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.

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. :-)


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.

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.

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 ( 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.

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

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

Cutting the fat

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

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


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

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

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!