Saturday, December 20, 2014


What killed Voldemort? Some might say Harry Potter… or more accurately, Voldemort’s own rebounded spell… but I say that what really did old Voldy in was his need for grandeur.

Voldemort picked awful objects to become his horcruxes. I mean, I get it. You want your most treasured stuff to become your soul-keepers but… why such identifiable items such as heirlooms from the Hogwarts Founders?

That got me thinking, if I were to rip my soul into seven pieces through dark magic, what objects would I choose to turn into my horcruxes?

1. My bass

Dean sunburst, hallow body, fretless… This bass is a beast. I created an album with it. It’s such a mellow bass, not funky, but I’m pretty mellow, too. Even though it has marked lines across the neck, it’s actually without the metal parts that would otherwise separate frets. That means I can make sounds that slowly rise and morph. It’s groovy, and totally an object that I’d make into a horcrux.

With a piece of my soul and some dark magic, any sound that came out of it would cause you to hear the thing you dread the most. For me, it might be the sound of a tree crashing down (I was almost killed by a falling tree once).
2. The Large Hadron Accelerator

The LHC would be the perfect horcrux simply because if it got angry, a bit of my soul could create a blackhole to destroy all of existence. That, and imagine the weirdness that could emerge from the combination of dark magic and deep science.

3. The Statue Of Liberty

Wouldn’t it be funny if to take me out you’d have to reenact Ghostbusters? Yeah, like, Harry Potter goes to New York to fight the freaking Statue of Liberty, because the statue is a horcrux and it has begun to rampage downtown.

Of course, Lady Libercrux would have more than just the ability to go giant monster movie style. In fact, it might never move at all unless someone tried to destroy it. What it’s core function would be is to consume the free will of anyone who entered into her. The Statue of Liberty would be a siren, never allowing anyone to leave her island without whispering a dark secret into the mind of the trespasser.

4. A Creepy Doll

This ==>

Also, a Creepy Doll would be the ultimate insanity for something to come to life. I suppose I would have to store the doll somewhere deep within the bowels of Gringotts or something. Maybe I would take an abandoned amusement park and make the doll horcrux the King. It would force anyone near to relive their childhood horrors.

5. a block of solid titanium

The next two are really about security. Voldemort never attempted to make a horcrux that couldn’t be destroyed, however, I believe that a block of solid titanium would be a good way to start. Titanium is one of the hardest metals in the world, and I doubt there are many spells that would harm a solid block of it. Honestly, the only thing I can think to do is transfigure it into something else…. but if it were that simple, why didn’t anyone think to transfigure that lockette? I’m just saying, you’d need something better than the Sword of Gryffindor or a basilisk tooth to penetrate the defenses of this horcrux. I’m not sure what crazy thing a solid block of titanium could do. I mean, Riddle’s journal could write back. The lockette had the eye. A block of titanium… maybe it would reflect imagry on its side? I don’t know.

6. a grain of freaking sand

This one isn’t my idea completely. I’m not sure where I heard this one, but wouldn’t it have been smart for Voldemort to turn a single grain of sand into a horcrux and them cast it into the middle of the freaking ocean? Nobody would have found it there… ever! He would have never, ever died. The end. In fact, while I’m at it, I’m dropping off that block of titanium, which will be concealed in a larger, hollow block of titanium, and all of that incased in twelve inches of plastic. Now, this impossible-to-break horcrux is at the bottom of the sea, and there’s no way anyone will ever find it. The only thing Dumbledore could do is to make a horcrux himself and eternally fight the battle against me, killing me over and over and me him over and over and this has gone overboard…

7. My necklace

My chain is a holdover from my high school days, sure, but it’s still freaking cool. I love this thing. It’s actually the second one, a duplicate of my first necklace. I bought the original one from Six Flags, but I lost it (I think an ex girlfriend stole it). The one I still have I bought off another dude for 10 bucks and a Mountain Dew. I hardly ever wear it because I don’t want it to get lost, and besides I’m not 14 anymore. I still love it. If it were a horcrux, when you peer into the hole in the center of the emblem, you would see memories from my past. If you stared too long then you would start to believe you were me. 


Make a blog post of your own, leave a comment here linking to it so I can read it, and then post to Twitter with #MySevenHorcruxes as a hashtag. This could be fun!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Felix Buttonweezer’s Gun Moll

You wake up, one sleepy arm asleep from sleeping on it, the other on the chest of your lover, Felix Buttonweezer. You laugh, clearly remembering that this was all supposed to be a joke. Sure, you’d go out for the night with this thug, this armme de crime, and he’d take you to the shady part of town and show give you a reason to reject him.

Not for me, you think, Felix is really something more. You aim to stick around, to be the next Buttonweezer.

You slide out from bed, pull on your clothes, and cross the freezing, icy, chilly, really quite cold hardwood of his apartment flooring which is under your feet. 

