Saturday, December 21, 2013

Social Media Wrangling - Part 2 - The Checklist

This is everything I’ve been checking to make sure my social media is shiny and sparkling before I attempt to gain the public’s eye with my Young Adult novel. I wrote this list so that other writers might benefit from the work I’ve been doing for myself. I wrote a pretty extensive blog post aboutwhat I called Social Media Wrangling, which you can find by clicking on thissentence.

1. YouTube subscriptions:
-----People will see the list of people you’re subscribed to on YouTube, and they will think your list of subscriptions represents your opinions. Are you subscribed to FartDancer380? People will think you enjoy his work.

2. Who you follow on Twitter:
-----Same with YouTube. If you’re following ILovePot_29, people will think you are a pothead (FYI, I’ve never done a non-medical drug in my life, but I wanted to use that example). Will parents want their children reading books from a person they think is a pothead? No!

3. Facebook groups/pages/Notes Application.

4. Google Plus pages/communities/posts.

5. Tumblr, Myspace, Blogger, Livejournal, Xanga, etc.
-----Find those blog posts that you wouldn’t want your mother to read, and delete them. Also, for YA writers like myself, consider axing out any vulgar language.

6. Google all of the screen names you’ve ever used.
-----Find out where you’ve made a profile. If you’ve got an account on an embarrassing website, it might be time to delete it. Yes, that might mean deleting your My Little Brony account, the Miley Cyrus Forever Fanclub blog, or even that good old Club Penguin profile. Look for these smaller, fansites. This is where embarrassment lives forever, lol.

7. Check the YouTube videos you’ve personally uploaded.
-----Anything you’ve said that is not apart of your authorial message? Have you vlogged about anything so overtly political that it would keep someone from purchasing your book?

8. Remember, especially for YA-childrens-teen authors, kids will see the stuff you write online when they Google your name.

-----If you write Harry Potter but then write something awful online, kids will be listening/mirroring your awfulness.

9. Watch your vulgarity.
-----Nobody buys a book for a kid from a potty mouth.

10. Check all of your Tweets.
-----You might consider privatizing or deleting your old profile and making an entirely new one once you’re a published author. However, if you’re under 100 tweets, you might be able to go back and delete the bad ones.

11. Remember, just because you’ve privatized social media, doesn’t make it private.
-----Truth. If you become a famous author, your friends might sell access to your personal facebook profile. If over a hundred people can see what you’ve made “private,” then it’s not really all that private. Making your profile for “Friends only” is not keeping your facebook truly private.

12. Reviews/critiques of other novels and stories.

-----Your Amazon account. Your Goodreads. Your blog. Have you ever slammed another author / publishing house / etc. over a particular book you didn’t like? Have you gone on Amazon and given 1 star to another author’s work? If so, what do you think that more-famous-than-you author is going to do to your book? Do you think they’re going to give you a positive cover-quote? If you meet them at a party, will they kindly help you promote your book? Will a publishing house that you’ve deeply criticized publish your book? No, no, no… If you’re a aiming to become a known creator, you cannot start out by being a critic. You need friends, not enemies. Sure, Stephen King can say whatever he wants about whoever, but you? You need whoever you can keep! Be positive. Keep your positive reviews! Delete your negativity! Unless you’re famous already, being a downer is not going to make you any friends!

13. Check your favorites lists and quotes.
-----Do you want the public to know about your passion for the movie, “Jack’s Drug-Induced Adventure Through Stonerland?” No? Then take it out of your favorite movies list. Your favorites list indicates something about you. Check everything you’ve “liked” on facebook. Look at your interests page. Delete the stupid stuff. Check your quotes, too. Don’t leave terrible quotes you and your fraternity brothers made up one drunken night. Don’t quote world leaders that will incite anger because you didn’t know that they were evil—know who the people who quote are and the context surrounding the quote. Just because someone says one good thing does not mean that that person was a good person.

14. Check the other things you have written and published online.
-----If you’ve written erotica in the past (I have not, it’s just an example), you’re going to have to deal with that before becoming a children’s writer. Same goes for weird fandom lit.

15. Check your browser’s bookmarks.
-----Bookmarks are a great way to find a bunch of embarrassing things you’ve left on the Net.

