Fun With Imagination

Taps and puffs come through the microphone as a feline nose sniffs against it. Cheetah, an anthropomorphic feline, blinks curiously at it before testing the sound again with his paw. “It’s on.” He grins and his pointed teeth flash in the faint studio light. Cheetah slides himself up on the stool and glances over his shoulder to make sure no one was lingering outside the studio door. He turns back to the microphone.

“My name’s Cheetah!” His voice has a cheery chirp to it. “I’m so glad to finally meet you all! I’ve been bugging Nikki about it for AGES! Okay, well, not ages since the website only started last year, but it has been a long–“

“Cheetah!!!”

A yelp skips from Cheetah’s throat. In his start, his stool tilts and he falls to the floor. Cheetah pins his ears back, but his sheepish smile returns when he sees who’s coming into the studio. “Oh, hey Candra! What’s up?”

A frown lines Candra’s white face. He has long, silvery hair and eyes as pale as the moon, but it makes sense given who he is. He isn’t as skinny as Cheetah, but he’s lean and just a little bit shorter. Cheetah considers Candra a great friend especially since they’d known each other for years, but Candra can be quite the stick in the mud. “What’s up?” Candra repeats disapprovingly. “What are you doing? You’re not supposed to be in here yet.”

Cheetah lightly rolls his eyes. “I’m bored! I wanna get this interview thingy started!”

Candra crosses his arms. “Not until Nikki’s ready. Come on, we should wait outside for her.”

“She’s not gonna be ready!” Cheetah tosses his hands up and sits cross-legged on the floor. “You know how nervous she was posting that “What’s Your One App” post. She’s afraid people won’t like us too much–which she shouldn’t be, I’m adorable!” Cheetah purrs, his tail tip flicking happily. He then tilts his head in thoughtfulness. “Maybe she’s worried about you, people probably won’t like you as much.”

“Wha–?” Candra gasps, but he shakes it away with a shake of his head. “That’s not true, people have liked me in the past before, so I’m not worried about it. Besides, as long as we’re having fun, what does it matter?” He motioned back toward the studio door. “Come on, we can find Nikki and probably talk her into getting these interviews done.”

“Hmph.” Cheetah rests his head in his hand. “I know the type of interviews she does. They’re so boring! What is this? The Tonight Show?! BORING!”

“Cheetah, you’ve never seen The Tonight Show.”

“I’m just saying we should do something more exciting!” Cheetah jumps to his feet. “Maybe start with one of the exciting adventures we’ve been on? Maybe the time we went to Hyrule? Or raced on Rainbow Road? Or Skyrim? OH!” He grins from ear to ear and points at Candra. “We can start with a backstory! Me! The poor, orphaned, little cheetah cub who’s constantly on the run from evil hyenas! Struggling everyday to find food and hardened by the elements of Africa. No friends! No future! And yet, a survivor who will save Africa from total inhalation!”

Candra rolls his eyes. “Yes. Because that sounds exactly like you.”

“Then there’s you, the big, glowing orb in the night sky.”

Candra frowns. “Riiiiight….I think Nikki wants everyone to know the real us and not some story you think sounds cool. You make it sound like you’re ashamed of your background.”

“I am not!” Cheetah flattens his ears. “I just want to find ways to jazz things up! Readers are very picky these days. Just ask any of Nikki’s novel characters!”

“I know that. I also know that Nikki will come with something to ‘jazz’ things up.” Candra motions to the studio door once again. “Let’s get out of here before she shows up. You know you’re only going to make her worry more.”

“And I also know that Nikki will make us do the interviews over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over–”

Candra frowns. “Stop it.”

“–And over again until she thinks it’s perfect!” Cheetah places his hands on his hips. “I say we should just do the interview to each other. You know all her questions right? You could ask them and I’ll make things funny! Then we can post it after just one take! Nikki won’t have to worry about a thing!”

Candra starts laughing. “Right! That’s a great way to give her a heart-attack. Let’s just steal her website from her and make our own post! She’s worked too hard for this, Cheetah! We can mess it up!” His fists tighten when Cheetah slowly leans toward the microphone. “Cheetah, you stay away from that! Don’t touch it! I’m warning you!”

Cheetah keeps an innocent pout on his face as he whispers into the mic. “Candra’s a killjoy who doesn’t know how to have fun.”

“That’s not true!”

“He also eats bugs.”

“That is definitely not true!”

