is aware of the confirmation fight over a supreme court nomination. The nominee has been accused of sexual assault. This comes amid the two-year-and-growing Me Too movement, where women are speaking up about their experiences with sexual harassment or assault. Powerful men are being accused years after the events occurred.

Against this background, I picked up a book given to me by a friend over the summer. Dragon Tales is an anthology from 1983, collecting stories that feature dragons. It’s edited by two revered figures, Isaac Asimov and Martin Greenberg. The authors are luminaries like Orson Scott Card, Gordon R. Dickson, Anne McCaffrey, Gregory Benford, and Dean Koontz. The editors made an effort to find work by early fantasists such as L. Frank Baum, and there were even a pair of women authors I hadn’t heard of before.

Imagine my surprise when the very first story included a sexual assault. A woman is pinned against the wall and kissed, despite her saying she doesn’t want this. It turns out she’s a dragon cursed into the form of a woman. Neat trick! But instead of punishing the fool who laid hands on her, she decides to help him get revenge on some guy he doesn’t like. Wha—?

Later, we see relentless bullying of a retarded man… for which the victim is persuaded to blame himself. We see barmaids equated with whores. Several tales use women as mere pawns, captured by dragons to serve as bait. One of these characters is so shocked by her experience that she becomes nearly mindless, yet apparently lives happily ever after. (“She is a mirror in which her husband can see himself.” This is what we call a Happily Ever After?)

In the most egregious case, a young woman sorceress is hounded by a stronger male sorcerer who sends an invisible incubus to grope and molest her. Ultimately this ends in her being raped while out-of-body fighting her persecutor. After winning, she is determined to summon that incubus again. But it’s not because she intends to punish him. Apparently she regrets missing out on the complete rape experience. WHA—???

When I finished the book, I told my husband I wanted to have a strong drink while taking a hot shower. Because fantasy is my beloved genre. It’s what I read and what I write, and I couldn’t believe the roots of it were buried in such filth. How could I not know this?

What made me really sad was to realize that, actually, I did know it. I read stories like these when I was in high school and bitched to my friends about the sexism. There was a terrible plot arc in the Avengers comic book, where Ms. Marvel (now known as Captain Marvel) was brainwashed and raped and had a baby in a matter of days. The rest of her team thought the baby was adorable and couldn’t understand why Ms. Marvel was so upset. I remember reading an interview with Anne McCaffrey, one of my early idols, who spoke of being asked to write soft-core porn for the SF magazines of the 1960s and ’70s. And she did write it, because the editors paid her well.

I guess I was oblivious, because I still read fantasy and comic books. And time went on. Until I read that anthology, I was able to forget how bad it was.

Now, the whole Sad Puppy debacle appears in a starkly different light. I thought they were all just obnoxious jerks. This anthology reminds me that when they say they want to get back to “the good old days of science fiction,” this is what they mean: women as pawns, women as whores, women who like being raped.

No. No. No. You assholes. No.

Things have gotten better, at least to some extent. Editors are more aware of demeaning content and have begun to avoid it. Certain factions may still think it’s funny to mock trigger warnings, but the warnings are there because they’re needed.

Do we, as a genre, still have miles to go before trigger warnings are no longer needed? Undoubtedly. But we who write fantasy really have come a long way since 1983.

If only certain judges and senators could say the same.


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

 

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Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my forthcoming fantasy novella, The Tower in the Mist. It introduces one of the most unique dragons I have ever written: the drakanox!

While writing this blog for almost seven years, I’ve learned about many dragons with different powers and traditions. One of the most interesting facets has been that some ancient dragons relied on poison rather than fiery breath. Fafnir, in particular, was so poisonous that he created an invisible cloud of lingering poison that killed everything within miles of his lair. In creating the drakanox, I pushed that concept even farther.

For your reference, Zathi and her squad of hunter-guards serve the evil mage, Dar-Gothull. They have captured a renegade mage, Ar-Keilos, and are marching him toward a fatal confrontation with their master. They have encountered a few obstacles…


Zathi didn’t like how the vegetation glistened with moisture all around them. This heavy mist had too much texture and it carried a faint, bitter odor. Jaxynne had asked if they should turn back. Zathi wanted that more than she cared to admit, but she held strong.

