QSFer M.D. Neu has a new FF holiday book out – a little late on the announcement, but we were snowed under with new books in December:
Carmen is eleven years old and wants to get her dragon. Since she was seven years old, she understood two things. One, she was going to be the strongest Dragon Keeper there ever was. The second was that she was going to marry her best friend, Mattie.
As Christmas approaches the magical charms Carmen has to use to fight off her curse are taking their toll on her Health. But that can’t stop her from taking her finale test to become a Dragon Keeper. If she passes her test she gets her dragon, if not, she has to start all over relying on different magical charms to fight the curse for her. That is something Carmen doesn’t want to have to go through. The testing is difficult and charms make her sick. Carmen has decided that if she doesn’t get her dragon this Christmas she’s not going to go for a third attempt, even if that means she can’t marry Mattie when she grows up.
“Carmen, mija, you awake? Do you want something to eat?”
I open my eyes. “I’m not hungry.”
“You need to eat. How do you expect to keep your strength?”
I don’t respond. The magical charms upset my stomach to the point where I can’t eat. I know they are supposed to fight the curse, but do they have to make me feel so bad? Even the ones my dad helps to create. They all suck.
“I’ll eat something later, I promise.” I have to respond, or Mom’ll keep bugging me. All I want to do is rest.
I glance out the window to the training yard. This year, I’m getting my dragon for Christmas, and I’ll have different charms that hopefully won’t make me feel crummy all the time. That’ll be good. I thought I was going to get it a few years ago when Mattie got hers, but my bonding with the Yellow-Tip Dragon didn’t stick even with the fancy charms the Master Dragon Trainer created.
It sucked after the Yellow-Tip was gone and I was cleared of its influence. I had to start the whole testing and training process again. It was either go through the process or have the curse come back full force, and I really didn’t want that to happen.
Oh look, an African Tiger-Stripe just flew by the window.
There are all kinds of different dragons that people can get, like the California Green Belly—that’s what Mattie has. I’m hoping for the Blue Bottom from Lake Tahoe or the Mountain Poppy—it’s a pretty orange. I suppose I shouldn’t be picky as long as I get a dragon. I have to remind myself not everyone can get one. You have to be born special, like me. I forget the exact day, but back when I was seven, my folks and the Master Dragon Trainer told me I was going to get my very own dragon. I was so excited because I met Mattie around the same time, and I realized when we grew up I was going to marry her.
I watch the dragons flying around down in the training yard amongst the trees. Seeing the other kids playing with their dragons, I wish I could be with them. It’s not cold and there isn’t any rain today, but I’m stuck in my room, recovering from my last round of tests. I shift in my bed for a better view out the window, but I can’t see Mattie or Gary, her dragon. She must be with her parents.
I hope she comes by. She smells like strawberries, and her smile and laugh make me feel better.
When I talk about marrying Mattie, my dad tells me to focus on my dragon first. My mom doesn’t like me talking like that. I think it upsets her, but I don’t get why.
When I tell the DTs (Dragon Techs) about me and Mattie, they smile and remind me I need to focus on my testing and training.
Dragon training is important, but so is being friends with Mattie. Why can’t I do both at the same time? I guess it’s because the training isn’t easy and I get tired a lot, but if that’s what it takes to get my dragon, then I’m gonna do it.
I shift again, unable to get comfortable. I’ve been in this room too long and need to get outside and move around. If I were at home, I’d be in my own room. My bed is huge and fluffy with lots of pillows. Mom let me pick them out myself. I love my house, it always smells like freshly baked bread. Well, it used to, before I started training for my dragon. Now it smells funny, like the training center. My mom is always cleaning and doesn’t want to bake anymore.
Still, I’m lucky. I don’t live far from one of the best dragon training campuses in the country, the Packard Family Dragon Foundation. It’s amazing, and right next door is this big fancy college. I hope to go there when I get older, but my dad wants me to go to his school where he teaches. Anyway, I have time before I have to make that choice.
A Gilroy Glider soars by my window. It’s double the size of the African Tiger-Stripe and is a solid brown color. So cool.
There are three humungous dragon-breeding centers here as well, so I’m doubly lucky. I’ve gotten to go to the big facility in San Jose, where we live. It’s huge and filled with at least one of every type of dragon. Mattie and I went there once during one of her extended stays at the center while she was training. We had such a blast.
Mattie’s family has to come from Reno for her training. Now that she has her dragon, she only needs to come and make sure the bond is holding and ensure she and her dragon are getting along. They also check her charms to make sure they are still assisting with the dragon bond. Sometimes they need to exchange them for stronger charms.
I can’t wait for that.
M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.
Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.
When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of eighteen plus years.