Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: a reread project – Forward into AGOT – Part 2

SPOILERS AHEAD (don’t read on or click links below if you don’t want to be spoiled) 

Nothing has been curing my brain’s appetite for deep thought quite like G. R. R. Martin’s fantasy-series masterpiece, A Song of Ice and Fire. Lately, I’ve been delving into the ASOIAF Reddit, listening to podcasts (such as Radio Westeros and A Podcast of Ice and Fire), and watching YouTube theories (from awesome people like Preston Jacobs and Alt Shift X).
This is Part 2 of a series of notes/thoughts/observations/etc (HERE IS PART 1). that I’ve been taking as I reread the entire series. I’ve been marking up my book with ink pens and tiny bookmarks as if I were analyzing this for a lit class. I’m sharing it here for fun, and as my small contribution to the fandom.
CAUTION SPOILERS – I am not going to hold back on spoilers going forward. Text from Books 1-5, The Winds of Winter sample chapters, Game of Thrones TV show, The World of Ice and Fire, and anything else I can find will be posted. Do not read on if you do not want to be completely spoiled about everything.
Arya I - Jon Snow and Arya are sitting on a sill and staring down at the other Starks kids and Joffrey and Tommen training down in the yard. Arya asks Jon why he isn't down there with them, and he says, "Bastards are not allowed to damage young princes," he said. "Any bruises they take in the practice yard must come from trueborn swords."

It's interesting when you think through this quote, since Jon, if a Targ, might truly be a prince and Joff and Tommen are truly bastard born from incest.

Also in Arya I is a moment of potential foreshadowing: Arya and Jon are talking about how Arya ran away from her Septa's sewing lesson. Jon says, "The longer you hide, the sterner the penance. You'll be sewing all through winter. When the spring thaw comes, they will find your body with a needle still locked tight between your frozen fingers." To which Arya responds how that isn't fair or funny.

In Tyrion I there's this exchange:

"Oh, yes," Tyrion admitted. "I hope the boy does wake. I would be most interested to hear what he might have to say."
That, to which Tyrion says, "You know how much I love my family." This scene has always stuck out at me because for one thing, Tyrion DOES love Jamie, if not anyone else in his family. I don't think Tyrion would do anything to endanger Jamie. However, I don't understand why Tyrion is having this conversation out in the open.

Jon II has this gem: "Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle. Who knows?" I wonder if Arya will ever see Jon again. In the outline of the entire series that has come out, Jon was once supposed to fall in love with Arya. If Jon became king, it's also possible that Arya could marry someone at his court and live there. Who knows? Hah!

Tyrion II has a few notes: It's interesting to note that Tyrion borrowed a selection of rare books from the Winterfell library (before the library would later burn, that is). That makes him an unlikely keeper of Stark knowledge that might be relevant later. He might know a few secrets about Winterfell or Old God magic.

Turning the page, Tyrion is shown visiting the dragon skulls in King's Landing. Nineteen skulls, and one of them "watched him go." At the end of the chapter, Tyrion is staring at Jon Snow in the same way, with similar descriptions as the skulls.

And that shall close Part 2 of this blog series. I’ve read far beyond, but I don’t want to make these blogs too long. Anyway, thanks for reading, and tell me if I missed anything! Special thanks to http://www.asearchoficeandfire.com for helping me keep track of chapter names and quotes!

Monday, November 23, 2015

...all this time...

Truly, I’ve been extremely busy since April, and even more so since August. But, what was consuming my time finally ended, and my life has freed up dramatically.

It’s weird to have free time. So weird that I am determined to fill it. I
recently met up with a friend about a new artistic project. I want to make videos or start a podcast or something. Art that I can do regularly, quickly, and socially.

Writing a novel can be very lonely work, and my long-term vision is not rewarding in the short-term. I mean to publish a book (by whatever means, is to be determined), but what that equates to is that I cannot show my book to the world to consume. I don’t have people reading and telling me what they think of my book (besides my beta-readers, but that’s different). 