“No. We keep going.”

They needed the second ox, had to follow it no matter how far. That, or the day was wasted and everyone pushed the wagon. Between her legs, Spark was calm. He would have been acting up if he smelled something amiss. Zathi held to that for reassurance.

Still, the fog bothered her enough that a call from the back of the line was almost welcome.

“Zathi..?”

Of course, it would have to be the mage. She turned Spark to see Ar-Keilos brushing past Keerin on Ember. Thersa stormed up behind him.

“Hey!” The guardswoman grabbed for his elbow. He deftly avoided her.

“I’m not running off.” Concern tightened his features. “Zathi —”

“I’ve told you not to call me by name.”

His shoulders sagged momentarily. “What, then? I’m not under your command.” Then he waved vigorously, as if shooing a fly. “Ugh, it doesn’t matter. We have to get out of here.”

“You’ll call me sergeant, and why should I listen to you?”

“Because it isn’t fog. Watch this.”

Ar-Keilos snatched a stick from the ground and poked at a cluster of needles on a low-hanging branch. Accumulating moisture weighted the branch down. As they watched, liquid rolled loose, but it didn’t spatter. Instead, it dribbled along the stick in viscous strands, almost like mucus from a runny nose.

“What the,” Razzet muttered from the rear, and Giniver said, “That’s not normal.”

The mage tossed the stick and waited, forcing Zathi to ask the question. “What is it, then?”

“We’re inside a drakanox.” His lack of smugness was almost more alarming than a smirk would have been.

“Bullshit. That’s just a story,” Zathi snapped. Her guardswomen were listening, gauging her reaction. The mage shook his head slowly.

“It’s real. Dar-Gothull used it to bring down Seofan Holl. I know you’re heard of the battle there. You might not have heard that the drakanox got away from him afterward.”

“Nothing gets away from Dar-Gotholl,” Thersa answered stiffly.

“It can turn into mist,” he answered patiently. “How would anybody cage it?”

There was a brief silence. The mage went on, “We minstrels heard that the drakanox is so poisonous that even when it turns to mist, the mist is deadly. At Seofan Holl their arms corroded and the buildings crumbled. It killed every living thing in the Seofan Valley and when it was sated, it turned into a river of fog and went into the Hornwood. They say it wanted to sleep. Or maybe to spawn.”

“Spawn?” Giniver wrinkled her nose with disgust.

“Dar-Gothull wouldn’t let go of a weapon like that,” Keerin objected.

“It was his. He created it,” Jaxynne added.

Zathi nodded. This was part of Dar-Gothull’s legend, a measure of his power and cunning that he brought such a monster into being. Vanquishing Seofan Holl had all but cemented his conquest of Aerde.

“He didn’t actually create it,” the mage rebutted gently. “There were tales of the drakanox long before his rise to power. Dar-Gothull simply made a bargain with the drakanox to fight on his side. Also, he wasn’t at Seofan during the battle or he would have been killed, too.”

“A bargain? You know nothing of Dar-Gothull,” Thersa hissed.

“All the tales agree, Dar-Gothull was in Dakadoz when the drakanox attacked Seofan,” the mage said. “He wasn’t there to stop it leaving, or extend their bargain, or whatever you believe the relationship was.” Again he waved his hand to dismiss the unimportant. “The fact remains, we’re inside the drakanox. We shouldn’t linger.”

The cold weight of decision settled onto Zathi’s shoulders. Ar-Keilos appeared sincere in his concern. Not surprising, since he would share whatever fate they encountered. Yet she didn’t want to take advice from a mage. Despite the appearance, he could be manipulating them.

Still, it seemed she had been right to bring him along. Being right… was a curse.


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

 

 

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Near the end of July, I finished the first draft of a fantasy novella, The Tower in the Mist. Just yesterday, I put the finishing touches on the second draft. It’s 75 pages (single spaced) and just under 32,000 words. What’s it about? As usual, I’ve come up with a rich tale that is difficult to categorize. On Twitter I called it a “Dystopian Swords & Sorcery with an Amazonian-type main character. Plus a lost civilization, giant badger and dragon that takes the form of poisoned mist.”

