“Artifact” My Biography – Joshua Snow

white dragon jr snow facing to rightI would like to mark the
13th of July 2014 as the date I formally Introduced
J.R. Snow, a young emerging writer. For the past
three Sundays, he has been our Guest Artist and
his work, in the form of a three part short
story, has been presented here on
‘the secret keeper.’
Thank You Joshua
Jennifer Kiley
jkm

white dragon jr snow

Now it is time for the writer to come out from
behind his worded mask of storytelling and
talk to us about himself and his aspirations.
The following is J.R.’s
introduction of himself
in his own words.
Thank you ALL. Now I
give you - J.R. Snow

 

Artifact
My Biography

Joshua Snow

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

There are a lot of things I wish to say in this, things I wish to express and explain, but words can only describe so much. My name is Joshua Snow. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan like me, you probably already caught onto the fact that my last name is Snow and you know what it means. Yes, I have been told that I know nothing. (Another Game of Thrones reference) However, people are just trying to be funny rather than rude. Besides that, allow me to introduce myself.

Dragon Spirit for j.r. snow bioI live in Texas, a very big place deep in the south. Within this very big state I live in Houston. To put it bluntly, I do not like it here. Its too hot, not enough forest and mountains, and the winters are too short. I plan to move up north someday to some place I feel like I belong. I am 19 and I will be turning 20 this year in August. I am currently enrolled in college classes for the first time and will be starting June 2nd. A lot of change is coming my way, and for the most part, it has been scary to feel.

Now I bet you’re all wondering, “What is a child like me doing talking about myself?” Well, besides what I just told you, I am a writer. A creator. A daydreamer. My mind is always somewhere. I was always that kid in class caught with his head up in the clouds. Even my principal said so when I graduated high school.

I’m fascinated with anything magical, and most of all, anything having to do with dragons. Dragons to me are the most wonderful beings in the world. I read about them as a kid and I have dragon décor all over my room. I have a Celtic dragon flag that’s rather large, a dragon poster by the wonderful artist Christina Yen, a dragon clock, dragon books, Dragon’s Blood incense, (I promise its not really made of dragon’s blood) dragon pendants and a dragon incense holder as well as a box with a dragon laying on it. I’m pretty sure that’s all of it. Dragons are like family to me and I strongly believe they are my guardian angels. I’ve dreamed about them a lot too and I’ve had a lot of dreams of flying. I get a running start and I just leap off my own two feet and fly. There was one particular dream where I was flying with a lot of dragons and a green one stood out to me.

Awesome dragon Poster facing rightI’ve been working on a big fantasy story for the past three years now. I’ve rewritten it a lot of times, and combining all those rewrites, I don’t doubt in my mind I’d go up to 300-400 pages. The characters are probably the closest part to perfect out of the whole story. The plot is still in motion and being worked out in detail and I also drew a map of the world.

I’ve planned for this to be a series of books. I designed the characters via a certain video game where I was allowed to create my own fighter and I designed them through that. I created eighty-two characters until I found the very few I desired. Out of all of those, the few I kept are probably six or seven. My most precious character I created is a Seraphina, a dragon who can transform into a woman with long, white hair and keeps the beautiful blue eyes I gave her. She’s the last one who carries the power of old magic inside her, magic that no longer exists in the world.

In the world I created, magic is dying. Other species like elves no longer exist, and dragons and humans are the only ones known to be alive. However, humans can use magic as well. There are witches and mages, good and evil. I never liked the idea that witches and wizards were all evil anyway. I found it to be tasteless and narrow minded. Also, in the world, there is a war going on. It is a private war, one that is hidden from public knowledge. No one is aware of but those involved. I do have deeper details but I do not wish to spoil. I hate spoilers myself. The entire series is inspired by the idea that despite all of cruelty, corruption and darkness in the world, there is always a chance for happiness. There is such a thing as a happy ending. Its just that not everyone gets one, and those who do get one are blessed. Not everyone gets a happy ending, sadly, for everyone who deserved one.

dragon white looking left into the sea while sitting on a ledgeAs for magical things, I do believe there is some sort of magic in the world. From what I’ve felt and seen, I can’t doubt it. I can no longer think it’s as simple as science and logic. I had a friend once who told me the reason spiritual things were still around was because you can’t prove them wrong because that individual believes it so much, so it carries on, and you can’t prove them right because there’s no physical proof or evidence to show to people. If I believe in a so-called god, I cannot call this so called god and have you meet him in person. I cannot show you a spirit of a dead person or show you a dragon or something magical with my own hands. His logic and reasoning were very interesting, and he actually offered to hear my opinions and to tell me if I was wrong, but I decided not to.