For artists, engagement with an audience is a reward, and it’s one I haven’t been feeling since my focus has been on writing novels that I have to keep mostly secret. A long time ago,
I used to write songs and I was the lead singer of a band. I could play a show or write a new song and feel the reward of engagement with people. It doesn’t take months to pick up a guitar and play as it does to write a novel.

So, that’s where I’m making plans. I’m beginning a project that will allow me to create art that is quicker to produce, gets me socially active, and is easy to send out for people to engage with. It’ll probably be on YouTube or in a podcast form.

My novel, meanwhile, is still going really well. I’ve been working to make it perfect, and as a teacher, the notion of Christmas break excites me.

Thanks for keeping up with me! You can find me @Oxyborb on Twitter.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Creativity in Writing: Part 1

Don’t be weird for the sake of being weird.

If you’re writing about a creature with fly-wings, bunny ears, and wheels for feet, then I expect your world has less gravity to support easily torn wings, large predators stomping around loudly, and paved grounds covered in blacktop.

Weirdness in writing requires logic. You must have a reason for something to drift so far outside of a box. 

 The real world is the box. What is now is in the box. Our dreams can go beyond. Fiction allows others to see your dreams, like a map. Inventors, scientists, and engineers have this, too. Plans, schematics, formulae…

What if I put Chemical X with Chemical Y?

The curiosity drives the test-tube holder to pour them together.

That is what creativity is, mostly. Putting one thing next to another in a way that nobody has thought of before. Before reading this sentence, you’ve probably never imagined what an Eleraffe looks like, but now you’re trying to puzzle together an elephant and a giraffe. Does the elephant’s trunk have to be as long as its neck?

Weirdness is something I thrive on, and my experience has taught me how to repackage it so that it is digestible for a target audience. In writing, this is extremely important. Why does Alice in Wonderland work? Why does a cat’s smile lingering after the rest disappears make sense to the consumer of this media? Why don’t we question why a walrus and carpenter are friends?

It’s because we know that there’s something up with that book. We know that it’s framed as some sort of dreamlike state, written by an intoxicated mind. The readers tumble down the rabbit hole in the beginning, and from there they are “matrixed” into the world of weirdness.

I have more to say, but I’ll continue this is Part 2.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sketching with Harrison: Round 1

 So, I like to sketch. As you might have already seen, I like to take an art pen and doodle. Most people pluck out theirs phones and check their notifications when they have a moment of free time; I draw. I don't usually know what I'm drawing until it's out on the page, so that's what was happening here. (I'm not a professional artist, or even a wannabe, I just enjoy it)

 The drawing above began with the teeth. I drew teeth and teeth and more teeth and then I decided that I wanted to try and make whatever it was turn out to be cute and ugly at the same time. I think I succeeded.

(more after the jump)

Monday, August 10, 2015

More Kudanites and Master-of-None

My last blog post was partially about kudanites. These are creatures of my own invention, which came from inspiring pictures of seahorses I took. After drawing them last month and also editing chapters in which they are in, I felt so inspired to try my hand at sculpting one out of clay.

Here is the result:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Kudanites and an update

I did some sketches of creatures that appears in my novel:

I had to share them because they turned out so well! 

So, work is still ongoing on my novel. I wrote something very complex, and I have spent much of my time making the cogs fit. My world is giant, so I'm being very careful with its development. I want this world to maintain more than just one book, one story... I want to create a playground that I can return to again and again. I want sound logic in how the weird stuff works.

Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario and many Nintendo games once said, “A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.” 

I vowed from the beginning to take all the time I'd need. I thought I'd be done by the end of June. I now hope to be done by the end of the year. I guess the biggest non-writing setback I had was an unexpected promotion at my job. I took on more responsibilities, so I was forced to give up much of my non-work time to get work done. That promotion got easier recently, so my burdens are less. 

I have done something well: every day I've set a timer and completed a certain amount of time editing. So, it's moving.

The last thing I want to mention is that my friend passed away. We went through college together, and often talked books and writing. This is relevant to my novel because he was one of the first people to read over my rough draft and give me feedback, and his input was invaluable. It's gotten me down, but I read over the notes he sent me and it felt like he was speaking to me, alive again. I suppose he does live in my novel, at least a little.

