Tag: Dragon Hoard Books

Why I No Longer Say “My Truth”

The truth shall set you free.

People use the phrase conversely, both to scold and to praise. What if we shift the words a bit?

My truth will set me free.

I confess, just typing that set my insides twisting into knots. Heck, typing this post sets my teeth a bit on edge. I’m afraid of the potential backlash. But I’m writing anyway.

The second group of words grates for me, because no one can own the truth. Not you, the one reading this on a shining screen, and not me. Google my truth or what started the phrase my truth before you go further. The search results baffle.

This is not to say we do not have different perceptions of reality. Take a look at the image above, though. In fact, a fellow blogger said it best. “Reality is an aspect of perception. It is distinguished from the truth.”
I’d take it one step further. Reality and truth intertwine, weaving in and out of each other like flowering vines on a trellis. Reality is the vine, shiftin g, changing with the winds, sprouting new tendrils with every new interpretation. Truth is the trellis. It stands, holding shape, regardless of our perceptions of reality. We certainly own our perceptions.

We do not own truth. We can’t.

Perhaps, though, this is a natural out-growth of how we speak. We use the terms subjective truth and objective truth to attempt to separate anecdote and experience from scientific methods and consensus. Is such a separation truly possible, though? And when did society find the need to exchange the words experience and fact for the euphemisms of subjective truth and objective truth?

Yes, these phrases are euphemisms. The rational, secular culture in which we live wields logic as a weapon, shaming those who see the possibility of a single, universal truth, applicable to everyone. Such a concept, the logic says, cannot exist when human experiences remain as diverse and infinite as they have through out history. So what’s left but to shame those who believe such an irrational concept?

Remember, if you’ve seen Now You See Me, these opening lines. “Come in close. Now closer. For the closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.” For those who haven’t seen the movie, first go see it. Second, the movie follows a FBI agent and an Interpol detective in their attempts to take four stage magicians to justice for robbing banks during their shows and giving the proceeds to the audience. I won’t spoil the movie. Suffice it to say, the law agents never looked far enough away to catch the tricks.

I see similar patterns in our rational, scientific culture. Many claim that by scrutinizing all things as closely as possible, we may in time divine the over-arching, universal truth. If, says this culture, such a thing truly exists.

Yet science looks too closely. They find pieces of this truth, and hold it up as the truth. The soft sciences do this quite a bit. Find a thing. Draw conclusions based on perceptions of that thing. Claim this perception as truth.

‘shakes head’

Universal truth cannot be dissected like a frog on an eighth grader’s science lab table. That dissection shows us the pieces that exist inside the frog. In the end, we learn nothing about the habitat of that specific frog, or how its species lives, functions, and moves in the environment. We pour salt on the muscles and see them twitch. Hardly the same as chasing down frogs by the side of the lake and experiencing for yourself just how fast the little blighters can be.

You have your experience of reality. I have mine. Neither of these is the truth. Both of them contain pieces of the truth. In the coming days and weeks, I intend to discuss what bits of truth I’ve come to understand through my lived experience.

In the end, only by coming together to discuss, openly, respectfully, with frank precision can we come closer to understanding the universal truth surrounding us all.

CyborgScribe Tutorials: Reboot and Re-energize

Ever tried to write a book? Most people I speak to haven’t. It’s tough. It’s even tougher without proper tools.
Nowadays, those tools often come in the form of software. I’ve got a few programs I can no longer function without.

So, I’ve decided to do something a little different with Wednesdays. I’d like to actually bring you behind the scenes and show you what my writing process looks like.

We’ll start next week with a redo of my first Aeon Timeline tutorial. In the meantime, let me tell you a bit about some of the programs I’ll be showcasing on my YouTube channel. And yes, you’ll be able to find the videos through my blog.

Scrivener

The first program I picked up to help streamline my writing process, it’s done so much more.

Effectively, Scrivener combines the traits of a database and a word processor. It’s simple to write scene by scene, move chunks of writing around simply and without fuss or mess.