All I know, and believe, is that there is something in matters of spirit and magic. And through things I wish to write like a short story or this big fantasy story I spoke of, I wish to share that. I believe magic breathes through everything, I believe in different dimensions, spirits, souls, guardian angels, and past lives. I believe everything has a life and a spirit and a name. Everything is like a little artifact. It has its own identity, meaning, and its come from something. Everything has an origin. Everything comes to us for a reason. That’s what I ultimately believe. Everything happens for a reason.

joshua snow 9th june 2014
 

If you want to contact

Author J.R. Snow
[Joshua Snow]

Please Use Contact Windows

Below Music Video

hand letting go of golden flecks gif


Evanescence - Together Again

Please Feel Free To Contact Joshua Snow. Fill Out The Windows Below With Questions &/or Comments. They will be forwarded to Joshua.

Thank you.   jkm the secret keeper

*        *        *        *        *        *        *

Editor’s Corner 101.31 — Heroes Large – Heroes Small

shawn mackenzie's editor's corner day monday
Editor’s Corner 101.31
Heroes Large – Heroes Small
Originally Posted by Shawn MacKenzie

On MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest 15th October 2013
View Past Issues at MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest Archive

Reposted on ‘the secret keeper
Monday 23rd December 2013

Heroes Large – Heroes Small

No, what he didn’t like about heroes was that they were usually suicidally gloomy when sober and homicidally insane when drunk.
…Terry Pratchett

Scribe smallNo matter how hard we might try – and believe me I do – we cannot avoid protagonists – our literary heroes, male or female.

Truth is, I’m not too keen on heroes, per se. They are essential but really, what can you say? Your hero is your main character, the person whose story you are telling. Simple. They are characters sometimes more acted upon than acting, but always real enough that we cheer when they triumph and shed a tear when they die. We willingly, eagerly invest hours of precious time – oh, how precious our time is these days! – in their lives, following them wherever their journeys lead.

This 3-D imaging is the essence of the writer’s craft; we have explored it before – most recently in the past couple of weeks when I discussed minor characters and villains. (If you want to learn more, read Joseph Campbell’s brilliant The Hero With a Thousand Faces or the more writer-friendly take on it, Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey – you couldn’t ask for better guides along the heroic arc.)

campbell2

Today I want to look at things in a slightly different way. I want to talk about the changing face of our literary heroes.

In the old days of dichromatic storytelling, heroes, like their villainous counterparts, were characters of extremes. They were always virtuous, noble, and brave, intelligent but not cunning (too many sinister connotations to that word), willing to take responsibility for their actions and, if needs be, sacrifice themselves for the greater good. They were aspirational – the sort of people upon whom we pinned all our best hopes, convinced that they could not only bear them, but soar under their weight.

1amwords_hero

Yes, they had their flaws, usually picked from amongst the cardinal sins. Hubris was a big one with the Greeks (Oedipus, Cadmus, just about every major player in the Iliad and Odyssey). Also big in the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh and the Mahabharata. In the latter, the Pandava and the Kaurava are both exceedingly proud, but the Pandava are the heroes because they learn from their weakness and are humbled; the Kaurava remain proud to the end).

mahabharata_vittorio_mezzogiorno_peter_brook_010_jpg_uhei

Love – or its extremes, jealousy and lust – is another common flaw (Lancelot, Orlando); and greed (Bilbo Baggins). For a classic protagonist, what counts is not that they are flawed, but that they learn about themselves, their weaknesses, and triumph despite them. This introspection and growth is as important, if not more so, as the slaying of any rampaging legion of orcs. (No slaying Dragons here!)

These are our neat heroes, the ones who come through with every hair in place and nary a speck of blood on their crisp white shirt (or burnished armor).

Galahad-L

But the modern world is as messy for heroes as it is for villains. Such pristine white hats no longer resonate as they once did.

