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Friday, August 22, 2014

Making "Coma"

 As most of you have probably heard by now, my husband D. R. Acula and I have been participating in a contest on a collaborative website called TentSquare, and for about a month now it's pretty much all we've been doing. We've now made it all the way to the final round, and for this round contestants were asked to write an original song, using elements of TentSquare's coming film "While You Were In A Coma" in which a man wakes up from a coma to find that aliens have invaded. 

We were told to incorporate a gas mask (which we happened to have anyway), a city (which we did NOT have), and the fact that the main character 'doesn't get the girl' in the end. So we built this whole apocalyptic world based on that little bit of information, in which our characters are in the midst of this war with the alien invaders, and we have run out of bullets so we have to use swords and hammers and such to fight them, and our characters are basically singing to the guy in the coma, waiting for him to wake up and 'help us save the world' as the song states. 

Photo by Kylie Jude

We only had about 10 days to compose the music, write the lyrics, film the video, edit the video, and get it uploaded (which for us is an entire day's work anyway). We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary during the 10 days, and we had to take a few breaks for yard work, road work, house work, and even tearing apart and rebuilding our porch steps. So in reality it probably only took us 6 or7 days to do all of this work. And trust me, it was a LOT of work. 

First he composed the music, which featured elements of the video interview we submitted in the 2nd round, so it wasn't too hard to build on that and make it into a full length song. Then I wrote the lyrics, which I'll paste below in case you can't understand them in the song. Then we recorded vocals and I mixed them into the song, which took longer than it probably should have. 

Then we filmed the video, which took about 3 days, and was a combination of us, some close-up shots of the machines that conveniently decided to work on our road during that time (which never happens here so it was good timing - we figured they could pass for aliens), and footage that people sent us of cities including New York, Chicago, and even from Argentina. We don't have a city near where we live, so we were really lucky to get that footage from them. Then our TentSquare shirts arrived in the mail just in time to go back and film some extra shots for the last chorus with us wearing the shirts. 

Photo by D. R. Acula

Then came the editing process, which was probably the most tedious and time consuming of all, but I love editing and I had fun doing it. As it started to come together, I literally squealed with excitement a few times. LOL.

We both worked harder on this than I think we've ever worked on anything, and it was so much fun to create something like this together. Hopefully we'll be doing more stuff like this in the near future!  

UPDATE: We didn't win the contest, but we did come in second place. We are grateful to those who supported us and voted daily for us, and we hope to do more stuff like this in the future (even if it's not with TentSquare). We will be uploading the music video to Youtube as soon as we can, but for now you can still watch it on the site HERE.

And please let us know what you think!

  Oh! And here are those lyrics I promised: 

When you wake up
We need to talk 
Everything has changed my love 
They came from the skies 
Hell fire in their eyes 
And waves of radiation 

They blew the buildings down 
They blew the lights out 
And now we're left with nothing 
To fend for ourselves 
To fight for our lives 
And only the strong will survive

Are you strong enough to fight 
Or will you give in tonight 
Don your gas mask draw your sword 
Come and help us save the world 

Open your eyes 
Look to the skies 
Death is in the rain son 
Don't be fooled by 
Their coy disguise 
Trust nothing and no one 

Are you strong enough to fight 
Or will you give in tonight 
Don your gas mask draw your sword 
Come and help us save the world 

When you wake up 
We need to talk 
Everything has changed my love 
I'm not yours and 
You're not mine and 
We will never happen 

This is not the 
Time for love - it's 
Time for killing - time for war  
So don your gas mask 
Draw your sword 
Come and help us save the world 

Photo by D. R. Acula

Be the lightning,


Monday, August 18, 2014

Artist Interview: Miguel Alvarez

Today I'm doing something a little different, because this guy is an awesome artist, and I really want to spread the word to anyone reading this. He pumps out these sketches (yes, SKETCHES) of such intricate and detailed stuff, and I've never seen anything like it. A while back, he held a contest on Twitter for one of his drawings, and to win it you had to guess the number that was written on the back. I figured I'd give it a shot and guessed the first number that came to mind, and to my surprise, ended up guessing  right! So he sent the drawing, and I still have it nearby to remind me to always trust my instincts (something I've struggled with many times in the past). So it's pretty important to me, and I'm so grateful to own such a gorgeous piece of art. Here is that drawing:

Anyway, I wanted to let you get to know the artist a bit, through an interview. I've interviewed authors before, but this is my first artist interview, so bear with me. ;) And enjoy!