Have a good 4th of July, everyone.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Emily June Street's THE GANTEAN

I was very lucky to have gotten to read the first book in this new fantasy series early. It's a wonderful book from a talented author, Emily June Street, and it released yesterday. If you've been waiting for a good read, here it is.

It's fantasy, but without the usual fantasy tropes. There's magic, but it's has a unique way of functioning, unlike what you might find in Harry Potter. This book is adult and complex. The perfect book to fall into if you're dying for GRRMartin to release The Winds of Winter.


My review on Amazon:

My favorite books are the ones that drop me into new and unpredictable worlds, where I feel like I’m an explorer in the uncharted wild. The Gantean immerses you into a foreign culture, and it brings that sense of discovery that only the most imaginative of writers can create. It’s an exciting adventure that will live in your brain even after you’ve reached the final page, and I recommend it to anyone, even readers who are not typically into fantasy

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: a reread project – Beginning A Game of Thrones – Part 1

SPOILERS AHEAD (don’t read on or click links below if you don’t want to be spoiled)

Nothing has been curing my brain’s appetite for deep thought quite like G. R. R. Martin’s fantasy-series masterpiece, A Song of Ice and Fire. Lately, I’ve been delving into the ASOIAF Reddit, listening to podcasts (such as Radio Westeros and A Podcast of Ice and Fire), and watching YouTube theories (from awesome people like Preston Jacobs and Alt Shift X).

As an English/literature grad, I simply love doing literary analyses. After my first readthrough, back before my crazed absorption of the fandom’s collective thoughts and theories, I wrote my own little post to vent my ideas, but the one I’m writing here and now is different:

This is Part 1 of a series of notes/thoughts/observations/etc. that I’ve been taking as I reread the entire series. I’ve been marking up my book with ink pens and tiny bookmarks as if I were analyzing this for a lit class. I’m sharing it here for fun, and as my small contribution to the fandom.

CAUTION SPOILERS – I am not going to hold back on spoilers going forward. Text from Books 1-5, The Winds of Winter sample chapters, Game of Thrones TV show, The World of Ice and Fire, and anything else I can find will be posted. Do not read on if you do not want to be completely spoiled about everything.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Creatures and Monsters of The Unraveler - PART 2

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!
(...or start at Part 1)


Description: Munlo are one of the most eaten creatures in the Unraveler universe. They are two-legged lizard-like creatures that are about the size of a pig. They have a taste comparable to bacon, however more chewy. They have a main of white fur along their spines, webbed feet for ease of navigating rivers, and a slithering tail that can latch on to the surroundings. The fangs are defensive, and only rarely are able to kill anyone. The teeth within their mouths are no more dangerous than the teeth of a toothbrush. They are aggressive to deal with, however, the ease at which they reproduce keeps them too valuable of a food source to not use.


Description: Szip originally evolved from living on the hides of giant creatures with rocky husks. Back then, they would use their needle mouths to feed off of blood. After the rocky giant creatures went extinct, however, szip addapted to live in the mountains. Now, they tend to simply go after smaller insects and small mammals for food, but are more often prey themselves (and prey for each other!).


Description: The Bull Latcher is the largest (and scariest) of the three, and is the featured image at the top of this post.  It has evolved teeth and extended spines. It tends to latch on the biggest creature it can find, usually onto animals the size of whales. The Bull Latcher is about as tall as a human. Bull Latchers are the most aggressive, and if a giant predator is threatening its host, it will detach and attack the predator and then reattach to its host if both have survived.

Bewildered Vat

Description: The Bewildered Vat is a very strange creature. It is a slow liquid in a hardened outer shell. The liquid is acidic and poisonous, and it can launch bubbles rapidly to attack. It eats insects and dissolves them into its core. As strange as it may appear, it actually is fairly intelligent, having a soupy brain that is comparable to a sloth's. People have given this creature several nicknames, including, Death's Soup, The Living Cauldron, and the Reaching Pot.


