random thought

A Day for Dragons

Last Wednesday was just a day for dragons, there’s no contesting it, and it bears commenting on and recording for posterity. Not only was I wearing my favorite dragon shirt, but three new dragons came into my life.

A surprise package showed up in the mail, and I got this lovely soap from my sister and her boyfriend:

Now my whole room smells like dragon’s blood 😉

A new friend gave me this cute little guy – he’s good luck, and the card gives the traits of the dragon according to one version of the Chinese zodiac (you are eccentric and passionate; have good health but complex life; marry a monkey or a rat late in life; Avoid the dog!):

And finally (these are in time order) I got this from my favorite gargoyle:

Because one can never have too many dragon necklaces!!

I’m very happy with the additions to my growing collection. Feel free to share pictures of your favorite dragons – I’d love to see them!!

❤ DragonBeck

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It All Adds Up

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Greetings!

A few days ago, I had a random train of thought, a random writerly train of thought, and as such I was inspired to share.

I, Nicole DragonBeck, have been a member of the Ink Slingers Guild for over 5 years now.

ISG meets every second Wednesday, as a rule, from 7:30 – 9:30 pm, and we generally have one month off a year (which means one skipped meeting) in December for Christmas and New Year’s.

In those five years, I have missed only one meeting (I was camping and didn’t have wi-fi).

The largest part of the meeting is taken up with our exercising – no, we don’t do crunches and push-ups: 3 members each choose a word and we have 5 minutes to write whatever we can, or please, incorporating those three words. Sometimes we do 4 words and 8 minutes. Some of us, and by some of us I mean me, may ignore the timer, but not by that much. When the timer goes off, we go around the table, in no particular order, and read out what we’ve written. We do 2 to 4 exercises in a meeting.

This is a great way to get those writer’s synapses jumping and the creative juices flowing. Note: there is NO critiquing. By anyone. At All. Ever. And there is NO self-invalidation allowed, either. The point is to practice writing, not to demean, degrade, or discount your writing, or the writing of another.

Some members write long-hand, some type in Word. I type my ISG exercises in a text document. I have all of them, since the very first time.

Recently, I dumped it all into Scrivener (the writing program I use and highly recommend) so I could get a word count.

Ready for it?

55,000.

That might not sound like much, but let me put it into perspective for you.

The word count of a novel varies depending on who you ask, and what genre you write.

For example, Wikipedia says:

Novel: over 40,000 words
Novella: 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story: under 7,500 words

From another website, (www.novel-writing-help.com):

A novel is anything over 50,000 words
A novella is between 20,000 and 50,000 words
A short story has a word count of under 20,000 words

Writer’s Digest suggests (depending on the genre) 55,000 – 110,000.

55,000 words, per all the above, is a novel. That would only be the first draft, you understand, but a writer has to start somewhere, and that would be the first step.

Now, time for some maths (if you don’t like maths, don’t worry, I’ve done it for you): writing once every 2 weeks for about 20-30 minutes, for 5 years = 55,000 words = 1 novel.

If that doesn’t sound incredibly gratifying to you, we can double it: writing 1 evening a week, for about 20-30 minutes, for 5 years = 1 novel of 110,000 words (or 2 novels of 55,000 or 1 ½ novels of 85,000…you get the idea)

Double it again: writing 2 evenings a week, for about 20-30 minutes, for 5 years = 2 novels of 110,000 words, or 4 novels of 55,000, etc…

And double it once more: writing 4 evenings a week, for about 20-30 minutes, for 5 years = 4 novels of 110,000 words (or 8 novels of 55,000, or 6 novels of 85,000…).

That’s one novel written* per year. At about 2 hours a week.

