Hey Guys…I’m Still Alive

So I haven’t posted in about three weeks. I got a job and have been working on Sundays. With this new schedule, Tuesday may become my new posting day.

I am also redesigning my blog, for at least the five millionth time. This time I blame my sister, who just redid hers. Looks fabulous. Here’s a link:


I thought I would eventually grow out of this habit (of redoing my blog that is). That I would just change my header to match the current season (summer/fall). But it seems I haven’t. It’s like how for three years I re-decorated my room every two months. And I do not exaggerate.

Maybe it’s because there is seemingly endless opportunity. Endless new ideas. The constant possibility of improvement.
Which is actually a good way to look at writing. And life. Obviously though, most importantly your home decor.

I have an actual post planned, but I think I will wait till next week. I might post it on Thursday, but that depends how I feel/what I will be doing.

Almost forgot something. *drumroll*

Nanowrimo in 6 days!!!!!!!!!!

Have fun guys.



Nanowrimo 2016

First of all, how on earth are you supposed to pronounce that acronym??

As I mentioned earlier, I have decided to attempt to accomplish Nanowrimo this year. Never done. Never actually considered doing it. But today I am.
The Red Dream can take a break for a month, right?

Surprisingly, it didn’t take me too long to decide on what to write. I mean I have a store of ideas, I just thought it would be hard to pick one. But I thought I should choose something that has a pretty well defined plot and something I’ve been itching to write.


I know. It’s not a particularly brilliant name, but it embodies the story. I’m not too happy with the synopsis I wrote, so here is a very short excerpt.

I don’t have a name. Not one that actually belongs to me. I have one right now, in the pocket of my sweater, posted on a card. But it’s not mine. It has my face. But not my true name. So people call me Silver, because of my hair.
  That’s my cat’s name though. At least what I call her.

  She’s hiding beneath my feet right now. She’s not supposed to be on the train, but she can get in anywhere, just like me.

  I look up as the man in blue asks for my ticket. I hand it to him and look back out the windows. So many memories lie on those dark treetops. The man walks away, and I look down.

  Mountains, I must leave you. I’ll come back one day. I promise.

 I pull my hair over my shoulder and sit back. There’s no sun out, just a dark, stormy grey. Like bears, I think, roaming in the deep swells of the sky. It won’t rain though, not for a while yet. And I won’t reach my new home, for a while yet.

There you have it. Oh! and I have something else. A book cover.



Drew it last night.

Have a great week (or the rest of it) everyone!



I Hate Finding Names Like I Hate Eating Ham

I am going to be doing Nanowrimo this year. As such, I’ve started to outline my novel. At the moment it is titled Silver. More about that another week.

The main character (a.k.a the title character) has a name, but not her counterpart. So I have been name searching. And. I . Hate. It.

The name has to be just right. It can’t be entirely normal like Bob, nor fancy like Phillip. It has to set the right mood. It has to have a matching last name. It has endless qualifications that make it almost impossible to accomplish. But, I have compiled a list. Thought I would share the result of my efforts, which is that I still don’t have a name. But I have ideas (!).

First names are:
Killian (my sister is rolling her eyes)
Calixtus (too fancy?)

Last names are:
Fox (though I always think of “Lord Charles Fox” in a British accent)
Hood (Robin??)

What do you think? I’m not sure. Might do some more digging and scrolling through America’s top 80,999 surnames (the number is somewhat made up, but Smith is actually the number one name.)
I was going to mention something else…not sure what. Oh well.

That’s all folks.


Check out my storyboard for Silver on pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/alpmichael/silver/




Every Character Counts

A lot of books have a mile long list of characters (Lord of the Rings, Homer, and anything Dickens comes to mind). It can be a pain for both a reader and a writer. I feel it especially taxing as a writer. Sometime I forget entirely about characters I created or I forget important details about them.

Which lately resulted in me resurrecting a character from the dead accidentally. That was embarrassing.

In Green Crows (my fantasy trilogy) I finally created a “cast list” to prevent any future confusing and awkward moments (such as forgetting a character’s death). I’ve always thought a little about what called “character folding” where you take previously different characters (two or more.) and blend them into one character, making the plot tighter.

Again, I want to mention Once Upon a Time.

Yes, we are still watching it. We are currently on season 3.

One thing that I have loved about it, is that every character counts. Every character is connected somehow. There’s almost nothing random. Every one knows somebody, past or present. (*spoilers*)
For example: Emma’s old boyfriend, Neil, is actually Rumpelstiltskin’s son. Neil’s new girlfriend knew Pinocchio and actually works for Peter Pan. The random guy that showed up in town is actually the little boy who’s father Regina killed, and is in league with Neil’s girlfriend.
Tinker Bell not only knows Hook, but knows Regina. The man that Tinker Bell wanted Regina to marry is actually Robin Hood, who etc. etc. etc.
It’s crazy. It’s amazing. And it makes for a lot of interesting (and problematic)  family trees.

