Anxiety Disorder

anxietycartoonnourlforweb450pxHello All,

I promise that I am working on the next installment of my story, The Nietzsche Files.  But, I wanted to share that I have been going through a weaning period off my medication.  Two years ago I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  It is a very real problem and many people in the world suffer from some variety of anxiety. And to be honest, this is one of the major reasons I’ve never done a public appearance to promote my books.  Whenever focus is on me in a large group, I shut down.  I also prefer to text with people rather than talk on the phone.  It takes me a long time to get up the courage to actually meet someone face to face, or talk to them on the phone.  Once I feel comfortable, then I can talk your ear off.

Unfortunately, the medication I take has a high addiction rate, even though I’m not taking a high dosage — Klonopin.   This particular benzodiazepine — street name “benzos” — has nasty side-effects.  This is also becoming a serious problem for people who take it as recreational drug.  It is quickly becoming a new form of heroin.   And, like heroin, it takes its toll on the body and some damage can become permanent.

When I started to notice side effects, I went to my doctor and we both decided that it was time to wean myself off of them  — more drugs was not an option for me.  You can’t just quit them cold turkey because there can be dire effects — seizures, sickness, severe depression and suicidal thoughts.  Luckily, the only effects I am suffering from are hand tremors, anxiety episodes and lack of energy.  I will be off the pills in 75 days.

So this has caused me to be erratic with my social media and interactions with people.   Some days I just lay on the couch and stare at nothing.  But as the days go by I’ve learned other coping mechanisms — breathing, meditation, cutting out things that incite anxiety.  I am finally getting to a place where I can deal with it.

But this post is not about my personal struggle, I say it as a warning to anyone else who falls into the clutches of this drug, or any of its many siblings.  While it allows one to function, it eventually will require more of your soul to continue to “help you cope”.  Unfortunately, there are people who have disorders far worse than me.  I know too many people who have been subjected to terrible things.  I know too many people with PTSD and they’ve either chosen to medicate with alcohol or with drugs such as the one I am leaving behind.  Some are so medicated, they can’t function daily.  I know people, despite the drugs, that still can’t overcome their anxiety.

Another aspect to consider is that we are constantly bombarded with commercials for drugs.  We are being taught that better living can only be achieved through chemistry.  We are even being told that its okay to medicate our children, rather than face the problems head on.  Now this is not to say that all drugs are bad, some are absolutely necessary.  People do have maladies that require medication so that they can survive.  However, in my humble opinion, when it comes to maladies of the brain, we really need to be careful jumping right to drugs.  As I’m finding, the anxiety I was experiencing just required me to be more mindful of my surroundings and knowing myself.  I can overcome it, and I know that those who are suffering as I am, can also overcome.  It takes an understanding from the people around you, believing in yourself, and just taking every day as it comes.

My advice, and it is only from my own personal experience, is this; Identify what causes your anxiety and is it really worth worrying about?  Once you identify what causes your anxiety, you just have to work on dealing with it in a productive way.  That may require counseling or a support network.  There are ways to deal with anxiety without having to resort to pills.  The first step is simply learning to breathe and remind yourself that its okay.  The second step is to focus on the good and not the bad.  One way I did this is I don’t watch anything other than the weather.  I have found that the nightly news is geared to negativity.  We are subjected to story after story of horrible things in the world.  I’m here to tell you that the world is not nearly as terrible as it is depicted every night.  The final step is to recognize that none of us are perfect — you can’t be, what would be the fun in that?  People stress about keeping up with everyone else.  Be you.  And if people don’t like you for who you are, then they are not worth another thought.

Yes, I had anxiety putting this out there, but I have many friends on social media and on twitter, and I don’t want anyone to think I am ignoring them, or have forgotten about them.

I hope those of you going through the same issues as I am are able to find peace.  I just wanted to share this with you so you know you’re not alone.

Thank you as always for listening to me ramble.

Michael

Clarity

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Its only been a few weeks since I re-discovered my love for the water.  I should have understood this fact from the beginning as I’ve lived near the water at the highest points in my life.  However, life often blinds us to the simple things that enrich our lives.

I have spent so much time on my friend’s boat this summer, that I can feel the gentle rocking of the river even when I am lying still on my couch.  It’s an exhilarating experience when you first step onto the boat, feeling how small you are compared to the might of the James river.  You can feel the boat responding subtly to your movement as you shift from port to starboard.    And the smell of the water overwhelms your mind with a melange of fragrances, carried on gentle breezes in heat and in cold.

I do love the excitement of fishing, especially for catfish.  It has nothing at all to do with the need to forage for food.  It is much more than that.  When you are pulling in the fish, you have to be the fish for that span of time between hooking and landing.  For that short time, you have to be one with the fish, understanding how you would try to escape what you feel to be an inevitable end your existence.  You can sense the primal fear that is coursing through its veins as you try to coax it to the surface.  But, the fish is not wise enough to know who I am, or understand that I simply wish to catch it and release it back — and create an adventure for another day.

Friday, I was fishing and I landed a four pound catfish — miniscule compared the river monsters that lurk in the depths of the channel I fish.  That fish found me with the vigor or any human — rolling over, thrashing, trying to wrap my line around a pier.  It breached the surface three times in my twenty-minute struggle — that deep blue and white indicative of the species — teasing me with each laborious moment.  And, when I finally landed it, we saw eye to eye.  The fish acquiesced to the fact that I had bested it.  However, what was absent in its vacant black eyes was the understanding that I merely meant for us to compete.  I wasn’t interested in keeping it — though I do love the taste of catfish —  I can’t bear to take life.  It does not seem fair for me to decide such things — as with many aspects of my life.  I cannot be the judge or executioner because I do not have all the data that explains the full breadth of my action.

