Weekly Writing Challenge: Object

Weekly Writing Challenge

My desk is generally empty of unusual things. I have my computer, mouse, printer, lamp, and a variety of other boring things surrounding me. But to my left, under the pink lamp I can’t turn on because it’s too close, are three palm sized dragon figurines. They all show what I believe a perfect dragon looks like, and each one has a different story.

The oldest one is reddish (I call him bronze for Anne McCaffrey’s sake) and coming out of an egg. A few years ago my family went out to the Medieval Times dinner and show in our area. Outside of the dining room/jousting arena where we waited to be let in was a nondescript desk on the far side of the room with general medieval gifts. Among them was this little dragon, the first dragon figurine I had ever found that had all the traits I look for in a dragon (not evil-looking, a decent color, four legs, and proper looking ridges) for less than $20. I of course had to get him and he became an integral part of my bedroom decorations. He also serves as a reminder that the perfect dragons are out there, I just have to find them.

The second one is a $5 souvenir from DragonCon last year. It is a purple dragon (not a correct color but I do like purple) perched on a fake geode with her head raised to the sky as if she’s calling out. I can’t call her a perfect dragon because of the color, but she does have four legs and I love imagining why she is crying to the sky. It is a pose that reminds me of what a dragon would look like while keening for a lost friend.

The third one is my newest but also my favorite. She is the same size as my bronze boy, but is curled up and looks up at me from beneath her wing with one eye. She is a Windstone dragon and my gold beauty. Windstone makes my favorite (McCaffrey correct) dragons, but they’re so expensive and so rare that I have never gotten one. My little curled gold is my $60 way into the Windstone world. I have been wanting one of their dragons for years, but the curled ones are the first that I was willing to pay for, and I have not been disappointed. She is very small but I love picking her up and admiring her. Every Weyr needs a Queen, and she is mine.

My desk is generally barren of anything not work or school related, but my slowly growing group of dragons are the exception. They comfort me when I am stressed and my admiration of them has inspired me more than once. I am always on the lookout for a figurine to add to my little collection, but being picky has limited me and for that I’m happy. My trio is made up of my favorites, the most beautiful examples I could find and I love them all the more for that. They never fail to increase my love for dragonkind and my love for writing fantasy, and I owe some of my greatest inspirations to them.

Curled Dragon - Violet Flame


How Anne McCaffrey Changed My Life (Part 2)

Here’s the second half of How Anne McCaffrey Changed My Life (Part 1 here). Let me know what you think!

It was not long after Beldona that I made my first discovery of online PbeM Weyrs, where you could post a persona of a dragonrider, crafter, or holder and then write a story with another person about your character and someone else’s’ through emailing. I started writing personas, basic at first but growing ever more complex, and posted the best ones on a site called Southern Boll Weyr. It was exhilarating getting to write back and forth and read the writings of other people who loved Pern just as much as I did and, for the 9 months I got to participate before it closed, I was in heaven. I never found another Weyr I liked as much, and that chapter in my life closed with Southern Boll.

But my time at a PbeM Weyr was not wasted. All those emails gave me all the tools I needed to make characters and come up with stories on my own, and it also opened the door to the endless possibilities. After Southern Boll, I started to create my own universes, populating them with diverse characters as I tried to emulate Anne. Most of the stories that I wrote in my head as I fell asleep each night never made it to writing, but “head stories” became a creative habit that I still employ today as I fall asleep.

Once I ran out of books by Anne, I started expanding into other Science Fiction and Fantasy stories. I read a huge number of young adult novels in my never ending search for dragons but eventually I went to Heinlein, Ursula K. LeGuin, S. M. Stirling, George R. R. Martin, Jody Lynn Nye, and Diana Wynne Jones – whose novel Howl’s Moving Castle became one of my all-time favorites. I also went to classics like The Picture of Dorian Gray and Pride and Prejudice.

I adored everything from the Science Fiction to the classics but something about Anne’s dragons held on to me in the way that none of the others could. Everywhere I went I was on the hunt for prints or figurines of dragons that fit with Anne’s depiction of them. They had to have four legs, not two; they had to be the right color; they couldn’t be to spiky or scary; they absolutely couldn’t be fighting other dragons or people. The cover art for the books was the obvious first choice, but I was more focused on figurines that. It was difficult to find the perfect dragons, but once I found them it was worth it. Dragon earrings, ear cuffs, models, posters, and computer backgrounds began to fill up my bedroom and with each new dragon I felt fuller, but I kept looking.

When Todd started writing Pern, my interest was quickly lost. I despised his works and stopped reading new books. In 2011, just before Anne’s death, I went to Dragoncon for the first time and found myself at a reading of The Smallest Dragonboy mostly just out of sentimentality. It had been so long since I read Anne’s writings that I had forgotten how wonderful it was and in that tiny conference room in the back of a hotel my love for dragons was re-awakened on a whole new level. At the vendor’s room later that day I bought a print of a green dragon but other than that I left mostly empty handed.

