Here’s a short story about a dragon who is supposed to have a rider … and for some reason, years have gone by, and he’s never found them. This story kind of wants to be a book someday, so let me know if you think it ought to be expanded.
The dragon’s bond
by K.M. Carroll
“Haven’t you found your bond rider yet?” a dragon sneered.
The gray dragon tightened his wings against his sides and lowered his head in shame. “No … no, I haven’t.”
The other dragons laughed. A crowd of them waited as the humans poured a savory stew into huge bowls for each of them. Every dragon was a brilliant, sparkly red, or yellow, or green, or blue. They all had bond riders and proper names.
The gray had no rider, no name, and no color. All of them had begun as grays, when they had been sent out from the Shield, created by its power. But all of them had found the human the Shield had created them to bond with … except him.
Every so often I get fed up with Strong Women and I have to blog about it. In fact, I’ve blogged about it several other times.
What filled up my meter this time were comments on a couple of writers groups that I frequent. First off, a writer was asking for help writing a character. This character is the kickass girl who features in much of Urban Fantasy. In fact, the author had made her SO kickass that they couldn’t relate to her at all. They simply could not write this character. She was shallow as a puddle. The thread was full of helpful advice, including “don’t write her, write the people around her”. So … kind of a Rand al’Thor kind of situation.
The other one was a poll about “which would you rather read about: shieldmaidens or sorceresses?”
I yawned at both categories. They’re both Strong Women who would be equally interesting as men. There’s nothing to them.
In an earlier blog post, I said:
In books, I enjoy a strong woman as much as anyone. David Balducci seems to write about tough women with handguns who still manage to be vulnerable. And women are tough. Speaking from experience, you have to be tough to raise kids. When the five-year-old stands there and screams, “NO!” you have to have the willpower to punish him and not let him have his way.
And yet women have this streak of Damsel in Distress, and men instinctively find it attractive. It’s the feminine mystique. Men love to care for their women by doing things for them–putting gas in her car, buying her a coveted item, working long hours to keep her clothed and fed.
Sometimes it’s hard for a woman to let her man do these things. Feminism whispers constantly that she should be out winning those things for herself, and not depend on any mere man.
But as soon as a woman swings a sword, she’s just another man. She’s lost the mystique. (And technically, women don’t have the upper-body strength for swords anyway.)
I recently saw another debate that was splitting hairs about misogyny in movies, and they were complaining about how many times Buffy got rescued by her man-friends verses doing the rescuing. It sounded about 50/50 to me, but man, these women were throwing a FIT.
And yet, I’ll bet you these women read romance novels by the cartload. What happens in romance novels? The heroine is charmed off her feet and into bed by a handsome manporn hero. MISOGYNY!
In this blog post, I listed four characteristics of a strong (female) character. They are Strong Moral Foundation, Gentleness, Listening, and Service. For example, this is what Listening means:
The strong character must be a good listener, empathetic to others. Women are exceptional at empathy, but often this is overlooked in exchange for her leet katana skillz. We want our urban fantasy heroine to dice up demons! We don’t want a Doctor Who character who first seeks to understand the monster. Pff, nobody watches that Doctor Who show anymore, anyway!
(And now with Femme Doctor on the way, I wonder how much of his/her character will be inverted in favor of the Strong Woman trope.)
Elizabeth Elliot talked on her radio show about meeting Betty Greene, one of the founders of Missionary Aviation Fellowship. (You can read more about Betty’s astonishing accomplishments in World War I as a WASP, and how she was the first woman to fly over the Andes, here.) Elizabeth Elliot remarked about how she expected a really rough character, but Betty was soft-spoken and very feminine. She asked Betty how she held on to her femininity in the middle of such a male-dominated field as aviation.
Betty replied that she looked around at all the men she would be working with, and she resolved that she would be as feminine as possible. And she said that the men always treated her respectfully.
So, was Betty Greene a Strong Woman? You bet she was. But she wasn’t a feminist, because the goal of feminism is to become the same as a man. She was, instead, a woman. There’s a reason I’m not writing feminist books.
I want to read more heroines who embrace their femininity. If I want to read about someone acting masculine, I’ll read about men. Heck, most male characters have more vulnerabilities than Strong Woman characters. I complain about that here. (Loki, heyo!)
I’ve been super busy the last week or so. Let me show you the list:
I’ve got the paperback of Malicious formatted and almost ready to go. Just waiting on my proof copy to show up. Not quite ready for sale yet, alas!
The whole Puzzle Box trilogy, Malevolent, Malcontent, and Malicious, are available in a single omnibus now. I’m debating turning it into a paperback, because it’s kind of a tome. For sale now on the platform of your choice! Except Smashwords. Smashwords is a pain.
I also got off my tush and finished the edits on the second dragon cozy mystery I’ve been working on. Here it is!
