Main News Stuff Sounds Story Reviews History Contact Us About Us Cool Links

 art by Mike Schmitt

Selected Passage from The Dragon, Lucinda and George by Margit Elland Schmitt and Dan McLaughlin

On a distant shore of an alpine lake, a bound maiden speaks...

Lucinda summoned her courage and drew a last breath for one final act of defiance. “Sushi or BBQ, asswipe!”

“Excuse me?”

Needless to say she had forgotten her carefully rehearsed speech and what she come up with was probably the most embarrassing curse she could have possibly chosen. So now she was going to die, mortified, because in the moment of peril, that was the word that came to mind. She waited. The dragon was still there.

“Sorry,” she said, and could have cursed herself. She was always and forever apologizing for the wrong thing. She gave last-minute bravado a second try: “Sushi or BBQ, Thou Evil Spawned Demon of Destruction!”

There was a pause. “No,” said the dragon. “I still don’t get it.”

Really?  Lucinda took a deep breath. REALLY?

Who knew that being consumed by a dragon was going to be so much work.

Or worse feel like a test.

Or even more worse, a test she was failing.

WHERE TO BUY IT (paper) (audio) (kindle)

SAMPLE CHAPTER  (Chapter 3: Showing Up) to read.

SAMPLE CHAPTER (Chapter 18: Profundia Participant Survival Celebration Day FAQs, 
Dragon Edition) to listen.

Here is a little something about me, my co-author and how we met.

Dan McLaughlin

Dan McLaughlin was born in Hollywood during halftime of a Rams - Colts game. Although the Rams scored a touchdown soon after his birth to tie the game, the Colts then scored 17 points to win. This, along with multi-decade stints at UCLA and as a government bureaucrat, has given Dan an appreciation for the subtle and sometimes capricious agency of wishes, words, actions, and consequences. With this as a mental paradigm, Dan has written five novels, two nonfiction works on the history of Pasadena, one musical, and a play. 

Margit Elland Schmitt

Margit Elland Schmitt is the author of several short stories, including “Sparrowjunk" (about childhood illness and a fairy’s dangerous addiction to stories) and “Under Janey’s Garden” (about gardens, weddings, and wizardry). In the hours she’s not writing, Margit works in an elementary school library, carefully cultivating the reading habits of impressionable young people. Before becoming the library lady, Margit embraced such diverse careers as teacher, editor, actor, singer, and kitten-whisperer. Fun Fact: When Margit was in sixth grade, her teacher informed her that she lacked enough imagination to ever be a “real” writer, which inspired her with ferocious determination to get real. Is this book the result of expertly applied reverse psychology? Well played, Ms. Wilson. Well played.

Margit and Dan 

Margit and Dan met at the Renaissance Faire at Black Point in Northern California, about 30 years ago. Dan really doesn’t remember the event, but apparently, he accosted Margit and her friends in the guise of a peasant huckster selling pieces of the New World real estate with his friend Mark Sellin. Time passed, and Margit began to be on the huckster end of accosting people at the Faire. Dan took note of Margit’s talents as a performer, writer, and director, which he liberally exploited when he cast her as the lead “Molly Writerblock” in his operetta Oh No, Not Emily!, and as the lead (and only) Penguin “Great Goddess Bo” in his play Got Mitt Uns. 

Self-provided answers to questions about authorship by Dan and Margit

1)    What is your most memorable school moment?

Dan: In high school, I was an indifferent student (mostly c’s and b’s with the occasional d or a). The most memorable moment came in chemistry (A class I was destined from birth to get a d in). For some reason, the teacher thought that having the students get up and give the answers to questions facilitated the pedagogical process. While I had been attentive to the mechanics and form of the lectures, I had absorbed very little of the actual content of the subject matter. The last time I was called upon to speak in class, I produced an impressive looking equation sprinkled with various terms (only two of which I now recall, “valence” and “rate determining equation”). I delivered my answer like the good serious student I was. It took the teacher a minute or so to realize I had no idea what I was saying with such authority. It was the first time I got a laugh from an audience and I realized my writing/performing style was to subvert conventional norms and clichés.

2)    Was there anything in school that was difficult for you?

Dan: Chemistry, specifically. Anything involving learning a rigid routine leading to only one correct answer, in general.

Margit: Trigonometry was my nemesis.  In fact, a lot of math made no sense to me, but it’s interesting (to me) that when I went back over those subjects as an adult, I was able to find new ways to see the problems and the patterns, and I’ve made my peace with math.

3)    What advice would you give young writers?

Dan: Figure out the “why” or question you are interested in of your story first, and then figure out a story to answer that question.  Why do people believe in religion when prayers are often not answered? (Answer in my book Gott Mit Uns – There is a bureaucracy that balances things out). What are the consequences of being more polite to strangers than to family and friends? (My book Pass the Damn Salt, Please traces a relationship entirely through dialogue and illustrates the destructive nature of “honesty”). Another interesting idea is to take a well know story and tell it from another character’s point of view. I wrote a book called Ice Girls about the story of The Little Match Girl from to point of view of management, and with Margit Schmitt we retold the Story of St. George and the Dragon with a happy ending for the dragon. The advantage of reworking a story already known is that the basic characters and plot are already established, and you can concentrate on the elements of style that interest you.