16. Check your OKCupid and other dating website accounts.

Thank you for reading. I hope this helps you reach your goals. I will be adding to this list as I think of more things I can do to improve it. If you have more ideas, PLEASE share them in the comments. I will add your ideas and link to your blog/twitter.

Click here for a companion blog post about social media wrangling.

If you've found this useful, please give me a +1 on Google Plus. It will help my search engine results. :-)

Social Media Wrangling for YA Writers - Part 1 - What You Posted In 8th Grade

New writers (or any position where you’re selling your personality along with your product, for that matter) today have a very different issue to confront when jumping into what they hope will become a successful career: a life-long history of social media.

I’ll admit, kids today will have it even worse than I do now. I mean, the first computer I ever touched was an old Apple Macintosh machine that still used the floppy disk drive (the literally floppy disks, not the hard disks). Social media wasn’t really around until I was in high school, so I have no idea what kids today will have to deal with (I imagine they will be embarrassed about that Jonas Brothers fansite, though).

But, I began blogging in 8th grade, and I never stopped (imagine that kids today probably start waaaaaay younger!). I used the first social media sites when they came around. I created accounts on everything. I followed the trends.

I was a curious kid (I’m still a very explorative person, imo), and so I put myself out there. I said things hoping to prod new understanding out of the world. I wrote rants on the Internet that I definitely don’t still believe today. I used to debate hot issues with friends.

the facebook cowboy

So, I can say that there was a bunch of work involved in wrangling in all of my social media accounts to attempt to harmonize the image of the person I want to be known as versus all of the snapshots of the person I was each moment in my life.

I want to be a writer. I want to write books for teens and children. I want everyone to buy my books, no matter what their opinion of the Kardashians is. I want potential publishers and agents to consider me with a clean slate, a man with the ability to sell books to everyone and anyone.

I don’t want the public—potential readers of my works—to think that I am still the person I was in high school (nobody would). I wasn’t a bad kid, but everyone matures with age. I don’t want readers to think that whatever political idea I had a billion years ago should stand in the way of them picking my book off of the shelf and escaping into the fantasy world I’ve created.

quick aside: imagine future elections

Isn’t it true that when you were in second grade that you said on twitter that English class was for losers? You must be anti-educational reform!

I can see it now—future Presidential Debates, where they are scrutinized for the stuff they posted onto facebook when they were really young. We’ve never had to deal with that, since there were no social media websites way back when, but soon… We’ll have campaign commercials featuring Myspace profiles from the candidate’s elementary school years. Yikes. I can totally see people scanning for any snippet of opinion over a person’s Internet lifespan, just to tear them down. So, get it under control now!

the professional writer

I just think there comes a point where if a writer wants to get serious about jumping into the public eye, they need to furiously focus their messaging.

For political writers, perhaps they can get away with more divisive opinions. Gossip writers can spout off more random stuff about celebs. Critics can get away with bashing others.

For me, I want to write fiction for children. That means the parents have to like me—the whole package—and trust me with their kid’s attention. That means I can’t just say anything ever without understanding that kids will Google my name and see the other stuff I’ve said. I can’t have a massive amount of cursing (luckily, I’ve never had the dirtiest mouth). I can’t say crazy stuff without alienating potential readers.

That also means I can’t critique other books, because I want to create bonds with other writers. I see unpublished writer-hopefuls bashing other books in reviews on their blog all the time—it makes me cringe. If you’re reviewing books and you hope to be published, stop! You’re only making enemies by bashing others!

understanding evolves

But, that’s only half of it. I also have formulated new opinions on how we as a society can best grow together, and I don’t believe it is through impersonal Internet conversations/debates. I don’t regret anything I’ve written (I’m a better writer/thinker for it), and I don’t regret the conversations I’ve had (I’ve learned from people, especially those I’ve disagreed with).

I still have opinions, everyone does, but I think I’d rather talk in-person about them, rather than faceless facebook debating. Everyone has opinions—what we need more of is understanding.

Besides that, I just don’t have time for philosophical / political stuff anymore. I look at a recent controversy in the news, and I have this internal conversation: “Now, I could spend three hours reading this political article, thinking it through, writing a response, and then defending myself from the feedback, or…. I could spend the next three hours researching interesting stuff for my next novel, editing on my novel, or writing new words to my novel.” The choice is always clear to me.

“Jack of All Trades, Master of None”

I realized something about that little phrase: It’s true. If I wanted to become a moneymaking, professional novelist, I needed to master writing. Everything else needed to be put on the sidelines.