As with villains, I believe the sea change for protagonists came with Shakespeare. Hamlet, Prospero, Titus Andronicus, Lear, Cleopatra, Isabella, Richard II…. Complicated characters who, while protagonists, are not always aspirational. Shakespeare allowed his main characters to straddle the line between good and evil. They could be cruel and petty, indecisive and vengeful.

titus

Titus Andronicus

They were, to my thinking, among our first literary antiheroes – the predecessors of Heathcliff and Emma Bovary, Holden Caulfield and Lisbeth Salander.

mara-rooney-the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

But can we take this too far? In our effort to find relatable, sympathetic protagonists, have we made them too much like ourselves, and in the process, lost something vital? Today, just doing the right thing – standing up against bullies or bigotry, calling 911 for a stranger in trouble – qualifies you for a medal, even sainthood. Our heroes, like ourselves, are diminished. Not that we shouldn’t say “thank you” to every good Samaritan or person of conscience out there – but are they worthy of novel treatment?

Yes, we are all heroes in our own life stories, but fiction – even the most intimate fiction (like the stories of recent Nobelist Alice Munro) – is not life. It is, if not bigger, then certainly more concentrated. Our protagonists have to rise to the challenge, to satisfy that aspect of our natures that craves heroes ten-feet tall.

Protagonists - Gleeson

Protagonists – Gleeson

Some will say that is what genre books are for – fantasy and mystery and horror, that they are the new home to classic protagonists. Within their pages we get reluctant everymen and women thrust into being more than they ever imagined possible. They transform from being “us” to being what we can only dream of being and, as we tag along or the vicarious ride, we get our requisite dose of clean, aspirational heroism.

Can we strike a balance between these classic (genre) heroes and everyday mensch (literary) protagonists? Perhaps. But first we must find that balance in ourselves. And remember that the hallmark of a protagonist is not leaping tall buildings or bringing peace to the Universe. It is seeing change up ahead and choosing to embrace it. It is riding the wings of the Dragon when everyone else demands you thrust a blade through her heart.

Weyrworld - Pern Dragonriders

Weyrworld – Pern Dragonriders

The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of
being an honest coward like everybody else.
…Umberto Eco

Editor’s Corner 101.7 — A Propensity for Prologues

shawn mackenzie's editor's corner day monday
Editor’s Corner 101.7
A Propensity for Prologues
Written and Posted by Shawn MacKenzie
Originally Posted 30 Tuesday Apr 2013
MacKenzie’s Dragon’s Nest

Reposted on “the secret keeper”
Monday 15th July 2013

Editor’s Corner: 101.7
A Propensity for Prologues

scribe-small 101.7

In search of inspiration for this week’s Editor’s Corner, I returned to the brackish well of Amazon e-books and discovered a curious trend, particularly among new authors: prologues.

Prologues, prefaces, introductions….in whatever guise, they abound behind the covers of genre tomes and would-be literary masterpieces. The question is: are they really necessary? Or are they simply catchalls for back story we just can’t bring ourselves to leave behind? If you have chosen to begin your novel other than with the first line of Chapter I, ask yourself “Why?”

Now, I admit I’ve written my share of forwards and introductions, prefaces and preludes over the years. However, as a matter of editorial preference, I find them decidedly annoying in most novels. Nine times out of ten, a prologue serves as a historical exercise, giving background to characters and places, giving hints of what is to come. In unskilled hands, this often amounts to little more than an information dump. We writers have a tendency to be packrats, hoarding our notes and scribblings as if they were nuggets of Fafnir’s gold. The truth is, while they might be necessary to the literary process, they are essentially work product. If it is important to know that Abra met Benjamin when they were ten and she broke his nose on the playground, then lace it into the novel proper. If the village of Xington is frayed by economic strife or long years of war, don’t tell us about it in the past, let those elements play out in the present.

Sometimes, as happens in the best of prologues, you have a totally relevant, engrossing story from time past without which all that is to come is but half a tale. If this is the case, then great. Tell that chapter of your tale, but tell it boldly. Make it Chapter I. This is one of the wonderful things about the fiction writer’s craft: we are not constrained by time. Even if every other chapter in your book unfolds within a twenty-four-hour period, there is no rule that says your first chapter can’t take place a decade earlier or span a year. In short, if your prologue is part of the story, make it part of the story.

In fairness, there are times when a few introductory pages are just the thing. If, for example, you are writing a series, a little reminder of who and what have come before can help ground the reader in the current volume. Or, if you’re prone to concision, you might prefer the virtue of the jacket blurb. It is amazing how much information can be put into a judicious paragraph or two. Think Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” – each volume could be summed up in a couple of sentences. Anthologies also benefit from a few prefatory words addressing the purpose, unifying theme, editor’s take, et cetera. My personal inclinations aside, at the behest of my publisher, my Dragon books both sport somewhat lengthy introductions. I have made peace with this because, though fictive, they have the structure of non-fiction books, and, thus, subject to different rules. Introductions were positively expected.

