Tag: #dragonhoardbooks

Opinions Are Safer Than Slices of My Soul

I’m not certain who originally created this meme. That person is, however, entirely correct.

You may be yourself all the time. Except when your boss only needs one aspect of you. Except when your friend needs another side of you. Except when being yourself means breaking social norms, or worse, laws.

We dedicate thousands of hours and tens of thousands of words to advice on how to be better members of society.

And right now, I don’t know if I’m failing or succeeding. I’m also trying desperately not to care.

After all, I blog. I want to blog more. (Some would say I NEED to blog more.) Most of the time, I blog about opinions on stuff I see online. Why?

Because it’s easy. It’s safe.

I don’t have to slice of a piece of my soul and risk baring it to the entire world. After all, opinions change. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but they change.

/\ Actual footage of some of my opinions changing. /\

Basically if a random internet stranger cares to tear my opinion apart? The wounds only go skin deep.

Blog: What Is It?

Often? The blog is merely a series of what may be termed personal essays. I set my fingers to the keyboard, type up an opinion and send it off into the ether. Then I wait, and wonder if I’ve said something that mattered to anyone but spammers?

So what happens? I run out of steam. I don’t know what to write about. I don’t want to write about my principles, because I have learned to fear the reactions of total strangers on the interent, when I actively refuse to fear the physical strangers I encounter every day.

I put stock in posts like Virginia Woolf: There Are Way Too Many Personal Essays Out There. I mean, how do I know if I’m “[using] this medium from genuine inspiration because it best embodies the soul of [my] thought.”? Or if I’m just rambling.

In the end, I don’t know. I just have to hope what I’m typing helps.

Why Opinion Is Safer Than Principle

We all have opinions. Some can be as simple as whether the blue shirt or the red shirt is better today. Frankly, the only one who truly cares what shirt you wear or what you eat for breakfast is you.

Then we have our principles. Those codes and convictions we hold so strongly they guide the ship of our lives. And I frequently only talk about principles when I have an ill-informed opinion on a principle I’m struggling to understand or implement in my life. I rarely speak of the genuine challenges and difficulties I face in learning a principle. I only share what may be “acceptable.”

I may change this as I can. To start with:

I am a faithful, attending member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (I am not a perfect member.)

This Coming Out post is not longer completely accurate to my perceptions.

I don’t like talking about myself in-dept to the internet.

ADHD makes it far easier to spout off to people one-on-one or in person.

I may or may not come off as a know-it-all. Blame what you will. It may have something to do with how I was taught to write, and the fact that I defend myself emotionally from being wrong. (Last I checked ALL humans do this.)

So yes, this is a personal essay. Yes, I may or may not have gotten very personal.

Just admitting I have difficulty writing this is a step towards genuine, I suppose.

Now I’m going to go make bread.

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!

Dr. Strange’s Keyhole: Opening The Doors Of Perception

Freedom IS a constant struggle not against the external but against the INTERNAL. I can’t recall the correct attribution, since I ran across the quote in some link-rabbit hole surf day. Even so, the idea resonates with me, especially as one just beginning to practice Stoic philosophy.

After all, one of the big keys of Stoicism I’ve found so far is the idea that it is impossible to free ourselves from our circumstances. However, we CAN free ourselves from the influence of those circumstances.

We do this by freeing ourselves internally. By disallowing ourselves to get sucked into just how terrible others might believe our circumstances are. See, more than we like to admit, life cuffs us upside the head, body slams us into a wall, and laughs in our face. Or in my case kicks you in the teeth as your down, and keeps laughing anyway.

Does it ever stop?

No, not completely.

Reminds me of a movie. Mild Dr. Strange spoilers ahead.

Dr. Stephen Strange, best and brightest surgeon of his age. Until all hell broke loose, and his life got upended. Guess what? He allowed himself to crumble into an obsession.

He needed a cure.

Out of money, out of options, he wandered into a foreign country seeking a cure.

Enter the Ancient One.

In their meeting, he’s shown in a quite powerful way just how limiting his beliefs have been in his search for healing. If you want to see how, go watch the movie.

