Monday, December 20, 2010

The Day Draws Closer...

We have only a few more days left until Christmas. We can imagine that Santa and his elves at the North Pole are rushing like crazy to finish their preparations for the big holiday. They're not the only ones. Many people across the globe are finishing their shopping for food and presents for the big day. People are also traveling to be with their families this time of year.

I'm sorry about not having anything to post about last week, but a lot of stuff was going on. Now I'm back home, and waiting eagerly for the holiday to come. I wish everyone on this blog a Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Mysteries of the Ocean

Well, as of today, the next adaptation of the Chronicles of Narnia series (the Voyage of the Dawn Treader) is now in theaters. One of C.S. Lewis's popular stories, it follows the adventures of Edmund, Lucy, and their practical cousin Eustace as they journey across Narnia's oceans to find Aslan's Country. This book explores a part of Narnia that, like our oceans, are deep and mysterious. In fact, so little is known about our oceans and what lies underneath them that people have been trying to figure that out for years.
One of the earliest tales of a sailor exploring the oceans goes back to Ancient Greece, in Homer's epic tale The Odyssey. The hero, Odysseus (known as Ulysses in Rome), has helped Greece win the Trojan war, but a series of events leads him to take 20 years to get home. Along the way, he encounters man-eating cyclopes, deadly enchanting sirens, and the infamous Scylla and Charybdis. These adventures are referenced in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, showing that the author was familiar with tales from Ancient Greece.
The Norse also had tales of sea creatures lurking in the deep. The most famous of these creatures was the Kraken, a giant octopus/squid like creature that pulled ships down to the bottom of the sea. What's scary is that the legend of the Kraken may have actually been a real creature! Although they don't pull ships down to the bottom of the sea, there is evidence that giant squid live in the oceans. Remains of giant squid have even been found in the stomachs of sperm whales, showing that if provoked they can be aggressive!
One of the most famous monsters to be seen in the oceans are sea serpents. For hundreds of years sailors have told stories of large, snake-like creatures that swam in the oceans. No reports of destroying ships are known, but that doesn't mean they were capable of doing so. They can easily be seen as the ocean's equivalent of the dragon, except that they didn't breathe fire or eat anyone (even though they could easily eat a ship if they wanted to).
Another famous sea creature that probably everyone is familiar with is the mermaid. These are some of the most unusual creatures around, because they were half fish, half women (more recent stories added male versions as well). The early stories had them behave like sirens, using songs to lure sailors to their deaths. More recent stories just have them as sea dwellers who love to sing. Perhaps the most famous story featuring mermaids is Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid, which became Disney's 28th animated film. Tales of mermaids have withstood the test of time, and it's quite safe to assume that they will still exist in fantasy stories for years to come.
While people had many stories about creatures hiding in the deep oceans, there is evidence that shows that long ago, the oceans were filled with monsters. Throughout history, super predators have evolved in the oceans of the world. In the Devonian era, the oceans were ruled by a monstrous fish-like creature known as Dunkleosteus, a fish with a bite so nasty a person would lose their leg completely from it. Later, in the age of the dinosaurs, creatures like Elasmosaurus (a long-necked plesiosaurus), Liopleurodon (a huge short-neck pliosaur the size of a whale), and Mosasaurus (a crocodile-like creature with flippers) ruled the oceans. After the dinosaurs came the whales, but these were killers like Basilosaurus, nothing like the gentle giants of today.
Perhaps the most ferocious sea creature was the real life Jaws: Megalodon. Megalodon was a 50-foot shark that swam in the oceans about 25 to 1.5 million years ago. This shark was capable of eating whatever it wanted. No doubt the great whites of today would seem like harmless guppies compared to this creature. If it were still alive, nothing would be left of the surfers who'd probably get attacked.
The oceans are a vast and mysterious place. Writers and movie makers have been telling stories that explore these vast realms (like Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Disney/Pixar's film Finding Nemo). With the way research technology has advanced, we may find more discoveries under the sea that we had no idea existed or were possible.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where does "The End" Occur?

