Saturday, December 28, 2013

Game Idea: Super Smash Kart


When I first saw the Smash Bros. trailer that revealed Rosalina as a playable character, I honestly thought it was a Kirby reveal for Mario Kart. And, why not? I thought. Kirby would be a very cool unlockable character for the racer. 

I’m not the first person to say that the concept of Super Smash Bros. should translate to other genres of games, but I really want to expand on the idea here on my blog.

How cool would it be if the various Nintendo franchises in Smash Bros. made up the world for the next Mario Kart-type game?



My ideas for standard weapons:

I think that green koopa shells, bananas, and lightning bolts should remain as is.

Red koopa shells should be replaced by Homing Missiles from the Metroid franchise.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

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. :-) 

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. :-)


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Like_youknow


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

Pokemon Idea... Pumpkaboo + Litwick

Litwick and Pumpkaboo (real pokemon)
I drew this idea for new Pokemon, and I honestly cannot believe that Nintendo didn’t come up with this on their own. 

Some Pokemon, like Escavalier and Shelmet, evolve by swapping parts of themselves with other species of Pokemon as they are traded. Sort of a symbiotic thing.

Anyway, there’s a candle monster, called Litwick, and a pumpkin one, called Pumkaboo. They each have separate evolution lines, but I had an idea. What if they evolved in that armor-swapping way?

I envisioned the ghost part of the pumpkin escaping and evolving into Flygeist, as if it were a ghost flying away from the pumpkin it escaped from.

Then, a different ghost, Litwick, gets trapped in the jack-o’-lantern and becomes Pyrepatch, a fire / grass type. I drew all of these pictures, by the way.

 
How cool is this idea? Nintendo, if you’re listening, please take my idea and use it (no permission, reward, or acknowledgement required! Just use my idea!)

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 (oxyborb@gmail.com). 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…


SPAM MACHINE, ENGAGE!

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. 

Think I’m exaggerating? Look at the screen capture on the side of this paragraph. It was my facebook newsfeed. This is real, only edited to delete the dude’s identification, and, you know what? It was only as much as would fit on my screen. I had about twelve posts from him on my newsfeed, all in a row. This guy posted like 10 times a day, spamming his books (I had to block him), but it wasn't just him. It's a ton of others. Spammers. Throwing links out onto writer's groups as if they'll find the secret magic to sales.

The formula:
Post spam on random facebook group
???
Profit


But that’s not how that works! Social media needs to be about making connections with other people. You know, being social. The best authors can get me to buy their book, based solely on the personalities they present through social media. Well, who’s going to fall in love with the personality of a telemarketer? Nobody! Spam is not going to work! Build real, personal connections, not a list of people blocking you!


Forget the Twitter Numbers!

For a while I thought it was all about trying to get a certain number of Twitter followers by Tuesday, but I had an epiphany: Quality is better than quantity. Why would I follow a thousand FollowBack spam accounts? To get my numbers up? Pish! I would take a hundred people who are actually interested in The Unraveler (and willing to recommend it to friends) over a thousand spam accounts following me (who don’t care whatsoever, except that you’re following back).

When my book gets published, then I’ll get followers the natural way. From people who actually care about what I have to say because they’ve read my novel and want to know more.   


Make it shimmer

So, I went off on that sidetrack because so many of these self-publish spammers have had, “Free, limited download offer” as promotion to their book. Just to see what these sorts of books were like, I downloaded a bunch. I read bits and pieces, but I realized something: Many of them had spelling errors on the first page. Many were formatted strangely. Many were littered with very simple problems that would have been caught if it were edited. So many of these authors claimed to be “fed up” with querying, and so decided to self-publish.

And that brings me back to my philosophy: When I finally decide to submit my novel to agents, I want my manuscript to be as near ready-for-print as possible. I think that’s the dedication it takes to find success. So many authors want it all now, like Veruca Salt. They think they’ve gotten the golden egg, but it melts in theirs hands. I guess what I mean is that they don’t put in that extra effort.

