"Jenny wanted to share this book with us." The professor proceeded to shred the authors as ignorant and worthless, also making it clear that I must not have a clue about teaching.
Ah, the joy of being publicly ridiculed.
I was taking graduate-level education classes to become certified as a teacher, because this program was covered by my scholarship. I knew how to reach students, since I'd tutored or mentored most of my life. I'd even taught a few college classes. But I didn't know the accepted theories, important names, or the everyday public school teacher experiences that every other student knew. So I often felt like I was treading water.
Class finally ended. Several students glanced my way as they left, with that awkward silence. I wasn't exactly one of them, but I was a fellow student.
I walked to the front and quietly asked if she had actually read the book. I wanted more strategies for classroom management. This book had clever suggestions for dealing effectively with problem students, and detailed examples. I was pleased to find something so useful. I wasn't rich (marine scientists earn less than teachers), and only bought something I truly valued. I politely reached for the book, ready to leave.
"Could I keep this a bit longer?"
I left it with her.
The next class, she admitted to being prejudiced against the authors. She had based her remarks on papers they published. Now she had read the book, and waxed eloquent about its merits. Her perception had changed, and with it her reality.
In the Dragon Dreamer series, Scree says that "One can only see what one is prepared to see." If we are convinced of something, we might not
let reality interfere with our perceptions.
The professor was willing to re-consider when I calmly shared my experiences. She also began treating me with more respect. Perceptions can change with non-confrontational, informative communication.
The ice crackled beneath my skates. My heart stopped. Cracks raced out like lightning and I fell through the ice.
I held my breath despite the shock of freezing water. Years later, I find this surprising. I was only eight.
I had a habit of exploring beyond, leaving the herd. My family was on the other side of the lake. No one saw me disappear beneath the ice. Nobody knew, and no one could help.
The water became a thick cloud of mud as I hit bottom, weighed down by winter clothes and ice skates. I stared up, searching for the hole. I couldn't see it. How long could I hold my breath?
I reached the ice, bashed a hole, and gulped air. I grabbed the ice but it broke around me. I dropped back down, chilled to the bone.
I ran for the shore along the bottom, which was difficult in skates. The lake became more shallow the closer I got to shore, as I knew it must. I pushed up to the surface, broke the ice, grabbed a breath of air. Then I sank back down to the bottom and ran for shore again.
Push up, breathe, drop down, run. I moved slower as the cold seeped in. My hands and feet were numb.
Finally I struggled out of the lake, alone, exhausted, and freezing. I was far from anyone, and so cold! My teeth chattered as I walked awkwardly on my ice skates around the lake. I found my family, was wrapped in a blanket, and we headed home.
No doubt some were a bit annoyed at me for shortening the outing. No one knew exactly what happened. I never told all that happened, until now.
Looking back, I realize that I always planned to be a scientist. Even at eight, I knew I would be a marine biologist. Science involves problem-solving. And on that day, as an eight-year-old, I used problem-solving to survive.
I. Love. Science. Crystal Geometry and Crystal Colors help beginners learn math and science. Understanding fractions, ratios, and chemistry opens up new careers. Science is great exercise for the mind. And, learning to problem-solve quickly is useful!
I've needed a quick, problem-solving survival strategy many times . . . and I'm still here! It works! All those experiences are GREAT for writing, too! In Dragon Lightning, poor Drakor, my beleaguered ice dragon, finds himself on thin ice.
The Dragon Dreamer series has science fantasy adventure stories that include author experiences. There are strong female and male characters who solve problems intelligently and courageously. People as young as three and as mature as ninety have enjoyed these books!
I left paint, paper, and brushes out for weeks, waiting for the painting fairies. They never came.
So I finally grabbed the brush by the handle and painted the 2nd cover, for Dragon Lightning.
I measured and used ratios to make both covers match. Now I'm imagining the cover for my 3rd book. Seeing my dragons helps me tell their stories.