“He still wears a di–”

“STOP IT!” Candra claps his hand over the microphone and frowns heavily at Cheetah. “If I do the interview with you now, you will shut up?” When Cheetah excitedly bobs his head, Candra sighs. “We at least let Nikki review it afterward. You’re not exactly the best at editing.”

Cheetah purrs. “Fair.” He sets his stool back up and perches atop it while Candra moves to the other stool and microphone. Cheetah runs his mouth before Candra can even take a breath. “So, what’s the first question? The actual backstory? Well, I’m the fastest cat around! Known Nikki since she was real, real little. All those trips to Grandma’s house, I was running right alongside the car! I can run on fences, telephone lines, jump over billboards, cars, buildings!” Cheetah chuckles. “Nothing stops this cat!”

“Hm. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to having a running man outside the car when they take long trips.” Candra smiles fondly. “Except, I guess you were a running cheetah.”

“Yeah and whenever I felt like it, I’d sleep in the back of the truck bed,” Cheetah flicks his tail in excitement. “I even ran around her schools a couple times! Imagine all the chaos I could cause if I were actually real.” He chuckles to himself before he sighs. “I don’t fit in with other cheetahs, though. They’re all tough, independent, and fight everyday to survive on the savannah. I just like to run around and have fun!”

Candra nods thoughtfully. “Well, Nikki was a child when you first showed up, so it makes sense that you would have a childish personality.”

“Hey!”

“I, on the other hand, have always been around.” Candra holds his head up. “She didn’t know what cheetahs were in the early states of life, but she knew me! And because I’m the tranquil light in the dark of the night and as old as the Earth, I got more maturity than you did. She could look up and see calmness in my full light or a smile waxing or waning.”

“Or nothing if you decide to be something new.” Cheetah snickers. “Yeah, yeah. We get it. You’re the Moon. Nikki’s ‘Moon spirit’ or ‘man in the moon’ who not only watches over all the Earth, but helps her clear her thoughts when it comes to her stories and characters. We get it.” Cheetah shifts on his stool and sits taller. “But back to me: I like to wear knitted hats, and run, and play tricks on people, and run, and watch movies, and run, and I hate wearing fancy clothes, and I run, and–”

Candra sighs. “And you like to talk about yourself.”

“Well, it’s not like you’re going to do much talking. You don’t like to talk about yourself!”

“But I don’t mind telling people who I am so they can–” Candra sighs and rests his head in his hand. “You know what? Forget it. They’ll likely be more stories with the two of us. People can get to know me then. Please continue, Cheetah, so we can get out of here before we get into trouble.”

Cheetah grins. “Did I mention I like to run?”

Candra slaps his forehead with his palm. “No. I don’t think you did. I had absolutely no idea that you like to run.”

Cheetah tilts his ears back. “Ok. I don’t need your sass, Candra.”

“My sass is inevitable, Cheetah.”

“What are you, Thanos now?”

Candra groans. “Can we just move this along?”

“I can be sassy right back, you know!”

“Oh, trust me, I know. You’re as sassy as your spots!”

“At least I have spots. You’re just as pale as snow! And that silver hair? What are you, an old man?”

Candra fumbles a frown. “Well…technically yes and technically no…It depends on how you look at it. If you look at me as the Moon then…” Candra pouts. “Yes. I’m an old man. BUT! If you consider my age from the point Nikki created me then I’m only about in my twenties.” Candra smirks. “Cheetahs; however, only have a lifespan between ten to twelve years and considering you’re likely in your twenties too, then you’re the one who’s old, Cheetah! Ancient even!”

Cheetah flattens his ears. “Take that back!”

“Consider that payback for the eating bugs comment!”

“I said take it back!”

Candra gives a light-hearted laugh. “What’s wrong, Cheetah? Can’t take what you dish out?”

“Alright, boys! That’s enough! I don’t need you fighting in the studio.”

Both Cheetah and Candra pause when a new voice comes over the studio speakers. The light in the booth comes on and they both wince seeing me sitting in it. “You two can’t have a pleasant conversation without getting into an argument, can you?”

Candra sheepishly chuckles and rubs the back of his head. “Heh…Hey Nikki.”

Cheetah points at Candra. “It’s his fault!”

“I think this is enough material to introduce you two.” I smile as I type up the last few lines. “All I gotta do now is schedule it to post for this week and add some clever tag.”

“So…” Candra shakes his head and his pale cheeks flush with embarrassment. “You were recording the whole time?”