I started me thinking about this for Green Crows. At the moment, I don’t think I want to use it to lessen the amount of characters (though it might come to that) but to add depth. It is so easy for side characters and their relationships with main characters to be underdeveloped.
I’ve already tried it actually. In the beginning of book two, Hugh runs into these Pirates/Poachers. In book three, another group of poachers runs them down to steal their horses (they’re a special kind of horse, okay?). Then I thought, why the heck should there be two different bands of poacher (pirates??)?.

So now they are the same ones. I mean, they were in the same country, traveling in the same direction, so it works.

Also, I find me-self wanting to talk like a pirate. Savvy?

~Alp out.



Characters Mistakes: Don’t Make Them Idiots

My family is now hooked on the Once Upon a Time television series. The past week we have been staying up till 2:00 am. We’re on season 2.
So much bad acting (a lot of good acting too.), a lot of bad costumes, and a lot of bad CGI (and flying trash bags. Oh, you mean the wraith? No, I mean the trash bag with eyes and hands). Yet, the stories and characters are compelling and….well there’s no backing out now.
My new obsession is not exactly what I am going to be writing about. But one of the episodes did inspire me.

It was the one about Hanzel and Gretel (at first I thought it was Jack and Jill. Like, why? That’s a random nursery rhyme!). Everyone knows the story. They go in, eat some candy, the witch tries to cook them, and they throw the witch in the oven.
In other words it’s a weird, horrifying story.

But my point is this: If your character is going to deliberately mess up, make sure they have a darned good reason, or it just comes off as if you are cheating in order to push the story forward. The audience will also think the character is annoying.

In this episode, the Evil Queen tells Hanzel and Gretel to go into the witch’s house and steal the leather pouch (or something like that. Could have been suede). The Queen stresses that they cannot eat anything in the house, no matter how tempted they are. Of course they say they understand. Yet sure enough, just as Gretel is going to grab the pouch off the witch, Hanzel eats a cupcake.

He had literally no reason to eat that cupcake, except that it looked tasty. He grabs it and greedily takes a huge bite into the blue frosting. The witch wakes up….

We all can take it from there.

Hanzel’s actions obviously drive the story forward. If he didn’t eat the cupcake, the witch would have never woken up, and the two of them would have left the house no problem. But it is still not a good way to push the story line on. Why?

It makes the audience dislike the character. It makes the audience annoyed at the unfortunate events that follow. (“If only you hadn’t been so stupid!”)

Characters make mistakes though, right? Well, yes. Yet make sure they are the right kind of mistakes, and that the character has a good reason to do it.

There are two reasons why Hanzel’s mistake was badly done.

The first reason is that he didn’t have a motive, except greed. It goes hand-in-hand with the story that the siblings are peasants. Yet, they are well-dressed, and nothing about them being starved or hungry is mentioned. Nothing about them wanting sweets is implied. The only thing really mentioned is that they lost their father in the woods. From that view, Hanzel just ate the cupcake because he was a greedy kid who couldn’t resist…or for some reason didn’t pay attention when the Queen was talking. Either way, it doesn’t make you like him very much.

The second reason is that he eats the cupcake with almost no thought at all. We know that he heard the Queen’s warning. Yet, when they first come up to the ginger-bread house, he grabs for a candy. Gretel stops him of course. Then, he hesitates around the cupcake for a little bit, but Gretel isn’t looking, so he dives in a for a big bite.
Kid, could you at least be subtle? At least show some concern? That would have been better. If he had timidly dipped his finger in the icing, showing a struggle between him wanting the candy and obeying the Queen’s warning, it would have showed that he was thinking and that he was at least trying to do the right thing.

Summed up: When a character is going to goof up, give him a good reason and make him think it through. This should be done for the sanity of the audience.

Thank you all,

Alp out.






When I Found My Writing Voice

I have mentioned before on this blog my fantasy trilogy  Green Crows and White Creatures.  I am currently on the first draft of the third book, the Red Dream.

I just put up the titles and brief (very brief) synopsis on the sidebar. (Drew them myself. Very proud). Right now I don’t have a detailed synopsis of the trilogy, nor an excerpt ready to share. So I am going to share its story of how it came to be, and what I discovered.

It was back in the spring of my freshmen year of high school. It was late evening, and I was waiting for my sister to arrive back from the airport. My WIP (work-in-progress) at the time was another fantasy story, but I was stuck. I was bored. I decided to write a short story…something mysterious, like the beginning of the Curse of the Black Pearl.
Remember Into the Woods? I thought. Let’s put some weird white cows in it.