 The wood creaks. You silently enter the kitchen and fiddle around with the coffee machine. It’s one of those single-cup brewers. “Forget it,” you say, and your eyes turn to the picture on the counter:

Felix has two little Buttonweezers. Their names are Criggle and Swarve. A dragon comes, and it is 300,000 times the size of you. You eat it. Pancakes fly through the mail slot, and then the dentures reach out of the camel’s eye and BAM; you’re ticklish on the corn wheel outer chicken nugget for to look more like?

"Oh, I'm kidding."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Creatures and Monsters of The Unraveler - PART 1

My novel is filled with crazy beasts of my design. On this side project I'm working on, I'm creating nice artwork and describing some of the lesser-seen monsters of my world. So, to show a few of the creatures, I'm compiling a best-of monster list of creatures that exist in my novel.

Click the names to go to the full post about each creature!


Description: The Umi is the smallest form of a chain of ostrich-like bird-lizards. During the life of the young Umi, its brain divides, it grows two new eyes, and the bones in its neck and skull duplicate. When an Umi sheds its skin, that means that its head is ready to split into two, and from them on the two-headed creature is referred to as a Miras.


Description: Capable of breathing both water and air, Kudanites are highly intelligent beings that occupy the nation of Weskernoth. They consider it a challenge to live on the land, and they call those that stick to the seas as savage and uncivilized. They fight against themselves almost as much as they fight other species, however they still find value in trade, money, and creating allies. They have arms like humans, but with tentacles instead of hands.


Description: Mothroven choose the form they want, so you might see them as as men with two arms and two legs, or as a jumbled mess of limbs and features. Although many people believe that they are ghosts or spirits, Mothroven are not capable of the normal ghost tropes. For example, they cannot walk through walls... they can, however, usually fit under them. Their form-changing, nearly-weightless bodies are flexible enough to fit into the smallest of cracks.


Description: Cauli are another creature, like Sneidlatter, that bear the anti-gravity puffball organs called buoyaffs. The puffballs contain a magnetic mineral that push away from the center of the planet, which allows them to defy the force keeping them attached to the ground.

Walking Mouth

Description: With four strong legs holding it up, the Walking Mouth has a surprisingly easy time navigating all types of terrain. While a hunter by nature and a frightening sight to behold, this beast usually never kills its prey. In fact, it only hunts for buoyaffs-growing beasts such as Sneidlatters, Driffon, or Parsers. The Mouth has evolved in this way specifically to snatch off the antigravity organs, which it stores in the sac at the other end of its body. The tall teeth are actually used defensively, more often than not.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


This is an idea I had: Take a cool concept/character/location/object from fiction and dissect it to find out exactly why it is just SO COOL! It's sort of a short literary analysis, only without a thesis. Some of these observations are obvious, but I'm going to list them because I'm going to try and tear apart the concept into its most fundamental ingredients:

drawing by me

The core essence of what makes him amazing:

1. His story is unknown
It's weird how a mind can create its own narrative when there isn't one immediately apparent.

2. He's partially/vaguely human
I think the most terrifying monsters have human traits because humans are afraid of what they might become if they went down the worst of life's roads.

3. He lives in the woods, but wears a freaking suit jacket
Why the suit? A forest is a terrible place to wear a suit, however the suit does make him, in a sense, more welcoming. You don't expect a professional to also be a monster. I can't really think of too many other suit-wearing creatures, can you?

4. He follows
Just the fact that he's always right behind you is frightening. He doesn't come straight at you; he waits until you're not looking.

5. He only makes the kill after he primers you with fear. The fear, to him, is like a flavor
Slender Man stories always start with a few sightings of the creature before the kill. It's like the Slender wants to be seen, like the fear builds something desirable.

6. He is slender like the trees he walks between
The forest is filled with slender life: trees. He's just the right shape to hide amongst the trunks.

7. He disappears and reappears
Teleportation is creepy because it is an unknown. It's easier to be bold against your fears when you know where they are. It's not so easy to combat fear when it can move all around you.

8. Although his limbs are long, he generally attacks with the tentacles on his back
The arms don't move much. They sway a bit, which gives Slendy an eerie effect.

9. He can cause visual distortion
Along with the fact that he can teleport away and not be seen, Slendy can also take away your visual ability. Blindness is frightening, because it causes the world to become a great unknown.

10. He can cause memory loss

Forgetting is one way to renew fear. Without your field of experiences to draw upon, the old scares from before will be fresh the next time around.

11. He inspires paranoia
Even when he's not in view, Slender Man continually makes you look over your shoulder.

12. He is often seen stalking children on a playground

Harming children is the worst kind of crime imaginable, so any monster that goes specifically for them is the worst kind.