Art is an important part of culture. The beings in the Dragon Dreamer series are very cultured!
Arak makes musical ice sculptures in this science-based fantasy world. Ice dragons sculpt glaciers with lightning.
Orm decorates his undersea cave with glowing tapestries.
Amazon Book Link: The Dragon Dreamer
Each book chapter has a drawing. Golden dragons grow fantasy snowflakes made from animals. Some are on the "Snowflakes" page: http://www.jennysburke.com/snowflakes.html
I'm working on a Snowflakes Coloring Book with these flakes and more.
I started a line of Dragon Dreamer jewelry that is themed to my books.
Orm grows cultured pearls beneath the waves and glowing, living tapestries.
Scree changes color to show emotions and carries a pink friendship pearl. Dragons use gems for their trance-stones.
Check out the new "Jewelry" page with 9 earring trays:
Art is my first love. I've made jewelry since I was a child. I use math ratios and weight for color and "density" to make better patterns.
There are plans for a Dragon Dreamer ETSY store with jewelry, cards, and posters.
Thanks for stopping by!
A small bird emerged from the far side of the meadow, swept across the clearing, and landed on my shoulder just as a stranger appeared.
His eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hair. “How did you do that?”
I struggled not to laugh. “Easy. I just called Birrr-Deee.” Then I walked back into the woods.
The mockingbird on my shoulder pecked at my earlobe and I gave him a snack from my pocket. I had found him as a tiny pink hatchling with no feathers, merely tiny sheaths like plastic straws. I searched for a nest, but found only the remnants left after the storm. I hid and watched, but no mother bird appeared.
The baby bird looked fearlessly into my eyes and I knew I couldn’t just leave him there. So I fixed up a box with straw and a heating lamp. I called him “Birdy”, unwilling to give a better name since I doubted he would live. I fed him constantly, whenever I wasn’t working as a swimming instructor or lifeguard at the community pool. And he grew feathers.
He hopped and flapped his wings but tried little else. So I helped him learn to fly. One day he flew away, as I had hoped. He was free.
I knew he might still need supplements as he tried new foods in the forest, so I carried snacks with me and called to him in the nearby meadow, using the same two “bir-dy” call notes. He often came to my call, and it felt magical.
It seems that almost everyone I know is stressed out. I'm sending each of you a virtual vacation in a warm, relaxing tide pool. Close your eyes, listen to the waves and feel the sunshine. Enjoy!
Then take a virtual ride on a dragon and spiral through the clouds. Toss lightning with other dragons. Take a vacation in the worlds of the Dragon Dreamer.
Amazon US Books I & II:
Amazon UK Books I & II:
Barbara: What was your most memorable experience as a marine biologist and did this influence your writing or did the writing come first?
J.S.: Meeting the octopus made me fall in love with them. I studied them. When I began to write about dragons, an octopus appeared to save Arak. I didn't plan this. All my experiences find a way into my books. In some ways, these are my autobiographies.
Lisa: Do you enjoy that others read your books or do you miss just writing for yourself?
J.S.: I became accustomed to this being my private world. But I've met many marvelous people because the Dragon Dreamer books were published.
Lisa: When did you decide to write?
J.S.: I've written most of my life, but in different settings. I've published marine science papers and educational books with crystals to teach math and chemistry. I learned a new set of skills to write a novel: pacing, character development, story arc, etc. This is fascinating! It lets you use everything.
Nichole: Where did the idea come from for Scree and Arak?
J.S.: I don't really know. This story just grew in my head, from all I know and imagine. Once my characters arrived, they became real to me and I knew what they would do. Dragon Arak is a determined dreamer, which I understand. Octopus Scree loves the ocean and tries to do the right thing, which I think is important.
Donna: Where did the names of your characters come from?
J.S.: Octopus names are one syllable and sound like the sea. Dragon names are 2 syllables (male) or 3 syllables (female) and sound dragonny.