1. I've always been fascinated with how much detail goes into even your simplest sketches. How DO you do it? And what is your preferred method?

 The simple answer is that’s just the way my brain is wired. Even when I set out with the intention to sketch something simple my mind will just start adding complexity and detail. The creative process for me is different for every drawing. Sometimes the idea/image pops into my mind fully formed and then I just have to draw it out. Other times I just grab a sketchbook & a pen and just let whatever creative idea come out of my stream of consciousness.

2. Who or what are your biggest artistic inspirations? (I'm sensing some Giger influence, but I could be wrong)

 A lot of people assume Giger is one of my influences and looking at his work I can understand why that comparison is made. Although I am flattered by the comparison and think he’s a great artist with a tremendous body of work, he was not one of my influences. The only time I remember seeing Giger’s artwork was in a book once at a Barns & Noble for a few minutes, and seeing the alien designs from the movie. Most of my influences came from comic books. The first comic book book artists that began to captivate me were the guys who broke off of Marvel and start Image Comics. Guys like Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Todd Mcfarlane, and Erik Larson. Over the years I’ve come to admire the art of Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Jae Lee, Joe Maduereira, J Scott Campbell, Humberto Ramos, Leinil Yu and so many others. I’ve also been influenced by Salvador Dali and other surrealist artists.

3. Have you had any professional training? Or does it just come naturally?

 I've not had any formal training. I learned a lot of drawing techniques through how to books and magazines. There have also been tons of hours spent every day working on my craft. There’s just no getting around it, if you want to become great at anything you have to believe you can achieve it, and then prove it to the universe by investing the time.

4. Well said! Now I have to ask, Have you ever done commissions? And how would someone commission you to draw something for them? (Totally hypothetical question, I swear) ;)

I have done commissions before and actually made quite a bit of money doing so. I stopped taking commissions because I didn’t enjoy it. I felt that it was killing my creativity. The majority of the time the customer wants you to draw or paint them, their family or some subject matter your not interested in. With commission your usually drawing or painting from a photograph which takes a lot of skill, but allows for little creative expression. Art for me now is about expressing my creativity with freedom to go in any direction the universe takes me. I want to draw worlds and figures from my imagination and not from photographs. I want to sell art on my own terms and not have my creativity stifled because I want to make a quick buck. Let me add that I do think it’s important for new aspiring artists to draw from life and study the things around them to build a base on which to build a creative foundation.

5. Totally agreed! Do what makes you happy, not anyone else! And last but not least, can you tell us more about yourself? Who is the man behind the art?

I’m a man who loves God, loves his family and loves life. I wake up every morning grateful that I get to spend another day in a world filled with creativity and with people who love me. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity and freedom to explore my creative ideas. 

And I'm grateful that there are wonderful artists like Miguel in the world, who's work inspires me every day. You can find Miguel on Twitter, Instagram, and his website. I leave you with a collage I made of some more of his gorgeous art:


Be the lightning, 


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Author Interview: Ray Davis

I'm so excited to bring you a new interview with one of my favorite online acquaintances, fellow writer and alien theorist, Ray Davis. If you haven't heard of him yet, don't worry, you will. His new novel series Anunnaki Awakening is going to be pretty epic. You'll want to check it out, believe me. I'm honored to host him and to have these questions answered so perfectly. Read on and you'll see what I mean: 

1. First things first! Can you introduce yourself for those who may not know you?
First of all, thank you, Kylie, for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers. My name is Ray Davis and I'm a writer. I've done many things in my life to pay the bills. Writing has been the one constant from a very early age.
By day, I write sales training for a Fortune 500 company. At night, I write philosophical and motivational content encouraging people to take a second look at themselves and their world; on the premise there might be more there than their conditioning has led them to believe. Most recently, I have been engaged in writing Book 1 of my speculative fiction novel series - Anunnaki Awakening.