Well, fans of the famous Chronicles of Narnia series won't have to wait too much longer until they can return to Narnia. The next film in the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, sets sail this Friday. Being the third story in Narnia's universe, this brings up an interesting question: When does "The End" truly occur?
What is it about stories that keeps authors writing about them? Is it the lure to show readers what happens to the heroes of their stories? Is it to keep writing? Or is it just to make more money? Whatever the reason, it pleases fans to see more adventures with some of their favorite characters. I guess if a story can be imagined by the author that continues the adventures and exploits of their characters, they'll write it.
No matter how popular the characters may get, one thing always has to happen: the series must come to a close. This is one thing that fans dislike about series the most, because it means no more adventures with some of their favorite characters. I suspect that authors try to make up for this by making the last book as great a story as it can possibly get. But even though the stories may come to an end, "The End" may not happen for those characters. If people love the characters hard enough, they will keep them alive in their imaginations.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Spell of Winter

Were I am right now, the snow has melted away again. For some people here, that's a good thing. For me, it means I may have to wait weeks for the snow to get back. I prefer to have a white holiday season.
When I was a little kid, the coming of snow meant fun (and possibly a few days off of school). I remember taking my sled to slide down snow covered hills with. My brothers were good at ice skating, but I could never get the hang of it.
The snow in winter also makes me think of a time period that had lots of snow: The Ice Ages. This time period commonly refers to a time about 20,000 years ago when large glaciers covered most of North America, Europe, and Asia. This was the time of Woolly Mammoths, Woolly Rhinos, and primitive man (sorry, Smilodons, or Saber-tooth cats, were alive at this time, but mainly lived in South America). The world was definitely much colder then (try picturing the North Pole without Santa or his elves). Even though it was a harsh time, I enjoy thinking of the ice ages and the creatures that lived in that time. It's even possible that there's a place in Dymos where the ice age continues (we'll just have to wait and see).
In my young mind as a kid, the coming of snow was a good thing. It was a reminder that Christmas would be coming soon. That was a time we would start getting out our decorations and making snowmen to decorate our front yard. My brothers would also have the occasional snowball fight. One of the good things that I think anyone would enjoy is coming in to sit by a warm fire drinking hot chocolate. I won't be doing that kind of stuff this year, but it's good to look back upon fond memories all the same.
Winter was a magical time for my childhood. I still enjoy it as an adult, when the world seems to take upon a new look, and the start of more family time. I hope everyone who gets to see snow this year will enjoy and treasure their memories.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The History of Christmas

