Tuesday, November 17, 2015

31 Posts of Monsters: Sea Serpents

The oceans of the world are deep, dark, and have been terrifying people for as long as mankind has known about them. While we've always known they were full of tasty fish and clams, we also know there are things in there that don't mind making meals out of us if they get the chance.

Name: Sea Monster, Sea Serpent

Size: Variable. Reports can be as small as ten feet, to hundreds of feet long.

Appearance: Long, serpentine bodies with dragon or horse-like heads.

Threat: Medium. Many sea serpents could crush ships just by sheer size, and huge jaws lined with sharp teeth means predators that would likely not pass up the chance to devour some hapless sailors. There are almost no actual accounts of such creatures actually attacking ships or people though. It could simply be because there are no survivors.

Reports of sea serpents have dwindled since we've filled in most corners of the map. That doesn't mean there aren't any though. The news usually has three to four stories a year about unusual creatures washing onshore or a strange shape seen in the water from a ship.

It's been said we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the depths of our oceans. Even the giant squid was just a myth until several years ago, and there's hints of even bigger versions down there. Squid up to 120 feet long. So it's not at all unbelievable that a 60 - 75 foot serpent could be gliding through the water out there, preying on sharks, or even small whales.

Many things are probably just being misidentified though. A giant squid close to the surface could
easily give the impression of a single, or even several long, snake-like creatures. Especially if one tentacle lifted up out of the water, it would certainly look like a long neck with a small head at the end. A lot of times, storms or catastrophic events can drudge up deep sea creatures and toss them on the beach. To an untrained eye, a 20-foot oarfish is easily a sea monster. Not to mention the rotting carcasses of whiles that wash up every so often, giving the appearance of something entirely different.

One of the things that's always struck me is how much many reports sound like creatures we know used to exist. Even reports that date back to before we knew of them. Plesiosaurs for one example, the sea-going reptiles that swam alongside the dinosaurs and that are commonly pointed to in claims of lake monsters. Long neck, dragon-like head, humps. Ocean species may have developed leaner, more snake-like bodies as well, especially in tropical waters.

Plesiosaurs are relatively small fry though. The real sea monsters would be Liopleurodon or one of the Mosasaurs.

Sea monsters are a staple in movies, such as Deep Rising, or Predator X, and Books abound as well. Tim Curran's Leviathan, Max Hawthorne's Kronos Rising, and others are relatively easy to find. Once you expand into sharks, there are literally hundreds of choices in movies and reading to keep a sea-fearing mind busy.

Perfect entertainment if you're planning on taking a cruise.

~ Shaun

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy Birthday to a Blog

So, it was three years ago on the 8th of this month that I published my first post on this blog. That's a lot of words put down, and a lot of different posts.

This blog has seen the publishing of two books, one novelette, and one short story sampler. It's also seen me reach finalist in a short story contest for a local Horror convention. It's also seen the writing of a third book, and the posting of several more short stories on this very blog.

In honor of that, you may have noticed the blog here has gotten a shake-up. A new background, links to my books on the left side of the screen, and a whole separate page dedicated to Cryptids. Some changes which were a long time coming.

There are some issues when viewing the page on a mobile device, I am aware of and working on that. Sorry. :-/

Now, I'll admit, when I started this blog, I had some rather lofty aspirations of moving over to a full website of my own after a year or so. Obviously that hasn't happened. Best laid plans, and all that. However, sometimes the best thing is for things to not go quite according to plan. I like the way the blog is looking now, and even though I'm still not quite back to a regular weekly schedule yet, things are looking up.

I'm purposely keeping this particular post pretty short. I've got things to work on this week and I just wanted to point out the changes here.

I also want to thank all of you that have followed me along on this journey so far. Your support means a lot to me and I wouldn't even be where I am now without it. So, thank you.

Next week WILL have a real post to keep up on, and I might even have a giveaway or something special. As I write this, my blog is just 50 views shy of 30,000. So, let's hit that milestone and be on our way to the next one!

Feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line letting me know what you think of the new look and/or suggestions!

~ Shaun

Monday, November 2, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015

November means NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. A time for aspiring authors around the world to gather and support each other in their attempts to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days.

Now, if you're not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it may seem like it opens the door to a bunch of hacks, giving hope to people that can't actually write, and the opening of the floodgates to a tidal wave of badly written, self-published junk.

On the contrary. Some New York Times Bestsellers have been born of NaNoWriMo.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Wool by Hugh Howey

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough.

There's likely hundreds of other novels out there that have seen some level of success that all started as NaNoWriMo projects. They may not necessarily have finished in a month. (The Night Circus was written over two separate NaNoWriMo challenges.), but they were all started during the challenge, and for many writers, both established and aspiring, getting started on a piece can be the hardest part.

Of course, there's more options than simply writing a novel. Writing comes in many forms, but they all start the same. Words to paper (or to screen as the case may be) on a daily basis. As I've said before, writers need to write.

The challenge for NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words in 30 days. That boils down to just under 1,700 words per day. Now, even that can feel pretty daunting, but once you get started, it's an easy mark to reach if your idea stretches that far. (As of the end of this sentence, this blog post is currently at 284 words for example.)

So, depending on your preferred style, you could accept a variation of the challenge. A poem a day. A novella a week. A short story every 3 days. It really is up to you.

I'm not officially taking part this year. (Officially is signing up on NaNoWriMo.com and keeping track of your progress there.) I am taking advantage of the opportunity to get my ass in gear and get started on a few different ideas I've been batting around for a while. I don't really know how long any of them are going to be, which is one reason I'm not keeping an official NaNoWriMo tally. It's also easier on me to have a few stories I can bounce back and forth between, as opposed to slogging through a single long piece. Considering the difficulties I've had getting anything written for the past several months, any start is a good day.

So if you're taking part, congratulations and good luck. Feel free to refer to my post about Writer's Resources. Don't get discouraged if you don't make the word count every day, and don't even get discouraged if you don't finish in a month's time. The hardest part is getting started.

This blog post has a count of 500 words. Doesn't really seem like much, huh?

~ Shaun