Description: The Arbuscula is a sentient tree creature. It has four spiderlike legs and a great maw of a mouth. Some of the leaves are light-sensitive, which give the arbuscula a sense of sight. Arbuscula come in a variety of appearances and several different tree-breeds have been discovered. Although they are very hostile, they will often sit quietly and wait until their enemies leave. Any small-sized prey, however, will be killed if the risk is low enough.

Thanks for checking these out! Let's be twitter friends (@Oxyborb). Here are the other parts to this series:
Part 1

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mouse Pad

So, I ran to the store to grab a new mouse pad.  I was in a hurry and picked the first black one I could find to match my desk... but I got home and realized that this had been put back into its packaging backwards and now... 

I'm keeping it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

10 Questions

So, this was one of those Liebster Awards, but I already did one, so I’m just going to answer the ten questions that my nominator, Emily June Street (Twitter), wrote for her victims:

1) What was your dream career when you were a kid?

I wanted to build robots. Short Circuit was my favorite movie. I used to build little Johnny 5s out of Legos. Even when I grew older, I still loved to consume media like I, Robot and Battle Bots (which was a TV show pitting real robots people built in a fighting arena). I went for an English degree, but if an engineer came over and asked if I’d like to spend a day in his robotics lab, I would go without question.

2) What is one physical activity you want to do before you die?

I want to go skiing. I have never been. I almost went this month, but then everyone backed out on me.

3) What is your favorite trip or vacation you’ve ever done, and why?

When I was 10, my mother took me to Disney World in Florida. I know that isn’t as grand as some of the places I’ve gone, but I was ten and I ate Mickey Mouse-shaped waffles every morning and swam in the water-park every night. That might have been one of the best weeks of my life. 

4) Do you dance?

Yes. I was a part of a show choir in HS, so I danced them. I like dancing, except at weddings. I guess that’s my one pet peeve. I think weddings are stupid and predictable, and the music is always awful. Maybe I’m just jaded for some odd reason…

5) Editing or drafting?

It’s all good to me.

6) Your favorite myth or fairy-tale and why?

Fairy tales and myths kind of bore me, so instead I’ll answer Jules Verne. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days were my favorite childhood stories, and they were the closest things I had to myths growing up.

7) Where (and when) did you grow up and how do you think it shaped you?

Belleville, IL. My shape came from two places: a theatre group and the local band scene. I used to perform as a singer/guitarist for a few bands (check it out). I wrote almost every song that I played during that time, and that is how I became interesting in writing/composition. One revelation I had was that I’m great at composing, and not just music, but art. I can see how small aspects form together to create big ones, which is why I’m trying to become a novelist. I think most people say that they have a great attention to detail, but I consider myself a big picture guy. I see a scope of details that will become a finished product.

My theatre background is what shaped my personality. I think I learned more social skills backstage than anywhere else. I did a group that wrote, practiced, and performed plays in a 24 hour period in a big festival of sorts. I might be getting back into that soon, actually. When I do that, I always direct.

8) You have $100 that you must spend on yourself by the end of the day. What do you buy?

A drawing pad and a set of Faber-Castell art pens, any remainder on coffee beans.

9) Pick any three objects or people to be stranded with you in a lost space ship.

Michael Phelps
A saddle
a gold medal strung to the end of a stick

OK, so that’s actually what to bring when stranded on an island… (but I love repeating that joke (I did not write it)).

Assuming I cannot pick objects that can send me home (teleporter, a satellite beacon for messages, etc.) and that I am not in immediate need of life support (such as food or air), I would pick… a loaded Kindle, a computer with Skyrim, Minecraft, and Microsoft Word installed (to get my mind off the ship), and a piano.

10) What’s your favorite piece of music and why?

Incubus is so much more than the few songs that have been on the radio. The song I picked is just like me… mellow, forward thinking, and weird. Also, I sometimes accidentally make it rain frogs.

11) Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Both, equally. I write a rough plot, and then allow my characters to do whatever they want. I don’t stick to my plotting. I often rewrite the plotting to accommodate for characters that decided to invent themselves along the way or spots where my leads took a wrong turn. The plotting is a mental activity, not a roadmap.   