Follow me @Oxyborb and check out my website at Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Project Update - #Unraveler #Pixelic and more

Today I completed another major round of editing on my primary writing project, The Unraveler. I’m telling you, it feels good, man. My original goal for having my novel sending-out-to-agents-ready was my birthday (September 25th), but I think I’m going to push that back until spring. 

halloween nears!
For those who haven’t studied the business of writing/selling fiction books, the basics (for an unpublished writer like me) are like this:

1. Write the book
2. Edit the book to absolute perfection
3. Write a query letter that shows how awesome/marketable your book is
4. Send said query letter to an agent
5-. If the agent rejects you, move on to the next
5+. If the accepts you, then the agent will attempt to sell your book to the various publishers
6. If the publisher accepts, then woo-hoo, you’re going to be published

Step 7 and on is marketing and etc, etc. It might even be the biggest/most complicated part of the whole thing, but that’s not what this blog post is about.

I’m on step 2 & 3, and I’ve been there for a while. I’ve been polishing my book to an insane degree, and I’ve spent more time on the editing than I did on writing the book.

The reason is that you cannot send a query letter about the same book to the same agent twice. So, if my book is littered with problems and grammatical errors, then my ship has sunk if I mail out my query letter too early.

So, I’ve been editing, editing, editing…

long past the point where my friends & family who have read it have told me that they think it’s already perfect. Honestly, it wasn’t and isn’t, but I can now say that it’s getting close. I might do a few more read-throughs before feeling OK to send it out, but all the major issues my book had have been fixed. I’ve spent years cutting out the fatty, boring parts and enhancing the awesome. I’ve spent so much time just considering plot loopholes and character perspective and all that jazz, but it’s nearly there.

and the rest of my projects

But I want to have a career in writing; not just be a one-book-wonder. So, while I’m editing The Unraveler, I’ve also created a potential series plan, wrote the first 3 chapters of book 2, and I’m ramping up a second book series called Pixelic and planning out a one-off novel (codenamed  Project HIM). I’m also writing a bunch of short stories and poems that I wish to submit to magazines soon. But that’s not all.

I’m working on a marketing plan for myself (so when I do talk to agents/publishers, I won’t feel completely ignorant), a synopsis of my book, a career path (so I can see the direction I want to take), reading books on book selling/writing as an industry, and I’m creating the foundations for a successful social media world. That, and I’m still working on making my query letter explain in so few words why I believe my book will sell. 

It’s a lot of work. 

Oh, yeah, and I have a fulltime job. lol

I haven’t made much time for friends lately, and for that I’m sorry. I’m basically in a mad drive to get my book completed, at this point. Deadlines are insanely important to me, and I don’t want to be working on The Unraveler forever (but I also won’t quit until it’s truly perfect).

In unrelated news, 

I’ve started reading The Unwanteds: Island of Legends and also I’ve begun Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Something light and fun and something deep and adult. They are a surprisingly good combination of books to read at once. Oh well, that’s my update.

Thank you to everyone who has and continues to support me in my crazed ambitions. I hope I make it all worthwhile, someday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Climactic Moment/The Payoff

I used to play in garage bands back when I was in high school. There was this guy, a kid who seemed to know everyone in the local scene, and he taught me a valuable lesson about art that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

You need a climax, a moment of extreme payoff, a part of the art that rises above all the rest and makes the whole progression through it slam into one pivotal revelation. 

a Game of Thrones sigil I drew when I was bored one day
I had been writing songs, then. I was the singer in all the bands I’ve been in, and that position usually also made me the songwriter. My friend, Julius, had just taken me into one of his bands. I was adding a slower song to it. Something mellow and unlike anything I had written before.

Julius told me that he liked the song, but that it needed a climactic moment. That, being that the entire song was mellow, the verses and choruses didn’t seem to be building to anything. My tune was good, my guitar riffs were sound, but I wasn’t providing that key moment that would make the listener’s climb to the end of the song worthwhile.

I envisioned the song. I cut the drums and bass out of the beginning. I started it with just my voice and guitar. Harmonizing came on the second verse. Bass came in on the second chorus. A vamp, a musical interlude with different styling, fit in next. Finally, the lead chorus came again, only I added hard-hitting drums and made the instruments fly. Instead of mellow singing, then, I had loud, passionate singing.

It made a decent song into a great song.

I’ve been editing my novel lately, also thinking about other books I’ve read. Payoff is such an integral need in a longer work. When a person reads 300+ pages, they are going to go through sections that are work as well as play. The end must have a climax. It must have payoff. It must have that pivotal revelation.

During this edit, I’ve been thinking about how all the best books have their plots and subplots all unravel into one great climax. The payoff hits and hits and hits, right at the end. I’ve been working on that, and the build up. It’s a challenge to do it right, in a way that weaves all the smaller aspects of the story into a meaningful web. If you look at works like Cloud Atlas (the movie, never read the book) or A Storm of Swords, you peer into the lives of many different characters with different desires, goals, and situations, but they weave together. When the payoff comes at the end, you see that. You understand.

