There and Back Again: Guest Post by Lori J. Fitzgerald, White Raven Writing,
Author of The Dragon’s Message
Way back in college, the pattern of my life was shaped by words. I was a writer, creating my own worlds and characters and stories. I was an English Major, and my days were spent in the quiet, mostly deserted third floor of the library reading plastic-wrapped or cloth-bound old books and writing various academic papers. My friends and I talked endlessly, about books and teaching and music and life and our perceptions of the world. I also was studying to be a teacher, so I spent many hours in classrooms observing and then planning and teaching lessons under the tutelage of my old high school English teachers.
And then I stopped writing.
I don't remember ever deciding to stop, just as I don't remember deciding to begin when I was a child and I wrote my first unicorn poem, as little girls are wont to do. I just was a writer. And I carried that being in me through the ensuing years, filling binders with poems and stories, ideas and dreams, even sketches and maps of the lands of my mind. I can only suppose that once I emerged from that college cocoon I focused more on the landscape of outside life rather than inward. I started teaching, focusing on perhaps the more practical career of a steady income, but also getting fulfillment from the service to young people, the enrichment of their minds and selves and inspiring them to love and understand literature as I did. And the more I focused on bettering the world through my students, the more I left the worlds that existed in my imagination. And that seemed okay at that time. I was happy, and even happier to become a wife and then a stay-at-home mom involved in my children's school.
And then I turned 40. Yikes. I decided, after much thought and many instances of the muses trying to get my attention, that I had better start writing again, to come full circle and become myself fully again by re-entering the lands of my imagination that I had abandoned. Easier said than done with two young children, piles of laundry, meals to cook, and school fundraisers to tackle.
The Dragon’s Message is the child of my mid-life crisis. It was written late at night, during the peaceful time when the children are finally asleep, and scattered here and there, while the meatloaf was cooking or the kids were watching a TV show. I could never seem to get a writing schedule down in the beginning, especially in the summer months when the kids were home. The novelette took around four months to write. But it was written, and the characters have quit harassing me and are happy to have a life of their own on the pages now.
I’m still not great with a writing schedule. Something always seems to come up, an errand that needs to be run, a child home sick from school. But at least now words have been woven back into the pattern of my life, and I can point to my writing binders on the desk and say to my children, “Here be Mommy’s dragons.”
Please enjoy an excerpt from The Dragon’s Message:
When Rhiannon was small and had just learned to read, her mother brought her into the hall one day when her father was on campaign, and led her to the large table upon which a great map of their lands lay. She instructed Rhiannon to read the words of the landmarks: castle, road, mountain, forest, village. The young girl touched words inscribed over a place where trees met craggy peaks. “What does that say, my love?” her mother prompted.
“Here be dragons,” Rhiannon answered, glancing up at her mother.
Her mother nodded, smiling. She knelt down in front of Rhiannon so they were at the same height. The lady’s hazel eyes sparkled as she whispered, “I have a secret to share. But I can only share it with a little girl with red and gold hair,” she pulled playfully on Rhiannon’s braid,” who knows how to read.” Rhiannon giggled. “Are you a little girl such as this?” Rhiannon nodded eagerly, and her mother laughed. She stood up and gestured at a tapestry on the wall. “Come, child, the dragon guards our treasure.”
Hand in hand they walked to the tapestry of the sleeping dragon. “Your great-great grandmother wove this tapestry when she was an old woman. It took her a long time to complete, with her hands gnarled so, like the twisted oak by the drawbridge.” The dragon was curled up in front of a turret, with stone dolmens in a semi-circle behind it, interspersed with trees and a mountain peak in the background and bright blue sky above. The dragon’s scales were crimson and woven through with glittering gold thread, and its curved horns and talons were gold. As they paused in front of the large tapestry, Rhiannon looked closely at the eyes of the dragon; she thought perhaps she could see a slit of gold, as if the dragon were only pretending to be asleep.
Rhiannon’s mother stood on tiptoe and moved part of the tapestry to the side, revealing a slit in the stone wall. With her free hand she reached in and drew out a large leather-bound tome. She motioned her daughter to come sit with her on one of the benches that lined the walls. “Look and listen well, my daughter,” she said, and ran her fingers along the smooth cover, “this book is our special treasure, and it contains many secrets within its pages. I am going to teach you how to read them.” She opened the book as Rhiannon snuggled closer to her, her mother’s loose red-gold hair falling over the girl’s shoulder and brushing the crinkly parchment pages of the book which she turned until she came to the picture of a girl.
“The first secret is a story…”
A dragon writes a cryptic message with its ember breath in the evening sky...
Lady Rhiannon watches from the turret wall with an ache in her blood. She's the only person who can decipher the message as the sole keeper of the Dragon Tome. When an old enemy threatens the castle, her father charges his knight with escorting her to a safe haven—the same knight Rhiannon had a crush on as a girl. But she must now convince him to change his plans, for she has her own sacred charge to fulfill...
So begins a journey to hidden ruins where magic slumbers in the stones and love lies in the heart, waiting to awaken. As Rhiannon and the knight face seemingly insurmountable odds, only the dragon knows if they can fulfill their destiny...
~About the Author~
Lori J. Fitzgerald lives in New York with her fellow English Major husband and their two little bookworms. Medieval literature is her passion, and she wishes she could spend more time traipsing around Renaissance Faires and shouting “Huzzah” at jousts. She was a middle school English teacher for many years and was best known for her dramatic readings of The Princess Bride. Lori is currently a Staff Writer for the website Once Upon A Fan, the popular fansite for ABC’s hit show Once Upon A Time. You can contact her by email at WhiteRaven829@gmail.com.
The Dragon’s Message, A Dragon Tome Novelette, is available on Kindle and Nook for $1.99
B&N Nook link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dragons-message-lori-fitzgerald/1118974725?ean=2940149166763
Twitter @MedievalLit https://twitter.com/MedievalLit
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