Dreams and What They Mean for Us

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A few nights ago I had a rather chilling dream about one of my favorite characters being attacked by a massive monster. It wasn’t something I enjoyed seeing in my dreams, yet the brain gives us images while we sleep of every sort of thing – happy dreams, scary dreams, and sad dreams happen to us all.

I’ve also had very interesting thriller dreams where I wake up energized and awake from what I just experienced while I slept. I believe that certain kind of dreams can really inspire a person, especially when they work on their art, such as writing, painting or music.

Dreams are a territory in the mind that humans will probably never be able to fully understand. They are not able to be understood with a formula like math, and they are not able to be measured with instruments, like a heartbeat or breathing rate would be measured. They happen completely in one’s mind in their most vulnerable state – the deepest part of sleep, called REM (Rapid-eye movement) sleep.

And yet they are an inspiration to many. Dreams, as well as nightmares, can serve as inspirations, experiences, and even warnings. They are some of the most fascinating things we can experience, and they are completely out of our control (except in a few rare cases of lucid dreaming).

Dreaming has helped me in my own journey of writing, to create new ideas and build upon other ideas.

How have dreams inspired you, or affected you in another way? What kind of dreams do you experience the most?

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Happy Independence Day! + Updates

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To begin this entry, I would like to apologize for a lack of posts in the last few weeks. There was a lot going on, but this month is a new opportunity to continue my writing journey.

It is now the 4th of July here in America, and we celebrate the day that our nation became its own country, 239 years ago. I will be spending the day with my family while looking back on this historic event. For those of you in the United States, I hope that you also recognize and celebrate this important day in our history. I pray for good weather and blessings on your day!

In terms of the progress on my novel series, I am now almost halfway done with the second book’s first draft. I am excited to be bringing new content to you on my next post. Like other writers, I am thoroughly enjoying the journey, but looking forward to the destination of being published. I hope that your journey is going well, too. Whatever dream you have, keep pursuing it, whether it be writing, painting, creating music, or other forms of art. You will have many opportunities to pursue what you love. Just stay strong!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

The Making of Monsters for Science Fiction: Part 2

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In my last article about the monsters I use in my stories, I described how we often fear creatures we are familiar with. The big cat was just one example, in that what we have seen at zoos and in documentaries gives us a good representation of a lethal predator. Almost all of us have had experience somewhere with a dangerous looking creature, whether in front of us or behind glass and steel.

But as familiar as lions and tigers are, they are not the only kinds of creatures that capture our attention. In fact, sometimes taking the mythological creature and blending it with something we already have seen can be just as interesting (or frightening).

Like many books entailing science fiction and fantasy elements, my novel chooses to use both the familiar and the mythological.

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The Komodo Dragon is one of the more interesting reptiles, being found exclusively on the Lesser Sunda islands of Indonesia. They are typically around 3 feet long and weigh over 150 pounds. The most lethal ability of this lizard is that it has bacteria in its mouth that poisons prey. Animals that escape its bite don’t escape it for long due to this feature.

Vultures are among the largest flying birds. Their bare heads allow them to eat carrion without making their feathers a mess, and the bare skin also plays a role in thermoregulation. Both vultures and condors have the largest wingspans in the avian world. A distinctive feature is their good sense of smell, which is quite rare in birds.

So what do you get when you combine these two animals, using gene synthesis and viral modification, boosted by steroids? Well, the scientists in my series desperately wanted to know.

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One of the most familiar creatures in our society, though mythological, is the dragon or wyvern. Wyverns are similar to dragons, but they don’t have frontal arms and are more like birds. By taking the Komodo Dragon and merging it with different species of Vulture, the scientists in my book created something similar to a wyvern; massive reptillian beasts with large feathered wings. These monsters have thick beaks and keen senses of smell like the vulture, but they also have the lethal teeth, sharp claws and poisonous saliva like the Komodo Dragon. (The above picture doesn’t represent the creature perfectly, but you can imagine what it would look like).

I believe science fiction has room to incorporate new creations based off of mythology. The dragon is just as familiar to us as the predators in our real world.

What other kinds of mythological monstrosities do you enjoy seeing in your novels? Which creatures would you like to see more of?

Footnotes:

1. Komodo Dragon by National Geographic Kids

2. Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura, Musick Falls – Shaver Lake by Callie Bowdish

3. Wyvern Storm by FleetingEmber – DeviantArt.com

The New Year has Arrived, and Hope Lives On

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Greetings all! 2015 is finally upon us. 2014 was heavy on the hearts of many, with such events like the Ebola outbreak, the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and multiple kidnappings and murders happening in the Middle East. But though much of the world was scarred by these events, we still persevere through these trials. Because of the presence of sin in this world, we must remain strong through the evils that torment us physically and emotionally.

