I recently had the chance to broaden my horizons and travel down to Mexico to see a few historical sites. I'm speaking of the wonders of Chichen Itza and the walled city ruins of Tulum.
I am absolutely fascinated by the stories embedded inside the stones of such a place. As a child, my family was prone to visiting such places, but I can honestly say I don't remember much about those trips, unless my brother and I got into some form of mischief. The difference between those trips as an adult and as a child has to do with hiring guides.
Now, for some people, a tour guide is a man (or overtly chipper woman) in khaki short shorts who giggle at their own jokes while telling cute tales about whatever the heck it is you are looking at. Maybe I've just been lucky, but for the last few years, I haven't been traveling so much with tour guides, but story tellers.
The magic that lies inside the stones of an archaelogical site can only be released when one hears the tales of what transpired within. There is a certain air of mystery in wandering the cold, dead halls of a forgotten temple, or city, but to hear those stories brings everything back to life.
One story that comes to mind is one that occurred before I wrote Anasazi. I was visiting Mesa Verde, and they have guided tours done by the rangers there. We were visiting the Balcony House (embedded up in the cliffs of the park itself). You have to climb ladders down to even enter the site, and it would be an easy feat to do what most guides might do (which is to simply talk about the history of such a place). Now, our tour guide did these things, talking about the different structures, the agriculture, what they ate, etc. What struck me towards the end of the tour was when he had us all gather around one of the pits and stare out over the valley.
"These people lived here in this dwelling for several generations," he told us. "Their ancestors were buried here, this was all they ever knew. I want you to look out at the valley. This was the same sight they saw every day. I want you to imagine living here your entire life. This is all you know. One day, in this very spot, men and women, children and grandparents, they all sat here and discussed leaving this place. Without knowing what the future could hold, they had to make the decision to take what they could carry on their backs, leaving the rest behind. Tears were undoubtedly shed on that day, tears which lie in the hard rock at your feet. There are emotions trapped within these stones, stories we will probably never be able to hear. As you stand here, listen close to the stories the dead are so desperately trying to tell us."
Now, when I go to these places, I live to hear these tales. Maybe they're embellished, maybe they aren't even true, but there exists magic in the stones around us, always. It just takes a quiet mind to listen for them, and a story teller;s voice to share them. No matter where you travel, always try to find that magic. Let it drive you, inspire you, and humble you.
That's just what was on my mind today.
I try and draw inspiration from many places when I write. I spend countless hours absorbing information through the day and trying to figure out how to work it into my novels. More than once, I have had people ask me where I draw my inspiration for fight sequences in my books. I am very visual in this regard and often find myself digging through my collective consciousness for images I find visually appealing and action that just reaches for over the top.
When I do this reaching, I often find myself gazing into the works of Monty Oum (he does the action sequences for Roosterteeth and Dead Fantasy). I have often stated that I would place him in charge of choreography if a movie of TLOK was ever made, and a couple of days ago, Monty once again proved that he is the master of this craft. Those of you who have read Inheritance or Pursuit may see some immediate parallels with Monty's latest project, RWBY.
I have, on occasion, had people ask me why my blog doesn't get updated very often. I have also been told that if I ever want to "make it," I need to spend more time making myself available, doing guest blogs, interviews, etc.
Well, I've got a little problem. I chose to graduate from college and get a job as a teacher.
What this means for me (and you) is that I have a priority to someone else right now (about 120 someones, actually), and telling me I can't "make it" because I am doing something else that I find important doesn't do me a lick of good. Sure, I could try stay up late, rush through school, and ignore parent phone calls. The truth of the matter is that I write, try and do it well, and hope my work speaks for itself. Sure, if I was making a living off of my books, I may reconsider careers, and devote my whole life to sitting in my office and hammering out tales of horror and adventure. Until that time, I have to rely on my readers. I host giveaways, hoping to draw people in, I have done interviews. Frankly, until summer comes, I don't have time to write, really, so patting myself on the back for the internet is really far down my list of priorities.
Allow me to make my point in a nutshell. If you, a reader, find yourself really enjoying an author's work, you have to tell people. Review it on Amazon, talk about it on Goodreads, or just go to work/school and talk about it with friends. That is the true support an author needs, particularly us Indies who do not have the cash flow to afford any true advertising.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have papers to grade.
When I was much younger, I lived in the city of Aurora. As a senior in high school, I was looking forward to moving out of town, going somewhere different, becoming an adult.
This was 1999, the year of the Columbine High School shooting.
Understand that I was a young man, I read comic books, and watched the occasional anime. In the wake of such a terrible tragedy, I was reminded that even though we have a powerful military, a reliable police force, and individuals who are brave enough to put their lives on the line, that we still suffer from a terrible case of mortality. No matter the situation, we all experience some level of helplessness that is mitigated primarily by luck and our own ability to act under pressure. When faced with a situation involving gunmen and students, we saw stories of both triumph and sadness. As children, we rely on our parents when we are scared. As adults, we only rely on ourselves.
Recently, I moved back to Aurora (temporarily). After being here a month, a gunman opens fire in a crowded movie theater, killing at least 12 and injuring many others. While police have been praised for reacting quickly, and stories of heroism pour through the media, we still experience that same sense of helplessness. Could anything really have been done to avert such a tragedy? Even with a room full of human beings at the pinnacle of human ability, could someone have reached the gunman in time to prevent such a thing from happening?
Okay, so stay with me on this. I just saw the latest Spiderman movie, and will see Batman on Friday. The question at hand is "Why do we need heroes?" I'm not talking about our own real life heroes, but the idea that some human being is given powers and abilities that allow them to even the playing field. I think that, instinctively, we want to believe in some universe where there exists some sense of balance, some form of justice that goes beyond what our own government can provide. We like to see the villains of our world with their roles reversed, powerless when compared to these individuals.
When we watch these movies, or read these books, we expect to see our heroes given the chance to crush those who give us that lack of power. It helps us to feel better, perhaps even safe, in a world full of random acts. How amazing would such a thing be if the likes of Superman graced our earth, always saving the day where we cannot? When we hear about these things on the news, we like to wonder "What if?" Or, at least, I do. I think we need heroes to give us hope and security, even if such a thing can only be a dream.
In between typing and job hunting, I took the opportunity to sign up for Operation eBook Drop. The short version is that deployed troops get ebook versions of my novel for free. If you think that you would like to contribute or benefit from such a service, more information can be found here.
Our troops, whether you approve or not, really do put a lot on the line. I don't know how I could ever thank them enough for the simple liberties that we take for granted each day, but I figured that doing this was a start.
The latest news and my opinions.