*I don’t mean to sound arrogant (that sentence always sounds arrogant, haha). I completely respect self-published types, and I’m not talking about all of them. I’m saying that there are those who just want to turn text directly into profit. Those that don’t take the time to make a product that is worth purchasing. If you write a poem on Saturday, don’t sell it on Sunday. Iron that thing out! Make it snappy. Fix the simple spelling errors. Use quotation marks for dialogue. Those sorts of things. Don’t blame the agents for hating your work if you’re not willing to make your work shine!

Novel trimming

That said, I’ve returned to the beginning. This must be the twelfth time I’ve read my novel in full. I think, with my last draft completed, my structure is refined. My characters are individuals. My plot is perfected. So, this new draft is going to be about cutting the fat. I feel like I was better about this as I wrote, so working through my first chapter has been a fun challenge. I’ve been tearing out hundreds of words from it. Oiling the transitions. Making sure that the excitement builds from the get-go. Making my writing snappy yet flowing. Removing any data dumping or details that are irrelevant to the plot.

And it’s been good. Really good. I’ve never been more confident in my beginning. I look at it and see intriguing part after intriguing part, with no fat in between (and it wasn’t always this way). It’s hard to cut the fatty parts you love. Little details that are unneeded yet loved. Breaks your heart, but breaking it is the only way to heal. Haha. It’s been extremely hard work. 


Side Projects. I do them

Beyond that, with all my friends in town for Christmas (that’s how the Midwest works, everyone goes away and comes back for the holidays), I’ve been shooting YouTube videos on the side. 

my stop-motion puppet, Woolo the Walker
I’m actually writing a movie script, which I hope to film this month. I also plan on doing some stop-motion animation and make some new music videos! Doing other things helps me be refreshed enough to continue the editing, so it’s great! Over New Years, I’m going to be traveling to DC for MAGfest, which I’m really excited about. I have so much going on, it’s great. I love keeping busy.

Anyway, you’re great. Really. If you’ve read to this point, consider me your number-one fan. Please, since you’ve cared so much about me, leave a comment and tell me about you! I would love to see who is reading this and check out your projects or blogs (or, if you’re in St. Louis-area, I still have open roles for my movie, you should join up).

That’s all for now! Keep being awesome!

Wii Fit Weight Loss (Zero-hour)


This is not a blog about weight loss. This is a blog about doing nerdy things. I promise. 
 
the before
Today is the day I decided I want to get back on track. For two years, I was strictly losing weight. I had moved to Seattle, where I walked often, ate far more veggies, and practiced healthier living. Seattle is the kind of place where sometimes you don’t have a choice but to eat vegan, and it really did help me out. During my two years in Seattle, I dropped about 30 pounds. I felt healthier. My blood flowed faster. My energy was up.

Then I had a little divorce things happen, and I left Seattle. I came back to the Midwest—a place of fried chicken and apple pie. I stopped caring about girls completely (I was having post-breakup bachelor-freedom syndrome, haha), instead reverting to playing Diablo 3, writing, and working a new job. So, I sort of stopped caring. I mean, when a guy isn’t looking for a girlfriend, he’s probably eating pizza and playing videogames. Typically nerd. 

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.

I mean, I get it. The work you’ve written is a part of who you are, so when you’re rejected, it feels like you’ve been rejected for who you are. And, you have been, in so many ways, however that’s no reason to write a thousand word blog over it. You don’t like everything you’ve ever read, and neither will an agent (especially them, lol). Heck, you don’t even like every person you’ve ever met.

Maybe I just don’t know how it is yet, because I haven’t begun querying.

I do know some things though: I am not going to frame my rejection letters. I am notgoing to make a dartboard out of them. I am not going to post rejections to my blog, crying about how evil they all are.