“Yeah.” I chuckle. “It felt more natural that way. You guys get one more line each. What are you going to say?”

Cheetah quickly leans into the microphone. “My name is Cheetah! Don’t forget me!”

Candra and I wince at the sheer loudness of his shout. Then, Candra chuckles. “Don’t worry, Cheetah, you’re hard to forget.”

What’s Your One App?

Do you have a favorite app? All the technology that people can access today, sometimes it’s hard to pick an absolute favorite app. Maybe, for you, it’s a game? Or for writers, it’s a memo pad or even Google Docs to give us quick access to our stories. Maybe you’re a banker and you keep an eye on stock. Maybe you’re a nature lover and you use the Seek app to identify every organism you come across. My point: there are a BUNCH of apps out there. So many, that some get overlooked, don’t quite make it, and disappear without a trace.

That happened to my favorite app. An app that actually helped me survive college. No, it wasn’t some “How to cheat on your tests,” or some quick access to my college materials. This was just a cute, little gaming/social app that kept me sane when college was overbearing. The app was called Miitomo. Maybe you remember it? Maybe you didn’t even know it existed? But I really miss it.

The app was made by Nintendo and you basically created your own Mii and your own room, and you could connect with other people who had the app and answer questions about each other, visit, play mini games for more clothing or room decorations, etc. It was meant to be a social app, but that’s not why I liked it so much.

The app eventually included a feature where you could create more Miis with their own rooms and you oversaw them all. You could create characters from video games, famous people, etc. and share them with everyone else. Well, I didn’t enjoy the app because I could create other people’s characters. I enjoyed it because I created my own.

With Miitomo, I had physical access to my characters and I could dress them up how I wanted them to look and it even helped me figure out the styles that my characters like. What’s more is that the app helped me develop my characters. It had a bunch of different questions that I was basically interviewing my characters. They each had their own greetings, goodbyes, and their personality developed the more time I spent with them.

Now, these questions were all simple: Favorite 5 letter word, Favorite Color, Favorite Childhood Dessert, What is something you want your spouse to call you? Etc. But through those questions–these “interviews”–through these little things, I knew how my characters would act during the bigger moments in my novel.

The app even allowed me to create pictures that included up to five Miis. I remember days where I just created pictures, ALL day. It connected me closer to my characters. It helped me visualize scenes. And it was a great creative outlet. So when I got back to my computer, back to my stories, I was able to write even more than before.

Now, when my college career was coming to a close, I got the warning on the app that they were shutting it down. They weren’t getting enough funds to keep it open (as much as I loved the app, I have a rule that I don’t spend money on phone games). I’m glad they gave warning though, because it gave me time to save all the greetings, questions, and pictures that I created for my characters (some of them had over 60 questions I had to record). I have a whole document filled with a list of my characters’ questions and answers and two folders on my computer filled with images all from Miitomo.

As sad as I am that the app is gone, that doesn’t mean I can’t still connect with my characters. I can hand draw some scenes to help me visualize them and I can always look up random questions online to interview my characters. If you’re a writer and you’re stumped in your story. I would recommend giving “interviews” and drawing out scenes. It helped me learn how my characters feel about each other and how they might push through the heartbreaks of their past (plus many of them grew much more fashionable). Miitomo certainly made it easier, but I’m thankful it was there when I needed it.

I’ve been debating for a while about showing off some of the pictures and things I’ve done on Miitomo and I might start including them in later posts. There are two characters I created, that were Miitomo specific for a while and I would love to bring them back. Hopefully, later down the road, you guys will get to meet them, and I hope you love them as much as I do.

So, that’s my app that I loved and miss. If you take a good, hard look on your phone, would you be able to say what your favorite app is? What would you do if that app suddenly shut down like Miitomo did?

“Uh-Oh”

“Uh-Oh,” the author cried as she starts her laptop up.
“I’ve got nothing on the inside. How can I sum this up?”
“There’s no words, there’s no post.”
“I need something or I’m toast.”

“Maybe a story? Maybe a thought?”
“Or that prompt that I just bought?”
“Something to keep the site alive.”
“Something to keep readers in place.”
“I’ll write something with a jive?”
“I’ll try and pick up my pace?”

“But my head hurts against this desk.”
“Nothing is jogged. It’s all a mess!”
“So, I’ll throw out a cute little rhyme.”
“Something to help me buy some time.”

“Time for dreams. Time for thoughts.”
“Time for stories never forgot.”
“Then when passion arrives once more,”
“nothing will seal this mind’s door.”
“My fingers will fly. My heart will soar.”
“All for my characters’ deep rooted lore.”