Thanks again to Emily June Street! She’s awesome, so go check out her blog!

pic unrelated; I just drew this recently

Monday, February 16, 2015

Should I make an outline for my plot before writing my novel?

This is not me asking, nor is it me telling.

Writers often talk about the best way to write a novel. Some people say that having an outline is a bad idea. Take this quote by one of the best writer’s of our time:

“I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.” - Chapter 5, page 163 of Stephen King’s On Writing.

King might be the best living writer, so I’m not going to say my ideas are better than his. What I will say is that there are fantastic books that were written with plots already outlined. Have you seen the Harry Potter notes that JK posted? I mean, using the two greatest modern examples may be a bit ridiculous to fit the arguments of the common wannabe writer, but they’re as good as they are for good reason.

What I want to say about my own writing is that I do thing that spontaneity in real creation and plotted outlines can be compatible if you’re a flexible writer. How many writers have said that they knew the ending of their book series before having even written them?

I find writing to be like a good road trip. You have dots marked on your map and a final destination, but that doesn’t mean you’ll go everywhere you thought or not make random stops along the way. I’ve written several books and plotted them out, however, I didn’t stop my characters when they decided to turn left or do something I hadn’t planned.

As long as the plotting you do is flexible, you can still find surprising twists. At a whim, I began my third chapter of The Unraveler with a random character that I hadn’t planned, and realized her story by the end of the next chapter. She inserted herself into the plot, and so I had to flex it, reshape it to include her. Allow random events to happen on your instinctual whims, and adjust the plot. The road trip of writing is getting from the beginning to the end, but it doesn’t have to go as planned. The important thing is to do what works best for you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Reading and Editing in 2015

This past month, my life has been turning pages and scratching out words. A big author posted a critique-friend-connection to her blog, and I found a few people to swap writing projects with. One of those turned out to be a good match, and so I read and gave feedback on her entire novel. That was probably the most enjoyable thing I did this past month. I really love critiquing books, and it’s so much more fun when the book is already quite good. I’ll pimp out that book and author here when she releases it, but I don’t want to say anything now for privacy reasons. 

After that, I reread A Storm of Swords, my favorite of the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, and then I went to the book store and shuffled through a mountain of paper. Truth is, my favorite type of book is 3rd person, past tense. It’s getting harder and harder to find new books in that style. I try to read YA books often, since that’s what I want to write, but I get so tired of 1st person being used over and over that it’s hard to find anything to want to jump into.

What I ended up reading next was a random pick: Half A King by Joe Abercrombie. I had never heard of him or this book before going into the book store. I judge buying random books on if the title sounds interesting and if the first page grabs me. This book did, so I bolted through it in a few days. It was a good read. Fun. Well-written. Fast-paced. I read it because the book I wrote is about a prince, and I wondered what other authors do differently.

Now I’m reading Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang at the suggestion of the person whose book I just gave feedback on. I just finished the first story last night, and it might be the best short story I’ve read since I, Robot. I’m not usually a fan of short stories, but this was very weird and interesting.

I leave a book at work to read during lunch hours, and that one is currently The Scorch Trials, which is the sequel to The Maze Runner. TMR was a very good book, which I flew through, but I got immediately hesitant to continue with TST because I hate it when characters go through an entire book’s worth of torture only to gain more torture immediately in the sequel. I first got The Scorch Trials right after finishing The Maze Runner, but I only read the first few chapters before needing a break. I like my characters to find a little relief between books. After battling grievers, I felt like the characters deserved a year to enjoy life. I don’t know. I set the book down for 5 months, and I’m just now considering finishing it. I had the same problem with The Hunger Games. I hated the idea of Katniss going through a second game. I never thought that the first book needed a sequel. I thought it was perfect as it was.

So, other than that, I’ve been editing The Unraveler using feedback I’ve been given. I know it has to be perfect when I submit it to have any shot, so I’m taking my time with it. I’ve got other books in the process of writing, but I won’t be focusing on them until I get this one done. The others are great, though! I’m excited!