I am going to LEARN from them. Even if the rejection letter says, “Your book is trash, give up, you are a terrible writing,” I am going to find something to learn from it. I won’t take cruel negativity to heart, but I think there is something a person can gain even from mean people. If they’re being that blunt, then perhaps there’s something to it! Remember, Oscar the Grouch is an educational character. Haha.

Anyway, that’s that. I should get back to editing. I’m playing a game called Cut Any Fat From My Novel.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Random Facts About Me: A Facebook Trend (now blogged)

My number was Six Hundred Thousand and Twenty-two. I repeat, the number that was given to me was 600,022.

1.
I like ice cream

2.
I sleep with my toes covered

3.
I have a very large freckle under my left knee

4.
I prefer Colgate toothpaste

5.
The reason I prefer Colgate is not for the taste, but the highly functional lid on the tube

6.
For several months of my college dorm life, I slept halfway in my closet to save space

7.
I own a very, very short Christmas tree

8.
I am actually Andy Kaufman

9.
I know how to yoyo

10.
I'm currently in a rap feud with Dr. Dre

11.
I know how to spell "definitely"

12.
I have buried over 5 dead animals on a single hill in my backyard

13.
I was rejected from joining the Xmen because they didn't think the power to instantaneously laminate any object was particularly useful

OKK THIS IS HARD. I hope this was interesting for you. I'll try to work on doing the next 600,009 tomorrow or something

Just post if you want your number given


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mowing The Lawn - Corporate and Class Suppression, the conversation

"I hate lawns. I feel like they're just another tool for suppression."

*Laughter* “That’s rich. You’ve really gone off the deep end with this one.”

“Don’t laugh at me, you don’t know my reasoning.”

“Lay it on me.” *Laughs again*

“Who gets paid when you mow the lawn? Lawn mower companies. Retail stores. You have to buy oil and gasoline, gotta remember the Oil Gods, right? Filters for the air compressor. Bags, if you use them. New chains when those break, and they’re bound to because lawn mowers are built to break. You can prove that to yourself by visiting the lawn mower isle at the hardware store. Thousands of stupid parts that should never break. Wheels. Gears. Blades. Pullies. Motors. Then there’s hedge trimmers. Hedge trimmer plastic lines. Don’t forget the yard waste disposal. Yard waste bins. New grass seed. Soil fertilizer. Mole traps. Lots of junk just to have a lawn. So, you have that corporate end, they’re all getting paid. Then, you’ve got the Neighborhood Council pricks sitting up on their thrones deciding what is and what isn’t aesthetically appeasing. Why do they care if your lawn is an inch above their regulated line? I’ll tell you. To keep out people they don’t want. People that can’t afford to pay for all the mowing junk or someone to mow. A single mother working two minimum wage jobs does not have the money or the time to adhere to all the little stupid regulations of the Neighborhood Council. So, she won’t be allowed to live there. And, if somehow she does manage to get a house in a nice neighborhood, her rich prick neighbors are going to have all the fodder they need to harass her to keep up with stupid aesthetic regulations. She might have two crying babies, but her neighbors are still going to report her for having paint chipping off the side of her house. All of that, and a mowed lawn isn’t even that great. I understand not wanting a jungle in front of anyone’s house… snakes and mice sucks and all, but weekly fucking mowing is absolutely ridiculous. But, that’s how they get you. You have to mow every single week, or else it all goes back to the way it was. The upkeep for a lawn is a struggle that is unrelenting until winter hits (then you pay for heating). You could keep out the pests by only mowing monthly, but you won’t keep back the regulations. And many neighborhoods regulate against rock-lawns or yards that are completely covered in gardens just for aesthetic reasons. Well, they claim aesthetics, but I’d call it suppression.”

“I like the look of freshly cut lawns.”

“How nice.”

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.