In the end, whether you call it a preface, a forward, or Chapter I, remember that the opening line is always the opening line. It has to reach out, shake the reader by the lapels and command them to continue. More than one book has been set aside – or tossed into the reject pile – over a less-than-gripping beginning.

This is first contact. Make it memorable. Make it count.

first-contact under make it count

Finally, a lesson from the Master – a k a: If you’re going to do it do it right.
Sonnet as Prologue from Romeo & Juliet:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Latest Edition Published at MacKenzie’s Dragon’s Nest Every Tuesday

Every Monday Starting June 3nd 2013 “the secret keeper” Will Be Posting Sequential Archived Posts of the “Editor’s Corner” by Shawn MacKENZIE.

Healing thoughts for the people of the World.

Author’s Corner With Shawn MacKenzie.

the secret keeper:

a divider for post no. 5 love fav new one
A marvelous post on author extraordinaire, Shawn MacKenzie. Thank you Niamh Clune and ontheplumtree. It is a pleasure to reblog this post of “Author’s Corner.” Well, done. [added this edited version of my comment from "on the plum tree"]. A great post Niamh. Loved your tales Shawn of discovering the Dragon in a serendipitous way. Those magical used book stores carry such treasures. I do believe Dragon Green was sitting up wondering and waiting for your arrival. “Where is that little girl. She was supposed to be here hours and possibly days ago. Ah, there she is. Now I will work my wonders on her. She will understand me. They told me she would.” And there you were, taking book in hand and from that day forward your destiny was forged. You have tried other endeavors. Playwright extraordinaire. I love your plays. But that was a different time. Now you are immersed with Dragon lore and mythical explorations and all sorts of stories needing to be told. But Dragons will be foremost in your mind. They chose you and you chose them. Either way you are meant for the other. As a writer, your brilliance shines through, your precision is excellent, and your imagination soars throughout the universe. Now you have taken on the Editor’s Corner, where you are teaching other writers, professional and novice, the inner workings of writing, so that it’s appearance is fleshed out with more accuracy. Giving valuable direction to us all. It is an enjoyment to read each week, so informative, and served with a (pardon the expression from someone I love from my childhood,) “spoonful of sugar, which helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way.” Well, done Niamh, choosing Shawn MacKenzie as your “Author’s Corner” author célèbre. She is most deserving of the attention and has a great deal more magic up her sleeve from short stories to novels. When you wrote, Niamh: “Shawn is no ordinary writer of prose. She crafts sentences, weaving them with natural flair whilst introducing the unusual. Her brilliance of mind and wit shines through everything she does.” A most accurate statement, indeed. I will second that. Not biased much, just appreciative of a true “Wildean” wit who is a true contrarian, too shy, however, to shine the light on herself, though she deserves the brightest light of all. So thank you for doing this for her. Jk the secret keeper
4p dragon-blue john lennon quote
a divider for post no. 5 love fav new one

Originally posted on Plum Tree Books Blog:

A favourite of Plum Tree Books is Shawn MacKenzie. You might all know her for her great editorial posts. But did you know, she is an expert on dragons and a brilliant writer in her own right? Shawn is no ordinary writer of prose. She crafts sentences, weaving them with natural flair whilst introducing the unusual. Her brilliance of mind and wit shines through everything she does. Great to have you here, Shawn.

Author’s Corner

by Shawn MacKENZIE

Hang out On the Plum Tree and you may know me from the Editor’s Corner. However, you may not know that there is actual authorial experience backing up all that pedantry. And so, at Niamh’s invitation, I’m delighted to introduce you to my fictional side, particularly my books on Dragons.dragon heeperdragon
As every dracophile knows, all talk of Dragons must begin with a story. They insist – and you don’t want to cross…

View original 547 more words

Editor’s Corner 101.5

Editor’s Corner: 101.5
Written by Shawn MacKenzie
Original Post on MacKenzie’s Dragon’s Nest
16 Tuesday Apr 2013

Reposted on “the secret keeper”
July 1st 2013

Dialogue: Tag – You’re It!

scribe-small dragon at desk

I trust the rhythm of your narrative is now flawless and you are fast on your way to limning worlds as idyllic as a Church river bank, as shadowy as a Hopper city street.