This is why when people ask me where I get my inspiration I draw a blank. It’s random and inconsistent.

That short story was a turning point for me as writer. That night I wrote faster and better than I had ever done before. It’s as if I grew up five years in one night. All my characters came to life. My dialogue was more natural. In one moment I had found my style and voice.

I also found the story I had been looking for. Green Crows and White Creatures.

I think a lot of writers who like the Lord of the Rings have either tried or wanted to write something like it. Frankly, it’s impossible. It’s also cheating. I mean copying someone else’s work. That’s exactly what I had to figure out.
Before high school, in my infant days of writing, I worked on a fantasy epic. Classic high fantasy full of elves, dark lords, heroes, minions, quests, and important swords. Even though I had my own touches in it, nearly everything was of the style of Tolkien. I thought that if you wanted to create a fantasy world is had to be medieval. It had to have a language and a mythology. It had to have dark lords with heroic kings. And I loved the trilogy. I loved that type of story. I thought it was the greatest type of story. (Of course it is the greatest).

But I didn’t know why, and I didn’t till I started to work on Green Crows and White Creatures that spring night

The tipping point came a few days after I had started writing. I noticed that I could easily make it into a novel, instead of just a short story (or a trilogy, an over eager part of my mind whispered). And I discovered it was the fantasy trilogy that I had waited to come along.

It wasn’t the world itself that I wanted to write. It wasn’t the heroics or the quest. It was that the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit are adventures. They are journeys that begin nondescriptly, and you have no idea what could be next.
That is how my story began. About one man, with a few questions, and an inkling to find answers. It starts all with Hugh Gallagher, on a dull rainy morning.

And boy does it get out of control after that.

As a side note, I have been writing without chapters. I think it’s going to be a problem, because my scenes range from 2 pages to 20 pages.


Now you know all about it. I hope to post an excerpt or something in the next few weeks.

(I’m also leaving for college next weekend.)


If you want to know anything more about Green Crows and White Creatures and the rest of the books, feel free to visit their pinterest boards. Just click on the titles on the sidebar.

Thank you all,

Alp out.


Series: The Ultimatum

I think we can all agree that writing a series is difficult. It has to be cohesive, yet each book must be new and exciting. It must be as good as the first book, and sometimes it needs to surpass it. The characters need to remain just as strong, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change and continue to develop.
I myself have never written a series. I’m writing a trilogy, which is a bit different. But I do have something to say.

Last night I went to see Jason Bourne. It was amazing, as always (I’m a big Bourne fan). I also went to see Star Trek: Beyond last weekend, which was also amazing (and I’m a bit of a Trekkie). Both these series have something in common:

They take a long time to come out.

Even though these are movies, I believe the same thing applies to books. Both of the writers and directors for these franchises take their time on developing a new story. They only want to come out with another movie if the plot is good. If it is as good as the one before it. Paul Greengrass, the director of Jason Bourne, dropped the franchise for nine years. The other movies took three or fours years to come out, as has the Star Trek reboot. The result? The movies are excellent. They are not just cranked out to feed an audience, which can result in poorly written scripts which in the end, do not please audiences.
In other words: Don’t rush.

Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

~Alp out.


the key is not to rush.

Victor Hugo: Give a Little More

I’ve been reading Les Miserables lately (I wasn’t happy with the story line in the musical, so I had to find out for myself. But I do love the music). It’s amazing.

I’ve always loved the writing style of the 19th Century. At the same time it can be a pain to get through and just down right confusing (no scanning paragraphs). I still think there’s a lot for writers to take from it…and a little bit not.

Starting with the Waterloo. About a quarter through the book, Hugo sidetracks to the Battle of Waterloo. He does this for two reasons: to give historical context (even though the event happened years before) and explain the name that Thenardier gives his tavern.
So, for the immediate sake of characterization and story line,only the last bit of Waterloo was actually relevant.
Not that I wouldn’t mind reading an account of Waterloo. I know about zip about it. Plus Hugo’s commentary is insightful and interesting. However, while gripping the pages of a well-loved paper back, wondering what is going to happen to Valjean ans how he will finally get to Cossete, I. Don’t. Care. About. Napoleon.

So even though in the 19th Century that was acceptable, and common, to get sidetracked for five chapters, I would not advise it now. But what if a long narrative is needed for the plot line? What if something has to be explained, some history moment illustrated out so that the reader can understand the rest of the story?

Make it part of the story itself.

Perhaps make it a riveting opening sequence. Have a character tell the story to someone else. Give the reader what was promised: a continuing story that grabs their attention and their affection.
Which brings me to my next point. In ballet class this past week, the teacher said always give what you promised, but then give a little more.