Fish are a lot like people.  They live, they breed, they feed and the die.  It is the fundamental aspect of being an organic creature in our wonderful but strange world.  What I like about the catfish is that they are extremely intelligent, and engaging them in a fight is truly satisfying, like playing chess with an unknown opponent.  But make no mistake on the level if their intelligence.  They will outwit you in a heart beat if you are not careful.

We often catch people in our lines.  You toss out your line into the water or into the world, and you do no know what will come up.  That’s the beauty of our world in all aspects.  I have often found that we are constantly casting our lines out into the world — to find friends, lovers or like-minded individuals. It is all done blindly because we cannot know what our line will catch.  It may be what we are looking for, but it may be something completely different.  What’s more, is it may be something more amazing than what we had originally intended to catch or do battle with.

I throw my line out with no expectations of what I will or will not catch.  I’ve learned that the moment I try to target something specific, it seldom yields the I wanted.  Now, I’ve learned that the universe will give you what you need, when you need it.  It is the learning to listen that becomes the challenge.

I spent my weekend with amazing people, living in each individual moment, trying to improve who I am.  Everyone in your life — the ones that contribute something positive (not necessarily intellectually) — brings something useful and enriching to your existence.  You many not immediately understand the connection, or even the purpose, but if you look at the serendipity of those you have met, you will find that you are being guided.  This is not so say its someone controlling you.  This is to say that your impact on the universe is recognized, and you just have to learn to listen to those prompts.

After 43 years, I am only beginning to understand the music of our universe.  But, I will say that I have learned when to listen and when not to listen, because there is a fair amount of noise.

I wrote this post from a partially selfish perspective.  I wanted to record this weekend, for future reference, but I also wanted to impart to you — my friends — that life can truly be magnificent.   We simply need to see it for what it is — moment to moment.

Lift Me Back Up To The Sun

sun-e1267491079993Greetings, Dreamers!

There is code embedded in our genes. Much of this is governed by mathematical constants, ratios and equations.  Why?

We do not know.

The beauty of our sun is irrefutable–a star adrift amongst a multitude of other kindred stars, a family so impossibly large one cannot be special.  The family is called the Main Sequence.  And we have found, spiraling around these other kindred stars, there are alien planets, strange and beautiful in their own right.  One can look at any planet, either within or beyond our Solar Family, and find beauty in it, something wonderful.

One of my favorite books, and one of the first I ever read, is The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury — the Martian genocide.  The allegory was immediately apparent to me, but, as I grow older, I find new rabbit holes to explore philosophically each time I read it.  I have always been fascinated with ancient cultures, even fictitious ones.  The strange, yet alluring, appeal to the Martian culture, for me, was its foundation in humility.  History does not make a philosophy real — meaningful thoughts create the future of any philosophy.  All we need do is not repeat the mistakes of the past, and history becomes irrelevant.  The Martians as Bradbury created them were beautiful and admirable.

With spring here, we are often reminded of the beauty that exists in and beyond our world — despite the chaos and discontent depicted on the nightly news.  Winter brings isolation, hibernation and introspection as we huddle beneath quilts, blankets and layers of clothes.  Spring unleashes our creativity, with the palette of color splashed over our gardens, forests and parks.  We take up our shovels and rakes to restore our yards to what we had before the cruel winter stripped it all away, leaving its mark as if to remind us that it will come again.

Now, you are probably wondering why I am mentioning all this. Why mention the Martians, beauty and our sun?  The answer is as simple as the answer to the purpose of life.  Life’s only purpose is the pure enjoyment of being.

There is a great deal of turmoil in our world, and it does not seem that there is an end in sight.  It is not isolated to one region, people or country.  It is a systemic problem that we continue to ignore.  The Martian Chronicles is a quintessential lesson on how we as humans trod clumsily through our existence, scarcely aware of the problems we cause because we have not reached a deeper understanding of the nature of the universe or ourselves.

Life is a waking dream — we can mold it, enjoy it, and improve it– but first we must recognize we have the power within us.  The purpose of my series The Waking Dream, is not only to entertain my readers, but also to plant that seed of suspended disbelief.  Once we start to collectively understand that things can be better, we will crave for them to be better.  This requires that we all get involved.  And this has been my steadfast message.

For me, the Waking Dream is to create a culture much like the Bradbury’s Martians.  A life full of philosophical discussion, creating beautiful things, and embracing the harmony that comes from a collective understanding, and engineering, of our reality.  The easiest way to begin is to look skyward to the real master of our world, the Sun.  Without its nurturing warmth, and tumultuous demeanor,  our lives would be very different.  But despite the dangers associated with being dependent on the sun, and its cyclical temper tantrums, it is nonetheless beautiful.

Our world is beautiful, yet, we were discontent to stay in the safety of its caves and caverns, so we have built temporary empires which will be long forgotten when we are no more.  The sun and Earth will exist beyond our brief moment in history — billions of years beyond our comprehension.  Each moment, each breath, each thought should be cherished.  We learn from mistakes and move forward, ever pushed by the arrow of time.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned the code embedded in our genes that define our existence.  This is only the operating system.  We are all programmers with a keen, yet often overlooked, ability to write new code, new apps.  These apps are not limited to our smart devices — “smart” being a grossly overstated term.  We can reorder things by reprogramming the world around us — we do it all the time.  Every time you move something from one side of the room to the other, you are reprogramming your environment, but this is only the most fundamental ability we have — overcoming gravity.

If we embrace the possibility that the universe is ours to mold, then we can explore new avenues of consciousness.  We all have special abilities which we tend to ignore or keep to ourselves, for fear of being labeled negatively.  We have a nasty habit of admonishing those who are different from the rest of the herd.  This is an instinct we must learn to overcome.  Are the things that interest you really things you enjoy, or do you do them because everyone else is?  This is a flaw in our societal structure.  We are individuals first, and community second.  At the end of it all, you will leave this planet by yourself — how do you want to be remembered?