We are reminded during these trying times that people have survived even the harshest circumstances. One example is Daniel in the Bible. He spent a night in the lion’s den, a place that surely meant death for any human. But because Daniel had faith and persevered through the harshest circumstances, he survived the night even when all hope seemed lost:

“Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” (Daniel 6:23)

Daniel is a great example of where this world was at in 2014. In many cases it seems as if all our hope was lost and that the world was full of only darkness.

But Daniel had faith. And we should, too.

2014 was not a perfect year for many, but still we made it through. God knows all that has happened and will happen, even until the end of this world. I believe that no matter what occurs from here on out, we need to put our trust and faith in the One who knows all and is present with us at all times. If Daniel could make it through the scariest time in his life by faith alone, surrounded by the most vicious predators, we can make it through our hardest times too.

Stay strong, be faithful, and welcome the new year with hope!

It’s That Time Again!

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It’s getting darker earlier, and the snow is falling to cover the ground in a wonderfully cool white. Christmas is just around the corner (as well as other holidays!). That means finals are coming up for me, too, so this will be a shorter post this month. Once Winter break rolls around in a couple of weeks, I’ll be very happy to get back to writing and enjoying some rest off from college work.

This is a joyful time of the year, so I would love to know what you’re going to do for the season! How are you planning on spending your holiday? Do you have anything fun planned? And how about some New Year resolutions and goals to look forward to? I’m going to be relaxing with my family over Christmas and New Years, and hopefully getting some work done to prepare for the second book in my series!

I hope all of you get rest over the coming holidays and enjoy the beauty of the season! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 🙂

The Impact of Music on Writing

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All of us hear music in our lifetime, either it being at a concert, on the radio, or some other source. Music breeds emotion and feeling. I have used music while I write, specifically that of instrumental and movie trailer music while writing action scenes, and softer music while writing sorrowful scenes. Music can also be used to aid us when we imagine romantic scenes and suspenseful scenes. The impact of music gives life to movies, but it can also be used to allow us to flesh out scenes while reading books.

Music can also be used to spur our thinking and creativity, improve our concentration, and help us remember memories important to us. I believe it is an important factor to take into consideration when writing and reading.

What do you think of the connection between music and writing? Have you listened to a particular kind of music while doing these activities?

The Making of Monsters for Science Fiction: Part 1

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Monsters are everywhere. They reside in movies, books, video games, and inside minds itching to be creative. Monsters are seen on the smaller scale, such as the ever popular zombie or vampire in modern culture, to the large scale, colossal creatures from movies such as Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and King Kong.

Monsters can vary widely in what makes them scary and threatening, such as the mysterious circumstances of Frankenstein’s monster to the sheer power and resilience of the Kaiju (“giant monster” in Japanese) in the movies stated above. As a fiction writer, my creativity may wander in all directions as I search to find inspiration for monsters in my own story.

As I write science fiction, I have used multiple different kinds of inspirations and sources to design my own beasts, as have other writers. I have cycled through a couple of creatures I have decided not to use in my novel, but have spent hours researching the attributes of the ones I will be using. My own monsters rely on the cold truth of what they are – deformed human experiments, now twisted into animalistic and terrifying creatures that have lost their minds and control over their bodies. Their human will is taken away, to be replaced by the carnage-seeking, predatory instinct of their new forms, ones that prey upon the innocent and strike fear into those that oppose them.

An example: what traits of a large cat beast evoke fear in a human being? When you stand in front of a lion or a tiger at the zoo, you see these traits up close – the massive canine teeth protruding out of the cat’s mouth, the elongated claws stemming from the paws, and the size of the animal itself. If you watch a documentary of the creature hunting, you see the speed, agility, and power of the cat as it chases and catches prey. Though humans are not primary victims for these creatures, we still fear the animal because of its predatory nature and attributes.

Though a normal animal, the big cat has inspired me to design my own monster similar to a lion or a tiger, but one much more terrifying. When building monsters to use in stories, I feel it is best to begin with something we are already familiar with, and ever since childhood we have learned just how strong the lion and the tiger are.

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Credit: Close-Up of a Tiger Growling by Claudio Gennari 

Beginning with the very skeletal structure of a tiger, my first monster came into being: the Hunter. With the slim but agile body frame of the cat, I built upon its anatomy, giving the creature grey, cold, and hairless skin to present it as a human experiment gone wrong. As the person is twisted into this creature, the tailbone lengthens and becomes a scythe, the hands and feet twist into silver claws, and the human face morphs into the skull of a big cat, remaining fleshless as saber fangs protrude from the skull. Now resigned to all fours, the victim loses their human mind, forced to become a slave to the monster’s willpower and savage hunting instinct.

But despite creating a new creature, I did not abandon what originally strikes fear into us; the teeth, claws, size, agility, and power of an apex predator. To build a monster, I believe you have to start with something very familiar. Something we think of when a person says “strong, scary animal”.

What do you think creates a memorable creature? What sorts of traits and attributes do you think of when someone says the word “monster”? And how would you design a beast meant to strike fear into the hearts of those reading a book or watching a movie? Sound off in the comments!