Now yes, it has a learning curve. In fact, take a look at the sidebar in the screen-shot of this post’s draft.

Yeah, there’s a ton of stuff there. Color coded flags for days of the week (each indicating a different theme/category) and all kinds of other stuff.

The Fiction template has a similar number of folders.

Yes, this program confused the heck outta me for a while. Now? Not so much.

Then there’s its partner in crime.

Aeon Timeline

This is literally the only functional timeline software I could find. And since I can’t often make heads or tails of WHEN something happened, well, I needed it. It’s also learning intense bit of software, and I’m learning as I go. The website has some blog posts and things, but I’ve decided that in order to learn this thing, I need to know as much about it as possible.

To that end, this will be the first focus for my Wednesday tutorials. Especially since I found it, got excited, and made a few rather bad tutorials. Watch them if you dare.

So, if you want a peek into how my mind works when I’m writing, drop by my YouTube channel, and click subscribe. That way YouTube will actually tell you when I’ve got new videos out.

Accomplishment & Success: Can’t Have One Without The Other

Success. Accomplishment. Most of us crave them in some form. My question is…Do we recognize them when we achieve them?

Often, no. Without knowing what you’re looking for, you’ll never know if you’ve found it.

Story time:

Seven or eight years ago now, I had a conversation with my mother which involved both of us describing our ideals of “success”.

I don’t remember what hers were. I remember enough about mine to laugh at the naivete. Among my thoughts—

  • I’ve published at least one New York Times best seller.
  • I have enough money to show up to my high school reunion on a custom Harley and wearing leathers studded with semi-precious stones. (Yes, you may point and laugh all you wish.)
  • I never worry about money, even if I spend several thousand dollars a month on stuff that doesn’t matter.

I’m disappointed, younger self.

See, while these are obvious signs of accomplishment to the people who don’t matter in my daily life, they don’t truly mean much. The reasons why?

  • The New York Times best seller list is a money game between the big NY publishing houses.
  • I care about very few people from my graduating class enough to concern myself with impressing them.
  • Yes, money helps, but what would I SPEND several thousand dollars a month in random cash on?

So what ARE we looking for?

The Twins: Success & Accomplishment

Ever owned a house plant? So far, I’ve owned two in my life. One was a bamboo. The poor dear likely ended up in a dumpster when we rushed our last move.

Now, I’ve got a parade rose on my desk. The orange beauties need daily light watering. Just an ice cube or two. Success in caring for a house plant is easy to see.

My roses get wilted, I’m not getting them enough water or sun.

My roses stand tall and proud? I’m succeeding in my job as caretaker.

Seeking success is a matter not of “getting there” but of small, genuine accomplishments daily, weekly, monthly. It’s the invisible twin that holds no recognition until many accomplishments have built up over time.

Accomplishment is the obvious twin. This twin can be found in the daily details of everything from running a household to running a corporation. Getting up in the morning. Keeping the files organized. Washing the dishes.

Seek genuine accomplishment and success will likely follow.

Genuine Accomplishment a.k.a. DO THE THING!

We all have that ONE project. It’s sat in the back of your head for six months, six years, or six decades. I don’t care how long. The vintage airplane to restore. The book not yet written. The painting not yet painted. The language not yet learned.

You want to do it, but you don’t do it. You hesitate.

Why?

Among the winners: No time. No money. Could be “more productive”.

Now, if your project is restoring a vintage airplane to operating capacity, yeah, okay. The money part has some validity. You need parts and stuff. Although it may just be a matter of changing your budget somehow.

Nearly every no time excuse is exactly that. An excuse. I didn’t have the capacity to see or count all the minutes I wasted on stuff like Netflix and Surf when I could’ve been writing. I just know I did it.

As for needing time to decompress, etc, yes, day jobs can suck out your soul, if you let them. Don’t let them. After all, it’s your soul, your passion, your determination and drive. Not someone else’s.

As for decompressing, if The Project happens to be a passion, doing it won’t be a chore. It CAN be your decompression.