That scene illustrates just how much BELIEF can show us. Such belief takes many forms. Polytheism, monotheism, Christianity, paganism, Islam, Judaism, non-religious philosophies such as Stoicism or Buddhism. I don’t have the space to list them all.

Beliefs vary as much as the individuals who hold them.

In the scene I’m referring to, the Ancient One explains that Strange is like a man looking through a keyhole, trying to understand what’s on the other side. I’d argue that makes him just like the rest of us. We’ve all got our version of…

Dr. Strange’s Keyhole

Back in the day, 1800s or so, when skeleton keys were all the rage, you could see through a keyhole. You may not see much though. Perhaps a blur of color here or there. A hint of shape. The whisper of reality beyond the door.

Once you open the door, you can actually see what’s going on.
Despite our external circumstances, our inner physical and mental realities are a lot like that glimpse through the keyhole. We think we know what we’re looking at. We’re certain we understand what’s happening!

I don’t know about you, but I keep learning enough to show me that I don’t. Not really. Reality and my perception of reality often disagree. Vehemently.

It’s like the old tale of the three blind men and the elephant. One claimed the elephant was like a tree. Another spoke of how like a serpent it was. The third man spoke of its hairy hide. They all had pieces, the leg, the trunk, and the end of the tail. All were right…and not.

So I can stare at that door all I want, but until I turn the key and open it…Well, I won’t have a clue.

Opening The Door

First, it helps to understand all your mental doors are made the same stuff. Perceptions. Opening the door means challenging that perception.

That’s the scary part.

The master key to these doors is curiosity. Curiosity about yourself and the world you live and move in.
Trouble comes when the key rusts, because we decide the answer we have is already enough. To polish the key, we choose to learn more, even when it hurts. Or the door itself is rusted shut.

My question to you: are you willing to polish that key? Open those doors? Accept what’s behind them?

I promise, your pride may take a beating, but it’s worth it. Last time my key turned up rusted, I believed that doctors would know what to do to help my pain levels and daily chronic migraines.

No luck. Instead, I’ve done my own research, and spent the last several months, with more ahead, testing a variety of other methods to gain relief. Some work, some were discarded.

All have been lessons.

I don’t know just how many doors exist in my mind. I do a little every day to keep the master key polished. I want to see more than just the piece of the room behind the keyhole.

What about you? What perception door have you been staring down, afraid to open? Tell me about it in the comments.

And go on. Turn that key. Set yourself free.

How Do You Know? Ancient Man and the Trash Pile

Today’s stream of consciousness: what can we learn about someone by digging through their midden pit—a.k.a trash pile? I’d guess less than half the story. Spoke this morning to someone at my usual café, and the topic of ancient peoples came up.

He mentioned the difference between us today—Modern Man—and our predecessors. You know, before things like art and abstract thought, right? And I got to thinking…

Do we really know as much as we think we do about our predecessors? How many papers and articles have you read that imply in polite, flowery terms that Ancient Man was kind of a moron?

Sure, they knew enough to hunt. They knew what would poison them and what wouldn’t. But ART? Nah, they didn’t make ART. They didn’t understand the value of abstraction, because they couldn’t.

Perhaps they did understand abstract thought, and simply had no time to indulge. Hunting and gathering and ensuring survival for the clan or tribe likely took precedence over creating a Sistine Chapel.

But SCIENCE!

I know, I know. I’m not a scientist, I’m a writer. I build worlds on the basics of what I know. I create societies and cultures and insulting gestures and characters. I don’t dig through 15,000 year old trash piles and try to piece together the inner minds and workings of entire societies from that.

The process of creating a world got me wondering why we do. Science has wonderful applications, don’t get me wrong. Modern sanitation, indoor plumbing, vaccines, and all manner of marvelous creations have come to us because of science.

We also got the ALIENS meme guy…

Yes, more…astute?…scientists reject his conclusions out of hand. After all, building the pyramids was the feat of slave labor and pharaohs, right? Or was it the feat of humans who desired to build something incredible and found a way to do it.

Again, how do we KNOW?

Partial Conclusions

From the Pharaohs we have the hieroglyphs and the Rosetta Stone. From Greece we have the plays that survived the ages. From our truly ancient ancestors, we have building foundations and crumbled pottery, if that.