I think many artists have this problem. They like doing EVERYTHING EVER. Artists are big-brained people. Artists are the types of people who are the most easily distracted. Artists often crave variety. We see other art and want to try it. Dabble.

I love writing music, painting, drawing, sculpting, acting, directing, thinking about philosophy, and about everything else that has to do with art. I could jump from artistic genre to genre and never get bored… but I’d never master one that way.

Writing was the one thing I decided I could incorporate the most parts of my being, it was the one artistic project I could never strip from myself even if I wanted to. So, I focused. I picked writing and I pointed all the beams of light toward it.

sharpening the point

…and by focused, I meant I cut almost all of my hobbies besides writing. Every spare second I get, I write. Although, many of the other things I love are easily used along side of my writing—song writing has become poetic language for my prose, drawing is sketching character and critters for my novels, acting is me standing up and reciting the dialogue…

I am a writer. That simple sentence has become my most important sentence. Everything I have built, everything I am has been focused on that singular point. If it doesn’t fit that bill, it’s out.

I believe that is what it takes.

Thanks for reading, click here for a numbered list of specific things that I did / am still doing to wrangle in my social media. It’s sort of a companion piece to this post

If you've found this useful, please give me a +1 on Google Plus. It will help my search engine results. :-) 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


My thoughts on this video:

By making fun of teenagers, this guy has successfully marketed the idea that people should speak without a hint of skeptical modestly. As if "conviction" meant blasting messages loudly and proudly without caring if there is any truth behind the words.

Staying open-minded to being wrong about our beliefs is not something we should mock people for.

If only MORE people were willing to say that they could be wrong, willing to accept that there could be a flaw in our own logic, we might live in a society more prone to compromise, to listening, to trying to understand one another.

The message he's sending is one of aesthetics. He feeds you his message by making you agree that the way people speak sounds bad. It doesn't please the ear, therefore his audience agrees that he must be right about his message. The real message, folks, is about advocating divisiveness.

When two people with different views speak loudly and confidently, when they blast each other without acknowledging that there could be other opinions, those two people will argue, not converse. They will fight, not find any sense of mutual understanding.

What we need is MORE people willing to admit when they get something wrong. More people open-minded to the fact that they might not be correct. Sure, the way teenagers often use wish-washy speech sounds bad, but it's not a bad thing to speak with modesty rather than bluntness.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What the 3 Deathly Hallows Represent from the Story of Christ

I love Harry Potter. I’ve always known that there was Christian themes in the book, but I never really looked for it. I realized the other day, while watching the movies, what the Deathly Hallows represent. [note: I did not do any research on whether or not this is accurate or true. This is just my humble speculation during my own readings. I typed this out as soon as I thought about it, so I could be horribly wrong]

The Elder Wand is the Cross. A device that can kill anyone—even the son of God, but it cannot truly kill him, and it does not end Harry.

The Resurrection Stone is the boulder that was rolled in front of Jesus’s grave.
A stone cannot hold the dead back, in the Christian symbolism, and in Harry the stone allows life to return.

The Invisibility Cloak is the shroud where Jesus’s body was lain. Jesus’s body disappears on top of it, and in doing so he evades death, much like in the Tale of Three Brothers.

The three symbols of the Deathly Hallows is representative of the Holy Trinity.

Just something to think about.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Now Accepting Applications for Critique Partners (St. Louis-area priority)

OK, just joking about the applications part. There’s no application, but I do really wish I had more writer friends to swap criticism with.

I dream of finding that perfect friend who also takes writing as seriously as I do, and who provides fantastic feedback (and wants feedback in return). So, just for fun, I think I’m going to put this into words. What would my perfect crit partner be like?

Rosy cheeks, no warts. Play games, all sorts.

OK, srsly. A good sense of humor. Someone I can be friends with irl.

The ability to take criticism is fundamental, as is the ability to provide it. If you tear up at the mention of a misplaced comma, then this application is not for you. I have an iron gut for criticism, and I don’t like being buttered up as much as given an honest review. I believe all criticism is useful, no matter how fierce or nerve-touching (although, I don’t consider myself to be a harsh critic, I love it when others are harsh critics to me). Even if I disagree with you, I will still respect your opinion of my work and will consider it genuinely. Often times, it seems like if I let particularly harsh criticism sit with me overnight, I come out seeing it from a different perspective.