But, the logic of a book holds a place in my head. Why was this book written? Who is the narrator? Who is the narrator trying to reach by the narration? When was this narrated? These are questions that fill my head when I read, and FPP really boggles that up for me. Is the narrator of a FPP holding a flipcam up to their heads as they progress through the story? Is that why it’s being told as if it is happening right now? I suppose the trend of FPP in YA fiction and the increasing popularity of vlogs (video blogs) have a connection. FPP sort of reads like a vlog, doesn’t it? Only, when the narrator isn’t constantly holding a camera—say it’s set in medieval times—I feel pulled out of the text. The Hunger Games works in FPP, I’ll admit. But HG is a reality TV show narrative. It makes sense to have a FPP when the cameras are literally always on Katniss. There’s a logic to that. However, most other FPP narratives I’ve noticed don’t work whatsoever. If your FPP is set in a fantastic world, a farm, or a desolation without technology, then I would bet 9 times out of 10 that FPP is going to be a jarring way to experience your world.

The last thing I want to say about FPP is that it’s sort of a false way to make a book snappy and intense. I believe that intensity should come from what sort of events take place in a novel, not what perspective they are told in. If I’m feeling tense by reading about a character who is baking an apple pie, then there’s something wrong with how the story is being told. The best fiction knows how to create tension, yet give the reader places to breathe. FPP, by inception, is always intense. Everything happens NOW. Baking apple pie becomes something not warm and soul-refreshing, but snappy and jarring. FPP doesn’t allow the reader to take in the moments where I should be allowed to enjoy the surroundings, the environment, the character’s thoughts. FPP too often pushes past any would-be tender moment to get to the next action sequence.

EDIT: I just came up with a new observation.
Using past-tense creates a natural reading identifier between prose and dialogue, since people speak from the first-person and in the tense of their moment. I've noticed myself eying the prose as dialogue while reading in the FPP, and I realized its because when the book's perspective is FPP, the natural indicator of dialogue is missing. This goes for gender tags, too. FPP limits being able to easily identify characters using the "he says" "she says" because the narrator uses "I say." This is especially confusing in works where there is more than one narrator.

Thoughts? Tell me what you think in the comments!



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.




This was a poem way before it was a song, which is why the song version has two extra lines of lyrics. The important part of this poem is obviously the "We." It's sort of a rebellion, get motivated spirit. Oftentimes, it feels like everyone is purposefully segmented away from everyone else by our political leaders and super-rich corporate owners. More and more, it feels like we're divided, because the more we're divided and fighting amongst ourselves, the less we're fighting against the people at the top.

I just wish people could come together more. Work together for a better future. That's what this song is about.

The video was just shot yesterday, actually. My friend is a directing wiz, and I had a very simple concept: yoyo in random spots, and then edit them together. I edited the footage, which turned out cooler than I was initially thinking about. Gabe is truly smart about getting shots at strange angles. We took 131 different shots during the time, and I was so excited by the footage that I worked late into the night cutting the video together so I could upload it.

Weird moment: My friend makes a cameo in one scene, and the two graves near him spell out his first and last name.

Also, the random other guy near the candy machines just went up to us and we asked him to be in our video. Haha. Dude, whoever you were, you were cool. I told him to search for my YouTube channel.

One last note! This is one of those rare songs with a bass solo! I played that!


Song written and owned by Harrison Aye (performs bass, lead vocals). Backup vocals and shredding guitar by Brian Wood and rockin' drums by Scott Weber. Video filmed and directed by Gabriel Fries.

Support local artists! Buy this song for $1: https://gum.co/cGEM




Monday, November 4, 2013

Nintendo has an Imagination Problem


My favorite video game company hasn’t sold me on its new system, and that is a serious problem.

Why? Because I am the biggest Nintendo fan in the world. However, I never spend money without major justification, and so far, the Wii U isn’t a worthwhile purchase. You’re looking at someone who bought a Gamecube over the PS2. The Wii instead of the HD systems. The DS over the PSP. The Gameboy over the Gamegear. N64 over PS1. The SNES over Genesis. The NES over Atari.

I have them all… except the Wii U. 

This next generation, I am craving only to play the Playstation 4.