Even the leaps of modern science are, in many ways, partial conclusions. We can observe a lot more than we used to. Electron microscopes and the Hubble telescope. Space probes. What do they teach us? 90% of the lesson is that we don’t know everything. Not even close. In a century or two, we will be subject to the same scorn we give pre-Civil War physicians for not cleaning their instruments between surgeries and Regency mothers for believing that lancing their teething baby’s gums was a good idea.

Even the hard sciences are an ever evolving set of partial conclusions based on exceedingly narrow questions. So how can we believe we truly know as much as we think we know about ancient peoples?

What if the people of the Stone Age actually had metal, but it was so rare and precious that they turned it into exceedingly high quality tools. And when one of them owned a tool like that, they kept careful care of it. They used it for its intended purpose, and ensured that when it finally wore out, they’d have gotten an entire lifetime of use out of it.

I doubt a tool like that would be left in a refuse pile. The most we would find would be fragments of the broken wooden handle.

What do you think? Were ancient peoples truly so much less intelligent than we are? Or did they apply their intelligence differently? Drop your thoughts in the comment section below, or shoot me a comment on Facebook!

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.

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!

When Clouded Instincts Mar Our Mental Health

Go with your gut. Trust your instincts. How many times in life have you done this and the results have been, well, disastrous?

I wish I could count mine on two hands. If I used hands, though, I’d need more like twenty for an accurate count. Probably more. That’s how life goes.

Most of the time, such choices went wrong because I trusted an instinctive norm rather than true instinct. See, instincts boil down to basic survival and species propagation. For the scientists in my audience, that may be slightly over-simplified, but that’s my definition for this post.

Many of us no longer live in a world where basic survival from one day to the next is our key purpose, though. That means our instincts get lost, or clouded with layers of beliefs about what’s “normal” to such an extent that it might just drive us insane.

I wish I were joking.

The Affect of Challenging Instinctive Norms

How many books did you need to read before you learned to speak? To walk? To grab those oh-so-tempting bits of food from the table when your parents fed you? My educated guess is 0.

What about climbing a tree?

Running?

Playing tag?

Nope. You learned from either experience, or another kid. And THEN you learned to read. Now as a writer, I’m a bookworm more than most. Have to be as part of the job. Yet we ALL read.

Check social media today? You’re reading.

Latest click-bait article? Yep, reading.

And when we read, we have our Instinctive Norms reinforced. Or we have them challenged and don’t realize it.

How do you know a norm has been challenged?

Whatever challenged it affects your mental health. In fact, allow me to challenge one of them right now.
Anxiety and depression CAN BE LEARNED.

A Culture of Anxious Depression

I know. If you’re a United States citizen, you know the deal. Mental disorders as chemical imbalances. This can certainly be true.

It’s not the ONLY explanation.

A good chunk of my anxiety and depression came from eating foods my body rejected on an immune level. The rest came as a direct result of consciously holding one belief and subconsciously holding a diametrically opposed belief. For example:

Conscious belief: I am a loved Child of Deity.

Unconscious belief: No one will love me unless I earn it through obvious success.

If that’s not a recipe for anxiety and perfectionist tendencies, I don’t know what is. I know I’m not the only one, too. What someone’s belief looks like this?

Conscious belief: Respect is automatic unless you break my trust.

Unconscious belief: Anyone who wants my respect must earn it by agreeing with me.

I suspect that individual might see aggression in any disagreement. Maybe even hate. Who knows?
My point is we all hold Instinctive Norms in our subconscious that affect our actions and behaviors. Even more, they affect our mental health. Cognitive dissonance [definition link] is not just a fun pop psychology phrase. It’s a state of mind that can directly cause anxiety, depression, and probably a few others I’m missing.

After all, when your conscious and subconscious mind are at war, what else would you call it?
What do you think? Have you ever experienced this brand of anxiety or depression? Do you believe it possible? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!

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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Dragon Hoard Books: Taking Out The Trash

Props, Cass. We’ll see how long you last.

In other news, I’m typing this on my phone, so Raidon out.

 

Want to help us out with production and become part of the Hoard? Check out our Patreon page and become a contributor!


 

 

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