It was at the Dragoncon in 2013 that I spotted a large poster-sized print from across the room of a gold dragon in a spaceship. It was the cover art for Dragonwriter, which I didn’t even know about as I had stopped following the Dragonriders series when Todd took over. I wasn’t interested in Todd’s writing, but this image captivated me and I walked out with it happier than ever before. This was what I had been waiting for. A young Anne smiled at me over her shoulder as she and her gold dragon prepared to exit the ship toward their final destination, Pern, with the Red Star glowing in the background and a small portrait of an older Anne smiled out of a control panel in the lower left.

I mounted it above my desk, surrounded by the dragon figurines I had collected over the years, and just looking up at it filled me with love for the woman and the stories who changed my life. My most formative years were spent in the company of Anne and her characters and because of them I grew into the woman I am today. The books taught me about duty, bravery, strength, loss, unconditional love, and one person’s importance in the grand scheme of things. They encouraged my creativity and showed me how to channel it into creating people and stories that before I could only imagine in the deepest corners of my mind and writing is one of my favorite hobbies to this day.

When I first picked up Acorna’s World I didn’t know who I was or who I was going to become. Anne led me through that time and took what had before only been a small part of my being and put it into the light, making it a defining part of me. I know exactly who I am now, and a massive part of me belongs on Pern, just like the young woman and her gold dragon smiling down at me from above my desk, making their final journey to where we both belong.

How Anne McCaffrey Changed My Life (Part 1)

Happy snow day to my fellow Georgians during this Snowpocalypse! While we’re all holed up inside during this rough weather, I figured I’d introduce myself by posting the first half of my tribute to Anne McCaffrey. This is my bio of sorts, at least my bio relating to all things fantasy and science fiction. Do you have a similar story? Let me know!

How Anne McCaffrey Changed My Life OR Why You Should Read The Dragonriders of Pern

Ever since I was first introduced to the Harry Potter series when I was 7, I’ve been an avid reader. When I was young I focused on Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, Gone with the Wind, and other young adult novels. The more I read, the faster I got, until I tried and failed to tackle Moby Dick at age 11. After the 3 day disaster that was Moby Dick, I came across a book entitled Acorna’s World and figured I’d give it a shot. I enjoyed the book although I had trouble following (I didn’t realize until much later that it was the middle of a series), and it lead to my mom suggesting I read a book by the same author called The Dragonriders of Pern. Unbeknownst to me, this volume contained the first three books of the massive series written about Pern. I checked it out and my journey began.

Beginning Dragonflight, I realized that this style was quite different than my usual picks, but that the story was no less gripping. After reading classics like the Lord of the Rings and children’s books like Harry Potter, Dragonflight was my first introduction into a whole new world of fictional writing, adult Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The first noticeable effect these new books had on me was the sudden, massive, increase in my vocabulary. Despite all my previous reading I still had the vocabulary of a 12 year old and Dragonflight, while easy to read, was riddled with words I didn’t recognize. On every other page there was a new word that I had never heard before, sometimes even more often. At first I would write them down to check the dictionary when I got home, then I began to learn how to use context clues to guess the meaning of a word and when she repeated a word later in the book I found that I could usually remember what it meant. Soon, I found myself using those words in daily conversation without even meaning to and I still find that my vocabulary is larger than non-readers, something I attribute in part to Anne’s books.

I delved ever deeper into Pern. I cried and laughed with the characters. I knew them all individually and daydreamed about their stories. As my collection grew ever larger, I began to put together the pieces of the huge story that is Pern. Each book focused on different characters, but it was all the same story, leading up to the same future, and everyone played their part.

I read every Anne McCaffrey book I could get my hands on. I would enter a bookstore and make a beeline for the Science Fiction/Fantasy section and for many years I almost always left with a new book by her. My bookshelf filled up, not only with Dragonriders books, but with the Crystal Singer trilogy, Brain and Brawn Ships, Dinosaur Planet, Petaybee, the Freedom series, and Acorna’s universe.

All day every day my head was filled with the stories and characters. I typed up the indexes of people, printed out the listings of holds and wrote up songs to paste everywhere and made a binder dedicated to Pern. Soon though, just her characters weren’t enough for me. I wanted to make her worlds my own so I started making my own gold riders, green riders, my own brainships to fly across the endless worlds of my mind at night. My first attempted story about Pern, Beldona, was a childish imitation of the story of F’lessan and Tai but it opened up a whole new way to express my creativity and love of Pern.

Let me know why you love Anne McCaffrey! You can also click here to jump to Part 2!