That said, it’s also important that crit partners generally enjoy each other’s writing (and are near each other in skill level, so I don’t get jealous if you’re better than me or vice versa). I suppose that would come on a read-for-read basis. If you happen to read this and want to trade examples of writing, email me ( We can swap chapter 1s, and then either say “yes” and continue or “No, we’re not a match” with no hard feelings. I generally write fantasy and horror for young adults, and that’s also what I generally read.

My perfect critique partner would be working on a longer, novel-length project. I generally write novels, so I would feel bad asking for advice on something longer if you’ve only given me a piece of flash-fiction.

I would love it if my crit partner lived in the St. Louis-area. I live in Belleville, IL, which is across the river (but I could still drive out to STL). I would prefer someone that I could actually meet and chat with at a café than a faceless person over the Internet.

My perfect crit partner would produce a great deal of content, regularly. I write heaps of stuff, so it’d be nice to find someone who throws just as much stuff back at me. I often feel like I ask too much of people, because nobody else is as crazy about writing as I am. It’d be cool to find someone who shares my compulsion for constantly working on new projects.

Also, my novel, The Unraveler, is a teen fantasy. You can read about it by clicking here, but I'll just say that my style is aiming to be somewhere between Stephen King and JK Rowling, not that I'm comparing myself to them, but that's the kind of feel I am working toward. Something creepy, yet with light-hearted, goofy moments. For teens. I love horror, disturbing, scary moments, but I also love the feeling of exploration you get from first setting foot into Hogwarts. Get it ? The Unraveler aims to be like that, with a touch of Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and a little Pirates of the Caribbean, too. If all those books were blended, it would be The Unraveler.

That’s what I’m looking for. If you seem to fit any of that, you should leave a comment or email me.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Trimming Down Your Novel, Promotional Spam, and Making ALL the Things... my Accountabiliblog Holiday Spectacular

Thanksgiving is over, so I’m going on a diet. Literarily speaking, that is.

Cutting the fat

a new selfie, showing off my awesome holiday hat
For the month that ends the year, it has begun with destroying a beginning. Namely, the beginning of my novel… and I haven’t destroyed it as much as made it freaking awesome. My goal in life is to make a novel so good that it would be impossible not to publish. No, really. OK, momentary sidetrack:

Lately, I’ve been joining a bunch of random online groups for writing. It’s been my desire to find some magical perfect person to become my critique partner in crime. Someone who takes writing as seriously as I do. Someone that lives nearby. Someone with a willingness to edit and be edited…


But all these online writing groups seem to be nothing more than promotional vomit for self-publish authors (*and I’m not talking about the good ones, see below). My facebook feed has recently been bloated with a billion authors who post “Please, PLEASE, PLEEEEEAAAASE buy this” twice a day, usually to each of the ten groups I’ve recently joined. It’s spam. This blog once made a fantastic term for what these people are wishing will happen when they post spammy links to Amazon: a book-sales button. It’s like they think that if they just spam enough, people will buy the book. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Be Nice About Accepting Rejection

As someone who is nearing the phase where I’m going to start querying like mad, I’ve been madly reading articles about the industry and the process of getting an agent. 

bittttterrrrrnessssss, or not
One thing I’ve noticed beyond anything else is this: Bitterness.

If you Google “Embarrassing literary rejections,” you’ll find a wealth of articles explaining why so many agents and publishers should be crying about passing up on Harry Potter or Stephen King’s work. There are far too many blogs from unpublished authors that fire hatred and anger back over the rejections they’ve received (who is ever going to publish them now?). Heck, there are too many published authors that claim they’ve framed up their rejection letters just to mock those that passed on them.

I think its all hogwash.

Why feel the need to mock agents just because they didn’t want your work? Even if you’ve gotten a nasty review, why bother firing back? It’s silly and unprofessional.

Be nice when you’re rejected.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I don’t understand the appeal of FPP (first-person, present tense).

I’ve just started reading a new book, and it uses this FPP style that is apparently a trending fad in teen fiction novel writing. I have to say this: it’s hard to read this way. I don’t know who or why anyone would enjoy this perspective.