Those are all very rough figures, and I’m sure someone could come up with a hundred reasons why it doesn’t work like that, but forget the maths. The point is, it all adds up. You don’t have to sit down for one weekend and pump out 250,000 words of the greatest American novel ever. Publishers wouldn’t even accept that, unless your name starts with Stephen and ends with King, or something like that. You don’t have to write your novel in a week or a month either, in 5-hour stretches every day, and 19 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

Just spend half an hour in an evening, or in the morning, or on a lunch break, or whenever, three or four days a week. In a year, there’s the first draft of your novel written*.

And I don’t believe there’s any restriction on writing more, if one wanted to 😉

Food for thought, for anyone who may care to write a book 🙂

Good writing!

❤ DragonBeck

*Note I qualify the statement with “written”. There’s a lot more, and I mean A LOT more to getting it ready to publish, and then getting it published, but those are other stories 🙂

 

Taking a Moment to Appreciate the Good Things

Hello there 🙂

I had a lovely weekend, and I hope the same is true for the rest of you.

I did exactly no writing, but I got a lot of other things done which will facilitate much writing in the near future.

While getting some months of paperwork handled, drinking coffee,  cleaning, making delicious food, watching a couple good movies, and chilling with my family, I was struck with a thought.

As an aspiring writer, and a human being, I am not entirely satisfied with my lot at the moment. I don’t mean that in a negative or depressing way. There are many things I want, many things I am working on but have not yet achieved.

There’s much to be said for looking forward, and trying to exceed that which you have been or done or had. There is also something to be said for taking a moment and recognizing what you have right now, here, in front of you.

So I took a moment to look at all the amazing things I have in my life; a family that I’m delighted to be a part of; good friends that I love dearly; a lovely home; health; more ideas for stories than I could ever write; a cat who sometimes loves me.

And it made me happy.

I wish a similar happiness for everyone else.

Good night, sweet dreams, my friends 🙂

❤ DragonBeck

Optimism

Optimism is defined as: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

As we come upon the start of this new year, I’m seeing more than I would have expected about how awful 2015 was, and the best we can look forward to in 2016 is more of the same. Or worse.

It may be that 2015 was a horrible year, for many valid reasons. Commenting on it one way or the other will not change it.

People were maltreated, abused, bruised, battered, bludgeoned, and beaten by life, this past year and years before. This does encourage pessimistic sentiments.

But that is not the title or point of this essay.

Sometimes things happen which make one think the whole world, perhaps even the whole universe, is against one, plotting one’s downfall or total annihilation.

As much as that may seem to be the case, it is not true.

One may think the deck is stacked against them in particular, but the odds are more or less equally not in anyone’s favor. The world is rough, life is hard, and if it’s not hard, it’s hard work. That is what we’ve got to deal with.

But we can deal with it from one of two viewpoints: an optimistic viewpoint or a pessimistic viewpoint.

Few people know this golden secret: The world is only as one sees it, the future only what one makes it. No more; no less.

Where there is a will, there is a way. And if the first way, plan A, doesn’t work, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet, and about 20 more alphabets available after that.

Giving up or giving in is a choice, not fate or destiny or circumstance.

One is one’s own worst enemy, the holder of all the chains that hold one down, the creator of all the shadows that darken one’s world.

Any chain or shadow thrown at a person by another, or the universe at large, takes root and grows only when the person themself plants it and waters the seed.

Soon, all that person will see is a dismal, bleak garden overgrown with weeds, with no room for the brightly colored flowers of life.

The best herbicide for these weeds? Optimism. Hope. Not rose-colored glasses, but only the idea that things can get better, and that you can make it so.

It is not necessary to envision a Utopia or a life of total bliss, or to strive for such.

Even if things were a mere hair better, slightly more tolerable, one would have the spirit of it.

If a person found just one more reason to smile, enjoyed one more sunset, said one more kind word to bring a light to another’s face in the whole year than they did the year before, it would be an improvement.

It would be a step in the right direction.

And perhaps, if enough people take that one step to make things just a tiny bit better, that perfect world will become reality, and not just an unachievable Utopian dream.

Perhaps we may even see it in 2016.