It’s Dystopian because the characters are living under the Evil Empire of the Wizard King, Dar-Gothull. Its Swords and Sorcery because half the POV is a group of hunter-guards who round up rebellious mages. Also, most mages are evil, which is a hallmark of Swords and Sorcery. The hunter-guards are all women, hence the Amazonian tag. The other POV is a rebel mage who seeks to overthrow Dar-Gothull by nonviolent means. Is there even a category for that?

One interesting thing to share is that I didn’t set out to write about a group of Amazonian women. My first pages had a woman mage being the one who aspired to change the world with kindness. She had been captured by a group of male warriors. It didn’t take me long to realize that a group of men trained by an Evil Empire would rape this woman viciously and often. This was something I just didn’t want to get into — and I’m always telling other writers that you don’t have to put anything in your story that you don’t want to do.

So I flipped their genders. A male mage, Keilos, was captured by female hunter-guards. Immediately the characters sprang to life. Zathi, the tough woman who had fought many battles, both physical and political, to pick her own troop. Keilos, the mage who clung to his ideals in a situation that forced him to compromise every principle. Will they all end up as grist in the mill of the Evil Empire? Hopefully, a lot of people other than myself will want to read about this.

Other things that happened over the summer: directing programs for SpoCon and a web site revamp. I’ve previously mentioned SpoCon as the insane juggling act of speakers and topics, rooms and schedules. I’m happy to say that everything went very well. A few speakers cancelled due to illness, but I was able to get replacements. A wonderful time was had by all. We may not have had enough people attending to break even, though. It depends if the hotel decides to be jerks about their contract.

During SpoCon, my husband got a good picture of me wearing a Wonder Woman tiara, which was my costume for Saturday. I’ve been using that to update my portraits all over the Web. I also re-did my web site, something I do every two to three years. You can check it out here: www.debyfredericks.com.

With all this going on, the end of summer comes as something of a surprise. I’m a school staffer, so I’ll be going back to work next week. Currently my schedule is split between two buildings, 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon. I’ve been interviewing in hopes of getting a full day somewhere, but right now my day is still split. It’s kind of a pain.

How about the rest of you — written anything good lately?


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

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This coming weekend is SpoCon, the annual science fiction convention in my home town. I’m volunteering there as Director of Programming. It’s a year-round thing, really, as I recruit speakers and gather ideas for panels and other events during the weekend. At times, I’m called upon to really BE a dragon as people want to come at the last minute and demand time in the schedule, or they can’t come and I have to find alternative panelists, or they want to know why I didn’t know something that nobody ever told me. It’s stressful, but I really feel good about this year’s convention.

The reason I mention this is that many of you following my blog are writers and artists, or you aspire to be. So I want to recommend that if there’s a local SF convention near you, you ought to be attending. In addition to the technical skills and emotional endurance required for writing, making connections with other writers and artists is a huge benefit.

At SF conventions, you can make friends who encourage you after rejections. You can get work critiqued. You can listen in while older writers and artists talk shop. Some conventions are more juried than others, but the chances are you can get on a few panels. That helps you develop your publicity skills and builds credit with an audience that you are, in fact, a Real Writer/Artist.

The weekends do cost money. There can be travel, lodging, and other expenses even if your membership is comped for doing panels. Think of it as an investment in yourself and your career.

Plus, there will be dragons everywhere! In the art show, in the dealers room, in the games, in the costumes… Who doesn’t want to go see some dragons?


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

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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!


Sign up for my newsletter and win a free E-book, The Weight of Their Souls. Just to go my Facebook page, AuthorDebyFredericks, and click the link on the left that says “Join my mailing list.” Easy, right?

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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.


Sign up for my newsletter and win a free E-book, The Weight of Their Souls. Just to go my Facebook page, AuthorDebyFredericks, and click the link on the left that says “Join my mailing list.” Easy, right?

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