Time to talk dialogue.

Years ago, my head full of dreams of becoming a great writer, I entered college intending to study literature, Aiken to Zola. Dissect great books, take a writing seminar or two, what could be a better education for a would-be writer? And, over my four years, I took a slew of lit courses, poring over everything from Shakespeare and Woolf with Camille Paglia to Beowulf – in Old English – with John Gardner. But, in the end, I found a more comfortable, less academic home in the Theatre Department. There I studied acting, directing, and design. And there I wrote plays. Though I have since replaced acts with chapters, no course of study could have served me better. In the spare play of characters, their voices uninterrupted by description, I learned the power and magic of dialogue.

--- Bennington College. Today

— Bennington College. Today this is the Bookstore. In my day it was home away from home, The Barn Studio Theatre

By it’s very nature, dialogue is an active force in storytelling. People are talking to each other – they are engaged, sharing thoughts and emotions, weaving incantations and bittersweet declarations of love and loss. Idiomatic or formal, what characters say, what others say about them, the words they choose, the subjects they tackle or avoid, all this becomes flesh on otherwise lean bones.

Writer or editor, there are a few basics to good dialogue.

As art imitates life, so no two characters will talk exactly the same way. To this end, it is very important to know your characters well before you let them open their mouths. Know their background: place of origin, class, education, profession, age, gender, even species – I can assure you that the locution of a Land Angler from Venus-12 speaks would be unrecognizable to a Cymric Red Dragon from Anglesey! All these and more inform a character’s words, and help us tap their organic speech patterns and choices. This is the first step towards dialogue that sounds natural, not written.

Important as it is for characters to sound real, remember that a writer is not a tape recorder. Just as we don’t describe actions, second by second, frame by frame, so we do not put down every hem and haw that passes a person’s lips. We are here to distill and discriminate, to pick and choose the words that advance our tale, no more, no less. Once such authorial decisions are made, fade into the background and let your characters have their say. It is time for their voice to rise, not yours.

Dialogue can be a dynamic way to disseminate information, without getting bogged down in pages of dense narrative, but be careful not to use it as a dumping ground where you reiterate information the reader already knows. (A quite delicious example of this used to be found in the old soap opera “Passions.” Within the first five minutes of every show, one character would give another – and the audience – a rundown of everything that happened in the previous episode. It was ritual shtick that tipped into campy self-parody by series end.)

Lastly – at least for today – a few words about dialogue tags, those pesky ‘he saids’ and ‘she saids’ replete with qualifying adverbs of dubious merit. Everyone has their opinion about tags. For myself, I try to follow the principle of less is more.

If you are not sure about your own work, try this experiment: take several pages of dialogue and strip the tags out, every last one. Then read it through. If your characters are distinct, their words alone may make it clear who is speaking. If not – if the vocal differences are subtle (as with family members, for example) go back and tag where absolutely necessary. You are striving for clarity, not clutter. This is usually an easy matter in a two-person chat, but might tumble into nightmare territory with a party or mob scene.

As for adverbs, they are like putting line readings into a script – something actors would ignore and directors expunge with zeal. The lingering playwright in me says leave them out whenever possible, and then take the last ones out for good measure. If context and content don’t convey how something is said, try being creative with your verbs. Instead of “Cassandra said softly” consider “Cassandra whispered” or “muttered” or “sibilated”; instead of “said Uriah unctuously” consider “The words dripped from Uriah’s tongue….” Verbs with such specificity can add dimension to both character and scene. Plus, they are fun. That said, don’t go crazy – apt though it might be for oratory from a Naga, “sibilated” is a bit over the top for everyday prose. In the end, if you use tags, use them imaginatively but simply. Use them well.

A final thought:
Read plays. Classic or modern, Shakespeare, Albee, O’Neill, Stoppard, Williams, Beckett, Wasserstein… There is no substitute for learning from the masters.

Dialogue with a Bird - Yuri Dyakonov (1951-2005)

Dialogue with a Bird – Yuri Dyakonov (1951-2005)

Latest Edition Published at MacKenzie’s Dragon’s Nest Every Tuesday
Latest Edition Published at Plum Tree Books on Facebook Every Tuesday
Latest Edition Reblogged at On The Plum Tree The Same Week Posted

Every Monday Starting June 3nd 2013 “the secret keeper” Will Be Posting Sequential Archived Posts of the “Editor’s Corner” by Shawn MacKENZIE.