Now why bother overcoming whatever mental and physical hurdles we have to do the thing?
To accomplish something. It’s worth the pain.

Now I ask you, what’s your ONE PROJECT? What do you really want to do? Share with me in the comments, and let’s have a conversation!

Dueling Mannequins

You know that scene where Cass nearly got shanked? Well, thank Max and Miri, the two delightful mannequins pictured above. These are basically Shay’s assistants, models, and all-around handy people.

I’m not quite sure where this post is going, so have another picture. I am getting my act together, I swear.

You ARE A Millennial, And Here’s Why

Are you a Millennial? I planned to start this by saying I survived Y2K, so I’m a Millennial, but let’s be real.
If you’re reading this, you’re a Millennial.

Please don’t click the corner X just yet. You and I live and breath after the year 2000. I don’t care what year you were born. That makes you a Millennial.

Just think about it a second.

We’re all walking around, living our lives, struggling from day to day, hoping to some how, some way, some day create something better than we had before, right? Whether you were born in 1918 or 1980, most people I’ve met want better tomorrow than yesterday handed to them. Especially if yesterday was stinkin’ miserable. And we’re doing it in years labeled 20**. 🙂

So, despite unnumbered rants to the contrary, I say we’re all Millennials.

Also if you were born in 1918 or anywhere around WWI or WWII or the Civil Rights Movement and are reading this, drop me a shout out in the comments. You’re way more experienced than I am, and I’d love to hear your stories.

Where was I? Oh yes. Millennial. That word. We throw it around like we throw around Baby Boomer or Generation X or the Greatest Generation. Can I…trust you with a secret?

Okay, here goes.

Government forms need handy separation markers, and people aren’t conveniently boxed.

‘holds up hands in surrender’ I know, I know! It’s weird. I mean, of course we can define other people! It’s so easy to define ourselves after all. At least, that’s what the U.S. Census Bureau would like to think. And the-nope. Stopping that train before it derails over a cliff. 😛

So what IS a Millennial? If you trust my 6 am brain, a Millennial is someone living during this new Millennium.

Yes. That’s it.

Which means YOU are a Millennial. You may be a Baby Boomer Millennial, or a Gen X Millennial, or a Gen Y Millennial (me), or a Millennial Millennial (my little sister). Whichever you are, you are a Millennial.

If, like I did, you’re now asking yourself about the generation gap and the differences in society and how everything is so different from what it was, my answer is…Yes and no.

Yes, people of different ages have differences. Differences in ideology, political thinking, political influence, specific ideas about such things as gender and race, differences in health…and a great deal many others.

But so do people of the SAME AGE. Just because a certain set of ideas is more common among a given age group doesn’t mean the generation gap exists. It could just as easily mean they grew up in similar environmental circumstances. It doesn’t mean that generation is better or worse, or even that they knew or know more or less than a previous or next generation.

All it means is we’re groups full of individual people.

Heck, if I used -ism and -ist terms, I’d be tempted to call this perpetuation of the generation gap concept ageism at its finest. Lumping massive groups of people of varying ability, economic, political, cultural, geographical, racial, national, experiential, gender, and sexual backgrounds together because of birth date, and then listing all the statistics about PIECES of those groups that make us have a reason to reject the whole?

Why don’t we stop looking at statistics for five minutes, and learn about the people right next to us? Sure, it’s a lot riskier, emotionally. It’s also a bigger reward when it turns out right.

See, I tend to agree with Core Elves. What matters most is that I respect you as an individual. Your character and what you, unique, wonderful person that you are, bring to the table. Statistics can’t tell me that.

So what will you do next time someone calls you a Millennial? A Baby Boomer? A Gen-Xer? When they dismiss your ideas because you’re from a different time and place? Will you rant and rage and troll their page? Or might this time be the one you take the approach of peace? Ask about their experiences? Learn where they come from? Find common ground and go from there?