I’ve talked on many occasions about our inherent abilities, things we don’t talk about with a sense of earnestness — telepathy, empathy, telekinesis,  communing with the dead.  But why are these concepts so difficult for us to grasp as possible.  Nothing is impossible, and we know this due to our exploration of the quantum world.  However, some things are highly improbable.  For instance, a single electron has the probability of being anywhere in the universe at a given moment — the probability never makes it to zero.  They pop in and out of existence in ways we cannot understand.  There are strange attractions between certain particles that allow them to communicate with one another instantaneously over limitless space, defying what we know about the speed of light.  We have only just begun Kindergarten in the school of the universe.

The code in our genes is what allows us to operate on auto-pilot — breathing, protecting, foraging.  It also tends to hinder us as we rely on our instincts as well as our social engineering to define us.  Whenever I feel as if I am straying from the path I’ve set before myself, I look to the sun and ponder its existence.  From a distance it is a perfect orb of glowing life, but up close it is a tempest of plasma and fire.  The same can be said of our world.  From a distance it is a shining jewel in the crown of the sun, but as we look beneath the clouds, we are a hurricane raging across the planet, unable to find peace in our existence.  We are ever rushing forward to meet the future without taking time to enjoy the now.

We must look to the future, so that we can clear a path through existence.  But we must ensure that we don’t forget to enjoy our being.  The easiest way for one to do that is to step away from the computer, go outside and feel the warmth of the sun on our skin, smell the fragrance of life being renewed, and look within ourselves and ask, “Am I happy?”  This question is the most difficult to explore.

Today the sun is shining, and it is a pleasant day.  Despite being at work, I steal moments to stand outside and look to the sky.  Summer is coming, the flowers are in bloom, and before we know it, we will be back in hibernation.  But in the time we are active, we should explore new ways, within ourselves, to change the world around us.  Things are not horrible, but they are not what we should want.  We should collectively create a dream in which we all are happy, and each of us must strive to make it happen.

You are more than you think you are.  We are all stars, we are all god, we are all beautiful.  Be different, be yourself, be wonderful and the universe will reveal itself to you.

 

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Resurrect Dead

ChesapeakeHouseMDGreetings, Dreamers!

I wanted to talk about something that has become a bit of an obsession.  I am one of those people who, if presented with a mystery, won’t stop until I’ve figured it out.  So I’ve been researching a 30-year-old mystery that I myself witnessed back when I lived in the Philadelphia area — The Toynbee Tiles.

There have been many that have come before me about this particular mystery.  Everyone has their own opinions, and it is time that I share some of my thoughts on the subject.  There is a wonderful documentary called “Resurrect Dead – The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles” that was done a few years back.  Using that documentary and my own independent research and thought exercises I think I have a pretty good idea about what is going on here.  But first let me explain the mystery:

In the early 1980’s, tiles, like the one depicted above, started popping up all over Philadelphia.  The tiles are embedded into the pavement through an ingenious method of using tar paper, asphalt glue, and linoleum.  The persons placing these tiles, or Tilers, cut the messages meticulously out of linoleum, then they deploy them through various means.  Tiles have been found in many cities all over the country and even in Argentina and Chile.  The message is always the same:

TOYNBEE IDEA
IN KUBRICK’S 2001
RESURRECT DEAD
ON PLANET JUPITER

Now let us dissect this message one line at a time as if it were a Nostradamus quatrain:

TOYNBEE IDEA

Arnold Toynbee was a British Historian & Philosopher.  His autobiographical work, “Experiences” delves into his beliefs on god, religion and the universe.  It seems that Toynbee’s idea comes from a series of passages in his discussion on the spirit:

Human nature presents human minds with a puzzle which they have not yet solved and may never succeed in solving, for all that we can tell. The dichotomy of a human being into ‘soul’ and ‘body’ is not a datum of experience. No one has ever been, or ever met, a living human soul without a body… Someone who accepts—as I myself do, taking it on trust—the present-day scientific account of the Universe may find it impossible to believe that a living creature, once dead, can come to life again; but, if he did entertain this belief, he would be thinking more ‘scientifically’ if he thought in the Christian terms of a psychosomatic resurrection than if he thought in the shamanistic terms of a disembodied spirit.

Toynbee eludes to the fact that resurrection is possible, but did he really mean dead people or something else? This message is augmented by the story The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury, the premise also being based on another Toynbee idea that we must always rush to meet the future in order to survive, which means, we must believe in a better world and create a better world.  Life, after all, is a Waking Dream, as I’ve said on many occasions.

IN KUBRICK’S 2001

In Stanley Kubrick‘s magnum opus, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the story ultimately revolves around the cyclical nature of life and the cosmos.  This movie still has profound effects on people seeing if for the first time.  Even though it was done over 40 years ago, the message, the effects and the plot could easily be mistaken for a newer movie.  It has truly endured the test of time.  I believe that the Tilers had all seen this movie, and began to formulate their own beliefs on how we as a civilization can be resurrected.  The movie is based on a short stories by Arthur C Clarke called “The Sentinel” and “Jupiter V”.

RESURRECT DEAD

This particular passage is not as obvious as one would think, but on the surface it is believed that the Tilers were trying to explain that all the dead on the planet could be resurrected…

ON PLANET JUPITER

This is also not as clear as it may seem.  This could be seen as a direct reference to the movie 2001, which revolves around a mission to Jupiter.  However, people as ingenious as the Tilers would know from the book adaptation of the movie, which came out right after the movie, has the mission going to Saturn and not to Jupiter.  Kubrick’s special effects department could not model a believable Saturn with its rings, so they chose to model Jupiter instead.  However, in “Jupiter V” there is another clue because the space craft in that story, The Arnold Toynbee, does go to a moon around Jupiter.  Why would Clarke name the ship the Arnold Toynbee unless he, too, believed in his ideas?