I just want to be that kind of artist. I want my books to have payoff. Just my thoughts today. Hope you’re having a good one!

Follow me @Oxyborb and check out my website at Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Charting Your Novel's Stars, a world-building activity

My book, The Unraveler, tells a story from a world that I've been building for many years. I like to go beyond the words on the page and explore the lore and history that surrounds my stories. As such, I know things that might not ever make it into the prose of my novels, such as all of the year's holidays, who the top 10 musicians are, and who runs the local businesses.

One exploration I've been working on recently is constellations. My novel is set on normal Earth, but in a society that no longer remembers what we today might think of as constellations. They see their own. For example, instead of the Big Dipper, they see Mobion's Horn.

If my mind was wiped of all the old constellations, what would I see painted in the stars? What would the people within my book see?

These questions I wondered, so I went outside and looked. What I saw was mostly blackness, though. I live in a populated area, and the night sky is too polluted with light to see many stars.

So, instead I Googled star charts, and I found this one. It was created by Mads Holgersen, who runs this awesome website: I got his permission to show an edited version of his star map on my blog. In this new version, I deleted all of his old constellations and made a blank chart, then filled it in with my own:

The Unraveler's Star Chart

It's not completed, by any means, but it shows what I'm getting at. Since ancient times, people have looked to the stars and wondered what shapes they make. They looked for signs, for prophesies. In a way, the culture of society shapes the way people form constellations. Every society could see something different, depending on what is relevant to them. It was a fun writing exercise, anyway. It made me think about what my book's culture would deem important enough to find in the stars.

What do you see?

btw, this is my 50th post! Woot-woot!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Search for the Perfect Critique Partner Continues...

To be my critique partner, you must be:

1. St. Louis area-based (I want to be able to meet up in real life, and F.Y.I. I live on the IL side).

2. a writer who writes often (I'm looking to exchange feedback). I want to give feedback and get feedback with someone who takes writing seriously. 

3. an enthusiast of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, steampunk, and young adult, because that's what I write (click here to read about my current project). I will read almost anything but romance.

4. able to take criticism. If you cry because I pointed out a misplaced comma in your novel, then we're probably not a good match. I am very honest. If you tell me that you want to get this published, then I will look at your work as a marketable product.

5. willing to dish out criticism honestly. I have an iron gut for criticism, and I want blunt/honest thoughts. I want to know how to improve my writing. I don't like wishy-washy statements. If you hated my chapter 3, say so.

6. willing to read novel-length projects, since that's what I generally write. 

7. excited at the prospect of Halloween, because my writing is infused with the spirit of that season.

8. near my age. I'm 27. I would feel a little weird hanging out with someone who is 65. Just being honest. 21-39 seems like the ideal age range.

All 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.

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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I bought a camera and I'm geeking out

Title says it all, really.

I blew my money on something I've always wanted: a nice camera. This is it:

I feel like a nice camera is a tool that every author (and author wannabe!) should have. Learning to speak publicly is something that contradicts the mentality of many writers. I mean, when we write, we get to edit. Backspace. Delete. Reword. Writers can be thoughtful and take their time putting their words together.

But public speaking is different; you can't take back the things you say in the immediate. You can't take back tone of voice and other nonverbal cues. Writers love to sit in their little offices and nooks and place one word after another in the comfort of their home computers. Public speakers have to be on target at all times. They must be clear, not jumble their words. They need the right tone and look good--that's another thing.

I've been working on making myself look better. There are so many things that owning a camera will teach me. An author must be able to go out into the public and speak to people professionally, with warmth, caring, vibrant virtues. I want to learn how to speak better so I can better promote myself and enjoy the community of book lovers that exist out there.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Revamping my Blog, Random Facts About Me, and the Liebster Hipster

Aspiring writers are told over and over, "Build a platform." Create a web presence as soon as possible, because that will increase your value as an author. The more networked you are, the more books you can sell. That's what they say.

In that spirit, my personal writing update has a lot to do with my recently reworked websites. I am currently working on 4 different blogs, and a huge goal I had for June was to streamline the look and functionality. I figured my experience might make for a fun useful blogpost, reciting three tips I picked up along the way.

Use a blog post instead of a page for your welcome site.

The reason for this is statistical. Blogger tracks the number of pageviews you get on blog posts. My "welcome" site is actually just a normal post. (see it here) I've linked my URL to it,, and it directs to that page. This allows me to keep statistics such as how many people have ventured to my site, and also how. In the statistic page, you can see what the sources for the clickthrough are. If you do other things on the web to promote yourself (like me), you'll be able to see the size of the benefit you're getting for the work you put into it. For instance, my Tumblr page brought me 20 clicks yesterday. Making Tumblr posts is easy, since I'm using it to host sketches I make. 20 clicks is worth making a new post on Tumblr. Whatever you do besides blogging online, it's always good to know what kind of redirection you're scoring while aiming at your homepage.