“Life is a bustle that distracts and screams.”
“But nothing is going to kill my dream.”
“I’ll write again, something more clever.”
“Something much longer than this little letter.”

“I’ve got an idea! Something fantastic!”
“Or maybe it’s just a little bit drastic?”
“One way to know, so here I go.”
“I just hope I have something good to show.”

The author turns to the audience and gives a sheepish grin.
“I really hope you come back again.”
“Thanks for your patience. Thanks for your ear.”
“Thank you for clicking on this site right here.”

“Whether just one reader, ten, or one-hundred.”
“It’s quite enough to make me feel talented.”
“But it’s been a busy week and I don’t know what to say.”
“I surely don’t want that to turn you away.”

“I’ve got many ideas, but no time to write.”
“I’ve got thoughts, and poems, and tales of great blight.”
“But you know the drill: groceries, work, and the bills.”
“The time for talents is off in the hills.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m not ending this scene.”
“I just need a moment to think a few things.”
“So, thanks again. Thanks for your time.”
“I’ll cease your suffering and finally end this rhyme.”

Writing Prompt: Ten Years of Advice

If you could go back ten years and give yourself some advice, what would you say?

Don’t give up on your dream. Right now, you’re about two years into writing your first novel. You stay up late on weekends just to fill your pages with scenes that won’t make it into the final draft. Well, keep writing them because you love them, not because others do. You won’t get published for a long time. You’ll be 27 and you’ll still be waiting for an agent to say yes. It may never even happen, but don’t give up!

Yes. You’ll cry many tears. You’ll feel like the world hates your stories and you’ll think that those that do like them are lying to you. But the truth is: you love to write. You love the adventures with your characters, the tragedy of two who are meant to be, but never are. You love the laughter of friendship, the hopelessness in a battle no one thinks they can win, but you do it together. You love how you put yourself in the story and you won’t tell anyone how you did it.

You have an imagination that goes beyond the stars and that is more important than knowledge of any kind. You may never succeed, but you will truly fail if you give up. I believe their is a plan for every single story in your head even though I haven’t seen it yet. You will do great things. You will come up with many adventures and you’ll love every single one.

So, keep writing even when all feels lost. Write your heart into every word, keep improving, keep praying, keeping doing what you love! You will feel like the whole world is scheming to make sure that you fail. When the rejections come, you’ll feel like your dreams are too impossible to achieve, but keep pushing on! You’ve got talent. You’ve got the guts. And you definitely have the stories. Keep writing!

I believe you can get published.

A Collection of Words

Little book of words brand new.
Little words to know.
Teach me something fresh like dew.
Help me learn and grow.

Everyone tries to expand their knowledge. Some people like to learn something new every day. If you’re a writer, you tend to do a lot of research of various topics to help you make your book more authentic. Or, maybe you just research a topic because you enjoy it? Well, one of the ways that I try to learn something new every day is actually rather simple: I try to learn new words.

I have the Dictionary.com app on my phone and it has a cute little widget of the “Word of the Day.” Usually, the word of the day pertains to whatever is going on in life: something pertaining to spring, summer, a holiday, etc. Other times, it’s just a random word that most people aren’t going to know. Some of it is slang, others are words tucked way back in the dictionary, or it may include something in Latin, or some other language that isn’t English. Since the word changes everyday, it’s difficult to remember all of them, so I use one of my many journals to record the ones I like.

Now, the words that I like are words that I feel I could use in a story (or perhaps it pertains to the Moon, books, or the environment). I especially look for words I can use in my current work in progress. A lot of the ones I record, most people aren’t going to know like sweven, or pleonasm, or foible. Not to mention, there are quite a few that the red, swiggly, spellcheck line appear under whenever I type them. Yet, I still want to use these words in a story. I figure if I can use them in a way that people can understand them through context, then they can learn a new word too.

Now, my current work in progress is a sci-fi story and it involves a character who’s quite the bel-esprit. I’m mean, he’s certainly smarter than me, he’s a top-notch technician, a bit umbrageous, and arrogant. You know the kind: those people who know they’re smart so they gasconade their knowledge over you. Well, he’s my excuse for using these words that some people don’t know. He’ll use them naturally (which means, I have to learn to use them), and other characters will just stand around and stare at him. Now, I’ve always been a fan of the “In English, please!” Line from one nescience character to a Brainiac. So, my story is going to have plenty of squibs between my thrawn bel-esprit and other characters.