The little more is what Hugo gives.

His writing is never just a story. It is never just the formula of a narrative. Not jut conflict and resolutions. He gives insight. He makes you think.

“It is one of those moments of blinding and yet frighteningly calm insight when the thought goes so deep that it passes beyond reality. The tangible world is no longer seen; all that we see, as though from outside, is the world of our own spirit.”  1.

This describes a profound moment where Valjean has what we would call an “out of body experience”. The key moment where Valjean turns from felon to hero. Hugo indeed could have used our simply words, but he didn’t. He took it deeper, as well he should. A writer’s purpose is speak what cannot be spoken. It is to illuminate those thoughts and feelings that too often we cannot explain to ourselves or others. A writer’ true mission is to teach humanity the truths of itself that humanity cannot express.

Well. That just went a long way.

But that’s my point. Good writing isn’t just entertainment, it is knowledge given to the reader. So summed up:

Give what you promised, then give a little more.

Alp out.

Pg. 117 Les Miserables, Penguin Books. Really old beat up edition. (I ripped the cover off by accident. Sorry!)

P.S. Do you ever writer late at night, and your mind just starts to die?

Me: how do you spell “go”? Does it have a w at the end? No, it’s an e! No you dummy, it’s just g o.

A Writer In Washington

.    I’m not going to lie here. While walking all over D.C, touring, and eating Chipolte, I did not get any earth-shattering writing ideas. I didn’t even write that much.

That being said, here are my traveling highlights, and what things as a writer I appreciated.

  •  an albino squirrel.
    Don’t laugh. My sister and I were crossing the Mall to get to the Art Gallery, and there, happily poking his nose in the grass, was a very rare albino squirrel. The rarity of it, and its cute, perfectly white little fuzziness, was not why I am telling you this. In my fantasy trilogy (Green Crows) albino animals play a very large role, such as crows and deer. So maybe now a white squirrel will show up and drop nuts on someones head (Probably Fyland’s.)
  • My sister and I also went to the Air and Space Museum, where the security guard called me Captain America to grab my attention.

    This was outside at the Art Gallery, but it also serves as an explanation.

    Loved it there. We got to see the Apollo 11 Lem, Gene Kranz’s vest (If you don’t understand, look it up), and, most importantly, touched the moon. A piece of the moon really, worn smooth from all the hands that have touched it. I looked up at my sister and said, “We just touched the moon.”
    To explain what all this meant is a whole different post.



  • Last one. We went to the Zoo, because that is what my sister and I like to do.

    Me at the owl exhibit, which my sister said I could stay at as long as I like.

    The highlight were the elephants. And this part I am glad for because one day I might need to write about elephants trainers.
    The elephants had been brought inside, and the trainers were demonstrating tricks with the elephants. It was amazing how quickly the elephants responded, and how well. They bowed, turned in circles, and knelt. The trainers gave one word commands, and motioned with their hand, index and middle finer together. The elephants were always promptly given treats.
    And their trunks are so cute and soft looking.


    That’s not everything that happened. We also visited St. John Paul II’s Shrine, ate at Union Station, sweated and walked, sweated and walked some more, and my sister almost exploded in a traffic jam.
    All that jazz.
    Alp out.

Always Forward – College

I’ve been running this blog since I was 12. (Wow). Now this fall I will be heading off to college to double major in Film and Dance (Yes, I am not majoring in Creative Writing).

I’ve done this blog differently through the years, the last two years being dedicated to my sci-fi short fiction the Moor and lately my novel Raptor. It has been really great to share them both, and I want to thank everyone who has read them.
But honestly Raptor is too hard to write like this. It’s hard writing when you know someone is going to read it. Usually I just write something and if the line is really sappy or corny I know I can rewrite it later. Or if a scene doesn’t make sense. Or if its weird.

That’s the benefit of a first draft.

And there’s another reason: I am going to college. I will be writing papers, dancing and working out like a maniac, filming, and writing a trilogy (I’m on the third  book! First draft that is). And did I mention running an Etsy shop? So I am not going to be posting anything serially anymore. I do plan to post on Sundays every week (hopefully). I’ll post such things as:

  •  Progress in my WIPs. (Raptor, Green Crows, etc. )
  • Maybe some sample writings (bits of Raptor maybe).
  • Updates (such as I am going to post pictures of my senior dance recital soon.)
  • Anything writing.

And don’t you think it’s time that I change the look of my blog? I do. I like changing things up.

Next post, my sister and I in Washington D.C!


At the National Art Gallery, standing in front of class windows things sticking out of the ground. They were cool.