Streamline the look of everything at once

This was a TON of work for me. Check this out:

All of these sites are mine, and I've done a great deal of work to make them look uniform. The backgrounds for the non-writing sites are colored differently, yet you can see my picture and sidebar setup is all the same. The Unraveler Blog, this blog, is my most important space, so I have more links at the side. However, the rest of my sites have links that transfer over to The Unraveler Blog.

Create a name-brand that is uniquely you and differs from your name (unless you gave a weird name)

Unraveler is a weird word that is my book.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones thoughts and predictions, spoilers after the pagebreak

SPOILERS AHEAD. After the jump, I will be talking about the book series called A Song of Ice and Fire. SPOILERS will be said. If you don’t want the books (all five of them!) ruined for you, then stop reading.
No, seriously. Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers. I, personally, HATE spoilers, so I’m trying to be clear that they are ahead. If you keep reading, they will come.


I just finished all five books that are currently out in the series. That’s 4273 pages of writing, and let me tell you, the font is not big. I feel like this is a major accomplishment, and there are at least two more books that are going to be released in the future. So, I thought I’d have a postmortem. What did I think? What are my theories? Etc. Etc. After the pagebreak, I will be saying all, spoilers included. 


click the pagebreak for massive spoilers

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why I Stopped Reading Your SP Novel’s Advertisement

“Writers who believe in supporting Writers” is a Facebook group I’ve joined, just because I’m interested in seeing how people go about marketing their self-published work. I like clicking through the links, seeing what others are doing with their blogs, and what sort of concepts people write about. I also judge. Not harshly, but for the purposes of learning.

One trend I’ve noticed people doing is beginning advertisements with something like:

The Best Things in Life Sometimes Really Are Free!

Now Reduced to 99 Cents!


So they begin with the cheap price, and then go into their cover pitch, but by then I’m already lost. You see, the price doesn’t matter to me. Ten times a dollar is still cheap entertainment (that's $10), and I can get almost any book I want in paperback for that amount. Ten is not much more than a buck.

What I don't have to waste is time. Nobody buys a book because it's cheap; people buy books because it interests them! I would pay 50 bucks if the book sounded interesting enough, so when I see an advertisement starting with the price I am already lost. Almost every self-published book usually drops to 99 cents, so my time is already being wasted by hearing it from you in your ad.

It seems like more people try to sell their self-published work by calling it cheap rather than pitching me on the actual story. That bugs me. Sell me on the book, not on the price. Tell us why your book is unique and interesting rather than beg and plead for someone, anyone to buy it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

#amwriting Pixelic

So, I’m setting aside The Unraveler for a few weeks. I just completed a major draft, and I need some time to get away from it all and refresh before delving back into the editing process. I have a few people reading it, so hopefully I’ll get some new feedback, too!

But I have other things to work on. Now, I #amwriting a few separate things:

First, I’ve been working on the first 3 chapters of the sequel book to The Unraveler. I am not planning on writing that entire book until I’ve sold the first, but I wanted to have the first few chapters done so that way I can add a preview chapter if my publisher desires it, and also so that way I know what direction I’m headed in if a sequel is greenlit. The Unraveler stands alone as a book, but I’d love to continue writing in that world if I can find an audience for it.

That said, I’ve been working on a series plan (in the case that sales allow me to continue it into a series) and a marketing plan with all of my specific ideas for how to move books. I’ve been doing a ton of research trying to figure out my market. I also have created a few unique and cheap strategies that I hope will set me apart. I’ve heard that agents often ask for marketing plans when taking on new clients, so I want to be prepared. I aim to impress!

The other awesome thing I’m working on is a new, new book. The title is…

(just a quick logo I cooked up for fun)

Pixelic is going to be about a superfamous all-girl rockband that is constantly running (touring) away from a spinster with the face of death and wooden hands. Well, one day, the guitarist for Pixelic quits, and they are forced to throw an unlikely fanboy named Wrobel (just a dude with a guitar that works at a crappy café) onto stage. His world changes forever as he learns the secrets to why Pixelic can do things with their music and lightshow that no other band has done before and why the tour never stops…

I just wrote that blurb in the last five minutes, so it’s not refined and glossy-perfect yet… but I wanted to say what I’m working on anyway. Pixelic is a book I’m excited to do because I used to play in local bands. I love using poetry and insane visuals, and that is what my new book is at its core. Also, the monster I’ve created for it is one of the best I’ve ever dreamed up. No joke.