Alright, you caught me. I’m trying to get used to using some of the words from my journal in this blog post. I’ve posted the definitions of some down below and if you already know them, you’re five steps ahead of me! If I’ve used a word wrong, feel free to call me out in the comments. I’m learning that just because you know the definition of a new word, that doesn’t exactly mean you know how to use it in a sentence.

So, this is what I’m doing to learn something new everyday. What are some things you do?

Sweven: a vision, dream.
Pleonasm: the use of more words than necessary to express an idea; redundancy.
Foible: minor weakness or failing of character; flaw.
Bel-esprit: person of great wit or intellect.
Umbrageous: apt to take offense.
Gasconade: extravagant boasting; boastful talk.
Nescience: lack of knowledge; ignorance.
Squib: a short and witty or sarcastic saying or writing.
Thrawn: contray, peevish, stubborn.

Writing Prompt: History Rewritten

Include the following in your story: funeral, condemn, distribution, button, sink, tax, art, jealousy, brain, lover.

If I could change the past you wouldn’t have been taken by weakness or by illness of age. Your funeral wouldn’t have occurred. Life would still hug your breath and you’d be enjoying the art of creation with us. We’d go down to the docks at the lake and watch lures sink into the water and how everyone fought over the distribution of the banana bread. Sure, so many people in one place is as burdening as tax season, but at least you would be here.

I’ll admit, I was green with jealousy when you gave your attention to everyone else, but I know I’m never one to open up or speak or make conversation, so it isn’t your fault. It just matters that you were here even though I was condemned from your attention.

We’d still play games at night. You wouldn’t be on my team, I’d make sure of it. I always kicked my brain into overdrive just to tease you or ruin your moves. What I wouldn’t give to hear one more “Nikki!” from you.

You lived a long life, but I’d make it longer if I could. I wouldn’t be buttoned up with regrets. I’d show you that I can drive stick. That I could make it out there on my own and get a call from you asking what mile marker I’m at. I would’ve called you more, even if I couldn’t understand you. At least I would be there to listen.

I’ll soon be at the lake again, but you won’t be there. Though, everyone will say you’ll be there in spirit. Maybe you are watching? Watching your family; your sons and daughters and your wife who was your lover. I know you look over my cousins, help guide their way, but do you ever see me?

If you were here. I would talk to you more. You were the only one who noticed my absence, saw me when I was invisible. But you’re not here now and history is set. There’s nothing I can do to get rid of my regrets.

Don’t Breathe the Green Gas

What is written below is a creative, fiction story. It came from a nightmare, so read at your own risk.

I never believed things could change in the blink of an eye. You’re always warned about it, but no one believes it. Well, the whole world changed and yet I can’t feel a thing. Everything is gone or might as well be. So why should I care? The nurses rush around calling for help with every patient that comes pouring in. I’m lucky, I guess. I somehow got away. But the man on the gurney over there didn’t. His mouth is filled with green foam. Blisters the size of baseballs pummel his skin and his eyes only stare straight ahead. There’s plenty more like him. Plenty more people are being ushered in with bursting blisters and foaming mouths and there’s nothing the nurses can do to help them. The whole world is in an utter state of panic. Yet, here I am, sitting on this hospital bed and I don’t care one bit.

It started out a day like any other. My day off work and my brother surprised my mom and me by showing up for dinner. My sister-in-law and my one-year-old niece too. When my brother walked into our split level house, his hands were full of baby stuff. He asked why there was a red sticker on the door and my mom explained that some solicitor came by, ignored our “no solicitors” sign, and that he must have placed it there when we sent him off. We didn’t bother to take that sticker down, but we should’ve.

The evening continued with fun banter, family updates, and we all sat around the table to share my mom’s delicious cooking. In the middle of the meal, I saw someone come in through the front door (my brother left it unlocked so he could go smoke) and bolt down to the basement. Both my brother and I got up. I recognized the man as the solicitor from earlier. My brother heads into the basement to confront him and I wait at the top of the stairs with a fork in my hand like it was some sort of weapon.

I couldn’t hear what they were saying in the basement, but I did hear my brother pull his gun out and threaten the man. I didn’t even know he had his gun on him. My mom, sister-in-law, and niece were still in the dining room and I told them not to worry. However, something outside caught my eye and shivered anxiety in my stomach.