It’s my understanding that books for children today have to be snappy and action-packed. We live in a world where YouTube is too long to watch; we need 7 (or less) second long Vines. Calling on the phone takes too long; we simply text. You can hardly find a website or blog that doesn’t use the “Top 10” formatting, highlighting bullet points over the actual meat of the article, to allow for ease of skimming for points rather than proofs.

This is our society today. We have no attention spans. I get that.

So, perhaps it’s arguable that first-person present is a culmination of that. Cut out the past-clinging words. Everything happens RIGHT NOW! Chapters are short. Action is heavy. Dialogue is simple (or non-existent).  

But reading that way is awful, friends. Simply awful.

In some ways, perhaps I feel this way because of it’s not what I’m used to. I mean, you’re looking at a guy who does a bi-yearly read of the Lord of the Rings. I love fiction that allows for pauses, description, and dialogue that carries a depth of interesting logic.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dime a Dozen, a poem and song by Harrison Aye

We're all just like candles,
We sit on the tables,
We light up,
We burn down,
We die.
We're all paranoid, yes,
We're all just pretending,
We're all just a grain in the rye.
We all need to rise up again, to seek what
We all need to keep in our minds. Forever
We learn or forever doth bring.
We're all for each other or no one at all.
We're dime a dozen.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Twitter had a trend for three-word scary stories tonight (Halloween!), and I thought it was a fun challenge. I legitimately thought up these up on my own; I did not steal these from other users.

Feel free to re-tweet these!

Since this is on my blog, I might explain a bit further here. This one reminds me of the house next door to mine. It's vacant, so how scary would it be to see a shadow of a human in the window?

What if the mirror... almost... followed what you do? Like, the Mirror has a mind of its own...

Blood in the shower is never good, no matter if it comes from the body hanging in it or from your own body.

Ever go to a funeral and get afraid that the body might suddenly move?

What if you heard more than the ocean when you put your ear to the shell?

Walk into the kitchen... every single drawer is open. That would be so creepy.

Anyway, have a happy Halloween.

Monday, October 21, 2013

One Year Ago Today – The Day I Put An Ending On My Book

October 21st is the anniversary of me putting an ending on my novel. That was a pretty momentous day in my life, because The Unraveler has been the artistic vision I’ve kept inside me for the past ten years. I had tried writing it a hundred times before, but I simply did not have the fundamental skills I needed to bring it to completion. So, I wrote other novels. Two others, not fantastic works (and never to be seen again, lol), but doing them was a learning experience. Those, plus graduating from an English program, gave me the ability I needed, and I made it happen.

 But, yesterday, was also a pretty momentous occasion. I finished what I’m calling, my 3rd draft.

It’s sort of a superficial number, since my “draft” is really whatever number I feel merits it, however I’ve been very cautious about what I think accomplishes a new draft. Here’s sort of a rundown of what I’ve done since putting an ending on my novel:

Ending written
Quick Read-through Edit #1

Printed the entire thing out, editing with a red pen, line-by-line
Quick Read-through Edit #2
At this point, my good friend Matt sent me extremely insightful feedback
Using his feedback, I majorly reconfigured several plot points, and made major cuts (including several character cuts). His feedback also made me refocus my novel toward my ending, and write new scenes based on things that felt missing.
Quick Read-through Edit #3

And that’s the point where I considered Draft 1 to be complete, and I started Draft 2:

I took a break period from working on it, and instead focused on researching rookie mistakes that first-time authors make and the little things that instantly send manuscripts to the slush pile.
I did a scan edit here, with my research in mind.

I also started drafting a synopsis and query letter.
I did another full edit here, this time listening to my entire novel through a text-to-speech robotic voice. I did this with the intent to focus on storytelling. What felt natural, what hurt the flow of my novel, etc.
Quick Read-through Edit #4 Was / Were / Started to / Began to Edit of Doom – I noticed that my novel could use stronger verbs, and that I was using pre-actions way more often than I should. So, I did an edit where I highlighted many of these words and decided if they could be deleted or restructured to flow better. This was the hardest edit I did, but it was worth it. Print Out Edit #2 Voice Edit – I decided that I wanted to do an edit focusing on giving all of my characters a voice that was more unique to them. Also, I wanted to change a few things like ages, looks, etc., and so I did a line-by-line edit to promote better all-around characterization.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Caterpillars of the Commonwealth, a poem and song by Harrison Aye

caterpillars of the commonwealth by Harrison Aye

for every leaf you consume, a string constricts the caterpillar.
You call them young believers, but that's more than this moth can chew.
You're heading towards the light now, you call it higher intelligence,
your wings can take you there now, and awestruck you will die.
It's when you cut down all the things that make them,
chop off both their wings and break them that you ground them and keep them grounded.
And you can pull off both their legs and choices,
a quiet room and cricket noises,
ground them! keep them under glass!
and it'll all go nova when that last moth hits the fan,
your bloodline boils over in a whirling blade hurricane
and yes I wonder why,
you fly against the wind,
to find reality
is to live in doubt of it