I’ve also accidentally been writing short stories and poetry. Not because I set out to, but because ideas have popped into my head and screamed at me to write them. I really should try and submit some to online magazines or something. I’m not huge into short stories, personally. I enjoy reading big thick books more than shorts. I’ve thought about writing an Unraveler prequel story to post to my blog and draw interest… but I feel like I’d never be able to write a prequel that would be as good as the actual full-length book. I don’t know.

Anyway, that’s it for what I #amwriting (which is an awesome tag to use on twitter, btw). Thanks for keeping up with me! Hit me up on twitter! @Oxyborb

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Moral Complexity in the Lord of the Rings

just something I drew
I was talking with my reading friend about having morally complex characters in YA lit, and I gave the example that, in Tolkien’s book, orcs are all evil and wear black and Gandalf is good and wears white. You know who is good and who is evil.

She retorted that Gollum/Smeagol is a morally complex character because of the both good and evil intent, and I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t think he is. Gollum is evil, and Smeagol is good. It’s not really complex, because when one personality takes over then it goes from one extreme end of the moral grayscale to the other. Black or white. Either Smeagol is good Smeagol, help good hobbitsis OR Gollum *gol’lum* hates filthy fat hobbit and they stole its from us.

To really be complex, characters need to exist within that gray area. Smeagol/Gollum is always one extreme or the other. I think a morally complex character needs to make decisions where the reader doesn’t know if they would agree with the choice or not.

What do you think? Leave a comment and tell me!

Also, twitter with me! @Oxyborb

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Writer's block, taking breaks, skipping over parts, working on something else, and other methods to run away when faced by a challenge

I am not a professional writer yet, so maybe my advice is not the first place to stop on your research. That said, I want to talk about what happens when the going gets tough, and how I see other writers handle challenges in writing and editing. I like to join writer discussion groups on facebook. I like to participate in sharing thoughts about how a writer can act to be successful.

Lately, the topic has been what to do when you’ve hit writer’s block or what to do when editing has you hung up.

I always see the same responses to these problems. They go something like this:

Take a break from it.
Skip over it and come back.

Work on something else.

I just want to say that I think that this is all awful advice. When you’re faced with a challenge, your first instinct should not be to run away from it.

so many writers

…never finish their manuscripts. So many would-be writers never even finish chapter one. They claim that they have writer’s block. They claim that they just cannot think it through, when I believe the truth is usually that they just don’t want to think it through. They don’t want to put in the work, the effort.

There’s a difference between planning a break between large projects and taking a break because you’ve hit a giant challenge. I always take breaks between finishing, drafts, and major goal points like that. Usually my breaks are about a week-long. But, when I have a major challenge in front of me, that is NO time for a break. That is a time to work.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April showers, bring many days to sit inside and write.

I’ve been feeling really good lately. I just finished my fourth “draft.” I use the word with quotes because I’m a new writer and I’m perhaps using it differently from the industry standard. My drafts are the points at which it feels like my work has leveled up. Usually, I say it’s a new draft when I’ve completed working through the book of notes I’ve taken for my upcoming edits.

Anyway, I flew through editing. I mean, I spent hundreds of hours, but they were hundreds of hours of pure fun. I love this stuff.

Next week is spring break in the schools, and, as a teacher, I am lucky enough to get the week off. I’m planning on spending my vacation from work working on my new book, the one I’m not editing. I’m really excited to work on it more, as I’ve also put down about 15k words on it. My finished novel is soaring at the 100,000-word mark. I’d love to cut that down to 95k, but every time I cut out something, I find something else to add. That’s probably a bad practice, haha.

But, that’s my life. Teaching and writing. I’m very happy about where I’m at.

Well, that’s all I really wanted to say. I haven’t blogged as much because I’ve been spending every ounce of my free time writing and editing. Anyway, keep it up! Stay positive and rock on!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Editing Wind

I have been working really, really hard on my novel.

The past few months have been all about world building. Figuring out how society works in my work. Ironing out ancient history. I challenged myself to name all of the year’s holidays in my world. I listed what musical instruments there are. Who the top famous 5 living and top 5 dead musicians are. I knitted my giant family tree together. For each of the major cities in my world, I created an emblem like the ones showing on this post.

turning of the tide

But that was all the last two months, this month has been about working the prose. I’ve been line editing. Fat cutting. Rewording. Man, it feels good to know how much my book has progressed. I think I’ve been supercharged creatively because I’m about to start a new job. It makes me feel awesome to know that I have my money-needs covered now, and I can start rocking my writing without feeling the need to spend most of my day looking for work.