Well, we've only got 23 days, almost 22, left until the most wonderful day of the year arrives. This holiday is widely celebrated across the globe as a time to be with family, and to help make others happy. Christmas has become a time of decorations, cookies, presents, and Santa Claus, but the message behind it all has remained the same. Let's take a trip through time to see how the holiday began.
The word Christmas first appeared sometime in the year 1038. It was used as a day of feasting and celebrating of the birth of Jesus Christ, and christian scholars in those days had agreed that the day of that event was December 25. This has been debated by many scholars for years, but the depth of those arguments are too long to go into. The point is, it was a day set apart in the middle ages for people to celebrate the birth of the Messiah.
For many people, this tradition continues to this day. The Nativity is one of the most famous stories children can read about during this time of year. Many Christian churches do different things to bring this event to life (from plays to walkthroughs, where people can walk about in a re-created Bethlehem). Some people even set up Nativity sets outside of their homes so people who drive by can enjoy the memory of the holiday's origins.
As time went by, people have added more ways to celebrate this holiday. People in Roman settlements (and some Jewish people as well) used to bring in branches from evergreen plants for the winter. Some of these plants included holm, ivy, bays, and hollies (which is still used as a decoration today). The Christmas tree was a way to Christianize a pagan tradition surrounding the Winter Solstice, which involved green plants as well. The custom was first said to have originated in Germany before becoming widespread in Britain by 1841. However, it wasn't until about 30 years later that Christmas trees began popping up in America. Today we add ornaments and lights to the trees, probably as a way to keep light shining in the darkness.
Some people may think Christmas carols may be a thing which is relatively new, but it isn't. Songs about this holiday go all the way back to 4th Century Rome, the first being Veni redemptor gentium. Songs were added on in the Middle Ages including Adesti Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful, which is still sung today). One of the most famous carols added was in 1818, and Austria was the first country to hear Silent Night. Christmas carols have been added that appear to be mainly for entertainment purposes, including Deck the Halls (1784) and Jingle Bells (1857, and was copyrighted in America).
Probably one of the most iconic practices this time of year is gift giving. Many companies and businesses use this as a way to bring in lots of money this time of year. However, in the Middle Ages, it was banned by the church because they thought it had pagan origins. However, it was reinstated after being recognized as a symbol of the gifts the Magi brought the baby Jesus on that special day. Today we have a new person who brings gifts to girls and boys across the world...Santa Claus.
Santa, unarguably one of Christmas's most famous icons, didn't start out as a jolly man from a workshop at the North Pole. The earliest version of Santa Claus was Saint Nicholas, who was Bishop of Myra during the 4th century. Saint Nicholas loved children, and used to care for them and give them gifts. A feast was eventually established on December 6 where the practice of gift giving came to fruition. Saint Nicholas would check the behavior of children for a year, and would decide if they deserved a gift or not. Over the years, the story of a man giving gifts to good children spread throughout Europe, although the name would change. Examples included Father Christmas and Kris Kringle (an English corruption of Christkindl), and the practice of gift giving was moved to December 24 (Christmas Eve). When those traditions and stories were brought over to America, the name became Santa Claus. Originally drawn in Bishop's robes, his attire was changed to the fur-wearing old man we know today. The elves and Mrs. Claus would not come until much later.
Although Christmas goes back a long way and has had many changes over the year, the spirit of the holiday remains the same. It's a time where we gather with friends and family to enjoy each others company. No matter how many changes the holiday may experience, the spirit of love and joy will always be in the holiday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving break

Just a quick update about the Thanksgiving Holidays. I went back home to spend some time with my family. This is going to be the last Thanksgiving we spend together for a long time. I don't know when the next one will have us all together, but I can certainly promise that it won't be for several years.
My brothers took me to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 during this time. It was a good movie, and I felt they stayed very true to the original story. Some plot elements were changed around, but all in all, it was very true to the book. It was sad to see how people would go to extreme lengths to make sure that no one stands up and tells them they're wrong. However, I know that no matter how dark the night gets, the sun will rise.
We also did something else this holiday: We had our Christmas celebration early. Everyone got a cool DVD (I got Toy Story 3) and I gave my brothers books signed by authors. They really liked those.
I also had some experiences at the airport both coming home and leaving. When I was coming home, a blizzard hit the Salt Lake Valley just as the plane I was one was about to leave. The captain didn't want to take off in the weather with so much snow on the plane, and by the time we would've gotten defrosted, we would've had to do it again. So everyone got off the plane and waited a bit for the weather to clear. When we finally got a break, the plane was defrosted and we were able to go our way. When I leaving for Utah, I was able to work some more on The Thirteen Curses while on the plane. That was the first time I had ever worked on a book on a plane.
All in all, I had a cool Thanksgiving week. I hope that everyone else had a good holiday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

I know there's still Thanksgiving to think about, but something I like about winter has come: snow. There aren't great big piles of it everywhere, there's only enough to make the ground look white. I've grown up playing in snow, so I'm glad to see it again. It brings back memories of all the activities that I used to do: sledding down hills, building snowmen, making snowangels, and watching my brothers ice skate and have snowball fights. So many wonderful times.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Forces of Evil