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Don’t talk about money – AKA, Daydreaming – AKA, what I’m spending my movie deal money on

I don’t have a movie deal. My novel isn’t even published… yet. I’m not delusional. I realize what the chances of becoming the next J. K. Rowling are. 

That said, isn’t it fun to dream big? Wouldn’t it be cool if someday my characters were action figures? Give me my Unraveler lunchbox. My Unraveler jammies. Unraveler Halloween costumes. Man, how cool would that be?

I’m an artist at heart. I would have written this novel (and all my future projects) even if I never had the intention of making a dime off of them. However, I want this to be my business, too.  I want to not only be an artist, but be a moneymaking artist. For me, this is imperative. I don’t really have a choice in the matter, really. 
My pimp ride. I owned a Cadillac once... it was awful. It broke down on me all the time. I do not recommend. 

I HAVE to become a moneymaking artist, because I’m honestly not cut out to do much else. I’m a writer, not by choice, but because every fiber of my being commands me to create. I hope this doesn’t sound as hipster-snoody as it does read aloud, because it’s the most direct way of putting it. I’m an artist because I’m not good at being uncreative.

So, dreaming big. I love to daydream about spending the ba-zillions I’d love to make from my novels.  
If the big check arrived today (you know, when Warner Bros. sends me my movie deal payment ;-) ), I often think about what exactly I would do. It would be very weird to go from poor-as-beans to megarich, right?

The first thing I would do is hire someone to handle my money.

Bam. Make sure I don’t destroy myself or accidentally forget my taxes or something stupid like that. Someone with the nerve to hit me across the head and tell me not to get a underground swimming pool with electronic night-sky and full sized movie screen… ehh..

Friday, October 11, 2013

How to set up a social media presence for a writer (Twitter, Facebook, linking, Blogger, YouTube, etc):

…by someone who had no idea what he was doing when he got into this:

TRUTH: pictures make people look :-)
As a writer who has been trying to learn about what I need to do to make it in the business, one thing I was told to do over and over was build myself a social media presence. Somewhere online, I read that the best time to start promoting your book was three years ago. So, as someone who didn’t even have a Twitter yet, this was tough news.

Before, I was a one-platform kind of guy. In high school, I used Xanga. Then Facebook finally opened to my University, and I made the jump (and got rid of my Xanga). That was it, though. For so long, I had only used Facebook and nothing else. Then I decided that my only goal in life was to become a professional writer, and that had to change.

So, this blog post will be beginning at the very basic level, and I won’t claim to know it all. If you have input on something I missed, please let me know in the comments!

STEP 1: Setting up your blog

I use Blogger, because Google owns my soul. I started out trying to use Wordpress, but honestly, I found that platform to be confusing and illogical in it’s setup. So, if you want help with a Wordpress, try someone else.

Blogger, however, is simple. Set up an account, push the button to start a blog, and then pick a basic design. Done! Now, my blog has a customized background image and banner. You can use the “Customize” button on the “Layout” tab to add a better background image. You can do what you want, but make sure your readers can actually READ the text on your blog. Don’t add so many glowing stars and half-transparent boxes that your blog is hard to read. Make sure you use high-contrasting colors for the text, for example, dark backgrounds need bright colored text. Dark on dark is bad. SEE???? White on white is bad. Reading is the most important part of a blog, right?

Also, for artwork and header banners, if you want a transparent background for any art you make, use .gif formatted images. These are the ones I use for my “Unraveler” logo at the top! I hand-drew most of the artwork for this blog, by the way. After drawing, I use computer software to color and darken it. I might do a post about artwork later!