THE TILERS AND THEIR MOTIVE

Each tile has a smaller side text attached and eludes to a grand conspiracy between the media, our government and the U.S.S.R.  Immediately one would think that they are merely a group of conspiracy theorists, yet, that is not the main purpose of the message.  The quatrain is the main message, the sub text is warning others to be wary of the media, and make more tiles.  Over the years it is clear that other Tilers have joined the movement because the styles have changed, and we have exceeded the life span of the one person, I believe, was responsible for beginning the movement, but we’ll talk about that shortly.

No one person has claimed responsibility for the tiles, however there was a group called the Minority Association which had connections to the message and philosophy of the tiles.  There are three suspects uncovered who would have the intellect, means and motive for trying to spread this message:

1) James Morasco – A carpenter from Philadelphia who had a beef with the local media mogul John Knight, and had a fatal disease.

2) Severino Verna – A blue-collar worker from Philadelphia whose family owns a funeral home.  He was also known to be extremely intelligent and kept dead pigeons so that he might be able to bring them back to life one day.

3) Railroad Joe – A rail worker who worked lines that ran near areas where tiles were found.

But the fact of the matter is that their identity was never meant to be discovered, and most likely never will.  The message is not about a person, it is about the message itself.  This group of Tilers, the Minority Association, saw something that today we still do not see.  And this is the core of my conclusion.

MY CONCLUSIONS

I believe that the person who began the tiling and came up with the original idea was James Morasco.  He mentions in a tile that he had a fatal disease.   We know that James Morasco had his voice box removed, mostly likely due to cancer.  He was faced with his own mortality, yet, I believe it was more than his own mortality he was concerned with.  The media do control the message, and did even more so back in the days of the Cold War.  But I believe that his original hypothesis was that we are killing our civilization.  This is another Toynbee idea. “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”  If we are killing our planet, we are committing suicide.

Jupiter has many moons, and I believe that the Tilers believe that we need to colonize those moons to save our own world from extinction.  I interpret “Resurrect Dead” as resurrecting our dying civilizations, but learning from what we did wrong.  I know there are many people who want to turn a blind eye to the fact that our climate is changing.  I am a data geek, and though I don’t have all the data NOAA and other organizations have, I can see for myself that the climate has changed in my short 44 years on this planet.  I am addicted to the weather, and process roadway weather in my data experiments.  Things are not as they should be.

This is further exacerbated by the Solar Maximum, which happens every twelve years.  This is a time when our sun is most active and produces massive solar flares and coronal mass ejections.  This is to say that the sun has an eruption, like a million nuclear weapons going off all at once, then it shoots the debris in the direction of the blast.  This is what causes the Aurora at the poles.  And in the beauty of the Auroras is hidden a destructive force — Electro Magnetic Pulses.  While this is not directly harmful to humans, a large enough CME could wipe out ALL of our electronics.  A single burp from the sun could send us back into the dark ages.  Billions of people would die over the course of days.

I am not predicting the end of the world, because it is inevitable.  in 4 billion years our planet will be consumed when the sun expands to a Red Giant.  Our planet will be nothing more than a cinder floating around a dying sun. This is the cycle of our universe.  But, this effect would Jupiter a perfect candidate to retreat to.  There are so many moons, and there is water on some of them as recent probes have discovered, and scientists discovered in the 1970’s before the Voyager probes.

We are on a collision course with disaster if we continue to treat our planet this way.  Our Tilers know this, and they know that the media controls the message.  Any information that could trigger mass hysteria is suppressed.  One man’s plight has turned into a message that should not be ignored, nor be taken as the ravings of a madman.

And finally, we consider the film 2001, which is about a the stages of our evolution, and ultimate redemption.  It reminds us that we should not rely on technology for everything, embodied by HAL.  It reminds us that violence is never the answer.  It reminds us that all things in the universe is a cycle and we must forage ahead seeking new ways to ensure that we, our civilization, does not commit suicide for being short-sighted.  Kubrick believed this.  Clarke believed this. And Arnold Toynbee believed this.  If you look at the chronological events that happened in the year 2001, you can see that this movie is semi-prophetic, but that is something you need to research.

What does it all mean?  It means that if we must plan to colonize other worlds to ensure that our species survives.  We must learn that the wars we have fought have been needless.  We fight over dirt.  We fight over religion.  We fight over material things.  It is all summed up in Toynbee’s title, life is all about “experiences” and learning from our history.  We have learned from our history in all the wrong ways.  We have learned how to be more efficient at dealing death.  We have learned how to rape our planet to the point of extinction.  But we have not learned that we cannot stay on this planet forever.

I have said a great deal of things.  I respect Toynbee, Kubrick, Clarke and the Tilers.  They are trying to tell you something, but we are not listening.  My friends, the universe is a waking dream.  Each of us has the ability to force the powers that be to fix the problems.    Force them to see that our planet, our civilization is dying.  Awaken your weirdness and change the world.

So I will leave you tonight with a message from the Tilers, hidden in the subtext. “You must make + glue the tiles!  You!!!”

Toynbee tile photographed a block or so from t...
Toynbee tile photographed a block or so from the White House by User:Erifnam in 2002. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toynbee Tile, 13th & Chestnut Sts., Philadelph...

 

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Blog Tour: Great Minds

sleep-tight_826049Greetings, Dreamers!

Mark Meier, a fellow writer, asked me to join a blog tour last week.  I am very grateful to be recognized by my colleagues and be asked to join in the fun!

Before I answer the questions for the tour, I’d like to introduce another blogger/writer with amazing insight and ability, Victoria Craven.  Victoria runs the blog, The Autodidact in the Attic, which focuses on the macabre, horror and a wide variety of intellectual stimulus.  Here is her bio:

V.L. Craven lives with her husband and pets. She writes fiction—both short and long—and reviews of books, films & art, as well as essays, articles and interviews with all sorts of interesting people.

