Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

 Hello, all!

As you may remember, for about three and a half weeks at the end of July into the middle of August, I was on vacation. One of those weeks, I was able to go home to New England (Yay!). The rest of the time, my sisters and niece came to visit me in Florida.

The vacation's over now, and I've gone back to work (Yay.). I meant to do this post at the actual end of my vacation, but I'm still me, so I ended up posting it a little late. (What are you going to do, right?)

Anyway, today I thought I might share with you some of the many, many pics that were taken over the course of those three and a half weeks. There were more that I wanted to share, but for some reason, Blogger's being a real pain in the you-know-what about them. But maybe that's just Blogger's way of telling me I'm sharing too many photos. Whatever, Blogger.

At any rate, below are the photos I was able to upload properly.

Please enjoy my photo essay...

Frenchman's Hole in Bethel, Maine.
Oh, how I have missed the woods.

Another shot of Frenchman's Hole...
and my godson, leaping into it

Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire
Oh, how I have missed the mountains.

Mount Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Yes, I made time to see if my book was still in the library.
And people have actually checked it out. Possibly on purpose.

Let my niece play with swords.
Because I'm the cool aunt.

Went to the beach and realized
just how tan I've gotten this summer.
Had a blast at the Crayola Experience in Orlando

The Pick-Your-Own-Pack wall at the Crayola Experience
An entire wall of crayons and markers for one to choose from.
I now own a giant tin of specially-selected crayons.
I regret nothing.

Saw the Meerkats (and much more) at
Disney's Animal Kingdom

The noble steed my vertigo and I rode on
Prince Charming's Regal Carrousel
in the Magic Kingdom

And, of course, we went to the beach.
It is Florida, after all.

What did you do on your summer vacation?

And I know I was just off for, like, forever, but I'm off again until Monday. (So much for that consistent blogging goal of mine...)

Have a great weekend, all!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What's This Sign of the Green Dragon Anyway?

Hello, all. I'm popping up from my extended summer vacation (rough life, I know...) to share with you this post from awesome author C. Lee Mackenzie. She's here today to talk about her latest release, The Sign of the Green Dragon.

I'll be back to posting next month. Probably...

But for now, please put your hands together for Lee!

What's this Sign of the Green Dragon anyway?

A Vintage Poster 

First, it's called Cang Long of the East or Qing Long Xing, Green Dragon Star, and it appears every year in spring in the eastern sky. In Chinese mythology it represents the essence of all devine creatures, and the first mention of it is about 3,000 years ago.  In 10 BC it was linked to the length of the seasons and meant to help farmers calculate their planting and harvesting of crops. Because of the dragon properties, it also gave protection to those needing it. (I'm really simplifying all of this. But after thousands of years you can imagine the stories and the complications.)

I've always been fascinated by Asian mythology, so when I read about this star and its significance, I tucked the information away until I found a story to connect it with. Years later, the story I needed came to me on a visit to Virginia City, Nevada. I have no idea how that happened, but it must have been the open sky that wasn't dimmed by city lights as well as the historical period of an early mining town that somehow triggered Sign of the Green Dragon.

I decided to use the sign (a series of six dots) as a secret code and set my characters on a quest to find out what it meant. I needed more to make the story possible, so I added a note written in the 1800s and a crumbling skeleton just to spice up the adventure.

Here's the scene where the kids (Sam, Joey and Roger) find the note. They've discovered a secret room after an earthquake has shattered a wall of their cave hideout. In this room is a large chest with a dragon carved into its top.

Sam inched forward and aimed the flashlight inside the chest. “Uh oh.” 

“What?” Joey gasped.

“It’s a ... well, kind of a ... skeleton.”

“Awww,” Roger screamed, ran, tripped, and sprawled on his stomach.

“It can’t hurt you, Roger,” Sam said. “Come on. Take a look.” One thing about being in a family of paleontologists, you got used to bones.

Roger quick-shook his head. “No. No. No.”

Joey took three slow steps and stood next to Sam. “Sweet. A dead guy. Man, let’s get out of here.”

“Hold this.” Sam handed Joey the flashlight. “Keep the light on him, okay?”

The skeleton was partly covered by a tattered shirt and pants. Bony fingers clutched a wooden box with a piece of thin metal about two inches long on its top.

Reaching inside, Sam tried to pry the box from the skeleton’s grasp, but the finger bones fell through the rib cage and clattered to the bottom of the chest. The box lodged between the ribs.

The light jiggled in Joey’s hand. “Come on Sam, enough already.”

Sam picked up the thin metal piece from the top of the box, and held it under the light. One end of it was bent at a right angle. A faded red tassel looped through the other end.

“Here, take this.” Sam handed Joey the strange object, then reached inside the chest and gripped the box. He lifted it slow and easy. It could be a trap. It could be dangerous. His hands twitched and the edge of the box caught on a rod that held the chest lid open. He barely snatched the box free before the lid crashed down.

What sounded like an angry dragon exploded around the cave.

The walls trembled, and the floor heaved under foot.

And so the story begins. . .