Then the other day I got feedback, and it gave my already high-paced wind an extra boost. Feedback is a writer’s Christmas. The best thing you can give a writer, truly. Feedback makes you feel like your endeavors aren’t completely lonely ones. It makes you think about your own work in new ways. It’s exciting. Useful beyond measure.

old copy

The one weird thing about feedback with a novel-length work, especially for an insane worker like me, is that you often have created several new drafts before any feedback is returned to you. I really don’t want to annoy my friends by sending them new drafts all the time. I don’t want to be pushy, because reading a draft of a book is a lot harder than reading a final product. Looking through notes on an old draft can really make you embarrassed. So many more mistakes, many ones you’ve already corrected. Plot holes you’ve already filled in. Questions the reader has, already answered in the new draft. The book I have now is so much better than the one I first put an ending to.

That said, feedback is so incredibly invaluable, but I also completely understand that work goes into reading, too. My friends who have sent me feedback are so incredibly kind for doing so. Thank you times a thousand. To my friends who haven’t sent me feedback, no worries, you’re still awesome too (but if anyone happens to want to read my novel, email me to get the latest draft!). Honestly, just to allow me to vent to others about writing is so good for me and helps me in other ways than editing. My friends are awesome.

Looking ahead

I feel like I have about 2-3 more read-throughs before I will claim that it is ready to submit to agents, but I’m so excited. Allow me to daydream a bit: Wouldn’t it be great to get published? Not only that, but to be able to claim that writing is my profession? I would put out a new book every year if I had all the time in the world to write. I know I would, and they’d be awesome books, too. I have so many awesome ideas. The Unravel is just one (which has true series potential).

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Magical Logic of Harry Potter, The Unraveler, and literature in general

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, our Boy-Who-Lived finds a book and inside of it is a hand-written spell. For enemies, it is written.

The spell cuts like the slash of a sword when you wave your wand. It’s a cool spell. The word is cool. JK has a knack for making up awesome words for spells.

The spell was created by the Half-Blood Prince himself (I know everyone knows who that is, but I hate typing out spoilers), and that got me wondering. How are spells created?

How does the magic, the action of the sword slash, attach itself onto the cool-sounding word? If the Prince can make his own spells, how did he do it? Why is it a cool sounding word? By chance? Were all the spells created a long time ago, and are we just rediscovering them? Maybe it isn’t the word, necessary, but the word helps the user focus on the feeling needed to do the magic. Maybe there is a ritual where the magic must be burned into the word.

We don’t really know.

I’ve always felt this was a hole in the plot I fell through. I’m sure JK knows how the spells in her world were created, but she hasn’t shared that knowledge. Even glancing at the HP Wiki didn’t give me much to go on. It leaves me with many questions.

Can there be more than one spell with the same effect?
Can old spells be changed?
Can spells have not-cool sounding names, or is the ancient-sounding language required?

...I could go on and on with these, but that’s not my point in writing this.

magic not magic

I don’t like to call what is in my book, “magic.” It isn’t, though it may seem so on the outside. Many fantasy books have magic, but I am a logical creature. I need more of a reason for why things work the way they do.

But I wanted to include something like magic in my novel, something otherworldly. Something that gives the reader the powers they dream of when they read fantasy, but without them having to be fantastically illogical. I can’t explain fully how my magic works, because it would be a spoiler.

But I can say that my magic is science, truly, and that’s why I think it’ll be fun to read.
That’s what makes my magic unique. My magic is not magic. Sort of like how the newer Batman movies are better than the old ones, I feel like my magic will be better because it’s grounded in reality.

It’s all the color and wonder 

-without the gaping hole in the logic. It’s all the intrigue and spectacle without the need for the reader to make the jump of assumption. I’ve read quite a few books with magic, and at some point, it always seems to become an easy-out for the protagonist. I mean, JK’s timeturner… Just go back and kill Voldemort. You don’t have to go back to his childhood, just find out when he’s vulnerable (surely, he sleeps, eats, etc). That was magic without a chain to ground it. Prophecies in books drive me nuts. “The ancients prophesized the return of the Great Warrior to slay the Beast.” That is magic without logic.

I want to know why magic works. I want to know where it came from. I want to know the limitations. I want to know why it exists in the first place. Who first knew about it. When. Where. And, that’s all answered in The Unraveler, and I’ve made it into something I’ve never seen done in literature before.

Keep being awesome and keep in touch! Leave a comment or follow me on Twitter: @Oxyborb!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Orcs kill because they are evil

an ogre I sketched, more of my drawings here!
For a writer, productivity is balanced against sociability. I had hardly any social life this past month, but I was insanely productive. I called it, “Unraveler History Month,” because I worked tirelessly on the historical background.

One thing I love about books like Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings is that sense that the world is lived in. There was history before the events in those books, and it makes those books feel real. I want that element in my book. I want to know about the wars that happened in my world, how particular cities got their names, why there is an abandoned castle in the middle of the forests, and how all of that figures into the motivations of my characters.

because it’s evil

Something that I don’t like in novels is mindless evil. Orcs, ready to kill and eat manflesh simply because all orcs are evil. Creepy men wearing black eye shadow that want to kill you for no apparent reason. A monster that emerges from the depths because it was prophesized to kill everyone because it’s evil.