My wife, April, and I live in Kansas City area, but our hearts are always in Hawaii. We travel there each year and our big goal is to live there one day. We have two grown kids – a son and a daughter. We’ve got a wedding coming this November and another one likely in the near future. So, we're on the verge of being full-fledged empty-nesters.
I'm a “what you see is what you get” person. I love sports, music, and travel, but my life experiences have demanded that I look out into the cosmos and within to seek answers to life's big questions.

2. I'm loving the theme of your book, Anunnaki Awakening. I too have drawn on these beings (as well as others) for inspiration in future novels. Can you tell us more about why you decided to use the Anunnaki in your novels, and how that came about?
Thank you. The answer to this question alone might fill a book. I didn't set out to write this book. In 2007, I started a website called The Affirmation Spot. Until about eight months ago, most people in social media knew me for that endeavor. As I was encouraging people to follow their dreams, I realized I wasn't pursuing mine - to be a published author with something important to say.
I'm a life-long science fiction fan - especially Star Trek. I really enjoyed Gene Roddenberry's positive view of humanity and its future. I'd seen a string of dystopian science fiction movies - which I enjoy as much as the next person - but I began to feel as if the genre had gone rather negative on humanity's prospects. I wanted to write something brighter that pointed more to our potential than our doom.

I thought this book was going to be about building an interesting story around my mission of empowerment with The Affirmation Spot. I had already developed my heroine character - Maria Love - and began writing a book with a tentative title of The Future Possible.
I was home alone one Saturday in 2009 and turned on a new TV show I'd heard about. That show was Ancient Aliens. They asked, "What if it were all true?" I immediately followed with, "What if it were still true?" What if there was a common sense explanation for why humanity continues to be led against its best interest? What if there was a reason human beings have this negative default setting and go about their lives ignoring big questions and accepting our institution's simple answers?

As I watched, I realized this topic had been sitting in my life's waiting room for years. I'd always gravitated to shows like Coast to Coast A.M. I'd read the works of people like Von Daniken and Sitchin. The seed was planted at the age of six. My father took me to see Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods in its original theater run. I was hooked and it all made so much sense to me.
This topic - with its philosophical, religious, and scientific overtones - demanded my mind share. Within a few days the Inanna character showed up. She’s the co-heroine in Anunnaki Awakening. She's the member of the Anunnaki elite who is rebelling against the age-old control of humanity by her race.
The purpose, storyline, and tone of the book shifted. It still presents a hopeful vision for humanity and our future, but we have to clean some old wounds first.

3. Will you be taking the traditional publishing route, or the independent route? And which one would you recommend for 'noobs' like me?

This is actually my first novel too. I considered many options and have wavered back and forth on this topic. I see benefits to self-publishing and today it's a great way to break in, prove your audience, and get picked up by a major publisher. It's also the best way to maintain control of your work.
Traditional publishing offers the benefits of a backer that knows the ropes and can help you promote the work. However, you also lose your artistic control and there is a lot of subject matter - important subject matter - medium to larger publishers won't support.
I'm fortunate in that a friend in Hawaii started a publishing company a couple years ago. He's publishing both serious authors and those who have a story to tell and want to publish it. He has a mission to help hundreds of thousands of people tell their story and earn income from it. His name is Larry Czerwonka. He owns the LarryCzerwonka Publishing Company of Hilo, HI. He will be publishing my first book.

4. Could have fooled me! Already a pro. :) Changing the subject a bit, you've posted a lot about aliens and your belief that we aren't alone (with which I agree wholeheartedly). Can you summarize your theories on this topic?

I don't know if it was Star Trek from the age of three or something I was just predisposed to know. I've never doubted for a moment that our universe is bursting with life. To me that's a given.
It's a topic we, as species, must become more adult about. It’s treated in juvenile ways belying its critical importance. All of our institutions are so Earth-centric. We may have discovered the Sun doesn't go around the Earth, but our mindset still is that everything else does.