BIG TIP! When you upload photos, upload them using the Google Upload button. DO NOT DRAG AND DROP. I’ve found out the hard way that if you drag and drop a photo into a blog post, it causes your blog feed to automatically cut off. That means that, even if you select “Display 7 posts at a time” it will only show the one with the dropped photos and then force readers to “Click to read more.” Using the Google Upload Photo option corrects this issue.

Also, when posting a blog, using “headers” will help Google file you in their search engines. Also, change up the size of the font, the colors you use, and other things. Visually striking blogs are always the ones that get the most traffic for me! Also, using that cut-paper icon will chop your blog up for the main scroll, making your blog look a little more clean! Speaking of which...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How I Knew I Was Ready to Have Someone Other Than My Mother Read My Writing

A book cover I made for my first attempt at writing a novel
AKA: The moment I decided to start submitting to actual publishers.

I’ve always made art publicly, but I had never tried submitting a short story or poem for profitable publication before this past few months. It had never been my immediate goal (but always my future one!). August marked the first time I submitted work to a magazine. It was quite the rush, really. Whether they accept, purchase, and publish it is a different story, but at least I finally had cooked up the nerve to do it. I just wanted to write a post about what brought me to this point, which is the point where I decided I could show other people my work.

Back in high school was when I first realized that I was a writer. My group of friends decided that we were going to start a local band, and everyone picked an instrument (none of us knew how to play anything) and promised to learn said instrument within the year. Out of the five of us who made this pact, I was the only one who followed through. I learned guitar, and I started a band with a very different group of guys who actually knew how to play. In the first few meetings of this band, I remember debating who would be the singer. Naturally, I, who had never sung publicly before at that point, backed away from the idea of me doing it. However, the guy who wanted to be the singer was flaky, and we ended up kicking him out of the band. So, the job fell on me, as the drummer was too busy drumming like a wild animal to sing and we didn’t have a bassist replacement yet.

As a singer of a band, it falls on you to write songs, and so I did. I wrote beautiful high school ballads of angst and hormones (they were not really beautiful, haha). But, I did write. I learned how to compose and put words together. My favorite band, Incubus, inspired me to actually sit down and pen out meaningful lyrics (rather than clichés in rhyme), which were all poems to start. I spent hours and hours doing a single line in a song, but the work paid off. I learned a great deal about writing doing that. Near the end of high school is when the idea for The Unraveler sparked in my mind, but I made more visual art and poetry than anything else at that point.

During college, I went from writing lyrics to writing stories, plays, and even attempting to write a few novels. I did all of that before I even decided to become an English major (actually, I started as a music major and then went to computer science before switching to English!). Most of what I wrote during that time was garbage, but I’m happy I wrote it because I was continuing to learn how to write. My freshmen year of college was my first official attempt at writing The Unraveler as a full-length novel, and also my second, third, fourth, fifth, etc, etc. I probably have about fifty different documents where I tried to write the novel. In some attempts, I even got to chapter 3 before deciding that it was terrible. At one point, I stopped that and started something different. I wrote a 60k-word memoir about my high school band days. It was called, Join Our Cult (I still like that title). I never finished it because I realized that it wasn’t, strictly speaking, worth reading. Also, for creative nonfiction, I had taken too many embellishments and exaggerations. It just didn’t feel right. So, I shelved it.

I probably penned a few more one-chapter trials of The Unraveler throughout the rest of my college years. None of them really worked, but the ideas built and the story started to come together. I just didn’t have the skills at that point to make it happen, but the effort kept me learning.

I almost always make my own temporary covers for my book-length projects
During my final semester at my university, I wrote a 40k-word novel called Eyes On The Grid, but I didn’t finish that either. I knew it was closer to what a professional writer might put out, but not quite there. I think during the process of writing that, I gained about 30 levels in grammatical sorcery. I started winning writing contests (I even paid for my first apartment’s rent using writing contest winnings!). I wrote new songs, which my old band friends recorded with me.

I felt an awareness to writing that was different. I could look at other writing and identify why writing was good or bad (not just if). It was like a writing nirvana to me. When I hit that point, I began a new draft of The Unraveler that would actually get finished, and it was actually good. It was a story worth telling, and it was written with the skills I had been building for so many years with so much sweat.

I haven’t submitted The Unraveler to any agents yet, since I’m still trying to comb through and get feedback on it. However, I did submit a few short stories I’ve been writing when I’ve needed a break from doing my editing, and I did this beginning with last month (no responses on any of them yet). It was my first time, and it was a cool marker in my writing career.