Nintendo, this is a serious problem.
Take this seriously! I am THE BIGGEST Nintendo fan I know. I am one of the only people in my group of friends to own either a Wii or a 3DS. My friends all own PS3s and 360s. I am your diehard supporter. Your most loyal customer. I am become death for you, Nintendo!

It all started a year or so after buying my Wii. I enjoyed it, don’t get my wrong, but I really wanted to play a little game called Oblivion. All my friends had played it, and I felt left out. So, I got a PS3.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

No Vom Bre – Geno Cosplay, Halllow-hallow-ween, and David Ortiz


So, I went as Geno from Super Mario RPG for Halloween. Only a handful of people at the party knew who I was, but I had wanted to make this costume since I went to PAX Prime so I’m happy to have made it.

Super Mario… R! P! G! It is the only game just for me!

This was a great Halloween season, in general. I got to decorate the heck outof the yard, I went on hikes, went to three parties, finished editing the seconddraft of my novel, and went on a ghost-story telling tour with an old friend.

Life has been very good, actually. I’ve been enjoying the bachelor lifestyle. Playing video games without guilt. Spending no money whatsoever. Taking hikes. Horror movie marathons. Back in that post I wrote about divorce and stuff, I said I was excited about getting to date again. Well, to update on that, I have lost all excitement. I dated one girl for a while, and then I was done. I forgot how much work it takes to date someone, and, only being divorced a month now, I believe I have a right to enjoy a period of relaxed singledom. I disabled my OKcupid account, lol. I kept getting into conversation with girls that had a lot to offer and seemed to click with me, but I just had no follow-through whatsoever because I think I’m going through my apathetic phase. I just want to play Diablo 3 and have guy-type fun like that. I’m sure I’ll get over this, but… yeah. That’s the update on that account. 


We only got one group of trick-or-treators on Halloween. It was raining, so, it sucked. I had set up laser light machines and everything! Instead, I took the candy bowl to my neighbor’s house and offered her some M&Ms, which she took. Then she came out and handed me a little fun prize-bag filled with goodies. So, in that way, at age 27, I got to trick-or-treat. I realized that I hadn’t eaten a candy bar in a very long time. It was so good, especially after watching the movie Trick ‘R Treat (one of the best movies of all time). 


The worst part about moving back to Belleville was watching the Cardinals lose the World Series. How %$!%#$ sad! But, David Ortiz was absolutely amazing (he’s a Red Sox player, and his post-season batting average was like .799 or something). He would get on base and yell at his team to get them motivated. He smashed the crap out of almost every pitch thrown at him. What an excellent player. Even as a Cardinals fan, I have to give it up to him for being such a talented, spirited player. I wish he were on my team. But, the Sox outplayed us in the end. I have to admit that. They were on, and we were falling for their amazing pitching lineup.

Anyway, that’s my life for the past few months. Keep rocking!



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Thursday, October 31, 2013

#threewordscarystories

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.

Brown Bag Bans?!? The Federal Government is BANNING lunches from home (for preschools) without a doctor's note?

I'm going to do a little response to this article, which has been making the rounds.

At first glance, this seems like a nightmare. Now the government is telling us we can't feed our own children? Yikes!

But, that's what the political spin is. The headlines are misleading; it's like they're trying to scare us all with some sort of crazy conspiracy. The writer of that article says that it's about monetary control, but it's not. The article even mentions Obamacare, which is ridiculous. Even the first quote on the page tries to make you believe that classic American values are all but obliterated.

The reason for a food-from-home ban is much simpler.

But let's start by noting that this is for Federally Operated HeadStart Preschools, not any other level of schooling. Preschools are optional, not forced on anyone. There are plenty of alternative pre-schooling centers. Brown bag lunches are not and will never be banned from public middle or high schools. And also, almost all privately-owned preschools have this same exact policy, and for a very good reason. (The picture are my home-made, Game of Thrones cookies :-))

And the reason why preschools are singled out is simple: Allergies.