It was a firefighter. A firefighter dressed in all his gear was limping in the front yard, coming from the side of our house. He was dragging a hose and I couldn’t see his face. I walked over to the front window and my mouth dropped open at the sight outside. I remember my mom calling from the dining room, asking what was going on and I told her: “The house across the street is on fire.”

It was in utter flames. Every window and every door was filled with a roaring inferno. But what’s more is that people were running, screaming, and crying as they ran down the street. Firemen were trying their best to put the fire out while people ran in a terrified frenzy around them. Some other authorities were trying to usher people into the glass house up the street. Many of them had cloths covering their mouths.

I told my mom and sister-in-law to wait inside and I headed out to investigate. Black smoke from my neighbor’s house filled the night, but in the distance, I saw green fog clouds rolling between houses. There was a News reporter by the curb, so I wandered over to listen in.

She spoke of a radical group with no name. They were running around the city causing riots and throwing bombs of an unknown substance. She repeatedly said “Don’t breathe the green gas.”

My mind was still whirling. Don’t breathe the green gas. Did she mean the green gas rolling through the streets?! I never thought something like this could happen so close to my home. You always see it on the News, happening in far away places, but this…this was literally happening in my front yard. Then, I spotted them. I was so horrified that I didn’t even think to scream in warning. Six people came running from up the street. Each of them wore green clovers on their shirts and they carried brown paper sacks that oozed with green fog. They didn’t wear any masks which told me they were committed to die for this destruction. Yet, what scared me the most was that two of them were children.

I held my breath in waiting for them to throw the bombs, but they just stood like corpses staring at all the chaos. Then, one of the kids finds my house and the little red sticker on the front door.

“NO!” I screamed, but no one heard. As I was turning to run back to the house and warn my family, an explosion sounded from the inside and suddenly the house was oozing with the green gas. The solicitor. He must have been carrying a bomb and my brother couldn’t take it from him. “NO!” I screamed again. I tried to run into the house, but somebody grabbed my arms. I fought with every sobbing breath, but I couldn’t break free from whoever had me. I can still feel the burn of the tears from when they rolled down my face. Why my family? What did they ever do to anyone?!

I don’t remember what happened next except for a lot of kicking and screaming. They said it was the firefighter who brought me to the hospital, but I don’t remember seeing him. I was placed on a hospital bed. The nurses gave me some shot to calm me down, but I just feel as dead as the man in the gurney. I can’t go back home. It’s too dangerous with the gas contaminating everything. The News reporter on the TV says these riots are occurring all over the globe. The green gas is spreading and wiping out populations, but no one can identify the group causing it.

I know they have an affinity for clovers and they use little red stickers to pick their targets. I still have the fork in my hand. The only thing I have left from home. My hand tightens around it. This radical group took away everything from me. Everything but this fork. So I’m going to plunge it into the eye of whoever leads them.

Gotta Love Nostalgia

Everyone has that one thing or perhaps multiple things that bring up a strong sense of nostalgia. Whether its a family memory, an old show, a game, old job, etc. etc. etc. I love the feeling of nostalgia. It gives you a sense of roots and personal history. However, its definitely not something that can be easily explained. I mean, I’m about to go on and on about something that’s given me strong nostalgic feelings lately and you’re likely going to think: ‘really? She’s writing about this? Come on, your old posts are better.’ Well, you’re probably right. So, in continuing further, I dare you to relate in some way. You likely don’t have any feelings for what I’m about to write about, but you do have something else that brings a sense of nostalgia to you and I want you to keep that thing in mind. If anything, it’s always nice to pause a moment and remember a good thing from days long passed.

So, about a week ago, a new game came out for the Nintendo Switch (no it’s not a Zelda game), and I preordered it so I didn’t have to wait to play it. The game is Pokemon Snap. It’s a cute, little game where you get to play wildlife photographer in the pokemon world. You just take snapshots of pokemon in their natural habitat. There’s no catching, no training, no battling, and no trading. You’re just a snap happy photographer taking pictures.

When you think about it, the point of the game isn’t that exciting. There’s no villain you have to fight, no puzzles to solves, it’s just picture taking. So, it’s not a game for everyone. I got it because I used to play the Nintendo 64 version of Pokemon Snap ALL THE TIME. I completed the Photodex, found all th Pokemon Signs, and I was quite proud of myself for doing so. Even now, I can recall all the music, sound effects, gameplay, and tricks in each area. When I was little, I always hoped they’d come out with another one. Now that I’m in my twenties, they finally did!