Anyway, I guess with all this, the simple message I’m trying to put together is this: write. The only way to get good at something is to do it over and over.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blog redesign! -a blog update for September-

Ahh..... It's time to sip some pumpkin coffee and enjoy my hard work.

I just finished redesigning this blog to look... more like the imagery from my novel. I am a crazy visual person, and I feel like the creatures and characters in my novel are really what will sell it. Before, my blog was a colored-pencil sketch of an endlessly long whale, but that only emphasized a short scene from my novel. This, however, encompasses the feel of my world better. I have a huge Halloween-feel to my book, so jack-o'-lanterns, crows, and the skeletal rat bring the spirit of that season out. The kudanite, or that bluish-purple monster in the lower left corner, is a seahorse-inspired sentient being. I have my little clockwork robots marching across the top. The woman in the orange-pink is Rosalyn the Squid Lady. She's a poet, pirate, and the leader of a troupe of clowns. I spent like six hours coloring her in. I also made a new header logo!

All of the art on my site was hand-drawn by me, unless I've noted otherwise. Most of it is digitally enhanced or colored, but some of it is shaded with pencils. The words in the background are from an actual passage from The Unraveler.

Anyway, I mentioned pumpkin coffee. I need a refill. Haha! Let me tell you about Duncan Donuts Pumpkin Spiced coffee. It's a seasonal thing, and you can get it now until the winter. It's absolutely delicious. I suggest blending it with marshmallows and a good helping of milk.

So, writing this month has been really about expanding my online credentials. I have submitted short stories and poetry to five publications (and it was my first time submitting stuff!). I'll probably know by the end of this month if any of it has been selected. I've been working on a bunch of short stories and flash fiction, just to sharpen my skills. I've written everything from pure horror, to a western, to an Irish folklore tale this past month, and I hope to do more. Of course, all of this while still editing my novel. It's close to as edited as I can make it, but I have a few friends reading it. Maybe I'll get some feedback, since another of my friends have started a writing circle group. My friend Matt S. sent me insanely useful feedback that changed my book in major ways a while back. I'm still thankful for it.

My routine lately has been reading whatever Daily Science Fiction sends me and then visiting the author-of-the-day's website. I'm trying to research what other authors are doing to promote themselves, and how what they add to their websites to make them have that extra-uuph that puts it above the rest. That's why I've added new pages like "Extras" and "Reading suggestions" to my own site. I want people to come to my website and see how hard I'm working on all of this, how dedicated I am. I'm doing all of this while trying to figure out what I'm going to do next with myself (but that topic is for a different blog).

Anyway, tell me what you think of the redesign. If you see anything that looks out of place, let me know! And get some pumpkin coffee!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Unraveler Extras

I wanted to start a page full of stuff inspired by The Unraveler that you can download for free! Using these are a great way to show support for the novel. All of this was created by me unless otherwise noted. Please only use these for non-commercial purposes. Have fun!
Artwork - Here's some higher-res images from my website. Download these and use them in creative ways!

Blue Kudanite => Click here to download!

Jack-o'-lantern => Click here to download!

Crows at flight! => Click here to download!

Banners - Do what you will with these! The backgrounds are transparent!

Click here to download the white banner!

Click here to download the black banner!

Small Banner - forum signature sized!

Icons - Use these on your website or as your avatar !

Logos - You can add these to documents, so only those in the know will understand the secret.
Click here to download the plain eye logo!


Click here to download the realistic eye logo!

Music - These are music tracks I created that share a connection to The Unraveler!

Click here to download "Knockdown Sandcastle"
This song was written, recorded, and performed by Harrison Aye. This was during the same time as The Unraveler, and it was inspired by the seaside setting in the novel.

Click here to download "On and On"
This song was written and performed by Harrison Aye, with recording and percussion by Brian Wood. The lyrics and music were inspired by the same dream Harrison had one night that sparked the idea for the entire novel. I wrote a blog about that dream here!

Click here to download "Flytrap"
This song was written and performed by Harrison Aye, with Scott Weber performing drums and Brian Wood recording and performing guitar. This song was inspired by a concept I was creating for this novel. I imagined a giant flytrap of forgetfulness, and if it devoured you, you'd be forever forgotten. This giant flytrap is named Gome, and he still sits at the bottom of a very deep pit within my book.