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.