I know the title for this blog is something more for Halloween, but I don't think I can wait that long to blog about this. The title mainly refers to the villains that are always needed in a big story. Although no one ever seems to like a villain in the story, they are needed because without them there are no challenges for the characters to overcome. In every book that exists, there will exist some form of villain.
A villain is usually characterized as someone who does evil deeds to obtain their goals. They could range from kidnapping babies to usurping a throne. They usually believe themselves to be so powerful that no one would dare to oppose them. However, that's usually when the hero comes in to save the day. The villain throws everything they can to stop the hero(s) but end up failing miserably (and most of the time lose their lives).
Villains can have an assortment of weapons and powers at their disposal. Some villains are mainly wicked wizards and witches who use spells to control people and to try and destroy the hero. Other villains may have an arsenal of advance weapons for their use. There are even villains who don't have anything special, but are willing to do what they can to hurt others. Most of the time the villain will have a minion to boss (or bully) around. No matter what, it's quite established that villains will do anything to keep people from opposing them.
Villains have been appearing in the world of literature for years. It could be that they're representing the opposition that many people encounter in life, and the hero triumphing over the villain can be seen as people overcoming the opposition. Whatever the reason, one thing is quite clear: we can expect to see more villains appear in stories for a long time, and that they won't seem to get the message that good will triumph over evil in the end.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good Trolls and Bad Elves...Is it possible?

On one of my previous posts, I discussed the history of dragons and how our view of them has changed over time. This post goes beyond that, and looks at the possible behaviors of many creatures that exist within the fantasy realms.
One common creature that we commonly see in fantasy worlds are the trolls. Trolls are usually depicted as big, ugly brutes who love violence and mischief. Sometimes they lurk underneath bridges, other times they hide in caves. What is interesting about trolls is that most of the time they have to hide somewhere before the day comes otherwise they turn to stone. Most of the time trolls look like big, hulking humans (although I pictured them a little differently). Despite their ugly appearances, could it have been possible that they may have been more like people than originally thought?
What about elves? The original stories had them as tiny, forest dwelling people who did good deeds to others, almost like fairies. It wasn't until The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that the depiction of pointed-ear humans came to be. It has then become popular imaging of immortal human-like creatures that are better at many things than humans that many people have tried to recapture. However, if they were like humans, then shouldn't they have faults just like us?
Let's take a look now at the animal kingdom. Here there are many examples of good and bad creatures. Dogs earned the reputation as Man's Best Friend, but are all dogs friendly to people? Unfortunately no. Do all snakes seek the downfall of men? No, they're just trying to make a living by following instincts. Are sharks man-eaters? Don't be silly, they just mistake people for seals or turtles. Is it always a bad sign if a crow is nearby? Of course not. If animals can be good and bad like people, then why isn't it possible for some ogres, goblins, trolls, and such creatures to be good while fairies, elves, mermaids, and the rest to have some bad members?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Visiting the Museum of Ancient Life