She’s always appreciated the darker side of life, which is the focus of her blog The Autodidact in the Attic, (see also its Facebook page). TAitA has reviews of books, films, art, apps and games (and interviews with creators of those things) that will appeal to people with an interest in the macabre or gothic.

Other Ways to Interact with Her:
On Twitter: @vlcraven
On Tumblr: vlcraven.tumblr.com
On Goodreads: V. L. Craven

She will be posting her answers to the blog tour questions next Monday, so do yourself a favor and check out her amazing site.

Now on to my answers:

1) What am I working on?

I am always working on a variety of projects simultaneously,  that’s just how my brain works.  Right now,  I am doing a serial short story on this blog, writing Book II in the Waking Dream Series — The Unkindness — and I am involved in a collaborative series with two other authors (details to come later this year).  My Waking Dream Series is the primary focus and I am always doing research as the it covers alternate history, philosophy, and science.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write novels and short stories.  My short stories tend to be very dark.  My favorite short stories are the ones I write in Lovecraftian style.  I am no Lovecraft, mind you, however I have enormous respect for his creations and imagination.

The Waking Dream series is really a mixture of many genres, so it is very hard to put it in any one box — I am not a fan of being pigeonholed.  The Waking Dream Series is an attempt to blur the lines between fantasy and reality.  Much of the subject matter is based on years of research.  I have always been fascinated with the paranormal and the supernatural — specifically the potential of the human mind.  The Waking Dream is my attempt to present a plausible framework for readers to suspend their disbelief and explore their own lives.  Life is a dream, if you really think about it.  We always have control over how our lives go, no matter the situation.  And once you believe that, you can do anything.

The Waking Dream series has elements of horror, paranormal, supernatural, romance, dystopia, apocalyptic events and fantasy.  It is very dark.  One of my fans put it, “It’s the Matrix meets The Stand”.  The first book is my Fellowship of the Ring. It is the twilight before the sun sets on our world. The subsequent books will descend further into the darkness of reality and the human mind.

One final note, there are many things hidden within the stories and novels, tying them together as well as giving avid readers something to discover within the text.  Everything in the Waking Dream Series is carefully calculated.  What have you found hidden within the story?

3) Why do I write what I do?

I love to create worlds.  The Waking Dream is, as I mentioned, an attempt to impart all I’ve learned about the human condition and get the reader to explore and create their own dream.  The world seems to be at an impasse, and we are not moving forward as we should from a philosophical sense.  While the Waking Dream is fiction, there are elements of truth in ever sentence I write — the things I believe to be true.

I write the Lovecraftian stories because I want his legacy to continue, as well as many other authors.  Being able to create a story that emulates the master gives me a sense of humility.  Many writers have walked in his footsteps, but his personal commitment to his craft is something to be admired, respected and remembered for all time.

4) How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a specific process for writing.  When I feel like writing, I write.  And because I have a wide variety of projects I am working on at any given time, I choose the project to work on that most suits my particular mood.  I believe that an author needs to be prolific to be successful.  Very few authors become successful with one book, or even their first book.  The more work you have out, you have a better chance of being discovered by new readers.  It is a snowball effect.

One thing I do tend to stick to in any project is that I usually begin with an illustration.  Next to writing, illustrating is one of my favorite hobbies.  I have over 50 illustrations for the Waking Dream,  as well as maps.  I want the Waking Dream to be similar to the Cthulhu Mythos so that other authors can contribute their own stories to the ever-growing Waking Dream Universe.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little excursion into my writing career.  Perhaps you’ll be interested in reading my work, which is listed on the right side bar.  Please be sure to check out Victoria Craven’s answers next Monday on her blog.

Happy Monday!

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The Ramblings of a Weird Author

MichaelHibbardGreetings, Dreamers!

I wanted to take a moment and talk a bit about who I am and what I write.  I’ve gained quite a few new followers so I though it was time that I gave you a little more insight into me, what I write, and what inspires me to continue.

I am laying it all out there, because I am a communicator, well, online that is.  In real life, I’m a bit of a recluse, and am not really good in social situations, which I am working on.

Who were my inspirations?

I’ve been an avid reader since I was really young.  The first adult book I read was “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.  I’ve always loved the supernatural, so I continued with other authors such as Poe, Lovecraft, King, Bradbury, F. Paul Wilson and many others.  Oddly, my two biggest influences were Lovecraft and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Lovecraft is an inspiration because he loved description, words and his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos.  Fitzgerald is an inspiration for his writing style, his ability to expose the dark underbelly of our society, and for giving us my favorite book, The Great Gatsby.

The Waking Dream is not all that I write, but it is a huge focus on my career because it spans so many genres and deals with many social issues, both for adults and young adults.  I love to write horror, especially Lovecraftian Horror, because I do love a good scary tale, and it seems that there are not enough new ideas coming out.  I have not been scared by anything that has come out lately.  I abhor slasher type books, because the news does a pretty good job of covering that genre.  It’s all too real and close to home.

The inspiration for the Waking Dream truly came from my personal quest to understand the nature of reality.  I am inspired by a variety of things: the change of seasons, weird happenings, interactions between people, philosophy, religion, science and the paranormal.

When Did I Start Writing?

I really started writing stories when I was 12.  I was attending a Catholic School in Woodbury, New Jersey.  It was very old, and the basement was very creepy.  I wrote a screen play about dark rituals happening in the basement at night.  My teacher at the time, Mr. DuBois, fully supported me filming it and got permission for me to do so.  Unfortunately, before we could do the film, my parents moved to Pennsylvania.