Do you remember a time when you got the news that they were remaking something you loved as a kid? Maybe a Disney movie, an old tv show, a theme park restoring an old roller coaster, a game (in my case), or whatever it was that you were obsessed with as a kid? You hear the news and you get excited, but then comes the influx of emotions where you’re not sure its a good idea. Maybe it won’t be as good as the original? Maybe they’ll butcher an important scene or part or they’ll pick the wrong actors or mess up the story line. Or they’ll change something where it just isn’t the same anymore? I felt that when I heard about the new Pokemon Snap. I was super excited, but then very weary that it just wouldn’t be the same as the old 64 version or the developers would change something that doesn’t need to be changed.

Thankfully, in my case, they didn’t remake the old Pokemon Snap, they expanded on it. A LOT of new pokemon have come out since the original game so the developers are including a LOT of those new pokemon. Plus, its in a new region, there are new areas to explore, new mysterious to solve, and they give you little challenges and clues in each area to help you get the best pictures. I may not have played the new version of Pokemon Snap as much as I would’ve liked since it came out, but I can happily say I’m NOT disappointed in it. A lot of controls and items are the same and they included new items to help you get the best photos. They also make it possible to edit your photos and enhance them. It’s gotten a very good improvement and let’s not forget that video game graphics have come a long way since 1999. So the designers deserve a huge pat on the back for how well they crafted the different ecosystems and landscapes of the region you explore in the game.

Speaking of ecosystems and landscape. They expanded on something in this new version of Pokemon Snap that was pretty mellow in the old game. For those of you unfamiliar with the game: there is a reason you go around taking pictures. In both games, you’re helping a professor document the habits and behavior of pokemon. In the new game, they expand it further by giving more detail to the lab you work at: the Laboratory of Ecology and Natural Sciences. This game is meant for kids, so it’s likely a kid isn’t going to know what ecology and natural sciences are, but they will understand the point. You go around a habitat (a swamp, a cave, a desert, a jungle, a meadow, or under the ocean, etc. etc. etc.), taking pictures of the pokemon, and how they interact with each other and their surroundings. You also get to find new paths and areas and uncover inspiring discoveries about plant life too–all by keeping your disturbance to the habitat a minimum.

Now, pokemon aren’t real and the magical mysteries in the game don’t exist, but what if you implied the concept of Pokemon Snap to the real world? One of my favorite things about the game is that it can be an inspiration for someone to go into ecology and natural sciences. They may enjoy taking pictures in the game so much that they want to take pictures of nature and study the environments of Earth. I, for one, am someone who’s fascinated by animal behavior and when I see the chance to snatch a good photo of some wildlife, I try to take it. There’s been a spotted owl around my work lately and I’ve chased it around the property (I’m not very stealthy at work) trying to snatch a good photo of it! Now, Pokemon Snap likely isn’t the reason I chase wildlife around, but it may have played a part. I think the new Pokemon Snap does a great job of highlighting the careers of a researcher and a wildlife photographer. I hope every kid out there that plays it gets inspired to research wildlife beyond what’s done in the game.

Alright, enough of my nostalgia. I could go on…and on…and on. However, this blog isn’t here so I can ramble about Pokemon. I wanted to share my nostalgia in hopes to get you thinking about yours. So, what is it? What gives you a strong sense of nostalgia? A song? A show? A game? Etc.? Do you think that thing inspired some habit or career of yours? Or could potentially inspire others? Let me know what you think in the comments below and thank you for taking the time to read this post!

A Million Dreams…

How many of you are The Greatest Showman fans? I certainly loved that movie when I first saw it and I think the soundtrack for it is fantastic! My favorite song in that soundtrack is A Million Dreams. If you’re not familiar with it, go watch the movie, but to simplify it, the main character is singing about all the dreams he wants to come true in his life, all the dreams he wants to include in the circus. It’s a very uplifting song, beautiful music, the dance is graceful and energetic, and the whole of it is just inspiring. However, that’s not why I like it so much.

I see the song through a different perspective, a writer’s perspective. Maybe you can relate or maybe this will just sound like nonsense, but I hope it’ll at least be a good read.

Let’s start with the first verse:

“I close my eyes and I can see a world that’s waiting up for me that I call my own.

I consider myself a dreamer and a daydreamer. When I lay down at night, I can’t fall asleep right away like some people do. So, to help pass the time until sleep finally decides to show up, I daydream about my novels, my stories, and my imaginations. The world I see is the main setting of my completed, yet unpublished, novel: a mighty castle on an open, golden field. Its certainly its own world that I call my own.