One can hope 🙂

❤ DragonBeck

Five Days of Thankfulness

A little over a year ago, I was challenged by Erika Lance to do Five Days of Thankfulness: once a day, for five days, I had to post three things for which I was thankful. I think this is the perfect time of year to revisit those days.

So, here goes!

I’ve been challenged by Erika to daily delineate three things I am thankful for over the next five days, and as that doesn’t involve dumping a bucket of ice-water over my head, I think I’ll go ahead and accept.
Day 1:
As I’m a day late, I’ll start with:
1) TOMORROWS. And not wholly because I tend to procrastinate. While I don’t think one should use tomorrow as an excuse to waste today, the inevitable progression of time is rather reassuring. The future will always be there to catch you no matter what today sprung on you and take you to a new land where magical, fantastic things can happen.
2) FAMILY. In their own special way (some more special than others), each person I share blood and ancestry with is pretty awesome. Which tends to make me awesome by extension, and that is something to be thankful for.
3) FRIENDS. Those warm, fuzzy, lovable, huggable bundles of support, adventure and a touch of crazy. Although I will admit I occasionally get an itch to find a tiny cabin in a secluded mountain range somewhere with no wifi, and live out the rest of my days as a coffee-drinking, chocolate-eating hermit-writer, I would miss you guys too much. Particularly ISG. I’d really miss you guys ❤

Three things for which I am thankful, Day 2:
1) FOOD. All kinds of food. Cheese. Fresh baked bread. Lasagne with handmade pasta. Yellow cake with strawberries and cream cheese icing (thank you Tesia). Brownies. Good old Cajun boudin and jambalaya. Steak. Biscotti…and on and on. If I didn’t have food, life would suck a little bit.
2) CHOCOLATE. The first recorded evidence of chocolate as a food product goes back to Pre-Columbian Mexico. The Mayans and Aztecs were known to make a drink called “Xocoatll” from the beans of the cocoa tree. In 1528, the conquering Spaniards returned to Spain with chocolate still consumed as a beverage. A similar chocolate drink was brought to a royal wedding in France in 1615, and England welcomed chocolate in 1662.
In 1847, Fry & Sons in England introduced the first “eating chocolate,” but didn’t attract much attention due to its bitter taste. In 1874, Daniel Peter, a famed Swiss chocolateer, experimented with various mixtures in an effort to balance chocolate’s rough flavor, and eventually stumbled upon that abundant product — milk. This changed everything and chocolate’s acceptance after that was quick and enthusiastic. And I’m thankful for that.
3) COFFEE. I don’t think I need to explain this one. It is Liquid Fortification. Ambrosia of the Mortals. Heaven in a cup. The End.

Three things for which I am thankful, Day 3:
1) BOOKS. Portals to other worlds designed by inspiration and characters and plot twists, given substance with words and held together with paper and ink and binding; tickets for a train crowded with all sorts of crazy and interesting people, headed to new and fantastic dimensions and adventures beyond imagination. A life without books would be flatter, shallower, duller, drabber and blander.
2) MAGIC. It makes wizards powerful people and evil Mages terrifying. It exists in all of us to some degree or another, and is found in the strangest places, yet only by people who put it there in the first place. It’s actually what *really* makes the world go round. Gravity is just a government cover-up conspiracy.
3) TOILETS. They’re very convenient. Actually, make that all indoor plumbing. I love hot showers and water available at the twist of a tap to cook and clean with. And reverse osmosis filters, to take the clean water and remove all the crap and chemicals that are put in there, supposedly for our benefit.