Connie: Do you do any kind of research on dragons before writing?
J.S.: I've studied all kinds of beings to learn what is possible; electric eels, birds who probably see magnetic lines, insects that communicate with chemicals through plants, how birds fly, how some insects can squirt stuff that burns. Then I put it all together to understand my dragons.
Katie: What's your favorite thing writing about your dragons?
J.S.: I'm fascinated by the science behind all the neat things they can do. In Dragon Lightning I delve into how they use and see energy.
Sandra: Why did you have your dragons make snowflakes? Are your dragons cold blooded?
J.S.: My dragons are warm-blooded and have a fast metabolism. That's why they eat fatty foods like nuts and fish, to have enough energy. They eat a lot before they go up into the clouds and grow fantasy flakes. Growing these flakes takes skill and develops their talents at manipulating micro-energy.
A friend was feeling discouraged about our world. Change happens slowly, and there is hope.
Once our rivers were so polluted they caught on fire. The air in cities was so filthy you could barely see the tops of buildings. Then the EPA was formed, and now the air and sky are much cleaner.
Once it was OK to beat animals to death. Today it is illegal and also not socially acceptable. No Kill animal shelters are spreading. We need to keep pushing for improvements.
Change often starts with the dreams of one person willing to commit to making the world a better place. Progress can be made as simply as helping one child learn to read.
In The Dragon Dreamer, Arak is an idealistic dragon. He learns that "Everything worth doing starts with a dream." But it takes work and a plan.
Scree is fearless and never gives up. "What will be, will be. And then I'll fix it." This is something we all can do.
Thomas Edison described genius as one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Dr. Renzulli defined giftedness as having above average intelligence, creativity, and the ability to delay closure. That means to be able to keep working on something until it’s the best you can do.
Giftedness is not something simply bestowed by our genes or a magic wand. These traits can be developed in yourself and fostered in others. Your I.Q. changes with the work you invest in learning. Creativity increases when you experiment. Commit to making something the best it can be and you have the third trait: a willingness to keep working.
I was certified to teach students identified as gifted. Identify your passions, for this is often where your gifts are.
Art and music stimulate the mind and are important parts of the school curriculum. Students of all ages benefit from opportunities to be creative. Adult brains are flexible.
The brain needs exercise as much as any other part of our body. Reading, writing, sewing, drawing, building, etc. help our minds more than watching TV. Our I.Q. increases and decreases with our efforts.
The Dragon Dreamer series has a character with a gift, but this is meaningless until he pursues a dream with planning and persistence.
Only 20% of what we communicate face-to-face is from our words; the rest of the message comes from our tone, facial expressions, and body language. There is often another message: What is not said. How can we learn to hear what is not said? This can be the most important message of all.
Most of our friends and family are facing a serious problem of some kind. How can we help? I try to just listen. Offering unsolicited advice implies that you think you know more than they do about their own situation. When I have a truly useful suggestion, I ask if the person is interested. If not, I continue to listen. We can help by being a sympathetic, non-judgmental sounding board in a harsh, judgmental world.
Communication is an important part of "The Dragon Dreamer", where a flying dragon (Arak) and a silent, undersea shape-shifter (Scree) become friends. Arak and Scree communicate with sign language, expressions, and body language. They have emotions like ours, and serious problems.
Scree notes that “One can only see what one is prepared to see.” Everyone sees the world through a different filter, and some filters are as strong as bullet-proof glass. Scree speaks of trying to see the world with new eyes, to see objectively what is really there. Using positive words to describe a person or behavior can change our mental filter: a dreamer instead of lazy, take-charge instead of pushy.
The song "Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkle has a line that resonates: “People talking without listening.” Try the reverse and listen without speaking, and watch for clues of what the person is thinking. Being intuitive comes from paying attention and listening deeply. This is how to hear what is not said.
Truly hearing and understanding can change your world. Sometimes this can save lives.