Preschools have a range of ages from newly-born through five. Children, as the article points out, LOVE to swap lunches around. As a former toddler teacher, I know that some kids don't even understand that they cannot eat the lunches of children sitting next to them.

Can we expect a five year old to have the mental comprehension mature enough to understand what an allergy is? If Timmy gets a Snickers Bar from Julie, he dies.

Dies.


Allergies kill kids, and you know what? Children five and younger LOVE sharing. If they get a Snickers Bar, they want to give some to the other kids. How are they supposed to know not to share (when they are told to share all day long)? Even worse, what if little Jackie gets a chicken salad wrap? Jackie doesn't know that there are peanuts in it. She just knows it's chicken.

And peanuts aren't the only problem. There are fish allergies. Wheat allergies. Milk allergies. Meat allergies. Etc. Etc.

Preschool teachers are some of the most overworked people in the world. They don't have time to inspect everyone's lunch every day, especially since Joe started biting others at random, Mark keeps hitting Sally, and Steve just pooped on the carpet. These are all things that really happened to me, commonly even. If you think that a preschool teacher absolutely always has the ability to monitor every single child the entire time, you're mad. From ages one-and-up, SEVEN children are allowed in a classroom with a single teacher. SEVEN!! Imagine trying to control SEVEN toddlers all at the same time.  Imagine the eating table. It's madness as is. Now, imagine that John's mom loves to give him a pack lunch filled with peanuts and if Timmy gets one, even one that gets picked up off the floor, he dies.

It doesn't take but a second for a kid to pop a peanut in their mouth and swallow it.

And parents cannot be expected to cooperate, let's just be honest. You really think you can trust every parent to follow the list of banned-allergy-inducing-child-killing list? Wrong. Even at the Center where I worked, parents STILL tried to bring food in when it was banned. And they STILL brought in peanuts.

The only way for a preschool to function safely is to control what is fed to the kids. This goes for any preschool--from government to privately owned. It's much easier to control meals if they are planned by the school, expected by the teachers, and served without surprises.

I honestly cannot believe that that article was posted without mentioning allergies once. It's obvious that she just had no idea why preschools ban home-food, so I had to respond.
...
...

tl;dr: young kids will swap food without knowing that allergies can kill their friends



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 #4Was / 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 #2Voice 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.


This is the point I reached yesterday. I finished my big voice edit, and now I’m considering Draft 2 complete and Draft 3 begun.

I’m honestly at the point where I don’t know if there’s that much more I can do on my own. My novel feels shiny. It feels like it’s nearing perfection, in my eyes. I guess I need to find a writing circle or something so I can get more feedback.  For the next few months, I’m going to take another break from working on The Unraveler.  I need a fresh perspective before delving into it again, and I do have other writing projects at hand.


Editing my novel hasn’t been the only thing I’ve worked on since October 21stof last year.

I’ve been working on the daunting process of creating a social media presence for myself. I started blogging, tweeting, tumblring, and connecting them all together. I made a video book trailer on YouTube, and I’ve began following other writings to learn about what sort of successes and failures they’ve had. I’ve worked on www.harrisonaye.comlike mad, and using ideas from other writer’s websites to make mine better. I’ve drafted and redrafted my query letter and my synopsis. I’ve been writing short stories and poetry, too. I’ve been submitting short stories to magazines and entering writing contests. I’ve also been drafting potential plots for sequels to my novel, if my novel is lucky enough to sell well. I’ve also been working on two ideas for books that are not sequels, one of which I might start actually writing soon.

I’ve been keeping track of everything I’m doing—this novel is a learning experience just like the first two I wrote—so hopefully my writing / editing process will be more streamlined for next time (and if I start writing this new novel, I’ll find out!).

Anyway, thanks for reading my blog. Thanks for putting up with spam about my book in your facebook / twitter feed (I’m getting better about that, lol). Thanks for seeing me in person and telling me that you’ve been following me on my novel-writing adventures. Thanks for sending me random encouraging messages. Thanks for telling me about your writing adventures.