Healing thoughts for the people of the World.

purpose P U R P O S E purpose

purpose P U R P O S E purpose
Written by Jennifer Kiley
Art created by j. kiley
Created 04.13.13
Posted 04.13.13

purpose  P U R P O S E  purpose by j. kiley © jennifer kiley 2013

purpose P U R P O S E purpose by j. kiley © jennifer kiley 2013

Fireworks — Katy Perry

QUOTATIONS on PURPOSE:

“If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life; it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.” ― Mitsugi Saotome

“When you lost sight of your path, listen for the destination in your heart.” ― Katsura Hoshino

“The magic of purpose and of love in its purest form. Not televison love, with its glare and hollow and sequined glint; not sex and allure, all high shoes and high drama, everything both too small and in too much excess, but just love. Love like rain, like the smell of a tangerine, like a surprise found in your pocket.” ― Deb Caletti

“Those who have failed to work toward the truth have missed the purpose of living.” ― Gautama Buddha

“It’s funny. No matter how hard you try, you can’t close your heart forever. And the minute you open it up, you never know what’s going to come in. But when it does, you just have to go for it! Because if you don’t, there’s not point in being here.” ― Kirstie Alley

“Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose” ― Leonardo da Vinci

“In spite of where we were, how we had gotten here and why we had come, I felt that at this moment of our lives, this place was exactly where we belonged. We were not drifting but rising, rising toward something right and of significance.” ― Dean Koontz

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.” ― Brené Brown

“There are so many stupid things that steal that purpose from us. The stupid things that you believe a lie that we ‘re not as important as we really are. That our life isn’t as important as it really is. It’s important to the people that you love, it’s important to the people that you will love in the future, it’s important to the world around you and it’s so important that you fulfill the purpose that only you can fulfill the way that you can fulfill that.” ― Lacey Mosley

“I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth…
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars….the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard…
are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
(You could be at “dash midrange.”)

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile…
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they
say about how you spend your dash?”
― Linda Ellis, The Dash Making A Difference With Your Life

“The great essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.” ― Joseph Addison

“Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now.” ― Dorothea Tanning

this is my purpose. this is what makes my life have meaning.

this is my purpose. this is what makes my life have meaning.

Shine On Award

Shine On Award
Given to “the secret keeper”
By Ganesh Raam
Unsettled Minds
12.28.12

Shine On Award

Shine On Award

Thank you Ganesh for the wonderful surprise award of the “Shine On Award.” And your wonderful words about bloggers on WordPress. We are all a pretty amazing group. I keep getting to know more and more people here. It is a world that expands ones mind and heart and soul. So supportive and friendly and amazingly creative. I will place my “Shine On Award” in a special place on my blog. It is rather like one of my new favorite groups: “Pink Floyd’s” song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” I love that song, actually rather addicted to it. Thanks again Ganesh for coming into my world and life here on WordPress and being so generous to me and so many others. jk jennifer-the secret keeper :-)

I am going to borrow some words that Ganesh wrote on the post he wrote to present many different awards to many different bloggers. These are my sentiments also and what he wrote was so perfectly written. “Over the last couple of months, there were a lot of kind-hearted bloggers who have conferred upon me numerous awards and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for considering my blog for these awards.” Thank you Ganesh and everyone who has followed my blog “the secret keeper” and for presenting such creative and inspiring material on all of your blogs for me to enjoy and to be moved by, sometimes tears, sometimes laughter, definite smiles. thoughts to make me go deeper inside of my own mind, heart and soul. It is such a wonderful world here in the blogosphere. May everyone have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR in 2013. Hopefully, we will all find our dreams and wishes listened to and become a reality in the GOOD sense of the word. Love Peace Joy and Bliss I wish to all of you. jk the secret keeper Jennifer Kiley j. kiley…

I Nominate the Following To Enjoy Posting this Award on Their Own Blogs:

On The Plum Tree

MacKenzie’s Dragon’s Nest

Author Emily Guido

Waking Spirals

Bipolar Muse

Uncle Tree’s House

Teacher as Transformer

Song of the Sirens

Juliette

Moments With Millie

Darlene Foster

John Coyote

Soul Reader

Introspective Introvert

Pink Floyd-Shine On You Crazy Diamond-Full Version HD

Dragons Under the Chanukah Bush…

the secret keeper:

“…And then there are Dragons.