Now the next song lyric:

“Through the dark, through the door, through where no one’s been before, but it feels like home.”

Obviously, no ones been to my castle on the golden field before, but to me it feels like home because I know it so well. I’m sure other writers could relate about the settings in their novels. I know it sounds crazy. You’ve probably think I’ve lost my mind at this point, but I don’t care if it sounds crazy, because wouldn’t any of us want to live in a world that we design?

Now, let’s move on to the main chorus:

“Every night I lie in bed
The brightest colours fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
Oh a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

I feel like this speaks for itself. I mean, I already admitted to not be able to sleep at night. Sometimes, I’ll get an idea for one of my stories and I’ll play that idea in my head over and over again that I just can’t fall asleep. Are there any others that can relate to this? Any others that see your stories as the bright colours in your head and as the dreams that keep you awake?

The song goes on to be more fitting for The Greatest Showman plot, but every time it hits the chorus, it gives me motivation to work on my own stories again. I hope you don’t stop dreaming. I hope you have a million dreams keeping you awake and the inspiration and excitement to seize them. Thanks for reading over my perspective of A Million Dreams, I hope you enjoyed it.

Writing Prompt: Getting Away with Murder

Use the following words: Snow Queen, windmill, tunnel, childhood, endanger, cypress, wine, horseback, temperature, imperial.

There isn’t enough wine in the world for this. I’m standing under the cypress tree, bearing witness as my childhood nemesis is carried away in a body bag. Little miss perfect never knew how to shut up. She always bragged about all the good she did for endangered animals and yet, she has the largest hummer on the lot, a giant mansion, and a diamond ring on each finger. She took more than she gave and that’s why she’s gone now. Her money will go to those that need it–those endangered animals deserve better and my horseback rescue ranch down the road won’t go bankrupt.

I feel like the Snow Queen in the middle of summer. They load her body in the truck and yet, I just stand here like I’m watching a rabbit cross the road. I followed her last night. After I begged her to help me save my ranch. I would pay her back, but she scoffed at me, said she couldn’t do it and she turned away. She thought I left, but I was so angry, that I waited at the end of her drive and when she drove off in the thick of the night. I tailed her.

She went to the windmill north of town. The windmill is a relic, fading away and forgotten. So why was she going there? I got my answer when I followed her in. All the money that was supposed to be going to the endangered animals was hiding in that windmill. I shouted at her, but I don’t remember what either of us said. I think she threatened me. Threatened to buy out my ranch and tear it down. Fury turned my vision red and the next thing I knew red was scattered across the floor.

My grandfather’s imperial pistol was in my hand and smoke drifted from the barrel. I only kept the weapon on me to scare off coyotes, but the first bullet was lodged her heart. I didn’t feel anything as her blood bled out on the money. I was probably standing there like an idiot for over ten minutes before my mind finally realized what I did. I killed that greedy witch and you know what? The world is better off with her dead, but I can’t go to jail. What would happen to my ranch, to the money, to the endangered animals if I was stuck behind bars?

I’ve seen enough crime shows to know that the number one thing you don’t do to solve a crime is mess with the crime scene. So, I messed with everything. I rearranged the entire windmill to hide the blood stains, packed up all the money into my car, and used the old, secret tunnel to drag her body out of there.

The tunnel led to an old farm that was seized by the banks. No one bought it. No one took care of it. So everything was overgrown. Temperature fluctuated a lot between the windmill, tunnel, and farm that I suspect it’ll screw up evidence. I left her body in the barn and took a long path back to the windmill so that maybe I couldn’t be tracked. I hopped in my car, dumped my pistol in the river, drove back to my ranch, and the stored the money in the second safe in my attic. I changed my clothes and burned the old ones in my firepit then spent the rest of my night with the horses and a bottle of wine.

The next morning, I drove around town trying to “find” her. I stopped by her house and when she didn’t answer, I spoke with everyone in town. I let everyone believe I was trying to sell her my ranch to get out of debt. When no one could point me in her direction. I drove around all day before finding her body.

When the cops showed up, they asked me a few questions. The biggest one was if she had any enemies. Well, no one in town liked her, I told them. Everyone is going to think she got what she deserved. They believed me and they didn’t consider me a suspect. Over the next few months, I’ll use her money to slowly pay off my loans and save my ranch and what’s left over will be an anonymous donation to the endangered animals. Just like it should be.