Evil itself, I feel, is not a reason. Prophecy is not a reason. It’s not logic. Did XXX kill everyone in town simply because he’s evil? No. Often, though, creatures like orcs are willing to do their master’s bidding for no other reason than they have black hearts, but that seems like a cop-out to me.

My “evil” characters are driven by true motivations. My monsters have reasons. Even my environmental antagonists have reasons. Logic that reads more that, “Because it’s evil. Why else?”

So, my history.

I’ve been working on building a timeline that spans over 4000 years. It lists EVERY single King or ruler during that time period… for all five nations in my book. For some, it even gives details on how they died and why so-and-so replaced them instead of so-and-so.

So, I’ve been working on that, noting every major war, battle, triumph, gain, loss, marriage, event, etc, for a span of 4000 years. I’ve also been building my giant family tree, listing all of my major characters and their families (hundreds and hundreds of names). I’ve been preparing myself for a new read-through (I always make a giant list of things to work on as I read, and also mark up my document with comments with smaller stuff to weed out before the read). I’ve been reworking this system I had for mystical/magical stuff, too.

I might write more on magic later, though.

Hope your day is going well! Thanks for reading! Keep in touch; follow me on Twitter: @Oxyborb

Monday, February 10, 2014

It Surrounds And Binds Us All, a poem by Harrison Aye

The Poem:
it's the rift from which you came,
it surrounds and binds us all,
it's a drink from the plainer cup,
it's embodied ecstasy.

it's the bridge from which you came,
it surrounds and binds us all,
it's the taste of sweat and soil,
it has the air of ecstasy.

This was a poem I wrote a long time ago while getting over someone I loved. I won't say that I still feel the same way as when I wrote it, but I came upon the recorded sung version and decided to make a video out of it. It obviously compares the essence of life to that of love, the similarities and differences. The shared experiences. The way that love and create life, and life creates love.

I always loved the phrase, "it surrounds and binds us all." It's sort of a force/power/magical thought, but also very down to earth. Love is everywhere; life is everywhere.

I, Harrison Aye, performed all of the instruments. I recorded, sang, wrote the poem, and recorded the accompanying video.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Harry Potter should have married Hermione Granger

Recent news outlets report that J. K. Rowling is having a few regrets about who-ended-up-with-who. They’re saying that she said that Harry and Hermione should have gotten married, not Hermione and Ron.

I agree, but before I explain why, I should say why I think that J. K. initially chose to join Weasley to Granger. The reason is simple: By marrying Harry to Ginny and Hermione to Ron, Ron became Harry’s brother-in-law and Hermione, his sister-in-law. Also, the rest of the Weasleys, including his new go-to mom Molly, became Harry and Hermione’s in-law family. It was a clean ending, and it gave Harry what he wanted most: family (remember, that is what he saw in the mirror!). 

But, no. Ron and Hermione would have gotten divorced with a few years.

Hermione is a tortoise. Slow and steady. Her decision-making is about well thought out plans using wisdom and logic.

Ron is a jackhammer. Rash. Emotion-based decision-making, rather than logical. He is stubborn. Passive-aggressive.

It would have been a hard marriage with that sort of mix. They had plenty of communication issues throughout, and they would have had more during their marriage.

Harry, on the other hand, is not quite so emotionally charged in his decisions. He leans to emotional, but not in such an extreme as Ron. He’s more of a mix of logic-vs-emotion, imo. Regardless, he was always willing to, at least, listen to Hermione. Ron was far more rash.

the basilisk

Also, Ron, let’s be honest, never seemed all that attracted to Hermione. Other than that one forced moment when he says she has nice skin, Ron pretty much friend-zoned Hermione. He didn’t ask her out to the dance. He didn’t snog her when he could have. Hermione seemed interested, but not him, not until she had a scary experience in the Chamber of Secrets… almost like Ron wouldn’t kiss her unless it was in a Chamber of what he wanted to keep Secret.

Harry, I think he could have been attracted to Hermione, if J. K. had wanted to swing the story that way. Honest truth, I think Harry should have ended up with Luna Lovegood. I really think that he bonded with her weirdness, her understanding of life-and-death, her observations of the world. Ginny started timid, and I don’t feel like Harry would have been attracted to that. She became a little bossy, and I don’t feel like he would have liked that, either. However, I have to give the actress that played Ginny props, she was very good at building tension in the scenes she was in with Harry.  

the end

I just watched the Half-Blood Prince the other day. Harry and Hermione are looking out of the tower. Romantic. They even held hands for a bit.

Ron was sitting off on the stairs.