Character Sneak Peak

The end of last week saw me pinned to the bed with a two-day migraine. To make up for my absence, here’s a character sneak peak for you. Liiræa’s watched the neighborhood crumble for reasons yet to be revealed. Grew up here, in fact, and quite loves the bookstore. She knows part of why it’s happening. She can feel it.

It’s not just her, either. A lot of folks in the neighborhood can feel the encroachment of troubled Arcanum. Most of them don’t know what it is. The question is: does she?

Shay and I figured this would be a good way to pass the time. It’s also giving us some new insight into things. It’s pretty cool.

Concept Art: Just What IS Ace?

Ace is Drakern, descended of the Old Dragons of Vermillion. Just Dragons. Not a drop of Godschild–or humanoid– blood in his veins. Getting his design right was quite the adventure, too.

See, I had this idea in my head. The one you see above, from Dragon Hoard Books 9. I knew all the biology, the ins and outs of the wings, the tail, the legs, the whole form.

Yes, I’m nerdy, and I confess a certain inspiration from Disney’s Gargoyles as a kid, but I digress.

Back in September 2016, when Shay and I first started talking about this mad idea of a comic, I tried hard to put it into words, and the first result came out looking like the alien from Enemy Mine.

Ace is displeased with the first sketch. 😛

That’s the incredible thing about collaboration. Once two minds really start to mesh and blend, art reaches a depth of possibility that just isn’t there with one mind alone.

As you can see with the evolution of Ace’s character design below.

I just realized how odd Ace’s legs look in this pic.

    

Well, that’s all we’ve got for you this Saturday! Next week, we’ll show you Cass with short, curly hair! I won’t lie, they look pretty odd. 😛

I’ve got a bit on the Origin of Drakern scheduled on Monday’s Patron feed. Feel free to check it out next week!

World-building Without Instinctive Norms In The Way

Want to know the best bit about writing fantasy (or science fantasy)? I get to break my own belief system on a regular basis, because if I don’t I end up writing entire character concepts wrong. I know, I know. If I make all of this stuff up from scratch, how can I write any of it wrong?

Most speculative fiction isn’t built completely from scratch. It’s a Frankenstein work of real life and imagination.

And yes, I’ve gotten entire characters wrong.

I even had to give one a sex change. Had him written as a female.

This is what happens when we let our cultural assumptions and beliefs get in the way of the story and the world. Weird, right?

So just how did this character start as a female and end up a male? The same way I’ve had some fascinating conversations with Shay about Dragon Hoard Books. I let social norms I felt as instinct get in the way.

Instinctive Norms

Remember the beliefs I wrote about Monday? The ones so ingrained they’re practically instinct? That doesn’t just happen with hijacked survival instincts. The first beliefs this happens with are social norms.

We don’t need the “differences between the sexes” spelled out for us, because when we’re children, we observe men and women behaving differently. We internalize those differences through imitation. As a child, I internalized the “wrong” behavior set, and thus the social machine moved to correct me through parents, peers, relatives.

Gender is not the only social norm this happens with, either. Morality and the good vs. evil dichotomy. Political leanings. How we determine those we spend time with.

All these actions can trace back to what I call Instinctive Norms. These norms aren’t instincts. They’re social structures. Yet we believe and embrace them instinctively, because they were never extrinsically taught.

If you grow up in a community full of similar-looking people, it’s not unusual to have a strong curiosity about those who look very different when you leave that community.

If you grow up in a community full of all types of people of varying size, body type, racial disposition, and cultural background, then move to a more homogeneous community, it’s not unusual to feel displaced and out of sync with the people around you.

We humans learn better by watching, experiencing, and doing than virtually any form of rote learning when it comes to social expectations and culture. We pick up these expectations especially fast as children—information sponges that we were back then.

Unfortunately, I can’t stay within the same framework if I want to write the stories in my mind.

Instinctive Norms & Writing

I know it’s two days later, but do you still have that list of five differences between women and men? If not, jot down a new list. Create a heading for each gender, and write five traits under each.

Now cross out the headings and swap them, any assumption not involved in child-bearing. That’s what the culture of Nexeus Elves looks like.