The Saga continues…three things I am thankful for, Day 4:
1) SMART PEOPLE. People who use their minds to change and shape the world. People who see solutions, not problems. People who know that “It’s impossible,” is opinion, not fact. People who see that things can be better or more efficient and plan, scheme and dream up ways to make it so.
2) GOOD PEOPLE. Those of goodwill. Who keep the world going with their kind acts, their compassionate words and strong hearts. The people who try to find some way to make the world better each day. And those that keep the world a good place despite all invitation to do otherwise.
3) BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. People who are beautiful on the inside and people who are beautiful on the outside. And people who possess both of the aforementioned beauties. People who are beautiful in all ways, shapes and sizes, for all reasons. They make the whole world more beautiful simply by being.

Day 5 and my last triumvirate of thankfulness:
1) MUSIC. Songs can be a muse, a comfort or an infusion of verve and vigor. They carry you away on wings of sonic awesomeness, take you out of the mundane to the sublime and give you tingles.
2) DRAGONS. Just because.
3) SMILES. The big, bright, happy, fun, slightly mischievous ones. In a flash they brighten the world up to luminous magnificence or magnificent luminescence. Especially Tom Hiddleston’s 😉

 

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday, with many, many things to be thankful for, both great and small 🙂

❤ DragonBeck

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, this is going to be a little corny and sentimental, but a little corn never hurt anyone (as long as it’s not GMO).

So here goes: in accordance with the holiday, I am going to take this opportunity to share the things that I am thankful for, those things being:

the big, floating, spinning ball of rock that I find myself on at this moment in time. It’s a pretty incredible place to live if you think about it – terrible sometimes, but beautiful and nurturing for the most part. Our lovely blue-green marble with its breathable air and drinkable water and farmable land is a gift which is taken for granted much of the time, but would make life unbearable if all of it suddenly disappeared. Thank you to whomever put it here in the first place and those that take care of it and work to keep it the way it was meant to be – green and clean

the United States of America. I know things are in a pretty sorry condition and rapidly deteriorating, but we have at least a concept and history of liberty, which many places don’t have. We have a foundation, albeit an eroding foundation, but a foundation nonetheless of freedom and opportunity. We can still mention things like “Ron Paul” “Constitution” “Freedom of speech” and “The right to keep and bear arms”. We still have the right to association and to assembly, to form our own groups for our own purposes; the freedom of religion and the right to practice whichever faith we choose. And many others. In remembrance of our Founding Fathers who created this great country two hundred plus years ago and the people in the present who continue to make this a truly great country, thank you.

the British with their policemen, the Germans with their mechanical skill, the French and their impressive culinary skills, the Swiss and their management sensibilities, the Italians and their passion and all other nationalities, races and cultures with all their numerous traditions, skills and contributions in making this world a little less like hell and a little more like heaven. Thank you, danke, merci, grazie, xie xie, tak, arigato, kamsa hamnida, dziekuje, spasibo, multumesc, gracias, obrigada, go raibh maith agaibh, chokrane, faleminderit, toda, dankie, asante sana, enkosi, ngiyabonga

the good people who do good things, even when they don’t have to. The one who helps a stranger, who smiles just to brighten another’s day, who opens the door for another, the person who tutors the struggling child, the one who lends a hand or a shoulder or hug when it’s needed and not just when it’s asked for, who shares their umbrella or lets someone pass in front or go ahead of them, who treat others as they would like to be treated and don’t do to others the things they would not like to have happen to them. The world would be a far worse place if not for all of you, so thank you.

the people who maintain the infrastructure, the roads, the bridges, the sewers, the libraries, and the parks, the people who deliver the post and take away our trash, the people who work to provide water and electricity, the people who fix the broken things, grow the food, who fly the planes and drive the buses and trains that get everyone where they need to go – in short, all the people who keep this world running with their time, effort and diligence, who are not often thought about unless they are NOT there – thank you.

the people who create the future: the leaders, the teachers, the artists, painters, musicians, sculptures, writers, actors, photographers, the dreamers, the DOERS, and lessons they impart, the amazing songs they play, the works of art that brighten the whole world, the inspiring photographs they take, the awesome movies they make, the books and stories and other worlds they create and transport us to. They deserve a huge “Thank you!” for if not for them where on earth would we be going?