It’s been fun, and I’m sure it will continue to be. 



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


Credits: Video, lyrics, music by Harrison Aye (@Oxyborb), guitar and backup vocals performed by Brian Wood, and drums performed by Scott Weber.

I suppose at the heart of this song is ignorance. Taking things without questioning why they are the way they are. It seems like our world is filled with people who flutter through life without caring about knowing what is ahead of them. Our media blinds us with so much spam and messaging that we forget what is important. We forget that not everything everyone says is inherently true. Some people don't even know that they themselves spread wrong information. Some people think they are doing good by trying to make others conform. I suppose that's what this poem was written about.

And this could swing into political stuff, but I'd rather not. Everyone has their own opinions. Take these words and make them meaningful to you.

The video was shot this night, right outside my house. It's littered with Halloween decorations. I put this up because I felt like doing something different. I've been editing my novel lately, and I've been doing it tirelessly for the last year. I'm trying to make sure it's perfect. Line-by-line. Anyway, I needed a break from that so I made this. I hope you're having a good night. The autumn season is the best season, in my humble opinion. I love the feel of the cool air and the look of the orange leaves.



Support local artists! Buy this song for $1!


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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..

 

 The second thing would be to get myself a good web designer.

I would make myself an insanely wonderful website complete with all the bells and whistles of a Rowling site. I suppose a publicist would be a good idea, too. I don’t want to schedule my own book tour after all (if I’m megarich, that is: I’d do it without question now! Hah!).

I would definitely pay to get my looks, health, and image up to perfection.

I could stand to get a good gym membership and a personal trainer. I could also use a good dentist to perfect my teeth (coffee has taken its toll on me). I also need better clothing and new PR photographs. Really, I need better photos of myself now.


I would invest in my book.

I don’t care how well it’s doing on its own. I would DEFINITELY push it harder. If that meant doing some cool publicity events, buying up merch to give away, getting myself a giant Unraveler billboard… anything and everything I could think of to push my book, I would do. I intend to be the busiest man on the planet when my book gets released. I want to be on every talkshow, every radio program. I want to be at all the conventions, every indie bookstore. I’m going to be absolutely crazy about meeting people and getting myself out there. I truly cannot wait for that.

Now, if I were mega-mega rich.

Say, I made 100 million dollars (I’m daydreaming, not being realistic). I would definitely throw half to charity without question. Doctors Without Borders, or one of those that funds water for poor communities. Something like that. Something that I would totally never, ever benefit from personally.

I would also invest in friends and family.

Scratch that, not invest but fund. If I were megarich, I would push money toward the artistic projects of the coolest people I know, regardless of return. That would be so much fun, too. I know some truly amazing artists that deserve more attention than they receive. Wouldn’t it be fun to push them in the way that everyone truly needs (but can’t talk about publicly)? Man, it’d be cool to say, "Here’s 50k, take some time off and create!"


Now, all of this has been good, but… it feels like I’m holding back.

I’m trying to be too “goodie-goodie” with my spending. Charity, family, blah-blah… Surely, I’d spend my daydream money on something ridiculously self-centered, right? Well, other than a personal swimming pool, I think I’d be buying myself a personal arcade. I love video games, especially really, really old ones. I would love to have a classic Pac-Man machine, X-men Arcade Cabinet, Galaga, Donkey Kong… yes. Those kinds of machines would totally be my undoing if I were given infinite monies to spend recklessly.


Well, that was fun to write. I should probably end this by saying… No, I’m not so head-in-the-clouds that I believe that this is going to happen to me. Not trying to be arrogant or egotistical; this is all just-for-fun. Daydreaming is a good motivator to continue dreaming big. As an artist that is going to face a thousand rejections, I have to dream big sometimes to keep myself going.

Anyway, leave a comment, click the “Follow” button under the menu on the sidebar, and have a great day!




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