Magnificent, preternatural, take-your-breath-away Dragons.

Soaring on the four winds, surfing the seven seas, Drag­ons have never indulged in anonymity. Tossing all notions of “local” onto the dung heap, they went global in a big way. They carved out niches in every ecosystem: burning deserts and glacial peaks, verdant tropics and scrub-grassed plains. They lashed the clouds with Dragonfire and bent low the trees with Dragonsong.” Happy Holidays. Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, Happy for All Reasons to Celebrate. Check out MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest-There Be Dragons There. j.k. the secret keeper

Originally posted on MacKENZIE's Dragon's Nest:

The Feast of Lights is fast approaching. Time to burnish the menorah, limber up your dreidel-spinning fingers, and teach the kittens about candle safety.

If you’re seeking something for that special Dragon lover in your life to plant beneath the Chanukah bush – and who doesn’t need a little something dragonish for the holidays – check out The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook  and Dragons for Beginners.

The Dragon Keeper's Handbook...Dragons for Beginners

The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook…Dragons for Beginners

Here’s a taste from Dragons for Beginners:

Three hundred thousand years ago, when Homo sapi­ens walked out of Africa, Dragons were everywhere. Around every river bend, on every mountain top, they basked at ease, the reigning predators in a wild and woolly world. Our ancient ancestors cast their eyes to the heavens and were wowed by the sheer otherworldly grandeur wing­ing across the horizon. To primitive minds Dragons were nothing short of divine. They were the…

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What Are Dragons?

What Are Dragons?
by Shawn MacKenzie
Llewellyn Journal
By Permission of Author

It is 2012, an auspicious time for Dragons—and Dragon lovers—the world over.

On the back of the Sovereign Plumed Serpent, the Mayan Long Count calendar is winding towards the close of the Fourth Age. If the past is precursor of the future, this means the beginning of the Fifth Age is at hand—a joyful turn of events that no doubt disappoints eschatologically-minded folks counting on the world coming to a crashing end. Less contentiously, to the billions attuned to the Chinese zodiac it is the Year of the Dragon—the Water Dragon, to be precise—a year for optimism, reflection, and big dreams.

With all of this draconic energy informing the Universe, it is fitting to ponder the foundational questions of Dragon Science and answer, if we can: What are Dragons and why are they so important to us?

The human experience is rich with cosmological lore, legends, and faȅrie tales—not to mention authoritative lexicons. All of these make most everyone on Earth—and a few other planets—comfortable picking “generic” Dragons out of a zoological line-up. According to such sources, your standard Western or European Dragon is a vicious reptilian creature, winged, usually fire-breathing, who nests on a hoard of riches and dines on sacrificial maidens and the errant heroes inspired to rescue them. Oriental Dragons, we’re told, are more benevolent beings, long and sinuous with bewhiskered leonine heads and silky manes and ankle tufts. The third species of True Dragon, the New World—also known as Feathered—Dragon is rarer and, thus, less well known, but even they would be recognized soaring over the Yucatan. Note: There are, of course a plethora of lesser dragon species around the world but True Dragons are more than sufficient for our discussion.

Simply put, in the shorthand of Dragon Studies, they are Magnificent, Monstrous, and Mythic. Of course, Dragons being so much more than other creatures, are also mammoth, magical, and much maligned. Those less kindly disposed towards Dragons would likely add malevolent, mendacious, and menacing.

What exactly do such words mean in a draconic context? Are they even accurate? And what do they tell us about Dragons and their place in our world?

Despite certain zoological particulars that are at odds with these general perceptions (see The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook and Dragons for Beginners for specifics), there is little doubt that they are magnificent. These great creatures are as large as any megafauna and twice as graceful; they light up the sky with fire and usher rain from the clouds. Let us not forget that on a level of sheer metrics, Dragons are jaw-droppingly awesome. A full-grown European Dragon can reach 75 feet from nasal horn to tail spade, her wings unfurling like great lateen sails eager to billow and swell; mature Asian Dragons have been known to measure 100 feet and shake the earth with a whisper of their passing. Combine this corporeal prowess with mental acuity and nobility of spirit, and Dragons become the poster children for magnificence.

Monstrous is a more partisan epithet. The very word is conflicted, its Latin root, monstrum, meaning everything from omen to (traditional) monster to miracle! And as such embraces Dragons, length and breadth and everything in between.