I've never understood why religious and scientific people seem so threatened by this concept. Aliens don't preclude God, but God doesn't preclude aliens either. Why must it be one or the other?

As for the scientific point of view, there seems to be this overwhelming disposition towards denial rather than acceptance on this topic. There’s more effort at ridicule than research. Large segments of mainstream science simply will not even follow the scientific method related to evidence on extraterrestrials and UFOs. I find that puzzling.
I've talked to numerous scientifically minded people online that LOVE science fiction and thinking about alien life in that context, but run screaming when you try to have a serious conversation about its reality. I can only chalk that kind of behavior by intelligent people up to fear and conditioning. They don't want someone to put the proverbial "tin foil hat" on their heads. So, the topic goes largely without discussion.

In Anunnaki Awakening, I play heavily on these themes. One must ask why this is the conditioning? Why are human beings - inquisitive as we are - not eager and ready to embrace other life in this universe? When you watch the pattern of media and other "official" comment on this topic, it's almost universally ridiculed. People in our culture are very conscious about being cool. It’s a very powerful societal control mechanism. If it's clearly delineated as uncool, people stay away.

I see extraterrestrial life to be a VERY sober and important subject for our planet and our species. My question is how can civilization that relies on internal combustion engine definitively conclude interstellar space travel impossible? They can't, but they are.
Then there's the separate - but possibly related - issue of UFOs. I've had several sightings in my life that defy explanation. Both the object's appearance and behavior were extraordinarily bizarre. Two of my sightings felt very personal and happened within a few weeks of each other in 1991. I've described these in various places online.

The third happened during a red-eye flight from New York to Chicago in December 2007. While over Lake Michigan, a bright, undefined light rose rapidly from below right in the middle of commercial flight pattern with at least three other planes besides ours waiting to land in Chicago. Two objects, easily identified as fighters, appeared to be in pursuit of the object. The first object was faster, more maneuverable, and eventually shot straight up leaving the two fighters in the dust. The big question for me, if this was just some kind of experimental aircraft, is why the military would be conducting such maneuvers late at night in the midst of several commercial jets?
  • Do I think we’ve been visited by extraterrestrial beings? Absolutely. 
  • Do I think it's been going on throughout our history? Yes.
  • Do I think all UFOS are aliens? No. I think there’s a mix of causes that may include life forms that inhabit this planet without our knowledge.
  • Do I think there are millions of civilizations out in that vast darkness? Yes. Many of them are probably wondering if they’re all alone too. They’re going about the daily life of their civilizations thinking they, too, are the center of everything.
  • Do I think our governments are aware of this phenomenon? Some governments, I believe, know more than others. It probably depends on what you mean by "the government.” I posit some possibilities in the novel.

5. Well said! And, last but not least, what can we expect from you in the future?

I’m so appreciative, Kylie, for your kind interview request. I’m honored to have a chance to share ideas with your readers.
I've already begun Book 2 in the Anunnaki Awakening series. I've set my personal goal to become a full-time author living and working in Hawaii in the next few years. Book 3 is outlined, but I enjoy letting the story come to me rather than mapping it all out ahead of time. It will probably change.
After this series, I may return to a novel I started in 2004 titled Weather Wars. I stopped writing it when Hurricane Katrina too closely mirrored an event I'd written just weeks before in that book.
I'm hoping Anunnaki Awakening will catch on with readers. My beta readers are giving me great feedback about how the story is pulling them in. I'd like to see it become a hit and be turned into a movie. I figure if vampires and child witches can hit it big, why not aliens?

I definitely see that being a good possibility! And I definitely know the feeling! I truly hope it happens. It's awesome to know there are other people out there on the same page as me about this stuff, and maybe even on the same mission ;)

If you're on the same page too, please follow Ray on Twitter and like his Facebook page. He posts great thought-provoking stuff, and is a really nice guy. And you'll want to be up to date with the latest on his books, which are coming soon! He's also founded a great site for writers (and everyone) with tons of positive affirmations and more, if you want to check it out too. I'm truly excited about everything he's doing, and I can't wait to see him take the world by storm. :)

Be the lightning,