Just a quick update. Today was my 20th birthday, and I had a really great day. Not everything went as I had hoped it would (but not in the bad kind of way). Some things I had hoped to get done didn't happen. Oh well. It won't happen again for another year.
The biggest and coolest thing I did was go with a family member to the Museum of Ancient Life. I've been wanting to go for a while, and today that opportunity finally came. They had the coolest collection of fossils and ways to view the prehistoric worlds. I saw an actual skeleton of the dinosaur Supersaurus (a cousin of Apatosaurus) as well as a Brachiosaurus (and he/she was big). A dinosaur that I don't recall reading about before was Tanycolagreus (a small, carnivorous dinosaur from the Jurassic period). I also got to see some of the earliest dinosaurs (such as Herrerasaurus and Eoraptor) and other prehistoric animals (Dimetrodon, Eryops, and Dyictodont). Sorry, can't exactly remember the spelling on that last dinosaur. I did get to see some ceratopsians (cousins of Triceratops) that I had read about, but never seen in person. These cool dinosaurs were Chasmosaurus, Psittacosaurus, and Protoceratops. There were also several specimens of amber (the fossilized tree sap) with lots of bugs inside. Sorry, no one was digging in to extract dino blood like in Jurassic Park. Some of the first sea creature skeletons I saw included the giant turtle Archelon, the plesiosaur Elasmosaurus, and the mosasaur called Tylosaurus. They were really big (plenty of reason to stay out of the prehistoric oceans). There was also this cool diorama of the age of the dinosaurs (using dino figures found in the gift shop). A few other skeletons I got my first look at included Struthiomimus (a relative of Gallimimus from Jurassic Park), Anhanguera (a type of pterosaur), a complete skeleton of Utahraptor (a cousin of the Velociraptors), Gargoyleosaurus (a type of ankylosaurus), and Othnelia. All in all, that was a very fun trip.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dragons Through the Ages

One of the most common creatures to encounter in the realm of fantasy, whether it's in a book, a movie, or in a country's legends or myths, is the dragon. Almost every culture that exists on this planet has a dragon of some sort. Sometimes they're large, winged reptiles that eat damsels and fight knights, other times they're protectors of nature and symbols of power. The question that I'm going to answer is: What is it about dragons that makes them so popular?
To answer this question, we must look back through the history of the dragon. The earliest cultures told stories of large, snakelike creatures that were said to be the bringer of storms and thunder. The Greeks called these creatures draco (which translates into English as dragon). Oftentimes they would be guarding treasure or something extremely valuable which the local town or village would be in desperate need of. Usually the legends would have some hero rise up to face and slay the beast (occasionally at the cost of their own life). These tales are common in stories from medieval Europe, but they have their origins in Greek and Babylonian folklore. To these people, the dragon would symbolize something terrible that held the promise of wealth once the big nasty reptile was out of the way.
Not every culture viewed dragons in such a way. In Asian cultures (particularly China and Japan) the dragon was worshiped oftentimes as a diety that would bring rain in times of drought. They still maintained the serpentine look, but this time they had clawed feet (varying from 5 to 3). The people of China believe that dragons are a sign of good luck, and still honor the dragon by having dragons in their new year celebrations. Never once did these creatures seek to eat anyone, and this may be the reason why they have survived into modern times.
Dragons are also mentioned in the Bible, but this time they are portrayed once again as vile, evil creatures. The bible often uses the word dragon to describe the Devil or something fierce. It is very possible that since these were large, scary creatures, their name was used to try and make people fear that which was evil a lot more than they did before. That belief carried on over to medieval times, where dragons began to take on the form of large winged reptiles breathing fire and threatening to eat princesses and damsels in distress.
Today our depictions of dragons are similar, but sometimes they vary. Most often in these times artists, movie makers, and writers describe dragons as large dinosaur-like creatures with bat wings breathing fire (although the Chinese still hold true to their ancestral depiction of the dragon). However, now dragons are more than just large monsters that guard treasure and eat people. Authors have written dragons to be helpful companions to humans and work with them to protect the innocent (the common depictions of these are found in the Dragonriders of Pern series and the Inheritance Cycle). Video games make them large, hard-to-beat bosses that if not stopped could destroy the land. Sometimes the dragons have the power to speak, other times they don't. They can either be made lovable characters for children (like Elliot in Pete's Dragon or in Dragontales) or hideous scary creatures (like in Reign of Fire and the Harry Potter series). One thing is for sure: It is very hard not to find a dragon somewhere in the world.
So, in conclusion, what is it about dragons that has made them so popular? They have existed in almost every culture across the globe, they are large and intimidating, they can breathe fire, and they seem to be unstoppable. My guess is that the reason dragons are so popular is that they are something the entire world can identify in the world of fantasy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dymos stuff