and last but hardly least, to every one of my friends and family who make my life so much more interesting, chaotic, amazing and fulfilling than I could ever manage to do on my own. At times I believe I may have hinted at how wonderful you all are, but I really want to make the point here and now. You really are wonderful. All your quirks, habits, personalities, quips, jokes, advice, praise, admiration, help, smiles, support, joys, successes, dreams, goals, ideas, everything, are truly appreciated and absolutely invaluable. I am a big fan of words, but sometimes even words seem too paltry to accurately communicate the concept and emotion of how much I love you. I am thankful you are here and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being here

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Peace and love,

❤ DragonBeck

A Little Magic

It is a well known fact that this universe we inhabit is a universe primarily of science; of machines, engines, physics, chemical reactions; of atoms, molecules, protons, electrons and neutrons, of 3.14159…, of E = mc 2; of centrifugal force, of gravity, of speed = distance/time; too it is the universe of photon torpedoes, interplanetary spacecraft, transporters, hyperspace drives, scanners and genetic manipulation; of aliens, Einstein and Schrödinger’s cat.

It is a universe that to all appearances lacks magic as a fundamental operating principle.

It is somewhat of a lesser known fact that occasionally, a little magic manages to leak into this universe.

I’m not referring to sleight of hand, card trick, pull a rabbit out of a hat stuff. I mean real magic.

This magic takes many forms, and many of those forms are so subtle that one would perhaps not consider that it is magic: a smile, a kiss, the presenting of a gift for no particular reason at all. Reading a good book. Spontaneity. Happiness. Hope. Those things that make people feel as though they are important. Things as simple as noticing that someone is waiting to walk inside and holding the door open for them.

This universe needs more magic.

Food for thought.

❤ DragonBeck

P.S. I suppose one could argue that science itself is a form of magic, but that is a discussion for another time 😉

Writing is Like Driving

Random thought:

Writing is like driving.

Some people only want a way to move their body from point A to point B.

Other people want to become one with the engine, to feel the car respond with a purr or a roar, the wind in their hair, loud music serenading the world as they fly by, seeking out the road less traveled, where it leads and what lies on the way.

With or without a map 😉

❤ DragonBeck

The Perfect Word

Hello everyone 🙂

Writing is going well. Editing is going well. Things are coming along. The Guardians of the Path: First Magyc will be out shortly. I’m really, really excited about that. The cover looks amazing, and yes, The Song managed to get onto the back (yay for Lisa Barry of Witching Hour Publishing!!).

I don’t have much to say about anything else at the moment, except for this rather random thought. Sometimes I think of something in a story, an object, a color, a pattern or other thing, and I don’t have a word for it. So, I spend a sentence or a paragraph describing it and forget about it. Later, I’ll be browsing the Internet and stumble upon THE PERFECT WORD.

The most recent example happened this weekend and it really tickled me, because it led to Celtic and Norse mythology, which I have a special fondness for. I had described a tattoo on the back of a certain character’s hand as “a series of interlocking triangles”. Then I changed my mind and decided it was a series of interlocking circles. Or maybe it was a mix of the two.

Well, guess what? There’s a word for what I was thinking. The word is “triquetra”. Google that.

Perfect right? I thought so. I found out that it’s a pagan symbol of three, most often associated with maiden, mother and crone, or heaven, earth and the underworld. It’s also called an Irish Trinity Knot, which is even cooler than triquetra, but I don’t have an Ireland in my story, unfortunately. I jumped some more links and got to the Norse valknut, a symbol consisting of three interlocked triangles (Norse mythology fascinates me). As it is said to be associated with the journey to death and back to life again, it fits into my story rather nicely (cue ominous music).

I do hope your weekend was as fulfilling as mine, and in the words of the Norsemen: Ásáheil og vána! (Blessing of Aesir and Vanir!)

Goodnight!

❤ DragonBeck