A fad diet has swept Carefree, Arizona. Tianna, drake shifter, has her hands full trying to invent a type of ice cream that meets the diet’s rigorous standards before the celebrity creator arrives. But when the diet creator turns up dead, Tianna must call upon her drake skills to sniff out the culprit.
A whirlwind of intrigue sweeps her in, from shifty cameramen to secretive publicists, as well as an abandoned chihuahua who knows more than she lets on. Helped (and hindered) by her friends Katie and Bruce, Tianna must find the killer hidden among the tour team before they leave town, letting the killer escape and strike again … or before Tianna gets too close and winds up on ice.
There you have it, folks. Where I’ve been when I’m not shmoozing around social media … working! Next project is launching this superhero trilogy. Still working through edits on that, as well as building covers for it. Trying to make it look as epic as the story inside truly is. 😀
Today I’m participating in a blog hop for a fantastic new book called the Electric Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder.
About the Book
The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.
Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.
To save their show, Carthage & Huxley risk everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen.In this stardust-and-spark-poweredempire of floating islandsandflying trains, a shot at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroatworld of critics, high society, and rival magicians —but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.
Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each otherthat may cost them everything.
“Dazzles from start to finish. In Carthage & Huxley, Sherlock & Watson fans will find another dynamic duo whose ready wit and sizzling banter(and inevitable personality clashes) never fail to delight. You’ll be calling for an encore performance.” Gillian Bronte Adams, author of The Songkeeper Chronicles
“The stuff thatfandoms are built on.” Kyle Robert Shultz, author of Beaumont & Beasley
Mollie’s first job was with a major theme park, where she operated a roller coaster, fixed parade floats, and helped Scooby-Doo put on his head. Now, Mollie is a movie producer and the author of character-driven science fiction/fantasy novels for adults who never outgrew imagination. Her favorite things include Jesus, dinosaurs, and telling cinematic stories that blend glitter and grit.
I’ve gotten to be kind of world-weary when it comes to reading fantasy. Between epic fantasy that wants to be Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones (or both), or urban fantasy that is one more Dresden send-up with wizard detectives … I’ve been kind of tired of the whole genre. So when the author mentioned the concept of this book, I perked up. Two guys with a train full of steampunky robots giving performances and trying to solve a mystery? Sign me up!
I got behind and haven’t finished the book as of this writing, but I’m hugely enjoying it. For one thing, if you didn’t know better, you’d think you picked up a Historical Fantasy. I adore historical fantasy. This one is set toward the end of the 1800s, I’d say. Top hats, ladies in fancy dresses and parasols, everybody travels by train.
But the worldbuilding is fascinating. In this world, it’s all islands floating in the sky above the ether sea. The trains travel between them on invisible sky rails. The Stars move and occasionally fall and create new islands. There’s some kind of warring political factions I haven’t gotten into yet.
Not to mention the conflicts between Huxley and Carthage, their opposing worldviews and motivations, and the way their backstories are creeping up to bite them. And all the other weird performers in this competition, all doing weird things. Oh yeah, and the Lipizzaner horses actually fly.
So yeah, I think by the time I’m done, this will be a five -star read. It’s different enough to feel fresh, yet it’s a conspiracy plot to murder the performers in this contests, which we’re comfortingly familiar with. Put them together, and you’ve got a smashing good read.
Explore the world of The Electrical Menagerie by entering to win this Celestial Isles prize pack, which includes: “High Victorian” playing cards by luxury playing card company Theory11, handmade galaxy mug by DeVita Designs, Science & Engineering Themed Pocket Notebook Set by CognitiveSurplus, and a tin of Electrical Menagerie themed tea (over a $50 value)! (US only.)
I’ve just come out of two solid weeks of toddlers with E. Coli infections. Misery barely beings to describe it.
On Memorial Day, there was a huge party down at our apartment pool. We avoided it. The next day, I thought we were safe, so we went traipsing down to the pool. Turns out there was a more informal party going on with almost as many people.
Against my better judgment, I let the kids swim anyway. We were already there and ready to go, and I hate going back on a promise I’ve made. So they swam in the pool where a lot of other people had been. The kiddy pool, in particular, smelled funny.
A few days later, E. Coli hit.
It nailed my two-year-old first. Fever, going at both ends, stomach cramps, the works. I thought it was a normal stomach bug, which usually only lasts 24 hours. Boy, was I wrong.
One day turned into two, then three, then four. I had a hard time just getting fluids into her, let alone keeping food down. But slowly she pulled out of it, and the stomach cramps subsided.
Then it hit my four-year-old. I found out later that she had actually drank the nasty pool water.
She got hugely, massively sick. Five days of fever and vomiting. Debilitating stomach cramps that left her crying.