I was an avid Role-Player, and I’ve played just about every table-top game there is, and I enjoyed being the storyteller more than the player.  I would write very involved campaigns, which were essentially interactive stories.  Then when I got on the internet, I went crazy in the chat rooms with story lines, and had three channels devoted to different settings.  Castle Nightshade was a high fantasy storyline set in a world I created with over 100 people playing at any given time.  Night City was a vampire based storyline with many of the same people playing back and forth.  And then finally, The Waking Dream which only had 12 players as a private group.

My first novel, which was published by Phantasm Books, is my crowning achievement as an author.  I was very pleased to have my book recognized so quickly without having been published anywhere before.  Waking Dream: Devlin is just the first of many to come.  I enjoyed writing it, hated the editing process, and have stressed the promotion.  But in the end, I am happy with what I have produced.

Here is the list of books I have written to date:

What is the Waking Dream All About?

I do get a lot of people who are very confused about the subject matter contained in the Waking Dream.  I have many journals with all of the particulars about the Waking Dream Universe, because it is quite expansive.  I am trying to create a world that is wholly unique, but emulates Cthulhu Mythos, or Frank Herbert’s Dune.

I am fascinated with the universe.  I rarely watch any non-science shows, because I want to understand the nature of reality.  So, I started the Waking Dream as a synthesis of all the concepts I feel to be true about our universe.  If the universe were just a dream we should be able to control it.  It’s just a matter of learning how to.  We are all children, no matter how old we get.  But, we tend to start to disbelieve that we have the power to change it.  We get wrapped up in politics, our daily jobs, acquiring things, and we stop believing that life really is very magical.  The fact that we exist at all is magical in of itself.

The Waking Dream is targeted to people who want to believe and it is appropriate for young adults, as well as adults.  I explore social issues, so there is a lot of allegory in the novel.  I also explore topics that plague our children today, such as coming of age, self-mutilation, poor self-esteem, dealing with loss, and how to fit in.  On the social level, I address self-sustaining communities, religion, reincarnation, the degradation of society, politics, and the struggle between good vs. evil.

What Do I Do for My Day Job?

Currently, I am a data analyst, and I do enjoy it, because it has helped my ability to market my book, and self-promote.  It all comes down to numbers.  But, on the side, I am a programmer and I can program in 11 different computer languages.  All of it self-taught, as I am a true autodidact.  Structured learning is not my thing.  I tend to learn better when I can move at my own pace.

However, I did not start out in this field.  I have had many many different jobs in my 43 years.  Here are the ones I can remember:

Gardener, Greenhouse Worker, Pastry Chef, Sous Chef, Line Cook, Toy Store Manager, Video Store Manager, Blockbuster Assistant Manager, Medical Sales, Web Designer, Project Manager, Grounds Keeper,  Coder, Software Architect, Business Architect, Graphic Designer, and now Published Author.

All of the jobs I’ve had contributed to my experience as a writer.  I have learned something valuable from each of them, though I wasn’t necessarily happy in each job.  Working at a toy store during Christmas was an absolute nightmare!

What Are My Hobbies?

I am a firm believer in the saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.  Those of you who frequent my blog know that I try to post at least once a day.  But I also have my facebook pages, my four secret twitter accounts, and my main @arkangyl account.  So I do love social media.  But my other hobbies include:

Drawing/Illustration (I have designed all but one of my book covers), Guitar, Drums, Music in general, Cooking, Console and PC Gaming, Role-playing, Poetry, Reading, Philosophy, Quantum Physics, Mathematics, Programming Apps and Board Games.

Writing I do not consider a hobby.  This is what I ultimately want to do for a full-time job, and I feel confident that I will get there.  As I’ve said to my other fellow authors, who are just starting out, it takes patience.   Everything requires work and honing one’s craft.

Why Did I Do This?

First, I really did this because I wanted you all to know who I really am.  I believe that it is important to engage my friends, (I hate the term followers).  I do no spend all night looking for people to follow.  I tweet and if someone follows me, I’ll follow them back if it seems we’d be friends!  I always respond to everyone who engages me, because I do not want to sit on some pedestal and have people adore me.

Second, I am what I write.  I am not writing to become rich and famous.  I doubt I could deal very well with fame, as I am a recluse, as I mentioned.  If you know who I am, perhaps you’ll be more interested in the stuff I write, and more importantly, you’ll understand why I write the way I do.

Again, thank you for listening, and I am always interested in a good conversation, either here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

If you hit the Interview Menu at the top, you can listen or read about my other interviews.

Happy Friday the 13th, my friends!

So You Want to Be A Dreamer?

OneGreetings, Dreamers!

Today I wanted to tell you about  a new project I am working on.  This is something that I have given a great deal of thought to, and I have been asked by my friends and fans to discuss the philosophy behind my Waking Dream series.

The philosophy behind the Waking Dream is much more than a simple dark fantasy adventure story.  I truly believe that we all have the ability to change the course of our reality.  Dreamers are the ones who have that ability, and anyone can become a Dreamer, you just have to learn how to do so.

So, in response to all these questions from interviews, friends and fans, I am beginning a new project to be released at about the same time as the next book in the series, The Unkindness.  This book will be called The Little Book of Dreams – Libellus Somnium, and it will be a non-fiction view of a new philosophy I have formulated called Mism, the Merger of all Isms.  (Taoism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Communism, you get the idea).  You can read the abstract at this link, and my view on creation.  This is only the beginning.

The book is targeted to those who want to lead a more peaceful and meaningful existence.  This is not to say that I have perfected my implementation of Mism in my life, but that is because we are not, and cannot, be perfect.  Perfection is a myth, and a fruitless pursuit.  We will always be learning, experiencing and evolving.  But, I can say with profound certainty that we are eternal spirits.  The body you inhabit now is just a vehicle.  It allows you to experience the world, and experience the universe.  When it is broken, you fix it.  When it completely fails, you abandon it and get a new one to continue your journey.