My character’s submissive tendencies and love for fashion made more sense for a Nexeuan man.
And then there are Core Elves. They don’t really HAVE gender roles. At all.

So yeah, building Vermillion has been a wild ride. I’ve had to prevent my own Instinctive Norms from sabotaging the depth and breadth of my world-building.

How about you? Have you ever created something with one intention and realized your own Instinctive Norms got in the way? Or is it something you’ve ever looked at?

Belief, Instinct, Social Norms, And The Mess Of Personal Psychology

Go with your gut. Trust your instincts. Both wonderful lessons. Often, though, I believe we confuse belief or cultural understanding with instinct. Don’t believe me?

Name five differences between men and women off the top of your head. Feel free to write them down.
Now…how many of them involve learned behavior? 😉 I bet you won’t be able to figure it out, and that’s okay. None of us know everything. Most of us know, in fact, very little.

What I do know, from a good deal of study and personal experience, is that so often what we call instinct is actually—to use a term I generally dislike—social programming. And no, it doesn’t matter what society you come from or choose to embrace, you have social programming so deeply ingrained we act as though it is instinct and never stop to think if it truly is.

So what’s the difference?

Instinct is basically an innate, typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli. At least if you Google the definition.

Instinctive belief is a pattern of behavior, usually reactionary, built around a subconscious belief.

As an example, for many years, I believed if people didn’t talk to me, they hated me or I had done something wrong. I didn’t see these beliefs initially, but they shaped my behavior. I spent my life trying to be all things to all people, just so no one would hate me and I wouldn’t do anything wrong.

I ran by what I perceived to be instinct.

Except it was hijacked instinct, the need to survive bent to a specific set of reactions by long exposure to less than ideal circumstances. Fortunately, I have a mind, and the ability to keep from acting on such beliefs, or to change them entirely.

The trick is to find them.

I’ve found two routes. One typically involves a therapist and cognitive behavioral therapy.

The other, and far less expensive, is the study of the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. I’ve written about this philosophy in the past, and I’ll write more as the mood strikes me. Suffice it to say, this was the founding philosophy of cognitive behavioral therapy in most of its forms.focus for both is not to study so much the specific causes of behavior in the psychoanalytic sense, but to find those thoughts that aren’t useful to us and replace them with thoughts that are useful. Let’s go back to my example a moment.

My core belief driving the other two: If people don’t talk to me, they think I’m bad.

Not a fun way to live, and I anxiety inducing to a mad degree. So, once I discovered that belief, I replaced it. The mind dislikes empty spaces, so a void must be filled. Better to be filled by a conscious choice than random chance.

Replacement belief: If a person doesn’t talk to me, their reason matters not to me.

Yes, that one was a good deal tougher to ingrain in myself. The old belief still raises its head now and then. Such is the way with rewiring the mind. It takes time, patience, and effort. Essentially a good deal of will.

No, I’m not saying willpower fixes everything. However, it can help change a core belief. The key is to find the belief first. So this week, beliefs, instincts, and social norms are the focus of my blog. If you’re looking forward to it, raise your hand! Or, you know, comment because I can’t actually see you raising your hand. 😀

Dragon Hoard Books: A Friendly Warning

Wow it’s been a rough two weeks. I – Raidon – have finally found a nice little cafe that sells my favorite carbonated juice, and Shay did not die in the first two (or was it three?) weeks as a fast-food slave.

It’s about time we checked in with the bookstore. Here it is, only a week late. Go give Shay some love for finishing this just a week late. In the meantime, keeping consistent with the content will get easier with time. Also, remember, if you want to see comics a day early, check us out on Patreon. Meanwhile, Shay is stubbornly insisting the project move forward, despite hand cramps of doom.

And of course, behind the scenes, I’m working to get this comic into a cohesive script form. If you like getting updates on that part, feel free to keep up with my Author Page, or just send me a friend request on Facebook. If we’ve got no mutual acquaintances, don’t forget to include a message.

If all goes well, we’ll have a comic next week, too. 😛

 

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