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.
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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!


Thanks for stopping by my blog!
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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!




Thanks for stopping by my blog!
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Friday, October 11, 2013

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


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

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

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

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


STEP 1: Setting up your blog

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

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

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

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

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

STEP 1.5: Adding links to that blog!


So, in Blogger, there is a “Pages” system, where you can add things like, “About me” and “Links” and other stuff. One tip I have for this is to create blog posts for these pages, and use the hyperlink option to add them to your menus bar. If your “Pages” are not the Pages option, but instead just a normal blog post linked through the menu, you can collect more statistics about who is viewing each post. For example, my “Welcome” splash page on the right hand menu of this blog is not one of Blogger’s “Pages,” it is a normal blog post that is linked through the Pages sidebar.

Remember, the best way for someone to jump around and see all you do online is to make links that are easily found right in your menu. There’s a careful balance between adding too many links and just the right amount, however, so consider making sub-categories or excluding links for the sidebar that you might not actually need. For example, I have a YouTube page, but you’ll notice that I don’t list it on the menu of this blog. Instead, if you click the “Who is Harrison Aye?” or the “About the Unraveler” links, you will find links to my YouTube there. Blogs should have focus, and if they aren’t apart of that focus, consider if that link should bog down your main menu. This blog is about writing, so all of my links are about writing. My other blogs, such as ClassCake and Oxyborb, have different links for different needs.

The sorts of links I’ve picked for my blog come from extensively studying all of my favorite author’s websites (by the way, if you want to see social media by an author done flawlessly, check out http://maggiestiefvater.com/). I cannot afford a professional web developer yet (although that would be the first thing I’d buy with a advance check, lol!), so I stick to using this blog for as my hub for all purposes. I did purchase “Harrisonaye.com” using Go Daddy. That website usually has a few discount codes they offer, and the discount code “comedy” worked for me. I wouldn’t whole-hearted recommend Go Daddy, but it served the one purpose I wanted it for: Cheap domain that can forward all people directly to my blog’s splash page.

OH YEAH. Never forget to add "labels" or "tags" and always, ALWAYS, preview your blog before publishing to check your formatting. Never hurts to read over it twice.


STEP 2: Tweeting up a storm!

Remember, as a writer, tweeting and blogging are just more examples of how you put words to use. Respect that! If you offend a group of people (even those stupid old INSERTPOLITICALGROUP), then you might just be shutting them out from reading your book/stories/etc. Personally, I mainly use Twitter as my comedic outlet. I’ve found that funny people are the ones I most enjoy following, so I emulate that.

Getting Twitter is easy enough not to explain here. However, the real trick is getting that Twitter feed to display on the side of your blog. To do that, go to Twitter, click on your “Settings,” and then go to “Widgets.” Create a Widget and then copy the code.

Then go back to Blogger. Go to Blogger’s dashboard. Go to layout, and click “Add a Gadget” where you’d like Twitter to go, then scroll through the basic Gadgets to where it says, “HTML/JavaScript” and add that. Paste that “Widget” code from Twitter, and submit. You should now have a shiny new Twitter feed on your blog.

While you’re at it, there are a few more Gadgets I would recommend. Get the “Google Friend Connect” gadget. This allows people to subscribe to your blog. I wish I had learned about this sooner, but I only recently figured it out. This is the BEST way to get people to return to your blog more than once. It never hurts to get a few “Share” buttons for your blog, either. There’s a “Google +1”
 gadget I suggest getting, because Google’s search engines are optimized with how many +1s a site receives. Get your friends to +1 you!

STEP 3: Don’t ignore Facebook


Even if you’re unpublished, it never hurts to think ahead. You should create facebook pages for your book project and for yourself as an author. Why? Why not? Facebook is the leading social media network, and you can’t afford to miss out on it. Even if you only have 3 “likes,” that doesn’t matter. You won’t get likes until your book is published, but so what? Here’s the way I think of it:

We call the Internet a “web,” right? Ever think about what that means? Every thing you do online is a point on a giant map. Every hyperlink you create between two of these points is a thread on the web of your social media presence. So, look at my blog. My facebook group is linked to my blog. My blog is linked from my Youtube. My YouTube is linked from my other blog. My other blog is linked from my Twitter. Etc. Etc. Everything I do online is linked to a million other things I do online. This is what “presence” is. It’s making a social network of YOU!

Now, about that “web,” for an aspiring writing (like me), what does that web mean? Think of a spider. A spider’s web isn’t for catching the flies that are already dead and on the ground. A web is used to catch the flies buzzing by, likewise, the “web” of your social media presence is someone you can create to “catch” people when they buzz by. If you’re unpublished like me, think of that magical day when you finally see your book on store shelves… think of it like the day that all of the flies will be BUZZING about YOU! Will you have a web setup to catch them? If not, then you might miss out on a ton of potential readers! So, promote yourself now, because it may be worth having it all setup for later!


STEP 4: Google +, and whatever that does for me


If you have Blogger, then you also have a Google account. The only thing about Google Plus is that nobody really uses it yet. Google is not giving up on it, though, and I don’t feel like Google can be ignored for much longer. Why not be ahead of the curve and just setup your G+ account now? Might as well. It’s just another point on your web, right? While you’re making a G+, make sure you’ve got YouTube going. I made a nifty little book trailer and posted it on YouTube. You can pull a ton of traffic to your blog just by posting on these other websites. Come to think of it, I have a Pinterest, GoodReads, and a Soundcloud account… but I don’t use those much. I guess I should get on that. Haha! But one step at a time!

Anyway, good luck to you! Follow me, +1 me, comment, etc. etc. You’re the best! Also, let me know where your blog is, so I can follow you!


Thanks for stopping by my blog!
UNRAVELSPACE UNRAVELTIME


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nintendo proves it knows what gamers want with a new game about moving water using a ladle to a pitcher

No, seriously.
What the heck?
 
Nintendo.
Eat something, Nintendo. You always make worrisome decisions when you don't get something to eat.

But, seriously. What has happened to your creativity, Nintendo? It shouldn't take much to sell me on a new Nintendo system. I own ALL of them, except for the Wii U. You're going in a direction that I cannot follow, Nintendo. I represent the most diehard of Nintendo fans, yet... I don't even slightly desire the Wii U system. If I don't want it, then you have a major problem.

And that problem is only emphasized by Water Runners. What are you thinking? Why would you EVER think that moving water from a stream to a pitch with a spoon would be a good idea? Why would you think I'd want to do that?

I feel like the Wii U is just a rehash system. Nerfed versions of old games. No achievements system. Remakes. Carbon copies, like the new Mario 3D World, New Super Mario U. These don't change up the mix. I already own these for 3DS. I want Mario to do NEW things, not just piggyback off of the gameplay styles of yesterday. Nintendo. Let's talk about how EVERY Pokemon game has you battle a team and a bunch of gyms and the elite four. Let's talk about how every Zelda game has a "dark" world, with "dark" Link (not to mention, Dark Mario, Dark Samus, Dark Pit, ENOUGH WITH THE DARK CHARACTERS ALREADY, GET CREATIVE!). Let's talk about the insanely repetitive use of Bowser as the main villian in every single Mario game. What happened to Wart? Or that alien in a space ship from the Gameboy? Or Wario as a villian? Or Mouser? Or, more importantly, some new threat? Bowser and his predictable goon cast has become extremely boring. Nintendo says that gameplay trumps story, but why not have both? Not even trying to do even a minimal new story is really just a show of laziness. You're more creative than that, and you're certainly more creative than spooning water into a pitcher!



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