4)    What is your typical day as a writer?

Dan; All my books and projects were written when I had a full-time job (librarian), so my typical day as a writer consist of me coming home from work, being nice to my wife and then retreating to a place where I can write. And then checking in periodically to see that everything is still OK.

5)    What inspired you when you were younger?

Dan: Not to be a total cliché, but my parents. My mom, who said after another devastatingly mediocre IQ test result, “That’s OK, Danny, they just haven’t figured out a way to measure your intelligence yet.” (and I believed her); and to my dad an incredibly talented independent experimental filmmaker who never made the same film twice. From him I learned that any creative art is about solving questions or problems or passions that interest the artist.

Margit: I joke a lot about one teacher who said I’d never make a great writer, but the truth is, I was really lucky to have support at home and at school.  When I was young, I was always writing stories and plays with my friends and family, and I’m still amazed at how often people gave me the opportunity to perform those works in public.  There’s nothing like reading before a live audience to really cue you in to the weak places in your story!  And nothing as rewarding as getting a laugh or a sigh at just the right moment.

6) What was your favorite book growing up and why?

Dan: Arthur Schlesinger’s 3 vols. on the New Deal. History backed up by footnotes that told a story the explained the present and gave guidance to the future with fascinating stories and personalities within the main story. The template for all writing, both fiction and non-fiction.

7)    Who was your favorite children’s author and how did they influence you?

Margit: I loved the Matter-of-Fact Magic series by Ruth Chew, and would read them every chance I got.  It absolutely tickled me that the author was able to find such funny stories about how magic messes with people in the normal world, while avoiding the cliché where people are surprised to see flying brooms or sparkly sparks in the air.  “Of course, there’s magic,”  her characters would say.  “I already knew that.”  I wanted to live in a world where you could expect to see magic any day of the week.

WHERE TO BUY IT (paper) (audio) (kindle)

SAMPLE CHAPTER (Chapter 3: Showing Up) to read.

SAMLE CHAPTER (Chapter 18: Profundia Participant Survival Celebration Day FAQs, 
Dragon Edition) to listen.

 art by Ben Schmitt

How I Remember The Book Coming About

One evening in October of 2017 we were chatting on Facebook about NaNoWriMo plans for November. I had a surplus of time, but no idea, and Margit had said that she had an idea, but no time. I then asked about her idea, and she said something having to do with St. George and the Dragon. I quickly typed, “Huh, interesting, tell me more.” And crack reference librarian that I am, I deftly opened another window and Googled “St. George and the Dragon.” 

The story, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is that there is a rather generic maiden left out by her village to be eaten by the dragon. George, on a horse and carrying a lance, comes across this tableau. The maiden tames the dragon with her girdle. George takes the tamed dragon back to the village, along, with, I guess, the maiden. George asks the villagers what to do with the dragon. The villagers request that George kill the dragon. George kills the docile dragon with his lance. Time passes and George becomes a Saint.

That’s, uh, weird and really doesn’t make a lick of sense, I thought.

Kinda tough on the dragon, and I am not sure how you get “Saint” out of it.

While I was processing all of this, Margit had detailed more of her initial idea of telling this story from a different point of view. A point of view that that is far more reasonable and results in, I think, a much more coherent story with a much better ending. [Spoiler alert: If you think the original story makes perfect sense and that ending “works” for you, you probably should put down this book now. My best guess is that you will not be pleased with what we came up with here.]

So I immediately asked to join her in making her concept a 50,000-word NaNoWriMo novel. She agreed, and we exchanged preliminary chapters to see if we could work together (i.e., accept and incorporate criticism and both agree that the work was better off for it). After determining that we could work together, we determined who our audience was (us, adults who like YA, and those who enjoy novels written by Terry Pratchett), and the time period/technology of the book (early 1990’s, as exemplified by command line driven computers). 

I was astounded to learn that Margit writes in complete sentences and really takes things like internal logical coherency very seriously. I really don’t do either of those things. Soon, we fell into a fairly easy routine of writing and rewriting. Margit became the keeper of consistency, putting things in order and saying things like, “We really need a scene where….” I would say OK. 

If left to my own devices, this book would have been considered done at about 54,000 words. The version you have in your hands is about 94,000. In general, if it’s a sentence with a subject and a verb and some other kind of words in the correct order, it more than likely emerged from Margit’s brain. If it has a quotation mark somewhere in the vicinity, or is in a different font, or looks like it probably was a run-on sentence at one point (AKA a rant), it more than likely started with me. 

WHERE TO BUY IT (paper) (audio) (kindle)

SAMPLE CHAPTER (Chapter 3: Showing Up) to read.

SAMLE CHAPTER (Chapter 18: Profundia Participant Survival Celebration Day FAQs, 
Dragon Edition) to listen.

 art by Ben Schmitt (yes, we have a unicorn in the book, and she is cute.)