It all started with a dream.
I'm not kidding.
All of my life I have had incredibly vivid dreams. I've had a lot of odd dreams too. One of my favorite weird dreams was entirely in cartoon form. True story.
One night mid-2001 I went to sleep and had a very unusual dream. It was equal parts disturbing and intriguing. The following day I found myself preoccupied with what I had experienced in my sleep the night before. Imagine my surprise that night when I went to sleep and had the exact same dream again. Needless to say, I was a bit freaked out. The analytical and critical parts of my brain dissected the dream throughout the following day looking for inconsistencies. There weren't any. What are the chances a person has the exact same dream twice in a row?
Things got even stranger after that. I continued to have the same dream night after night. It was as if my brain were stuck in one gear and unable to create anything else to entertain my mind as I slept. Not only did I continue to have the same dream but I began having it multiple times a night. No kidding. If I woke up to use the restroom, I would go back to sleep afterward and either pick up where I left off or go through the dream again.
As months went by, the dream started really started showing off. Each time I had the dream, I would participate in the mental movie as a different character. Yep. The weirdness just kept on overachieving.
It went like this: Any given night I would go to sleep, and once the dreaming started, I would become (for example) Victoria. As I experienced the dream through Victoria's eyes, I would also have her life history, personality, wealth of knowledge and experiences as my filter. I am 5'8. Victoria is 5'2". I saw life from her height rather than my own. Crazy, right? It gets better. No matter how many times I had the dream or what character's body I inhabited, the dialogue never changed. No aspect of the story changed, I just saw it all from a different perspective.
As Victoria, Lucy, James, Quincy, Jason or any other the other minor characters I would find myself so immersed in them that it would take me a few minutes to come back into myself upon waking. If the character were injured, I would awake with phantom pains so intense I would later check for blood. If the character were angry, I would awake in rage the likes of which I had never experienced myself. The same goes for joy, relief and any number of other emotions. I learned calming techniques so the dream decompression would only last a matter of seconds before I was able to step into my day as myself. Many days I remained traumatized by what I experienced the night before.
I honestly felt like I was losing my mind. I walked around with this secret world going on in my head at night. I began to watch the people around me, particularly church leaders and the like to see if maybe I was having some sort of prophetic dream, about them. Don't look at me like that. You may think that's a stretch, but after having the dream night after night and even multiple times a night, any explanation is a good one.
Eventually, I confided in someone without actually confiding. What I mean by that is that I asked the question, "Have you ever had the same dream over and over again? I heard somebody say they did that." Don't act like you've never played the, "asking for a friend," card before. Her answer was simple: journal it. She told me to tell the person to journal what they dreamed. Then when they went back and read it, they may see something to explain what was going on with her.
Armed with that answer, I tried journaling, but I am terrible at it. I have a graveyard of notebooks with less than ten entries each in them. Not to be deterred, on March 29, 2002, I sat at my computer and began typing it out. It was then that I began to feel a release. The words flowed. For the next several months I was at my computer every waking moment that I was able to be there. I often typed into the wee hours of the morning only to go to sleep and experience the dream again.
Toward the end, something disturbing began to happen. The dream began to decrease. It had become such a part of me that I was terrified of losing it but had no way to hang on to it. I could not control it; if I could, I would have likely stopped the dream after the second night.
I typed a hair over two million words before I emptied myself of the tale. I remember going to bed that night and not having the dream. I haven't had it since. Initially, that was an adjustment. I missed it and felt naked without it. Going through what I wrote helped curb the sense of loss. As I read the words, I began to arrange them in order. That order led to chapters and the notion this could be a book. I immediately knew the name of the book was Under the Shadow of the Almighty.
I submitted the manuscript to a literary agent in Baltimore, Maryland who was kind enough to tell me that books are not two million words. She suggested that I had a good series on my hands and that I should break the story down into bite-size portions of 100,000 words or less. That is how the series was born. The first installment is, Hidden In Plain Sight.
New products are coming soon!