Sadly we humans like to attribute moral weight to our monsters and bandy the word around to inspire nightmares, fear, and jingoistic furor. When dealing with Dragons, it is wise to remember the words of Andre Gide: “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.” That said, Dragons are prodigious, unusual, stunning, and dangerous. They are quintessentially natural with all the light and dark that entails. Dragons are the apex predator, and, though often more reasonable than the humans who have pursued them, have every right to defend themselves. These monstrous miracles of cryptozoology deserve to be treated with respect and caution, and most of all, understood. As Melville said, “Ignorance is the parent of fear,” and fear makes us do very stupid, cruel things.

Cryptic Dragons-as-Monsters serve as a bridge between their dynamic physical presence and the even more ambiguous complexities of their mythic status. Back in the day, Dragons were Creators and Destroyers, gods and cohorts of gods. And why not? When our ancestors were struggling to survive in a hostile Paleolithic environment, Dragons were romping and roaming across the landscape, leaving their psychic paw prints on human hearts and minds. In this primitive world they were large where we were small, powerful where we were weak, and as wild as any creatures of sea, soil, or sky. They were made for myth, for embodying all that was unexplained and mystical in the world. We latched onto them to make sense of that which was beyond words. In stories told across the hearthstone, we inflated Dragons to meet our needs. These supernatural creatures stretched from briny abyss to star-pocked heavens, dined on the sun, and eclipsed the moon with the furl of a wing. They were fire and water, earth and wind, the magic of the elements, the rhythm of the seasons. In time, shamans sought them for wisdom, and, to our shame, would-be heroes fought them for glory.

Since those early days, the mythic import of Dragons has faded, becoming more symbolic, more token, than it once was. Finding strength in numbers, people went from clans to villages, from cities to states. We built walls between us and the wilderness and, in the process, cast down our draconic deities, raising in their place gods with whom we were more comfortable, gods who looked more like us. Through millennia, we who were made in these new gods’ image, grew in our arrogance and ran roughshod over the planet and all her habitants. In the process, we lost much of our sense of wonder so vital to keeping Dragons with us. Bit by bit, our scaly friends slipped out of the real world and into the mist of fantasy and faȅrie tale.

Fortunately, out of sight did not mean out of mind and, even in absentia, complex, contradictory Dragons ruled the mythic imagination as powerful metaphors. Depending on culture and worldview, they’ve represented everything from the greatest good to the vilest evil. Fortunately, their metaphysical standing not only kept them alive but made possible their resurgence. Dragons-as-Myth continues to be at the heart of their presence in our lives.

Which leads us to Dragons in 2012. Their year. It is a time to embrace all we know of Dragons and all we have yet to learn, their natures both physical and metaphysical.

I have kept company with Dragons for more than half a century. I have studied, worked with, written about, and adored them. I have read lore and science and the most fanciful of tales. After all that delicious time amongst them, the one thing I know for sure is that you can’t fit all things Dragon into a teaspoon—or even a teacup. Our relationships with Dragons are about as subjective as they come. There are few rights or wrongs, few hard-and-fast rules. In the end, there is only unique personal experience and empirical Dragon wisdom. One person’s Dragon is ravenous flesh and bone, and for another, a winged guardian who flits around the edges of the dreamtime. For some, they are loyal, family-oriented beings just trying to survive against daunting odds; for others they are channelers of magic and keepers of elemental power. They teach us how to find balance with the nature and remind us, by their raw majesty, that we are here to care for the world, not exploit it.

Real and imaginary, learned and wild. Dragons are all of these and so much more. That is as it should be. We’ve burdened them since the dawn of time with our hopes and fears, our faith and wild expectations. Only beings of supernal complexity and strength could bear up under such a load.

Novelist Charles Morgan noted, “As knowledge increases, wonder deepens.” As the Year of the Dragon winds down, it behooves all who love Dragons to learn as much as we can about these magnificent, monstrous, and mythic beings. To gift our friends, as our ancestors did, with the simple willingness to believe. Then feel your wonder deepen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
http://mackenziesdragonsnest.wordpress.com/
Shawn MacKenzie (Southern Vermont) had her first Dragon encounter when she was four years old, when she happened upon an a copy of The Dragon Green by J. Bissell-Thomas. A sci-fi/fantasy writer, she is an avid student of myth, religion, philosophy, and animals real, imaginary, large, and small.