Lori Fitzgerald. She is touring blogs promoting her debut novel the Dragon's Message. She's a wonderful writer and receiving great reviews. She has years of experience teaching English and lives with an English major husband. Presumably everyone speaks perfectly at her house.
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About the Dragon's Message
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...
1. I like Renaissance faires too. What was the first one you went to and was it instant love?
Instant, passionate, all-consuming, fire-breathing true love! I was in college and it was the New York Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest. I actually cried on the way home because I felt it was where I truly belonged! I went back many times, in full costume no less. One time that I remember vividly I bought a gorgeous headdress overflowing with flowers and feathers and ribbons that I was so happy to wear...and as soon as one of my friends saw it he told me I looked like a bird exploded on my head! He's lucky I laughed instead of proceeding to the nearest weaponry stall.
The excerpt from The Dragon's Message that I provided includes a tournament scene. The feeling evoked in that scene is drawn exactly from my first experience at a Renaissance Faire joust. I will never forget the first time I heard the crack of a lance against armor and watched the wood splinter and fly over the lists. It filled my heart with awe, and the music of a long-ago age strummed a tune throughout my soul.
They dismounted and Sir Gwydion set the horses to graze by one of the stones. Rhiannon walked slowly around the ruins, her feet sinking into the lush grass, grazing her fingertips along the rough gray surface of the stones in the circle, stealing glances at the knight as he worked unloading the packs and preparing camp for the night. She walked to the center of the circle and looked cautiously over the crumbling rim into the darkness below. A damp breeze exhaled softly from the cavern. She breathed it in deeply, closing her eyes, taking the coolness and slight tang of sulfur into her lungs and holding it there, rolling like smoke inside her.
She huffed her breath out in surprise, opening her eyes to see the knight directly by her side. He caught her off guard with his sudden closeness and she started to flush. He put his hand lightly on her waist and led her away from the opening, and his touch coupled with his proximity made a heat rise in her chest and gooseflesh on her skin. Slightly breathless and annoyed at herself, Rhiannon felt like she did as an awkward smitten adolescent in Gwydion’s presence those many years ago. Dressed in one of her very best gowns, which she had agonized hours over and then sent her chambermaid into a tizzy over the way she would wear her hair, Rhiannon would sit stiffly next to her father and watch intently for the blue and gold shield and trappings. Each time she would feel the thunder of his horse’s hooves through the lists and the lightning crack of the breaking lance thrumming through her very bones. At the tournament’s completion, her father would allow her to award him his prize, a fine new sword or pouch of coins from the castle’s seemingly bottomless treasury, which Sir Gwydion would accept with a bow and a courtly kiss on her hand, and she would float on air and romantic dreams for days.
2. In your blog profile you say that Medieval literature is your passion. What historical work is most meaningful to you?
Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur and I are true friends that have been through the academic fire together. I used that text in both my Bachelor's and Master's theses. I have two copies: the dog-eared, spine-split, faded and tagged copy I used for research and my lovely facsimile of the London Dent 1909 edition with Arthur Beardsley's illustrations. I find great meaning in Lancelot's involvement in the Grail Quest. He is an imperfect quest hero: his human fallibility makes him certain to fail, but yet he keeps striving in spite of this until he can go no further in the quest, physically and spiritually. He is the embodiment of the theme that it is the journey and the striving to do your best in life that matters.
3. How long did it take you to write The Dragon's Message?
Around three or four months. During the summer I wrote a lot of times after my kids went to bed. It was the only time that I could do so without interruption. Since then I've become relatively adept at finding little snippets of time to write throughout the day.
4. You have a lot of experience as a middle school English teacher. What were your strategies for getting kids to love stories and language?
Enthusiasm and dramatics! I am a firm believer that if you are passionate about something and it shows, other people will be drawn in as well. I tried to connect the literature I was teaching to the students' lives, and we all got the most excited when they would share their "thoughts, ideas, and brilliant perceptions" with the class. We dissected vocabulary words into roots and affixes and I tried to show them how fascinating etymology could be. I also tried to instill in them the importance of correct grammar, so every day I had two sentences on the board that they would write and edit for the first five minutes of class (it was an excellent getting-settled activity as well), and then we would go over it together on the blackboard. I picked literature I knew we all would love...The Outsiders, A Wrinkle in Time, Johnny Tremain, The Door in the Wall, to name a few, and we read and analyzed not just novels but short stories and poetry and all types of genres. Variety was important to keep them enthused as well. I included a lot of creative writing and art, which they were usually excited to share either out loud or in quiet reading with their classmates. And I performed a dramatic reading of The Princess Bride (yes, complete with voices and acting out scenarios) every day for 15 minutes after lunch and before dismissal. It would make my day when the students would groan that the bell rang because they didn't want me to stop!
5. So far The Dragon's Message has received glowing reviews at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This must be so encouraging to you as an artist. Are you writing another novel yet?
I am encouraged, thrilled, and so grateful that my work is truly touching readers. I am in the middle of writing my next work, which will consist of two connecting novelettes. The first part, Love Lies Bleeding, or The Lady of the Forest, is complete and I am in the middle of drafting the second one. You will see the medieval contrast of the wild wood and the town in the setting of both. I am very excited about this next work and hope to publish it not only in ebook format but also paperback!
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
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