By this time I had tumbled to the fact that this was probably E. Coli. I frantically researched what you do for it.
Turns out, there’s nothing you can do. Zero. Zilch. Because of the way it attaches to the intestinal wall, taking antibiotics only kills the good bacterial keeping it from spreading. Which makes the E. Coli spread faster, injecting more toxins and finally shutting down your kidneys. It’s a nasty beast. Mayoclinic’s website advises rest and fluids. That’s it.
But reading about the way E. Coli attaches to the intestinal wall reminded me of things I’d read about probiotics. When they have E. Coli outbreaks in restaurants or from produce, not everybody gets sick. The reason is because in some people, because of diet and other care, the good bacteria in their gut occupies every square millimeter of space. There’s no place for the E. Coli to attach.
There was no way my four-year-old could choke down a probiotic tablet. But she could drink a little kombucha.
Kombucha is a type of fermented tea. The yeasts and bacteria in it are the good kind that your gut needs to digest food. Our grocery store carries a high quality brand. The kind I’ve found most effective in healing a damaged gut is the kind with blue-green algae in it. It looks horrifying, but it tastes pretty good.
So I got two bottles and spent a whole day giving her sips through a straw. She would drink until the cramps started, then she would go to sleep. When she’d wake up, she’d drink a little more and sleep again. Her vomiting slowed down, but the cramps were so bad that if she moved around, they forced her to vomit again.
It was awful. I was exhausted. But the morning after the kombucha day, she woke up with no cramps, asking for food.
So now we’re all recovering, myself included. This has been such a beating. E. Coli is miserable, miserable stuff. But man, probiotics are a miracle. I hope our awful experience is helpful to other sufferers out there.
When Disney’s Frozen came out, at first people loved it. But as the popularity, ahem, snowballed, the next reaction was to nitpick at it and find reasons to dislike it.
This annoyed me, but I didn’t bother to argue with anybody because that would mean reiterating the same argument every day over and over.
Anyway, I’ve had sick kids all week. That means renting piles of videos off Amazon and watching them as many times as possible. The sick ones alternate between Frozen and Cars. So it’s kind of a split between Pixar and Disney.
I’ve had time to think about all those old complaints about Frozen’s plot. And since I’m sitting here just waiting for somebody else to start puking, I figured I might as well rant about it on the ol’ blog.
Since everybody and their dog has seen Frozen by now, I’m going to assume that the following isn’t spoilers. But if you haven’t seen it, spoilers ahead.
The main complaint people make about Frozen is the plot twist with Prince Hans turning evil. “It wasn’t foreshadowed,” they whine. “There was no reason for him to turn evil. It was an arbitrary plot decision.”
Sure, it was a heck of a twist, especially since Hans had appeared to be doing the right thing until then. But I’d like to argue that Hans’s betrayal was foreshadowed. It’s mentioned early on that he has about 13 older brothers. Applying a single brain cell shows that he won’t be king. He’ll be lucky to be a lesser duke or something.
Hans doesn’t even decide to take over until it’s clear that Elsa can’t be stopped and Anna can’t be saved. Then he coldly stages a very quiet coup. Why not? The monarchy of this kingdom is doomed, and his tiny relationship with Anna is enough to give him the political standing he needs to be accepted by the local nobles and be crowned king.
It’s a shock in the movie, but then, it’s also a Pixar standard twist. Watching it, I actually laughed when Hans did his heel-turn.
In Monsters Inc, we’re set up to think that Randal, the lizard-like chameleon monster, is the bad guy. Heel turn! The kindly old CEO of Monsters Inc is the one funding Randal’s evil deeds.
In Toy Story 2, we’re set up to see Al as the antagonist. Heel-turn! It’s actually the kindly old prospector who is in league with Al.
In Toy Story 3, we’re led to believe that Ken is the villain of a ring of toy thugs. Heel-turn! It’s actually the kindly old teddy bear running the show.
Starting to see the pattern?
Pixar did this particular plot twist so often that audiences were getting bored, so they had to try different formulas in movies like Brave and Up. (Although in Up, the kindly old man explorer who Carl adores is–heel-turn!–the bad guy.)
I think where Frozen got into trouble was that it was Disney, not Pixar. Despite most of the Pixar talent migrating to Disney, people didn’t expect the standard Pixar plot twist in a Disney movie. And Hans was the handsome love-interest spoof, not a kindly old man. We were set up to expect the Duke of Weaseltown to be the bad guy. Whoops, Pixar standard plot twist happened.
So, when people whine about Frozen’s plot twist with Hans being bad, go watch a bunch of Pixar instead. None of those other heel-turns had much foreshadowing, either, unless you knew exactly what to look for. It gets pretty predictable, really.
Well, I’m off to watch Tangled. At least we know from the start that her witchy stepmom is the villain.