The Myths of Dymos: Power of Vedion has now been out for a few months, and people who've read it have told me they liked it. People around Brigham Young University have asked where they could get a copy, and have ordered from online stores like and Barnes and Noble. Last week, I was able to to meet some great authors at the Teen Book Fest at Provo Library. These authors include (but were not limited to) Brandon Mull (author of the Fablehaven series), Brandon Sanderson (author of the Alcatraz series, the Wheel of Time series, and The Way of Kings), Jefferey Scott Savage (author of the FarWorld books and The Fourth Nephite), Lisa Mangum (author of the Hourglass Door series), and Scott Westerfeld (author of Leviathan and Behemoth). They all received a copy of my book from me and sounded very interested in what it was about.

I've noticed some things in Power of Vedion that I haven't explained yet in the book that I will take the time to explain in book 2. First off is why did some of the magical creatures fight with the Magic's Bane even though they knew that they were evil? Second, why was it that several creatures (goblins, ogres, trolls, etc) that are usually seen as bad fighting on the side of good? Those questions, and many more will be answered.

Originally I said that some of the original characters from the first story would be back, but their roles would be minor. I've been thinking about the plot, and that could change in the future. For right now, only time will tell of what may or may not happen in Dymos.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Possible Book 2 Title

It's been a while, but I've been busy with a lot of things. I've still been working on book 2 of the Myths of Dymos and it's coming along great. I'm sure people who read it will find it as enjoyable as the first book.
The title I would like to go with for the second myth of Dymos is The Myths of Dymos: The Thirteen Curses. The two main protagonists mentioned before are kids from Earth who learn of Dymos and travel there to help undo a great wrong. They do meet some of the characters from the original story, and make friends with some new characters.

In this book the readers will learn a little bit more about how magic in Dymos works. It will not be a series of complex spells like in the Harry Potter series, and neither will it be the kind that will drain your energy as in The Inheritance Cycle. Rather, it'll be more...well, you'll have to wait and find out.

For those of you who don't know exactly what a Spinosaurus is, here's the information. Spinosaurus was a large predatory dinosaur whose fossil remains were found in what is now Egypt. In recent years, Spinosaurus has become an incredibly popular dinosaur, appearing in films like Jurassic Park III and on television shows like Dinosaur King and Dino Squad. One of the most distinguishing features about Spinosaurus was that it had a sail on its back like Dimetrodon. There have been some theories that Spinosaurus was one of the largest predators in its day, with a possible length of 50-60 feet. Now that is definitely something you don't want to cross paths with in the prehistoric world. Exactly how it ties into the story will have to wait. In the meantime, keep spreading the word around about The Myths of Dymos: Power of Vedion. The only way that the story can get successfully around is if you tell your friends about it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

1st book signing a success

Just wanted to give you an update on how the first official signing for The Myths of Dymos: Power of Vedion went. It was great, several people showed up for it. Some were people who were buying copies for friends and family, others were people who had heard of the book, but had not received a copy yet. All were excited and eager to read the book. Now all I can do is wait and see how far it goes by word of mouth.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Next myth set in southern lands

It's been a few weeks since my book got released. People have been reading it and enjoying it, but some people have asked if there will be a sequel. The answer is yes, there will be a sequel. This post will have more information on that subject.
The second story of the Myths of Dymos will take place in a land south, over the Quest Sea. The land is called Farha and has a more African/Middle-Eastern culture to it. Some of the characters from the original story will return, but most of them will play only a minor role. The story will mainly focus on new characters as they journey through this new land. They will also encounter the famous Spinosaurus.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Release

It's exciting to know that a book that has been written by me is now available for people to buy. Years of writing and rewriting have paid off, and the world can enjoy a new story that before only existed in the depths of my mind. It took a great deal of thinking and imagining before I could get it to sound just right. Now I hope that anyone who opens my book (which is available at,, and will enjoy the new world of Dymos.