Many people believe that there must be some specific purpose to life.  There is and there isn’t. You create your purpose based on what you want to experience.  The only innate purpose to life is to live and create the universe.  We are all responsible for taking care of ourselves and one another, because we share a Oneness with each other.  We all affect one another, therefore we are inexorably linked.  My action causes your reaction.  Reading this article will invoke thought, negative or positive, and that demonstrates the connection between us.

I always start off my blog posts calling you Dreamers, because those who read my blog are Dreamers, or want to be.  And the more people I draw in, the more we can share intellectual discourse on how best to reshape our world.  So writing The Little Book of Dreams will simply be a compilation of all that I have learned and infused into my life, as well as the stories and novels that make up the Waking Dream Universe.

I also believe in the Weirdness.  That may sound strange to you, because it is just my word for magic.  Do I believe that magic exists?  Not in the Tolkien way, such as fireballs, wizards and dragons.  I believe that each of us possesses an inherent ability that super-cedes conventional physics and what we perceive as impossible.  I have seen and experienced many of these abilities in other people.  Nothing is impossible — somethings just may not be probable, as we have learned through quantum mechanics.

At the core of Mism, we must understand that to completely understand ourselves and the universe, we must merge all of our disparate ideas into a cohesive framework that allows science and religion to coexist and explain each other.  We would remove the distinction between the two and label it a philosophy of life.  A Philosophy of Everything, if you will.

Now, you are probably asking yourself, who is this guy to tell me anything?  The answer to that is very simple, I am the sum of everything everyone living and dead has taught me.  And you are the sum of the same.  I did not create this by myself, all of you have contributed to this idea, in one way or another.

Finally, you are probably asking, why would I bother to write this all down.  And you are free to agree or disagree with me.  But I am writing this down, because it takes just one thought to make a change.  Look around you, look at the state of the world.  Is this the ideal world you want to live in? Do you feel that the right decisions are being made?  Do you have fear for the future?  Are you concerned about what we are leaving our children?  Have you lost your way?  Do you know what you want out of your life?

I am going to give you my perspective on what truly matters, and hopefully in the process, I will learn more about you, so that I can improve myself as a person, and in turn make the world a better place for us all.

Have a wonderful day, and I thank you for listening to me babble, as always.

Michael

New Review for Devlin!

DevlinGreetings, Dreamers!

I have a few bits of information today.

First, I just received an awesome review from Victoria Craven of Autodidact in the Attic — an amazing writer in her own right.

You can read the full review at Waking Dream: Devlin Book I by Michael Hibbard.

She absolutely got what I was trying to relay in my work, and that gives me hope that the book will start to catch on.  Yes, it is a quick read.  I wanted to introduce the world before getting into the details.  This first book is meant to tease you, because I am going to perform a trick on you, the reader.  I say to you that I am going to make a rabbit vanish into the hat, but at the end, I’ll do much more than make him return again.  Your mind will be left wondering, forced to look into yourself and find your own magic.

Here is an excerpt:

“There’s a bit of Poe and quite a bit of Lovecraft about the thing. A compelling plot, multiple inventive characters and situations and some rather gross moments (in a good way) made this one a winner. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of dark fantasy.

Devlin itself put me in mind of a grown up version of Hogsmeade. Just because you didn’t get your letter from Hogwarts doesn’t mean you can’t be Awakened to your particular ability–that can happen at any time in your life. So take heart!

The events of the book take place in the autumn and there’s magic and the lifting of the veil in a very big way so it’s the perfect book for this time of year.” – V.L. Craven

But wait, there’s more!  Starting next week, I will start posting a series of articles about the philosophy behind the Waking Dream, but it much more than that.  I am going to create a framework that will merge science and religion, creating a new philosophical framework, and drawing from the work of Dr. Erik Andrulis‘, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, scientifically irrefutable “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life” — which I urge you to read, both his theory and his blog.  I have entitled this new philosophy as Mism, the Merging of all isms.

And just one more thing, my book will be reviewed and I will be interviewed on Elaine Charles’ radio show about the Waking Dream and Devlin the weekend of October 27.  Details will come as to times and what local station you can hear it, and links to the podcast.

Thank you all for helping me write this book, and make the Waking Dream a success.  It is for you, because we need a little magic and hope in this world gone awry.

Why the Waking Dream?

DevlinI get asked on many occasions why I’ve spent so much time working on this series before I wrote the book.  Part of it was procrastination, but the biggest reason was the allegory behind the Waking Dream.

When I was a kid, I was very much enamored by H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos.  The idea of a writer creating a framework for other writers to contribute to was fascinating to me.  And since the story “The Call of Cthulhu” was released in 1926, scores of renowned authors have taken their turn to try to rouse the Ancient Ones from their slumber.

I initially came up with the idea for the Waking Dream in 1995 as a Dungeons and Dragons style role-playing game.  It was first premiered on Internet Relay Chat, where I had over 100 people playing at any given time.  But as I began to write these elaborate story lines for others to interact with, it occurred to me that it would be more useful to write stories and novels, rather than a bunch of rules and dice play.  The Waking Dream began to evolve.

I stepped away from the online role-play world and began to do serious research on how to make the Waking Dream a framework.  But along the way, it started to become something much more than that.  It started to become a philosophical debate on the nature of existence – a subject that has haunted me my entire adult life.  I have for a long time stopped reading fiction, and jumped headlong into physics, cosmology, religion, philosophy, mathematics and metaphysics.  And along the way, I created an entire universe populated by Dreamers, Sleepers and Immortals and solved — in my mind — the answers to our universe.

It does not matter really what comprises the universe, how it came to be, or where it will go from here.  What does matter is the voyage and exploration of the self and understanding that we are all connected at a fundamental level, and the universe is our playground.  We have gone about our search for the answer in the wrong way.  Rather than trying to understand our consciousness and our spirit, we’ve leaped into the abyss, searching for answers in the stars — but the answer is in each and every one of us.

