Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NaNoWriMo and the best part about it.

Okay. I got some explaining to do. I've been slacking off on my blog again and that is unacceptable.

It's November for crying out loud, there's so much going on there is no reason for it. Thanksgiving. NaNoWriMo. Not to mention the two-year anniversary of my blog here.

I've also released a new novelette this past week. Reception has been pretty good already, so be sure you check that out if you haven't already!

Of course, there's also always the flip side. It's two years this Friday that my grandpa passed away, and my entire month of October was...interesting, to say the least. It's surprising how people important to you, that you thought you'd never see again can suddenly pop back up.

So to say things have been rather difficult for me for the past couple months would not be an understatement. I'm not ashamed to say I've been fighting with depression.

That's really not an uncommon thing for authors though. Writing is a very solitary occupation. Between writing, revising, and editing, it's not hard to rack up six to eight hours a day where you're eschewing any kind of interaction with other people. More often than not, you're also doing that inside, in an office type room. So you're going to be lacking in personal interaction and probably sunlight and fresh air, too. The kind of environment an illness like depression can thrive in, especially when returns on your efforts seem sparse.

Things only get worse if your social life outside of your writing isn't exactly fulfilling either. A supportive family becomes that much more important.

Then we have November, and NaNoWriMo. (Check out my own NaNoWriMo adventure from last year here. Or just click on the line to your right that says "Building a Book" )

This can be a very big deal. No expectations of quality. Just a deadline, a personal challenge. It's also so much more than that. People working through NaNoWriMo set up so many events to help people through the challenge. Group writing sessions, message boards, forums, meet-and-greets, and accomplishment parties. 

Yes, a lot of people will say NaNoWriMo is just an excuse for people to write and self-publish a lot of crap that isn't worth the screens you read them on. I don't think that's the best part of the event though. I think the best part is the fact that they've taken one of the most isolated tasks and careers on the planet and turned it into a group effort.

Sure, there are websites like AbsoluteWrite that have forums for writers that are full year-round, but they aren't as well known, and while they do occasionally set up meetings, the population of those forums are much less. Meanwhile, NaNoWriMo has groups set up by location, making it easy to meet up with a fair number of people in your area.

So while the personal challenge is nice, the best part of NaNoWriMo is the connections you can make through it. It might as well be called an Author Support Group.

So, I hope you all forgive me for slacking off. :-P I know technically I still have another blog post to do before the holiday, but given how much I've been on time for the past couple months, I'm just going to say in now in the (fairly likely) event I don't manage another post.

So Happy Thanksgiving all, don't die on Black Friday!

~ Shaun

Monday, November 3, 2014

31 Posts of Monsters: Megalodon

The monsters discovered in fossils have always enthralled us, from T-Rex to Velociraptors, to Terror Birds and Saber-toothed Cats. Most of them, despite a few disparate reports, are pretty much fully accepted as being extinct. Some predators from the past have captured our imagination so much, though, that we can't help but imagine them still roaming the shadows in the darker, and deeper, places of the world.

Name: Megalodon

Size: Estimates range from 50 feet, all the way up to 90 feet in length. It would also weigh somewhere between 60 to 100 metric tons. (One metric ton is 2000 lbs.)

Appearance: Megalodon is a shark, similar to a Great White, but many times bigger.

Threat: High. Megalodon is a predator, and while it would undoubtedly prefer whales or other large animals, anything that fits in its mouth is fair game. This is also an animal that would have no problem bringing down a large boat, so it is easily conceivable that it's existence is being kept a secret due to the fact that there are no survivors from sightings of it.

Sharks have been feared ever since humanity has set out in boats and see their large shapes circling them out of curiosity. Just the idea of a twenty foot shark is enough to send most people scrambling for the beach. Imagine if people knew there was a sixty foot beast swimming around.

Of course, science tells us Megalodon's are extinct and have been for quite some time. The only remains to have been found are fossilized teeth and rarely, vertebrae. One of the things that makes people suspicious is that you not only find teeth in fossil beds as one would expect, but that teeth have been dredged up from the sea floor around the world, from the Gulf of Mexico to the bottom of the Mariana's Trench. On top of that are the rare reports of sharks bigger than anything thought to be swimming around.ou

Animal Planet's recent docu-drama on Megalodon, like their pieces on mermaids, has stirred additional controversy, with many people completely unaware they were watching a dramatization and not really seeing proof that the giant shark is still swimming around, eating whales.

While it would really be something to have Megalodon swimming around these days, there's one big reason it's not. Lack of food. Sure, for one or two Megalodon, there might be enough whales around, but you need more than two for a viable breeding population. That might not be up in the hundreds, but even to have just 50 Megalodon's swimming around, you would need much more full oceans than we currently have. As it is, whales are well known, and some species are rebounding from the way they were over-fished thirty or forty years ago, but they are still not common. In addition, ocean populations around the world are steadily declining from over-fishing and pollution. So there really is no way a breeding population of Megalodon's would have enough food to survive today.

Of course, if you're interested in seeing giant sharks, there's no shortage of movies. JAWS is still the best example, even though it's not a Megalodon. In addition to that are whole series, like the Megashark Vs. series, and the Shark Attack films. For one-off's, you can watch Jurassic Shark, Megalodon, and Dinoshark. How much I would recommend most of them outside of JAWS though is very debatable.

If you're looking for books. Of course you can pick up the original story of JAWS by Peter Benchley. Then there is also the Meg series by Steve Alten. So there is lots of entertainment to pick from.

Happy Swimming.

~ Shaun