The Waking Dream books and stories and framework are to give us a way to be children again, when we looked at everything with wonder. Magic and Monsters are everywhere, we’ve just chosen not to see them in the same way we once did.  We’ve allowed what we call the “common reality” — what the majority believes to be true — to make us blind to the true nature of the universe and thus, ourselves.

For me, the Waking Dream is not about making money, it’s about throwing a new idea out on the table for everyone to see.  And in turn, I expect others to take up the mantle and submit their own stories about the Waking Dream.  Because, in the Waking Dream anything is possible.  And if we all take a moment to realize the Dream as something wonderful, it will be wonderful.  But at the moment, we are creating a nightmare.

Waking Dream: Devlin is just the first of many novels to come.  If you are looking to escape for just a little while, and you believe in any of the things I have said, I believe you will enjoy walking with me in the Waking Dream.

Waking Dream (Part 5)

Waking DreamGreetings, Dreamers!

My last post was about the Weird and Weirdness.  Today we will delve into the three distinct realms that make up the Waking Dream Universe.  But before I get into that, I’d like to discuss the fabric of our known universe, as it is defined today.

Let’s begin.

Physicists and cosmologists have been trying to define our universe and its structure for many years.  The only thing they have theorized at this point is that the universe is composed of three things: 73% dark energy, 23% dark matter and 4% ordinary matter. And, though this theory is there, there is no concrete explanation for dark energy or dark matter.  It’s dark because its beyond our ability to see.  Which I have interpreted that dark matter and dark energy exist in a different “dimensions” if you will.  While it is theorized that dark energy is expanding our universe, which is explained as all the galaxies are moving away from one another.  I do not subscribe to this theory, as proposed by Edwin Hubble for three reasons.  A) We cannot make assumptions about the expanding universe based on less than a hundred years of observation on a universe that is 13+ billion years old, B) astronomers Alexander Kashlinsky, F. Atrio-Barandela, D. Kocevski and H. Ebeling have provided a compelling argument that shows that there are galaxies moving in a “dark flow” to some unseen “great attractor” and C) Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Galaxy are going to have a head on collision in about 4 billion years (But don’t worry, our sun will have exploded by then).  Now let’s move on to the Waking Dream view of the universe.

The Three Realms

The Waking Dream

The Waking Dream is the physical reality in which all ordinary matter exists.  This is the realm of the Dreamers.  The Waking Dream is, in essence, the playground of the soul where the world can be molded and shaped by the will of the soul, which manifests itself in the form of Weirdness.  The Waking Dream is every changing and is constantly subjected to transformations.  There are two types, a Minor Transformation, and a Great Transformation.  A Minor Transformation can take any form that shifts the dream in a different direction.  Such as the Renaissance, or the Age of Reason.  A Great Transformation completely and utterly changes the course of the Dream to the point where all Dreamers and Immortals begin again from scratch and the world is transformed to something new and different.

The Spaces Between

As discussed in previous posts, the Spaces Between is the realm from which all consciousness and creative force emanates.  This is the realm of the Weird and it is where all life begins.  The structure of the Spaces Between resembles an interconnected web of glowing cobalt blue strands, representing the movements, memories and experiences of all those in the Waking Dream.   This is where all knowledge is collected and used by the Dreamers and Immortals to mold the Waking Dream with their respective Weirdness abilities.

The Spaces Between is not a docile place, such as the depictions of heaven.  It is a tumultuous storm of thought, energy and creatures.  The creatures that inhabit the Spaces Between occasionally gain access to our world through portals, and this is where the notion of “monster” comes from. Some creatures prey on weak or newly formed Dreamers.

Newly formed Dreamers find the Spaces Between to be terrifying, because they do not possess the inherent understanding of their purpose.  It is through finding other experienced Dreamers that they learn how chose their Sleeper vessel and enter the Waking Dream for the first time.

The Sleeping Dream

The consciousness/mind is never idle.  The brain regulates all of the internal systems of the body while it sleeps.  All bodies require regeneration and rest, but the consciousness does not.  This is the purpose of the Sleeping Dream.

The Sleeping Dream is a solipsistic realm where the only consciousness that exists therein is the Dreamer who is sleeping.  It is here that the Dreamer can hone their abilities without affecting the Waking Dream.  They can re-live experiences in their current existence, or if they are Immortal, they can re-live experiences from all their incarnations.  Some have even created entire worlds to inhabit and have a dream within a dream.  Dreamers have complete control while they are in the Sleeping Dream, and the more experience they have, the more they can control the aspects of the Sleeping Dream.  They have limitless power within the Sleeping Dream, yet, this is only after they have accepted that they can do anything that they cannot readily do within the Waking Dream.  The Sleeping Dream for every Dreamer exists within the confines of their bodies.

Sleepers do not have the same abilities in the Sleeping Dream.  They are only able to process their current thoughts.  The Sleeping Dream, for a Sleeper, exposes their mind to the Spaces Between to allow incorporeal Dreamers to see into their lives to decide whether they want to inhabit a particular Sleeper, or enter the Waking Dream and observe the Sleeper before making their decision to possess the Sleeper.

Conclusion

This final part concludes, for now, the exploration of the Waking Dream.  These five posts have been structured to give you a glimpse of things to come, as well as understand the mythos behind the series.  As future books in the series are released, I will start a new line of blog postings to explain things as we move forward.  To expose anything further would be a spoiler for those who have not already read the first edition of Waking Dream: Devlin.

More information, that does not have spoilers, can be found at http://wayoftheweird.com/

Remember, Waking Dream: Devlin Book I in the Transformation Series will be released this Sunday through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all the major eBook services.  The Trade Paperback is $15.95 (USD) and eBook is $7.99 (USD).  Part of the proceeds from my book sales will go towards a scholarship fund for local High School students, and another portion will be donated to Anti-Bullying Campaigns.

Let’s change the world together.